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Monetization Monday: DOs and DON'Ts Affiliate Programs


If you’re monetizing your blog, chances are that you’ve considered or attempted affiliate programs. An affiliate program allows you to link to specific products or services, and get paid if a reader clicks through and buys from that site. But (like all monetization strategies) there are DOs and DON’Ts to follow:

DOs of Implementing Affiliate Programs:

  • Keep it Relevant. Some affiliate programs pay better than others, but it doesn’t mean you should use them. Keep your recommendations relevant to your topic, or you’ll risk upsetting your readers.
  • Link Within Your Post. Instead of putting together a list of affiliate or product links in your sidebar, link right in the body of your applicable blog post. Readers are much more apt to click through as they are reading.

  • Experiment. Test one or two programs at a time to see what products and services are selling for your audience!
  • Analyze. Keep track of your sales, analyze the click-through rate, and evaluate each ad individually!
  • Write Product Reviews. When you are promoting a product or service, try writing it up as a review. This lets your reader know why they should purchase the product themselves.

DON’Ts of Implementing Affiliate Programs:

  • Go Overboard. Do not put together a list of 100 products for your users to click to buy! It’s okay to put together a gift guide, but keep it to the top 10 products.
  • Expect to Make Money Overnight. Some posts and products will make money further down the road, when that page gets indexed and gains popularity. If a product is relevant and chosen wisely, it will eventually make money!
  • Promote Everything. Always disclose your affiliations. Your readers will appreciate your honesty, and will feel better about contributing to your earnings. Just because something will make you money, if it is a bad product you probably shouldn’t promote it.

Affiliate links can be a great alternative to advertising for a blog that has a smaller amount of traffic. Because the affiliate only pays out when they get paid, it often doesn’t matter what your monthly pageviews or uniques are!

What are your affiliate program DOs and DON’Ts?

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Image Credit: SXC

Monetization Monday: Blodads Profile


Let’s face it, some bloggers (like me) are just NOT good at sales – especially ad sales! There’s where a company like blogads comes in. I’ve been using blogads for a little over a year now on my celebrity website, and have had pretty good success.

With blogads, you can set your own pricing, your own placement of the ads, and you have the option to decline potential advertisers if you don’t think that they are a good fit with your audience. The hardest part of the entire process was actually getting IN to the network! Your best shot is via referral, and even that can take a while. As blogads says, “in general we’re not accepting new publishers“.

Your blog must have been around for at least 6 months, and they want to see an average of at least 1000 pageviews a day.

They take a 14% commission when ads are purchased through a link on your website. If the sale is initiated on their end, they take a 30% commission.

Payout Options:
Paypal, Wire transfer, or check.

Ad Sizes:
Blogads offers 7 different ad sizes (available in jpg/gif or flash):

  • Hi Rise (150×600)
  • Standard (150×200)
  • Mini (150×100)
  • Classified (500 characters of text)

Blogads has a pretty broad base of blogs that they accept, with over fifty niches such as parents, liberals, gays, lesbian, baseball fans, tech-lovers, conservatives, New Yorkers, environmentalists, news junkies, milblogs, lawyers, economists, and foodies.

Blogads are very easy to set up. Once you are approved, you provide your payment information and then set up your pricing options for each ad unit, and length of time (1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 2months). They then provide you with a strip of javascript code that you can input directly into your sidebar. Approved ads will automatically display where you place the javascript snippet.

Sample Sites Using Blogads:
PerezHilton, Dailykos, Dlisted and more.

Do you have a recommended company for me to profile? Shoot me an email with the company information, URL, and any thoughts you have!

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Monetization Monday: Google Reveals AdSense Revenue Share


If you have a blog, there’s a good chance you’ve got a Google AdSense block somewhere on your site. AdSense has long been a way to help monetize your site with contextual ads. But it’s always been vague as to how your income is determined.

This morning, Google revealed exactly how much they take as their share from AdSense sales “in the spirit of greater transparency.” According to the release placed on their blog, they take:

  • 32% of content ads (the publisher gets the remaining 68%)
  • 49% of search ads (the publisher gets the remaining 51%)

The content ads are those placed alongside web content, while AdSense for search allows publishers to place a custom Google search engine on their site and obtain revenue from ads shown in the results.

And what does Google do with their cut? They use the money for “continued investment in AdSense — including the development of new technologies, products and features that help maximize the earnings you generate from these ads.

Do you think this is a fair share? Do you use any other contextual ad services?

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Congratulations To Blog World Keynote Speaker Laura Fitton on Funding of oneforty.


Oneforty It was announced today that Laura Fitton, or as we all know her more appropriately as @pistachio, and her company oneforty.com received funding in the amount of $1.6M.  Those of you that attended BlogWorld & New Media Expo this year know that Laura was our opening keynote address for the Social Media Business Summit which was our first day of the entire event.  I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Laura for making us a part of her 2009 and also congratulate her on her success.  She is one of our people to watch in 2010 for certain and someone that I will be looking for to lead us in 2010.

Those that did not get an opportunity to watch or listen to the keynote given by Laura can see it over at MyContent.com.  Her talk was both inspiring and a good look at how she was able to succeed in her start-up!  Twitter has truly changed Laura’s life and now we can see how and why!

Twitter Stepping Towards Commercial Accounts


Looks like all that talking might actually be leading to some doing. That’s right, Twitter has finally taken its very first steps out of the world of the free, and into the world of the paid…kind of.  Twitter has unveiled a new thing called Twitter 101, which is basically a series of web sites and downloadable material that all aims to help businesses really investigate how they can use the service to their advantage, and even shows some companies that have done so very successfully.

Whether or not this will translate into an actual business plan and way for Twitter to make some serious income, remains to be seen, but it’s good that they are at least taking their first baby steps towards monetizing something that many have claimed will be impossible to do so.  When asked, Anamitra Banerji, manager of commercial products at Twitter, had this to say about what Twitter 101 might mean to the company and its future:

“yes, many companies are on Twitter, but many have questions about how and why to use it, and many are still not on Twitter. It’s a lot easier to ask people for money if they understand how it could be useful to them without paying anything…Twitter 101 is the first step toward doing that…If you intrinsically see some value in Twitter, you will want to pay more to get more…”

Pay more to get more.  I guess we’ll see if anyone will be willing to pay when it comes to something they can already get for free.  We all know Twitter is great as a broadcasting tool, great at building networks and updating in real-time your friends, customers and potential clients…whether or not it’ll be a great way to actually make money for themselves?  That’s another story.

For Love or Money: How to Find the Blogging Sweet Spot


Nightclub Dancer Being a professional blogger is sexy.

You get to make money writing on the Internet in your pajamas. It’s the epitome of the American dream, all idyllic and hypnotizing. Well, it is until your bills come anyway. Then that fantasy land you created while drinking overpriced mochaccinos comes crashing down and you remember that being a professional blogger kind of sucks. Because you’re not actually getting paid for your lifestyle blog. Or at least not yet.

Anyone who has tried to make money through blogging feels your pain. It’s a hard road. But you can make it to the other side and make a career out of doing something that you love. You just need a game plan.

There are two different kinds of bloggers out there – Those that do it for love and those that do it for money. I don’t care what kind of blogger you are in your heart, because the truth is to be successful you’re going to have to adopt a little bit of both mindsets. Profitable bloggers make a living off the marriage of passion and commercialism.

So how do you find that balance and get that career that you love?

Step 1: Finding Your Subject

This is hard. For most it means creating a list of their many passions and then deciding which one they think could be the most profitable, has the best hope for advertisers and is the most long-lasting. For me, however, it only serves to remind me that I have no passions. No hobbies. No interests. But let’s go on the assumption that you’re far more well-rounded than I am (if not, let’s be Twitter friends!).

You want to find something niche that you’re interested in and then think a layer or two out. For example, if you’re addicted to a certain type of coffee bean that can only be found in the southern most corner of South America, then bump that out a bit and create a blog that’s focused on coffee around the world and everything coffee-related. This way you can get your kicks by writing about something you love, but still keep it general enough that you’d serve a larger audience and wouldn’t have too hard of a time finding content on a regular basis.

If you’re not an expert on your topic immediately, don’t worry. You don’t have to know everything there is to know about coffee right out of the gate, but you do need to be willing to become an expert. Even if you’re just in it for the money, the blogging world is competitive. The only way for you to be authentic and real and successful is for you know your topic inside and out, better than anyone else.

Step #2: Scope Out the Competition

With that new found topic in hand, you want to take a look at how competitive the market is. Hopefully you haven’t selected something that falls into the technology, gadgets, mommyblogging or entertainment sector. If you have…please go back to Step #1 and try again unless you’re very experienced (and talented) with marketing a blog. These niches have become so saturated that unless you can write like Dooce, you’re going to have a very difficult time turning a profit. You’d be much wiser to find a niche that hasn’t been totally developed yet and will be naturally less competitive. It’s a lot easier to be a big fish in a small pond than to try things the other way around.

If you’re not sure whether your topic has been tackled or not, try running some searches. Use tools like Wordtracker to see how much traffic those terms get or perform some Google searches to see how SEO’d the results look.

Stay away from fads. You want to find a topic that has longevity and that people will be still be interested three years from now, five years from now, etc. Picking something that’s only seen a huge traffic spike in the last few months, may not be profitable in the future. Use your gut.

Step #3: Research the Monetary Possibilities

As pure as your heart is and as passionate as you are about your topic, the goal here is to make money off your blog if you want to be able to be a full time blogger. And there’s no shame in admitting that. That said, part of creating yourself a career that you love means educating yourself on the different blogging revenue streams that will be available to you.

A good way to find out how commercially-viable your topic is would be to search for your terms using Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool. All you have to do is enter your keywords into this free tool and Google will populate a nice list of data for you, including the search volume and competition among advertisers. Obviously, the higher the competition, the more healthy that market will be and the more money you can make from it. You want to balance the competition between advertisers with the number of visible bloggers in that space.

Somewhere in there will be your sweet spot.

Not every topic is going to have the same commercial viability. Some will work well with an affiliate system while others may work really well with AdSense or CPM based advertising. You’ll need to do a bit of research to determine which topics will go best with which revenue stream.

Step #4: Commit and Start Writing

Once you’ve nailed down your blogging sweet spot, it’s time to become a real life, professional blogger. One that knows that a big part of making money through blogging means getting your posts to show up in the search engines when someone performs a search for your topic. And that means knowing just enough SEO to be dangerous.

I’m a reformed blogging purist so I, too, was once horrified of the thought of changing my words around for the sake of a search engine. But the truth is, writing in a way that makes your posts more searchable, actually improves your writing for the user. Why?

  • Using keyword tools like Wordtracker encourages you to use the words searchers are actually looking for. You should be using the same terms as everyone else.
  • Knowing to put keywords in your titles helps curb your fascination with pithy titles that describe nothing.
  • Incorporating keywords into the body of your content, helps users to find them and tells them what you’re about.

You should also be using tools like Google Trends and Google Insights to spot ways to tie in real life events with your blogging to increase traffic. Take advantage of what’s happening in your little world and use it to help your readers find you. Basic SEO is really just about becoming a more aware writer, optimizing your WordPress installation and promoting your blog.

Hopefully the tips above will help you find a blogging subject that’s not only commercially viable, but one that you’re passionate about, as well. Because as sexy as it is to say you’re a blogger, it’s even sexier to have a career that you love.

Lisa Barone is Co-Founder and Chief Branding Officer for the team of SEO Consultants at Outspoken Media, Inc and has been writing about blog and search since early 2006. She’s passionate about building brands, saving them and blogging about them. She also kind of has a thing for knee socks.

If ARS Technica is Worth 25 Million What is Huff Po Worth?


Just about two months ago 24/7 Wall Street included ARS Technica in their 25 most valuable blogs list and set the price market price at $15 million. If today’s reports of ARS Technica’s sale to Conde Nast are true the price was actually $25 million. That’s a 66% increase over 24/7’s valuation. Does that mean Gawker Media which topped the list at $150 million is really closer to $250 million?

Does that make the Huffington Post worth $116 million =?

Is TechCrunch then worth $60 mil? (side note does this purchase of ARS Technica by Wired’s parent company put a new spin on the recent Wired TechCrunch dust up?)

One thing it certainly does is make everyone else on that list very happy today. It should make every other serious new media content creator happy as well.


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New Media Rich!


Tim Bourquin from New Media Expo has a must read post up today. Here is a small excerpt:

In the “old days” anyone who was famous in the media had the big bucks that naturally accompanied that fame. But these days, there seems to be a whole lot of folks that are “Internet famous” because of blogging, podcasting, Twitter, flickr, etc. and yet need to ask their audience for donations in order to buy a better microphone. It’s a bizarre and ironic result of the ability for anyone and everyone to start producing content and gather an audience.

I think we just need to be patient and if you look at the history of traditional media you will see lots of similarities to where we are today but more on that later. Tim Continues:

Twitter, blogs, podcasts and new media in general have created a wave of “famous” people – people with a “wealth” of attention and inbound links, but can’t pay their bills at the end of the month. Worse yet, some seem to think that if you do find a way to make your living successfuly, you’ve “sold out” and are no longer true to your audience. That’s a shame and it needs to change.

The “link” and “attention” may be the currency of the Internet, but until someone can show me how to pay my mortgage by linking to my bank once a month, that just doesn’t fly with me.

A commenter on Tim’s blog Trey hit on it, and another commenter Nick touched on it as well. I will begin to play the broken record I have been playing for a couple of years now. We are at the beginning of this “new media” thing. Of course very few are getting rich. (quite a large number are making some kind of money) . Most people in this “industry” don’t even realize they are in an industry. Many of them are just hobbyists with no real aspirations to grow beyond that (like Nick’s analogy to bands).

As Trey pointed out when radio first came along DJ’s weren’t rich, very few musicians were rich in the early days either. Actors weren’t rich when movies first came long. Athletes certainly weren’t. Sure they might have been famous but they were lucky to eek out a living. Sound familiar?

As those industries matured the money came. What brought the money?

First audience then advertisers and sponsorships. Along with those things came producers, distributors, and of course managers who took their cut.

Even today there are bands with very little “fame” who make a damn good living playing their brand of music. While countless others who may have more talent make little to nothing. In most cases the difference is a good business sense or a manager who has that business sense to go along with their talent.

Good content creators are not common, great content creators are rare. There are very few Madonna’s or Elvi, or Harrison Ford’s and a lots of character actors with bit parts or working in commercials. There are hundreds of thousands of musicians playing small clubs or making jingles for commercials and countless waiters out there who consider themselves actors, singers and artists.

In fact it is a testament to the awesome power of new media that so many people are making money or even making a living and in some cases getting rich already. Anyone see the recent list of the 25 most valuable blogs?

Gawker media worth $150 million? Huffington Post $70 million? TechCrunch $30 million? Yes those are subjective estimates but by any measure the owners of those sites are “rich” at least on paper.

What New Media has done is to lower the barrier of entry for all of us. At least some musicians were able to make a living without being “Rock Stars” before new media came along, but radio broadcasters? Actors? Producers? Writers?

No way. You needed to land a job with the local paper, network affiliate, movie studio or land a book deal with a publisher. Not any more. I am not saying we have cut out those middle men, but they are no longer mandatory to success. Now you can be successful on a much smaller scale with very little to zero investment. You can scale your “brand of content”.

That doesn’t mean that all other business rules are out the window. If you believe yourself to be a great content creator who should be rich and famous but don’t know how to make money doing it, then learn or find yourself a manager who does, or go to work for a network that can help you make money.

By the way New Media has opened lots of doors for folks in those more mature industries of entertainment. Quite a few traditional journalists, photographers, etc are now striking out on their own to make a living with new media. BlogCritics, and The Politico would be two great examples of that. Founded by traditional journalists who are now creating and controlling their own content and syndicating it back to traditional media. Sports like MMA that used to be drowned out by the MLB,NFL and NBA have new ways to reach their fans and new doors that may have never opened to them without new media.

So be patient my friends. The money will come and like so many other things Internet related, it will come at warp speed compared to traditional media’s history.

One last note if you are serious about learning how to monetize your content then Tim’s show is a great place to do it, and of course so is BlogWorld.

Zac Johnson at Affiliate Summit


This is really a test and my first attempt at embedding video on the blog. I did a quick interview with Zac at Affiliate Summit on my new Flip Camera. I did cut the video a little short. About an hour after this interview during his keynote Jason Calacanis showed a slide of Zac’s famous $300,000 check; along with a photo of Shoemoney and his $100k check. Jason stated this was chump change and that both could make far more money if they applied their genius to developing the next block buster dot-com.

If everything goes as planned, here is the interview:

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