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How to Make Money From Your Blog – Direct Methods

Posted By Darren Rowse 22nd of February 2006 Blogging for Dollars 0 Comments

Having thought through whether you should blog for money it is now worth taking a look at some of the different models for doing so.

I tend to break the different models that bloggers are using to make money from blogging into two areas – Direct and Indirect methods.

Direct Income Earning Methods – these methods are where a blogger earns an income directly FROM their blog.

Indirect Income Earning Methods – these methods are where a blogger earns an income BECAUSE of their blog.

Most blogs tend to fall into one or the other of these methods – although there is nothing to stop bloggers experimenting with elements of both ( I’ve seen a few bloggers get into trouble with this (example: Scenario 1 in the previous post).

In this post I’ll look at 8 direct income earning methods and in the next post of this series I’ll explore indirect methods. Please note that on occasion in the following post there will be few affiliate links to services that I use and have had some success with. These will be marked with (aff) after them.

Direct Income Earning Methods for Bloggers

1. Advertising

There are many ways of selling advertising space on a blog (this could almost be a series of it’s own) but some of the different advertising options that I see bloggers experimenting with include:

  • Contextual Advertising – Programs like AdSense and YPN (beta) are very popular with bloggers and are probably the most common income stream being used by them today (MSN are developing one too). In short – these programs scan the content of your blog to assertion what it’s topic is and attempt to put contextually relevant ads (text and image) onto your blog. They are generally simple to use and involve pasting some code into your blog’s templates. Payment is on a ‘per click’ basis (referred to as CPC or ‘cost per click’ ads). Contextual ads suit blogs that have a particular niche topic, especially if it has some sort of commercial angle (ie it has products and services associated with it). They are not so good with ‘general’ type blogs (ie many topics) and/or political/spiritual blogs which argue just one side of a case (this confuses AdSense). I write much more extensively on how to use AdSense on your blog here.
  • Other CPC Advertising – There are a variety of other ad systems that pay on a per click basis which are not contextual in nature (which is important as systems like AdSense do not allow you to run contextual ads on the same page view as them). These systems include Chitika’s eMiniMalls (aff) which I reviewed here.
  • Impression Based Ads – Impression based ads pay a small amount for every person who views the advertisement. The amount that they pays varies from program to program (and ad to ad) and is generally a fraction of a cent. There are a variety of ad systems around like this including Fastclick (aff) which I reviewed here and Tribal Fusion. Impression based ads won’t earn you much if you don’t have a lot of traffic but can be great if you do.
  • Blog AdsBlogAds have become something of an institution when it comes to advertising on blogs. They traditionally have had a focus upon monetizing political blogs but are expanding their focus lately. The beauty of them is that bloggers set their own rates and can accept or reject advertisers that apply to them to be featured on their blogs. These ads put the control of what ads show and how much they earn into the hands of the blogger. The downside is that if you price them too high you could never have any ads showing at all. They can also be difficult to be accepted into as a publisher as these days they only accept people into the system if they have a someone who is already in ‘sponsor’ or recommend the new publisher.
  • Text Ads – Another increasingly popular way to sell ads on your blog is to look into text links. The beauty of these are that they don’t take up much room and that depending upon the system you choose to run them you can have control over which advertisers you accept and reject. AdBrite (aff) is one such system that gives you control in a similar way to BlogAds in that you set your own prices and approve all ads. They also other other formats of ads. Text Link Ads (aff) is another text link seller that more and more bloggers are using. The beauty of both of these systems is that they have a pool of advertisers already so you don’t have to go looking for your own advertisers. Their systems are also both very automated and are just a matter of pasting some code onto your blog. I use them both and while they don’t earn anywhere near as much as AdSense or Chitika for me they add up over the year and have done well for me. Bidvertiser and Adzaar are other system that I know are popular with some (we’ve used them quite successfully on b5media although I have little personal experience with them).
  • RSS Ads – An increasingly popular way for people to read blogs is via RSS. As a result publishers and ad providers have been keen to find ways to place ads in feeds. These attempts have been met with a variety of success levels. I’m yet to hear of too many people making big dollars with RSS ads yet but the ad systems seem to be improving. AdSense offers RSS ads to some of it’s publishers (you have to have a certain number of impressions first) as does YPN. Feedburner is a tool I’ve used to help monetise my own feeds – they give publishers three options (1. AdSense if you’ve been approved by them, 2. Amazon affiliate program and 3. if you have a lot of subscribers (over 500) they have an Ad Network). Pheedo is another system that you might like to try (although I’ve not had much experience with it).
  • Other Ads Systems – In addition to the above systems (most of which I’ve used myself) are many other advertising options which I’ve not had experience with and so won’t personally recommend. I’m sure they are worth experimenting with however as I see many of them being used by bloggers every day. Here they are in no particular order:
  • AdGenta, CrispAds, Clicksor, Intelli Txt, Peak Click, Double Click, Industry Brains, AdHearUs, Kanoodle, AVN, Pheedo, Adknowledge, YesAdvertising, RevenuePilotTextAds, SearchFeed, Target Point, OneMonkey, and TextAds. Feel free to add your own and tell us how you’ve gone with them in comments below.

2. Sponsorship

Another form of advertising that a smaller number of bloggers are using is to find their own advertisers. All of the above systems have the advantage of finding you advertisers (or at least assisting in the automation of ads to your blog) but as your blog grows in profile and influence you might find other options for private deals come up.

The big blog networks have people dedicated to the task of finding advertisers (often working through ad agencies) but smaller bloggers might find this worthwhile also. I’ve been selling ads on my Digital Camera Blog for two years now and as it’s grown in traffic and profile and managed to attract larger companies (who are willing to pay more) to buys space. Currently the blog features ads from Adobe who have bought a combination of banner, newsletter and text ads.

The key if you’re going to take this approach is to target advertisers in your niche that have products that closely relate to what you’re writing about. There are a variety of ads that you can offer them including banner ads, buttons, text links, mentions in newsletters and even individual post sponsorships. I would highly recommend that you always make it clear to readers that your post is a sponsored one when you’re writing a sponsored post.

3. Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs are where you take a commission for referring a reader who purchases a product or service to a company. Probably the most common of these for bloggers is Amazon which has tens of thousands of products that you can link to (I reviewed it here). Other affiliate programs that represent many different companies and products include Linkshare, Commission Junction and Clickbank.

Affiliate programs take some work if you want to get the most out of them (perhaps more work than advertising) but can be lucrative if you match the right program with the right blog/topic. If you want to explore affiliate programs more you might like to read 10 tips for using affiliate programs on you blog.

4. Selling/Flipping Blogs

The idea of selling (or flipping) your blog is one that many bloggers have in the back of their minds for ‘one day’ but in reality it is not something that is overly common… yet (I think this is changing). Probably the largest sale is that of Weblogs Inc (a network of blogs) which sold to AOL for a reported $25 million. Of course this is the stuff that most of us can only dream of – but there are examples of smaller blogs being sold, either privately or via auctions on sites like eBay and SitePoint. One such auction was that of the Blog Herald which took place here.

Starting a blog with the main goal of selling it down the track is one that I’ve heard of a number of bloggers doing but few have been successful. Rather than starting with this intention I think if you start with the intention of building a quality site that has a large readership and it’s own good income stream you are more likely to find buyers down the track.

5. Donations and Tip Jars

A very small number of blogs have a history of making good money with these (Jason Kottke being one of them). To be successful with asking for money from readers you’ll want to have a large and loyal readership (and a rich one might help too). Most bloggers just don’t have the critical mass or the cult following to make it work.

6. Merchandise

Another method that some blogs use with reasonable effect is to sell T-Shirts, Mugs, Stickers etc with the blog’s name, logo and/or taglines on it. This is another idea that will probably only work if you either have a brilliantly designed merchandise range and/or you have a cult-like status as a blogger with some fanatical readers who are a little obsessive about your blog. Some blog topics lend themselves to this more than others.

7. Selling Subscriptions

The idea of charging readers for content is one that surfaces from time to time. While there are numerous websites around the web that do this successfully (community membership sites) I’m yet to see many (any) blogs do it well. The problem that most bloggers who have tried it have run into is that most topics that you could think to start a blog about already have free sites available. To make it succeed you would need to have some sort of premium/exclusive content and/or real expertise on a topic.

8. Blog Networks

Another emerging income source for bloggers are blog networks. There are two ways to make money here. Firstly you can start a network and contract bloggers to write for you or secondly you might like to join a blog network as a writer. There are many networks out there and all have their own strengths and weaknesses. I’ll attempt to write a post on what to think about when you’re looking at whether to join a network later in this series.

Next in the series we’ll look at indirect ways of making money because of your blog.

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. Reading these series really enriches! Thanks for that Darren!

    Might be an idea to bundle this in an ebook when finalized… =)

  2. I have an interesting dilemma with one of my sites: http://seenonslash.com. We post the best comments found on Slashdot. Not only are /. readers largely immune to ads, the topics are all over the map. Now I’m not trying to make a fortune with a site like this. But adsense doesn’t work well here. So I’m picking interesting affiliates (like ThinkGeek) and hoping if I get a large steady flow of readers even a low click-through rate will pay off a little. We’ll see.

  3. @ Veridicus
    As can be read on some sites it seems that Adsense is changing their strategies towards articles (like those from slashdot) that are quoted and duplicated over and over on the net… That might explain some of your problem…

  4. I have a concern about “Text Link Ads”: my understanding is that you allow text links on your site, not generated by Javascript (like adsense), but generated server side; this means that these links will improve page rank of advertiser’s site.
    Is this compliant with Google guidelines?, on their webmaster guidelines Google writes “Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank”, can “Text Link Ads” be considered such a scheme?
    Till now I didn’t join the “Text Link Ads” because of this concern, but if there are no concern I would be happy to join.

  5. I’ve had some success with some unofficial-affiliate methods like offering sign-up referrals for well-known online banks. These work well since the person signing up gets paid in addition to you. Also, as a member of an online bank, it’s very easy to send referrals. You just need the person’s email and name. You send out a referral though the bank’s website, and the bank deposits the bonus into your savings account. The only problem is that the banks limit the number of referrals that you can send out. So it won’t make you a lot of money.

    As Darren mentions it’s best to fairly describe the product. In this case, I’m careful to describe the bonus details and give strengths and weaknesses of the online banks. It also helps that online banks have much better rates than what brick-and-mortar banks provide.

  6. Jan – it had occoured to me :-)

    Veridicus – i think you’ll find that a lot of /. readers have ad blockers in their browsers too .

    Valerio – I don’t have that concern personally. The links are not helping me with my PR so I can’t see a problem. I guess time will tell though.

    Ken – good comment. I thin that’s a wise move.

  7. Nice Article , Thanks Darren !

    Take a look.

  8. Maybe I’m behind on things, but I just noticed that the $1 for Firefox link (sponsored by Google) that I had on my podcast site is *missing entirely*. For all that has been going on lately, I might not have noticed if it vanished days ago. Darren, your’s was the first place I thought to check to see if you had it (or even *had* had it). I got no notice from Google that it was going away. I guess I want to know if Google is in the habit of just yanking the rug out without notice… or if I just missed an email somehow. Keeping up with it all can be hard.

    Hey, look who I’m talking to, huh? Thanks for any insight on this. (BTW, couldn’t find a more relevant place to ask this question. Sorry if it was ill-placed.)

  9. […] On the question of making money from blogs (which is part of the argument) I wonder whether the decision for full or partial feeds might also depend partly upon whether you’re trying to make money directly or indirectly from your blog. If it’s indirectly then perhaps full feeds are better because you want as many people to read your content as possible to help build your profile. If it’s a direct think then maybe partial feeds are better (especially if it’s advertising conversion that y’re after). […]

  10. Regarding the text link ads, start here:


    You can also disallow specific adsense advertisers, such as politicians whose views you find untenable.

  11. […] ProBlogger Darren Rowse has made a list of 8 (direct) ways bloggers can earn money. Here’s a summary: […]

  12. […] Janio Sarmento Darren Rowse, do ProBlogger, escreveu 2 artigos muito bons: Making Money from Your Blog – Direct Methods e Making Money Because of Your Blog – Indirect Methods. Recomendo a leitura dos artigos. Mas gostaria de fazer algumas considerações sobre o que pessoalmente acho que funciona ou não. […]

  13. […] Janio Sarmento Darren Rowse, do ProBlogger, escreveu 2 artigos muito bons: Making Money from Your Blog – Direct Methods e Making Money Because of Your Blog – Indirect Methods. Recomendo a leitura dos artigos. Mas gostaria de fazer algumas considerações sobre o que pessoalmente acho que funciona ou não. […]

  14. […] There is a great post over at Problogger.net named Make Money from Your Blog – Direct Methods. This post gives in detail all of the different ways of monetizing a blog including a list of advertisers and affiliates. This will definatley be worth going back to and using as a reference. […]

  15. […] One of the distinctions that I’ve made previously about blogging for money is that there are Direct Methods and Indirect Methods for doing so. Direct methods are where blogger makes money FROM their blog and Indirect methods are where a blogger makes money BECAUSE of their blog. […]

  16. […] My second interest in the story is that Robert’s story is a great example of a blogger with opportunities opening up as a result of his blog. I often draw the distinction between bloggers who make money directly from their blogs and bloggers who make money because of their blogs but have found it much harder to find prominent examples of the second type than the first. This is a prime example of someone who over time has built a profile to the point where he’s an attractive target for an upcoming start up. The publicity that the story of Robert swapping jobs is probably worth what ever PodTech are paying him alone (let alone whatever he’ll do when he actually goes over to them). […]

  17. fantstic post, keep it up darren.

  18. Great post. I saw many blogs use AdBrite text ads. How much they pay compare with Adsense?

    I’m interesting with text-link-ads. It’s look like CJ for text ads. :D

  19. I have just setup my own blog, and with myriads of options to monetize it I have a lot of studying to make and hours to burn.. thanks for the guide. I wish my blog would earn even just .0001% of yours haha

  20. Really great stuff here. Keep up the good work.

  21. […] 1. Traffic Levels: While the above examples show that traffic is not the only factor at play in determining the earning capacity of a blog – it is a significant one. Whether you’re earning money from your blog directly or indirectly you are almost always going to increase your earning potential by increasing your readership. […]

  22. […] Then I realized they have an affiliates program, which I guiltily almost dismissed off-hand. But you know what? I have an obligation to kenspeckle.net readers to undertake important research into income opportunities for low-traffic bloggers. I do. Ad-heavy sites shouldn’t be the only place to get such information. This is like a DIY MeCommerce and inquiring minds want to know if it’ll do…um…anything at all for me. […]

  23. Darren, you have listed several numbers of direct approach here. To tell you the truth, I’ve bought several books on profiting from blogging but those books never told me like you’ve mentioned. Many thanks.

  24. […] Recommended links: Making Money from Your Blog – Direct Methods – general introduction to varios solutions of income for blogs CPC, CPM or flat rate, which is best? – basic explanation of most typical terms and advertising models Google AdSense versus Text Link Ads – -more in depth article about the two most typical ad systems Other Advertising Networks Besides Google AdSense – huge list of all possible advertising solutions […]

  25. […] For many bloggers their income focus is based on direct methods. Most bloggers have at least tried some advertising, particularly Adsense. There is a massive potential though for earning money indirectly from blogging. […]

  26. Thanks for all the info! I needed it.


  27. […] For many bloggers their income focus is based on direct methods. Most bloggers have at least tried some advertising, particularly Adsense. There is a massive potential though for earning money indirectly from blogging. […]

  28. […] From… Indirect Earners  Annotated For many bloggers their income focus is based on direct methods. Most bloggers have at least tried some advertising, particularly Adsense. There is a massive […]

  29. Yes I have one question many people are subscribing my site by myyahoo and google, but it is not showing in my feed burner account(Only showing 2 subscribers), why this is happening?
    my blog is http://techno-craze.blogspot.com/ .

    By the way it is an excellent blog I have ever seen.

  30. Hi Darren, thanks for the informative, and helpful article. This has really open up my choice of making money using blog. I just start blogging recently. So your writing has definitely boost up my confidence in earning an income from blogging. I guess blogging will soon beome the next wave of multiple streams of income (MSI). Thanks man. Cheer and have an nice day.

  31. Thank you for writing this, i’m really inspired by this article.
    I’m running a free advertising blog, i hope i can monetize it, by reading and practicing your advise.

  32. […] making money directly from their blog (where the blog makes money – typically from advertising or affiliate programs) […]

  33. I blog for fun and to make a difference, but it’s nice to earn some google adsense money to buy a beer at the end of the day

    99% of bloggers should NOT count on making any noticeable money. 1/2 of 1% could make enough to eat. the remaining lucky few (kos, drudge, gawker, etc) are getting rich most likely

    blog what you’re passionate about and if some money comes your way, cool. If not, no worries. Blog what bores you because you want to make money and you’ll be a bored blogger not making money.




  34. Great article! I have to agree with the last blogger, I have seen some blogger spend lots of money to make alittle?
    I have found that if you have something new to say about a topic then people will read through it. The key is to create the best content in your niche. If you have good content, other websites will gladly link to you and offer your site as a resource to their audience.


  35. excellent article really helped me alot ….. now i will be working on some of the ways mentioned …. thanks alot

  36. good article your advice will lead my blogging

  37. This is a powerful site. I love the comments and pieces of advice.Please do keep it up.

  38. This tips for making money will really increase my earning. Could you please tell me that how a blog can make huge money.

  39. Hi its really interesting site with lots of knowledge to improve the blog..

    Thanks for so much information.

  40. Another way to earn is to be a blogger for a company. (We’re looking.) Does anyone have any idea how much a company blogger makes these days?

  41. Hi ProBlogger,

    You are Nice Inspiration to all bloggers,I am fan of your posts.I leaned so much and i also making blogs from past 6 moths.Keep it ….


  42. Hi Darren

    Man, you are really problogger. Thanks for your interesting post. I learn much from your blog.

    At this time I only generating income only from pay per post and sponsorship. From your post, I can add more additional revenue.

    Keep posting…


  43. about earn money from blog by adsense….would you like to explain how prospec this way and how much we can create money from this way about a month? thanks

  44. I will stick to your blogs Darren, for sure !

  45. Hey nice blog i am a noob at this and this post did help me.

  46. why are you not using google adsense in your blog??
    i have been using adsense and want to use some other servises too could u suggest me some..
    One more thing my blog gets >2500 visitors everyday but I could hardly earn $10 everyday though the clicks on the ads as adsense shows are always nearly 230 .
    I asked them about such low payments but they didnt answered
    it well. Could u suggest something??
    I read ur blog as a subscriber. Can you suggest me something over the placement of the ads on my blog.
    Please take a look at my blog: http://hindimp3sdownload.blogspot.com/

    waiting for ur reply .. i have given my email id or just write it as a comment on my blog..

  47. @sameer: I really like your traffic record and i am gonna reach it soon. Anyway, try redesigning your blog since it is so cluttered and most especially your ad positioning. And also you are welcome to visit my site since you are looking for some good advices.

    This post is very good for newbie bloggers. Sameer have achieved a very good traffic. His next move is to monetize it.


  48. Thank you for submitting a useful article here about methods of making money from blog.Any person who is interested in making money by blogging can learn how he will get help by his/her blog.
    I have learnt direct method here And excited about indirect methods.

  49. A great read! I just stumbled upon this article through Google. I agree, there are many ways to make money online, but it’s easier said than done. You just have to work hard… and the results should come.

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