Monetizing My Blog(s) by Trial and Error

Blog MonetizationI’ve been working on monetizing my Modified Car Blog and thought I’d post some initial results of what has(n’t) worked so far. The blog gets between 30-50 unique visitors a day and is a very niche blog (Modified Cars/Audis), so I didn’t have high hopes but thought it was worth a shot. I didn’t really know where to start but found this article, How I Make Money Online, written by someone I follow on twitter, and figured it was a good start.

First I tried Image Space Media, a new advertising concept that places hover-over links in images. They actually contacted me, asking me to try it out, which I thought was pretty cool. However, I don’t really have the traffic to get sufficient clicks to make this solution worthwhile, and I thought it detracted from the user experience since ads were popping up all over the place. It’s cool concept for other blogs though, it just wasn’t the right solution for mine.

Next I tried Kontera, which places text link ads around random words that will take you to an advertiser. I got a lot more clicks than I’ve seen through AdSense, although it was still earning me less than a dollar a month, and again, I kind of felt it took away from the user experience, so I canned it.

Next I ventured into Affiliate Marketing through Commission Junction. I’ve only made one sale, and it was to myself, and with a minimum $100 payout (of which I’m $97 away from), so I don’t foresee this being very profitable…although I’ve been experimenting with which products I’m displaying and think there is some potential there, so I’m keeping it for the time being.

A few days I ago I decided to scale back the commission ads to just a few super relevant products that I’d actually purchase myself, and use some of the newly freed-up advertising space for what people usually try first – Google AdSense. The initial results are pretty discouraging, as I’ve had no clicks nor revenue since installing, although it’s still very early in the game. I’m encouraged by the ads I do see appear – they’re mostly local Audi dealerships, aftermarket performance parts & accessories, and other items that are highly contextually relevant. I will keep experimenting with placement and formatting to increase clicks, because I do think the ads being displayed are worthwhile.

Anyone reading this that has ideas or comments on how to monetize a low volume, niche blog, I’m all ears! Until then, it’s a game of trial and error, running 1-2 month experiments with different ad types and seeing what works or doesn’t. It’s still fun testing things out, even though my results so far haven’t turned actual revenue. I’m encouraged by SEO & Internet Marketing expert Bill Hunt, who I had the privilege of meeting last month at a SEMPO AZ event called  “Search 3.0“, who told me the secret to his success has been to always test and experiment, with a healthy dose of curiosity and skepticism for SEO tactics. I’ll be sure to post an update in a few months on how the rest of my experiments go, and if I ever find a profitable solution!

Update: It’s been over one week since installing AdSense…and I’M RICH! Okay maybe not, but $1.03 per week isn’t bad either. At the very least it’s motivation to keep trying, so I guess AdSense seems to be the best ad solution to-date for me.  Hopefully I can keep tweaking the presentation and producing good content to increase both impressions and click-through rates a little. Having AdSense on two blogs is nice, right now I have one click from each.