How Do You Make Money From Your Blog?

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Yesterday was March 31, and a good time reflect on a few things over the first quarter of the year. One of the things I've been attempting to learn more about is advertising and sponsoring - both in the traditional sense (ie, offline) and online - through this site. The learning is going well. The results could be better.

The numbers

A quick note: I am using the following definition to determine the following numbers:

Clickthrough rate (CTR) is a way of measuring the success of an online advertising campaign for a particular website. The clickthrough rate of an advertisement is defined as the number of clicks on an ad divided by the number of times the ad is shown (impressions), expressed as a percentage. For example, if a banner ad is delivered 100 times (100 impressions) and receives one click, then the clickthrough rate for the advertisement would be 1%.

(Source, Wikipedia: Clickthrough rate)

Through the first three months of this year, the CTR for this site was ~8%.

A few things to note at this point:

  • Not every post has an ad so my CTR is likely higher (I'll monitor this more closely starting today)
  • It's obvious they are ads - I am not trying to trick anyone into clicking
  • I am serving up ads manually
  • I'm using Amazon ads via their affiliate program
  • In 2010, the average CTR was "averaging closer to 0.2 or 0.3 percent" (Source, Wikipedia: Clickthrough rate)

Also, if I look at each month individually, the CTR seems to be doing better as I learn a bit more:

  • January: ~3%
  • February: ~7%
  • March: ~18%

This is likely due to a number of things:

  • I didn't initially place ads on every post
  • I wasn't initially connecting ads with content
  • I wasn't sure where to place the ad within the post (I'm still not sure)

In other words, I'm learning.

The next step is to look at the revenue / income from these clicks to find out how successful I am in connecting these ads with my content for my readers.

It turns out this part of the exercise is really simple. The answer is $0. It's a bit shocking, and a little frustrating. But I think the natural evolution of learning will get me to focus on this part a bit more.

I have to learn how to tie my shoes before I can run, right?

What I have learned so far

For one thing, it's a lot of fun. As we talked in a recent roundtable, I thought the next big thing a lot of us will be talking about next year is data and how consumers or us 'smaller fish' will begin using data to drive our campaigns and programs.

I've always wanted to learn first-hand how and why advertising works and doesn't work. This has been a great exercise for me to better understand how visitors view ads - even on a smaller site like this. And using the data from this site is helping me better serve the right kind of information to you.

Finally, the type and placement of advertising was difficult to understand mainly because of the number of options available.

  • Type: I went strictly with Amazon ads via their affiliate program. The main reason was authenticity - I'm only plugging products that I've purchased and that I think are worth talking about.
  • Placement: I've tried two different ad placements and I think I'll continue tinkering with both. One is in the middle of the post and the other at the end of the post. I'm not sure if there's a sound reason for either placement on a specific post but I imagine as I get more comfortable and get a better understanding of what my readers appreciate, I'll find the right location(s).

What I hope to accomplish

I mentioned learning above and really, that's what I'm hoping to accomplish. I have the ability to learn something firsthand, so why not take advantage of it?

Another thing I'm hoping to get out of this is a better idea of sponsorships. I'd like to understand how this piece works and while it might not be directly related to online ads, I imagine having a better understanding of advertising in general will help me better understand sponsorships.

Next is money. The income / revenue I raise from any clicks will go to a charity. I haven't narrowed one down yet (and apparently, based on my current income rate, there's really no rush) but I imagine it will go towards a kidney disease awareness program.

In summary

  • CTR is improving: Yay!
  • Income is nil: Boo!
  • Learning is fun: Yay!

Next Steps

What advice do you have for me and the goals noted above? Any suggestions of things I should / shouldn't be doing?

Any examples you can provide of successes / challenges in the fun world of advertising?

 

I wanted to understand how an Agile thought process can make project management more enjoyable. This book has done the trick.

(This is an affiliate link to Amazon.)