It is Time to Monetize your Blog

How to Monetized your Blog
by: Kel // March 22, 2016

Monetizing your blog can be one that people need an explanation on the hows and why. The fact of the matter is that to monetize is NOT fast, NOT easy, and...well...not always reliable. 

You can make money blogging.  But, you better LOVE IT (find your passion and write!), because you are going to do it for FREE for...a very...long...time... before it will start paying off. 

Now, let's get into the nitty gritty...How to Monetize YOUR Blog! 

Can you make a lot of money?

If you go into the idea of starting a blog to get rich, well...that's fine.  Lot's of people blog and lots of people are very successful.  But it is important to remember that all the blogger books that claim they made $40,000 in their first year are in the majority.  There is a lot of money spent in start-up, hence the saying...'You have to spend money to make money.'
When you set up your blog, you will need to add in cost for self-hosting, since you can not monetize on a free WP blog and using Blogger (sorry!) does not allow you to own your content, which means that Google can shut you any time...for any reason. 

It is the bloggers who made a lot of money really fast at start up that took professional photography classes, paid to participate in giveaways and link parties, hired experienced VA's to handle social media outlets, paid for designers to design their blogs/websites from the start and were able to utilize the conference scene to their disposal. 

It should be noted that I am not against throwing money into your blog.  If you can afford to do it and you KNOW that blogging is your thing, then more power to you. Your blog life will be easier in the long run.

What I am saying is if you decide to grow your blog organically, without spending money on gaining traffic or followers, do not compare your stats and progress to other bloggers because they probably did not do it the same way.  

Your progress will probably be slow and you will have to work hard in order to even get your blog seen, but this, by no means, doesn't mean you can't and won't be successful. 

When you choose to Spend money on your Blog, Where do you Start?

When people think of blogging as a career, they think it is easy, or that anyone can do it.  Well, sure, anyone can write blog posts, but the majority of a bloggers work day does not even involve writing or taking pictures. 

Typically, 6-8 hours a day consists of running background stuff that the readers never really see.  It requires a lot of the social media tasks (because without it, your blog WILL FAIL) and dealing with the technical maintenance.  It is important that you understand HTML and some CSS, which you can easily research and use tutorials online. Coding is important in blogging, even in small doses, and paying someone to do this duty for you can be costly to a non-existent budget. 

A great reference book to check out is HTML & CSS. You can learn from it and use it for a quick reference guide along the way. You will not need any previous experience to learn from this book. 

When is a good time to Monetize?

Before you monetize, it is recommended that you have 20,000 page views per month, usually because there are some programs that will not accept you if you have less than that. (If you use Amazon, they will revoke your privileges if you do not make a sale in a six month time period)

That is what is recommended. I don't follow the rules, so I monetized as soon as I was able. This gave me the upper hand in being able to manipulate my ads and figure out how they work with my theme and niche, and to be frank, allowed me to be able to screw things up before I had a ton of followers watching. 

How to Monetize.
The easiest way to start is to join ad programs. 

Some of the best programs that I stay true to are: Google AdSense, Amazon Affiliates, and ShareASale.

How should I monetize?

The easiest way is to join ad programs.
The best ones for me have been Google AdSense (read How to Get Approved for Google AdSense), Amazon Affiliates (read How to Insert Amazon Ads Within a Text Post), and ShareASale (read Bloggers Make Money with ShareASale). is easy to work with and not very restrictive. But they don’t earn as much as the others.
BlogHer is very competitive and out-earned Google AdSense in the first month I worked with them (after 11 months of working with AdSense, btw). However, they are INCREDIBLY restrictive. They earn a lot, though, so that’s a huge bonus. But now that they’ve been bought by SheKnows, I get paid each month, rather than having to wait until I hit $100, like with other programs.
They also don’t allow you to put any other ads above-the-fold (that area before your readers have to scroll down). Since other programs like AdSense require an above-the-fold ad, you’ll have trouble working with both. Unfortunately, you have to sign a 1-year contract with them. So you can’t just start using them and then stop when you decide it’s not working for you, like you can with other programs.
A lot of bloggers also recommend writing ebooks. It’s something I’ve considered doing, but only on a topic I really know and want to write about. The problem with this advice is that now every blogger on the planet is trying to write an ebook, whether they’re qualified to give out advice or not (there are millions of blogs out there. Can you imagine if every one of them wrote a book?). That said, if you develop a large enough following, then you’re clearly doing something right and writing an ebook wouldn’t be a bad idea.

How I Monetized My Blog

Here’s a screencap of my income sheet (which I keep track of in Excel):

 Click the image to view a larger version.
The total going down the right-side of the page is the total for that merchant. Some don’t pay you until you reach a minimum amount–usually it’s $100. Amazon pays once you reach $10 if you’re doing gift cards or direct deposit, $100 if you do checks. They also take out a processing fee for checks. ShareASale pays once you hit $50. (Everyone else is $100, I believe.)
The total going across the bottom of the page is the total for that month.
I keep Etsy below my ad total because it’s not an affiliate program, but there’s a separate section for how much ads + Etsy gained. As you can see, my Etsy shop doesn’t do that well. I also only have one regular product in it. However, my plan was to add more after the holidays, which I’ll be working on this weekend (by testing products, I mean. I have NO idea when I’ll actually make them available in my shop).
As for the colors–the red and the black should be obvious (red means I earned nothing and black means I earned something), but grey means that the account wasn’t open yet. As you can see, there is a lot of red and grey.
The biggest reason for this is that I had NO clue what I was doing and I was too empty-headed (and stubborn) to go looking for answers. I figured I could figure it out on  my own. Turns out, I could. But it was much slower that way. I would have done myself a lot of favors by seeking out help and using Google to find articles on how to improve my Google AdSense earnings, for example.
As you can see, Amazon Associates and ShareASale greatly out-earn all of my other programs. That’s because of how I use them and how they fit into my niche. (They’re also affiliate networks, not ad networks.)

How do I make my ads work for me?

Most bloggers who are successful with ads say two things:
  1. Putting ads within your content earns more than letting them sit in your sidebar, and
  2. Using text ads within your post is better than just using image ads. 
The second one is because what you have to say about a product means more to readers than an image you’ve said nothing about. If you’ve built a trusting relationship with your readers (meaning you let them know if a product sucks), they’re more likely to take your word for it if a product is great. I’ve written some negative reviews, but mostly on social media. I try to be completely honest about my experiences, though.
Holidays also help boost revenue. You can see my income jumped a lot from November to December. With people buying things online, gift guides really helped with that.
It’s not all about selling a product, though. Amazon tracks your cookies for 30 days after someone clicks a link from your blog. So if you click on a link to a book, close the tab, wait two weeks, and then buy a Jacuzzi tub from Amazon, I get commission for that tub. (No extra cost to you, of course. And I have heard of someone buying a tub after clicking on an affiliate link. The blogger made about $1000 off that sale. I can’t even imagine….)
The BEST way to earn money, though, is to concentrate on growing your page views enough so you can join something like The Blogger Network. This is actually my goal for 2015. The Blogger Network will take over ads and, instead of paying them, they just take a percentage of what your ad revenue is. Which gives them a lot of incentive to make sure your blog is profitable. A lot of people who have used them say their ad revenue doubled and even tripled. The drawback is that you need a minimum of $80k page views per month (through Google Analytics) to join.

Resources That Helped Me Earn More from Ads

I mentioned earlier that I should have sought help on making my ads work harder for me. I started doing that in November (another reason for the large jump). Instead of making you go out on your own and hope you stumble on something helpful, here are a few videos and blog posts that helped me figure it out.
First, I joined Learn to Blog on Facebook. I’ve learned a lot reading other people’s questions and asking some of my own. That led me to discover the Learn to Blog Hangouts. This is the one that REALLY helped me:

They explain how to set up custom channels, which is also huge in helping you figure out how much ad space on your site is actually worth. That way, if you want to start selling ad space independently, you know what to charge.
I also read a book called How I Made $40k My First Year of Blogging (affiliate). The author basically did everything I mentioned in the introduction to this post (spending lots of money to get started), but she also has some advice if you don’t want to do that. She’s how I discovered The Blogger Network. She has a lot to say about photography, since she’s a food blogger (so if you’re a food blogger, definitely read this book! If you’re not, it will still be helpful to you). That really motivated me to work harder on my photography.
Ruth Soukup’s book How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul (affiliate) was the first and best blogging book I have ever read. Bonus: she skips all the crap about how to start a blog. I hate when I buy an ebook and they spend the first 30+ pages talking about how to set up Twitter. That’s something I can Google for free. This is something that happened in How I Made $40k My First Year of Blogging and it REALLY made me mad. Fortunately, the rest of the book was helpful. Ruth runs Living Well, Spending Less, by the way. Her blog is wonderful and I recommend following her.
Blog posts that I’ve found helpful are:
There are SO many more resources out there. The problem is finding them. Pinterest has been a huge help to me, as well as Facebook groups.
The thing about blogging, though, is that just when you think you have it all figured out, you learn something new. Sometimes that something contradicts what you thought you already knew, which can make things kind of confusing and frustrating. So we’ll see what I learn in 2015! Hopefully this time next year I’ll be coming to you with much better numbers. :)
Just when you think you have blogging figured out, you learn something new. Click To Tweet Edit: The amount of people whining about my “Blogger is a mistake” comments are increasing. Here’s the thing. I am not here to coddle you or tell you that every uninformed decision you’ve ever made will be OK. (Though I am also not here to be mean–I WANT to help, which is why I posted that link about Blogger to begin with.) I’m here to give you a REALISTIC idea of what it’s like to monetize and lay down some facts so you can learn from my mistakes and fix any you’ve made as soon as possible. (Google how to transfer from Blogger to WordPress. It’s possible. People do it all the time.)
If something I said has made you feel bad about the choices you’ve made, then be a professional about it–either it bothers you enough to fix it (in which case, stop wasting your time whining and just go fix it) or it doesn’t bother you at all (in which case, stop wasting MY time). And now you know to do research before jumping into something.

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