Jim Benton, Rett Clevenger, Wendy Piersal, Heath Row, Darren Rowse form this panel. Panelists come from DoubleClick, BackCountry, emomsathome.com, AdBright and ProBlogger.
Darren talked about ways to make money on a blog. Direct money using advertising or affiliate blogging is the most common way. (You can also make money selling yourself with a blog.) Google AdSense, affiliate programs like Amazon are entry level ads. You can also sell banner ads, sponsorships, popup ads, RSS advertising, paid reviews (controversial idea), selling merchandise, taking donations, selling membership services or information. He said that every blog is different, so every blog monitizes differently.
Wendy started her blog to document a start up. Then the blog became the start up. She learned from Darren and realized she needed more traffic. She sold herself as a coach to increase her traffic, and therefore revenue. Eventually she realized that she couldn’t write enough herself to do that. She added seven more bloggers and this increased her traffic significantly. Each emomsathome blog is different and brings in different traffic. She uses affiliate ads, some direct selling of ads (lots of work, she discovered), ad networks with Real Girls Media, selling text links in a Google compliant way, and a number of other means.
Jim talked about how his network gets advertisers to represent your site. AdBright serves ads to over 50,000 sites. He says you need to decide if it’s about money or about control. If you want control, use an ad network that lets you choose your ads and that has transparency about how a particular site is doing. AdBright segments ads based on the quality and content of your site. AdBright helps newcomer with online tools, an account manager, placement tips.
Rett talked about affiliate marketing and BackCountry. Affiliate marketing creates a long-term relationship. The blogger knows better than the advertiser where the affiliate ads fit in. The blogger decides what sort of ad to post and where with affiliate marketing. BackCountry looks at affiliates like an external sales program, like Tupperware was in the old days. They look for affiliates that add something to the brand, so they are selective about who they allow to become affiliates. Affiliate programs can be used in the real world, too, in a situation such as handing out post cards at a real event with custom codes and landing pages. Let your affiliate managers know you want that kind of material.
Ad lingo: CPM is cost per thousand people seeing an ad. CPA is cost per action. Tracking involves seeing how many people clicked on an ad and how many people completed the purchase.
Best to work with your affiliate manager to maximize your earnings. It’s a two way street that you must cultivate. Also best to really know your site, what gets seen, clicked, and so on. Wendy gave an example of a spot where she had an AdSense ad that got no clicks. She put an ad for her own product in the same spot and it got lots of clicks. So placement and understanding your blog and your readers makes a big difference. She also said that if you write about a product, disclosure is important so people don’t assume that you are only writing about it to sell it. If you write about products because you really like them, say so. Darren said he chooses not to do paid reviews. Wendy also said her readers don’t like advertorials mixed with content and she no longer does paid reviews.
MyBlogLog provides good info on what people click. Other tools are Google Analytics, Crazy Egg.
More SXSWi photos at Flickr.
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