Stop Playing Follow The Leader

written by BlogEx on March 29, 2008 in Blog Monetization and Blog Optimization and Blogging and Make Money Online with 27 comments

This is just the second post I’ve made since taking over BloggingExperiment.com, and apparently I’ve already started confusing people with my first post. How’s that for a first impression?

When I stated in yesterday’s post that I was going to change a few of the “copied techniques”on this site, this is what I meant…

For some reason, people think if they see something on a popular blog, then it’s automatically a good idea. While I do think it’s a good strategy to “model” your website after proven, successful websites, you do need to use some common sense and test different ideas.

I like to use what I call “common sense marketing” on my websites. I think people just don’t use common sense when they try to make money online.

Let me give you a great example…

I read a post on another blog a few minutes ago. This person broke down their income for the last month. It looked something like this:

- Affiliate program commission – $2500
- Private ad sales – $175
- Adsense income – $155
- Sponsored posts – $100
- Kontera income – $22

Ok, that’s great. He is making about $3,000 per month from his blog, not bad.

But, when I review his website, there is a huge problem (maybe you are doing this too).
I don’t want to call him out on it publicly because his actual site isn’t what’s important, it’s what he is doing wrong that matters.

Blog Screenshot

(If your website looks like the one above, I don’t mean to offend you. If it’s working for you, great. If you aren’t making as much money as you want, then keep reading)

The blogger from my example above is not using common sense and focusing on what’s making him the most money. Instead, he spends most of his time and his “premium real estate” (ie – above the fold) on the things that make him the least amount of money.

On his blog homepage, he has an obvious paid review, which he openly states on his website are $20 each. The blog post below this one is loaded with Kontera ads, which drive me crazy. To the right of his post is a column with an adsense block and to the right of that are the 125 x 125 ads.

After reading his blog a bit more, I found that many of his posts are discussing advertising opportunities on his blog. Are you crazy?

About 85% of his monthly income is from affiliate programs he promotes. (I had a hard time finding these promotions because they were so buried on the site) The majority of his time and screen real estate was on promoting advertising opportunities on his blog, the thing that makes him the least amount of money.

A better solution for this guy would be to completely eliminate all the distracting, relatively low paying advertising on his site. By doing this, it would make his user experience much better for his visitors. Happy visitors means more links, more referrals, a better following and would help build a better relationship with his readers. The result would be an increase in his affiliate commissions 3-4 times more than his current figures.

I know it’s a difficult decision to remove any money making pieces of your site. But you need to realize if you remove the distracting things on your site, the other sources of income will skyrocket. Don’t take my word for it. Try it for a couple weeks and see what happens.

Increasing your website’s revenue is not rocket science. Just because you see someone like “John Chow” doing something, it doesn’t mean it’s always right for every business. Use some common sense.

The way to run a profitable website, blog, or any business is to look at the cold hard facts and make decisions based on those facts and those facts alone.

If you are making 85% of your money from affiliate programs, you need to FOCUS on affiliate programs.

Utilize your best website real estate for the things that are making you the most money. Rather than putting 125 boxes on your site, try putting a “Top 5 Must-Have Resources” box in it’s place, and have your best paying affiliate programs listed there.

The benefit to doing something like this instead of the 125 boxes is because of the possibility of additional sales. With advertising, your income has a ceiling. If you charge $40/month and have eight 125×125 boxes, the most you can earn from that section is $320/month.

With affiliate program links (or whatever else is making you the most money) in it’s place, you have the potential of making much more. Personally, I don’t have a huge problem with 125×125 ads themselves. I just think there are better uses of the space. When was the last time you clicked one of those ad blocks? I’m guessing it’s been a while.

When they first came out, they were pretty cool, but just like anything online (ie – banner ads), they quickly get overlooked. When these blocks get ignored, they stop being profitable for the advertisers, which means it’s harder to sell them on your site.

Just something to keep in mind while thinking about the monetization plan for your site. Rather than spending all your time trying to sell advertising, why not take a different approach? The way I look at it, there are two things you should focus on when you are running a website…

1) How much value can I provide my visitors.

And

2) What’s the best way to monetize these visitors after giving them value.

Today’s lesson, stop annoying your readers and stop playing follow the leader!

Ok, rant is over…

Now go make some money :-)