How do I monetize my blog?

It's a question I hear and see all the time. In forums, in emails, face to face. And it's usually accompanied by something like "My niche doesn't really lend itself to monetization."

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Well, sorry, but any niche can be monetized, and most in a variety of ways.

Let's talk about them:

Indirect Advertising

I'm talking here about things like Google Adsense, or Chitika ads. I call them indirect because you have little or no control over the ads that are served. Most bloggers try this in the early days and realize it isn't the "free money" they were expecting. But make no mistake, there are plenty of blogs that make hundreds, even thousands of dollars a day from Adsense.

Two factors affect Adsense income - traffic (the more the better) and niche (some niches are more "ad blind" than others.) But don't discount Adsense. Once you have some decent traffic, the income can be substantial. If I turned off all other income from my travel site, and stopped posting tomorrow, the Adsense money would keep it profitable for some time into the future.

Direct Advertising

This is where you sell adverts on your blog, so you're in control of the content. Think about all the people and businesses you know who would benefit from some exposure on your site, and contact them to ask them if they'd like to advertise. It just needs you to do it consistently, and keep working at it.

As long as your pricing is sensible, most advertisers stick with it, and you'll develop an increasing residual income from this.

Once your blog has some traction, the magic happens! People start to contact you and ask to advertise, and that feels great. So make sure you have an "Advertise here" button to make it easy for them.

The other thing that happens when the blog is ranking well in search is that people will start to contact you about paid links and writing content for your blog in return for a link. Turn those into advertisers as well, most will go for it if the price is right.

Affiliate Sales

You can act as an affiliate selling almost anything these days. We even affiliate for a Tapas meal delivery company based in the UK! To see the range of stuff on offer, sign up to Clickbank or Affiliate Future, and scroll through their market places.

Unless it's a big internet launch of a high value product, selling affiliate stuff should be considered a long slow burn. Write a post about it, with text links, and keep referring back to it. And add an autoresponder to your email list to tell them about the products as well.

Own Digital or Physical Products

This is where you can really make some money. By creating your own products, selling them yourself, and by creating your own affiliate program with someone like E-Junkie. You can create an E Book, a paper book, a series of videos or DVDs, for example.

There's a great saying that the free content on a selling blog should be "The why" and that the paid content should be "The how." Does that make sense?

The thing with creating your own product is that you can continue to sell it for ever. My Beginner's Guide to Twitter was my first E Book. I can hardly remember writing it, and the launch was a disaster. But I now sell 5 or 6 copies a week without fail - it's not big money, especially as many sales are through affiliates, but it's another steady stream of income from work I did more than a year ago.

Membership Program

Most blogs lend themselves to some kind of membership program. In every community of readers, there will be a hard core of serious "fans" who are often prepared to pay something to get additional content, more access to you, special offers or even to spend time in a forum.

We combined all of these things on our travel site and have ended up with a thriving membership site which grows every month. You can read more of that story in the Case Study I wrote about it. Click that link to get your free copy.

Do As Many As You Can!

Ideally do all of the above - the beauty of spreading your income across multiple sources is that is one area fails, it won't critically damage your whole business. If you're relying for all your income on a Twitter product, for example, and Twitter changes everything, or closes down tomorrow, you'll be in trouble. But if the Twitter product is a small part of your empire, you can relax, with the time and income to develop something else.

What are your thoughts? What have I missed?

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"Mike's Life is where you can stay current with the life, thoughts, successes and failures of Mike Cliffe-Jones. Never knowingly ordinary, Mike shares as much as possible about his work as a marketer and in business, as well as his enviable lifestyle on and in the oceans around The Canary Islands."

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