For some, making money isn't a consideration at all. If you're in that boat, you can skip this post. However, if you're like me – someone who quit her full-time job to be at home with the kids but is struggling as a result to make ends meet – you might care to learn how you can make a little extra money at this. In the interest of time and space, this post will be kept very general and high-level. However, I want you to know you can always email me with more specific questions at thecouponproject at hotmail dot com.
As I mentioned earlier, quality content is the lifeblood of your blog! I actually did NOT feature ANY ads or affiliates for the first four months of my blog. There is a lot to learn when starting your blog, and to make sure I was true to who I am as a writer, I focused my entire attention on content and building readership. Most bloggers do not take this approach, but know it's certainly one way you could go. Please also note that some advertisers will want to see your site and learn how much traffic you have. If you're just starting out, this is something to be mindful of.
Four months in, I began to set up my relationships with advertisers and affiliates. And only AFTER I set up a business license and formed an LLC for tax and legal purposes. I HIGHLY recommend you do this first, too! I'm not going to go through the entire list of advertisers, but here are my top six at the moment.
Google. I have to be careful in what I share about Google AdSense lest I get banned from having their ads delivered to my site (and that would be a sad day indeed)! Suffice it to say, they were extremely easy to set up and provide a pretty dependable little check for me. If you set your blog up with Google's Blogger, you can run Google ads immediately, which is nice.
Amazon. I love being an Amazon affiliate! I can pick and choose WHATEVER of their deals I want and share a link with my readers. It's truly a win-win situation. Because it's important to me that my readers are truly getting a good deal, I make sure that the products I share have a minimum of a 3.5 average star rating. (Note that when someone returns a product they bought through your link, you lose that commission – as you should! So only feature quality items at prices that are a true bargain.) If you recall, I spent HOURS scouring Black Friday ads, and you know what? Amazon consistently outperformed EVERYONE. It's a brand I fully believe in and buy from regularly, and I would feature their deals even if I didn't make a dime doing so. I feel being an Amazon affiliate doesn't compromise who I am as a blogger.
Logicial Media. Logical Media offers many campaigns and I get emails from them on a near-daily basis. They are very straight-forward and easy to add to your site. However, I only ever run a fraction of what they send through. Their payouts our nice. If you choose to sign up with Logical Media, I would appreciate it if you used my referral link to do so here.
My Savings. I love these guys! They are much like Logical Media, but I usually end up running more of their campaigns on my site because I tend to find they are more in alignment with posts I would normally share anyways. Examples of campaigns they run have included the 15% off Children's Place coupon and Vistaprint. Obviously these are deals I've done myself and I feel good about posting. If you choose to sign up with My Savings, I would appreciate it if you used my referral link to do so here.
Juicebox Jungle. This is the little video you see in my sidebar. I recently signed up with them, and I really like working with them! Their payouts are great, and they deposit the money into my PayPal account each month. You can inquire more here.
Printable Coupon sites. These are probably my favorite way to earn income from my blog. Why? Because you get the same great printable coupons you would from going to the sites directly, and I earn a little money every time you choose to print from my site. You can sign up for Coupons.com here. If you are interested in learning how to get set up with SmartSource or Red Plum, please email me and I can send you the contact information.
There are certainly other ways to make some money at blogging. As my traffic has grown, I've started to get contacted more and more by companies and advertisers wishing to have me write sponsored posts or advertise on my site. There are other, less conventional ways of making money. Just know that the better your traffic, the better the income, and the better the opportunities. Focus more of your time on building your traffic.
A reader asked me the other day if blogging is profitable? I ended 2009 making a small profit, yes. SMALL. I worked eight months before I received my first check of $100. But I will tell you this. I was more proud of that $100 than ANY paycheck I'd EVER received. That $100 represented hours of hard work, persistence, and creativity. It meant stepping out my comfort zone. I've never worked so hard for $100 in my life.
As far as expenses go, I approach my blogging business the same way as couponing: with frugality. I wasn't about to go into debt to hire a graphic designer or technical support! How hypocritical would that be? But as I've earned some income, I'm able to put it back into my business, bit by bit. Next month, I'm finally upgrading this site a bit and last night, I signed up to attend the Blogher conference in New York this August. These things are only possible because I've earned some money to do it first. Take it slow; be patient.
A final word. When I started out with my advertisers, I ran a LOT of campaigns, and I put some posts up I wouldn't think about doing now. Not only did I get zero response on some of these, some of the campaigns might have tainted what my readers thought about me. Not good! It's a fine balance – earning income from blogging, but not compromising who you are and why your readers like you. Be picky! Don't clutter your site with ads and banners – readers repeatedly say this irritates them, plus it positions you as someone who only cares about making money. I actually turned down a couple advertising opportunities within the last couple weeks because I didn't feel they were in alignment with who I am. Don't be afraid to tell an advertiser "no." Be more concerned about the long-term health of your blog than the short-term profit. Also, with new FTC guidelines you are required to disclose when there's a financial interest, so even more reason to make sure you can stand behind the offers you post.
I have one more post in mind for this series, but then I'd like to wrap things up by answering reader questions. This is such a HUGE topic, and I know I've not fully covered it…but if there's a burning question you have, leave a comment or email me and I'll be addressing some of those in a final post.
Photo courtesy stock.xchng
Starting a bargain blog: show me the money!
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