Can you make money by monetising blogs?
Seems like a dream, doesn’t it? Making money whilst you sleep, sitting on a sunny beach tapping away at your laptop and your bank account getting bigger every day. There are lots of people who want to persuade you that monetising blogs is a route to riches and freedom.
The reality is that only a few make it and, unless you want to go down the internet marketing route, it’s probably not your main focus.
However, there’s merit in trying out a few strategies which can earn you a little money. It’s quite exciting to get an email telling you you’ve earned some commission or someone’s bought something from your site.
Ways to monetise blogs
Monetising blogs is a big subject so this will be covered in a few blog posts.
- Affiliate marketing – you’re the middle man that gets paid for promoting someone else’s product or service.
- Selling your own physical products – e-commerce solution to sell your wares direct to consumer.
- Information marketing – sell your intellectual property in digital form online.
- Advertisements – companies pay you to run their ads on your site.
- Google ads – sign up to Google Adsense and get paid for clicks on ads shown your blog.
- Sponsored posts – companies pay you to run articles on your blog with a link to their site.
- Business owner – existing business bringing your services online.
Some of these are quick wins, some of these take a lot of work. Let’s take a look at one of the easiest routes to market for monetising blogs.
Monetising blogs with affiliate marketing using Skimlinks
With affiliate marketing you sell a relevant product or service via a link or advert on your site and you get paid commission for it. For Amazon you’re only looking at around 2-3% commission but for selling another bloggers’ information product it could be as high as 50%. Bear in mind though that the conversion rates will be higher on Amazon as it’s a trusted site, people already have an account and have bought before. A relatively unknown blogger’s information product takes more work to convert!
Sometimes you even get paid commission for selling a free information product that’s trying to gain some visibility and traction online!
How do I get Skimlinks on my blog?
Skimlinks is perhaps the easiest introduction to affiliate marketing as they do all the hard work for you. You have to apply online so you may need to wait until your blog has legs before you sign up and make sure that you have links or references to various products in your blog. Skimlinks covers most things as they have over 19,000 different online retailers working with them.
Once you’ve been accepted Skimlinks will provide some code to add to your site. Alternatively they provide a plugin for a WordPress self hosted, Typepad or Blogger site. The links are populated automatically once you activate and set up the plugin.
From an IT point of view Skimlinks just works. Some say it can make your blog load slowly but their coding is pretty good so the impact would be minimal.
Skimlinks works by turning existing product links into ‘Skimlinks’. When someone clicks on the link and purchases something you get the commission. No hassle signing up for Amazon, and various other affiliate schemes. Just one company that does all the hard work for you.
It also includes ‘Skimwords’ which takes keywords from your content and turns them into affiliate product links.
It also works on your RSS feed, email, Twitter and Facebook using their link shortening service. Plus Skimlinks Amazon and Skimlinks Ebay links are auto targeted to the correct region. When someone visits the site it automatically recognises where in the world they are and presents the appropriate seller.
Too good to be true?
It’s not without its downsides. As they act as the middle man you probably earn less commission compared with dealing directly with someone. However you would not be able to have a relationship with their clients until you have a big site of your own and the product they sell is relevant.
In my experience the links can be a bit random and although they have hard hitters like Amazon and Ebay some of their online retailers are quite small ‘long tail’ e-commerce shops. For instance if you mention technology products such as iPads, iPhones, smart phones etc then these might be turned into affiliate links – see Amazon and Ebay links in the post! You can control if Skimlinks are activated on pages and posts with a small piece of code. If you don’t like what Skimlinks has highlighted you can turn it off.
If you accept sponsored posts, guest posts or do reviews you’ll need to make sure they are not corrupted with Skimlinks. You don’t want people pinging off in different directions instead of clicking through to someone who could be a life-long client!
I think you need to think about your blog’s content and goals carefully and decide if Skimlinks is a possible option. However because it’s free there’s no harm in adding it to your site as a pilot. Remember to turn on the disclosure setting in the plugin so you’re transparent about making money from your blog.
What alternatives are there?
If you’re in the US an alternative service to Skimlinks is VigLink. My research shows that they are pretty much matched in terms of performance although the reporting from Skimlinks is much more comprehensive and the RSS option is not available from VigLink. I would suggest Skimlinks if you’re outside of the US as VigLink require you to submit US taxation documents.
Show me the money!
So now you want to know how much, right? The referral commission for monetising blogs with VigLink stands at 30%, which is much better compared to Skimlinks at 10%-12%. Skimlinks are addressing this aspect so things should hopefully even out soon. Since VigLink is also free you could try each out and see which one is better for your site.
So there you have it. Within a couple of days you could be potentially earning some cash from monetising your blog.
I’ll be covering other forms of monetising blogs with affiliate marketing, information products etc. in some of my upcoming posts.
What’s your experience with monetising blogs? Has it been successful? Have you tried Skimlinks or VigLink? Please help other bloggers by leaving your comments below.