There are many ways to monetize a blog. In order to be successful, however, it is essential to first prepare your blog for monetization.
Before implementing any sort of monetization strategy, your blog should have targeted traffic. Only after this has been achieved should you move on to consider monetization methods.
Just what exactly is targeted traffic?
Simply put, targeted traffic consists of those visitors to your blog that arrive to it in search of something specific. This could be information, entertainment, insight, etc. These are visitors that look to your blog to meet a need that they have. Targeted traffic will consist of visitors with a mindset to act on your recommendations.
How much targeted traffic your blog requires before it can be monetized depends on your niche. The more specific or unique your blog's niche, the lower this number can be. Highly specialized blogs with very targeted audiences can begin to consider monetization options with as little as 5,000 unique visitors per month. Broader interest blogs may have to wait until they reach monthly visitor figures of 25,000 to 100,000 visitors per month.
Once you have steady traffic, you can then consider the following monetization methods.
Ad networks are what most people first conjure up when they first start thinking about monetization. Whenever you see graphical or text-based advertising inserted throughout a web page, it is likely being served by an ad network.
AdSense by Google is perhaps the best known of these ad networks, although there are many others. Joining an ad network is a straightforward process and requires abiding by certain restrictions, but overall the barrier to entry is low.
Once accepted, it is a simple matter of inserting a few lines of code provided by the networks into your blog. This will automatically serve the ads on your site. Each time a visitor clicks on one of those ads, you earn revenue. Some networks also allow for payment options based on the number of impressions the ads receive. This results in a predetermined amount of payment for each 1,000 impressions of the ad, regardless of actual clicks by the visitors.
As a first step in monetization, or as a compliment to other monetization methods, ad networks can be effective. Just be realistic of what they can actually generate in terms of revenue.
If you are offering highly unique content on your blog — especially if you have established your brand as a "go to" resource for your target audience — a subscription-based model can be very effective. These models work by charging a reoccurring fee to visitors of your blog in order to grant them access to the premium content on your site.
Subscriptions work best if you generate consistent and unique content that those in your niche find valuable. There are multiple CMS plug-ins that you can use to handle the technical aspect of starting a subscription-based monetization solution. Most of these plug-ins are free and open source and are easy to integrate.
This monetization model involves promoting products and services on your blog in exchange for a commission on each sale that is generated through your blog. Depending on the affiliate network that is chosen, these commissions can range from 2% to upwards of 90% of the total sale.
There are many affiliate networks, including Amazon. If the affiliate marketing method is selected, it is important to consider the commission they offer, the reputation of the products and services that they will have you promote, and their level of support.
Selling Your Own Products
As it was mentioned at the top of this response, it is all about the traffic — more specifically how to capitalize on it. The monetization methods mentioned previously all function by allowing a third party to capitalize on your traffic in exchange for compensation to you.
There is, however, another way to go about it. That involves selling your own products and services directly to the visitors on your blog. This can be in the form of digital products, such as e-books. It can be merchandise. It can even be a service, such as private coaching. The attractive nature of this method is that you get to keep all of the revenue generated from each sale.
In order for this model to work, however, your blog should be within a highly specialized niche. General interest blogs usually do not provide the sort of specialized traffic required to make selling your own products a viable option.
As you have read, there is more than one way to monetize a blog. The best solution is often to have a monetization mix using two or more of the methods described above. Having multiple income streams will help to ensure the revenue generating performance of your blog.