Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Blog Monetization

This one marks the beginning of a series of articles on one of the hottest topics amongst the bloggers all over, monetization. Much has been written about monetizing blogs, but the bitter truth is that it’s very hard. Nevertheless, the message from the people who have succeeded is that, if you have the commitment and the determination, making money blogging is not impossible. This series is an attempt to look at the state of the art of blog monetization and to enumerate the current know-how in the blogosphere, by looking at both the successes and the failures of others.

First of all, let’s have a look at the current income generation schemes available for bloggers. (This is a summarized listing of such schemes and the follow up articles will elaborate on each one.)

There are two primary types of blog-based income; direct and indirect. Though no standard definitions of these two types are found, we can describe direct income as those income generated in relation to the content of your blog. Indirect income can be described as those income generated through means other than in relation to the content.

Exploring further, we find today, the following popular direct income schemes.

  • Advertising – like in other types of media (TV, radio, newspapers etc.), advertising is a prime source of income for bloggers. This scheme can be further categorized as below.
    • Contextual Advertising – Display of ads relevant to your content (e.g. Google AdSense)
    • Search Advertising – Displaying ads for searching within your blog (e.g. AdSense for Search) or when you get visitors via search engines (e.g. Chitika)
    • Sponsorships (aka Targeted Advertising) – Getting vendors related to the content of your blog to display ads for time and size based (i.e. not per-click or per-impression) rates
  • Affiliate Schemes – this is where you earn commission when your readers buy items advertised in your blog. This differs from contextual advertising in that clicking on an affiliate ad alone will not give you any revenue. Amazon Associates is a famous example in this category.
  • Selling Your Content – Thirdly is the means of selling your own content in various print and electronic mediums. Books, ebooks, CD/DVDs etc are examples here.
In the indirect income type, we have a more variety of options.
  • Services (aka Consulting) – Once you build up a good readership and an image as a reliable source for professional help, you can start offering services at a charge. It could be advice on technical matters, search engine optimization, graphic designing, Internet marketing etc.
  • Sales of Goods (aka Merchandising) – This refers to selling materials such as T-shirts and caps to your readers, at a profit.
  • Paid Writing – You can write sponsored reviews about various products. PayPerPost is an example in this category. Writing for team blogs, doing outsourced writing for corporate blogs are other options here.
  • Donations – Offering genuine help to your readers and getting donations in return is another means of income for bloggers.
  • Selling the Blog – Lastly, is the act of selling out your blog. It could be a hard decision if you’ve put lot of hard work in building it up, but some people develop blogs with the intention of selling it.
All schemes above are not applicable for all types of blogs. Selecting what is suitable depends on factors such as the niche of your blog, your readership (e.g. merchandising is good if you have an established base of returning readers) and availability of advertisers.

In the coming articles we will be exploring each of these schemes in more detail.