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Established Methods to Monetize Blogs

Now you can hear the perspective of bloggers who monetize blog content using one or more performance marketing techniques, advertising networks, and affiliate programs. This is Part 1 of the survey results. Although informal, the survey gleanings are telling.

Never mind the ebooks and so-called special reports — these are the real inside scoops!

The Performance Marketing Challenge

Performance marketing has been a hit-or-miss affair for me. One of the big advertising networks even shut down my account because I had not made enough sales to warrant them being bothered. According to the literature and website marketing mantras, such networks exist to enable big companies to make more money by extending their virtual arms into the realm of a small army of publishers. On the flip side, the networks exist in order to help small publishers increase their income from websites, blogs, and other contacts with their readers and customers.

To my way of thinking, when the publishers actually make sales should not be a concern, since they only pay for performance. I’ve made a few dollars here and there. In some cases the challenges have outweighed the change but I haven’t abandoned the notion of making money through the performance marketing industry. It remains a part of my content monetizing mix.

Bloggers Survey

I realized I’d never asked the bloggers I read, follow, tweet, and chat with how they use affiliate marketing in the overall scheme of monetizing their blog content. I’ve certainly noticed Google Adsense advertisements on some of them, sought out those who display Amazon products, and recognized offers for web hosting and other services. While I could just speak from my own perspective, my curiosity grew and grew the more I thought about writing an article here at Performance Insider. I became convinced that other bloggers and affiliate marketers wanted to know the experiences of their peers as much as I did.

The Real Inside Scoops

To this end, today you have Part 1 of the results of an informal survey I conducted via email, Skype, and text documents of some of the most influential bloggers, Twitter users, social media mavens, and Google+ early adopters setting pen to digital paper right now. For good measure, also included are a smattering of long-time affiliate marketing experts who have worked within the performance marketing industry in one capacity or another.

The overall gist of the survey concerns how bloggers are using performance marketing — including PPC and CPA — to monetize blog content and how the industry can better serve them. The survey responses will be presented in three parts.

Are Bloggers Really Affiliate Marketers?

Performance Marketing Bloggers Survey - Affiliates Monetize Blog Content

A number of the bloggers who were asked to take the questionnaire declined because they didn’t use any performance marketing activities to monetize content on their blogs. Interestingly, many of those who declined confessed they didn’t understand what performance marketing entailed. Others were in fact using a performance marketing advertising network but didn’t realize it was considered part of the performance marketing industry.

General Observations

The bloggers who participated in the survey represented a diverse group in their knowledge base, length of time on the scene, earnings, and experiences. Some bloggers were new to the industry, some reported not having good results after only a short while, some were somewhat indifferent to the entire industry and process. After reading the responses, these are my general observations. While there are not any real numbers attached, they provide a snapshot of thinking and experiences from bloggers’ perspectives about the overall state of the performance marketing industry. Keep in mind, these are not the results of a widely dispersed survey.

  1. Over half of the respondents were small business owners, many with offline businesses
  2. More men than women appear to use performance marketing methods
  3. Newer bloggers seemed less certain as to what avenues are considered performance marketing
  4. Ability to earn some income seemed to outweigh the negatives
  5. Most bloggers think improvements are needed in more than one area
  6. About half cited an experience that either negatively impacts or somewhat hampers ability to earn
  7. A small percentage had some experience with a diverse marketing mix, including PPC activites and monetizing with CPA networks
  8. Some bloggers indicated they were simultaneously using at least two of the larger affiliate networks
  9. A percentage indicated the need for better creatives and variety in creatives as a factor of improvement
  10. Several indicated corruption (or at least some dishonesty) was a part of the industry

Next Up . . .

Next up is a closer look at the first four questions asked in the survey and the bloggers’ responses about how they use performance marketing to monetize blog content. Thanks in advance to all those who took the time to share opinions and suggestions, and to industry giants like Adam Riemer and Ron Cripps, who provided a primer on getting started with CPA marketing.

Stay on the lookout for PART 2 – Survey: How Bloggers Monetize Blog Content coming in the next few days. UPDATE: Part 2 is now available.

*Image courtesy of Wordle.

Survey is Still Open. Please add your perspective and experiences. Take this short, multiple choice survey.

Other Articles in this Series

Read Part 2: Survey: How Bloggers Monetize Blog Content.

Read Part 3: Improvements Pave the Way to Monetize Blogs.

Show More

Vernessa Taylor | CoachNotes Blog

As a Technology Consultant, Vernessa Taylor works with both online and offline business owners. She writes about small business systems such as project management and customer referral systems at CoachNotes Blog.

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  1. Hi Vernessa,

    Really interesting insight about the monetization on blogs. Never thought about the gender related to the marketing methods on #2.

    One concept about all type of business: try to not put all your eggs in the same basket 🙂



    1. Hi Gera,

      Even though we have to keep in mind this was a small sampling, I was a bit suprised by #2 as well. With more respondents, the gender balance might change, but I remember reading somewhere that performance marketing is a male dominated field. (I’ll have to find that source and share it.)

      You’re right about diversification. In business as in life! Thanks for sharing your comment, Gera. 🙂

  2. Awesome article Vernessa, I like the fact that so many of the respondents were small business owners. I think that’s a potent combination. Having an offline business with online skills. I’ll be back for part 2!!

    1. Hello Rohan,

      The small business ownership factor was delightful to me, too, because it wasn’t truly something I considered when pulling together the survey. Small businesses are oftentimes looking for additional profit centers. Participating in performance marketing is usually one of the first things they explore once they get comfortable online.

      Appreciate your comments here today. Yes, do come back! 🙂

  3. Will be excited for part 2 Vernessa, thanks so much for including me in this. I bet you have some interesting information that came out of that survey. I’m sure their answers were a lot more detailed than mine. Can’t wait to read about them.

    Thanks again.


    1. Hi Adrienne,

      The fact that you took time to provide any answers at all was thrilling! I know how busy you are (I read your blog!).

      You are absolutely right, there are some interesting anecdotal tidbits. I’m so excited about sharing it, I wish I’d hurry up and finish! 😀 If you think of anyone else who’d like to get in on the action, tell them to drop me a line via Twitter.

  4. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more on the survey you did and really glad I knew about it in advance to suggest you ask Adam and Ron for their insights. Always enlightening to have experts from both sides of the fence in the mix.

    1. Hi Gail,

      Yes, thank you so much for suggesting Ron and Adam. They both provided excellent food for thought and insights from the other side of the table that publishers (affiliates) don’t usually have access to.

      This is a good time to remind anyone who is thinking about attending Affiliate Summit East, Adam will be speaking and has provided a discount code (ASE11FIVE) to use for registration to save a few $$$.

      Thanks for your participation, too, Gail. Your experience in the industry — especially as a consultant to small business owners — is invaluable.

  5. Vernessa, the issues you bring up, especially in lack of good creatives and fraud are an issue we discuss quite frequently. It’s interesting that those who are not “in the industry” are also concerned about it.

    Fraud: Is a real issue, in my “other life” I am also out sourced compliance officer for half a dozen networks. It’s too easy to commit fraud in our industry and the money involved makes it worth the risk to many people.

    1. Pace, it is good to know the industry players have some of the same concerns on their radars as business bloggers and very small businesses.

      We know that sometimes the smaller voices aren’t heard over the din of “business as usual.” Recognizing your unique positioning within the industry, and the importance of both your online properties and offline activities, my guess is this dimension might gain a seat at the table. 🙂

      Thanks for giving me an opportunity to bring these voices to Performance Marketing Insider.

  6. Hey Vernessa, sure am glad that I was able to contribute to what seems to be a very interesting survey. I’m really interested in your followup post. I reckon that is going to be a real eye opener.

    1. Hello Sire! Your participation in the survey was of utmost importance. You are one of a subset of long-time business owners who will actually write about — and teach about — affiliate marketing.

      Lots of bloggers use performance marketing methods, but many of them are feeling a bit guilty about seeking ways to monetize blog content — mainly because of so much anti-business advice that screams “don’t sell!”

      *Climbing off the soap box* 🙂 Follow-up is on the way . . .

  7. Hi Vernessa,

    Thanks for inviting me to participate. Even though I got tired of the whole grind, I’ve always loved the potential that performance marketing has. I always thought that term was just a Commission Junction tagline 🙂

    Anyway, the overview of the the survey does not surprise me. It is still a wild, wild west on the web. Wandering into performance marketing without firm grounding in what’s involved is like riding into town, side-saddle, with a Derringer and loudly asking, “Howdy! Where do you fine folks store your valuables? I got me this big ol sack of gold.”




    1. Hey Mitch, I love your Wild West analogy!

      At least you saw the tagline; numerous bloggers I encountered had no idea of what “performance marketing” even meant. I’m glad some of them will now discover Pace’s Performance Marketing Insider which will help with understanding the industry.

      Thanks for participating and sharing your insights. 🙂

    1. Hey Mitch,

      Yep, you get a bit a bobble-head action for #10! And as we can see from Pace’s comment above, creatives are on the minds of everyone involved.

      Really appreciate your participation. I plan to share the resources you shared with me in the upcoming results.

      1. I think he meant what are “creatives?” They are the actual graphics for the banners, the actual advertisements supplied are called creatives. Problem we have in the industry is often they suck.

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  10. Definitely interesting observations, Vernessa.

    Many bloggers are great at what they do, which is mainly churning up great content and driving many hungry readers to it, but that’s where it strops.

    Most of us simply have no idea how to make money off what we do so well.


    1. Hello, Ana, great to see you!

      You are so right. This fact is why alternative models for monetizing content are springing up. Here’s to hoping bloggers get better at participating and providers get better at undergirding our efforts.

      Thanks for your comment, Ana.

  11. Hi Vernessa, these are interesting results and I eagerly look forward to deeper insights in the part 2.

    Findings #3: Pre-blogging, I considered performance marketing networks and finding #4 was all I was looking at BUT when I learnt that some of those networks would quickly boot someone off after a small window of little or no performance.

    I agree with #4: potentials to earn money over-shadows the negatives therein.

    I think that one of the reasons a lot of bloggers are not into performance marketing is that it can be quite demanding – and blogging is time consuming on it’s own.

    It’d be interesting to learn about bloggers who are successfully on performance marketing, sort of case study and lessons we can learn from.

    1. Hi Stella, I have to say I learned the hard way about being booted right through that small window. 🙂

      You’re right about the time demands. Another place where time comes into play is in the learning curve with respect to getting familiar with various networks’ account management / control panels. It seems that once a blogger becomes familiar with one or two, there isn’t enough time to venture out to learn how to use the others.

      Glad to see you here and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Part 2 is now available at Survey: How Bloggers Monetize Content.

  12. Hi Carolyn,

    What wonderful energy you brought with you! You’ve reminded me to update this article with a link to Part 2 (done!) … Now you can read it: Survey: How Bloggers Monetize Blog Content. 😀

    It’s good to know your goals before diving into the whole make-money-with-my-blog mindset. I’ve learned numerous lessons just by conducting this survey. Even though you haven’t yet begun your journey into monetization, I’d love for you to participate in the shorter, multiple choice version I created to capture the thoughts of bloggers like yourself. (Link is at the end of both articles.)

    Thanks for sharing, Carolyn.

  13. Great idea with Hub pages I never knew about it till now. And as far as special methods of bringing traffic I use alternative social networks like Hi5. I have 6000+ friends there and I can send mass private messages promoting my website. I get around 500UV every time I send a mass message.

  14. I also thank you for that link to compare. I’ve been on Squidoo for many months and with their huge changes a while back (a long while back) I’ve pretty much abandoned it. The rules changed too much and, in my opinion, took away a lot of the reasons to keep working on my lenses… such as only allowing 9 links to your own website. Since my lens were built in 2004, I had way more than 9 links. Plus they took one of my lenses down because they said I had copied someone else’s content but it was my own… on my own web site!

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