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Monetization

How to monetize your blog’s images (part 2)

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A week ago, BlogWorld showed you the first part of a two-part Future of Publishing episode about how to monetize images so that you can make money at home with your blog or affiliate marketing website. This week, I’m showing you part 2 of the episode. The producers felt that it should be split into two parts so that all of the bases would be covered:

Highlights

  • Banner blindness is worse than ever…
  • Some publishers get less than one click per 1,000 pageviews…
  • This means that new advertising methods need to be used…
  • One of the best is to put the ads in the content, for example, with monetized images.

Future of Publishing brought to you by BlogWorld and sponsored by VigLink.

How to Easily Create a Custom “Add to Cart” Button that Converts

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If you’re selling digital products, you know that a good sales page is important. Your sales page is what convinces people to buy whatever it is you’re selling, be it a an email course or an ebook or something else entirely. A great sales page converts, while a not-so-great sales page has people clicking the back button.

Now, most companies that allow you to upload and sell digital products (like E-Junie) give you “add to cart” buttons to include on your sales page. The problem? These buttons aren’t really that great. They aren’t attention-grabbing and they’re pretty generic, rather than matching your site. You can hire someone to design buttons for you, but in the following tutorial video, BlogWorld speaker Pat Flynn teaches you how to quickly and easily create your own custom add to cart button. Even if you have no design experience or graphics skills, this is something you can do to start making more sales immediately!

I absolutely love this tutorial. What a great tip – and so easy! I highly recommend the other videos on Pat’s channel as well; you’ll find a lot of gold there.

How to Earn Money Online with Advertisers

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Jenny Lawson (a.k.a. The Bloggess) has been posting a series of videos answering some of the most common questions she gets asked – and one video that I think might help you guys is this one about making money with advertisers on your blog. You can also adapt this information if you’re a podcasters or web TV producer as well.

Jenny’s blog has nothing to do with blogging and social media, but I still recommend you check it out. It’s hands down one of my favorite blogs of all time! She’ll also be speaking at BlogWorld New York in June, so if you can’t get enough Bloggess, join us there to laugh with us live.

Jennifer Wilson Shares Niche Membership Site Secrets

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Yesterday, I wrote a bit about some questions to ask yourself before becoming a full-time niche blogger. One of the things you have to consider is whether or not you can develop your own products to sell as part of your blog, which is often a more profitable choice than affiliate sales or advertising alone. Recent, Jennifer Wilson from Simple Scrapper sat down with me to answer some questions about a type of product that she’s developed for her niche site – a scrapbooking membership community.

Allison: For those who may not know you, tell us a little about yourself and Simple Scrapper.

Jennifer: I am a water scientist by training, but I’ve always loved writing and creative hobbies. I started my first online publication in 1996, an e-zine on AOL, when I was still in high school. Fast forward to 2008, where I was recently married, relocating to a new city and starting a new full-time position in my industry. I worked full time for 3.5 years while launching my business. I’m now home with my new baby, working 75% time for myself and 25% for the local University. I’m the type of person who needs to keep a foot in both the scientific and creative worlds to be happy.

Scrapbooking seems like a small but crowded niche. How did you initially differentiate your site to find readers and build an audience?

In the beginning (2008), I set out to develop a site that was entirely about digital scrapbooking. At that time there were very few sites in this niche, but I sensed it was about to explode. (It did.) Over the first year, I spent a lot of time further defining my unique offering and looking for specific customer challenges I would address. What I figured out was that people struggle with finding time to scrapbook, with getting over their hangups when it comes to their photos and their memories. I wanted to help those people and thus focus on productivity in scrapbooking. Scrapbooking with your computer (i.e. digitally) became just one of the skills and shortcuts we recommend at Simple Scrapper. Broadening our market to scrapbookers of all styles and approaches was an important decision for the growth of the business.

Why did you decide to build a membership site rather than running a traditional blog?

I didn’t, at first. Simple Scrapper began as just a blog. I knew I wanted to monetize it though, so I focused the first six months on building a readership. Then I added advertising, directly sold to other businesses in my niche. After nearly two years, I saw that this model was not going to take me to the next level (particularly as businesses were cutting back on advertising with this economy). I would need to begin developing my own products.

I launched my first class in August 2010. At the beginning of 2011, I launched a product line that was available individually or by subscription. I also developed a few more classes in 2011. However by the end of summer 2011, I was struggling to keep up with the administration of running a shop with a growing number of products and self-paced classes (not to mention in my third trimester of pregnancy). I didn’t feel my business model (or my lifestyle) was in keeping with my own mission statement of simplicity. I began making plans to convert to the membership model we have now. It was launched in November 2011, just 10 weeks after the birth of my baby girl.

The bottom line here is that I no longer consider a blog to be a viable business model. A blog is an excellent marketing vehicle for building a customer base, a community around a particular niche. However, it is very hard for a blog in “soft” niches to be sustainable on advertising alone.

One of the things a lot of bloggers have trouble with is making money from their readers. How do you build a community when you’re also making money from that community?

It is important to set the expectation that you are a business owner, not a hobby blogger. If you own that title, refuse to apologize for it and accept the responsibility that comes with it, you should have no trouble making money. There is nothing that says businesses can’t fill a market need while being friendly and community-focused. I would even argue that is the best way!

If you could go back and do things differently, what are some of the things you would change?

I wouldn’t have waited so long to begin introducing my readers to the idea of becoming my customers (no longer than six months). I could definitely see some resistance in the beginning, because they had been getting so much for free over the previous two years. I think it is important to have a solid business model in mind before starting your blog, even if it is part of your marketing plan to not launch your membership (or other product offering) until later in your first year.

I also would have signed up for an email service provider from day one.

Thanks for all of your awesome advice, Jennifer! As a way to wrap this up for our readers, can you give us your top three tips for growing a niche membership site?

1. Plan out how all the parts to your program (and your site) integrate, then try to make it simpler. You don’t want users to get lost or frustrated by the experience.
2. Know from the start the content and marketing mechanisms you will use to keep your members renewing.
3. Emphasize (and support) the “community” benefits of your membership, rather than treating this as an add-on.

Head to Simple Scrapper to see Jennifer’s membership site in action!

Five Questions to Ask Before Becoming a Full Time Niche Blogger

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Blogging is a pretty flexible career field. You can do it in the evenings before you go to bed or on weekends while you maintain a typical 9-to-5 job. You can also work on your blog full time, giving up working for other people to instead focus on making money online. Both are viable options.

Of course, the more time you devote to your blogging efforts, the more money you can make with it, no matter what your niche. There are only so many hours in the day, and if you don’t work another job, you’ll have more of those hours to devote to keyword research, social media promotion, community building, and all the other things it takes to make a blog profitable and successful.

But before you hand in your two-week notice, here are five questions to ask yourself. You don’t want to be lining up at the local soup kitchen three months from now because you don’t have a source of income.

1. Is this a good niche for monetization?

Some niches are just better than others when it comes to making money. Choosing the right niche is tricky because you want to be passionate about the topic, but you also want to stay away from niches that:

  • are too crowded.
  • have too small of an audience.
  • have an audience unwilling to spend much money.

It’s a balancing act. Check out your competition. Competition is good because it shows that there is money to be made in the niche, but you also want to be able to stand apart. Are you already making a little money as a part-time or hobby blogger? This is an indication that a little more effort could unlock the floodgates of cash.

2. Do I have a back up plan?

What if your blog doesn’t make enough money to support you (or what if it takes some time to get there)? Do you have a back up plan? Do you have a significant amount of money in your savings? Do you have a spouse that could support the family, even if money is tighter than normal? Do you have other blog ideas if your current blog or first blog idea doesn’t pan out? Do you have the ability to get your old job back or a similar job if you decide blogging isn’t for you? Okay, I’m cheating because these are several questions within one question…but they’re all worth thinking about. Don’t let fear paralyze you, but don’t jump into this with no plans.

3. Am I passionate and knowledgeable enough about my niche to work on it full time?

Working on a blog full time makes it feel like…well…work. While you might love your niche now, are you prepared to devote so much time and effort to it? A few years ago, I ran a video game blog with some of my friends, and part of the reason we ultimately closed it is that one of our co-founders grew to dislike how video games became work for him, rather than just being something fun to enjoy with friends. Beyond the work aspect, though, are you also knowledgeable enough to blog full-time about the topic at hand? You don’t want to run out of stuff to say a few months into it.

4. Can I create my own products?

One of the best ways to monetize is to create your own products to sell, whether these are real, physical products, books (digital or print), membership sites, or classes. If you can’t create products of your own and rely solely on advertising and affiliate promotions, you may want to take a second look at the niche you’re choosing. This alone doesn’t mean you can’t make a full time income, but your own products definitely allow you to make more of a passive income.

5. Do I have a strong base of support?

Lastly, if you don’t have a strong support system in place, finding success as a full-time blogger is a lot harder. Support is needed on two levels: perrsonal (from family and friends) and professional (from the start of your blog’s community). Of course, you want that support to grow as you continue blogging, but if you start from zero, it’s go to be a lot harder to make a full-time income. So find your tribe and find it early!

Five Tips to Help You Land Your First Speaking Gig

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One of the speaker sessions at BWENY 2011

In just over two weeks, I’ll be speaking at Marywood University about using social media after graduation (in addition to blogging here, I also run a career advice blog at After Graduation). It’s officially my first paid speaking gig, and I couldn’t be more excited! Speaking gigs are a great way to both build your brand and make some money with your blog. So how did I land a speaking engagement and how can you do the same? Here are five tips you can use to start speaking about your niche:

1. Look outside conferences and other events.

Of course we love receiving your speaker applications here at BlogWorld and other events (SXSW, BlogHer, etc.) are also great for people hoping to speak. However, for every one open session organizers are trying to fill, there are dozens or even hundreds of speakers who apply. Instead, think about other places where groups of people gather and would be interested in what you have to teach. For example, I’m speaking to a college class. You could speak at high schools, churches or religious meetings, events outside the social media industry, women’s groups, businesses, and more.

2. Don’t wait for people to come to you.

You’re going to be sitting at home waiting by the phone for a long time if you’re waiting for people to approach you about speaking. Yes, it happens, especially if you have speaker page on your blog. If you’ve never been a speaker before, though, you have to go out and actively find opportunities to speak, not just wait for people to contact you. I was proactive about contacting Marywood’s professors to land my first gig.

3. Have an “in” where you’d like to speak.

When you’re unproven as a speaker, it helps to have an in wherever you want to speak. My sister is a student at Marywood and I’ve also had interns at this school, so it just made sense. The professor who is allowing me to speak to her class knows me, so even though I don’t have prior experience, she’s willing to give me a chance. I can use this opportunity to record my talk, which will help in getting future gigs, even when I don’t have an in. Who do you know? Maybe your best friend’s company would benefit from a short session with you. Maybe your mom is the president of a business organization that is looking for speakers at their monthly meetings. Maybe your spouse is part of an alumni group who would love to hear you speak.

4. Be relevant.

If you blog about real estate but are looking for a speak about how to use Twitter, there’s going to be a disconnect for event organizers. Now, you might be more than capable of speaking about Twitter, and you might even be the best person to talk about Twitter, but unless you have some social proof in this area, it’s going to be a difficult sell. For your first speaking gig, try to find an opportunity that is extremely relevant and closely related to your experiences. I run a blog about career advice for 20-somethings and work for a new media conference. I’m speaking about new media to a group of students. That isn’t a coincidence.

5. Lower your expectations a little.

Sure, we all want to be keynoters for events in our industry, but you need to work up to that. You probably aren’t going to get paid $10,000 and speak to a room of thousands of people your first time. You may have to volunteer as a speaker and you may have a very small audience. That’s okay. You’re building a speaking resume so you can get paid more and speak to larger groups next time. Dream big…but start small.

Have you spoken to groups before? Tell us about your first gig and leave some tips for people who’ve not yet landed any speaking gigs!

Eight Ways to Make More Money as an Affiliate

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Every month, I make a few hundred dollars in affiliate sales as a blogger, and those who focus on this form of monetization make even more. When I first started selling products as an affiliate, I was lucky to make a few bucks a month with Amazon. Lots of bloggers have given brilliant advice about working as an affiliate, but today I wanted to talk about some tips that worked for me to increase affiliate sales. You can make a few changes to increase passive sales, like me, or you can really run with these tips to make a full-time income with affiliate sales.

1. Capitalize on search terms bringing people to your blog.

Stats come in handy if you’re looking to make a little more money as an affiliate. Check out the search terms that are bringing the most people to your site, and think about what those people are looking to purchase. For example, if people are coming to your food blog using the term “cupcake advice,” try linking to your favorite cupcake tins or decorating products on your sidebar through a well-placed banner.

2. Write reviews.

Lots of bloggers work with brands to review products, but you can really capitalize on these posts by includigoodng affiliate links to purchase at the end of your review. In addition, you can include links to related products, which is an especially good option if you didn’t like the product – link to other items a reader can consider instead.

3. Sweeten the pot on a new product.

This is an especially good tip for informational products, which are often launched with tons of affiliates in the same community. Why should a reader buy from you and not one of the countless other bloggers out there promoting the same new product? Sweeten the pot! For example, maybe if the sale is through you’ll site you’ll send a free copy of one of your ebooks.

4. Don’t be afraid to email you list.

If you try to sell to your list every two days, you’re probably going to see a large unsubscribe rate. However, if you never send out a sales email, you’re not making the most of a great opportunity to connect with people who want to buy what you’re selling. You can use emails to sell affiliate products just like you can use them to sell regular products. I send out a sales-related email about every other month, typically for a product that’s discounted for some reason.

5. Take advantage of buying seasons.

There are certain times of year when everyone is buying, regardless of niche – right before Christmas and Valentine’s Day, for example. In addition, specific products sell well during specific times of the year (for example, right now, weight loss products are hot since everyone’s trying to keep their resolutions). When you talk about products on your blog, using affiliate links of course, time your posts well.

6. Choose affiliate programs wisely.

Sometimes making more money as an affiliate is as easy as signing up for different programs. Some products are available from multiple companies and, thus, are available through multiple affiliate programs. Amazon has just about everything, but the percentage you’ll earn per sale is lower. Other affiliate programs may be more limited, but offer a larger percentage. Compare rates before you insert links, and consider going back through older posts that still receive a lot of traffic to replace links to better affiliate programs.

7. Compare products.

Readers love to learn about products relevant to them, but reviews aren’t your only option. You can also compare products, especially if there are two or three brands all selling similar items. Comparing them is great for search engine traffic, since lots of people look up “vs.” advice before they buy something.

8. Switch the locations of your banners and links.

It really is that simple sometimes. Affiliate links are great to place within posts and emails, but you can also make sales with banners and links on your site. Sometimes, just moving a button above the fold or to the end of a post or somewhere else makes a ton of difference. For example, I saw my sales increase when I added a product carousal to the end of posts on one of the blogs I run. Previously, I had the carousal on the sidebar and it barely got any attention at all. So do some split testing to find out what works.

Now it’s your turn: If you’re an affiliate, what changes have you made that have given you a boost in sales? Leave a comment with your best tip!

What Louis C.K Can Teach Us About Selling Digital Content

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Louis C.K. has always published his comedy specials in a traditional way. He’s been quite successful, and I’m sure that there was no shortage of production companies wanting the rights to his latest special. Yet he chose another route – self-publishing on a website of his own.

He shelled out a ton of money to make it happen, but ultimately saw his investment multiply. And, while I’m sure people are still downloading his special illegally, the $5 price point made it a lot more accessible to fans on a budget.

Louis C.K. might not be a digital mastermind, but I think all of us online content producers can learn a few things from his success. You don’t have to be a celebrity to replicate what he did and find success of your own. Here are a few take-away points I think are extremely important:

1. Don’t clutter your website.

Check out louisck.net, or louisck.com for that matter. They redirect to a purchase page. You don’t get some kind of splashy homepage or profile or store with tons of options. There’s no flash intro, no silly sidebar with links to everything under the sun, no long sales page. You get a link to buy his special. If you look for it, you can get to the news page or watch some videos, but the site isn’t cluttered with a million things to take the buyer’s attention away from doing anything but buying. If you’re going to sell something, don’t distract your potential buyers.

2. Save your fans from dealing with tons of annoying restrictions.

People pirate digital content. I’m not okay with that; everyone deserves to be paid for their work. But making buyers jump through a bunch of hoops to give you their money is just silly. On Louis C.K.’s site, he specifically addresses would-be pirates and talks about why he formatted his content the way he did, even if it does make it easier to share illegally. For him, it’s more about making it easier for the fan than making it harder for the pirates, and I think a lot of people responded to that and clicked the “buy” button because of it.

3. Give buyers a way to stay connected – if they want.

I hate when I purchase something and am automatically added to a mailing list. It’s really just one step above spam, if you ask me. On his site, there’s a mailing list, but you can easily opt out of it when you make your purchase. If you never want to hear from Louis C.K. again, no sweat. In fact the “No, leave me alone forever, you fat idiot.”* option is default. You have to make a conscious decision to add yourself to his mailing list. It’s respectful. Treat your fans that way too – let them decide whether or not they want to stay in touch before you fill their inbox with tons of emails trying to sell other products before they even know if they like the first one.

*his words, not mine!

4. Be transparent.

Most people shy away from talking about their process. They just show you a finished product to buy and allow people to make the purchase. They definitely don’t follow up with sales stats in most cases. At least, not super specific sales states.

Louis C.K. took a picture of his PayPal account balance. He also talked about how much the special cost him to make, what he paid for his website, why he decided to sell his content digitally, and what he planned to do with the money. All of that makes me trust him so much more. It’s almost like your fans get to know you when you’re not only personable, but also transparent about the fact on your website.

5. Don’t be greedy.

It’s easy for your eyes to light up when you see big numbers, but let’s be honest; nobody needs a million-dollar salary to survive. Instead of keeping all the money he made, Louis C.K. was honest about what he really needed. He gave the rest to his employees (along with big bonuses) and charities. As a potential buyer, I’m more inclined to buy when I know that part of the money I spend is going to good causes. And it’s really attractive to know that the artist is deciding how the money gets divided, rather than a Hollywood production company, especially given the SOPA bs happening in Washington right now.

6. Let your fans get involved.

To go along with point number five, I also thought it was very interesting (and smart) that Louis C.K. crowd-sourced via Twitter to decide what charities deserved some of his cash. When you get your fans involved, it not only helps build community, but it’s extra press for your products. Every people tweeting with him was advertising his special to their followers. While I don’t necessarily think it was a marketing ploy on Louis C.K.’s end, I do think that he probably saw another small sales spike around the time he was interacting with people on Twitter, trying to choose charities.

7. Don’t pretend to be an expert when you’re not.

Lastly, if you’re not an expert on something, don’t “fake it ‘till you make it.” People will smell that bs a mile away! Louis, for example, is not technical genius. He doesn’t understand torrenting, and makes that pretty clear on his site (in fact, he makes a joke out of it which is even better). Do what you know how to do; you’ll sell more products and build a more trusting, loyal fanbase than if you claim to be some kind of expert when you’re not.

Even if you’re not interesting in buying you can check out Louis C.K.’s Live at the Beacon Theater page here to see a good example of someone selling their digital content in a positive way.

Image via Wikipedia.

The 12 New Media Days of Christmas 2011: 12 Bloggers Monetizing

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During the 12 New Media Days of Christmas, we’re counting down the days until Santa comes by featuring some of the best blog posts of 2011 from awesome writers within the BlogWorld community! Skip to the end to read more posts in this holiday series and don’t forget to leave a comment if you’ve written a post about today’s topic!

To start things off this year, I wanted to highlight a topic that I know is on many of your minds: Monetization.

Monetization can mean a lot of different things – everything selling ads on your sidebar to writing your own ebooks. I’ve gathered some of my favorite posts from 2011 about monetization across a number of topic areas; check them out!

Post too long? Head to the Quick Links section for just a list of the links included in this post without all the analysis and quotes!

1. Looking for Money in the Grass by Tom Webster at BrandSavant

Tom’s story of finding a $20 bill one day as a child perfectly describes one of the biggest problems in monetization today – junk science. In other words, we’re so hungry for an answer to how to best make money online that we don’t take a moment to verify facts or test a hypothesis. Worse yet, in my opinion, is that we’re willing to do what other bloggers tell us is “best” without taking the time to understand how these actions will translate to our own monetization efforts. Writes Tom,

We mine our tweets and retweets, and discover that noon is the best time for us to post. Or we discover that more of our emails are opened on Thursdays. In short, we look at historical data, and we find a $20.00 bill. We watch webinars telling us that we are more likely to find that twenty bucks on a weekend, or after midnight, or on a boat, or with a goat. We accept the easy answer – the “what.” We don’t ask the more difficult question: the “why.”

After checking out Tom’s post, head to @webby2001 to follow him on Twitter. You can also pick up the books he’s written: Twitter Users In America, The Social Habit, The Podcast Consumer Revealed or find him as the Vice President of Strategy and Marketing for Edison Research, a company best known for providing exit polling data for U.S. presidential elections.


 

2. How to Make Money Online Though Blogging and Writing by Kristi Hines at Kikolani

This is a different kind of post, focusing not on making money on your own blog, but on how to make money as a writer for other blogs. This is my main source of income, so it has a special place in my heart! Kristi’s post on making money as a blogger is amazing. I’ve been freelancing since 2005, so it’s rare to come across a post that is totally original and helpful. If you’re interested in making money online this way, this is a post you want to bookmark. She even covers topics like promotion in this post. Kristi writes,

No matter how you decide to make money online through writing, the one thing that you will need to do to make a good impression with the sites you write for is promote your posts. Blog promotion isn’t just for blogging contests. Blog owners and businesses will be more likely to want more content from you if your posts are some of the most popular ones on their site.

Like I said, this is one you’ll want to bookmark if you’re interested in getting paid to write blog posts. You can also find Kristi on Twitter @kikolani, add her to your Google+ circles, and check out her ebook, Blog Post Promotion: The Ultimate Guide.


 

3. My First Product by David Risley at DavidRisley.com

I love it people aren’t afraid to talk about some of the mistakes they’ve made or the processes that led to the success they have now. In this post, David Risley talks about his experiences mailing out CDs loaded with ebooks and software, and how the same ideas behind this product are still relevant today.

Writes David,

I eventually stopped selling that CD because times had changed. More and more people were using high-speed internet connections. And the medium of delivery was very much turning to the Internet rather than CD.

But, it all started somewhere.

With a necessity. And with me simply providing a convenience to my readers.

You can find David on Twitter @DavidRisley or add him to your Google+ circles. He leads The Inner Circle, an exclusive members-only club, as well as offers training programs for bloggers such as 3-Day Money and Blog Masters Club.


 

4. 101 Ways Monetize Your Blog Without Irritating Your Readers by the Inside CRM Editors

Holy list of resources. This is a fantastic post with over 100 links and tips to help you get started making money online. I love it when a post really delivers, and this one definitely does. They writers can compiled a list here that covers a huge number of monetization methods, from RSS ads to merchandizing to sponsored posts. From the post:

Blogging is big business these days, with some bloggers reporting six-figure or even million-dollar incomes. There are a number of ways that these bloggers earn such large paychecks, and the best know how to do it in a way that won’t scare off readers. Check out 101 ways that you can earn money from your blog and learn strategies for using these tools and methods in a way that’s reader-friendly.

Inside CRM is a great resource site for marketers and sales professionals. You can find senior editor analyst Chris Bucholtz on Twitter @bucholtz.


 

5. Should You Monetize Your New Blog Now or Wait? by John Chow at JohnChow.com

It’s one of the most commonly-asked questions: when should a blog be monetized. As monetization master John Chow says it best, though, there’s no right or wrong way to answer that question. It depends on your blog. However, just because you can monetize right away doesn’t mean that you necessarily should. In the post, John writes,

The right answer for you depends on what your goals for the blog are. If you’re goal is just to make a few extra bucks, then you can use Google Ads from the get go. If you’re looking to build a solid and lasting blogging business that will allow you to live the Dot Com Lifestyle, then my recommendation is to wait before putting on the ads. John Chow dot Com made no money for the first eight months of its life. There were zero ads on it and no affiliate promotion of any kind.

John then goes on to explain the reasons why waiting made sense for him and why it might make sense for you as well. After reading the post, you can find John on Twitter @JohnChow and like his blog on Facebook, where you’ll find information on how to download his Ultimate Blog Profit Model ebook for free.


 

6. Every Tool You’ll Ever Need To Create and Launch An E-Book by Jonathan Wondrusch at By Bloggers

Dudes. This is a seriously awesome post that really does include all the information you need to know to create your own ebook. It’s a super long post, but well worth the read, even if you’ve created ebooks in the past, because it will make your ebooks better. Even better, Jonathan includes both premium and open source/free products that will help you create your next ebook, so even if you’re on a budget, this post will be beneficial for you. It’s another “must bookmark” link! From the post:

While there are a lot of amazing tools to choose from, I realize that not everyone is going to be able to dish out the money needed for the higher end ones.  Mixed in with the premium products that are used in professional digital publishing, there are Open Source and free options included whenever possible.

Blogging Bootstrappers need to find a balance of keeping their expenses down, but also creating killer products.  With the tools listed, there’s no reason that won’t be possible.

Jonathan is on Twitter @bybloggers and you can also like By Bloggers on Facebook. In addition, he has a free ebook available called Epic E-Book Creation, and if you sign up for his mailing list, you’ll get the Bootstrappers Toolkit, which includes the The E-Book Creation Explorer’s Guide.


 

7. How To Increase Sales For Your Online Store By Tracking Custom Variables by Steve and Jennifer at My Wife Quit Her Job

This post is actually a follow-up to a post they published about using analytics tracking to improve their online store. Both are worth a read if you’re interested in merchandizing. Really, though, I find that their tips and techniques for using analytics to track sales can work for a variety of monetization methods, including affiliate sales and informational product creation. There are some fantastic methods outlined in this post.

Don’t get me wrong. The default tracking of Google Analytics is extremely powerful. But if you want to get down and dirty with specific aspects of your shop, you will need more power than what is provided out of the box with Google Analytics.

By default, Google Analytics spits out too much broad based information for you to interpret correctly. In order to effectively use analytics, you must learn how to filter out only the information you need and focus on what will make you the most money.

Also available on the My Wife Quit Her Job site, you can sign up for their mailing list to receive the free mini-course How To Create A Profitable Online Store In 5 Easy Steps. You can also follow them on Twitter @mywifequit and like the blog on Facebook.


 

8. 10 Quick Steps to Becoming a Virtual Entrepreneur! by Chris Ducker at Virtual Business Lifestyle

No matter how you’re monetizing, you need to start thinking of yourself as a business owner. In this post, Chris goes over nine steps to get started, and his awesome community chips in with lots of comments with more tips. There’s nothing “quick” about building an online business, but in actuality, when you break it down like Chris has in this post, it doesn’t have to be such a daunting undertaking. Writes Chris,

To become successful as a virtual entrepreneur takes more than just building a few niche sites and relying on Adsense (although we do enjoy it, don’t we VBL Niche Site Project peeps!?). I’ve taken a huge journey over the last couple of years, becoming more and more virtual as time has passed. And I’ve loved every minute of it.

So, today I thought it would be a good idea to create a small selection of tips and tactics for everyone to follow, if they are not ‘quite there’ in regards to ‘going virtual’.

You can find Chris on Twitter @chriscducker. He’s the virtual CEO of the Live2Sell Group, Virtual Staff Finder, and YourWebPA. You can also find him on YouTube and get his free ebook, Saving the Day the Virtual Way, by signing up for his mailing list on the Virtual Business Lifestyle sidebar.


 

9. A Counterintuitive Guide to Pricing Your Best Work by Tyler Tervooren at Advanced Riskology

I’m frequently asked how I price my services, and although I think the process is different for every person, I really like the argument that Tyler makes in this post: sometimes, you should give away your very best work for free.

Writes Tyler,

The rule I try to follow:

  • General and insanely useful = Free
  • Specific and insanely useful = Paid

The very best pieces of your work that apply to a general audience should be free and if someone wants it in a format that fits their unique situation, there’s a good opportunity to ask for a sale.

Don’t fret about giving away so much for free. That’s a silly problem, and I think too many people worry about it. Instead, worry about how you can give even more of your very best work away for free. When you do that, you find hordes of people paying when you ask them to even if they can’t personally use what you’re selling; they’re so happy with what you’ve given them already, they want to support you however they can.

Trust me, everyone; this post is worth a read. I’m into making money as much as anyone, but some of the points Tyler makes in this post hit the nail right on the head. After checking out the post, you can find Tyler on Twitter @tylertervooren and like Advanced Riskology on Facebook. He also runs the Guerrilla Influence Formula e-course and has a number of other products for sale at his store.


 

10. The Give Me Society by C.C. Chapman at CC-Chapman.com

On the other end of the spectrum from Tyler’s blog, there’s C.C. Chapman’s post about why you shouldn’t be ashamed to charge money when you have something of value to offer. I actually don’t think the two posts are in competition with one another – they both make the point that it is okay to sometimes do work for free, while other times charging for your time. I like C.C’s assertion that we don’t have the right to judge anyone for charging for a service or product. Writes C.C.,

I’ve been seeing more and more people complaining about individuals or groups deciding to charge for some of what they create. This give ME mentality reminds me of whiney first graders who can’t always get a cookie every time they ask for one. Not only do they want fries, but they want them drowned in gravy, covered in cheese and then fed to them by a half naked waitress with a cute smile. In other words, they want it all and they want it on their terms.

After reading the post, head to Twitter to find C.C. @cc_chapman or add him to one of your Google+ circles. You can also pick up a copy of the book he co-authored with Ann Handley, Content Rules.


 

11. Seven Ways You Can and Should Start Charging for Your Content by David Spark at Spark Minute

So now that I’ve included two posts about whether or not you should charge for your content itself (not just monetizing your blog with ads and the like), I wanted to highlight a post that reviews the different options you have for doing so, should you decide that this is the monetization route for you. This is a fantastic post from David Spark that covers everything from creating content tiers to fabricating scarcity. In his post, David writes,

Now that people are paying for digital content, and we’re making sense of what has value. How have people successfully charged for their content, and how can you do it? Here are seven successful techniques you can use to actually charge people for consuming your content.

Not all of these techniques are going to be right for you, but there are some good ideas here that you should be considering. After checking them out, you can follow David on Twitter @dspark and find out more about his social media company, Spark Media Solutions.


 

12. How to Create an Affiliate Program that Doesn’t Suck by Sean Ogle at Location 180 (Guest Post for Laura Roeder)

Normally, I try to include posts from the blogger’s own site, but this was such a great guest post that I just had to share it! One of the best ways to monetize is to create your own products, whether that’s some kind of informational virtual product (like an ebook or e-course), a physical product (like a print book or t-shirts), or an event (in-person or virtual like a webinar). To help make more sales, having a good affiliate program is key. In this post, Sean talks about how to make that affiliate program attractive. Remember, the more people promoting your products, the more sales you’ll ultimately make. Writes Sean,

Just yesterday I received an email about promoting a product that said this:

“Includes an incredible affiliate offer where you can make nearly 25% off every single sale!”

The product was $47 with a 20% commission and no other incentives.  I’m sorry but $9.40 just doesn’t excite me that much.

The reason most affiliate programs suck is because most owners of these programs care only about themselves.  They don’t want to devote the time and money to doing it right, which results in very few sales for you, and even less money for your affiliates – which let’s face it, is the whole point.

So how do we fix this?

Check out the post for the answer to Sean’s question, and then head to Location 180 to read more of his work. You can also follow Sean on Twitter @seanogle and join his membership community Location Rebel to learn how to build a virtual business. (This guest post’s host, Laura Roeder, is on Twitter too @lkr)


Quick Links

For those of you short on time, here’s a list of the links covered in this post:

  1. Looking for Money in the Grass by Tom Webster (@webby2001)
  2. How to Make Money Online Though Blogging and Writing by Kristi Hines (@kikolani)
  3. My First Product by David Risley (@DavidRisley)
  4. 101 Ways Monetize Your Blog Without Irritating Your Readers by the Inside CRM Editors
  5. Should You Monetize Your New Blog Now or Wait? by John Chow (@JohnChow)
  6. Every Tool You’ll Ever Need To Create and Launch An E-Book by Jonathan Wondrusch (@bybloggers)
  7. How To Increase Sales For Your Online Store By Tracking Custom Variables by Steve and Jennifer (@mywifequit)
  8. 10 Quick Steps to Becoming a Virtual Entrepreneur! by Chris Ducker (@chriscducker)
  9. A Counterintuitive Guide to Pricing Your Best Work by Tyler Tervooren (@tylertervooren)
  10. The Give Me Society by C.C. Chapman (@cc_chapman)
  11. Seven Ways You Can and Should Start Charging for Your Content by David Spark (@dspark)
  12. How to Create an Affiliate Program that Doesn’t Suck by Sean Ogle (@seanogle)

Other posts in the 12 New Media Days of Christmas series will be linked here as they go live:

12 Bloggers Monetizing (this post)
11 Emailers List Building
10 Google+ Users a-Sharing
9 Vloggers Recording
8 Links a-Baiting
7 Community Managers a-Managing
6 Publishers a-Publishing
5 Traffic Tips
4 New Media Case Studies
3 Must-Read New Media Interviews
2 Top New Media News Stories of 2011
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

You can also check out the all the posts from 2010 and 2011 here , and don’t forget: If you wrote a post in 2011 about today’s topic (monetization), PLEASE leave the link in a comment below to share with the community!

Must Use Self Serve Ad Networks

Author:

As an affiliate marketer, or even just a blogging, the end goal is to bring new traffic to your landing pages, sites and blogs. What is changing, is how you can advertise and bring in a new flow of traffic to your target points. No longer do you have to blindly create ad campaigns on a CPM basis, and just hope for great results. The same can also be said about targeting and who will see your ad. The days of having to wait for a sales or support team to upload your ad creatives and get back to you within 24-48 hours for your first set of stats is also a thing of the past … all thanks to self serve advertising platforms.

Finally, ad networks and social networks are getting smart and letting the advertisers do the work and setup ad campaigns the way they want. Now you can target specific demographics, only target to certain countries and use a full rotation of different ad copies, all thanks to the self serve ad networks listed below.

Facebook Ads

With over 800 million users and quickly approaching the 1 billion mark, Facebook has changed the way we advertise, thanks to their amazing Facebook Ads platform. Since every one on Facebook is all about sharing information, Facebook uses that same information to allow advertisers to create ad campaigns that advertise to their exact customer match. Looking for single females in New York that love “Desperate Housewives“? In a few simple clicks you can target them all on Facebook.

Facebook allows you to create your own ad campaigns made up of headline text, a description and a 110×80 image to represent your offer. Through the Facebook Ads manager you can create a ton of ad campaigns and different ad copies, which makes it extremely for you to perform split testing. All advertising is on a CPC or CPM basis.

Plenty of Fish

Just like Facebook launched their own advertising platform, Plenty of Fish, which is the largest free dating web site in the world, soon followed up with their own self serve ad platform. Dating web sites work the same way social networks do, as in people provide detailed information about themselves, which is then used by the networks for advertising targeting.

Plenty of Fish has even more detailed information than Facebook when it comes to targeting. From pet ownership to hair color and how many children someone has, POF has become a playground for internet marketers. Through the use of a Plenty of Fish Ads Uploader you can quickly create hundreds of ad campaigns in just minutes, then weed out the best offers for further monetization and improvement. All advertising on Plenty of Fish is on a CPM basis, so make sure you work on your click through rates!

Mochi Media

Lastly we have an exciting wonderland for anyone in the gaming niche. Mochi Media is one of the largest networks out there when it comes to gaming and getting the attention of players around the world. Through their advertising platform you can target nearly any county in the world, while also selecting what type of gamers you want to connect with.

Advertising through Mochi Media is setup through a CPC or CPM basis, and will vary in price depending on what country to you target. The only creative allowed on the self serve network is the 300×250 ad size. Don’t forget to check out our Mochi Media review.

As you can see, the way advertisers are creating ad campaigns is much different from what you may be used to. If you are still buying traffic without full demographics and targeting, you need to start playing around with these self serve networks. Not only will you reach a whole new audience, but you will learn a ton about yourself and advertising in the process.

Feel free to leave any comments on your favorite self serve platforms or any that may have not been mentioned.

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