So I’ve had enough of researching ways to increase blog traffic for now. I’ll come back to it at some point, as I’m not sure an audience of 25 is really going to pay the bills, unless, of course, all my blog following friends are secretly loaded, and don’t mind helping out a struggling blogger in need? Today, instead, for a bit of variety, I’ll have a look at ways a blog can bring in the readies. Unfortunately, advice from the Daily Post is a bit lacking, and stops at writing and building an audience. You can, however, find some useful information, to start with, in the WordPress.com Support section.

Advertising

Direct from their pages WordPress says, “Advertisements from third-party ad networks like Google AdSense, OpenX, Lijit, BuySellAds, and Vibrant Media are not allowed on WordPress.com. If you’d like to run these types of ads on your blog, you may wish to try a self-hosted WordPress installation.” There are lots of words I just don’t understand here, but basically, I think they mean set up a WordPress.org website, which looks a bit too complicated for me right now. WordPress also says that this is to keep, “…the WordPress.com community uncluttered by scams and unwanted commercial messages or “spam”, which is nice, and I approve. Conveniently though, WordPress has their own official advertising programme, available for site owners, called “WordAds”. I should, apparently,  have access to this programme automatically as a Premium Plan holder.

Where do I join? Sounds great!
It’s easy. Go into your Dashboard/Settings, and click on AdControl. There all you have to do is click where it says, ” request an invitation to AdWords”. Sorted. No actually, because AdWords has certain requirements you need to meet first:

  1. Your blog can’t have a default free [example].wordpress.com URL. You need to register a new domain, or map an existing one that you’ve already created in, for example, GoDaddy.com. Other domain name providers are available.
  2. The advertisers on WordAds do have minimum traffic requirements. They cannot say what that number is, but the guide is that you need thousands of page views per month to make the revenue meaningful. (I might have a way to go yet!)

I thought I’d click the link anyway to see what happened, and got a very polite reply.
“Thank you for your interest in WordAds. We review all sites for inclusion in our WordAds program. However, because of the volume of applications, we are unable at this time to reply individually to all applicants. Our advertising partners have minimum traffic requirements, and when your site traffic meets these requirements, we’ll be in touch.
In the meantime, we recommend our guide for getting more site views: http://en.support.wordpress.com/getting-more-views-and-traffic/”

Ok, thanks. Probably a good thing. I mean, am I the only one that finds adverts annoying when trying to read a blog, article, or web page online, especially when the adverts aren’t related in any way to the content?

Affiliate Linking

This is basically, providing a link to another website where you can buy a product or service. In return for your link on your blog, guiding the reader to the other site, and parting with their cash, the affiliate will give you a percentage return on the value of the sale. There are many affiliate sites out there, some providing better returns than others. I would hazard a guess that the harder the product is to sell, the better the returns. There are some sites that are probably only suitable for the hardened Marketer, confident in their own ability to generate sales, as they require you to pay a monthly fee for the privilege of marketing their products. I thought I’d start at the easy, and free, end of the spectrum with Amazon Associates.

Amazon Associates is one of the earliest and largest affiliate programs around, and let’s be honest here, who couldn’t find something to buy on Amazon? The set-up process seemed easy. You just have to answer a few questions about your website and your sales intentions and ‘Voila!’, I am now an Amazon Associate. They’re not fussy. The only complicated bit seemed to be finding an IBAN and BIC number to receive payments, but just phone your bank. You also need to remember to link all the URL’s where you may have posted your blog on various social media, as these are used to track where your unique traffic sales are coming from.

Of course, WordPress have some things to say about using Affiliate linking:

  1. “The primary purpose of your blog must be to create original content.”
  2. “We do not allow affiliate links for gambling, get-rich-quick schemes, multi-level marketing programs, disreputable merchants, pornography, malware, or phishing-type scams. We also do not allow sites that exist primarily to drive traffic to affiliate links.”

Fair enough. Back to Amazon. Any sale, through an advert on your blog, can generate between 1% and 10% of the sale value back to you, depending on the type of product sold. You can get better rates for volume sales, and Amazon also runs promotional rates at certain times of the year. For example, Throughout November, Amazon are offering a fixed 12% with Amazons Native Shopping Ads. (Not sure what that means exactly). Terms and conditions probably apply. Any referral cookie only lasts 24 hours. This means that if someone buys something on Amazon more than a day later, after linking through from your blog, you don’t paid. The good thing about Amazon though, is customers don’t have to buy the product you advertised. They can buy ANY other product on the site, and you still get your cut.

So as an example, here’s a book I’m reading before bed right now. The Four Hour Working Week by Tim Ferriss.

I looked up the item on my Amazon Associates account page, and generated an image link by simply pressing a button at the top of the page. This gives you some unique HTML code which you then copy into the HTML tab on your draft page in WordPress. Tab back to the Visual draft and the image is there, complete with a link, when you click on it, to the very same product on Amazon.co.uk. Genius. Of course, now I should probably give you the sell on why you should read this book. Suffice to say why wouldn’t you want to read this book, unless you are either retired, rich or love your job. To be honest, it’s taking me a bit of time to get my head around it. About the same speed as figuring out this blogging thingy. Good to open yourself up to new ideas though.Maybe one of you internet savvy lot can read it, and help me understand it. Alternatively, could you do me a favour? Is there is anything you need to buy on Amazon in the near future? There’s Christmas coming up! Could you bear a thought for my little blog and access Amazon via my picture link above? Thanks.

I do have one little problem with this selling method. About 80% of my readership are currently friends from my Facebook list. The others, hopefully you’re just friends I don’t know very well yet. My point? Where is the incentive to buy? Am I to rely on sheer benevolence? That would be nice. It might also be nice to be able to give my friends a little kickback for their loyalty. Now let’s say Amazon gives on average 5%, and I have to stress, I’m just thinking aloud here. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could split that returned revenue. Maybe there is some way of monitoring who bought what, and when? Ok, so in real terms we’re only talking you maybe getting back £25 in every £1000 you spend here, but that’s a few free drinks down the pub when I see you next. Always a bonus. I’ll do some further digging when the sales figures come in. Oh, by the way, Amazon only pay you monthly when you’ve accrued at least £25. Maybe there are some products out there that offer better affiliate returns, like 50% or more. If you need one, lets see if can weave it into this blog somehow, and both make a cut. Like I said, just a thought.

Sponsored Posts

These are posts from companies selling products, who sponsor you to post on their behalf, to promote their products. WordPress allows this, but of course, certain conditions apply. I don’t think I need to consider this with my current readership, but it might be useful for future reference.

Selling Physical or Digital Products

Again, don’t need to consider this right now, as I don’t have anything physical or digital to sell. Parked for future reference. Useful to note that you can link up a PayPal account to take payments.

Requesting Donations or Tips

Here’s an interesting one. Am I too proud to receive donations or tips? No, I guess not. I mean, this blog is out there for anyone to hopefully enjoy, entertain, or enlighten to a certain degree. So if anyone out there would kindly like to help support this project with donations large or small, they will be gratefully received, on PayPal.


Donate Button with Credit Cards

Setting up PayPal is a little bit annoying. You have to set up a business account to be able to create buttons like the one above. It’s not difficult, just time-consuming. If you combine the WordPress help on the subject with the very efficient Paypal help line you should be ok. The one confusing thing was a little bit of small print on the Paypal website that crops up if you try to create a Donate button. You get this message:

“Note: This button is intended for fundraising. If you are not raising money for a cause, please choose another option. Not-for-profit organisations must verify their status to withdraw the donations they receive. Users that are not verified not-for-profit organisations must demonstrate how their donations will be used, once they raise more than $10,000 USD.”

I phoned PayPal about this. Turns out it’s not as onerous as it first seems. You do not have to be a Not-for-profit organisation to use the donate function. You just need to be if you want to take advantage of the reduced commission rates Paypal charges.

One last thought on this. Do I need disclaimers, and legal type stuff displayed on my blog now that I have potential income streams on there? Do I need them regardless? More research needed.

Wishing you all health, wealth and happiness, as always.

 

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