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17 Free WordPress Plugins for Blog Monetization

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monetization plugins for bloggers

One of the reasons I like WordPress as a blogging platform is the vast library of plugins to add functionality to your blog. No matter what your niche, there are tons of awesome plugin options, many of which we’ve already talked about here on the NMX blog, along with other awesome tools for your blog.

Today, I wanted to highlight plugins that play a specific role – helping you monetize your blog. If you’re looking for ways to make money with your blog, these WordPress plugins can help. (Disclosure: Some of the below-mentioned companies/people have exhibited at our events in the past or have other relationships with NMX, but they aren’t listed here because of that connection. They’re listed here because I honestly thing they are good tools to consider as you’re monetizing your blog!)

These plugins are listed in alphabetical order not in order of importance, and not every plugin is right for every blog, so use a discerning eye to determine which are right for you.

1. Ad Injection

If you want to include ads within your post, not just on your sidebar, this is a great plugin to consider using. Ad Injection works with Google AdSense, Amazon, ClickBank, and lots of other ad networks. Ads can be injected into your content at the beginning, end, or random spots throughout, and you have tons of control over who sees these ads, as you can limit ads by post length, post age, and more. You can even split test with this plugin to see which ads are preforming best.

The biggest reason I recommend Ad Injection over some of the other ad plugins out there is the amount of control you have with this tool. It’s pretty easy to scare readers away if your blog is too ad-heavy, so with Ad Injection, you have the control you need to make sure your content isn’t getting overwhelmed. The ability to target specific readers based on parameters such as how they were referred to your site is an added bonus.

2. AdRotate

As the name implies, AdRotate is a simply plugin that allows you to have rotating ads on your blog. I find this plugin a little less intuitive to use than others, so make sure you set aside some time to read the documentation and learn how to use it. Once you do, however, there are a lot of cool options. You choose the ad sizes and add them to group or blocks, and you can see the click through rates and other stats in the dashboard.

This plugin also warns you when ads are about to expire, allows you to export ad statistics, automatically disables ads after your designated time/number of clicks/etc., and more. So, once you set it up, this is a very easy automated system for ad management on your blog.

3. Affiliate Link Cloaking

The Affiliate Link Cloaking plugin allows you to use a “pretty” URL that redirects with your affiliate URL, giving you the capability to make money without a link that includes your affiliate ID. This ensures that the user does not remove the ID (yes, some people do that for some reason), and it also makes your links look nicer (some networks have really long, ugly-looking links).

A word of caution: NEVER use this of other link cloaking plugins to “trick” a reader into clicking the link. Always follow FTC guidelines and disclose any link that is an affiliate link.

4. Amazon Affiliate Link Localizer

I recommend some other Amazon plugins (see below) that you can use to add links, images, widgets, and more to your site, but definitely install Amazon Affiliate Link Localizer as well if you are an Amazon affiliate. What this plugin does is add your affiliate code to any Amazon link on your site, so if you forget to use an affiliate link, you won’t miss out on the sale.

Even better though – this plugin automatically detects where a visitor lives and directs them to their country’s Amazon site. So, if not all of your traffic is from one country, this ensures that you’re sending people to the same product on their localized Amazon site. You can pretty much install this one, update the options to include your affiliate IDs, and forget about it.

5. Cleeng Content Monetization

People are willing to pay for good content, and Cleeng Content Monetization gives you an easy way to create a pay wall, like you’ll find on membership sites, but without requiring membership. Anyone who wants to see more content simply clicks to pay a very small amount, but you can still keep the majority of your content open to the public in order to take advantage of advertising revenue. You can also work with a traditional membership subscription model or give out daily passes. There are a lot of options.

Here’s a great video that explains how Cleeng works:

[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/17094725[/vimeo]

6. CrankyAds

The CrankyAds plugin from Yaro Starak allows you to add text, banner, and video ads to your blog pretty easily. A lot of other plugins do the same thing, but there are a few functions that set CrankyAds apart:

  • The plugin automatically creates an advertising page for your blog with all of your ad options.
  • The process is streamlined, so while you don’t have quite as many options as you do with some other plugins, you have a much simpler method of monetizing your site with ads.
  • You don’t have to do any of the manual uploading yourself – your sponsors do the work.

Although this plugin is free, when someone buys an ad, they do so through the CrankyAds marketplace, and they of course take a cut of the money. Some bloggers have also noted that they don’t like the auto-populating advertising page. CrankyAds is relatively new, however, so I think we can expect to see some improvements over the next several months. It’s definitely worth checking out and keeping your eye on, even if you’re not sold on it right now.

7. MSMC Redirect After Comment

Like some of the other plugins on this list, the MSMC Redirect After Comment plugin doesn’t have to be used as a monetization tool, but it certainly can be. With this plugin, whenever someone leaves a comment, they’ll be redirected to a page you specify, rather than just back to whatever post they were reading. So, you could have them redirect to a sales page, an online store, or even a list of “products I recommend” with affiliate links. There are a lot of possibilities with this plugin, and at the very least, it allows you to keep your readers on your site longer in many cases. The longer someone stays on your blog, the more likely they are to buy a product, sign up for your email list, or tell their friends about you.

8. Outbrain

Outbrain is a “related links” widget that can be used across many platforms (including WordPress). You can use this plugin to do internal linking, which typically decreases your bounce rate, but it’s also a monetization tool – if you want it to be. Some content creators pay Outbrain to distribute their posts on other blogs. If you write something related and agree to have outside posts linked as part of your Outbrain widget, you’ll be paid for the traffic you send to that sponsored content. With Outbrain, you have full control over the sponsored content you allow linked on your site, and you can also indicate other sources you’d like to include in the “related links” section when relevant, so it’s a great way to support your favorite bloggers.

9. PostPost

If you want to monetize your feed, PostPost is a great plugin option. With this plugin, you can add content before or after your posts/pages. Simply add the code snippet or text via the options and it will start appearing. PostPost supports JavaScript-based code, which means you can use it with Google AdSense and other ad networks, or you could also display affiliate ads, text/banner ads sold directly to sponsors, or even your own products.

10. PostRelease

When you sign up for PostRelease, you open your blog up to a brand new automated revenue stream – sponsored posts. With this plugin, you’ll join a network of publishers, and companies interested in content marketing will automatically be matched with your site. So, for example, a car company might write a post called “How to Buy Tires For Your New Car” and be matched with your automotive blog. The post will appear on your blog exactly like any of your own posts, and will be marked clearly as “sponsored.”

From your dashboard, you can approve or deny sponsored posts, as well as track stats. If a sponsored post is not performing well, PostRelease will delete it so your site isn’t continually cluttered with posts your readers don’t like. One feature that I really like is that sponsored posts will always show up second in your feed. So, your own content won’t be overshadowed on your homepage if a PostRelease posts is published after it. Your content always takes center stage.

Check out this video to learn more about PostRelease:

[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/42294717[/vimeo]

11. SEO Smart Links

The primary function of SEO Smart Links is to allow you to easily link internally on your own site, but you can also use this plugin for affiliate advertising. Basically, you input a list of keywords, along with the URL you want to link to whenever the keyword is used.

If you do choose to use this plugin for external affiliate linking, make sure you don’t overdo it. You don’t want to have links on every two words in your post! Also make sure you have a disclosure notice on your blog so you’re complying with FTC rules requiring you to tell your readers that you use affiliate links.

There is a premium version of this plugin available, but you can start off with the free version.

12. Sharexy

As a blogger, you probably already realize how important social sharing buttons are on your site. Sharexy is one of the button options out there, but unlike other social sharing plugins, this plugin also allows you to earn a little extra money on the side. One of the options you have with Sharexy is to also display a small advertisement, and you’ll earn money for every click.

I personally have never used Sharexy on any of my blogs, but have stumbled across this plugin more than once, and some people seem to really like it. So, it’s definitely an option I’m considering and one you should take a look at as well.

13. WordPress Amazon Associate (plus some other Amazon plugins)

This is an awesome plugin for anyone who’s an affiliate with Amazon. Yes, you can just log in on Amazon.com and get all the links you need that way, but with WordPress Amazon Associate, you don’t even have to leave your dashboard. The shortcodes you can use with this plugin save you time, and adding pictures and lists of products is easy to do in a professional way with WPAA.

For me, having WPAA right in WordPress also serves as a reminder to me as I’m writing posts to think about what products I could recommend to my readers that are related to the post topic. You, of course, don’t need to add affiliate links to every post you write, but recommending products that are helpful to readers is definitely a revenue stream you can explore.

Amazon Link is another Amazon affiliate plugin that you can consider. I do not have personal experience using this plugin, but it looks like it has many of the same functions. I’ve also read good things about AmazonSimpleAdmin, which is another Amazon plugin for affiliates that provides some of the same functions as WPAA and Amazon Link.

14. WP125

For those of you needing a simple ad management solution, WP125 is an easy-to-use option. It doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles you’ll find with other ad plugins, but sometimes, simple is better. With this plugin, you can easily add and manage 125×125 banners on your blog, either in manual or random order. This plugin also tracks how many times each ad was clicked, so it’s a great option for all-in-one affiliate ad management as well, not just for ads you sell to sponsors. In addition, you can have the plugin notify you via email when an ad expires, which is great for manually following up with people.

I personally do not use WP125, but I know people who do and like it due to its simplicity. If you’re just getting started and don’t have tons of banner ads to manage yet, check it out.

15. WP Auctions

Ever wish you could offer items up for bid online without using eBay? With WP Auctions, you can. This is a great option if you already have decent traffic and are selling some items closely related to your niche. You’re not going to have nearly the amount of viewers as you would on eBay, but for some people, this could work.

WP Auctions integrates with PayPal for easy payment when the auction is over. Along with selling items, keep in mind that you can also get creative with this plugin by auctioning off ad space, holding auctions for charity, etc.

16. WP e-Commerce

If you sell your own products, like ebooks or e-courses, WP e-Commerce is a great shopping cart solution. This plugin integrates with PayPal, Google Checkout, and more – and you can even accept checks via mail with this cart system.

Designers, rejoice! This plugin gives you complete HTML & CSS control, so you can customize your shopping cart experience. Don’t worry, though: if you aren’t technically inclined or don’t have an eye for design, the out-of-the-box version looks nice too.

Some other WP e-Commerce perks?

  • The ability to offer discounts, coupons, sales, free shipping on physical products, etc.
  • URLs that are search engine friendly
  • Integration with many common plugins and platforms
  • The ability to decide if you want one-click checkout or a multi-step process
  • Sales notification via email

I could keep going – you really have to check out this powerhouse plugin yourself to see all the cool options, most of which are available with the free version. For those of you out there with heavy commerce needs, there are also some paid upgrades available here.

17. WP-Insert

WP-Insert is similar to Ad Injection in that it allows you to include advertising not just on your sidebar, but within your content as well. With this plugin, you have a lot of options for control, such as blocking ads from showing on certain pages/posts, ad style customization, add the option to inset your ads into your RSS feed.

This plugin has a unique feature – the ability to add a ready-made Terms and Conditions page and a ready-made Policy page to your blog (if you want them). This isn’t an option every blogger needs, but as you grow, these are definitely pages you should definitely consider including on your blog. The written T&C/Policy pages can be edited easy to fit your needs, but it’s nice to have a starting point.

WP-Insert is really more than just an ad management tool. For some of you, the various functions will be welcomed, while others might find it a bit clunky because there are too many options. Check it out to see how/if it can fit into your needs.

Your turn: What WordPress plugins do you find helpful for monetization?

The Number One Mistake You’re Making if You Want Sponsors

Author:

You have awesome content. Your traffic is steadily increasing. You’re setting yourself apart from other bloggers and podcasters in your niche. And yet, still, no sponsors or advertisers are knocking on your door.

Why? Why is no one interested when it seems like “lesser” content creators in your niche have more opportunities than they know what do do with? Why are you suddenly the last kid to get picked in gym class, the girl without a prom date, the smelly boy sitting by himself at lunch?

Easy: there’s a huge zit on your face, and it needs to be popped.

Bloggers and podcasters make one mistake more often than any other, and I should know; I’ve made this mistake too. Recently, while listening to Marcy Massura speak at BlogWorld New York 2012, I swear a light bulb clicked on above my head.

The number one mistake you might be making too is this: If you want family-friendly sponsors, you have to be family-friendly.

What does that mean? Let’s take a look at Disney, for example.

Think About Disney

Now, the likelihood that a company as big as Disney will sponsor your blog is low unless you have mountains of traffic, but let’s say you have a travel blog and you really are blowing other travel bloggers out of the water. You’re getting nearly a million hits a month and driving a ton of traffic to advertisers’ sites, which is going to make Disney sit up and take notice.

But what happens when they get to your site and see an f-bomb every two sentences. Is Disney going to slap a sticker of approval on your blog? Absolutely not. It doesn’t matter if your target audience is parents, not kids. Disney is a wholesome, family company. If they endorsed a foul-mouthed blogger it wouldn’t be in line with their company branding.

Now, Disney might not be your target, but any family-friendly company from a Fortune 500 corporation to a family-owned local travel agency is going to feel the same way. You become a risk, and risks are not good. So, instead, Disney and Mo’s Travel Shop are both going to spend their advertising dollars elsewhere.

Think about Disney when you’re writing or recording. If they wouldn’t be happy with your language and content, you should think twice before posting it online.

How Scandalous!

It goes farther than foul language, though. I know some content creators who never use a word stronger than “darn,” but family-friendly companies still shy away. Why? Because you’re scandalous in some way. You create controversy that makes the company uncomfortable. Here are some examples:

  • You’re argumentative on your blog, podcast, or social channels.
  • Even though you aren’t in the political niche, you voice strong political opinions often.
  • Your content has a strong religious slant or bias.
  • You party at professional conferences (or elsewhere – and pictures/videos are posted online).
  • You attack other people in your niche or industry.

In other words, you rock the boat. And not just by writing op-ed pieces regarding what’s going on in your niche or including your opinion when you discuss the news of the day on your podcast. You rant, belittle, and take no prisoners even when the topic has nothing to do with your niche.

Again, you’re a risk. If a company sponsors you and your next piece of content is a rant about gay marriage or the next election or whatever the hot topic of the day might be, you put that company in a very awkward position of looking like they agree with whatever you’re saying, even though they haven’t voiced an opinion one way or another. They’re guilty by association, and your opinions might cost them customers who don’t agree.

If you’re scandalous in any way, sponsors are going to be scared. Just look how many sponsors left when Rush Limbaugh verbally attacked student Sandra Fluke.

Your Brand Matters Most

Regardless of what sponsors want, however, keep in mind that your branding needs to come first. Being a buttoned-up blogger or a demure podcaster might not make sense for you. We need people to question the status quo and certainly there’s a large audience who likes the more edgy style. I hope Erika Napoletano never stops “slapping” people, and I would cry if The Bloggess suddenly became a family-friendly blog. There will be plenty of people – and even plenty of sponsors – who are happy to support this kind of style.

Maybe dropping those f-bombs every two sentences or promoting your religion or being snarky on Twitter is what works for you and your community. That’s okay. Just understand the costs associated with this type of branding. Certain sponsors will never come calling if your content isn’t family-friendly. Be aware of your goals for sponsorship so you can make sure your content is setting you up for success, not scaring potential sponsors away.

Want to learn more about getting sponsors for your blog or podcast? Check out our monetization track at NMX Las Vegas!

State of the Blogging World in 2012

Author:

Imagine how differently things would be if WordPress were never created. Before I started my blog five years ago at ZacJohnson.com, everything I did was through basic HTML and if I ever wanted something complex done, I would have to contact a programmer or just didn’t end up pursuing it.

Jump ahead a few years and WordPress and blogging is everywhere! WordPress isn’t just for blogging anymore, but it’s a full content management system that can do anything you can dream up. Thanks to all of the programmers, coders and designers out there who have made a living out of WordPress customization, we can all focus on using WordPress to create anything we like.

The days of blogging just being for people to write their thoughts and opinions online are over… WordPress is free, yet it still powers some of the world’s most known web sites that are worth billions of dollars! The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo, eBay, People Magazine, New York Times, Wired, Mozilla… all WordPress running platforms and blogs!

State of the Blogging World in 2012

Just the thought of blogging and WordPress in itself is enough to blow your mind, but having some fun stats and an infographic to break it all down is even better. Let’s take a look at some of the mind blowing numbers behind WordPress and the millions of users who rely on the software every day.

There are an estimated 31 million bloggers in the U.S. as of July 2012.

Businesses Blogging Stats

  • 60% of Businesses have a Blog
  • 35% Blog At Least Once A Month
  • 65% Haven’t Blogged Once In The Past Year

U.S. Blogging Stats For 2012

  • 42,000,000 Blogs in the US
  • 329 Million People View A Blog Monthly
  • 25 Billion Pages Viewed Monthly
  • 500,000 Daily New Posts
  • 400,000 Daily Comments

For even more crazy WordPress stats, check out the full infographic below.

Special thanks to Blogging.org for the creation of this infographic.

Affiliate Marketing on Your Blog without Being a Slimey Salesman

Author:

When’s the last time you saw a blogger selling affiliate products…the right way?

If you can’t remember, you aren’t alone. Nearly every day, I see bloggers promoting affiliate products in a way that makes me feel I’m on a used car lot. It’s a turn off, and it makes me trust everything they write a little less.

In this video from past BlogWorld/NMX speaker Darren Rowse, he talks a little about how to promote products the right way. This is how you make sales, not lose readers!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCzPnVteH4U[/youtube]

To follow up Darren’s video, let me just end this post by talking about a few of the biggest mistakes people are making with affiliate marketing on their blogs:

  • Avoiding the “sell.” You’re writing about a product because you want to sell it. That’s okay! Your fans aren’t going to get mad and stop reading because you sell something, as long as it is something relevant and you aren’t putting affiliate marketing above actual helpful or interesting content.
  • Not following FTC rules. Make sure you are disclosing it whenever you use an affiliate link on your blog. If you don’t, readers may feel like you’re being misleading (and you’re probably breaking FTC rules, which you can read more about here).
  • Promoting products just because you can. Instead of promoting an affiliate product because your readers might want to purchase sometime, promote products that you love and really want readers to buy. Just because a product is related to your niche doesn’t mean you should promote it on your blog.

Affiliate promotions are just one way to make money on your blog. Want to learn more? Check out our monetization track at New Media Expo in Vegas!

 

Why You Should Embrace Sponsored Posts on Your Blog

Author:

The phrase sponsored post still leaves a dirty taste in the mouths of many bloggers. Companies are still learning how to work with bloggers, so you might still get a ton of lame offers, ranging from press releases to requests for free promotion for a product or service that has nothing to do with your niche.

But if you swear off sponsored posts altogether, you could be missing out on awesome content for your blog – not to mention a source of income.

The Negative Connotation of “Sponsored”

If you poll your readers, asking, “Would you like to see more sponsored posts on my blog?” I have a feeling that 100% would say, “No way!” But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have sponsored posts. There’s this negative connotation with the word sponsored. People read that word and think crap that has no relevance to me that the blogger published because they were paid.

Stereotypes happen for a reason. Many bloggers do publish crap that has no relevance to their readers simply for the cash, and that’s a problem for three reasons:

  1. Your readers aren’t getting high-quality content.
  2. The sponsor isn’t getting any bang for their buck since readers aren’t clicking their links.
  3. Companies everywhere see this continue to think this is what bloggers want.

There’s a bit of a revolution with sponsored content happening right now, though. Companies are beginning to realize point number two – that they aren’t getting any benefits from the money they’re spending on on sponsored posts. But it’s up to us bloggers to take it a step farther and educate companies on what we really want. That way, the word sponsored won’t make readers shudder anymore.

A Three-Point Rating System

Whenever I’m pitched by a company, I use a three-point rating system to determine whether or not it is a good fit for our blog.

  1. Is the topic relevant and interesting to my readers?
  2. Am I being compensated for my work?
  3. Will the content be unique for my website or is everyone in the niche posting it right now?

So, for example, let’s say that XYZ company sends me a press release about a celebrity chef for my food blog. They offer to send me to his restaurant for a free meal and pay me for the post. Is the topic relevant and interesting? Yes. Am I being compensated? Yes. Is the content unique? Well, it’s a press release, so probably not.

Let’s say that a start-up offers me access to their new social media monitoring product and payment to post a review of it on my fashion blog. In this case, I’m being compensated and since it’s my own review, it would be unique. But will readers of a fashion blog want to know about a social media monitoring tool? Probably not.

Now let’s say that a third company, 123 Travels-R-Us contacts me to write about their new hotel deals site for my travel blog. They offer to send me a unique post about how to save money booking tickets online, which links back to their site. However, they do not offer any kind of compensation for publishing the post.

So I should say no to all three of these offers, right?

Get the Sponsored Content You Really Want

The answer is no: No, I (or any blogger) should not just say no to the above three offers. As bloggers, when we get good but slightly “off” pitches like these, we have the chance to educate companies about their content marketing strategy and get awesome content for our blogs – all while getting paid!

If a company satisfies none of the point on my three-point system, it’s probably not a good fit and working with them will likely be a huge headache. But if they satisfy one or, better yet, two of the points, we can probably work together. They just need a good teacher!

Respond to the email, not in an attacking way, but in an understanding way. They have a job to do – promote their own company. So tell them exactly how they can better make that happen on your blog.

  • “Dear Company XYZ, I would love to promote your chef to my readers, as I feel they’d be very interested in visiting his new restaurant. Instead of posting a press release, though, I think you’ll get more interest if I can do a unique interview with him about his food. If that sounds good to you, let’s work out the details.”
  • “Dear Start-Up, Your new social media monitoring tool looks great, but unfortunately most of my readers are fashionistas who wouldn’t be interested in this topic. However, I am willing to review it as a guest post for such-and-such blog about social media. Does this interest you?”
  • “Dear 123 Travels-R-Us, I checked out your new site and it looks fantastic! I’d love to promote this to my readers. Attached, you’ll find my rates for sponsored posts, and I also have package deals if you’re interested in sidebar or newsletter advertising as well. If you’re interested, I’m happy to talk to you more about my traffic numbers and audience demographic.”

In all three of these cases, the company might not be interested or they might not respond, but you’re sending a clear message:

  • Bloggers want unique, quality content.
  • Bloggers want relevant content.
  • Bloggers want to be paid fairly.

When you can satisfy all three points, you’ll not only be paid for your work, but your readers will enjoy the post you’ve published. Sponsored doesn’t have to be such a dirty word if the details of the sponsorship are very carefully worked out. The vast majority of readers don’t care in the least that you were paid to write something (as long as you’re honest about that, of course); they only care that what you write is something they want to read.

Are You Thanking the Wrong People Online?

Author:

We’re facing an online epidemic; content creators are saying thank you to the wrong people.

It’s a natural reaction to thank any leader in your niche who shares your content via social media or recommends you in a post. If Chris Brogan, for example, retweets your link, you’re probably going to see some traffic and get some new subscribers. I’m not advocating that you stop thanking these people. In fact, a “thank you” is part of what makes people want to share your content again in the future.

The problem is, often we forget to thank the people who really matter.

“But Allison,” you might be thinking, “Chris Brogan (or insert the name of the leader in your niche) is who matters!”

Not really. (Sorry, Chris!)

Why Niche Leaders Don’t Matter

Chris Brogan matters for countless reasons. He’s not a leader in his niche for no reason, after all. The leaders in your niche have also likely achieved this status for a reason – they’ve been around for a long time, they pioneered in the new media industry, they give great advice, etc. They matter because you can look to them for advice, innovation, and education. They matter because they can be role models for you as a content creator.

But sometimes we’re too star-struck about the ways they do matter that we don’t realize there are also ways they don’t matter.

That big-name guru-expert-ninja-rockstar leader in your niche doesn’t matter because in all likelihood, this is not a member of your target audience. If you podcast about fashion, someone who is a leader in the fashion industry probably already knows all of the ten tips to choosing the perfect little black dress that you talked about in your last episode. Or, if you have a marketing blog, that leader in your niche you look up to probably doesn’t need the free ebook about branding you’re promoting.

In other words, they aren’t the people who are ever going to become your customers.

So why do niche leaders share your content? Because they have a similar audience who is hungry for what you’re dishing out. They send lots of traffic your way – and those people are your target audience members. It’s worth saying thank you! But you should care more about saying thank you to the people who will be your customers someday – or those who already are.

Saying Thank You to the People Who Matter

Continuing to use Chris Brogan as an example, let’s say Chris does take a moment to promote something you write, sending lots of traffic your way. Some of those people sign up to your mailing list, and some even buy one of your products.

Are you thanking these people? Because it didn’t cost Chris Brogan anything to send a tweet. It barely even “cost” him any time. But John Doe who spent $97 of his hard-earned money to buy one of your products? If Chris deserves a thank you, John certainly does as well.

Similarly, we should be thanking people who send us emails. This is one of the biggest gripes I have: content creators act annoyed when fans send them emails. I reply to every email I get (or at least I try – sometimes the occasional email falls through the cracks), and I’m happy to do so. Because if I’m getting emails, it means people are responding to what I’m writing online. Even better, people who feel strongly enough to actually send an email are more likely to buy something from me in the future. These people are the backbone of a community. You should be vociferously thanking them for taking the time to email you. It’s like fan mail. How cool is that?

Lastly, are you thanking the people who buy your products? I don’t just mean in a canned automatically-sent email that they get when they make a purchase. I mean a real email or even a blog post that thanks people for supporting you.

Sucking Up Doesn’t Work Anyway

Online, I see people sucking up to the “gurus” in their niches, and it always makes me laugh a little. Come on, do you really think that your behind-kissing isn’t totally transparent. If all you’re trying to do is leverage your relationships with people online, you’re doing it wrong. Build relationships because you genuinely like people, not because you want them to do something for you in the future.

And if you want to actually make money online, you’re focusing on the wrong people altogether by butt-kissing the big names in your niche. Suck up to the people actually spending money with you. You don’t have to stop thanking leaders for supporting you, but if you’re ignoring the people handing you money, you’re doing it wrong.

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How to Use Google to Find Sponsors for your Blog, Podcast, or Web Series [Video]

Author:

As content creators, we usually don’t consider ourselves as working in sales. However, if you want to monetize and you aren’t taking a sales approach, you’re going to be wasting a lot of time sitting around and waiting for your phone to ring.

Want sponsors for you blog? Then go out there and find them!

In this video, Gary Vaynerchuk talks about how you can use Google to find sponsors for your blog – and you could use this same technique to find sponsors for your podcast or web series as well. It’s about going out there and grabbing the advertisers you want. Here’s the video:

I’ve used this same technique on some of my personal blogs in the past, and it’s always been pretty successful. Here are a few extra tips I have for contacting people you’ve found via Google:

  • Contact them the way they want to be contacted.  Usually, whatever is listed first or most prevalently is the best way to contact. Sometimes, people just don’t want cold calls, but they are happy to consider your advertising rates if you send an email.
  • Whenever possible, talk to the person in charge. Calling a customer service number often leads to someone who can’t make advertising decisions. In the video, Gary asks to speak to the person who makes decisions, and that is something you should always remember to do. Don’t waste your time talking to someone who can’t give you money.
  • Give a few options (but not too many options). When you cold call, you have no idea what an advertising budget looks like for a company. So, give them a few options. For example, I offer very affordable monthly rates, but I also offer packages for larger ads, sponsored posts, and more for people who have money to burn. Avoid too many options (that just gets confusing), but if someone says no to your first pitch, be ready with a follow-up proposal that meets their budget and advertising needs better.

Want to learn more about montization? We have an entire monetization track at NMX that you can check out! For past monetization-related sessions, consider our virtual ticket, or for information on attending an upcoming show, head to the NMX event site.

How to Choose Affiliate Products to Promote

Author:

Missy Ward at BlogWorld Content creators talk often about the importance of being passionate about your niche…but what about the products you promote? This was one of the topics Missy Ward covered during her session BlogWorld & New Media Expo New York 2012. Missy is the Co-Founder & President of Affiliate Summit Inc., so she knows a thing or two about promoting products. But believe it or not, it still comes down to one tip: do what you love.

The Sacred Bond of Trust

When you don’t love what you’re promoting, it’s hard to create content around it. Your fans are smart; they will smell it if you’re being insincere or simply not that interested in the product you’re promoting. And when they do realize that you’re promoting something you don’t necessarily love yourself, that bond of trust with you will be broken. Those readers will be less likely to buy products you promote in the future…and they might even stop trusting the non-affiliate information you’re sharing.

People read your blog or listen to your podcasts or watch your videos, in most cases, because they like getting their information from you. Fans grow to know you, and if you prove to be deceiving them in any way (or they feel like you are), it can be hard to win back their love.

The Ethics of Choosing Affiliate Programs

Of course, when we’re talking about choosing affiliate programs, ethics also come into play. FTC regulations say that you have to disclose affiliations when you’re making money, and this includes when you’re given a free product to review, even if you weren’t actually paid. When you’re promoting affiliate products, you certainly must disclose this relationship. Being transparent isn’t just a matter of making sure you aren’t deceiving fans. It’s also about the law. Don’t get hit with a huge fine because you neglected disclosure rules.

Making Your Job Easier

Lastly, when choosing affiliate products to promote, remember that when you know and love a product, it automatically because easier for you to tell others about it. I don’t know about you, but my time is valuable and in short supply. When you actually use a product, you don’t have to do tons of additional research; you can simply write/speak from the heart.

Other factors may also come into play when choosing an affiliate product to promote, and of course, Missy talked about other aspects of product promotion as well during her BlogWorld & New Media Expo presentation. To hear the entire session, check out our virtual ticket (if you were at the conference but missed Missy’s session, you can add on a virtual ticket for a discounted price by emailing registration@blogworldexpo.com). But you have to hurry! Prices for the virtual ticket go up soon, so you don’t want to miss out on the current price!

BlogWorld Daily Wrap-up for Thursday, June 7th

Author:

Today was the last day of BlogWorld & New Media Expo, so I’m closing out my job hosting the Virtual Ticket for this event. But really, after yesterday evening’s keynote announcement, I guess I should be calling it the “New Media Expo” because that’s BlogWorld’s new name. I like the name change. I thought I wouldn’t, but I do. The-Conference-Formerly-Known-As-BlogWorld isn’t just a blogging conference. It really is about all kinds of new media, with a particular focus on blogging, podcasting, and web TV.

So that was announced in yesterday evening’s keynote. It was more relevant (but less titillating) than what happened during Tuesday’s keynote, when someone in the audience stood up, took her top off, and ranted to the crowd.

This morning, I attended Corbett Barr’s session called “The Art of Writing Epic Sh*t” (The asterisk was actually in there. I’m not self-censoring.) I figured I was going to like the session, but he really blew me away. (This is really something you can learn, but it involves hard work. You have been warned.)

As I have over the past few days, I wanted to give you a couple of cool interviews we conducted on-site. So here we go:

First, I talked to Pat Flynn about how to implement passive income strategies without being sleazy. Pat is pretty much the opposite of sleazy. Check it out:

I also chatted with David Risley. David presented a session on monetization strategies, but what’s perhaps more important is that he’s the monetization track leader. Have a listen to get the goods:

Remember, these are only a small sample of the interviews we did, so if you want more of these — plus the entirety of BlogWorld’s conference session content — check out the Virtual Ticket. It goes way up in price after June 22, so sooner than later would probably be better.

So that was BlogWorld New York 2012. It was crazy fun and crazy informative. Awesome.

Book Review: Click Millionaires by Scott Fox (Plus a Giveaway!)

Author:

Click Millionaires by Scott Fox is the latest book for people hoping to make money online. I don’t know about you, but whenever someone makes the promise to teach you how to quit your job and become an Internet millionaire, I get a little suspicious. As someone who earns a living through virtual work, I know just how much time, dedication, and hard work it takes to be successful. I find that many of the books out there on this topic are nothing more than a step above scams.

This is not the case with Click Millionaires, but that said, make sure you read this entire review before pulling out your credit card. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book to review.

“The traditional American dream centered on individual financial achievement–where becoming a ‘millionaire’ allowed you to control your own life, afford anything you want, and live on your own terms. But today the phrase ‘Click Millionaire’ captures the revolutionary idea that lifestyle benefits like independence, security, and self-confidence–formerly only available to the wealthy–are now available to anyone who chooses to build a successful lifestyle business online. As you can see from the definition above, money is important to Click Millionaires, but it’s not the only thing that matters to the ‘new rich.’ Money is not the destination on your life’s road trip; it’s just the gas to help you enjoy the journey.” – Scott Fox, Click Millionaires

First, before purchasing any book, I think it’s important to understand the target audience. In the case of Click Millionaires, you’ll find this book helpful if you are a beginner. Click Millionaires gives a great overview of all the ways you can get started making money online. He covers blogging, podcasting, creating videos, freelancing and more – all good options for people unhappy at their office jobs and hoping to get started earning money online.If you are already well-versed in the world of making money online, though, Click Millionaires is not going to be as useful to you.

Scott’s book is great about giving you brief looks at all the avenues you can take for success online, but whatever you choose, you’re going to have to do more research to find out exactly how to optimize your time online. If Scott went into that kind of detail in his book, it would be  be thousands and thousands of pages! So be warned – if you decide, for example, that podcasting is the right route for you, you’re going to have to become more educated about it. You can’t simply read Scott’s book and turn into a podcasting millionaire. What is great, however, is that Scott gives readers tons of resources for finding more information. He sets you up for success.

The most valuable part of Click Millionaires is Part Five: How to Find Your Niche on the Internet. Choosing a niche is super important to making money online, and I believe that Scott explains how to do this very well. I also love all the interviews he includes in this book. It’s great to hear about stories straight from the people who’ve found success online.

I don’t agree with every piece of advice in this book. In fact, I think that Click Millionaires makes the same mistake that make “make money online” books and information products make – it sounds too easy. Making money online is anything but easy. Can you do it? Can you become a millionaire online?

Yes, I think you can. But it takes years of hard work and most people will never get there. The people who have become overnight successes online caught lightening in a bottle. They won the Internet business lottery. So be wary of anyone selling you hope. Don’t buy Scott’s book if you think you’ll be lounging on your own private island this time next year. Buy Scott’s book because you realize there is potential to earn money online and you want to learn about some of the paths you can take to do this.

Want to come to your own conclusions about Click Millionaires? This is your chance! Scott has graciously offered THREE copies of Click Millionaires to lucky BlogWorld readers.

How to Win:

Scott talks about making money in niche markets in his book, giving examples that range from a flight attendant who tells work stories via her podcast to a man who runs a message board about raising chickens. He’s also on the Making Money from Your Favorite Niche Market panel for BlogWorld New York. So, to win a copy of Scott’s book, leave a comment telling us: What is your favorite niche site?

Do you have a favorite fashion blogger who inspires you? Are you in awe of the videos your local baker posts about how to decorate cakes? Would you love to be as successful online as a friend who runs a forum for novice gardeners? Tell us about this site and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Scott’s book! Hurry, the entry deadline is May 25, 2012!

(Fine print: Winner will be drawn using Random.org and notified via email. Winner must respond within five business days to claim this prize. You may comment as often as you like, but only one comment per person will count as an entry. Commenting from multiple accounts and other attempts to cheat the system will result in disqualification. Only comments answering the above question will count as entries, though other comments are welcome. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries received. All decisions made by BlogWorld are final. Void where prohibited.)

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