You’ve done it, you recently started to blog, sharing your passion with the world but what’s next?
How do you turn this hobby into something that can bring money, something that can help you lead the life you want to live?
There are 5 main ways of monetizing a blog, we’ll cover the first in this article.
- Display Advertising
- Affiliate Marketing
- Sponsored Posts (and partnerships)
- Product Sale (ebooks, products, merch, etc.)
- Online Courses
The strategy that you follow to monetize depends on several factors. Each of these five options has pros and cons and works best in specific situations.
While you might be using a single monetization strategy initially, you might find yourself adding more and more alternative sources of revenue as you grow.
What Is Display Advertising?
Display advertising consists in running ads on a website. Ads are viewed by visitors who occasionally click on them.
Each view or click brings a very little amount of money, but if your traffic is large enough, this can amount to a very large sum.
Choosing An Advertising Partner
Ad Management companies range from the very basic, automated partner that has low earnings but few barriers to entry to premium offerings with much higher revenue but are more difficult to join.
As a result, the question is often not so much which advertising management company you want but which one will accept your site.
|Core Web Vital Impact
|Per Click (CPC)
|Per View (CPM)
|Per View (CPM)
|10,000 page views
|Per View (CPM)
|20,000 page views
|Per View (CPM)
|Raptive (formerly AdThrive)
|Per View (CPM)
|100,000 page views
Google AdSense is the most widely used and simplest ad network to get into.
Compared to more premium offerings, AdSense requires more manual work, such as using a plugin to insert the ads and configure where and how they show.
AdSense typically brings much lower RPMs (revenue per mile) than other ad networks, in particular for blogs.
Some websites manage to optimize AdSense to generate higher earnings, but they are the exception, not the norm.
Interestingly, most high-end ad companies do use AdSense to backfill their ad slots, so you keep earning even if no advertiser bids for a specific ad space.
If your blog is just starting, don’t bother with AdSense. Focus on growing your traffic to reach better ad networks.
Ezoic is a simple and convenient way of monetizing.
Like Cloudflare, Ezoic includes some optimization to (theoretically) speed up the site.
However, they don’t have a great reputation among bloggers for their site speed and failing Core Web Vitals and slowing down the site heavily.
So it’s a valid option if your site is under the threshold for better ad networks but keep in mind that if your traffic is under 20,000 pages per month, you can only hope to earn $300 a month from Ezoic.
Choosing Ezoic can therefore slow you down before you reach your goal of hitting the 50,000 or 100,000 thresholds for Mediavine or Raptive.
Ezoic is an easy-to-setup, simple solution to monetize a blog but can come at a cost. Only use this for sites that don’t progress much and have little hope of reaching better networks.
Monumetrics is a less-used ad network that delivers decent earnings simply.
The typical RPM you can reach with the ad network ranges from $10 to $25. Some sites might get more, but the majority would be in the middle of the bracket.
While Monumetrics is not a common network in the blogging community, it is a strong contender and delivers good results for high-traffic sites.
SHE Media is a middle-of-the-road Ad Company that specializes in blogs and small publishers.
It delivers good results and is easier to access than the premium advertisers that are Raptiveand Mediavine.
SHE Media is our preferred option for blogs that are growing. You might only use it for the 6 to 12 months it takes you to jump from 20,000 to 50,000 page views per month, but it will deliver.
Mediavine is a premium Ad Network. It has an excellent reputation among bloggers and shares the top spot with Raptive on all polls.
Mediavine has an interesting strategy where they focus on delivering tools to their publishers such as Trellis (a WordPress framework similar to Genesis), Grow (a plugin for Social, Saving Pages, and Popups), or Create (a Content and Structured Data plugin to insert recipe cards into posts)
Mediavine is an impressive ad network with a forward-thinking strategy. They care about their publishers and give them all the tools to succeed.
Raptive (formerly AdThrive)
Disclosure: all our sites are with Raptive.
Raptive is the other premium ad network. They have a slightly different approach to Mediavine as they tend to assist with content creation more than with display, but they’ve been expending on both fronts.
Raptive owns Topic and it’s embedded on their publisher console to assist with content writing. Topic is an AI-powered writing assistant that allows comparing the content you are writing to top-performing pages for the keywords you are targeting.
The company also recently acquired SlickStream, a plugin that significantly improves on WordPress search engine, provides inline content recommendation relevant to the page visited, and they are the ones who created the filmstrip ticker you see on so many recipe website.
SlickStream also allows brings a basic membership function with Favorite savings (and it integrates with WP Recipe Maker, our favorite recipe plugin). This feature is likely the reason why Raptive purchased Slickstream as it allows tracking users without third-party cookies across all their publishers that are using this feature.
They also offer many premium training and webinars.
This ad network is also extremely influential in many cross-industry organizations and lobbying groups.
Raptive is a great ad network that has a quality-focused approach. They handpick publishers and help them deliver the best possible content to their own visitors leading to high RPMs.
Our Prefered Network
On our websites, we’ve started with AdSense, then moved to SheMedia, Mediavine, and we’ve been with Raptive since 2016.
Raptive is the one that delivers the best results for our sites, with great technical support, great processes.
Optimizing Ad Revenue
Ad Revenue is not just a number. It’s the result of your hard work.
There are many ways to optimize your ad revenue, some are simple, some require a lot more work.
Here are the main ones we regularly use
- More Articles
- Longer Articles
- Better Linking
- More Ads (or sometimes Fewer Ads)
- Better Ads
- More Traffic
- Better Traffic
Before I dive into how to optimize for ads, it’s essential to understand what affects revenue.
When a page is displayed, advertisers (brands) bid for each spot on the page. The highest bidder takes the spot for a few seconds before another bid happens and the ad is replaced with a new one.
Every single ad slot on the page sees the same process happen. The bids are fully automated.
A brand selling coffee makers for example would define their limit (say up to $0.50 per click or up to $5 per thousand impressions of a specific image, when it’s on a related site, at the right time of day, for a visitor from the right country, etc.).
If no one bids for an ad slot, the slot is typically backfilled with AdSense.
The total revenue for a page defines the average RPM:
RPM = (Total Revenue / Total Pageviews) × 1,000
What Affects RPMs And How To Optimize
RPM or Revenue Per Mille gives you the average revenue for a particular page per 1,000 pageviews.
This value is the result of a calculation, but there are a number of factors that empirically make it go up or down.
To read in more details, head to my deep dive on RPM.
|What Can You Do?
|Day of the Week
|Higher during the weekend
Lower during the week
|Publish posts most likely to drive traffic at the end of the week for Discover.
Share popular posts (Social, Email) at the end of the week.
|Day of the Month
|Higher at the end of the month
Lower at the beginning
|Publish better posts at the end of the month (for Discover, Social, and Emails)
|Day of the Quarter
|Higher at the end of a quarter
Lower at the beginning
|Publish better posts at the end of the quarter (for Discover, Social, and Emails)
|Day of the Year
|Higher at the end of the year
Lower at the beginning
|Publish better posts at the end of the year (for Discover, Social, and Emails)
|Events (Thanksgiving, Elections, Black Friday, etc.)
|Higher in the weeks before
|Plan content publishing and sharing accordingly
|Instagram and Tiktok bring very RPMs
Facebook, Organic, Pinterest bring average RPMs
Discover and Email tend to bring the best RPMs
|Encourage Instagram users to Google your posts instead of click on the link in Bio.
Optimize your SEO.
Grow your email list.
|Mobile devices typically bring an RPM 70-80% lower than Desktop devices.
|Motivate your visitors to use your desktop version.
Have a fast desktop site.
|Chrome brings 4-5x better RPMs than Safari because the latter removed third-party cookies
|Find out what Chrome users like more and create more content for them.
|Most advertising money is coming from the US to target US viewers. As a result, RPMs on visits from the US (or Canada) have 2-5x better RPMs than other countries.
|Optimize content for North America.
|Younger viewers tend to spend less time on a page resulting in fewer impressions.
Older users also have higher purchasing power, leading brands to compete for ads more.
|Optimize content for richer audiences.
|Type of Ads
|Some specific ad types bring higher RPMs, such as video ads or political ads.
|Open the type of ads to higher earning ones
|Number of Ads
|The more ads, the more revenue per pageview. However, too many ads and the number of page views will drop resulting in very high RPM but lower overall revenue.
|The industry-accepted optimal ad ratio is 20-28% of content being ads.
It delivers enough revenue without deterring users.
|The more an ad is visible, the more revenue it will generate.
|Use high-revenue ad placements like sticky header, sticky footer ads, scrolling content ads, etc.
|Time On Page
|When visitors spend more time on a particular page, they are shown many more ads, increasing RPMs.
A page with double the Time On Page would typically have RPMs twice as high.
|Increase the length of your content while providing more value for the visitor.
Keep them engaged with videos and photos.
|Flagged Content will have lower RPM (Alcohol, violence, drugs, illegal activities, etc.)
|Remove ambiguity by rephrasing sentences that might have been flagged.
Create brand-safety-friendly content.
|Even if you’ve optimized everything else, the niche your site is into will have a huge impact on RPM.
Advertisers are more likely to bid on sites that their customers might use.
|There’s not much you can do about that! Your niche is not something you should compromise on.
Note that none of these factors are truly independent of each other. Countries have their preferences for a particular device, for example. Your niche will dictate what demographics are coming to a certain extent.
If you manage to optimize most of these, your RPMs will be as good as they can!
Display Advertising is a simple and easy way of monetizing a blog that you can start using immediately and can be optimized for higher earnings.