How Much Traffic Do You Need To Monetize Your Blog?
Back in 2014 I started my blogging career with a very simple concept. I wanted a blog catered to programmers and web developers in which I would essentially just answer questions all day long. I wrote daily, published weekly, coded nightly and did it mainly as a hobby. For the first couple of years, I made zero dollars.
I also ran it with zero ads of any kind during this time, so the lack of finance was really my fault. I was against ads back in the day. The internet should be free and for the people. At least, those were my initial ideals.
After 200–300 articles and a few thousand dollars in hosting, domain, email and API costs, ads started to sound like a really good idea. So let’s start there. Because there are many ways to start to earn income with your writing online, but just how much income will vary greatly based on a myriad of factors.
Google’s ad platform, AdSense, is probably the go-to method for any beginning blogger looking to make extra change. And by change, I mean that literally.
AdSense does not offer the highest RPM (Rate Per Milli) when compared to other methods of monetization. That’s essentially the amount of money that you can make per 1000 page views. On average, the RPM for my blog on AdSense is around $1.90. That’s going to make for a long waiting time before I make it to that million dollar goal that I set for myself.
That number however isn’t the most accurate way of measuring earnings potential. When a user clicks on an ad, the CPC (Cost-per-click) is much higher by several magnitudes, depending on the ad.
And alot of that can be manipulated by you through your overall design and ad placement on your site. Having ads appear at the top of the page for example will probably result in a lower click-rate, as a user typically does not spend more than a few seconds at the top of any webpage.
I recently opted to switch over to AdSense’s latest ad placement technology, in which ads are placed automatically in various locations without me having to do any extra work. And like magic, my earnings and click-through-rate went up significantly. Though so did the number of ads being loaded onto my page.
After running these ads for a few days, I measured around 6599 page views with estimated earnings of $15.96. That’s slightly above the RPM mentioned above, though still not close to buying my classic Camaro with those earnings.
Because AdSense is essentially open to anyone though, it makes for a great starting off point with anyone looking to start to generate revenue, even with a small amount of traffic. Just don’t expect to make this your full-time income.
Affiliate marketing is probably the second most popular method of monetizing any website. And that’s because it typically has a very low barrier to entry and is very easy to integrate. Almost anyone can sign up to an affiliate network, such Amazon Associates, and start to link to products and services.
The earnings potential here will entirely depend on 3 things. The first being the traffic that you are getting on the source page, the second being the overall price of the item that you are linking to and the third is the commission rate.
If you are getting 100 views on an article written about a book that you read and the current MSRP of the book is $5, at a commission rate of 3% (let’s say) you are only looking to make $.15 per sale. Which means that if every single person that read your article bought your recommended book, you are looking at $15 in earnings.
Realistically though, you might only actually convert around 1–5% of the people, so maybe you’ll make an extra $1 or $2. The question to ask yourself is: is this is worth repeating moving forward? Would it be worth it to try to get 1000 visitors on your content in the hopes of making $10?
The answer might be yes. A $10 RPM is actually not that bad. At least for a blogger just getting started. And when compared to an ad network that only pays out $2.00 per thousand impressions, you might actually be more profitable focusing on content that actually gets sales.
You also have the flexibility of choosing higher priced items as well. I once ran an affiliate website in which I reviewed laptops at various price points. Each of the laptops had an affiliate link associated with it at the bottom of the page. Because the retail price of each laptop was so high, I did not have to turn over a large number of sales in order to make a high profit. On average I was making anywhere from $25 to $55 per each referred sale. Definitely much higher than the aforementioned $.15 mentioned above.
With affiliate marketing, your site traffic does not have to be high at all. But your content needs to be good enough to convert your readers.
Invite-only Ad Networks
So far we’ve covered ad networks with $2 RPM’s and affiliate networks with potentially up to $10 RPM’s. These are both valid methods that anybody, regardless of their traffic, can sign up for right now. And you should.
These are plug and play solutions that require less than half an hour to set up and little to no maintenance moving forward. This gives you more time to focus on your content creation strategy, while a few bucks enter into your bank account every month.
Invite-only ad networks however, are a different story. For one, as their name implies, they are invite only. Typically this means that you apply to join the network and that you must have a certain amount of site traffic monthly in order to be accepted. This number will depend on the network, though I have seen many start at around 10,000 monthly page views going all the way up to 100,000 at the higher levels of exclusivity.
The benefit of joining these networks is huge and can definitely change your entire blogging strategy moving forward. Typically, these ad networks have a much higher eCPM (effective cost per mille) over the non-exclusive competition. How much higher? Well, it’s a bit more complicated, so let’s discuss.
Because these ad networks typically work with higher authoritative websites, they can charge a higher ad rate to advertisers. This means that they can afford to pay out more to the publishers. However, because most ad networks still work on a bidding system and certain keywords come at a higher rate, your earning potential will be affected by the niche that you are blogging in.
On average, from my personal experience with these networks, the RPM can start at $30 and can go as high as $50 or even more, again, depending on the niche and keyword competition. Doing the math on that, a smaller scale blog with 10,000 monthly visitors can see potential earnings in the range of $300 to $500. Though, because these things are very dynamic, I have seen much lower, and occasionally substantially higher.
As with everything in life, it takes time to see the results that you are looking for. You can monetize your blog with as little as 100 visitors, if you have a good affiliate strategy, or you can work towards the 10,000 monthly mark and apply to a large network with guaranteed higher payout.
My advice is always to spend 80% of the time working on creating valuable content that will rank high in search engines and increase user retention. And the remaining 20% working on your monetization strategy. If the content is good enough, the revenue will inevitably take care of itself.