A blog shouldn’t be clunky, slow and ugly. By now you should have a nice looking WordPress blog with some great content, and some traffic coming in.
You probably have reduced size of your images with ShortPixel, installed a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache, and tested your site speed with Google’s Page Speed Insights or WebPageTest to have a decent score.
Next step is getting traffic, which for the new blogs mostly depends on these 5 factors:
- the competitiveness of targetted keywords for your niche,
- the size of your articles,
- the usefulness and quality of your articles,
- the amount of promotion you did,
- and the number of backlinks you’re getting.
These are the biggest factors to your traffic. If you’re not getting any, then look at these 5 factors and try to figure out what is it you’re missing.
One thing is for certain, you can always monetize a website. Any website. Provided it gets traffic. So it may be best to focus on writing first, and gaining traffic, then later on, monetization.
This is the 10th and final part of “How to Start a Blog” Series, check it out if you need step-by-step guide for creating a WordPress blog and growing your business.
Please note that a few of the links below are affiliate links, and I may recieve a small compensation, at no cost to you.
Ways to Monetize a Website Effectively
Most common ways how you can monetize a website:
- Put relevant affiliate links on your blog
- Monetize with ads
- Sell products and services
- Give consulting or coaching services
Most bloggers think about affiliate links when it comes to monetizing a blog. But there are many ways to monetize and earn money. For affiliate links, one good thing you could do is to create a widget and have affiliate link on the sidebar or inside a post, linking to your most clicked affiliate link.
When placing affiliate links, it’s always good to use some kind of an affiliate plugin for all your links. For beginners, a nice WordPress plugin is ThirstyAffiliates, which I also use.
Ads are another way to monetize which most of us use, and depending on your niche and type of website, they can be a viable way of earning income. More on that below.
When to Monetize Your Blog?
Before you start joining dozens of affiliate programs, ask yourself is your website getting any traffic? Do you have any pages “under development”? If you’re going to put some ads, have you optimized your website speed with plugins such as ShortPixel, and W3 Total Cache?
We all want to start making money as fast as possible, but should you start monetizing right away?
If you are getting some decent traffic, then it may be a good time to start monetizing your blog. If not, then then keep writing. Content is king, and this should always be the focus.
If you want to build organic, sustaniable long-term traffic, it is advisable not to start a blog by putting ads at the beginning or inserting affiliate links everywhere. It is very important to blog for a while, create a content plan and stick to it daily. As entrepreneurs, we must look long-term.
It may be tempting to put ads right away, but I advise you not to think about ads until you have at least a thousand page views a month. Maybe even a few thousand. If you get too focused on ads and affiliate commissions at the start it may affect your design of the site, and the quality of your articles.
If you got a lot of traffic coming in, then monetization won’t be a problem.
When to start putting affiliate links?
If you do decide to start putting them at the start, then keeping it at a minimum one or two links per article if it’s informational blog post is a good idea. If it’s a review or recommendation article, you could increase that.
One of the more popular ways to promote your favorite and most useful affiliate links is by creating a resource page, then link to that page from time to time.
If your site starts looking like a review site, with review after review then it may create a problem for you, as there will be a clash between making your content useful (which is important) and filling your site with affilate links.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate Marketing is a way of earning commission by promoting other products or services. You find a product that’s helpful, link for others to check it out, and earn a commission for each sale that you make.
It is one of the most popular ways of earning money online.
To join affiliate programs, you can either join directly on Amazon or eBay, but the big players are on Affiliate Networks. Once you join a network you get access to thousands of different programs to choose.
How to Join Affiliate Marketing Networks
The most popular affiliate networks are ShareASale, CJ by Conversant, Impact, Rakuten, Clickbank, Amazon Affiliates and eBay Partner Network.
The most known is probably Amazon Affiliate program, but many other programs have much higher commissions, both fixed and variable.
For those who have never used affiliate programs – you don’t need to register your blog as a business to join affiliate networks or pay money. You can be just a regular guy or a girl starting a blog to earn some side income, no matter the country.
Best time to join affiliate networks is once you have some traffic on your blog.
Joining affiliate networks is fairly simple:
- first, make sure you have a healthy website with no broken pages, or pages with “under construction” on them. Also, have some blog posts and some traffic coming in.
- then apply to one of the networks below, fill out the necessary information, and wait a day or two for the response. If you get confused by tax forms, just google a bit and you’ll find examples of what to do.
- feel free to send them direct email if they take too long to reply to your application.
- Once you’ve joined, find the programs you like or you think is helpful for your audience with a decent commission, and apply.
They are all networks that offer you thousands of different advertisers to choose from, which you can promote and earn commission.
If you joined dozens of programs at once there is a good WordPress plugin called ThirstyAffiliates that helps keep track of all the links, and shortening them, so you don’t have all the weird characters in it. It also keeps the links organized and automatically makes them open in a new tab.
Some of the Best Affiliate Networks
As many others, this is a free, easy to join network for bloggers, and the process to join is simple and easy. They offer thousands of good affiliate programs, in dozens of categories.
Pros of ShareASale Affiliate Network
- huge number of different programs,
- very good commission rates on most programs which can increase
- vast number of different products offered
- trustworthy, safe, reliable
Cons of ShareASale Affiliate Network
- joining programs sometimes takes a long time to get approved
Make sure you have a few blog posts already published. You will join more quickly if your site appears to be (and is) genuine, is working, and has some content.
Your website shouldn’t have any pages that say “in construction” or “in progress”. They have a policy regarding this. Don’t be afraid to contact them directly with an email if you stumble across a problem during application process. I did that myself, and they responded in a day or two and we sorted things out.
How to Pick the Best Programs on ShareASale
- Click “Search for Merchants”
click the “modify search” or use the drop down on the right.
Most important is to check the 7-day and 30-day EPC
- Check the 7-day EPC and choose the highest
- then check the 30-day EPC to make sure there wasn’t any spike in 7-day, meaning it’s good long-term. The highest ones are generally the highest paid.
It’s easy on ShareASale as the merchants can be ordered by the 7-day and 30-day so can get a nice look at which ones pay the best, and are the most popular.
CJ Affiliate a huge network with solid analytical information available. Their UI is a bit difficult for beginners, but it’s very much worth it.
You can sign up for your multiple websites, and if your website is getting 10000+ visitors you can sign up to their Content Certified program. You enjoy premium rates and connect to hundreds of brands automatically.
Pros of CJ Affiliate Network
- Huge number of affiliate programs
- real-time reporting and great tracking system
- approvals are done quickly
- trustworthy network, legit
Cons of CJ Affiliate Network
- some merchants may reject you automatically based on their strict criteria, so you may need to approach them individually
- dashboard can be confusing and unintuitive
How to Pick the Best Programs on CJ Affiliate
- Check the 7-day earnings and choose the highest
- then check the 30-day earnings to make sure there wasn’t any spike in 7-day, meaning it’s good long-term. The highest ones are generally the highest paid.
- Then check also “Network earnings”. They basically show how large the program is, how many affiliates are using it and making money. It doesn’t show you how good it is, but you can get an idea how popular the affiliate program is.
Amazon Affiliates used to give really high commission rates. A few years ago they cut their affiliate commission by half, but they are still a viable way of getting commission.
To join Amazon Associates is easy, but you do need to fulfill some requirements first:
- You cannot be on a list of Unsuitable Sites
- Your site should have at least some quality content
- Your site needs to have a few posts already
- It must be accessible, (duh) and you should own it
No other network can compete with the sheer volume of products offered by Amazon. It’s a trusted brand, however, they don’t have as high comissions as they did before:
Their highest commission rate is only 10% and only for one industry.
Other programs in ShareASales or CJ Network have way higher commission rates, even up to 100%. But, not only that – they have some incredible fixed rates, $30, $40, $50 and sometimes $100, $150 dollars and more, depending on the industry. So that’s a downside for Amazon, but it’s still a decent way of earning some income.
Pros of Amazon Affiliate Program
- enormous number of products
- credibility, trust, big name
Cons of Amazon Affiliate Program
- very low commission (used to be about 8%, now most are at 4% or less)
- unrealiable, commission rates can change again and drop
- cookies last only 24 hours (compare that to 60-90-180 days of many programs on affiliate networks)
- cookies end after first purchase immediately
It would be best to have some content and some traffic coming in before applying to Amazon Associates program, as you will have higher chance of getting approved, and not getting cancelled after 180 days of innactivity.
Is Amazon’s affiliate program right for you
This is how you can tell if Amazon’s affiliate program is for you:
- Products you recommend aren’t cheap
if the products you’re going to recommend are cheap – Amazon may not be good for you, because the commission will be very low,
- Your products aren’t too complex
If the products you recommend are complex, or they require an indepth look or personal check by the customer – Amazon may not be the best for you, because the potential customer will not buy immeditely from your link, or will go to the store to check the product themselves,
- Commission rates for your niche aren’t too low on Amazon
if the percentage of the commission for your niche is simply too low then you might be better off checking other affiliate networks
This is a good network for bloggers who wish to promote digital or lifestyle products, and it’s great for beginners as well.
The programs here usually have decent cookie duration, and high commission rates.
Pros of ClickBank Affiliate Network
- huge selection of products in any niche
- great commission rates for most products
- weekly payments
- cookie duration is usually 60 days
Cons of ClickBank Affiliate Network
- some programs are very low quality, and are scammy
How to Pick the Best Programs on ClickBank
- Use gravity which shows the number of affiliates that made the sales, and move it to somewhere around 35.
- Then use initial $/sale and make it around $30.
Here you will see the best of the programs, the ones that are going to sell, but also the most competitive ones as well.
How to Find the Top Paying Affiliate Programs
I’ve already shared how to pick the top programs on ShareASale and CJ, and here is how to find them generally.
One thing you can do, is go to big websites and see what they’re pushing, what products they want you to buy. This is a great way to see what’s working, and you can emulate that and use those products, or similar ones relative to your niche.
Once you find them, check how big is the commission. Fixed payments are good, but the subscriptions are excellent. If you refer someone to a good subscription program, you make monthly payments from that program. Sometimes you make a 100% of the first payment, and a fixed percent of every other monthly (or yearly) payment.
How to Monetize a Blog with Ads
Advertisements can be a great way to earn passive income, but they may also frustrate your readers and damage your blog’s potential. A few things to keep in mind: be aware of the quality of the ads shown and your site load time.
There are a few different methods of monetizing a website through ads:
Pay Per Click (PPC)
Also called Cost Per Click (CPC) is the most common method, basically you get paid a specific amount every time someone clicks on an ad.
Depending on the type of your website, and the amount of traffic, you can earn anywhere from $0.05 to $5 per when starting up a blog. CPC varies by industry. This type is very easy to set up on your blog and is good for beginners, but the payout can vary every month and you must keep bringing enough traffic constantly.
You can measure your success for PPC with CTR (click through rate) which is the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions. CTR varies by industry as well.
What’s a good CTR?
Usually around 2%, meaning, for every 100 users who view the ad, 2 of them click on it.
Cost Per Mille (CPM) Ads
Also called Cost Per Thousand, Pay Per Mille (PPC) is not as popular as PPC and is based on the number of impressions of the ad that is on your website. You get paid a fixed amount for every 1000 views of the ad.
This can be a very consistent way of getting payouts, as long as your traffic stays consistent. However, not many advertisers will offer this and the payouts are smaller. Also, your traffic needs to be very high for this to be lucrative.
Cost per Action (CPA) Ads
Also known as Pay Per Action (PPA) you get paid if the readers take some kind of action in regards to the advertiser.
They not only have to click but also do something else, either make a purchase, sign up for something, fill out a form, etc.
This method potentially offers very high payouts, but also high risk for you as a publisher.
How Much Can You Earn from Ads
You can earn a very nice side income with ads, from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, especially if you move into a range above the 30 000 views per month.
If you’re getting anywhere above 80 000 – 100 000 views per month, you can apply to some of the premium ad networks which substantially increase your income rate, and place very nice ads on your site.
How much traffic is needed to earn $1000/month?
Let’s calculate using PPC. Let’s say your CTR is 2%, which means that for every 100 impressions, there are 2 clicks on the ad. Let’s assume CPC is $1, which means that for every click you earn $1.
How many clicks you need:
$1000 = 1000 clicks
Monthly traffic needed to get 1000 clicks at 2% CTR:
1000 / 0.02 = 50 000 visits
But, if you’re in a good niche, and directly doing business with an advertiser, or you’re a member of a premium ad network, you could potentially earn 5x that.
It doesn’t mean you’ll always earn $1000 per 50 000 visits, this is just an approximation. It will always vary, as CPC could be higher (or lower) every month. And if you get to 30 000 you could apply to Mediavine and get paid even higher, so this equation will no longer apply.
Getting Ads Privately or through Ad Networks?
Just like affiliate networks, ad networks function the same. It saves everyone time and effort, and this is the usual way to go. But, there is a downside as your revenue will be lower. What could you do if you had a successful website with lots of traffic? Go directly to an advertiser.
Selling privately, or working privately with an advertiser you’ll be cutting out the middleman in ad networks and take the entire commission by yourself, but it requires more work. You get to pick and choose the ads by yourself, build long-term relationships and choose the rate and methods of payments. However, you need to set things up yourself, have a very high traffic and manage and place ads by yourself.
One of the most popular ad networks is Google AdSense. It’s the easiest one to join, but also the one that pays very low.
Alternatives to AdSense are:
Some of these networks require very high traffic on your site but they pay top rates, like Mediavine and AdThrive. Mediavine requires at least 25 000 – 30 000 visits monthly, while AdThrive rejects 75% of applicants, and requires at least 80 000 – 100 000 visits per month, but they pay top premium rates.
Monetize a Blog with Coaching/Consulting
Depends on the niche and how engaged the community is, coaching and consulting can be huge part of your income.
To work with someone for 30 – 60 minutes coaching or on how to use a product, or a service is a really good opportunity which shouldn’t be ignored. Depending on your niche, some of your readers may have some major pain points and would gladly pay money for you to help them with that.
Consultants today, especially the successful bloggers charge a premium price of hundreds if not thousand dollars for a single session.
Should you Diversify Your Types of Earnings?
Absolutely. In fact, this is imperative to reduce the risks.
What does this mean? Your income for your blog should come from various sources. It’s not enough just to monetize on ads or strictly through Amazon affiliates program. It should come from various places.
Take Amazon example when they reduced their commission rates.
They used to have pretty good commission rates. Then suddenly, cut commission rates in half, for the most of us. Those who relied to Amazon payments only took the biggest hit, but those who have other income sources were pretty much ok the next day.
Most new websites are getting monetized by affiliate marketing and ads.
That’s where the focus usually is, unless you’re selling a product or a service right of the bat. If not, those two sources can be enough, and later on your can diversify. Even just ads can be enough, if you can get traffic to your blog.
But, not understanding that traffic is a huge part of monetization and the first step, is a mistake we all make. It’s easy to join AdSense, put ads to your site, and insert affiliate links. The problem is getting traffic, and monetizing effectively.
If you’re fairly new to blogging, or just now decided to get serious with it, then I hope this post will help you make a few right decisions at the start, help you focus on the right things in monetization, the good affiliate programs and when to actually start monetizing.