5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Monetize Your Blog With Ads

So you’ve decided it’s time to start monetizing your blog. It’s taken up a lot of time and hard work, and it’s about time it gave something back to you. And chances are someone told you (or a Google search told you) that displaying ads on your blog is the best way to do that.

They’re wrong. (Or Google is, anyway.)

Monetizing your blog with ads is a terrible idea. Your blog is not a public billboard, in existence only to direct people onto the next site. It’s a well of information and/or entertainment for a carefully cultivated audience. Your blog is the END point, not the middleman.

Not convinced? How about I walk you through the 5 specific points on why ads are terrible to monetize your blog with.

1. Ads pay nothing.

Contrary to popular belief, ads are not some type of golden goose that gets you rich quick. As a marketer myself, I love ads because they’re so cheap for me to use!

Ads generally work on a pay-per-click system, which means I get to display my ad on your site for free, and only pay you when someone actually clicks the ads and leaves your site for mine.

Additionally, I typically don’t work directly with the sites themselves. I’ll work with Google or Facebook, or another middle-man site, who then does most of the ad operating for me and you. And using that 3rd party system, the ads are STILL dirt cheap for me. With Facebook, I might spend $.20 a click. And remember, that Facebook gets a cut of that 20 cents.

So in order to make any money with this system, you must be getting a high volume of readers to your site every day. After all, at 20 cents a click, you’d need to have 500 people click an ad on your site to make $100 a day (before Facebook takes it’s cut.)

And let’s add one more shocker into the mix: the conversion rate on display ads is around .1%. That means only 1 of every 1000 visitors is clicking an ad (your visitors are more likely to become navy SEALS than they are to click your ad).

So in order to make $100/day off ads (before Facebook takes it’s cut), you’d have to 500,000 visitors to your site every day. Which as we all know, is a LOT of traffic. A LOT.

Seems like kind of a rip off, right?

2. Ads take visitors away from your site.

I didn’t even mention yet that ads are giving you almost nothing to take your valuable traffic away from your site. You worked hard to get readers interested, just to have them pulled away from you to go to someone else’s site. That’s hardly fair. And it’s hardly a way to build a loyal following.

3. Ads make your site take forever to load (and make sure a lot of visitors never even see your site).

Ever been on a site (particularly a mobile site) that won’t stop loading because new ads just keep popping up on the site? Or you start to read the first paragraph, and the first paragraph disappears because suddenly there’s an ad there instead? Yeah, it’s the worst experience ever. I usually close out of those sites unless I’m really, REALLY invested in the title. And even then, I maybe have about 45 seconds of patience in me. It’s the online equivalent of seeing a mall kiosk salesperson approaching me with samples.

The worst part about how ads do this is that these ads aren’t even making you money. You might be fine with losing a reader for $.20. But are you fine with losing readers for free? Because these readers aren’t even clicking an ad. They’re just not coming in.

4. Ads prevent readers taking the next action you want them to.

If you’ve built an audience up, chances are you’ve done it by encouraging them to take some type of action on your page to stay engaged with you. Typically this means you’ve gotten them to join your email list.

Every digital marketer knows, in order to get someone to take an action on an online page, it needs to be clearly marked and the only thing on the page for them to do.

Ads destroy any possibility of achieving those two things. After all, when you display ads, you clutter the page so it’s difficult to clearly demarcate any one thing. Plus – ads become other actions you want your readers to take. So now you’re asking them to click the ad, give you their email, and read another post. It’s so much confusion that most readers end up doing none of those things and just leaving your page.

5. Ads are out of your control.

Before ads, you had 100% say in what happens on your blogs. Once you’re serving ads, you lose a lot of the control you had previously.

Especially if you’re working with remarketing or in a partnership, you don’t have control over what ads even appear on your site. You have the potential to serve ads to visitors about unethical companies, products they hate, potentially even porn ads. When working with Google, marketers choose YOU, and you have very little say in that. If you’re in the remarketing network, there’s no say really by either the marketer or the publication – which is how you can accidentally serve up porn ads on your site if you’re not careful.

So then how on earth do I monetize my blog?

Don’t worry – there are definitely ways to monetize your blog without resorting to ads. One way is to embed referral links throughout your blog.

The best way, however, is one that actually specifically defies all 5 of the points I mentioned above: transactional articles.

Transactional articles are articles about products and their companies that have places embedded in the article where readers can buy what they’re reading about right out of the article. A transactional article can be written in any type of way that suits your blog – it can be a story, a review, an interview, anything. (Here’s an example of one!)

When you work with a company like VendViva, we give you complete control over what appears on your blog, to the point that you can write the Spotlight if you want. The Spotlight appears as an article on your blog, so it doesn’t take any more time loading than any other article, and it adds to your collection of posts. You earn a commission on every purchase that is made, and you receive customer’s email addresses. That means you don’t even have to have an email sign-up form on a Spotlight article page if you want. You can clearly direct people to take the single action of purchasing right from the article itself.

More?

What other ways have you found of monetizing your blog besides ads? What’s worked well and what hasn’t?

How to Monetize a Blog for Free – In a Way That Engages Your Readers

So your blog is doing well – you’ve started to work up a following and you’re finding that you’re putting more and more time into your blog. It’s time to start monetizing your blog to get back a return on your hard work. So: how do you monetize a blog?

This, for instance, would be a great return on your hard work.
This, for instance, would be a great return on your hard work.

You know about putting ads on your site already. But this doesn’t appeal to you because ads will ruin the look of your blog, and take your readers off your page, potentially never to return. You may not even capture their email address to send them follow-up content. Plus ads make your site take forever to load, and there’s plenty of ad blocking software enabled that many people won’t even ever see the ads. So ads are out.

You’re interested in sponsored content, but you know you’re probably not big enough to charge much at all for sponsored content. After all, you have to be able to prove to brands that readers are remembering who they’re reading about, or that they’re clicking over to the brand’s site (which, again, loses you readers). So sponsored content isn’t quite right, either.

Are there other options available to you?

Turns out there is another option. We at VendViva have developed technology that allows us to make sponsored content on your blog shoppable. How does that work?

Well, we’d work with you to figure out the type of things your audience is interested in reading about. Then we’d match you with the brands in our ever-growing network that will interest your audience. Once we’ve done that, we’ll write a piece of content telling the brand’s story to publish on your site. (If you’d rather, you can write this piece, instead.) The article will be posted much like a sponsored article, but it will have a section in the piece that allows readers to purchase the products right there. Plus, it’s embedded using a plugin into a new page within your .url, so you don’t lose readers and it’s immune to ad-blocking software.

This means that your readers stay on your page, and, even better, you get to keep their captured email addresses! For every purchase made through that post, you also get a commission.

These Spotlights are a completely innovative way of monetizing your blog content, and, unlike traditional sponsored content or ads, they allow you to be as involved as you want in the process. Whether you want to write the content yourself, or just publish it, Spotlights are completely tailorable. Spotlights are the future of blog monetization.

7 Ways to Make Your First eCommerce Sale

Putting together an eCommerce store is a breeze. Platforms like Shopify have made building an online store so easy your grandma could do. (Probably. I don’t know your grandma.) These days, the hard part about running an eCommerce store is getting your first sale. After all, you can’t just sit there and wait for someone to come find you. That’s not how it works in 2016. So what do you do? Well, you could try one (or all – preferably all) of the methods below!

 

1. Tell your friends and family (and get them to tell friends and family)

 

Remember how your mom supported your dream of becoming a singer even though you were terrible at it? Or was that just my mom? Anyway – your mom probably supported you on a lot of things, because that’s what people who love you do. It’s time to take advantage of that. Get those built in cheerleaders to tell all their friends about your store. Make sure to give them links to share so that you can ensure all that word of mouth is generating actual traffic.

Take things a step further by creating a referral program. A referral program encourages current customers (in this case, your friends and family) to share the word about you by providing them with an incentive.

As an example, let’s talk about Stitchfix’s referral program. First, it’s how I found out about the company. My boss sent me a link, told me how much she loved the company and encouraged me to make a purchase. She got $25 to use on her next box with them when I ordered my own box. Once I tried it and loved it, I used the code given to me to share the love around. I’ve recruited around 16 people and 9 of them converted (which is a super high conversion rate for a marketing channel!).

Stitchfix’s referral program works because it turns your customers into your salespeople. When I give someone my link, I also spend some time encouraging them to actually order their box. I’ll even go out of my way to show them the clothes I’ve bought from Stitchfix (by casually wearing them the next time I see that person, naturally). With a referral code, you can not only utilize your friends and family but utilize their friends and family to get your first sale!

2. Give Free Samples

Ever been tried a free sample of a delicious pastry in the grocery store and then bought a whole package of them? Free samples are the best. Why?

  1. They give your customer a chance to try your product and love it so much they can’t live without it.
  2. Giving someone something for free typically leaves them feeling like they owe you something. So if you don’t make a purchase because they loved it, you’ll probably make a purchase because they feel guilty.

You can give out free samples as an eCommerce store, too! How? Well, one thing that is popular among styling services now to send a box of items for a small fee, and then have customers pay once they pick out products in their own house.

Can’t do that? Try giving free shipping and free returns. This allows customers to try your products at no risk to themselves. Yep – free returns are actually a great idea. 95% of customers who have a positive return experience will purchase again.

3. Use Transactional Content Marketing.

Transactional content marketing allows retailers to work with publishers, like influential bloggers in their spaces, and have customers purchase right from the publishers’ pages. Working with a company like VendViva even allows an eCommerce company to do this risk-free. (Yes, this is a shameless plug – but this point really is quite useful!) We’ll work with publishers to write an article telling your story, and spotlighting your products, and then using our technology, we’ll embed purchase points in the post to allow customers to purchase right from those articles. As an eCommerce vendor, we only take a reasonable commission once you make a sale – so you might as well give us a try.

Because of the nature of transactional content marketing, you don’t have to be a traditionally set-up eCommerce retailer to use this method to make your first sale. If you’re a manufacturer who hadn’t previously been interested in direct to consumer sales because you weren’t interested in investing the software to allow to run checkouts, etc. through your website, transactional content marketing can be a godsend. Rather than creating your own storefront (on or offline), transactional content marketing technology allows you to use publishers (and even other people’s websites) as your storefront.

4. Try Direct Response Advertising

If you’re brand new to marketing, direct response marketing is not (usually) the same as the ads you see on TV and hear on the radio. A direct response ad is one that clearly drives customers to do something, whether that’s make a purchase, or sign up for something. For an eCommerce company, an ad will typically display 1-5 products with a small amount of copy that ends with a call-to-action like “Shop now!” The ads lands on the applicable product pages. See the picture below.

capture

These ads can be placed quite cheaply on different social networks. Facebook, in particular, is quite inexpensive, with prices around just a few cents/click. For certain retailers, Instagram and Pinterest can be very lucrative, despite the more expensive $1-$5/click.

Direct response ad campaigns are very good at getting customers to your website for the first time to make a purchase, largely because they have very few steps between first interaction and purchase.

5. Get Social Organically

Social doesn’t require ads. If you don’t have the budget yet, figure out which social platforms your customers use and get on them! As a women’s clothing retailer, for instance, your customers are likely hanging out on Pinterest and Instagram. So start accounts on there and start sharing photos of your clothing. These posts will help drive interest in your products and traffic to your web pages. Be sure to be sharing links with each of your photos!

6. Start Emailing Customers!

Just because people are coming to your website doesn’t mean they’re going to buy the first visit round. So you need to be collecting these people’s emails. Why?

Because email marketing drives more conversions than any other marketing channel.

Keeping your products and brand visible in people’s inboxes helps educate them about who your brand is and helps them come to trust you. Additionally, it keeps your promotions and products first in their memories.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to set-up your first campaign, this blog post is filled with tips and tricks for you.

7. Partner With Vendors You Know Your Customers Love.

Marketing is all about finding the customer where they are.

One of the best ways to do this is to find out where your customers are already shopping, and partner with those businesses. I don’t mean your competitors, of course – just businesses that are complementary to yours.

For instance, if you sell high-end pans, and you know your customers love shopping at a high-end home goods store, you might choose to reach out to that store and ask them if you could set up a stand in their store. Or you could ask them to hand out coupons to your store at check-out. There are many ways you can partner with complementary companies, you just have to get creative.

More?

Using these 7 different marketing tactics you can make your first sale. What other marketing methods have you used to make early sales?