The events of the past few days have really got me thinking about blog monetization in a big way. I wasn’t happy with the Google 300×250 ad so I decided to sell it for $1,000. The person who brought the spot, Ryan Stewart, flipped it for $1,400 and got over 1,000 clicks to his blog from the two days his banner was running. The new buyer, Rich4Life.Us, made $3,500 on the first day with the ad spot.
All this has made me question if I’m getting maximum value for my advertising spots. Realizing this value is all about tweaking and experimentation. The 300×250 ad spot had made me as much as $1,300 in a month. Now I see I can charge a lot more for it. However, there is a balance that needs to be maintained.
Maximum Income vs. The User Experience
I had a few marketers tell me that I should have sold my Ebook instead of giving it away for free. By giving the book away, I managed to “sell” over 30,000 copies. The book has done a great job promoting the blog. However, had I sold it for $47 it could have easily sold at least 2,000 copies and I would have reported a new blog income record of over $100,000 (once you combined the other sources). Will those free Ebooks make me $100K? It might eventually, but the odds are stacked against it. Marketers who give away free Ebooks use an upsell and One Time Offer (OTO) to make money – my book has no such thing.
The reason I gave the book away was to maintain the user experience. The blog can actually make a ton more money than it does now but if I were to push it that far, the user experience would degrade to an unacceptable level for me. You want to maximize income but you also must keep your readership in mind at all times.
Fellow Vancouverite Markus Frind of Pleny of Fish is facing the maximum income vs. user experience problem on a grander scale. His free dating site makes over $6 million a year, which sounds great. However, Match.com makes $300 million a year with less traffic than Plenty of Fish.
I’ve come a long way in the last 3 years, today I’ve single handily built the largest dating site in the world with no employees. The site generates more relationships than match.com yet only makes a tiny tiny fraction of Match.com’s 300 Million a year. So today I sit at a turning point, the site has over 1.1 billion pageviews and 45 million visitors a month, the maintenance and all that annoying stuff is growing fast and there is no way to effectively monetize the site without employees.
Take A Look At Your Advertising Spot
The bottom line is Google AdSense can only get you so far. If your prime ad spot isn’t pulling in the kind of money you like then ask yourself what you can replace it with. Can you sell the spot to a direct sponsor? Can you replace it with an affiliate deal? Would the spot do better promoting your own site(s)? Would it be better just to get rid of the spot? The key is to experiment and mix things up. It is a lot easier to double blog income by tweaking than it is to double income by doubling blog traffic.
Doubling Traffic Does Not Mean Double Income
If you look at the above income chart of John Chow dot Com from September 2006 to April 2007, you’ll see that traffic and income are not very related to each other. Most people think double traffic equals double income. That is not the case. It’s not the traffic that is important, it’s what you do with the traffic. Plenty of Fish has tons of traffic. However, if he can get the same eCPM I get, he’ll be pulling down $44 million a month instead of only $6 million a year.
It’s time to look at your blog and ask if you are truly maximizing income while still preserving the user experience. If you haven’t done anything new to your blog monetization wise, now is the time. Summer is a slow period and best used to tweak the site for the advertising bonanza that comes in the fall. You wouldn’t want to miss that, would you?