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Interview with Jim Kukral about BlogKits

BlogKits has launched it’s long awaited Affiliate Marketing Network for bloggers.

So I thought I’d ask it’s founder, Jim Kukral, a few questions about it and what he’s learnt along the road in developing it.

Logo Blogkits 1

What is BlogKits? (give us your elevator pitch)

Our business model is simple… Help 99% of 50-70 million low-traffic bloggers make a few extra bucks by giving them easy to implement tools and partnerships with large-named brands that lets them keep blogging, instead of trying to be an expert marketer. We’re an alternative blog revenue generating solution to things like Google Adsense, although, specifically, we operate non-contextually, and we follow the cost-per-sale (cpa) model.

Why have you developed it?

99% or more of all bloggers are low-traffic, meaning 100 visitors a day or much less. If you have a blog like that, your options for making money are not very good. You can’t sell cost per thousand (cpm) because you don’t have enough traffic. You can’t sell decent revenue earning sponsorships on your blog because you have low-traffic. Nobody wants to spend any real money for a link on your blog with low-traffic. Adsense pays to little with too little clicks. And so on…

On top of those facts, those same bloggers are just that… bloggers, not marketers. BlogKits takes away all the confusion of trying to make money with your blog, and gives you easy to use tools and partnerships with big name brands, all in one easy solution.

How much can they expect to earn using BlogKits?

Always impossible to answer that question, but… If you’re a blogger that is having trouble making money with your blog because of lack of traffic, you’re going to have a much better chance at making money with the BlogKits methodology.Years of working in both blogging and marketing have proven to us that our model does in fact work, especially when dealing with online communities such as blogs. One of the keys is the delivery, and we’ve worked hard to make those options attractive for bloggers, and blog readers. We have more unique options coming soon that are even better, offering even more tools for bloggers and more exposure for advertisers.

Experience has also told us what most bloggers probably “can’t” earn with other options like Google Adsense. Our Adsense earning tool for bloggers makes that case very well. www.blogkits.com/adsensetool.html

Most bloggers who have experimented with affiliate marketing find that it works best when there is relevancy between content and the affiliate programs being promoted. How does BlogKits keep ads relevant?

What you say is true. That’s why contextual matching ads usually do so well. What we’ve done is categorized our advertisers into what we call “ad pools”. Right now we have three of them, of which a blogger can simple choose one, and we rotate ads from advertisers we selected ahead of time that fit in that category. Those are currently, with more to come as our advertiser list grows:

1. Tech & Internet People – This set of ads work best for blogs that have a webmaster or tech audience.

2. Non Specific/General Readers – This set of ads work best for blogs that don’t have a specific niche industry audience (safest bet).

3. Small Businesses Read My Blog – This set of ads work best for blogs that have an audience of small business owners or professional business-to-business readers.

You seem to be pretty anti AdSense in your promotion of BlogKits – why is this?

Our research has shown that Adsense doesn’t work very well for low-traffic bloggers. We’re not trying to say Adsense doesn’t work, because it does, and very well, for a lot of people, just not small blogs. But somehow there’s a perception out there that Adsense is the only way that bloggers make money. I think what most bloggers will find out eventually is that Adsense only really begins to generate significant returns for your blog after your blog begins to gain a larger audience. And even then, when you get to a certain point of success with your blog, you should certainly look at selling your own sponsorships as a better alternative, and then fill with things like Adsense, BlogKits, TextLinkAds, Adbrite, Performancing Partner Ads, paid reviews by Reviewme.com, etc… The key is doing what’s right for you and your blog, and what earns you some dollars in your pocket.

Can bloggers use both BlogKits and AdSense on the same blog?

Absolutely. BlogKits partner ads are not contextual at all and do not violate the Google guidelines whatsoever.

Do you think bloggers will earn more with BlogKits than AdSense?

Yes, if your blog fits our target, which is 50 million + blogs that are having trouble earning money with their blogs. We call those “real” bloggers. Bloggers who haven’t turned pro yet. :)

This is the second incarnation of BlogKits – what did you learn from your previous go at it?

BlogKits was created in Jan 2005 specifically to help bloggers find opportunities to earn money with their blogs. Kinda like Problogger.net is an educational tool for those same bloggers; BlogKits always aspired to be more of a solution/agency instead of a guide. The early days of BlogKits were spent working hand-in-hand with advertisers and bloggers, one at a time, helping match them together. During those days we learned quite a bit about what advertisers wanted, and more importantly, what bloggers wanted, and their readers too.

In the spring of 2006, BlogKits was bought by global performance marketing company ForgeCorporation, Ltd. (www.forgecorporation.com). Forge was able to bring the right amount of funding and support to help turn BlogKits into a fully functional, trusted tracking solution, now powered by the OfferForge network.

Feel free to ask Jim more questions in comments below – I’m sure he’d be happy to answer them.

There’s more information on BlogKits at their blog and BlogKits in a nutshell

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. Brett says:

    Thanks for the post. I will definitely be looking at BlogKits for my blog.

  2. Koby says:

    I second that. I did not know about BlogKits and fit into their target audience at the moment. So I’m off to research BlogKits.

  3. I too will take a look at them. I wonder if they have an affiliate program, seems like it would be an easy one to market to others. I think this provides a good option for bloggers who are overwhelmed when they first start blogging for money and need someone to handle some of the aspects for them.

  4. robson says:

    Hi Darren,

    I’d be interested in knowing what you think about the adsense revenue estimate tool on Blogkits, have you tried it? Is it accurate? Nearly, close, under, over, how about it?
    I don’t do adsense so I can’t check out the figures myself.

    cheers

    Andrew

  5. The anti-AdSense track is a bit car dealer-ish, but it seems worth looking into.

  6. Nick Wilson says:

    Congrats with the launch Jim!

    Where can i see the merchants?

  7. I agree that with a 2% CTR you have to have massive traffic to get ahead. I couldn’t survive on Adsense alone, affiliate ads and direct advertising are my biggest moneymakers. I think what Him is doing is very smart.

  8. Matt says:

    I’m still not sure on the concept … is it an affiliate marketing bundle for people too lazy to actually do their own affiliate marketing on their blog? And what’s up with the anti-adsense garbage? I know more than a couple bloggers with very targeted niche traffic with low numers of visitors who are making good money via Adsense because they target keywords properly.

    This whole idea just seems like a solution for very lazy bloggers.

  9. Darren Rowse says:

    robson – To be honest I didn’t react brilliantly to Jim’s campaign at promoting BlogKits by dissing AdSense. In fact I left a comment somewhere on his blog about it (can’t remember which post it was and can’t find it right now).

    My feeling with AdSense is that while traffic definitely has a lot to do with it – the same applies to any affiliate programs that I’ve run.

    ie – my smaller blogs make less (in general) than my bigger blogs with both AdSense and affiliate programs.

    I don’t know how BK will perform as I’ve not tested it or really seen it in action yet – however my suspicion is that smaller bloggers will see smaller sales than bigger blogs.

    What I DO like about Jim’s approach is that he’s giving bloggers another option.

    My experience with making money from blogs shows me that some things work brilliantly on some blogs while others work terribly on some blogs. I don’t think it’s just to do with traffic that determines this.

    For example – I have one blog that gets a couple of hundred visitors a day that makes as much using AdSense as another blog that gets 25 times the traffic of the first one. The bigger blog does a lot better with affiliate programs though.

    I’m not sure I’ve really answered your question. In terms of the actual tool that supposedly measures AdSense performance traffic. It was quite accurate on a few of my blogs but terribly inaccurate on others. That is because AdSense (and affiliate programs) depend on many factors – traffic being just one of them.

  10. Based on my experience with my own site, I found the BlogKits’ Adsense revenue estimates to be quite accurate.

  11. Mark says:

    So are there any examples of what the ads look like? Is anyone using Blogkits?

  12. I’d say options are always good for bloggers. The bottomline is that some things work well for some people some of the time. There’s no guaranteed magic bullet. It’s a combination of traffic, topic, ad placement, audience type, etc.

    I DO think there’s a significant opportunity in the space of small-trafficked sites that don’t succeed with AdSense. Whether dissing AdSense as part of the marketing campaign or not makes sense is to be seen…although I bet there are many more people frustrated by their lack of success with AdSense than not. They may be apt to try BlogKits and hope it works better.

    I think BlogKits is targeting the right market, and I know Jim’s had success in the arena of blogging / affiliate marketing in the past so it’ll be interesting to see where it goes.

  13. Ryan says:

    Hey Darren, an interesting post, but I think the problem with BlogKits is it skips a little too lightly passed the principle of advertising – that advertisers want their ads seen.

    Any site that expects high click-thrus should have high traffic (basic rule of click-thru advertising), anyone that wants non click-based advertising (paid placement) will also need high traffic, or else find some very silly advertisers willing to give away money.

    These principles are the same in print as they are online. The model is a little different, but the idea is the same. I think it’s important for new bloggers with low traffic to realize this and not be swooped in by programs that promise them ‘money for nothing (and clicks for free)’.

    The only advertising that appeals to low numbers are niche marketers – and I dare say that 90% of the blogs that have less than 100 visits a day are in the “I like talking about my life” niche – tough to market to.

    Just my 2 yuan.

  14. Mike says:

    It’s interesting that they have estimates for less than 100 and more than 300, but nothing for 100-300. That’s where I fall and I have been making more than the tool estimates for the 300 to 1000 visitors/day recently.

  15. Mark says:

    CPM = cost per thousand, not cost per million. You’d think an ad guy would know this.

  16. Jim Kukral says:

    First off, Darren, thanks for the vote of confidence and write up. I DO appreciate your daily guidance and information over the past 3+ years or so I’ve known you. I think it’s been that long? I know it was before you were even the Problogger :)

    “I wonder if they have an affiliate program?”
    @Kris, right now we don’t have one setup. Perhaps in the future.

    “The anti-AdSense track is a bit car dealer-ish, but it seems worth looking into.”
    @Rich, hehe, well maybe we went a bit over the top in our aggressiveness. Noted, and thanks for checking it out. We love Adsense, it just doesn’t work for our target, in our experience.

    “Where can i see the merchants?”
    @Nick, thanks buddy. Here’s a list of about 35% of the launch merchants we’ve setup. eBay, PayPal, Travelocity, 1&1 Internet Hosting, Cooking.com, USAToday, Staples, Sony, Priceline.com, Hotels.com, Kodak, GoDaddy, Starbucks, Discover Card, Edmunds.com. More added as we can.

    “I think what Him is doing is very smart.”
    @Robyn, well, we hope so. It’s always good to hear other smart people tell us we’re on the right track. I appreciate it.

    “This whole idea just seems like a solution for very lazy bloggers.”
    @Matt, indeed, it does kinda. I think though, that if you do the math, and look at the “real” vast amount of bloggers out there who are just regular people who like to write… you’ll see what we see, and that’s millions and millions of bloggers who don’t want to be marketers, or intend to even try to be marketers. That’s not laziness, that’s just not being something they don’t want to be.

    Again, thanks Darren and everyone else. I appreciate your feedback and will answer any and every question you have either here or directly at info at blogkits.com.

    It’s all about making opportunities and creating success! Cheers! Jim

  17. Jim Kukral says:

    “CPM = cost per thousand, not cost per million. You’d think an ad guy would know this. ”

    @Mark, lol, yeah, my bad typo when I replied my questions to Darren. I asked Darren to change it if he had time, but I’m afraid he’s feeling a bit under the weather lately. So yes, me am dumb for the typo, but I honestly do know that there isn’t a cost per million :)

  18. Darren Rowse says:

    made that edit – my fault for having too much on my plate today.

  19. Jim Kukral says:

    The Problogger is human people! Hehe. Thanks Darren, me not look so dumb now. Notice I say “so”. :)

  20. MM says:

    I think his figure of $1.00 per day based on 1,000 unique visitors is ridiculous. I have been blogging for about a week now and with 70 uniques today, I’ve already made over $1.00. If you have a thousand visitors a day and you’re only making a dollar, you should read some articles on optimizing your ads.

    On top of all this- the whole advertising game is about targeting your ads to your traffic, so why have random loosley categorized ads rotate on your page when you can sign up for LinkShare and pick ads targeted to your readers from a ton of super-well-known companies?

    This program is just another way for someone to get a cut of your referral money. Even if you have a pretty broad topic, or different topics on your blogs, this is not contextual, so rotating the ads is just going to make it likely that potential customers will not see the ad that they would click. If you have a broad category, or different categories, put up a couple of the most relevnt ads from linkshare or another affiliate program… in addition to your adsense.

  21. MM says:

    Oops, I submited that too early.

    All in all, it’s not a bad move on his part. If he can SELL enough people to run his affiliate ads on their pages in exchange for a cut, he could make good money based on the total volume… while the bloggers make virtually nothing.

    F***edcompanies.com anyone?

  22. Jim Kukral says:

    @MM, All of your comments make sense, if you’re talking about bloggers who are marketers, or who want to be. Millions of bloggers don’t know, or care to know about optimizing ads, contextual ads, etc…

    Not to be snarky, but have you ever seen a non marketer try to figure out a normal affiliate marketing network? It’s not pretty, and not easy. That’s all we’re trying to do… help make it easy for those who want easy. :)

    As for Adsense, we admit we may have over calculated what the real numbers are. Check this case study out about John Chow’s blog and his November Adsense earnings.

    We way over estimated based upon John’s numbers. In our estimation John should be making between $3000.00 – $15300.00 a month, and he’s pulling in $800 and change.

  23. Jim Kukral says:

    @MM, your second comment is way off, the targeted bloggers have a much better/real chance at actually making something, instead of nothing. It might not be for you, but that doesn’t mean it’s not legit and good for others.

  24. Hi Jim – Hi Darren !

    I would like to say THANK YOU for offering ‘us’ something else to try.
    The program may not be for everyone but it may be GREAT for some of us!.

    I myself am VERY INTERESTED in trying this out.

    Thank You JIM for bringing this to the table ( I am NEW to blogging and find
    this offer very nice) and thank you Darren for keeping on top of these types
    of stories.

    Appreciate it guys !

  25. John Hood says:

    Jim,

    Although I’m averse to marketing rhetoric that over-emphasises alleged weaknesses in a competitors product, I welcome any well-conceived means to monetize my blogs and look forward to a successful business partnership.

    Best,

    John

  26. Glen says:

    I have been using the blogkits program on my blog for a few days now and was wondering when I would see a write up about it. In my case the Adsense estimates are off. What was projected to be made in a month for my type of blog I make in a few days.

    I’m really interested in seeing how Blogkits performs vs Adsense and would love to see a referral program come out. A lot of my audience is new to blogging and would benefit greatly from a program geared for low traffic blogs.

  27. The AdSense estimates are off – I was making LESS money :)
    Yes, I understand optimization pretty well – and have done it well on friend’s and client’s blogs.

    AdSense revenue depends greatly on visitors AND topic! Some topics are great, some do NOt work with AdSense. You can make educated guesses, but pretty much need to experiment.

  28. Matt says:

    @Jim: So your strategy with BlogKits is to target the “average joe” blogger who is too lazy (or uninterested) to learn affiliate marketing? I just don’t know if I agree with that viewpoint. In my opinion if you’re going to make a real effort to monetize your blog, website, or any other sort of online presence you should do the research and organize your own ads. People who settle with throwing up a turnkey like this on their site are never going to make any real money due to their lack of motivation or enthusiasm – despite how many people come along with these super easy methods of monetization.

  29. Jim Kukral says:

    “So your strategy with BlogKits is to target the “average joe” blogger who is too lazy (or uninterested) to learn affiliate marketing?”
    @Matt, Not being motivated to learn how to be a marketer is not being lazy. Some people start blogs just to write, and have zero aspirations of learning how to be a marketer.

    “People who settle with throwing up a turnkey like this on their site are never going to make any real money due to their lack of motivation or enthusiasm ”
    @Matt, if you look at it that way, sure, but if you look at what blogging really is about… about people “writing” about their passions. Should a blogger spend more time figuring out how to make money, or just continue to write about their passion? Wouldn’t you agree that the #1 best way for a blogger to succeed is to just keep writing good quality content? That’s what they should be motivated to do, instead of worrying about how to be an online marketer… in my opinion of course. :)

  30. Darren says:

    It’s true that you could make more money by finding your own targetted affiliate ads, but for small blogs that’s not worth the effort. What’s the point in spending time maximising the ‘income per visitor’ if your visitor numbers are in the toilet? You’d be better off spending that time writing killer content that would grow your visitor numbers.

    I see BlogKits as a great stepping stone for blogs just starting out. Once you’ve got your blog online, slap Adsense and BlogKits on it and then forget about monetising for a while. Put all your effort into content and promotion – they are what you really need at this stage. For now, let the Adsense and BlogKits ads cover your hosting fees and maybe buy you a coffee every few days.

    Once your traffic grows to decent levels, you can reduce the time spent promoting and writing content, and start to develop your revenue streams. Try out a few targetted affiliate programs and see how well they work. Sell some Text Link Ads. Promote an eBook or online training course. Experiment and see what works for your blog and your visitors.

    The key to success in blogging (and I guess, in anything!) is to get your priorities right for where you are *now*.

  31. Enrique says:

    Looks promising. I love these kind of services. I’m not lazy, I’m work overloaded and tired of managing dozens of affiliate programs. I always look for centralized services.
    I have one question though. You have 1&1 internet as an affiliate. Aren’t you worried about the awful press they had recently?
    Read this post by GrayWolf:
    http://www.wolf-howl.com/index.php?s=1%261
    I will certainly subscribe to your service as soon as possible.

    Enrique

  32. This looks very interesting, thanks for the insightful interview. Personally, I find it hard to find an advertising solution that works for my niche and for wordpress.com (as wordpress doesn’t allow ads)

    I use targeted affiliate advertising in posts to amazon. it would be nice to have further options that are javascript free.

  33. Raghu says:

    Have been following the launch of Blogkits and as a starting blogger I jumped into BlogKits for a few reasons

    1. As a new blogger I was impressed by the fact that there is a solution targeted towards ‘me’ – if or not it will work for me is a question that I am still to figure out an answer for. Just imagine the exodus if even 5-10% of the bloggers in my category decide to try BlogKits – big numbers (John – what are the number of subscribers you have signed up now – sharable ?) !

    2. As a new blogger any reading you do always tells you that Google Adsense is a great option and you are frustrated when you dont see $$ in your adsense account and giving an option is a killer approach to get people to try blogkits. If ofcourse people do make money they will stick with BlogKits else there will be a transition out of BlogKits sometime later

    3. Having both options running will anyway cause me no harm – low risk possible high benefit approach – barrier to get people to try is very low and once they try the battle is half won !

  34. robson says:

    Thanks Darren, you answered the question and more.
    I see why your blog is widely read, some interesting comments as well, I’ll certainly be back for more.
    cheers

  35. Allen says:

    Ok, I have been working with cpa ads since they began about 10 yrs ago so I thought I would take a look at this. I posted my thoughts and questions for Jim here:
    http://www.centernetworks.com/blogkits-review

    Yes, there are a couple nice new formats for blogs, but other than that what else? Why not use CJ or Amazon?

  36. Jim Kukral says:

    Allen, I just responed on your blog with a really long and boring detailed response. Summary: We’re easier to use, easier to setup, etc…

    We’re for bloggers, not marketers. If you want to just blog and let us worry about the dirty work of helping you make money, BlogKits is for you. If you aspire to be a problogger. Just stay here at Problogger and read every page and learn everything, and you will.

    The point is, not very many people want to learn how to be marketers, they want it simple, fast and easy. That’s BlogKits.

  37. I am responding to all those wondering why someone would want to use something like BlogKits rather than using theire own affiliate links. I am been involved with affiliate marketing on a small scale but I have noticed that many advertisers change their links or drop affiliate marketing programs which means you have to update links and banners. I don’t have the time to keep track of all the lastest sales and promotions so I am all for using BlogKits. Many sites are using Chitika and but if you have low traffic you’re out of luck. I think this is a great opportunity for low traffic bloggers to generate an income. They way I see it is that it does’t hurt to try it out. I also believe in multiple streams of income. Adsense, affiliate marketing, and sponsor advertising are all avenues for generating income. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket as they say. Thanks for the information Darren and Jim.

  38. Blogger makes it pretty easy non-marketing-savvy folk to whack some ads on the page and make a little cash. This means that AdSense ads are almost like wallpaper, part of a blog’s layout, and not standing out.

    BlogKits offers non-marketing-savvy bloggers an alternative easy-to-set-up money maker, and the ads will look fresh to the blog’s readers. I like how they say “sponsored by” – that will encourage folk to support the blog they read.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Darren Rowse interviews Jim Kukral about BlogKits, an alternative blog revenue generating solution. [...]

  2. [...] Read the full interview. Related Posts » Using Color In Your Posts My Weekend Headache Solid Foundation I have a great idea! Are You Customizing Adsense? Be Careful Categories : News, Monetization Comment on this post! This is your chance to be the first to comment on this post. Don’t miss it out! Post a comment on this entry using the form below. Leave us a comment, champ! [...]

  3. [...] ProBlogger.net has an interview today with Jim Krukal, creator of BlogKits.  If you’ve never heard of BlogKits, they’re a new kind of advertising network aimed at helping casual bloggers with monetizing their sites.  The premise is very similar to Google Adsense and they claim to be more effective.  I’ve signed up with their program myself today and will experiment with their ads on this site to see if they can put their money where their mouth is.  From what I can see by looking around their site, they seem to offer much more in the line of customization than Adsense and they even offer a set of web services for advanced users! [...]

  4. [...] Hey Jim, This sounds like a really good program. I saw your interview with Darren, so thought I would stop by. I have a couple of questions. [...]

  5. [...] Super blogger Darren Rowse gave us a nice write up today. If you haven’t been to Darren’s blog before, go, now, and (I say this all the time), start at the beginning, read nothing else for a week and when you’re done come back and tell if you’re not smarter. [...]

  6. [...] Yesterday I read the Interview with Jim Kukral about BlogKits by Darren Rowse on ProBlogger.  It seems to be a pretty decent possibility for setting up some affiliate programs on smaller Blogs.  (And you can’t get much smaller than this.)  I would suggest reading it if you are considering trying BlogKits Performance Marketing as a potential source of income. [...]

  7. [...] update : J’ai posé la question de l’efficacité de l’adsense tool de blogkits à Darren Rowse – Problogger.com, qui a récemment fait un billet là-dessous, voici sa réponse (en anglais) En gros il critique le ‘tool’  mais au même temps il dit que blogkits offre une véritable option supplémentaire. [...]