More Thoughts on Monetization

You might notice that I am now running some advertisements on my blog in the sidebar.  For those of you who know me, you will know that this is a stretch for me, up until this year I never attempted to monetize any of my personal projects, and honestly I haven’t built an affiliate link in 8 or 9 years when I owned theproteinstore.com.

My reasoning for not getting into these affiliate programs probably has to do with the fact that I am a bit OCD when it comes to brightly colored, distracting, blinking ads that run right in the corner of your eye.  These ads still make it hard for me to focus on the actual content of the website.

Contextual relevance has also been a big thing for me, if I was going to run ads on theproteinstore.com, they had to be related to health and fitness, and I wouldn’t run anything else.  Even while I was running the ads I would use them very sparingly, often times designing my own ad in photoshop to make it look a little less obtrusive and to blend in with the page content.  This often times would prove to be way more trouble than it was worth, even on a good month my biggest commission checks were under a hundred dollars.

I have been watching a lot of ShoeMoney’s podcasts and following his blog very closely and he does a great job with monetization, in fact he is making a nice living from it, so is Norm Chow and a few other ones out there, but the truth of the matter is that most of the ones that are handing out advice for monetization aren’t doing that well, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that a lot of these guys are skewing their traffic metrics just to sell advertising and “get rich quick” programs.

While absorbing some of ShoeMoney’s teachings this past week I decided to start investigating a few partnership opportunities that were out there along with my business partner Greg Smart.  I think we have about 3 or 4 partnerships going right now with various services that provide us with our choice of contextually relevant advertisers.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with how these programs work, you basically signup and then select from a large list of advertisers that you would like to work with.  I selected mostly ones that I thought would be relevant to our Nascar fan base on NascarView but then decided to look into some advertisers that might do well on this website.  Since I primarily blog about wordpress and web development I figured those would be some good areas of interest.

I am a huge fan of Brian Gardner, he is a great guy that designs some of the best, if not the best, premium templates for wordpress that are on the market.  I use his themes as a starter for a vast majority of my projects inside of wordpress because they are standards friendly, easy to configure and build on top of.  Brian, like a lot of the wordpress theme providers on the web today, already had an affiliate program setup so I just opted into that and was approved right away.  I setup my first ad in about 8 years on my website!  If you notice the studiopress link in the sidebar, that’s it…

Well, I have been using another product that basically generates standards compliant themes for wordpress, joomla, and drupal called Artisteer.  I have been real impressed with Artisteer so I decided to post that link on my blog as well and do a little story about the product, etc.

Here’s where it get’s interesting.  That night I totalled $49.95 in sales for the Artisteer theme generator. I couldn’t believe it, that was like 3 days worth of adsense revenue and it had only been on my website for a few hours.  Okay, so at this point I am hooked, I start signing up for programs with all kinds of companies that I knew were reputable, and that I would honestly do business with myself.  I was approved for most of these requests, a few didn’t approve.

If you will notice my links located in the sidebar for Sirius, The North Face, Overstock.com, Omaha Steaks, iTunes, Nautica, and Petsmart, those are my affiliate links.  Basically how this works is that anytime a visitor to my website hits one of these links and goes onto that companies website and makes a purchase I get a percentage of that purchase back at the end of each month.

For instance, with the Artisteer link, the overall sale was $49.95, my take on that sale is $5.00.  I know it’s not going to bring on an early retirement or anything but here’s the gist of it, I didn’t have to do anything for that $5.00, it came in on it’s own…

This frustrates me a little bit knowing that all along I have had this pretty incredible blog traffic going on and that there is no way to know how much affiliate revenue I could have been generating all along with these type of programs.

And the only excuse I have is because I am a little bit OCD and don’t like blinking ads everywhere.  If you notice, none of my ads are blinking but people are still clicking on them and purchasing products from my advertisers.  It’s an amazing thing to me that I have been in this industry as long as I have and am just now starting to pick up on this again after 8 or so years…

If you visit NascarView.com, you will notice that we are running sponsorships, paid ads, and direct ads on the website now, and have income streaming in from a couple of different locations now.  Of course we don’t have anywhere near the amount that I think we will one day have, especially when our direct ad sales start playing a factor.

All of this to say, I am kicking myself in the butt right now.  And oh yeah, be sure to support my advertisers.

As a sidenote, if you own a website or have considered starting one, and would like to discuss the possibilities of monetizing your project, please feel free to contact my business partners and I, we would love the opportunity to work with you and share our experiences with you…

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