Monetizing your blog is a fantastic way to turn your hobby in to a passive income stream. As you grow your blog readership, the opportunities for monetization will increase.
But sometimes those ways of making money off of your blog, well, they can feel pretty yucky. Here are some suggestions about what types of monetization to avoid.
Pushing Products You Don’t Support
As a blogger, companies may email you to ask you to sample their products or write a sponsored post. Usually this is done through a third-party, such as Blogher, Izea, Social Fabric, etc. If you’re lucky, it’s a product you already use or something you are interested in trying. This is not always the case.
Sometimes you’ll be offered to post about a product by a company you don’t support or a product you can’t get behind. Other times the product just isn’t a good fit for your brand.
It can be hard to walk away from a decent amount of money but if it feels odd to you to promote it, it will feel odd for readers to read about it.
Lots of people might disagree with me on this one but I do not use Infolinks and I don’t enjoy it when other websites do.
You’re probably familiar with Infolinks, when a random word is underlined and has an arrow next to it.
When you accidentally scroll over it, it usually starts a video of something completely unrelated to what you’re reading. Awful. These links significantly take away from the user experience and I’d urge you to consider alternatives methods of monetization.
Ads That Aren’t Lucrative
It’s extremely important to check your ad spots frequently to determine how lucrative they are. You might be shocked to discover that the huge leaderboard ad at the very top of your site isn’t making you enough to justify the location. You could find that the sidebar ad you have isn’t being seen by enough readers to make them lucrative, due to the increase in mobile views (sidebars generally appear at the very bottom of a site on a mobile optimized theme).
Consider how much you are making off of a specific ad in a specific location and determine if the amount of money is worth the eyesore to readers and the potential for a slower page load time, which could increase your bounce rate. That said, every little bit counts so I’m definitely not anti-ad.
Letting Shady Companies Guest Post
Occasionally bloggers get the offer to post content that they didn’t write. These articles can sometimes be helpful and can work if the content fits in with the usual content of a blog. Generally these offers come in through a third-party such as Blogher, Izea, Social Fabric, etc.
If it doesn’t, take a serious look at the company’s legitimacy. Once you’ve determined that the company is legitimate, respond to them with your asking price. Many companies will either disappear or immediately respond back saying that posting their content “will give you a chance to be featured” on their site. Walk away.
If you and the company do agree on a set price for the post, make sure you have a clear agreement regarding payment. I’ve heard stories of bloggers posting pre-written content and never being paid for it. Request that you be paid up front or within 24 hours of posting, but also realize the risk that you are taking.
Clicking Your Own Ads
This is a great way to get banned from Google Adsense or another ad delivery service. Don’t do it.
Writing Controversial Posts Just For The Sake of Controversy (and Page views)
We’ve all seen it happen. A controversial post by a blogger that blows up, bringing massive page views and general shenanigans. Opinions fly. Feelings get hurt. And truthfully, the blogger makes a lot of money.
I’m not opposed to people expressing controversial opinions. In fact, I quite enjoy it. The best controversial posts are well-written and thoughtful. They force you to do some introspection about your own beliefs. Most importantly, they express an opinion or belief that the author actually has. They do not incite controversy just for the sake of controversy. Bloggers who do that will burn out as quickly as they blew up.
Not Disclosing Sponsored Posts
By law, you are required to disclose on your blog when you have received a product for free or have been paid to post about it. It is astounding to me the number of bloggers who don’t do this. Here is a helpful post outlining the FTC guidelines as they apply to bloggers.
Blog monetization is generally a lot of trial and error. It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Though the consequences of disregarding the above suggestions certainly range in seriousness – from mildly annoying your readers to major government fines.
When considering how to monetize your blog, write your own rules and do what feels right for you. But really though, you gotta tell your readers if you got that shirt for free. Now tell me, what are some ways you are choosing not to make money on your blog?