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Making Money with your Blog’s Archives

Nice post by Tristan over at TNL.net titled Money in the archives which talks about one of the lovely things about Pro blogging – ie its ability to continue to generate income off posts that are quite old (the archives). This is what many refer to as the principle of the Long Tail. The article compares blogging in this regard to offline media where a writer is paid a one off fee (say $1 per word) for their article. In comparison a blog post lives on and has the potential to continue to generate income:

‘Once the entry has advertising on it, any revenue generated from that advertising goes to the blog writer. Initially, it’s not comparable to the thousand dollars the writer got from a mainstream publication but, if the entry has legs (ie, it keeps serving an audience), it continues to generate money, pretty much until one of a few possible things happen:

* The writer decides to remove ads from his/her site

* The writer decides to remove the entry from the site

* The story has run its course and is no longer useful or superceded by a better one

If one writes with such a long run view, a story can generate several times what the initial payback was from a publication.’

I’ve found this principle to be true myself. I now have 11,000+ posts working for me in my archives.

However it’s also worth making a few other points:

  • this principle relies pretty heavily on your ability for your posts to rank well in search engines. The problem for most bloggers is that even though they might brilliant articles that they will have difficulty in finding readers for those articles because their blogs struggle to have enough ranking in Google and Yahoo.
  • most posts income ability to generate income will diminish over time. This will be due not only to the fact that many are time specific and will date but also because the way search engines rank posts these days is to give priority to fresh content. Over time other competing pages on your competitors (and even your own) post will often rise up and take over your position in SE’s.

I’m not wanting to discredit the TNL article – but it’s worth stating that while the theory is good – that its not always that easy. In my experience – theories of the Longtail work really well for some bloggers who have either profile or SE ranking – such strategies tend to diminish in effectiveness for less highly ranked blogs.

One last tip – you can increase the effectiveness of your archives to make money by being a little smart about highlighting your most effective older posts. I’ve been thinking about this over the past few days quite a bit.

I don’t have time to unpack it right now – but have a read of this post at Webmaster World on Filtering your Traffic for Fun and Profit and you’ll see a little of what I’ve been pondering. It’s about creating (and/or identifying) pages with a higher earning capacity and then funneling your readers in that direction.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Matt says:

    You know, I never really thought much about that. But it makes perfect sense. The thing that is interesting is that when you say that for less prominent blogs, the theory tends to fall apart because the blog does not have page rank… so the solution to this is higher ranking, and one way to achieve higher ranking is through continued blogging. So they are like two forces in a tug of war.

    I need a really big person on my tug o’ war team!

  2. Khurrum says:

    It would also mainly depend on the type of content that is in your archives. If your blog is, for example, about latest fashion trends then the archives won’t help much.

    One of my blogs has tutorials which won’t get old any time soon and I’m hoping that they will continue to help bring in people who want to learn in the future. I’ll keep them updated for any changes.

  3. Matt says:

    True enough! Your blog definitely should retain some value!

  4. Bob Myers says:

    I don’t think you understand the “long tail” concept. Why not study up on it and share your insights with us here?

  5. Ozh says:

    Well, isn’t this just what adsense’d blogs are about ? Every blog has archive. Today’s page and last year’s pages run the same template with the same adsense.

    I don’t understand what is so genius here.

  6. Darren Rowse says:

    its no genius – just pointing out something that I dont think many bloggers realise – they often think their front page is the most important one and biggest earner – but other ones can be just as important and need just as much work put into them.

    I’m not saying its rocket science – just something I think its worth considering as you consider design, SEO and which pages to highlight in your blog.

  7. David says:

    I don’t think archives making money qualifies as an instance of Long Tail phenomena. Long Tail usually refers to the effect of unlimited stock and fewer obstacles to distribution. Archives alone making money seems more like an instance of passive income (revenue that is generated with little or current action needed).

  8. Darren Rowse says:

    I guess I use the term (and from my understanding there are many ways to apply the term in numerous contexts) because I’m pretty sure if we were to graph a post’s money making ability over time that it would have a pattern that looked quite long tail-ish.

    Early in it’s life when it was on a blog’s front page and getting links from other blogs etc it would earn more but as it slipped into archives and then began to become less fresh in the SE’s eyes it would slowly loose some of its ability to earn an income.

    From my understanding of the long tail – the beauty of it is that while teh initial stages are fun and feel exciting – its actually the long tail where the real riches can be hidden. There are probably ways to prolong the long tail though by keeping pages fresh, by highlighting them from other pages etc.

    I’m not sure if I’m using the ‘long tail’ language properly – but to me I see some similarities to what I’ve seen others write about the term.

  9. Matt says:

    It’s easy to get bogged down in semantics. Long tail, shmong tail. Whatever you want to call it, I think what Darren is saying certainly has merit and is worth donating a neuron firing or two to since it is probably not something that everyone considers. And if you don’t consider it at all, you could inadvertently shrink your blog’s earnings potential.

  10. I couldn’t agree more.

    Years ago when I was working in the Corporate world, my boss told me, “Content is king”, and it is SO true. Build the content and eventually it will work for you, for a very long time.

  11. Has anyone come up with a good way of tracking AdSense earnings for posts of different ages? Like a bit of code that assigns a different AdSense channel based on the age of the post? You could conceivably track current week vs. a month, three months, six months, a year, or more than a year old (or something like that). I’ve often wondered how much of my (meager) earnings come from clicks on fresh content versus from the archives, but haven’t pursued the issue. I think it would be particularly interesting to compare weekday vs. weekend. It’s been speculated by some (including here) that, while weekend traffic is typically down, a higher proportion of these visitors come from search engines, and thus might convert at a higher rate. If true, weekends should experience a higher fraction of clicks on older posts and less on fresh content.

  12. Mike Blake says:
  13. The archives are very valuable and not just in blogs but in old fashion writing. I have written work from the past 19 years that is earning me continued residual income. My plan is to do the same on my blog which is fairly new (August 2005). I was just reviewing my stats this morning. Two of my articles, one from this month about the National Animal ID program and another from early December reviewing the FinePix E900 digital camera are pulling in over 1/3rd of my total page views and rank very high in the search engines. Both are bringning in lots of one time readers of which a fair number turn into long term readers and revenue through AdSense and Chikita (Thanks Darren). I don’t think of either of these as being super long term earners but I have other archive articles that are also bringing smaller numbers of repeat views from the search engines. Over time I’ll build up my stable of how to articles and such that will keep a steady flow of passive income.