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.
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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?