This is a simple post to write. Mainly because there isn't a lot to it. This is simply how I increased revenue on this blog 10 fold with the latest design change.
This blog doesn't exactly look like it makes a great deal of money. But, hidden away throughout the site, are numerous income streams that subsidize my unhealthy addiction to building useless web apps and buying overpriced Apple products. And it does this, with just around 200 unique visitors per day and some highly optimized sales techniques.
Let me explain.
On this site, revenue is generated through Affiliate income and Ad Sales (I'm not counting the thousands of people I've also referred to my web apps in this post, but that is also an important role for this site). Now most people, when integrating affiliate marketing into a web site like this one, go about it in the wrong way. They stick up flashy banner ads, promote every product under the sun, and furthermore, feel the need to go overboard with disclosures.
Firstly, banner ads for affiliate marketing don't work - your readers ignore them (I'll explain about the banner ad I have further on). Promoting every known product under the sun, also doesn't work. I'm very selective on which products I promote. Every product I promote through affiliate marketing, is a product that I have used - the best selling product on this blog is one that I have given examples of where it has been used. If I don't enjoy a product, such as some of the books I read, I won't hesitate in giving it a bad review. And finally, there is no need for excessive disclosures. My readers aren't idiots. They know I make commissions on products and continuously putting in a disclosure would only make me seem like a dodgy pharmaceuticals corporation.
The trick with Affiliate marketing is to be honest.
It also helps, that I put each product on its own page, give it a quick review to go along with it (google likes content), and make buying the product easy. I use no SEO magic. I don't use any clumsy SEO plugins. Every day I see searches coming to this site looking for reviews and more information. Worpdress does a good job of SEO for me.
The Banner Ad
I've been part of the Influads Ad network for a few months now. Each month I get a handy payment which is more than I would make if I sold the ads myself (i still have some leftover ads from past ad sales I sold myself that I will eventually phase out). Although Influads isn't a PPC network, I like the fact, that through careful placement, I managed to achieve a CTR that was 200% better than the average CTR of other sites on Influads. This means, I felt like I was giving good value to the advertisers. The important point here is - one well placed ad, is much better than a block of 6 crappy ads chucked anywhere on the page.
A Call to be Different
This blog, which doesn't really fit the "blog" template anymore, delivers a much better return than my previous design. My previous design looked like a blog and also had the same layout as the majority - content on the left and ads down the right. I'm surprised there hasn't been more experimentation with layout. Good UI doesn't mean necessarily mean copying everyone else. A good UI can also be unique and different to the norm.
If there is one thing I've learnt through building numerous apps - its pays to be different. So the next time you're planning on doing a blog redesign, don't just follow like a blind sheep. Take the time to try and create something thats usuable. Doing so has the follow on effect of increasing revenue.
- 80/20 Rule - Eerily, on this blog 20% of the products account for 80% of the revenue. Just focus on one or two products
- KISS - Simple works here. Have a look at one of my book reviews. There aren't many items on the page to get distracted by.
- You Don't Need Tons of Traffic - A little goes a long way. If your traffic comes from Guest posts on other blogs, blog comments and forum spam - it's useless. Search Traffic is what you need, and yes, its the type of traffic that takes time - so no shortcuts. RSS subscriber counts also mean nothing.
- Your Don't Need to Hard Sell - If you're product is decent you don't need one of those crappy "sales letters". Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn't mean its right. There are far more effective, and less spammy ways to sell.
- Ignore Me - I increased my revenue on this blog by ignoring most common practices. So your best bet is probably to do the same and follow your own path.
- It Doesn't Need to be about Revenue - 90% of the amazing blogs I discover on Hacker News and Twitter don't make a cent. I monetize this blog because this is part of my income.