Hello All – D here.
Recently, Vicky announced some changes in her blog, one of which was to start monetizing it. This is a major step in a blog’s life, and although we’re nowhere near the traffic it would take to make a large sum of money, we did think if there was an extra $50 in it for ourselves, that would be $600 a year and certainly something we’d be happy with.
Naturally the biggest thing in all this is the amount of traffic. We added the ads on July 17th, so the first half of July does not count for ads. For more details about traffic Vicky wrote extensively about the sources she uses and how she has tripled her traffic in less than a month since we changed the design.
We’ve been reading through Pinch Of Yum’s monthly income reports and gotten a lot of great ideas on how to approach this. Let’s start by seeing where we ended up:
July Breakdown (Note: Ads went live July 17th so this was a half month):
Grand Total: $47.83
Sources Of Income Explained:
Since this is our first income report I want to explain what these source of income are.
BlogHer - BlogHer is a blog advertising program that displays various ads on your site and pays per impression (CPM). There is an application process, which probably is their way of ensuring that the content on your site is clean and that you get enough traffic for it to be worth it.
- The Good – BlogHer is CPM and has great rates. In our case it really doesn’t seem like ads get a ton of clicks. I think this is somewhat related to the food blog sphere as I’ve noticed it not just with us but with many other websites that provide their stats as well. People are much more inclined to pop in for a single recipe and not spend a lot of time on the site or look at a lot of pages. Most of the users are new and the bounce rate is very high. Therefore, it’s preferable in many cases to have advertising that is CPM as opposed to Pay Per Click (CPC).
- The Bad – BlogHer ads must be displayed above the fold (basically, they must be visible when the user first logs into your site, sans scrolling), so this limits where you can place them. Also, they take 55% cut of your earnings. Even after all that it still had some solid rates so we envision keeping this one up for awhile.
We started with 3 BlogHer ads on the site:
- 160×600: The 160×600 ad size is the most commonly used. It is tall and thin and it fits in most sidebars.
- Tune-in Bar: The Tune-in Bar sits at the very top of your blog template. Ads appear as a small icon in the left hand side, accompanied by a small amount of text.
- BlogHer TV 160: The 160×167 sidebar widget for BlogHer TV.
Inevitably we ended up getting rid of all of them but the 160×600 for various reasons, but mainly because they either weren’t driving much revenue and/or had a detrimental impact on the site’s performance.
Google Adsense - Google’s famous program for advertising. You are limited to putting up to three ads on your website essentially wherever you please. They come in different formats, text and image, which can be slightly altered.
- The Good – I haven’t experimented with Google Adsense (yet) but there does seem to be a lot of options. For example, I’ve read that you can change the color of your ads, which could yield some cool optimization techniques. Moreover, they can be placed pretty much everywhere, as well as some places that are not directly in your blog (like your feed).
- The Bad – It’s Pay Per Click and we just don’t see a high click rate coming out of this food blog. Moreover, we ran into some technical difficulties whereby image ads weren’t displaying properly on the website and we have not been able to get help thus far. That said, if someone does click an ad there is the potential for a very high pay out (>$1).
We had 2 Google Adsense Ads on the site:
- 120 x 240
- 180 x 150
We also placed an ad in Vicky’s RSS Feed that gets emailed daily.
Host Gator - Host Gator is our hosting plan. It’s really been fantastic so far and I’ve been meaning to write a post on it.
- The Good - They have a fantastic pay out. If you get even a handful of people to sign up for Host Gator, it’s a lot of money.
- The Bad - It’s hard to get people to sign up.
- The Good - 33% commission on all sales, which I think is around $30.
- The Bad - Like Host Gator it’s not easy to convince people who are coming to look at food recipes to buy a wordpress theme. The key here is really to rank in the top of search engines for people that are already looking for premium wordpress themes.
This month we just got our feet wet but there are a few takeaways for next month.
BlogHer: We fooled around with this one for awhile but we decided that the best advertisement for our site was the 160 x 600. Unfortunately given its size as well as the above the fold requirement it doesn’t really allow for much else from Blogher to be placed on the website.
Adsense: I’m not really sure what the role of adsense is going to be going forward. We made $10 this month which I actually don’t think is that bad but I also believe it may not be sustainable. Next month being a full month of ads will give me a better picture as to whether or not there is anything here.
Thesis and Hostgator: I really think the key here is to rank high in the search engines for posts describing your affiliates. You have to remember that there are essentially two types of people that come to the blog
- Other food bloggers who for the most part have these services already
- Non bloggers interested purely in recipes who have no need for these services
What you need is to attract people who are searching for terms like “hosting service for a blog”, and then to have yours come up. They’re not looking for a food blog, they’re looking for hosting services and you just happen to be a food blog who wrote a post about why Hostgator is great. Needless to say, it is difficult to rank highly for these terms and takes time for your post to develop in Google’s SE. Lastly, I have to imagine the conversion rate for these is very very low and we may just not be at the traffic level to convert people monthly.
What’s To Come:
This has been the first monthly update of what will hopefully be many. In future months I have a lot of questions I’d like to address, such as:
- Optimizing ad placement and style
- Has advertising negatively affected our blog (bounce rate, pages/visit, avg duration)
- Exploring other sources of income
- In depth look at Social Media
So please stay tuned as this is only the beginning!