Your blog doesn’t get a ton of traffic.
Your blog doesn’t display great contextual ads. Or maybe you don’t want to use contextual ads because you feel it devalues the overall quality of your blog.
Lots of people make money with contextual advertising, particularly with Google AdSense. But there’s way more people who don’t earn much of anything from Google AdSense or other advertising options like Text Link Ads and Performancing.
Mastering contextual advertising isn’t rocket science, but it definitely takes some effort. And there’s an insane amount of resources out there (some good, some bad) on how to maximize the success of Google AdSense and other programs.
Affiliate marketing works well for quite a few people, but there’s also a learning curve. It takes time to figure out, and there are a ton of options with companies like Commission Junction, PayDotCom and Click Bank.
The best way of making money with a blog is through sponsorship.
- You can hand-pick sponsors and build real relationships. With affiliate marketing you do get to pick what ads you show, but it’s not the same as targeting specific sponsors you absolutely want to work with and pitching them directly. Sponsorships also give you a chance to build actual person-to-person relationships. Those relationships can be of great value in developing your blog, finding other partners and growing your network.
- You can display sponsorships on your blog in a number of ways. A sponsorship can be almost anything – a link in your posts, co-branding on the site, an advertisement, special content, a contest, etc. There’s a ton of different ways you can execute a sponsorship, and that makes them very interesting. You can figure out what your audience really wants to see, and work with sponsors to develop content, advertising and ideas that make sense.
- You can negotiate payment options. Sponsorships can be paid for in a bunch of different ways: page views, clickthroughs, monthly, etc. The control and flexibility stay in your hands. For example, if you’re running an online contest, you might get paid for the implementation and during the life of the contest. I prefer monthly payments since they’re the easiest for everyone to understand.
- You don’t have a huge learning curve to deal with. There’s a minimal learning curve with sponsorships. Find a sponsor, decide on the type of sponsorship and negotiate the price. You won’t see a million websites selling you $19.99 info products on, “how to maximize sponsorship opportunities with your blog.” That’s because sponsorships are so flexible and open, and dependent on real relationships, you can’t develop a “best practices system for everyone.”
- You don’t need an uber-popular blog to get sponsors. There’s a lot of opportunity out there for smaller blogs to find sponsors. You might not get VISA or some Fortune 100 company involved, but lots of smaller companies could benefit from blog sponsorships. I’ve got a sponsor who I’ve very much enjoyed working with, and although I’d love Instigator Blog to be in the Technorati 100, I don’t think that’s going to happen! Still, with the right audience and reasonable traffic numbers, you can find a great sponsor.
Getting sponsors will take time. It’s not as easy as throwing up some contextual ads or affiliate marketing links. But just because you can put ads on your site in 5 minutes doesn’t mean they’ll make you any money.
The human element of sponsorships is key. Build relationships with people (which you already do as an extension of blogging) and sponsorships will return more than just monetary rewards over time.
Picture by Martin Deutsch.