How to Make Money Off Your Blog
Sunday, January 30, 2005; Page M03
You pound on the keyboard each day, broadcasting your unalloyed truths to the world (or at least to friends and family) via your blog. Unfortunately, earning such singular authority demands serious time and energy, and what begins as a hobby can quickly start seeming like Job No. 2 — sans paycheck. But haven’t you heard? You can turn your Web log into a digital cash cow. Simply choose among these techniques (but keep in mind that it’s not all free money — come tax season, Uncle Sam gets his fair share).
LET GOOGLE WORK FOR YOU. Selling ad space might be the oldest way to make a buck, and with Google’s free AdSense service (www.google.com/adsense), it’s way too easy. AdSense allows bloggers to display up to three content-specific “ad units” (boxes that can hold up to four ads each) per page. “If you’re writing about sports cars, they’ll be ads about sports cars,” says Biz Stone, Blogger senior specialist at Google. Each time a visitor clicks these ads, you get paid. Google doesn’t disclose its exact share of the revenue, but a personalized report page lets you track your own earnings. Earn at least $100 and Google sends you a check.
PLAY AD-SALES EXEC. If you want more control over the ads on your blog, hit www.blogads.com. BlogAds lets you join its database free and set your own ad prices. Companies (including media bigs such as Paramount Pictures and Random House) then search for suitable blogs and purchase ad space for a set period — say, one month. In contrast to the way AdSense works, your earnings don’t depend on whether a reader clicks the ad. All you have to do is give 20 percent of your net revenue to Mr. BlogAd, and you keep the rest. Perhaps best of all, you can indulge your megalomaniacal tendencies by approving or declining potential ads at will.
BE THE MIDDLEMAN. Many companies run “affiliate” programs: Post an ad provided by Amazon.com or Lands’ End, for example, and receive a small commission every time your readers click that ad, go to the company’s Web site and end up buying a book or splurging on a down parka. Referral fees — the cash you get from these transactions — vary (you can earn as much as 10 percent per sale from Amazon). LinkShare (www.linkshare.com) claims to run the Internet’s biggest “affiliate marketing network,” with more than 600 companies on its roster of advertisers. Another service, Commission Junction (www.cj.com), runs programs for eBay and Expedia.com, among others.
PASS THE CUP. If you’re toiling away to maintain a blog that people enjoy, why not ask your guests to show a little monetary appreciation? The online payment service PayPal (www.paypal.com) lets you add a donation button to your blog. You can opt to receive money in U.S. dollars, Canadian dollars, Japanese yen, pounds sterling or euros. When visitors give money, PayPal sends you an e-mail to let you know. Amazon’s Honor System (www.amazon.com/honorsystem) and BitPass (www.bitpass.com) offer similar donation options.
SELL SCHWAG. Don’t dig ads? Uncomfortable asking for handouts? Then create your own blog-branded gear at CafePress.com, which offers more than 50 products begging for your unique logo. Choose from standard fare such as T-shirts and coffee cups, or, if Grandma doesn’t read your blog, opt for sexy thong underwear (ooh la la). You get to sell each product at whatever price your entrepreneurial heart desires. CafePress gets back the original base price ($13.99 for T-shirts, $10.99 for mugs); you keep the markup. Just add your online store’s link to your blog, and all that’s left to do is wait for CafePress to send you a monthly check. See? It’s practically like your real job.
Want to know how to do something? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.