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How I Diversify My Site and Income

Posted By Darren Rowse 29th of October 2009 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

In this post I want to present some visuals on how I’ve expanded one of my blogs and diversified its income streams.

  • How do I expand my blog?
  • How do I move beyond the basics of making money with AdSense on my blog?

I’m asked these two questions a lot and in this post I want to share, with some visuals, how I do it on one of my own sites.

While at Blog World Expo last week I was asked to present to a small private group on how I make money blogging. As part of the presentation I put together some basic graphics that attempted to visualize how Digital Photography School works. With the permission of the clients I presented to I’d like to share them here.

Lets start with a basic rundown of what the site is made up of – or at least where I’m interacting with readers both on and off the site:

dps visual?.002.jpg

The site started as a simple blog. In time I added a forum and a newsletter. The forum added a more communal element to the site while the newsletter both gave a secondary connecting point with readers, drives significant traffic across to both the blog and forum but also opens up other ways to market to readers. In more recent times I’ve started using social media by creating a Twitter account and Facebook page.

In this next visual I highlight four of the main tasks that I focus my energies on with DPS. While there are other things that one must do to keep a site going, these are the main things I focus my time upon at present.

dps visual?.003.jpg

  1. Creating Compelling Content – this is the foundation of the site and particularly in the early days of DPS was what I spent most time doing. Ultimately it is about creating useful content that solves problems and meets needs for people.
  2. Build Community – getting a reader to your blog is hard so it makes a lot of sense to work hard on keeping the readers you have and doing whatever you can to keep them visiting again and again. One of the main ways to do this is to give them a sense of ‘belonging’.
  3. Monetize – a site with great content and community is fantastic – but unless you can monetize it in some way it isn’t sustainable. As a result a percentage of my time and resources goes towards making money from the site.
  4. Marketing – to make money from a website you need people to read it and to have people reading it you need to step outside of your own site and market yourself in some way. Great content and community is not enough. I’d include SEO in this category as it’s largely about driving traffic.

There are obviously other tasks that a blogger needs to work on (such as design, maintenance etc) but broadly speaking these are the four things I’m working on each day in some way or another.

Lets see how the two graphics above interact with one another. Below is a visual of the four areas of the site and the four ‘tasks’ that I do – it shows WHERE I’m doing each of the ‘tasks’ on the site.

dps visual?.004.jpg

OK – so I’m doing everything everywhere.

The reason I include this graphic is that I hear people talking about how certain types of media are only suited to some goals.

For example I heard one presenter at BWE talk about how social media is just for marketing or community building – however I think it can be used for monetization also. An example of this was when I launched the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook. I did launches for the ebook both here on the ProBlogger blog and also on Twitter – Twitter generated over twice as many sales as the blog.

While social media may not be as effective for everyone when it comes to monetization there are certainly ways to do it. The same goes with other mediums.

I won’t go through how each of the four areas achieve each of the four goals or tasks but the take home lesson here is that if you have a variety of goals for your site that there can be multiple ways to meet them.

Lets move onto monetization. The next visual highlights the four main ways that I make money off DPS (or at least the four ways it will make money shortly).

dps visual?.005.jpg

  1. Ad Networks – in some circles these are looked down on as an inferior way to make money but on DPS they work. Running AdSense and Chitika in particular have been very profitable for me on DPS. Sure you share the revenue with the network but when you’re unable to fill your inventory with directly sold ads they can still work out for you. You should be looking to expand your focus and diversify but don’t write it off altogether – keep testing the options to see what converts on your site.
  2. Direct Ad Sales – the obvious advantage of selling your own ads to an advertiser is that you’re not splitting profits with Google or some other ad network. The downside is that it can take time to find advertiser and negotiate with them to really get the return that you could get. This can get a little easier when you’ve got significant traffic but depending upon your niche and where the economy is at it can also be difficult – particularly to attract the bigger brand advertisers unless you have relationships with them or are well positioned in the advertising sales game.
  3. Affiliate Marketing – this is something that I didn’t focus upon a whole lot on DPS except for using Amazon’s Associate program. However lately there have been a few quality photography products launched that have opened up opportunities on this front.
  4. Products – this is the ‘soon to be’ element of the monetization mix on DPS as I have two ebooks in development – one to be released in the coming weeks. I’m still yet to see how well products will work on the site but there’s significant potential if we can convince readers that paying for some content is worth doing (I’m sure I’ll write more about this in the coming weeks).

You’ll notice that there are other monetization streams that are not mentioned and that I don’t do at DPS – such as text link advertising, paid reviews etc.

Here’s one last graphic that overlays the monetization streams with the areas of the site.

dps visual?.006.jpg

Once again you’ll see that each of the areas of the site are involved in at least two of the monetization streams – although not all. Some of the exceptions are simply that I’ve not had time to try them but some I’m not sure will ever happen (either because I doubt that they’ll work or because they can’t – such as Ad Networks in Social media).

Again – the reason I include this graphic is that opportunities do exist to diversify income streams between mediums. For example newsletters are a great place to monetize. While you can’t run AdSense in a newsletter you can sell an ad to an advertiser. You can also use a newsletter to do affiliate marketing (in fact I find it works better in newsletters than anywhere else on my site).

I hope the visuals above are a little food for thought and make sense without the context of the rest of the presentation.

A few Take Home Lessons:

Let me try to pull together a few of the main take home lessons that I’ve been learning:

  • Know your goals – having identified that main tasks that I want to be involved in has given me a structure and helped me develop strategies to take my site forward.
  • Expand and Diversify – Adding different areas/mediums to your blog can help to make your site multi-dimensional and opens up new ways to achieve your goals. It is also good in turbulent economic times to have a site with a variety of different areas but also income streams.
  • Don’t Ignore AdSense – ad networks have their pros and cons. If you write them off completely you could be leaving money on the table. The key is to have an open mind, test what works best and revisit your decisions over time as different monetization streams will suit your site differently at different stages of its life cycle.
  • Don’t get lazy and rely upon AdSense – many bloggers get lazy and rely upon the same old way that their site has always made money to continue to do so. Keep testing, hustle to find new advertisers, test different affiliate products to promote, watch what your competitors are monetizing with and consider launching your own product.
About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Thanks for sharing the several ways you diversify your income stream. I think all of us have a rough plan for doing so, although just getting the new blog off the ground seems like a challenge enough.

    We all need to think beyond Adsense. However, it’s a struggle to even be successful in that arena before moving on to other revenue streams.

  2. Thanks Darren,

    This is a big help to me as I have been having alot of success with getting traffic to my blog but yet I have had little Money from it. I am developing two products that will be released soon and that could be a good source of income.

    Thank you,


  3. Very interesting, I do agree, too many of us are looking for some formulaic approach to monetization when the reality is we need to continuously tweak and tinker until we find what works and then keep tweaking. Ultimately there is a need for more innovation in monetization strategies based on your audience.

  4. Thaks Darren!

    The simple visuals do a lot to tell your story. Food for thought for those of us trying to tie together multiple streams of income (and occasionally succeeding).


  5. The end goal is to…

    . .. develop and sell YOUR own products.

    Until you get their other products suffice – but you should always be thinking of ‘trading up’

    What’s the next step up for my site?

    Test, rinse, repeat etc.

  6. Thanks for the graphics. Sometimes it is nice to separate the entities and see their relationships. It makes it much easier to understand. Fantastic post.

    Chris Kilber
    Home of 101 Traffic Generating Strategies

  7. Thanks for sharing this. It surely help me to build my blog in right way.

  8. I’m getting the idea that everything is related in the end and that everything feeds everything.

    This is a tough subject for me on my fundraising blog. The fact is, I want to raise money for a cure for CF, but is it ok to try and make money off of it? I don’t know.

  9. Direct advertising is definitely one of the most attractive monetization techniques which often leads to building your credibility online and I’m happy that once in while software companies approach me for reviews and doesn’t complain about me disclosing it and being in control of what I wanted to say.

  10. Thanks for the transparent access to your success. It seems overwhelming to try to take it all in and envision all that could be done, so I’ll just bite off a bit at a time. Your post proves that hard work is still a key factor in real sustainability in online marketing.

  11. Well, to be frank I think making money from a blog is not as easy as many people may think. I am not saying it is not people but it requires a lot dedication and the ability to do things consistently. Focus is vital. It takes time to build something good. May require even more to ensure it becomes better everyday.

    It’s a nice post I must say though.

    • Martin – no arguements here – making money from blogs take consistent hard work over a long period of time. These things don’t just pop out of nowhere – that site makes a good six figures in revenue a year now but it’s been around for a few years to get to that point and has taken a lot of hours to get it up and going.

  12. Darren,
    You are always so open about your business model and where you are in each stage of the process. You keep the balance so we don’t sway toward one area.

  13. Thanks for sharing this. This is a really timely post for me as I”m at a point where I’m starting to think of multiple income streams and getting more strategic with my blog.

  14. It is good to open up to new ways to make money online.

    One good way to find out how a profit from your blog is to sell ad space in your blog. Your blog must bring in lots of traffic so that advertisers can purchase a space.

    Another way is to set up new niche website related to your niche blog. This way it will help each other in bring new traffic and at the same time promoting new products to your readers.

  15. Darren..

    Let me do this first. WowW!

    You have practically revealed all your secrets here and thanks for sharing your success story, I’m pretty sure that it will come in handy for bloggers (even for casual bloggers like me).

    Personally, this post of yours has opened up my eyes and they’re open really wide right now. Honestly, I never really thought that blogging can be so lucrative (if you do it right). Perhaps I should consider making blogging as a full time obsession, just like what I have done to affiliate marketing years ago. I’m doing okay as an affiliate marketer, I guess now it’s time to look for other lucrative options and you just gave me an idea. Thanks again. :)

  16. I’ve tried a lot of ad networks and they usually are fine for awhile but I am very skeptical of some of them.

    Since they are often just middlemen, I’ve gone more towards straight affiliate programs.

  17. This is splendid Darren, I have been thinking of ways to diversify my blog monetization and be less reliant of adsense since it is very unpredictable and I don’t know when I may have my account canceled. Thanks for sharing man. You are my hero.

  18. Great post.

    Thanks for sharing your income sources and stratagies. All of us are wanting to have the same success, but starting a blog and making it popular is a massive challenge. It takes a lot of hard work. Once you start getting steady traffic, you’ll start to see new income oppertunities.

  19. It’s interesting to learn how different blog maintaining and promoting elements are linked to several monetization options.
    thanks for sharing.

  20. Always a fan of selling ad space myself, but maybe that is because I have always been involved in sales in some way.

    It also depends on the niche. I know for my web usability blog the traffic is not there yet so I must chase after the sales. I have another site in the automotive industry that gets a quarter of the traffic though, and advertisers are constantly knocking on my door.

  21. Wow, you put a lot of great info in that article and I’ll be sure to follow your advice on my blog. I’m a noob at this and I soak up all the info I can read. Very informative. Looking forward to reading more and I am going to RT this!
    Thanks again!

  22. I am shocked at how atrocious your grammer and punctuation are – or should I say, at how non-existent correct grammar and correct punctuation are in your writing. How can you expect to be taken seriously when you can’t communicate through the proper use of the English language? I may know what you MEAN to say, but your credibility at knowing your subject matter is now so low that I can’t possibly think of you as an expert on any subject. After all, you can’t even master something as simple as fifth-grade punctuation. How do you expect to be taken seriously on any topic?

  23. tl;dr.

    But nice graphics.

  24. Nice. This is good. I really have to read this to improve my blog’s revenue.

  25. Nice post. The use of diagrams really helps get the point across.

  26. Great article, very interesting way to diversify your site and income. Everything makes complete sense.

    Good content, such as this article, is rule number one in my book.

    About blogging for cash. It is a long and tedious process. I believe that with an hour a night for a few years you could be earning a decent income. For the people who want money by the end of the week should go and work at a day labor institute.

    Keep up the great work.

    Jay’s Saving Your Money

  27. Wow. This is the best tutorial for blogging that I have read for quite sometime now.

    I do agree with all of them… It’s just that it takes a lot of hard work and patience to actually make your blog earn. Blogging is something you have to make in a long term basis.

  28. Great demonstration of how much is actually going on when it comes to monetizing a site. I reckon most bloggers start out thinking that they’ll just slap a few AdSense blocks and be done with it.

  29. nice post!

    BUT the question is that cost is so high to get income back most time. Also, very high presure with me to put more money to.

  30. You broke that down really well. I think people often overlook the fact that very little income is truly passive- most anything you do will require at least a small amount of time for managing and reporting. Of course, piling on lots of those passive income streams that require only a small amount of time each can add up nicely.

  31. Thanks, so good ! i had to read this to improve my blog !!!!!!!

  32. the visuals are really enthralling and thanks for shring your income and sources the description is very much useful for me i will follow it ..

  33. Darren, thanks for sharing. It’s very clear and ‘memorable’ with the way you present this post. I like the simple visuals!

  34. Boy Darren this one is really confusing. I will have to seat somewhere where no one can disturb me and read it.

    I think you should simplify it more …

  35. I enjoy the networking more than anything else. It’s the thrill of victory, not so much agony and rarely any defeat. How can you lose by taking a small amount of time to market you work through social venues. And you never have to leave home to do it. As far as creating revenue from your writing efforts, you are silly not too.
    It is great of you to share your thoughts and secrets of how you have achieved success through this entity of blogging.

  36. never seen such a solid information completely free of cost….awesome..I think this is most useful for expansion and diversification of any blog.

  37. Hi very good mindmappings you take. I do it on my Blog and my incoming grows up to 300% in the last months. So i only change my adsense showing in the Articles. Very Helpfull and a next step for be and good ad blogger Thanks

  38. Thank you for sharing your personal achievements. we will follow all the steps.
    Thank you

  39. This is an wonderful idea to expand our blog but we need time and patience to it.

    But Darren how do we maintain our time because time is precious no time to spend on this…

    How many hours do we need to focus on this….

    Thanks for sharing….

  40. Creating Compelling Content !!!!!! THIS IS SO REAL….THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I HAVE DID N MY SITE http://www.Eyezed.com !!!!

  41. I love the graphics, really helped for easy understanding of the post. Very nice post btw.

  42. All are some great information. As a blogger we have to do everything like writing content and building link. For making better our blog we have to know what our audience want and what our competitor informing visitor, so that we can beat our competitor.

    For new blogger adsense is one nice source for monetizing blog.

  43. Hi darren thanks for giving this nice article. Atlast what i think is – Making our own product in our Niche is a great way to Monetize.


  44. This was a great post. I was wondering what the income pie chart looks like and how does it fluctuate from month to month, year to year?
    Thanks for all the help and wonderful advise.

  45. Thanks Darren, I enjoyed this post and feel i am covering most of the angle on my blog – except for selling my own products.

  46. Hey Darren,

    Diversity is security.

    If you have all your eggs in one basket, you break them all when you drop the basket. The same way only having a job is the riskiest income, only having one source of income and one format of value-giving is the riskiest entrepreneurial move.

    By diversifying what you create, what format your value is delivered in, and how you monetize it, you build security. Plus, you can optimize: if something’s not working, you can spend less time on it in order to focus on what’s getting you most results.

    This doesn’t mean spreading yourself thin. It just means–assuming you have a clear goal and you have your eye on the prize while saying “no” to anything that will distract you–diversifying your approach towards achieving the goal will bring maximum security – and with testing and optimizing, maximum results too.

    Thank you for being transparent and open. Sharing your methods helps us budding writers, creators, entrepreneurs to make better stuff and deliver it more effectively, hopefully giving people more value while increasing our income.


  47. Wow. This is the best tutorial for blogging that I have read for quite sometime now.

    I do agree with all of them… It’s just that it takes a lot of hard work and patience to actually make your blog earn. Blogging is something you have to make in a long term basis.

  48. one of the better posts i have read. visuals are a great helper. thank you.

    j scarrozzo

  49. One thing I am thinking about doing for one of my blogs is setting up a forum but I am stuck on where to look around for tips and tricks on how to do it myself and what software would work out best and so on and so forth.
    Do you have any suggestions?

  50. Wow, Darren. Your candour and openness are well matched by your comprehensive articulation and generosity of spirit. Many thanks for laying it all out for us! Best regards, P. :)

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