When I started monetizing Dollar$, the majority of the peanuts then used to come out of Google AdSense. Then slowly I started diversifying into other income streams such as paid reviews, blog ad networks, referral-affiliate methods, private ad sales etc.
In the last four to five months or so – perhaps due to the recession – the AdSense CTR and eCPM values have been pretty bad for me. At the same time, the blog income was steadily increasing as well thanks to some of the monetization instruments mentioned above. Now, I am tending to believe that with the blog age and increased maturity levels, the income pattern changes as well.
The typical Blog Income pattern
Most bloggers go through the following (or similar) pattern when it comes to monetizing their blogs:
Phase 1: Most people do not really start with a professional blog from day one onwards and hence they initially depend a great deal on AdSense or similar non-intrusive PPC (Pay-Per-Click) ad networks. Of late, the Google AdSense approval process has been a bit tough and the fresh accounts get started after six months. But this was not the case when I started blogging.
Phase 2: A couple of things that you pick as you network better in the blogosphere are the PR mania the advanced blog commenting symptoms. With these, you are likely to get some PR improvement which you monetize via paid reviews or sometimes via text-link-ad sales. Of course, we are too dependent on Google when it comes to these online money making methods.
Phase 3: With the traffic from search engines and social media picking big time, you will soon find that referral and affiliate banners will fetch more income than AdSense. Well, again, this depends on good quality traffic, optimized landing pages/posts and demographics. Around this time, some of the readers out of pity may also start donating some money.
Phase 4: When you have an established blog with a lot of loyal readership, a very good web & blogosphere presence, very good traffic and visibility, your main source of income becomes private ad sales along with affiliate links. You may still write paid reviews (and some might still use AdSense etc) but most people at this point are almost professional bloggers and it’s about time to bid bye to PPC ads.
Phase 5: In this last phase, we are talking about people like Darren Rowse or Brian Clarke. Their major income comes from pure sponsorships (The phase 5 name for private ad sales) or via referral income alone. ProBloggers do not really depend on AdSense or PPC networks nor do they write paid reviews. Some of them fondly return favors to their ‘business associates’ by writing ‘shout out’ posts – in exchange of high profile dinners, sponsored vacation, goodies etc but it’s a crime to call them sponsored reviews at this point.
I am sure most of us would have gone through the above phases will many of us are still in Phase 3 or 4. My questions to my blogger friends are:
1. Is AdSense still your main income source?
2. Have you got a reason why most established pro-bloggers do not use PPC Ads or AdSense?
3. In the context of my last post, do you believe that most of the established bloggers have de-risked their online business by not monetizing via Google?
Happy Money Making!