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WidgetBucks Offer New Publishers a $50 Sign On Bonus – Baseball Card Promotion

Picture 2-16I’m doing a little promotion with WidgetBucks while at BWE this year.

They’re giving me some 70′s style ‘baseball cards’ with my face on them to give out (why they chose that picture I’ll never know) and are offering ProBlogger readers (whether you get a card or not) a $50 signup bonus if you sign up as a WidgetBucks publisher.

To get the $50 you need to sign up as a publisher and when you’ve earned your first $100 you get the bonus.

WidgetBucks is an ad network that give bloggers the opportunity to make money using their ‘widget ads’.

As with all types of ad networks WidgetBucks convert better on some blogs than others – but they’re worth a try, particularly if you have blog with any kind of products featured on it. They’re also expanding into more geo-targeted ‘travel ads’ (should be announced soon) which will have opportunities for a more international group of publishers.

PS: the baseball card picture is of me eating a New York Pizza while I was there last year. It’s not sweat dripping down my face either – I think it’s a ‘crease’ photo shopped into the card to make it look old (it’s a 70′s style card after all). The back of the card has a few of my ‘stats’ on it. You’ll have to find me at BWE to see it.

There is at least one other blogger with their own cards at BWE – collect the complete set and they could be worth something on ebay one day (or it could just be an embarrassing thing that my wife pulls out to show the grandkids in years to come)!

How to Make Money With Affiliate Programs on Your Blog – More Thoughts

Yesterday I shared 5 lessons on making money with affiliate programs on your blog.

As I read through the comments on that post and pondered it some more thoughts came to mind that I think are worth adding:

Test and Track Results

I’ve written numerous times on ProBlogger about testing and tweaking advertising on your blog (for example – this post on how to run Split Testing).

The same principle is true for running affiliate campaigns on a number of levels.

1. Split Testing Banner ads

If you do run banner ads to promote your affiliate campaign (do remember yesterday I said that they don’t tend to work as well as in post promotions) you can run some split testing in a similar way to the one mentioned in the Split Testing article. Instead of showing two different versions of AdSense ads – just show two different types of banner ads that promote the product you’re promoting. You just need to make sure you have a method of tracking which banner ad is converting best (many affiliate programs will either give different tracking ids or will track different banners for you).

2. Track What Your Readers Respond to

Yesterday I mentioned that instead of just promoting an affiliate product once that it can be worth running a series of different types of posts to promote it over time. The beauty in doing this is that you begin to see what your readership responds to. You might find that few people sign up for a product when you first announce it but when you write a review that sales increase. Alternatively you might find that when you offer a bonus they sign up more or even that they respond to you doing an interview with the person behind the product. The key is to try different things but then to watch how they convert.

Testing the conversions on affiliate programs seems so basic – but it amazes me just how many bloggers I see using affiliate programs who just seem to slap up a quick post saying to ‘buy this product’ and don’t seem to get creative in trying new methods of promotion.

3. Test different programs and their conversions

In yesterdays post Omar asked for a list of best affiliate programs. It’s a common question but one that is really impossible to answer because there are literally thousands of options open to bloggers and different programs will convert differently for different blogs. As mentioned in yesterday’s post, this partly depends upon the relevancy of products to your content and audience – but it also depends upon other factors including the sales copy of the landing page that you send traffic to (some pages will appeal to some audiences more than others), the profile and brand of the site you send traffic to, the price of the product etc.

The key when you’re in the affiliate marketing game is to experiment with different affiliate programs and products within them. You might find that a program like Amazon’s Associates program fits best for your audience (despite it’s lower commission rates than some others) because your audience is familiar with it, or you might find a program like PepperJam (which has a lot of great affiliates in the one network) is better suited to you or you might even establish a relationship with a smaller company who has their own private affiliate program because their product just ‘fits’ with your audience.

The key is to look for relevant products that fit your audience’s needs and then to track the conversions.

One more thing about Choosing Affiliate Programs

There are some great comments in the previous post about choosing affiliate programs – particularly from Lex G and Linda. They both pick up that it’s not always the highest paying affiliate program that is best. While it’s great to find a high priced program that pays out a high percentage commission – you might find that the price is out of the reach of the type of audience that you have and that another program that pays less commission and that is lower priced could actually earn you more.

A lot of people write off programs like Amazon’s Associates program because of their lower commissions and price points on items like books – however I’ve found that Amazon can work very well for me (it remains in my top ways to make money blogging at #4 on the list. While I don’t see the spectacular sales that some other programs can earn – the hundreds of smaller sales that I can see on any given day can certainly add up.

How Much Traffic Do You Need?

Dainis asked in the comments of the previous post how much traffic would be needed before starting to promote affiliate programs.

This is another good (and common) question – and as with many aspects of making money from blogs it is a question that different people will answer differently.

My personal approach is to start promoting these types of programs early. I’ve written a long post on when to put advertising on a blog previously and much of what I say there is also relevant to affiliate programs but my main reasons for starting early are:

  • While you might not make much with just a little traffic you could make some.
  • Starting early gets your readers used to the idea that you make money from your blog. Adding it later could put some offside.
  • Learn how to monetize your blog before you have readers so you can make your mistakes in front of just a few rather than a lot of people.

Do you Make Money Online from non Blogging Sources? [POLL]

Time for another ProBlogger poll – looking forward to hearing what you’ve got to say on this question:

Do you Make Money Online from non Blogging Sources?
View Results


If your answer is yes – tell us what the source is in comments below.

8 Reasons Why Your Blog Might Not Be Accepted Into an Ad Network

Mitch from Technipages.com shot me an email this week asking me for advice on getting accepted into CPM banner ad networks like ValueClick, TribalFusion and others. He commented that while he has decent traffic (around 140,000 page views a month) he hadn’t had much luck with being accepted and asked for advice.

This is a question I’ve had numerous times so I thought I’d post my response (I have slightly edited from my original answer).

  1. Design Matters – the more professional a site looks the better impression it will make and the increased likelihood of acceptance.
  2. Content – some advertising networks will judge your suitability based upon both the topic and also the type of posts (including length, editorial style etc). Some will also check to see if the content is original and or appearing elsewhere online. Topic plays a big part for some ad networks as they will sometimes have specific focuses and be looking for content partners with relevant content to their advertisers. I also know of at least one ad network who looks at the ‘quality’ of content – particularly looking at how well it is written, whether it is up to date, looking at whether there is an active user base interacting with it etc. They do this because they have a premium advertising base who don’t just want to align themselves with any old blog but only those that they perceive as premium. Each network also has its own standards on adult content, use of language (swearing) and other topics that they may or may not cover.
  3. Hosting and Personal sites – some ad networks don’t accept sites that they perceives to be ‘personal’ and don’t accept sites that are hosted on free services or on services where you don’t own your domain (for example blogspot blogs).
  4. Type of Site – some networks don’t accept sites that are primarily forums as they tend not to perform as well with advertising due to the high amount of page views per visitor and the ad blindness that quickly happens.
  5. Other advertising – if a site already has lots of ads on it this can be off putting for some ad networks.
  6. Traffic sources – if you have lots of non US traffic some ad networks will mark you down for that as they only have ad networks for that market.
  7. Language – many ad networks will not accept non English written sites. Again – this is about their advertisers (largely US based in many cases) not wanting to target ‘international’ audiences.
  8. Traffic numbers – this is the killer, many will reject unless you’re doing big traffic – they will check sources like comscore, Alexa to double check whether the numbers you are giving them are accurate.

Most ad networks have fairly good pages for publishers outlining what they do and don’t accept. Here you can see requirements from ValueClick and TribalFushion (although I’ve heard a lot of people say that they feel they fit into TribalFushion and don’t get in).

Some of the above reasons are frustrating. As someone who has built blogs for non US audiences I know some of the pain of not being accepted. However the main advice I gave Mitch was to keep building traffic and making the site look as professional as possible. Traffic numbers speak very loudly so to keep traffic trending up will mean that he finds it is easier and easier to get accepted into these programs. Also – keep hunting around for options, experiment with different ways to make money from your blog and be patient.

10 Ways to Make Money BECAUSE of Your Blog

What if I told you that there’s a way to make money as a result of your blog where you don’t need to have a single ad on your blog, where you don’t have to run any affiliate programs and where you don’t have to write any paid reviews?

Would you be interested?

Make-Money-Because-Of-Your-BlogImage by iDream_in_Infrared

Much is written about how bloggers make money through selling advertising space or running affiliate programs on their blogs. However there’s a second, somewhat hidden, group of bloggers who make a great living not directly from their blogs – but indirectly as a result of them.

Instead of using their traffic to sell advertising or promote products to earn commissions from – they leverage the traffic to their blog in another way – usually to sell themselves.

Today I want to highlight 10 ways of making money BECAUSE of your blog – as opposed to making money directly from it via advertising, paid reviews or affiliate programs.

1. Consulting

The blogger consultant model is simple. You give away information generously on your given topic and then sell your services to help people apply your teaching to their personal situation with some personal attention from you.

Bloggers who also act as consultants generally charge for their time by the hour, but I’ve also come across some who have landed ongoing consulting work in their field of expertise and have been signed up on retainer by companies.

Some might think that it’s just bloggers who blog about blogging who pick up consulting work (I’ve done my fair share) but it’s not the case. I’ve met dating bloggers, marketing bloggers, photography bloggers, craft bloggers and more who all offer their services in coaching, mentoring and training their readers one on one.

2. Book Authorship

It is becoming more and more common for bloggers to be approached by book publishers to write books. Chris and I were approached to write ProBlogger the Book by Wiley, Gina from Lifehacker landed a 2 book deal, Frank from Post Secret has done numerous books, Steve Pavlina has one coming out soon…. the list goes on and on. Sometimes book are heavily based upon the blog itself – other times the book is completely new.

3. Speaking

Bloggers spend day in and day out writing content for their blogs and so for many it is not too much of a stretch to translate the principles that they are writing about into verbal sessions at conferences or other public speaking opportunities.

Often these sorts of speaking engagements are not for any kind of payment but once you build your profile in a niche the paid opportunities do come along for many – particularly when you’re asked to speak in-house for companies or organizations.

4. Training

There’s some overlap here with ‘speaking’ as in many instances speakers are engaged in a training capacity – but some bloggers also take the ‘training’ that they do in another direction and run their own training courses for readers. They leverage the traffic that they have do direct people to training either online (membership sites) or even offline into real life training events.

One blogger who I’ve seen do this really well is David Hobby from Strobist who has successfully run a variety of real life training events on his niche (photography lighting). He’s also done spin off DVDs of the training which he sells.

5. Freelance Writing

I’ve had many approaches for this myself and see quite a few other bloggers land this type of work. Their profile and expertise on a blog leads other websites, blogs, magazines, newspapers etc to ask them to contribute in a paid capacity.

This might be a newspaper column, a regular staff writer role or even a one off paid contribution.

6. Selling Services

Once you establish a readership on a topic other opportunities can arise to sell a variety of services from your blog. Here at ProBlogger I added a job board (something many blogs have done), Blogger Timothy Sykes makes tens of thousands a month with an ‘stock market alerts’ service, Shoemoney is introducing ‘Shoemoney Tools‘ (a great resource for bloggers actually – I’ve been playing with it the last few days).

Another example is Kevin from Real Lawyers have blogs who offers lawyers and law firms a blogging solution.

7. Selling E-Resources

Again – there’s some cross over here with some of the above but it’s something that we’ve seen a lot of bloggers doing (or attempting to do) of late with the creation of ebooks, membership sites, tools and software that relate to their niche.

8. Landing ‘Real’ Jobs

One of the great things about starting a blog that builds your profile and perceived expertise in an industry is that others in that industry begin to see you as an attractive addition to their staff.

I’ve seen a number of bloggers write about this over the years – Steve Rubel is one that comes to mind as someone who became very well known in the PR industry and was head hunted by a PR firm as a result of his blogging.

9. Finding Business Customers and Clients

Another indirect income earner that many bloggers tap into is leveraging their blog’s profile to send find new clients and send new business to their offline companies.

In a sense their blog becomes like an advertisement to their company’s products and services.

There are literally thousands of ‘business blogs’ who do this. The key is not to make the blog purely a sales pitch or marketing device but to make it a destination of value to readers and to let this sell you and your business.

What’s Number 10?

Every week I ‘meet’ (virtually) bloggers who are making money from their blogs in ways that I’d never considered before. There are certainly some creative people out there coming up with some innovative ways to build blogs into income streams.

So I’m leaving #10 in this list up to you. What other ‘indirect’ ways of making money from blogs do you do or see others doing? I’d love to see examples of any of the methods above or any other that I might have missed. Can’t wait to read your number 10s!

Split Testing: How To Increase Your Adsense Earnings 94% Overnight

In this post Brian Armstrong from StartBreakingFree.com shares some tips on using Split Testing to increase his AdSense earnings.

Long time readers of ProBlogger know that Darren is a big fan of split testing ads to improve your earnings. I took this advice to heart, and wanted to show you some real world results that I got on my own blog.

Feel free to take these results and apply them to your own site. Or better yet, do some of our own testing and improve on them even more!

I split tested 3 separate regions of my site and looked mostly at eCPM to compare them. If you aren’t sure what eCPM is click here. I think it’s better to use eCPM than click through rate (CTR) because it incorporates not just how often it’s clicked, but also how much you make per click.

Right Aligned vs. Left Aligned Ad In Post Body

post_body.png

This ad region makes the most money for me, and was smack dab at the top of each individual post page (but not on the homepage).

  • The right aligned ad got a 0.78% CTR and $1.41 eCPM
  • The left aligned ad got a 1.30% CTR and $5.31 eCPM

Clear winner: left aligned (276% improvement)

It’s hard to say why this is exactly. Maybe the left aligned ad looks more like it’s actual content instead of an ad. Whatever the reason, the difference was substantial.

Top Right: image vs. text

top.png

This ad resides at the very top right of every page. I had been running it with image ads for a while and decided to test it against text ads (with some appropriate color choices).

  • The image ads got a 0.35% CTR and $1.74 eCPM
  • The text ads got a 0.33% CTR and $2.15 eCPM

Interesting to note here that although the CTR went down slightly, the eCPM went up. This seems to indicate that the text ads were paying more per click. So even though it was clicked slightly less often it still made more money overall.

Winner: text ads (narrowly)

Under Posts: image vs. text

bottom.png

This ad was placed at the bottom of each post page and also on the homepage under the excerpts. I again decided to test some text ads against the incumbent image ads.

  • The image ads got a 0.58% CTR and $1.86 eCPM
  • The text ads got a 0.43% CTR and $2.27 eCPM

Again here the CTR went down and the eCPM went up. Also worth noting is that the color scheme I used on the text ad block is consistent with my site. “Blockquote” tags on my site use a similar color scheme.

Winner: text ads

Conclusions & Next Steps

For those who are curious, here is the actual data from an excel spreadsheet. You can pull this out of Adsense under the “reports” tab if you use different channels to compare different ads.

data.png

Overall these results were impressive. The site-wide eCPM from these three ads went up overall from $5.01 to $9.73 which is a 94% improvement.

I could just convert all ads to the better performing version and call it a day, but what I’ll do instead is continue testing….forever.

There are plenty of other things to test, such as…

  • Trying text ads in the post body (since they performed better elsewhere)
  • Left aligning ads under the posts
  • Trying different color schemes
  • Trying other types of ads (Amazon, Performancing Ads, Text-Link-Ads, etc)

Most people focus on growing their blog’s readership to boost earnings. This is a critical component, but don’t forget about the other major tool in your arsenal: split testing.

What ad formats and placements have worked best for you? Leave us a comment below.

To get more tips like these, check out my blog at StartBreakingFree.com. It’s is a blog for people who’d like to quit their 9-to-5 jobs, start their own business, and achieve financial freedom. I’ll even give you 3 of the top 10 books on building wealth for FREE when you subscribe, instantly delivered to your inbox! Check it out.