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10 Alternative Revenues to Banner Advertising or; How Not to Starve as a Blogger




There’s a huge problem that could threaten the blogs that you read on a daily basis–we can’t make enough money from banner advertising.

There, I said it.

It’s a big problem, because pretty much all blogs rely on banner ads to some degree, yet new research and expert opinion both reinforce the notion that, as bloggers, we need to look beyond display ads for our revenue stream.

First, the research:

Prices for display ads sold through networks have dropped for the second quarter in a row, dipping below $0.30 on average, according to PubMatic.

New data from the company’s AdPrice index suggest effective CPMs from July through September were $0.27 — down 21 percent sequentially and 27 percent compared with this year’s first quarter.

Now the expert opinion from Jakob Nielsen:

“We call this banner blindness — people won’t see ads at all,” said Nielsen. “Ads might as well not exist as far as users are concerned, except for search ads.” The number of web users that so much as glance at banner ads, he added, is too small to even quantify.

If you run banner ads on your own blog, it’s highly likely that you’ve seen either a drop in demand or a drop in the rates you’re charging. And, with the economy sucking the wind out of any advertising growth, you’ll likely not see much of an improvement over the coming months–perhaps years.

So, how do bloggers make money, if not from display ads? Honestly, if I knew the answer I’d sell you an ebook for $80–and that would be just one of the ways I’d make money outside of banner ads. ;-)

As bloggers we have to start looking at the value of our blogs beyond CPMs. We have to look at other ways to generate revenue. And, it wouldn’t hurt any of us, if we shared some ideas with each other! I’ll kick us off with some ideas, but I’d love to read yours in the comments below.

  1. Lead generation – Marketing Pilgrim happens to be on the topic that makes up my consulting services. You can bet that it’s a huge lead generator for me.
  2. Contextual ads – there are guys out there that make 6 figure incomes from networks such as AdSense.
  3. Affiliate links – I’m not about to litter Marketing Pilgrim with crappy posts, just so I can share an affiliate link. But, if I happen to believe in a product, you may well see me adding an affiliate link.
  4. Secondary services – I never really expected our Marketing Pilgrim Job Board to become as popular as it has. It’s not a huge revenue stream, but it helps keep the lights on.
  5. Sponsored sidebars – we have a deal with PRWeb to display relevant press release headlines in our sidebar. Maybe you could find a similar partnership? I know I’ll be on the lookout for other co-branded opportunities.
  6. Ebooks – I’ve dabbled with ebooks and I know other bloggers have turned their expertise into a nice ebook revenue stream.
  7. Premium content – hmmm. Trust me, I think often about whether there’s an opportunity for a premium channel for Marketing Pilgrim. It works (very well) for guys like SEOmoz.
  8. Webinars/Workshops – Marketing Pilgrim is a great platform to build buzz for my speaking gigs. If you’ve built your name as an expert in your field, maybe you should look to do the same with your blog.
  9. Sponsored Posts – I’ve never accepted cash in exchange for a blog post. That said, the opportunity does exist for someone to sponsor an entire category? “Email marketing posts brought to you by….”
  10. You tell me? What’s your pick for our #10 blog revenue stream?

  • http://beyondnichemarketing.com/2007/10/29/web-20-can-be-a-really-scary-proposition-for-some-businesses/ Beyond Niche Marketing

    Banner ads that don’t work are no different than newspaper ads that don’t work – or television ads that don’t work – or billboards that don’t work. The difference between banner ads that don’t work and other types of advertising that don’t work is simply you can MEASURE the suckiness of your banner ad. You can WATCH people “not” respond.

    Our local coupon “money saver” has gone from once a month publication to twice a month publication thanks to the “hard economic times”. Why? Because their reps work with business owners to create ads that DON’T suck.

    Beyond Niche Marketing’s last blog post..By: Comcast Changes Outgoing E-Mail Settings : Virtual Impax

  • http://Twitter.com/NextInstinct Ed Shaz/NextInstinct

    While I Twitter personally and sincerely,

    I’d love to find a 100% spamfree way to address exactly this question, using Twitter, as well as a blog.

  • http://www.searchengineoptimizationjournal.com Nick Stamoulis

    Great list Andy & I agree with you 100%…

    Bloggers need to get very strategic and smart about how they monetize their blogs in these tough economic times. #1 on your list is 100% the reason why I have a blog and write in it every day…to help get a few great clients :o)

    Nick Stamoulis’s last blog post..PageRank Sculpting: Necessary Or Not?

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  • http://thisismyurl.com Christopher Ross

    I make almost nothing off my blog directly but over the past few years it has helped me land significant web development projects.

    Christopher Ross’s last blog post..Search Engine Optimization Techniques for WordPress

  • http://battractive.com/blog Laura Bergells

    Your list is quite comprehensive.

    I’ll point to it the next time someone asks me how to monetize a blog!

    (Because a week doesn’t go by…)

    Laura Bergells’s last blog post..What is RSS and Why Do You Care?

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  • http://www.zurpit.com Zurpit

    This is a great list of ways to monetize your site, its very in depths and comprehensive. Thanks for sharing it

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  • http://www.biblemoneymatters.com Pete

    Most of what I do to make income was already mentioned above. The best revenue for me?

    1. Adsense
    2. Text link sales
    3. affiliate income
    4. Graphic design work (i do some graphic design on the side)

    Always looking for new ideas to make money online, thanks for the post!

    Pete’s last blog post..Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University – Review

  • http://www.speak-tome.com Ted Murphy

    I guess I’m missing something here, because #10 seems obvious to me. Let your audience pay you directly.

  • http://www.downloadic.com Downloadic

    To sum of that, blogging and online marketing rocks !!!

  • http://www.evolvor.com evolvor

    How about having someone “sponsor” the blog?

    I find that yes, banners don’t work that well by themselves because we tune them out.

    But if you had one major advertiser that bought up multiple ads located in different places on the blog, and that was a sole sponsor, then the advertiser might get some eyeballs to look their way.

    You could even turn the ad into the blog theme similar to what myspace is doing in it’s design, blanketing their homepage for a day to promote the release of a big movie.

    Just make sure you personally endorse the product before you whore your blog out!

    evolvor’s last blog post..Sex, Drugs, & Rock N Roll, Pt 1: How To Create Content Like A Rockstar

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  • http://www.livelifetothefullest.biz/wpblog Matt Helphrey

    I think it would be wise to test a bunch of different options on your blog to see what works best.

    If banner ads aren’t working, try placing some text ads throughout your blog and test the results. Next month try promoting some affiliate ads, then adsense, then ebooks. Whatever makes you more money, go with it!

    Matt Helphrey’s last blog post..Automatic Online Business

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  • http://www.paystolivegreen.com go green

    I’m with Matt on this one. I think it all depends on your audience and what works best for you particular site. It also requires doing a little trial and error until you find the right fit or in this case earn the most money.

    go green’s last blog post..Maryland Environmental News: October 2008

  • http://itsoke.com brandon alan scofield

    I prefer contextual ads and sponsored sidebar , and I never put affiliate link on my blog …

    brandon alan scofield’s last blog post..First post

  • http://www.darnuthkeep.com Fantasy Writer

    I know that banner advertising for me hasn’t done much of anything. I’m selling my first e-book now. We’ll see how that goes. The biggest factor I’ve found is creating value for my visitors – that creates more time spent on site and more likelihood that they will look at any of the ads or links.

    Fantasy Writer’s last blog post..The Cleansing of Darnuth Keep – Full Version Available.

  • http://singkawangmycity.wordpress.com/ tri

    I have made a blog ,but till now no income event I out some ads