This is a tough question that doesn’t have an easy answer. While advertising is the easiest way to start monetizing your blog, it’s also one of the hardest ways to make money in the beginning.
Before you dive in to the world of paid advertising, make sure you handle the prerequisites first.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important.
Playing the Advertising Numbers Game
Advertising is a numbers game. The more regular readers you have the better off you will do. The magic number of readers depends on your niche. Big niches like beauty and health require large audiences to make advertising economically feasible for advertisers. While small niches require far fewer readers but they also have fewer advertisers.
Most advertisers purchase advertising on a CPM model or Cost Per Thousand Impressions. A $10 CPM means that an advertiser would pay you $10 for every thousand times their ad is shown. Check your blog’s monthly pageviews to estimate how many times an ad in your sidebar would be shown. If you only get 100 pageviews a month to your blog then you will be waiting a very long time to make any money.
The actual CPM rate is governed by the quality of the blog and the relevance of it’s audience. For example a national Fitness Gym advertiser would pay a $10 CPM to get on a large fitness blog. The same advertiser would only pay a $1/CPM for a untargeted general interest blog (and that’s a stretch).
You will need to demonstrate that you have a large targeted audience to successfully sign-up CPM advertisers. In my experience, this makes sense for blogs that have more than 100,000 page-views a month. Remember this is just a guide.
What About Affiliate Advertising?
Affiliate advertising is what most bloggers use to get started. To get started the blogger finds a product that they use and trust. They see if the product maker offers an commission for customer referrals. If yes, the blogger displays a banner image with an affiliate tracking link on their blog.
Affiliate program management sites like Commission Junction and Share-A-Sale makes maintain directories of product and service businesses willing to offer affiliate commissions for customers. These affiliate management sites also provide banners and manages commission payments.
Affiliate product advertising is still a numbers game. The more visitors you get the better. Another key factor is product-to-audience fit. For example, advertising kitty litter on Pushing Social wouldn’t make any sense! Readers also assume that the blogger is “vouching” for the products advertised on their blog. It’s a bad idea to throw a bunch of random untested product banners in your sidebar. They will perform badly and hurt your reputation in the process.
I recommend placing a few affiliate advertising banners if you want to test the revenue potential of your blog. The Ad Squares plugin works great for displaying your banners in an attractive 2×2 grid.
How About Google Adsense?
As a general rule, I avoid Google Adsense advertising for most blogs.
Making money with Google Adsense is a sophisticated science that requires extensive testing and content optimization. Also Google doesn’t make it easy to seamlessly meld Adsense into your blog design making most Adsense ads stick out like a sore thumb.
Anecdotally I find that Google Adsense ads creates a negative impression with readers. They are often seen on poorly designed, spam-blogs and paint even well-meaning blogs with that negative association.
If you want to use Google Adsense I highly encourage you to do your homework and follow the advice of solid passive income marketers like Pat Flynn. He’s a real pro at making Adsense pay.
Should I Start Advertising on My Blog?
First, don’t start 3rd party advertising until you’ve tried other more reliable and sustainable revenue options. Create and promote your own products first. Your readers will trust and purchase these products before they’ll click a 3rd party banner ad.
Next test out affiliate advertising. Select high-quality products that you would recommend to your best friend. Offer these products to your audiences in relevant posts and advertising in your sidebar. Bring on new products slowly and make sure they are a good fit for your readership.
When you get huge (100,000+ pageviews a month) start investigating traditional CPM based banner ad placements on your blog. Create a page that describes your rates, audience demographics, and ad guidelines. Consider working with a professional ad broker like Federated Media Publishing who will handle the entire ad buying process for you.
Advertising can be complicated. Is your blog ready for advertising? Have you tested it? What were your results?