June 29, 2004

How to Make Money with Your Blog

If you are putting hours into writing content for your blog, you may want to make a few bucks (or more) to help pay for hosting charges and other costs associated with running it. Some bloggers find that they can make more than just small change, but most not enough to quit their day job. In any case, here are a few of the more popular methods.

Several ways by which you can make money with your weblog include Google Adsense, Amazon Associates, various other affiliate programs, advertising, and donations. Keep in mind that the success of these programs is highly dependent upon your content and the level of traffic you get to your site.

Google Adsense

Since its launch in the spring of 2003, ads by Google have proliferated throughout the world of blogs and other sites, making it easy for thousands of website owners to make money from the content on their sites. Usually it's not a lot of money, but the ads are easy to implement, relevant to the content on your pages, and unobtrusive compared to the blinking banners and seemingly self-propagating popup ads on many sites.

To be able to put Google Ads on your site, you first need to be accepted into the Google Adword program. Go to https://www.google.com/adsense/ to apply. Google will monitor your site to see if you have the traffic and the content that would pull in sufficient clicks to make your participation in the program worthwhile to Google and to you. Sites with focused content make the best candidates. If accepted into the program, all you need to do is place a bit of javascript on one or more of your site templates to create the ads.

How much money can you expect to make from Google Adsense? Google doesn't allow its participants to publicly share their clicks and earnings data but you can make a rough estimate. The average click-through rate for online advertising in general is around 0.5 to 1.0%. With that rate, if you get 1000 page views per day (pages with Google ads on them), you should expect anywhere from 5 to 10 clicks per day. What will each of those clicks pay? Well, that depends on your content and the keywords on your page that are triggering the ads being served. You can see what ads might be served on your site by entering your URL at the tool on this page or by installing the Adsense Preview Tool. When a visitor clicks on a Google Adsense ad, the hosting website gets a small fee, ranging anywhere from 3 cents to $12 per click or more. Although Google doesn't release the fees it pays for keywords unless you are an advertiser, you can get a general idea by going to the Overture website and using their View Bids Tool. You can also sign up to be an advertiser on the Google Adword program for $5 and see how much advertisers are paying Google for various search word click-throughs.

Unless your weblog is about some obscure subject, about which advertisers are willing to outbid each other, thereby driving up the amount paid per click, you can count on an average range of 5 cents to 50 cents paid per click. A thousand page views per day, at 1.0% click-through rate and 10 cents per click will yield you a whopping $1.00 per day. Not much, but it should certainly cover your hosting fees, or if you use a hosted blogging service like Typepad, your service fees. Note that weblogs devoted to product reviews like http://pvr.blogs.com/ will generate a higher fee-per-click than political commentary blogs as sellers of the high ticket items will compete to drive up the fees paid to get placed on the ad.

Here is a table showing the fees you could expect for every 1000 page views:


Google also recently added the WebSearch tool to its Adsense program. Place a Google search bar on your site, either for searching your site content or the web (or both), and if someone clicks on the sponsored search results, you earn a commission.

Affiliate Programs

Another popular way to generate income from your weblog is through signing on with an affiliate program. Here's how they work. A company lets a website owner place a link or button on your site promoting the company's product. When one of your site visitors clicks on the link or button, the visitor is taken to a landing page to be induced to buy something. If the visitor buys something, you get a commission from the company. Sometimes the commissions are for leads, but most often they are for completed sales.

The most popular Affiliate program in the blogosphere is Amazon's associate program. If you are an Amazon associate (click here to sign up for the program), when you place a link to a book on Amazon from your site and someone clicks through that link and buys the book, you get a commission. Typepad is integrated with the Amazon Associate program so that you can automatically earn a commission from your Reading and Music Typelists if you are an Amazon Associate. For Movable Type users there is the MTAmazon plugin which can simplify the process of linking to Amazon. You don't need to use the plugin however. All you need is the ISBN number for practically anything that Amazon sells and you can look up the correct link to use from Amazon.com's website. For estimating potential revenue, multiply your expected click-through rate by an expected conversion-to-sale rate. Amazon used to post the average conversion rates, but I don't think they are doing that anymore. As I recall the average conversion rate is between 2 and 3%. Assume an average commission for books and CDs at 75 cents per sale. You'll probably find that the resulting expected revenue is much lower for the Amazon associates program than for Google Adsense. But, once you set up a link you're done. I'm still earning commissions off of links I set up 5 years ago. It's not much, but it does help offset my book-buying habit.

Other affiliate programs can help pull in revenue to your site, especially if they are for products that have something to do with the content on your site. Commission Junction is the leading affiliate network, making it very easy for individual website owners to participate in affiliate programs. Ebay, Barnes & Noble, Match.com, IBM, Dell, Expedia.com all offer affiliate programs through Commission Junction.


In addition to Google and various affiliate programs you can also take advertising directly from advertisers for your site. Tom Hespos outlines the steps in Yes, Blogs Are a Great Advertising Environment. One company that operates as a network of bloggers that accept advertising is Blogads. Blogads will take a very reasonable 30% commission of ads it places on your blog. To host BlogAds on your site you need to be invited by someone already part of the BlogAd network. Another blog ad network is CripsADS which will switch to text CPC ads when there are gaps between advertiser purchasing cycles.

Donations and Tip Jars

The fourth method for generating site income that I want to mention is the Tip Jar. By opening an account with PayPal you can make it easy for people to give you money by placing a simple button on your site. Here's a tip jar for Learning Movable Type I set up for the purposes of this tutorial:

I honestly don't know how well these Donate buttons perform. I would imagine that the more useful the content is on your site to those who read it, the more likely they are to offer up a donation.

Driving Traffic to Your Weblog

The more people that come to your site, the more who will eventually click on a Google ad or an affiliate link. This topic deserves much more explanation than I have room for in this tutorial, but here are the highlights.

Content - The more focused your content, the more you will attract visitors to your site who are interested in the same content. Sites with focused content also encourage more inbound links from other sites that will connect to your site as a resource for their visitors.

Search Engine Optimization - The single most effective thing that you can do to increase traffic to your site is to help people find your site through search engines. To do that you need to follow good guidelines for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). See Optimizing Your Blog for Search Engines for more details of the steps you can take to help your entries get high rankings from search engines.

RSS - By releasing your content in an RSS or Atom syndication feed, you make it easier for people to keep up with the changing content on your site. See What Does Syndicate This Site Mean? for more explanation about RSS. Make it easy for your site visitors to learn about RSS by posting a link to an explanation.

Subscriptions - Some people would rather get an email announcing an update to your site than use an RSS newsfeed program. Make it easy for people to stay connected to your site by having them sign up for a subscription to get email announcements of your updates. See Email Notifications for more details.

In Conclusion

Following the steps and programs outlined above may not make you rich, but it may help support your blog habit. I'm trying to keep up with developments in this topic area, so if you have a link of interest or know of a company that is successully operating in this space please let me know about it in the comments. Thanks!

Making Sense of Adsense - Anil Dash has a good discussion about Google Adsense on his site.
Using Adsense Channels with Movable Type - how to get data of Adsense revenue on a page by page basis.
Blogging for Dollars - Matt Haughey's tale of getting set up with Adsense.
10 Steps to Effective Search Engine Optimization
Google Page Rank Calculator - for those of us who don't use IE on Windows.
Bloggers find ways to profit - SFGate article
Making Money With Blogs - a good overview from bigmoneytips.com.
Overview of Ad Revenue Models - from Michael Moncur.
More How to Make Money with Your Blog Sites - from Robin Good.
Affiliate Tip Blog - by affiliate program maestro Shawn Collins.
ProBlogger.net - a blog devoted to helping bloggers earn money.
Google Adsense Tips - a WebmasterWorld Forum.

Has this tutorial been helpful? Please consider linking to Learning Movable Type at http://learningmovabletype.com/ . Thanks!

Posted by Elise Bauer on June 29, 2004 to Marketing and Money
Comments(11) | Email to a friend | Printer-friendly version


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» Google AdSense from Notes to Myself
AdSense - Can bloggers recoup costs?...[read more]

Tracked: September 20, 2004 03:46 AM

» Off to the conference... from University Blog
I knew that some people are able to do that from their blogs, and thanks to Elise, I have some ideas about how to do so. I just , I have some ideas about how to do so. I just [read more]

Tracked: May 18, 2005 11:17 AM


I used to have ads from a site called MarketBanker - they created ads that looked exactly like google's ads. Anyways getting to the point, I found that the ads were more distracting than money making. I've since thought about putting ads back on but every time I do I shove the though back out of my head :) Anyways my hosting charges are quite cheap $4 for a whole lot !

Nice guide :) . I've had a tip jar on my site, mainly because I also release various MT templates that I've developed under license and I've had some donations from people, plus commercial registrations. I haven't made that much but it has covered my hosting costs.

Nicely done guide. You are right about Google, I've had the Google police by a couple of times to my site asking me to remove or rephrase something from the obvious request to remove a statement about the revenue I was earning to the less obvious heading above the ads themselves. In fact they don't even like you pointing out the fact you have ads on your site. Pretty harsh. Still, I enjoy the small stream I get. I also took a shot at implementing a tip jar for my last article, Using AdSense Channels in Movable Type. My thinking is that the article could help someone fine-tune their articles to generate more revenue so why not give them a chance to repay? Not sure I'm ready to put a tip jar on the site itself though, I think on a per article basis is about all I could justify right now.

I started a blog some month ago, but attracted only few hits and generated no income. I will go ahead and add the resources provided in your article ... may be I can indeed make some $ from my blog :-)

Hello Elise,

tip for newcomers - Realistically, your blog will take over five to six months before any traffic levels increase to capitalize on your preference of money making ideas.

Great article on the profit potential of blogs. I'll be linking to it from my product pages on blogs!

Good article, I will link back to it as soon as I get my links page up and have the adsense code on my site :)

Helpful info! Especially the dollar estimates for using Google's AdSense. Thanks!

Good article, thanks for all the tips.

Hi Elise,

I've found several of your tutorials quite helpful, including the recent tip regarding Spamlookup. I'm new to MT and am migrating my content from Typepad at the moment.

With regard to advertising etc, one site I've found helpful is Problogger.

Darren is quite helpful. He runs a bunch of blogs and has recently used the income to put a deposit on his first home.


Did I miss where it tells HOW to install your AdSense code in the sidebar of MT 3.2 ????

Can't seem to find a tutorial. Got ideas?

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