Why Selling Ads on Your Blog is a Very Expensive Mistake…and How to Fix It
How to multiply your blog’s income ten times over by making the right choices. If you are relying on ads to monetize your blog, you need to read this. There are many different ways to monetize a blog, and most are a better option to choose than advertising. Just because something is easy, it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea…
The Easy Choice is Not the Best Choice
When my wife and I were saving up to buy our first home in England, we decided to raise some extra money be selling off various things that each of us had collected over the years, but no longer needed. That way, we would achieve two objectives. We would get rid of a lot of clutter that would take up valuable space in our tiny home. And more importantly, we would put some cash in the bank, to help pay for the deposit on the house.
So we held a garage sale in front of our rented home one sunny Saturday morning. I took charge in the morning, then my wife took over in the afternoon while I went to run some errands. When I got back later that day, she was in a very good mood.
‘Guess what,’ she said. ‘I managed to get rid of your boxes of old records, and got fifty pounds for them!’
My heart sank. I had forgotten that my old vinyl collection was in the back of the garage. I had been collecting American and British rock records for years, and had accumulated some valuable items. The collection included rare picture disks, limited-edition 12-inch specials and hard-to-find imports. They didn’t look much to the casual observer – just a few boxes of scruffy old records. But to a serious vinyl collector, they were solid gold...
All up, I reckoned my collection was worth at least 15,000 pounds (USD$20,000)
And my wife had just sold it all for peanuts!
But of course, it wasn’t her fault. She had no idea that these boxes old records were actually a valuable vinyl collection. She had sold them for what seemed to be a good price – after all, fifty pounds is a lot better than nothing, right?
The problem here was simply that she didn’t understand the value of the asset we were holding, and so grossly undersold it. The fifty pounds we received seems worth having – until you consider the 14,950 pounds we left on the table.
Don’t Sell the Family Silver Cheap
This is exactly the same as the mistake most bloggers make. They don’t understand the value of their biggest asset – their blog visitors. And so they are happy to sell them off to other marketers for pennies on the dollar through ad networks such as AdSense and Taboola. This is a huge mistake.
Don’t believe me? OK, well let’s look a real-world example. Many bloggers publish income reports nowadays, and this can give us a valuable insight into the possibilities. The metric we want to focus on is Revenue per Mille (RPM), which means revenue per thousand visitors. So if you are running a typical blog, what kind of RPM can you expect from running third-party ads?
Rather than pick a number out of there, let’s look at a real blogger’s income report. YourModernFamily.com is a very successful high-traffic, blog, and the owner Becky breaks down her income here. This shows that her income from advertising on the blog is generating an RPM of around $5-$6. That is, she makes about half a cent per visitor from advertising income. (It’s important to note that Becky also has significant income from other sources, but we are only concerned with ad RPM for the moment.)
Half a cent per visitor is fairly typical as ad revenue goes. You might make a bit more if you are blogging in valuable niches such as personal finance, but these kinds of numbers are fairly typical.
Now look at a blog with a rather different RPM number. If we look at an income report from Abby’s JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com, we can we can see revenue per thousand visitors that is in a different league:
Forget $5-$6…here we are talking about $110.40! That means Abby is making about twenty times as much as she would be if she was simply running ads on her blog. There are two ways we can look at this. Compared to a blog that is just running ads, Abby can:
Make the same amount of revenue from just one twentieth of the traffic.
Make 20 times as much money from the same amount of traffic.
Whichever way you look at it, the results are impressive. So what’s the difference? How can Abby (and her husband Donnie) get such impressive results? The answer, quite simply, is by developing and selling unique products.
Creating Products Will Make You Rich
Yes, you can make a lot of money just by selling ads. But you are doing things the hard way. That’s like flipping burgers in McDonalds when you are actually a qualified corporate lawyer. Yes, flipping burgers is a viable way of turning your labor into cash, but it’s not the best option for a lawyer. You would have to be crazy to undervalue your assets like that, right?
Success in any career is about making the most of what you have. And when you are blogging, your visitors are your most valuable asset. So look after them. Create products that cater to their needs and solve their problems. Presumably you have chosen your blogging topic because it is a subject you care about, and one where you have something to say. Use that to your advantage.
What Will Your Visitors Think?
Bloggers often worry that there will be a backlash from visitors if you start trying to sell them a product – especially if you have been offering them free content for a long time. The reality is very different. For sure, you may get a few people who complain and vow never to visit your blog again. But those are the kind of people you don’t want on your blog anyway – they are the ones who troll in the comments section, and demand refunds on perfectly sound products.
The simple fact is that over 99 per cent of your visitors will have no problem with you offering them a good product. They will probably love it. You are actually doing them a disservice if all you have to offer is some annoying ads for unrelated products. If you have a product that goes beyond what you offer in free content, they will be happy to pay for it.
An Opportunity to Continuous Improvement
It’s interesting to note that the RPM figure of $110.40 from JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com is actually an increase from around $83.38 the previous month. That’s a 32 per cent improvement – a huge increase in four weeks!
This is another benefit of offering your own products – you can continuously improve. When you are running ads, there is not much you can do to increase your RPM. You can experiment a little with different ad types and positions, but you are not likely to see much improvement.
With your own products, however, the sky’s the limit when it comes to ramping up revenue per visitor. You can:
- Offer more products
- Increase your prices
- Add up-sells and cross-sells
- Improve your conversion rate
Rev Up Your RPM
So forget making a measly few bucks per thousand visitors. Do things the right way and ramp up your income. Want to make $1000 per thousand visitors? That is entirely possible. After all, that’s only a dollar per visitor. Compare that to Amazon, who manage an astonishing $189 of revenue per user:
So the opportunity is there. Boot those anaemic ads off your site and do something more profitable instead!