making money with your blog

I had a former client ask me this question today:

from what you’ve seen in traffic [on his site] what kind of revenue stream do you think is likely with the traffic here?

My reply:

Frankly, I have no idea how blogs make any money. I’ve had modest success with and Google’s But on blogs getting hundreds of hits per day, those still only draw about $5 a month, if successful. I think one method blogs have had success with is putting ads in their RSS feeds to serve those users who read blogs in an aggregator like Google Reader. As a user though, I don’t like that experience. seems to do very well for certain niche blogs. I know it’s used to great effect by the top gossip blogs. I had some luck with it but to get any advertisers at all, I set my prices as low as the service allowed.

I think an effective strategy is a combination of many efforts. BlogAds, AdSense, Amazon Affiliates. If one jumps out as a money maker, drop the others and hone that one.

It’s a difficult proposition to make money on a blog based solely on traffic. At a BlogCon a few years ago, I sat in a panel with Henry from BlogAds and he was peppered with questions from bloggers wanting to know how to get Levis and Coca Cola to advertise on their blogs. I thought this was the wrong strategy. I just wanted the bar down the street to buy a $10 ad on my music blog. I still
think that sort of local niche could work well for the blog and advertiser. But it’s a lot of leg work for a little money.

I know that’s not a really satisfactory answer. Take my remarks with a grain of salt because I’ve thrown in the towel as far as making money on blogs. To wit, in two and a half years, I’ve never received a payment from Google AdSense because I’ve still not reached their minimum payout.

That said, one place to start would be here: There is a lot of great information about improving your blog’s search engine results. With popularity, there is probably money.

Those remarks are actually tempered. It’s not just that I think it’s hard to make money blogging, I don’t think you should even try. Especially not on a personal blog. But even on single-author blogs that cover a certain “beat” (political blogs, for example), I doubt the efficacy of advertising efforts. Even if they bring in your server costs each month, they’re generally a lousy user experience.

I still use them on sites I create but I usually pick one ad solution and stick to it rather than plaster all sorts of ads on a site. But in those instances, I still don’t like them and wish for a better solution.