Maybe you don’t want Google Adsense ads on your blog, maybe Google banned you, or maybe you just want to find better products. Here are five alternative types of affiliate ads for bloggers.
If you want to take your blogging business beyond blogging, read The Six-Figure Second Income: How To Start and Grow A Successful Online Business Without Quitting Your Day Job. It’s not about affiliate advertising — it’s about building an actual business online.
“Place your ads in such a way that they don’t turn readers off,” says Susan Johnston, a blogger and freelance writer. “It can be tricky to balance the need for good content with the need to monetize a blog.”
I don’t think you’ll ever be happy with running ads on your blog – I know I’m not! But if I want to keep my job as a full-time blogger (and I do!), I need to keep experimenting with different affiliate programs, different ways to advertise, and different promotional techniques.
But if you want to keep blogging – and perhaps earn a few bucks – here are a few tips for blog advertising that go beyond Google Adsense ads…
5 Alternatives to Google Adsense Ads for Bloggers
“Generally speaking, niche websites work better with Google Adsense [than general websites],” says Michael Gray, creator of Graywolf’s SEO Blog. “First off the ad targeting is much better. Secondly, as you have a narrow focus, your writing naturally becomes more expert in nature. Hopefully this makes you more of an authority in your field.”
He also recommends “starting as you mean to go.” If you don’t know what kind of blog to start — or you want to refocus your blog — read Can’t Decide on Your Blog’s Focus? Tips for Baffled Bloggers.
Adsense and niche blogs work well together because the ads target the content of your posts. But, not everybody is a fan of Adsense. Luckily, there are other options!
Abandon Google Adsense if you want – but stick with contextual advertising
If Adsense isn’t working for you, it might be worthwhile to try other types of advertising that are also contextual. I like contextual advertising because the products and services are directly related to the content of your blog and blog posts. And, contextual ads can help keep your blog unified and focused.
“Every element on your blog must fit as part of a blog strategy,” says Justin Shimoon, President and CEO of AffinityClick. “If your ads are tasteful and contextual, they’ll supplement your reader’s experience and encourage them to click.”
CrispAds, BrightAds, Chitika, BidVertiser, and AffinityClick are examples of ad networks that provide CPC ads based on the web page’s content. Theoretically, the ads will align with your reader’s interests, which helps both them and you!
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Build a bridge to an online mall
Websites such as Amazon, eBay, and the Shopping Channel can be reliable sources of income because they provide so many different opportunities for shoppers (as opposed to, say, a link to Starbucks or a flower store that sells one specific type of product). I feature hundreds of books on my blogs, yet I earn commissions from products such as video games, automotive supplies, and even organic food. That’s because readers click the books I feature, go to Amazon, and end up making other purchases.
Amazon recommends promoting different types of items to capture more sales (cross marketing). For example, if you’re featuring a top-selling cookbook on your site, you may increase your sales if you feature other relevant products, such as cooking utensils or even small kitchen appliances.
Experiment with advertising networks, such as BlogHer
“My first advertising revenue came from Google Adsense,” says Susan Johnston, creator of The Urban Muse. “But since it’s a very broad advertising option, the pay rates are somewhat low and it can take a long time to get the $100 minimum (the payout threshold). I’ve since switched to BlogHer Ads. They don’t have a $100 minimum so I get paid more quickly. I also get more money overall, because the payouts are higher than with Adsense.”
Johnston puts one ad in her left sidebar so the ads aren’t too eye-catching or offensive. “I think and hope readers understand that bloggers need some sort of monetization strategy to cover all the hours they spend blogging and building community.”
Cut the middleman (affiliate websites) and deal directly with the source
Affiliate programs and ad networks are great in many ways, but both affiliates and merchants pay for the service! Affiliate networks take a chunk of the revenues, leaving you with a small percentage of the earnings. I’ve learned to cut out the middleman if possible and work directly with advertisers. For instance, I advertised a fertility organization’s products on Quips and Tips for Couples Coping With Infertility until I realized they’re a middleman for a bigger pregnancy website! I applied to be a direct affiliate for that bigger website, and now earn more money when a reader buys a product because I’m a direct affiliate.
I’m also an affiliate for Mort Fertel, who runs an excellent marriage counseling program. If you can cut out the affiliate program or advertising network that works as the middleman, do it. Not all organizations offer direct programs, but the ones that do are often easy and profitable to work with.
Write product reviews or sponsored posts
If you write a product review or a sponsored blog post (one that the advertiser pays you to write), be sure to highlight products that relate to your niche. You can ask merchants for products; for instance, I often ask publishers for review copies of books that relate to my blogs. Stick with merchandise that you’d recommend to your friends or family.
Remember that you don’t need to “sell” the product or service! Just be honest about the product – point out its limitations and weaknesses. Write a balanced review; explain how the product or service benefited your life in some way. Don’t sell to your readers….just talk to them honestly. If you’re being paid to write a review by a company, make sure you put a clear disclosure at the top of your post: “This is a sponsored post.”
If you don’t think writers can earn a living from their blogs, read How Do Bloggers Make Money? How My Blogs Pay the Bills.
Questions, comments, or tips for blog ads welcome below! Also – I welcome your thoughts on Google Adsense…