Once a company blog is launched, management quickly turns its attention to monetizing it. Depending on the size and demographics of the audience, it is not unheard of for blogs to earn in excess of $10,000 a month. But although companies have several revenue-generating options to choose from, they can easily go wrong. Savvy managers tap their search engine marketing, or SEM, partner for direction.
Common monetization techniques include:
publishing pay-per-click, or PPC, ads on the blog through programs such as Google(TM) AdWords;
affiliate advertising, through programs such as Amazon® Affiliates;
RSS advertising, or placing ads on a blog’s subscription feeds;
Selling ad space to strategic business partners or other third parties;
Offering downloadable podcasts or research studies for a fee;
Offering promotional merchandise; and,
Soliciting donations through services such as PayPal®.
Depending on corporate culture and the nature of the market, some options make more sense than others. For example, a not-for-profit can attract sizable donations, whereas a commercial business is apt to put off blog readers simply by asking for them. Packing the page with PPC ads might seem natural on a discount retailer’s blog, but tacky or outright objectionable on a law firm’s. The SEM partner’s role is to sort out the client’s marketing issues and craft a monetization plan that properly blends the ingredients.
Important as the right plan is, the crucial element of blog monetization – and the one so often ignored – is timing. Quite simply, no monetization tool in the world will deliver results until the blog has established an audience. Attracting traffic and building steady readership are where the client needs its SEM partner first and most for:
building search engine optimization, or SEO, into the blog’s programming;
implementing reader-friendly RSS subscription feeds;
recommending SEO techniques for blog content;
developing and executing a linking strategy;
registering the blog on important blog directories; and,
analyzing blog traffic to pinpoint the most promising monetization approaches.
Rushing to fill a client’s blog with ads and offers, while tempting, is ineffective, even counterproductive. A clean, uncluttered blog layout attracts new readers. On the other hand, blogs that look like an online flea market inspire visitors to click away.
In general, SEM firms should advise clients to take the blog monetization plunge; but look before they leap. A successful strategy has two phases: first build the audience, then, second, go after the revenue.