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Finances & Money

How I Monetize My Blog

Some of you who visit my site may have noticed the new advertisements appearing above the content. I figured now is the time to talk a bit about monetizing my site. I’ll state right now that this isn’t meant to be a tutorial, so don’t get your hopes up fellow bloggers. It’s more of a disclosure.

Disclaimer: First I want to say something about the ads you see and whether I suamepport them or not. Honestly, unless I specifically write an article about the product, service or site, I can’t recommend it. I have ads in specific places (see below), and those have paid for space on my site. If you find them valuable, then let me know, and if you don’t, also let me know.

I started this site back in June 2006 with my first post “Is Running Really a Bonding Activity for Couples?“. I really had no plans for the site (and still don’t), and was just writing as a hobby. In the summer of 2007, things changed and I started to make, in my eyes, serious money from affiliate and link sales.

In December, I grossed more than my day job for that month. Granted, that counts checks cashed that month, which came from sales from two months prior and for 12-month contracts paid up-front. I don’t expect to have those months regularly. In fact, I don’t budget any income from our sites (including Building Nutrition), and anything from the sites goes into savings, investments, towards debt or is donated to charity. We aren’t buying any plasma TVs or going on long vacations with this income.

I still treat this site as a hobby rather than a business, which is probably why my writing style hasn’t changed yet. I’m not trying to optimize the site for advertisers or search engines. Instead, I’m still optimizing the site for my readers by continuing to write articles that I think interest you (which tend to be about my stupidity and lack of patience).

Site Expenses

First, let’s talk about my expenses. It’ll be a short list. Basically, the main expense for the site is a yearly fee of about $120 with Dreamhost, which I mentioned in my 50 Tips for New Bloggers article. They’ve treated me well and have loads of free, one-click installs for things like WordPress (which this site runs on), Joomla (which I’m toying with for some other sites) and even an image gallery, which I use for our personal site.

In addition to site hosting, I also pay $60 per year for a PO Box, which I just got last month. That’s so all you crazy people can mail me stuff without knowing my home address 🙂

Lastly, I have non-recurring expenses like happy hours (aka Networking) with fellow bloggers. Actually, I can’t think of anything else that I charged specifically for our sites this past year, but I’ll find that out during tax time when I look at my records. So overall, I pay $180 per year to maintain this site and have a mailing address. Oh, if you wanted to know, I do all the site code myself (it’s that easy, but time consuming sometimes).

Income Sources

I’m not going to say the specific amount I’ve earned on this site in the 18 months it’s been up, but I will put it this way: if I count the amount of time over the last year and a half that I’ve spent researching and writing articles, updating the site, working on monetization and networking, I’ve probably made a comparable $8-9 per hour wage. Granted, I didn’t make any money for the first 6 months, and that’s when I spent the most time figuring this thing out, so that skews the numbers a bit. Now, I spend about 1-2 hours per night working on the content, site design and networking.

Now, here are my income sources, in no particular order:

  1. Google Adsense – Right now, I only have a single adsense unit on the actual article pages, and only to the right of the content. I really don’t make much from this source each month (like around $50, give or take). I could just drop adsense, but it’s easy money with no maintenance.
  2. Text Ads – Text link ads are a big no-no in Google’s eyes right now, and a number of big (and little) bloggers canceled all text link contracts on their sites when Google decided to fire a warning shot about them a couple months ago. However, I still accept certain ads, and you’ll see them over in the “More Sites” sidebar item. I have 3 sources for text ads:
    1. TextLinkAds – This site has a plugin that automatically ads text ads wherever I add their code (which is in the More Sites area). I have these links only on the homepage now, and currently have 6 ads sold.
    2. Linkworth – I haven’t done much business with this site until recently. I have 3 ads in the More Sites area, and you’ll find them because they have plain text following the text link. These links are homepage only as well
    3. Direct Ad Sales – I’ve actually been inundated with requests for ad sales in the last month, and have made a few big sales that helped push my December total up. For all you advertisers who haven’t heard back from me yet, I apologize! Any text ad not of the first 2 are of this type and are also homepage only.
  3. Image Ads – This is a new thing. In December, you saw an ad for in the sidebar, and now you see an ad and a placeholder ad above the content. For the longest time, I wanted to keep the site clean, but I decided I wanted to diversify my ads more. I do have editorial choice of the images shown, and if it’s just too bad or distracting, I’ll say NO. Usually, though, the advertisers are willing to make adjustments, and I’ll even do a mockup for them if needed.
  4. Amazon Affiliate Sales – I used to have “Recommended Products” in the sidebar, but I wanted to use that space for something else. Now, you’ll only see Amazon product links within the posts when I recommend a product.
  5. Credit Card Affiliate Sales – I pondered for a couple months when I was first invited to be an affiliate, but I decided that I could recommend the cards with disclaimers and let you, the reader, decide if you’re truly ready and prepared to have that card. Last year, almost half of my earnings were from CC referrals.

Well, that’s all the ways I make money off this site. Some methods are better than others, and each have good months and bad. Like I said, it’s still a hobby for me, not a business, and I’d like to keep it that way.

I will say that the money is nice, but I still won’t let advertisers control my content. I say the ads stay on the perimeter and my personality stays in the content. Period.

About the author

Clever Dude


  • Thanks for sharing these ideas with your readers. As a fellow blogger you’ve provided some inspiration to me for perhaps making a dent in my finances via monetizing my own blog. I realize these things happen in baby steps, and I’m still in the infancy stages of hosting my own articles, rather than posting to a separate article directory (which I’ve done for over a year now).

  • Don’t know if it’s just me, but at first glance of your site with the changes, i get the impression that advertising is pushing the content to the left and out. But then I realized that your search and topic cloud moved over into a new column. If you want my two cents, I would at very least move the search and topic cloud over to the left so that the blog text is in the center.

    Don’t know what it is, but the way it appears to me right now is very unsettling.

  • I also appreciate this post. I think this is an area that a lot of new bloggers (like myself) have often wondered about. But, most people keep it pretty hush hush.

    So thank you for your honesty. I am also glad that you are keeping your content “real” and not pushing AdWords!!!

  • 20-Something: If Adwords are those in-content links automatically added like Kontera’s, then count me out. I hate sites who use Kontera. I also hate sites that use previews of the url target when you hover over the link. It gets in the way and provides no value to me.

    Actually, Kontera links seem like the author is trying to trick me into giving him clicks. I expect a link in an article to be something given by the author, not some third party. Believe me, I’ve turned down Kontera directly and will do so again and again.

  • Personally, I think you’ve sold out with a lot of your advertising.

    Someone who presents themselves as a “Clever Dude” with finances and who advertises credit cards, debt consolidation, P2P lending, HELs, etc. in my opinion should not be considered a trusted source.

  • Kevin, I’m sorry you feel that way, but I will take it as constructive criticism and keep it in mind for the next renewal periods for some ads.

    Honestly, I advertise credit cards because I myself can use them responsibly and try to enforce that elsewhere in my site.

    I only promoted P2P for one month, and don’t quite see how that is bad anyway. You have to justify your reason for getting the loan and all parties supposedly win (lenders get interest, you get a lower rate).

    And I never said I’m a “Clever Dude with finances”. I often say how stupid I am, thank you very much.

  • howdy! i’ am newbie. honestly, my reason for creating a blog site is basically to have an extra bucks..can you direct me how to monetize my blog?

  • This was a great article and I have followed a similar learning curve to you. I recently looked at my pf blog revenue streams and did a quick comparison with other bloggers. It takes about 1000 subscribers a day (average) before you can start making some decent money from a site. But it is constant work!

  • @Andy, now that I’m in my third year of the site, I’ve found the work I put into it is MUCH less than the first two. I put in maybe an hour per day total. I make as much per hour as my day job, but with a fraction of the hours (2080 vs 365).

  • Thanks for the tips cleverdude. Up date us if you find any other clever ways to monetize your site. Such as getting followed on twitter. Some how linking with facebook and other social networks.

  • To assist your efforts in affiliate marketing, I would like to suggest VigLink (, your no-work option for affiliate marketing. We automatically affiliate any text link you create in your content without changing the link.

     We manage the relationships with affiliate networks and over 7500 merchants, you get to focus on your content. We also give you great information about all of your outbound traffic.

  • Earning money has online never been this easy and transparent. You would find great tips on how to make that dream amount every month. So go ahead and click here for more details and open floodgates to your online income. All the best.

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