If you’re looking to make money from your blog, ads are an obvious choice. This solution isn’t for everyone, but it can be a set-it-and-forget-it way to start your monetisation plans.
Generally speaking, more traffic means more money from ads, so if you’re getting a couple thousand visitors a month, you may not see much in the way of results in your bank account. However, if you’ve got a steady, robust traffic stream of more than 1,000 visitors per day and plans to keep that count growing, ads might be the right choice.
You can set up one-off deals with companies that might want to advertise on your site; these can be simple to set up if you’re comfortable with your CMS and website skills. However, the returns for single-ad deals can be minimal, making chasing those deals time-consuming and ultimately unprofitable. Rare opportunities may come along for you to partner one-on-one with a great brand for a fair fee, but it is possible to implement an automated approach.
Ad networks are another way to get started with putting advertising on your blog, and these networks are as numerous as the stars in the firmament. They range from big players you may have already heard of, such as Google’s AdSense and Federated Media, to specialised networks just for niche blogs and websites. There are even ad networks that make offerings for specific blogging software, such as WordPress and Blogger.
So, with all these options, how do you pick the right one (or ones)?
First, go through your blogroll and find out which sites have ads. Snoop around a bit to see where those ads are coming from. There might be a link hidden in a sidebar or menu, or you might see something way down at the bottom of the page. If you dig around a bit and still can’t find out where the ads come from (and if you’re looking at a particularly popular blog), just do a web search for something like ‘advertise on PhotoBlogName.com’—that could give you some accurate and informative results.
As you continue your research, take note of how the ads look and feel. Are they ugly? Distracting? Irrelevant? Or are they pleasantly designed and harmonious with the other content on the blog? The answers to these questions will further narrow down the list of ad networks you may want to work with.
Then, for simplicity’s sake, find out if certain networks already have integration features for your CMS. This could make the process easier in the short term, in particular.
The networks you find through your research may be particularly relevant to your niche; they may or may not be right for your blog, depending again on how much traffic you’re getting. Traffic in online ads is measured in thousands; you’ll earn a given CPM (cost per thousand; the M is a Roman numeral) for each ad space that appears on your blog. If your readership is low, your ad revenue will be low. However, ad networks also frequently have their own internal promotional mechanisms to promote traffic across all their own publisher sites, meaning that joining a certain network when your pageviews and visitors are low could lead to higher pageviews, more visitors, and potentially even some loyally returning readers if your content is of good quality.
Once you make those decisions, the technical part of ad setup could be as easy as copying and pasting some code in an HTML widget in your blog’s sidebar. Or it could mean copying and pasting some code into your blog theme’s code—which you might not have easy access to. Or it could be a lot more complicated than that. Understand at the outset how much technical heavy lifting you’ll have to do to integrate any given ad network, and be prepared to call in professional help if you get in over your head and are still committed to running ads on your blog.
Blogging for Photographers by Jolie O’Dell tells you everything that you need to know about establishing your own photo-blogging website, from the basics of how to get your photos from your camera to the Internet, and looking lovely, to how you can make money from your site.