Tuesday, February 18, 2014

how i monetized my blog (and what I've learned so far)

one thing I've been asked a few times by real life friends that aren't into blogging is "so how exactly do you make money from your blog?" which is usually met with a very long and nerdy answer from me and then followed up with, "so, are you making a lot of money?" at which point i start laughing hysterically and they have no idea why. 

but after having this conversation a few different times, i thought id take some time to talk about how I've monetized my blog, how its worked (or not worked) for me, and what I've learned in the process. because, as you probably know, monetizing your blog (that is, using it to make money) is a pretty big thing. 

when i first started blogging, i thought it meant, like, throwing up some adsense ads and could NOT comprehend how so many people were making a living (or even a part-time income) from their blogs. 

well, after spending nearly a year now blogging, and reading a LOT of "how to make money blogging" posts on pinterest, I've learned that this is very much not the case. I've also (obviously) tried to implement some of the expert bloggers suggestions and try to turn this little blog into something that at least justifies how much time i spend on it. and so far, it hasn't been a total failure. 

but it hasn't been easy, and like i said, its almost been a year. and you know what? i haven't made a lot of money (i have made a heck of a lot more than i ever thought i would, though). but I've certainly learned a lot, and since i basically want to learn as much as i can about as many different things as possible, thats fantastic. 

now, I'm not claiming to be an expert here, AT ALL, but i really do want to talk about the different methods that I've used to monetize, because too many of the "how to make money blogging" posts I've read are too broad and overwhelming with the sheer amount of information there is about ALL THE DIFFERENT ways that bloggers can make a little cash, without giving much detail and insight about what exactly has worked well for them. because there are tons and tons and TONS of ways to make money blogging and not everything works for everybody. so far I've really only been using three:

1. google adsense

2. skimlinks

3. passionfruit ads

each of these works differently, and thats important, because apparently the key to making a successful blogging income (just like any other business) is to develop multiple streams of income. sort of like how a person with money to invest would invest it in several different things rather than putting all their eggs in one basket. 

so google, skimlinks, and passionfruit are the three that I've chosen, and i want to take a minute to talk about how each one works and how they've worked out for me. 

lets start with google (because thats what i started with):

google adsense is great because its free and completely passive. meaning, once i put the little widget up on my sidebar i didn't have to do anything every again and the money would start rolling in. but the thing is, i have no freaking idea how it works and why some days i have 90 page views and make 45 cents and other days i have 150 page views and make 3 cents. also, its slow as molasses and I've made about $10 in a year (and they don't pay out until you make $100, so....). i realize that i have a little teeny baby blog and that as it gets more traffic adsense will generate more money (and I've already seen it happen a little bit), and since i don't have to, you know, do anything, ill leave it up there to do its thing. 

now, when i realized that simply slapping up some adsense ads wasn't going to pay our rent anytime soon, i did some research and found out about skimlinks, and it turns out skimlinks is pretty cool:

what Skimlinks does is called affiliate marketing, which is its own whole thing where bloggers talk about things and then make a commission when people buy things through special links. but whats awesome about Skimlinks is that it automatically makes any applicable links into affiliate links. it also crawls my posts for keywords and turns those into shopping links to, but that part is kind of weird. 

also, their affiliate network is HUGE and almost every website I've ever talked about is an affiliate with Skimlinks (amazon, targetmodclothmacys, zenni opticalasos), so i don't have to specifically tailor my content to try and make affiliate income (which is great, because I quickly figured out that I'm just not into writing about product) AND some of the partners even pay per click. specifically modcloth. (always click on the links when i talk about modcloth). 

also also, they have a super rad referral program, where if someone joins through my link, i get 35% of their earnings for a year, AND their minimum payout is only $10. the only thing that sucks though is that commissions take FOREVER to clear (and by forever i mean about two months). really most of the money I've made through Skimlinks is from when my mom remembers to make her amazon purchases through my blog, but hey, I'm not complaining (plus, you know, everyone i know could just start making all their amazon purchases through my links and that would actually be really awesome). 

the most recent addition to my blogging portfolio has been passionfruit ads:

if you don't know what passionfruit ads is then you must not read a lot of blogs so I'm really impressed that you've found yourself here. passionfruit is a company that does ad hosting, so that bloggers can sell ads (or services, or any number of things) through their blogs in a way thats SUPER user friendly for all parties involved. 

this is BY FAR the most difficult and labor intensive way to make money blogging but it turns out that its also been my most rewarding and lucrative channel. why? well mainly because I'm working directly with the people that purchase my ads, and every new sponsor instantly becomes a new friend. even though it is extremely time consuming (and i STILL haven't figured out a good system of keeping everything i need to do straight), offering sponsorships is a CONSTANT learning experience and its almost always fun (except those times when I'm trying to implement some kind of record keeping/organization system). 

now, i do feel the need to clarify that i jumped into offering paid sponsorships COMPLETELY UNPREPARED because i won a free year in a giveaway, so... learning exactly how to do a good job is something that I've been learning very slowly and painfully (and to be completely honest I still don't think I'm very good at it), BUT that doesn't stop passionfruit and paid sponsorships from being my FAVORITE way to make money from blogging. 

so far, i really like what i have going on as far as monetizing is concerned, and i feel like it has a really good balance: adsense is completely passive, Skimlinks is semi-passive (meaning, it does its thing on its own but i can tailor my content to include more affiliate links), and passionfruit is very, very active. but the main lesson that I've learned is that just like everything else in blogging, its a slow and steady thing, I'm not going to become a millionaire overnight, and I'm totally ok with that. 

yes, there are other ways to make money blogging, but most of those revolve around doing product reviews and sponsored posts and (at least right now) i don't feel like that would be a good fit for poverty luxe, so id rather focus on what I've got going now. 

now, I'm curious, blogger friends, have you monetized your blog? if so, how, and whats worked best for you?


  1. Interesting! I've yet to actually monetize my blog, since I've only recently just started...but maybe it's something I should think about!

  2. once you start digging in to all the different options, it really is fascinating (and overwhelming). it definitely doesn't hurt to start with easy things like adsense and skimlinks to get your feet wet (i think I've read a lot of articles saying to start the passive channels as early as possible so that they grow with your blog or something like that)

  3. There is a lot to learn about this side of blogging, but this was helpful! Thanks!

  4. seriously, SO much information! glad i could help though!

  5. Love this! I'm looking into more options but since I've only recently started my blog I think I'm only going to do Ad Sense for now. Great points about how different things work for different people!

    a state of [stylish] grace

  6. im so happy I was able to help! theres so much information out there and it can be really confusing.