Wearing my RTC Tech Beat column contributor hat for the Redwood Technology Consortium, I recently wrote this article about what we’re doing to monetize the various blogs we publish. It appeared this morning in the Eureka Times Standard.
Blogging for fun and profit
By Jim Nelson
Eureka Times Standard
A recent Google search turned up a few common reasons as to why people blog. Many bloggers merely publish personal accounts online as a public journal. Others have a cause they support or specific interest to which they contribute their two cents. And some corporations have found the blog to be a powerful marketing tool. But while one study indicated that forty five percent of all bloggers do it for the money, very few blogs look like they might ever actually generate any income.
While I am relatively new to the blogosphere, I have discovered various programs to help monetize the websites I publish since selling my business and hitting the road in an RV as what they call a full-timer.
Because my wife and I are in no way capable of retiring yet, we are doing whatever we can to extend the year-long RVing sabbatical we have budgeted for ourselves. And I am more than happy to share the tactics we have implemented to generate supplemental income from our websites.
First and foremost, no amount of advertising or sponsorship will ever generate a dime without adequate traffic to your website. When it comes to attracting readers, and keeping them, one industry catchphrase rings true: Content is King. If you publish a blog, be sure to keep the content fresh, engaging, and relevant, linking to related websites and reputable sources whenever possible. For our full-time RVing blog at www.LiveWorkDream.com, we scoured the web and compiled many helpful resources for others contemplating life as a full-timer. We’ve also included maps of our route and embedded YouTube videos of our own trip and others we have found relative and entertaining.
The most common, and arguably the easiest to implement revenue stream for any website is the Google AdSense program. This free service enables publishers to display syndicated advertising on their websites in a variety of formats. In turn, they get paid a small amount each time visitors click on these ads. Google search boxes can also be added, with payments made if visitors click on ads displayed on the search results page. Publishers have extensive control over how the ads look, and are provided with detailed reports and tracking capabilities.
Another way we have implemented paid advertising on our websites is through CommissionJunction.com. This website enables us to establish relationships with specific sponsors who provide code for relative banner ads and text links. For instance on our LiveWorkDream.com site, we display ads from the Good Sam Club, KOA Kampgrounds and others related to the RV lifestyle. And on our three-legged dog blog (www.tripawds.com), which is full of canine cancer resources, we run ads from Pet Care Pharmacy, Only Natural Pet Store, and others.
Amazon also enables bloggers to publish ads for any product available at amazon.com. You can choose from specific products, suggested items based on your site content, or a search box, and a small commission is paid for each sale made from your website. At www.LiveWorkDream.com/store, we also recently implemented a new Amazon Associates service called the aStore. Using Amazon’s simple interface, we were able to develop a comprehensive online storefront filled with RVing and sabbatical-related books, music, DVDs and various relative products.
Another way to create an online store for your blog is using Café Press. Throughout our dog blog, we have added various links to www.cafepress.com/tripawds. This storefront includes merchandise from dog t-shirts, stickers, magnets and greeting cards to men’s and ladies apparel. We customized all these items with tripawds.com branding targeted at other owners of three-legged dogs. Café Press imprints all items to order, manages all shipping and returns, and lets store owners set their own markup levels on all items.
And for those who publish a blog in support of a cause, a donate button is a must. With a PayPal account, website publishers can easily create snippets of code for buttons that direct visitors to a donation page at paypal.com where they can send money using a credit card or their own PayPal account. So many readers of tripawds.com commented on how helpful our site has been for them, that we added a donate button on every page. As it turns out, people really do let money talk when showing their appreciation.
For more helpful tips on making a blog profitable, visit www.problogger.net. To meet fellow local bloggers, get involved with the Redwood Technology Consortium. The RTC meeting schedule can be found at www.redwoodtech.org.
Jim Nelson is currently traveling the U.S. with his wife René and three-legged dog Jerry, in search of the next big thing. Readers can follow their adventures at www.LiveWorkDream.com and www.tripawds.com.