This afternoon's lesson from BlogHer '08: Monetization happens, but you have to be strategic, and you probably need to sell directly. Take a look at these blog mavens for concrete examples:
The e-commerce on Kristen Hammond's blog is a natural fit to her blogging. Hammond's Mommy Needs a Cocktail t-shirts are funny, relevant even to non-blog readers, and happends to be the name of the blog. Other tees came about organically. Hammond has also found that she gets an instant reaction when she uses Twitter. But don't spam your audience, or folks will unfollow you. Use it properly - and sparingly - and you'll get attention when you release a new product or publish a new post. Notably, even name brand retailers like Zappos and Whole Foods are actively pursuing Twitter strategies.
Dana Loesch approached monetization by creating her own ad network. The local St. Louis blogger community realized that a lot of businesses were interested in reaching out to local readers, so they set up their own blog network and are now getting a $2 CPM. This is better than the generic CPMs that Loesch was seeing elsewhere, and is evidence that bloggers need to be very targeted when joining an ad network. Not every blog will make money with Google AdWords, or every ad network is different. When you do choose (or create!) an ad network, these are the models you're likely to consider. Think about which would work best with your audience:
- CPM = Cost per thousand page impressions
- CPC = Cost per click
- CPA = Cost per action such as a form, purchase, etc.
Stephanie Agresta recommends working with affiliate programs such as LinkShare, Commission Junction, and Performics (bought by Google). Amazon, of course, has its own Amazon Associates program. It's free to log into these programs, so an easy way to start is to register and select your five favorite products. There's a good chance that your loyal audience members also has an affinity for those products. Get your own coupon codes issued if you can, since your audience is more likely to go through you for a purchase if they feel special about it.
Agresta notes that text links are the highest-converting creative, so if you're comfortable selling links (I won't judge you if that's your thing), she suggests that you check out Social Spark. She also recommends SEOMOZ, Search Marketing Gurus, and the Google Webmaster Guidelines as go-to resources for getting the basics of SEO/SEM down.