Showing posts with label Blissdom Wizard Of Ads Session. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blissdom Wizard Of Ads Session. Show all posts

Monetizing A Personal Blog 101: Blissdom Wizard of Ads

Monday, February 15, 2010

A few beginner's tips on monetizing a personal blog

All of the panels at Blissdom were awesome and so informative. I'm sure all the panelists could have used and extra hour to give their information. I spoke on the Wizard of Ads panel. Mary Anne had so much info to cover in such a short time, I didn't chime in as often as I wanted to, but I really appreciate how much she let me into the conversation.

Alli and Paula wanted me on the panel to talk about monetizing from a personal blogger's perspective, as it's an entirely different beast than advertising a site (like 5 Minutes for Mom) or niche blog, and it's even more challenging for blogs like mine, which are new and still growing.

If I'd had more time I would have given these examples of my experience in terms of the mistakes I made and things I wished I'd done differently. Hopefully I can help anyone who is just starting out. I think I'll break up the information into more than one post since I want to cover appearance, stats and influence, ad networks, and media kits.

My first layout wasn't practical and didn't meet my needs anymore. It wasn't ad friendly and didn't have the look I wanted so I changes it to the current one. When looking for a template, keep a list of which blogs you currently visit that appeal to you visually and take note of WHY you like them: width of the sidebars, size of the header, the navigation bar, the footers, fonts etc. etc. 

If you're hiring a designer, they will ask you for this information. Give them as many links, screen shots or examples as you can. Find a theme that can accommodate more than one ad size. Then, look online for free themes and templates that match your likes as closely as possible. Before I contacted my designer, I created a test blog and downloaded a few themes so I wouldn't have to worry about screwing up the main blog.

Now that my current layout has been live for awhile it's not working as well as I hoped so I'll be changing it. I'm also going to change my header. I love my header. It's cute and fun. But, as the direction I want with the blog has changed, I know I have to sacrifice cute and fun for practical. The header takes up way too much real estate that I could be using more effectively. Having ad space above the fold is key. My header is eating into that space and my re-design is going to take that into account.

Stats and influence:
As you're growing, it can be a little depressing at times to monitor your stats. But, that's the way the game is played, so be prepared to know yours. Information on our stats is pretty accessible. Having to provide them to a company can seem like doing their research for them. Plus, I think stats can be inflated and aren't an honest measure of influence, but until some other metrics are brought in, you're going to need to them.

I have three different monitoring services: Site Meter, Get Clicky and Google Analytics. You don't need three, but each one offers something a little different and I like to cross reference. Another set of data you should have on hand is demographics. Knowing about your readers can be invaluable when submitting your blog for PR opportunities or reviews. You can create a free survey on sites like Survey Monkey. I did one awhile ago and it was very helpful. 

Being able to tell a marketer that 42% of your readers are women aged 35-45 and 58% have children under the age of 18 will set you apart and establish you as a professional. Your blog is your resume. If you don't have numbers on your side, include any other areas of your life, both online and offline, where you frequently interact with others like guest posting or book club. Don't be afraid to sell yourself!

I'll talk more about ad networks and media kits in a future post. If you want a more detailed account of the Wizard of Ads session, Angela England did a great job taking thorough notes. She has other sessions recapped as well.
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