My little earnings experiment for this site continues. September earnings and traffic were down 10% and 25% respectively, largely due to my absense in blogging earlier this month. But, this was also the first month in which I had no days with 0 Adsense clicks, which means I’m getting a critical mass of traffic, I believe. My most popular post remains the one about using CAGR in Excel, written waaay back in January when I first started this site.
In other news, I signed up for BlogHerAds a couple of weeks ago, which pays based on cost per thousand impressions (CPM), to see how that goes. Last week during Google’s PR update, Experiments in Finance finally moved from a pagerank of 3 to 4, at least according to most of its datacenters.
For those interested, here’s a brief and candid review of the various monetization techniques I’ve tried and how they’ve fared. Keep in mind that they may be more successful for other bloggers!
Google Adsense: My main source of revenue. Easy to use, easy to analyze, pays consistently, and highly recommended.
Text-Link-Ads (aff): I applied to this too early, it seems, and this site was rejected based on lack of traffic and page rank. (This was back in April.) Also, you can’t resubmit your site again, but supposedly they review rejected sites regularly and send invites once they’ve hit the minimum requirement, so I take it that either Experiments in Finance hasn’t hit those requirements yet, or it’s gotten lost in the pile! Update: I wrote them this week with my stats and got this site approved the next day.
Linkworth: I’ve got one link on this site and hope to get more, but my experience so far with them has been that they’re easy to sign up with and are very responsive to questions. You set your own prices and decide whether to reject or accept ads. They offer a basic or preferred account, splitting revenues 70/30 (publisher/Linkworth) or 50/50, respectively. In the preferred status, Linkworth supposedly actively promotes your site to advertisers. I’ve tried both types of accounts and, like others, have seen no discernible improvement by signing up for the preferred status.
Shareasale: This service offers merchants and products that you can choose to advertise on your site. I haven’t found them to be effective, probably because the content on this site isn’t really product- or review-based. Commission percentages vary by merchant.
Linkshare: Similar to Shareasale, but with better-known stores and retailers like Macy’s, PetSmart, etc. Still, I’ve gotten about the same results as with Shareasale, again because I don’t tend to write posts related to shopping or buying products. They send out more emails to publishers on promotions and such, which go right into the trash bin in my email account.
Amazon Associates: The links to books recommended by this site are affiliate links, meaning I get 4% of the revenues from sales through that link (though it costs the customer nothing more). But, like most bloggers, I only recommend books that I really believe are good. From a monetization standpoint, the earnings from Amazon are pretty paltry. If a book costs $20, that’s only $0.80, and they don’t pay out but quarterly and only after you’ve made $10. I think this might work better for product-based sites, or sites with huge traffic.
BlogHerAds: Just started using them on this site since they only recently opened up to the public. They don’t have a lot of advertisers related to finance and business topics (which is why you’ll often see an empty space on the right hand side of this site) and right now focus mostly on parenting and motherhood. Hopefully they’ll add more relevant ads in the future. They’re easy to work with, but even though they’re CPM-based and split revenues 60/40 with the site owner, it’s not obvious how much each ad pays, so I still don’t know how much I can expect to earn. They require you to advertise above the fold and be the only graphical advertisement in their space. Also, other graphic advertisers above the fold must be smaller in size. And, sorry guys, it seems right now they’re only targeting women bloggers.
BlogAds: You need an invite from a veteran BlogAds user (thanks George!) to use their services. I implemented BlogAds briefly before finding out that they aren’t compatible with BlogHerAds. I haven’t figured out which one to use yet, but since BlogAds seems to work best with sites with higher traffic than mine (they recommend 1,000 visitors per day at a minimum), I’m not sure I’d be an attractive site for advertisers yet, and I’ve decided to give BlogHerAds a try first. BlogAds also told me I’m required to put them on the upper-left-hand side of the site (prime real estate), and that I ought to join a mini-BlogAds network of bloggers to appear more attractive to advertisers. I’ll probably give them a try again in the near future.
Emigrant Direct: This was by far the biggest pain so far. To be fair, it’s not the bank but the third-party affiliate vendor that they use that’s causing most of the headache. You have to fax several pages of paperwork to them, send emails back and forth, and their reporting mechanism is very obtuse and difficult to use (and requires download of ActiveX support). They pay relatively well in theory, giving $20 referrals for each person who signs up for an account through your link, but they also require you to send in an invoice to be paid, and I still haven’t been paid after two months’ time. Also, each time Emigrant Direct changes interest rates, you have to manually update your graphics. Given all this hassle, and since I’m not getting too many clickthroughs and there are other affiliates to try, I’ve decided to remove them from most of my site.
So, there you go. In my limited experience so far, I’d recommend Adsense and Linkworth. Any other bloggers out there, feel free to counter with your experiences!