Considerations on whether or not to monetize your blog and when
As with most blog tips by the Fire Critic, this one can be used for non fire/EMS blogs and is applicable to web sites as well as blogs. This will be a multi-part posting, so feel free to comment with questions so I can answer them in the following post.
Some people are very finicky about making money, posting ads, and asking for donations on their blogs. Some love it and others hate it. I am referring to the actual bloggers here, the readers are another thing. Whether you decide to monetize your blog is an important decision and one that should not be made without proper research on best practices. That is where I come in. I hope to help you along in making the best of your blog and doing it right if/when you decide to monetize it.
“Monetizing your Fire/EMS Blog will delivered in the following installments (subject to change)
- Considerations on whether or not to monetize your blog and when
- Various monetization schemes
- Where to put your links and banners
- Best Practices and lessons learned
There are numerous ways of making money on your blog/site. Whether you are selling advertisements, placing affiliate marketing ads, asking for donations, selling links, etc. Once you decide on monetization you will have to constantly monitor each advertising solution to make sure it is working.
Should you or Shouldn’t you - Some people have decided to not monetize their blog. They are striclty against it and that is the way it is. Others want to but don’t know how. Whether you do or don’t, you want to make sure that it doesn’t interfere with the readers experience on your site.
Case and Point – FirefighterHourly.com runs one set of ads on his site by Lion Apparel. I do not know the relationship, but I do know that Jay offers kind reviews on Lion apparel. It is my understanding that the site has a lot of readers and the alexa ranking puts it right behind the Fire Critic. Therefore, I know that if Jay were to add some ad banners or links in the mix he could make decent money on his blog without really doing much more work.
Traffic - Do you have readers? You might think this is a stupid question, however I see blogs started every day and more time spent on creating and placing ads than on actual content and gaining readership. Most blog themes offer a spot or two for google adsense or another application. It is fine to utilize this spot from day one, but you might be better off placing a static image of a link to another site for now.
Case and point – FireGeezer didn’t monetize his blog for a long time and he had plenty of readers. I imagine that since going to the new platform of FireEMSBlogs.com that FireGeezer will be making decent money in ads which run on the blog. The same can be said for STATter911.com. Both sites boast some great traffic stats!
Layout – Plan ahead for monetization. When you create the design, choose a theme, or develop the look of your blog/site go ahead and plan for expansion. Don’t place the banners, but plan for where you will want them and make the arrangements to place them there 0nce you are ready. This will make a seamless transition into the realm of monetization. However, do not design a blog around advertisements, instead design advertisements around your blog.
Case and point – http://be-a-firefighter.com/ might be a great website, however there is way too much advertising going on here. The overpowering of ads distracts from reading the actual posts and probably loses return visitors.
Timeline - Develop a timeline for when you will add advertisements. Plan for several months out and decide on when you will be ready for ads. This deadline will help you crunch your time in making your blog/site the best so that when you go live with ads you are ready.
Case and point – When I started VAFireNews.com I spent the first 3-4 months working on content and design. Once I started looking for advertisers I had a pretty decent product. Those advertisers who started out early have remained with me to this day. I was not in a hurry to get ads, I wanted to make sure I had something to sell first.
Don’t get ahead of yourself - I can tell from experience that you probably will not be retiring early because of your income on your blog. If it is possible I will let you know…I am not giving up anytime soon. Unless you have some new technology or angle at taking out Firehouse.com you probably will not be laying in a bed of money by simply monetizing your blog. The main thing is to network.
Case and Point – I am not retired yet!!!
Network – Read and utilize my “Top Ten Marketing Tools for Fire/EMS Blogs and Websites”. Be sure you are capitalizing on these networking tools! (I am doing one of them by posting this link here)
Case and Point – The best thing you can have is other sites link to you. On average, I nearly double my hits on a day when FireGeezer links to me. While I doubt that I do the same for him I certainly try.
Stay tuned for more on monetizing your blog/web site. Feel free to get your comments/questions in so that I can make sure I fit in an answer in the following posts.
I will be happy to incorporate your trials and tribulations on monetizing your blogs as well. Let me know what has worked and what hasn’t!