First off, this post is in no way comprehensive. There are many different ways to monetize your blog.
Of course, there's selling ad space on your blog, such as through the use of pay-per-click networks like Google AdSense — which is the most popular.
But offering willing advertisers to directly sponsor your blog by buying a post, an ad, or a link is one area that's becoming increasingly popular.
Sites like ReviewMe.com, PayPerPost.com, and Text-Link-Ads.com are effective in allowing bloggers to get paid for selling content or links on their blogs. Basically, these networks bring both bloggers and advertisers together.
Granted, this has been the subject of a lot of controversy lately, particularly about disclosure. (And yes, all the links above are my affiliate links.)
But what if you want to make money directly? What if you want more control over how you monetize your blog? What if you want to make money based on sales (like an affiliate commission) and not just ad clicks or views?
Well, here are a few cool WordPress plugins I found.
Recently, John Reese conducted an interview with Jeremy Shoemaker of Shoemoney.com about affiliate marketing, income generation, and blog monetization. It's fascinating stuff! Download it here and listen to all two hours.
Jeremy launched a new ad network, called Auction Ads, which I'm actually testing out on this blog right now, on the front page.
(If you go to the front page, below the first post excerpt, you will see ads related to copywriting for products being sold on eBay.com.)
If a reader clicks the ad and buys the product (whether they are the winning bidder or simply use the “buy now” button to buy it outright), I get a commission.
Essentially, Auction Ads is an affiliate program for eBay, because you don't have to use their ads. You see, another great feature is that Auction Ads also offers a link converter. (Enter any link to any eBay product, and the converter will turn the link into your affiliate link.)
It has a great reporting panel, as well as channels (like AdSense), keyword-driven ads, ad rotations, and more. The best part is, you can either insert the code yourself or use the nifty WordPress plugin.
Now, you've heard of getting sponsors and selling links on your blog. Some networks offer this ability (like the ones I mentioned earlier), but at a fee. What if you want to sell links directly and pocket 100% of the profit?
WP-TextAds is a plugin that does exactly that. The best part is, you control your fees, accept payments via PayPal, sell directly using an advertiser's form on your blog, and determine where and how the text ads appear.
What about selling blog posts (such as reviews) on your blog, directly? This plugin, called WP-Bankroll, will allow you to do just that. It offers you the ability to write the post for the sponsor, lets sponsors write their own posts, or simply allows them to contribute content for free.
(Rather than explain all its features here, JohnTP.comm, which is one of my favorite blogs, offers a lengthy blog post that explains it in detail.)
Speaking of plugins and monetization, here are a few more…
Want to integrate WordPress with PayPal? Perhaps you want to create a private membership site using WordPress as your content management solution, and have only paying members able to view your posts?
Here's a neat PayPal Membership plugin that does exactly that, and more.
You can offer recurring or one-time memberships, manage subscriptions, email users, and so on. You can even restrict members based on their membership level by accessing only certain posts, pages, or categories.
Next, there are simple “donate” buttons, like a “tip jar” for instance. I have one on the sidebar where you can buy me a glass of wine. If you like the content on this blog, you can send me a tip or buy me a drink!
I've done this by simply using PayPal's button maker and adding the code directly to the sidebar. Similarly, there's a few “buy me a beer” scripts out there that allows you to do this with any website, but are static in nature and need to be on their own pages.
Well, here's a WordPess “tip me” plugin that does exactly that, without the hassle of coding, creating buttons, or writing additional pages.
Upload the plugin, click it to activate it, and you're rolling. (There's an admin panel to manage everything.)
Plus, if you prefer non-alcoholic drinks, you can also change it to “buy me a coffee” instead. This plugin can add the link on your sidebar or automatically add it at the bottom of every post — even in your RSS feeds!
Why “buy me a drink” rather than PayPal's standard “donate” button? Because, according to the plugin developer, giving a specific reason increases donations by as much as 200%. (And I would have to agree.)
Finally, the one I've used with great success is to create and add your own ads.
For instance, I use AdSense Deluxe plugin. But rather than just using it with AdSense, I also use it for my own ads because this plugin allows you to insert any text or HTML code of your choice. Literally, anything.
What I do is pull some Clickbank products with my affiliate links, write the copy for them (never rely on their given description!), and use the insertion code to add them into my posts, pages, or sidebar.
I have multiple sizes and shapes, and different locations to apply them, depending on the post length. (You can see it being used on this post or in the sidebar under “Useful Resources” as an example.)
But don't just limit yourself to ads or AdSense. Use it to insert any piece of text or HTML code to your blog. You can use this plugin to promote your own products, include an email opt-in form, add an “about the author” signature file at the end, add a “breaking news” announcement, and more.
It's that versatile.