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Blog Smarter: 5 WordPress Plugins to Help You Make Money From Your Blog

This guest post is by Louise of MoneySupermarket.com.

Why do we blog? Perhaps you feel you have things to say which the world would be interested in, or maybe you’re very passionate about a topic and your friends are sick of hearing you talk about it! I have a blog like that; it’s simply a sounding board for me to jabber on about a particular hobby of mine which none of my friends take part in.

But the main reason for blogging, I think, is to make some money out of it. Let’s face it, we all enjoy blogging and we all enjoy making money, so why not combine the two? But as we all know, it’s not that easy to make money from blogging, at least at first. So I did some research and found some plugins which could make monetising a blog just that bit easier. Please note that I haven’t used every one myself yet, so I’d welcome your feedback in the comments if they’ve worked (or not) for you!

Amazon Associate

I use this one myself and it’s invaluable if you have an Amazon affiliate account. Once the plugin is installed and set up with your access keys (found on your Amazon affiliates profile) it’s really simple to add in affiliate links to your posts by way of a simple search box on the New Post screen.

Simply highlight the text you want as the link, enter the search term relevant to the post in the side widget, select the category and hit search. It will bring up a list of products from Amazon and you just click on one of the insert buttons to put it straight into the post you’re writing.

You can also enter sidebar widgets as easily as setting up any other widget; on your widget page you’ll see several available widgets that just need to be dragged and dropped into the relevant sidebar panel. You can set up product carousels, favourites, product clouds, MP3 clips and there’s also a search widget. Each one can be customised to match your site and is linked to your affiliate ID, generating revenue each time a user clicks and purchases.

The money you earn from this plugin can be sent to a bank account or as an Amazon gift certificate. Sadly there’s no PayPal support yet but this will hopefully be implemented in the future.

Ad Rotator

This is one I’ve recently been trialling and so far it’s working well. Once installed (in the usual way) it gives you a widget which looks like the default text widget box. You put your ad codes in here and use <!–more–> to separate each block. Each time your site is refreshed the ad will change.

You can have more than one Ad Rotator block in your sidebars so you could have static ads too. The widgets can go in sidebars and footers and work with any ad size.

As there’s no CPM system with this plugin you can charge for ads in whatever method you like. I personally charge more for a static placement than a rotating one but it’s whatever works for you. The best thing about this plugin in the flexibility it offers you.

Kontera

I installed this on a site I run which doesn’t use sidebars. As Kontera places contextual ads within the text of a page, the absence of sidebars didn’t matter. You need to register for a Kontera account first but that is quick and easy, and gives you your published ID which is then entered in the plugin setup. From there it’s simply a matter of choosing the colour of the links you want and adding the generated code into all the pages you want the ads to appear on.

It can take up to 24 hours for ads to appear within your site text, so don’t do what I did at first and deactivate in frustration because it didn’t appear to have worked!

Kontera works in multiple blog platforms, so if you’re a fan of Blogger or Drupal you can also use this nifty plugin. Payments can be made via PayPal for best security.

MediaPass

If you have content on your website which you’d rather keep behind a pay wall, then this plugin would seem to be an easy answer. I say “seem” only because I haven’t used it myself.

Once you’ve registered for a MediaPass account and the plugin is installed, it’s as simple as highlighting the content that you want to put behind the pay wall and choosing the subscription option to apply.

MediaPass take 35% of the revenue the plugin generates, which sounds like a lot, but you do get a lot of support and behind-the-scenes processes for that commission. Their technicians handle all the merchant fees, database management and all the other techy stuff so the blogger can just concentrate on the actual content.

Skimlinks

If you want to earn your money through affiliate marketing, Skimlinks looks to be the tool to go for. The plugin will convert any product links and references in your posts into affiliate links, which can be from any one of over 17,000 merchants on the Skimlinks database.

The advantage of using Skimlinks is that it allows the busy blogger to free up the time otherwise spent seeking out affiliate schemes, setting up tracking codes and maintaining the accounts. Skimlinks does all this for you, and you only need the one account with them to get access to all those different merchant programs.

Skimlinks takes a 25% commission from the merchant, but because of their standing with the merchants they can often negotiate a better rate so overall, you’d probably end up getting more money than if you’d set up all the links yourself. Plus, all the time it saves you means you have more time to write great content!.

Again, I haven’t yet used this one but I am thinking of trying it; has anyone has experience with this?

I’d love to hear feedback about all of these plugins, and if there are any which work especially well for you that you feel should be included. Please let me know your opinions in the comments!

All images taken at the WordPress Plugin Directory.

Louise is a financial writer for MoneySupermarket.com and a freelance copywriter/web designer. In her spare time she runs her wrestler husband’s website and blog. You can find her on Twitter: @louisetillotson.

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Comments

  1. I use ad rotate to display affiliate ads to products from StudioPress and my own membership site. What I like about ad rotator is that is randomizes the order of the ads every time you load the page.

  2. Paul says:

    As most blogs are now on BuySellAds I find the buysellads wordpress plugin useful

  3. Jack Martin says:

    Setting up Amazon Affiliate on some of our affiliate blogs is on my to do list. Seems like a solid way to get some conversions without making it too spammy or unrelated.

  4. Carolyn says:

    Regarding Ad Rotator — you can use it for any html content, not just ads. So you can use it to showcase products, sales pages, etc. I develop the ad in a draft post (never published) which makes it easy to add images, then flip to the html editor in the post, copy it all, and paste in the Ad Rotator. I used it for a long time this way and probably will in the future (I like to change the sidebar every so often to avoid that “blindness” problem . . . )

    • Louise says:

      You’re absolutely right Carolyn; it’s a great way to keep an otherwise static area of a page a bit more dynamic. Thanks for reading!

  5. Kathy Keefe says:

    Ad Rotator is one plug in no blog should be without. Not only does it randomize your ads, but if you sell advertising, you just set the dates and it will start and stop, and will automatically notify you when an ad is about to expire. And don’t forget the tracking that is included.

  6. Thanks for these great ideas! I’m just getting ready to build a blog on my site also and I’ve been researching the best ways to go about it. It seems there so much to learn!

    These will definitely help with monetising my blog, but I’m also wondering what are the best ways you’ve found to promote your blog?

    What gets you the most traffic in the most cost effective way? As someone just starting out, I’d definitely need to find low cost ways of driving traffic!

  7. Okto says:

    Just what I am looking for. I am using wordpress too and wondering on what I can do to make money from it. I like the skimlinks as you explain, going to learn more about it.

    Thanks for the post Louise

  8. Robby G says:

    Skimlinks seems perfect for me. I just signed up for an account and if I get approved and once I test it out, I’ll let you know if it’s worth your time guys!

  9. Aziza says:

    This is great! Thanks for the info!

  10. A note about Kontera. I used it for 8 months last year and at the time I didn’t realize how much it affected my Alexa rating, until it was in pretty bad. I dropped them in the new year and within two weeks my ranking went from 1 600 000 to 800 000. Just something to be aware of. The couple of extra cents may not be worth it.

    • Louise says:

      Really Moe? That’s interesting; I’ll keep an eye on my Alexa rank and see if I get a similar result. Thanks for the heads up :)

  11. Daniel says:

    Some really useful WordPress Plugins, Louise.

    The number of plugins available to WordPress users, is really quite amazing.

    As others have mentioned above, Skim links does look like it would be worth looking into.

  12. jim says:

    I will be curious how the skimlinks works out. Let us know?

  13. Bryan Ring says:

    Amazon is the only one I have tested that is amongst your list. I only use Google Ads as I have tried to keep my sites limited and less confusing. But I do think that these would benefit affiliate marketers campaign. Thank you for your article.

  14. Thanks for the info on the Amazon plugin. I already have been making money with Amazon but didn’t know about the plugin so that’s great- Thanks

  15. Rajib Kumar says:

    Using Ad Rotator is a good idea. I also like to use Amazon Associate. It can generate huge if your blog has large traffic. Thanks for share your idea.

  16. How do you people always know what I’m wondering about? Get out of my head!

    Highly suspicious…

  17. Daniel Roach says:

    These all seem great, I use Amazon Associate myself, but does Skimlinks strike anyone else as . . . well, not the best idea?

    I’ve never used it but auto pluging in affiliate links to products and vendors you don’t have any direct knowledge of seems like the fastest way to give your readers a bad impression.

    Or maybe that’s just me. Anyone else have an opinion on it?

    • I agree with you, Daniel. When I read about Skimlinks above, it did seem like this could be a bad idea for my readers. I think I will still look into, though. Skimlinks might let you take a more refined and involved approach then what was presented above.

      • I personally find it really annoying. If I’m trying to read a blog and its full of skimlinks where as soon as my cursor goes over a word I keep getting popups, I will most likely give up.

        It sounds great as it will save a lot of time and add more affiliate links to your posts, but I really wonder how many people would click those links anyway? As far as readability goes, I think it makes the blog a lot less appealing to people.

        • Louise says:

          These are the reservations I have myself with Skimlinks, but out of all the similar setups this was the one which seemed to have the most features and reach the widest audiences. I still haven’t decided whether or not to use it; that’s partly why I included it, to find out what others think :)

  18. vinod says:

    These all seem great, I use Amazon Associate myself, but does Skimlinks strike anyone else as . . . well, not the best idea?

  19. Dan Thornton says:

    I’ve used Skimlinks for over a year now, and received several payouts via the 5 sites I currently have running on it.

    I really like it – if you’re running Skimlinks, you don’t need to run the Amazon widget mentioned above, for example, if you don’t want to. It’ll pick up pretty much most merchants automatically, although I find the WordPress SkimLinks plugin never works for me – I always end up using the simple JS code on my sites. Generally the merchants on their list and the auto-linking works well – it’ll tend to be Amazon, ebay etc in a lot of cases…

    And in terms of users – unless you know what to look for, and really pay attention as the url request is processed, there’s no slowdown or indication anything different is happening to a normal link.

    They do take a significant cut, but promise to try and get rates which make that cut negligible, but the way I like to use it is to scoop up all the opportunities I’d miss – if you put an affiliate link in your blog manually, Skimlinks should ignore it, and only auto-link anything which hasn’t been monetised. Really useful for those times when you’re forgetful!

  20. I’m off to install Ad Rotator! And I’m definitely with Jacob, you guys should stop snooping around in my head, you’d probably wander into the dragon…
    In all seriousness thanks for this post, I’ve been looking for an Amazon plugin and an adverts plugin for a while now and this has saved me so much research.

  21. Tony says:

    Hi Louise

    Thanks for the article, some good info in there.

    I have a question. Does using something like Skimlinks have an impact with Google?

    I have heard that Google dont like to many ads on a page so can this cause a problem?

    Tony

  22. John Mak says:

    Great plugin list Louise! Amazon Associate plugin is very good! It will work perfectly when having a lot of traffic on your website! Thanks for sharing,
    John

  23. Élan says:

    Thanks for this list! Amazon Associate looks like it makes including Amazon.com products much easier than my method of logging in and making the links over at the Amazon Affiliates page. And Ad Rotator seems perfect for my new site!

  24. Marcie says:

    Louise, you were so in my head because I was about to start doing research on tools that could monetize my sites. This was just what I needed to get started.

  25. Always good to know more ways to monetize, because you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket.

  26. Devon says:

    Skimlinks is terrible, and a waste, but the other plugins merit investigation.

    Plugins aren’t a good choice for someone looking to monetize their “blog”, you’re better off sending strategic offers to your subscribers. Sure it takes more work, but it will bring more money in.

    The plugins might look cool, but just like most widgets or ads, they’ll scarcely be used by visitors.

    • Louise says:

      Devon: true, but as Jamie above you says, it’s better to use a range of things rather than relying on just one tactic. Having plugins may or may not generate a massive amount of revenue but it all helps, and for someone who doesn’t have a lot of subscribers, or free time, plugins can help them automate some of the processes.

  27. michael says:

    Agree with Amazon Affiliates program $$$. Helpful post as always.

  28. I actually like skimlinks. I started using when Amazon left CA (they are back until Sept I think). It is very easy to use.. especially for random affiliates that you do not have a current relationship with or for ones that are hard to get into, like Ebay.

    I don’t use them a ton any more, but I will if Amazon pulls out of CA again.

    One downside is the plug in slows down your site a lot.

  29. Thanks for your list.I use Random / Rotating Ads V2 to display affiliate ads on my blog.

  30. Various News says:

    OK friend, I want to try it. Tanks for your information. Regard

  31. Joe says:

    Skimlinks seems interesting.

  32. It amazes me how much I have to learn about blogging. I’ve only heard of a couple of these plugins. I use Amazon and Pretty Link Lite. I was considering upgrading Pretty Link, but I wasn’t sure if it was necessary. I still don’t know.

    I can get overwhelming at times, but I’m appreciative of posts like these, because now I have a list of things to look into this weekend.

    Thanks for the tips!

  33. Surminga says:

    I just stick to mainly Google Ads and Kontera on most of my Blogs, but use AdRotator plugin for Affiliate marketing – also investigation BuySellAds to start using it on my sites

  34. Ehsan says:

    All of there plugins are great, but a plugin for Adsense ads would be more better. Thanks BTW

  35. Most of it is not new to me, however I never heard of Skimlim. I will go check out Skimlim now

  36. Lead says:

    I use skim-links on my sites. I agree with all the above postings regarding its ease of use and its fire-and-forget approach to monetization.

    If I had anything negative to say at all, it would be that the transparency is not all that great. For each merchant all you get is the number of clicks the order value and the earnings per click. You don’t know what was clicked to give you the earnings.

    Now this might not seem such an issue, but if you are trying to optimise revenue you need to know this. The only solution is to use an external tool (such as google analytics), but due to timezones, and recorded vs. actual clicks you end up with inconsistent comparative data.

    That is my only gripe though; If like me you have been rejected from a number of affiliate programs on the whim of the affiliate site reviewer then this is a good way to get in on those programs without the hassle.

    • Louise says:

      That’s very useful feedback Lead, thanks. Do you find that it brings in a decent amount of revenue for you, and how does it compare with other methods you use?

  37. Lead says:

    It brings in enough to support the on-going costs on the above site and this is sufficient for my needs.

    I tried amazon for a while and found that any sales I made gave me equivalent EPC (earnings per click) to skimlinks for the same types of items, so for what they give me after their “cut” they must be getting better affiliate rates.