Back in April I put my first ad on the site. It’s over on the right, a network of revolving ads from BlogHer. Now that I’ve brought it up, you’re wondering whether I’ve made any money, and whether it was worth it.
To the first question, yes, a check finally arrived recently. But it was only enough to cover a Mexican dinner for two. I was disappointed, but I don’t hold it against BlogHer. The model for online advertising stinks compared to print.
Let me explain. In the past I was the executive editor of an international magazine. I felt proud when I realized recently that its annual readership was once the same as the number of annual unique page views on my site. To buy an ad in the magazine cost hundreds to thousands of dollars for just one issue, however. Here on my website, it costs pennies to reach the same number of eyeballs.
At the magazine, the money from advertising supported a staff of around 20 people. Here, I can get a few enchiladas.
Still, it’s been a good experiment, despite ads for Coffeemate and Crystal Light (not classified as junk food, which I banned.) My relationship with BlogHer has grown. I got paid to syndicate a post on recipe writing on the BlogHer website. Last week BlogHer’s syndication deal with She Writes duplicated my post on the site’s home page, with a photo of my new book. I got no additional pay, but seeing the cover of Will Write For Food on the home page of a social media site for women writers is terrific exposure. I’ll be speaking at the BlogHer conference in New York later this week, and spoke at BlogHer Food last year. Could all this have happened without my ad? Of course. But I like the association with the company.
During the same period I’ve made about the same money from Amazon by putting links to books in my copy. I try to be careful about which and how many, because I’m not trying to make a living here. I’ve just added an Amazon list of what I’ve been reading lately, over there on the lower right, inspired by the one on 101 Cookbooks.
Other bloggers have tried selling their own ads versus using an ad network. Jacqueline Church told me the most she made from Foodbuzz was $12, so she started her own advertising department and puts ads on her entire website, not just her blog. She has a rate card, just like magazines do. It explains what advertisers pay for which size ad at what frequency, whether 3 months, 6 months or a year. She takes ads for her newsletter and factors that into the equation. Sometimes she has used used the online ad space for a public service announcement, such as announcing a canning class.
“Ad networks don’t make any sense to me,” she said. “I tried Google Ads and Foodbuzz and made pennies. I just thought, if I take that same 100 x 200 pixel ad and find one person to buy an ad for one month, then it suits me better. My readers get a new product in my mix and the company gets exposure to my readers.
Her website is written in Joomla. She does all he posting and maintenance, but pays someone to code. She asks people for jpeg image files and creates hot links to the companies. “It’s not the path that everybody’s going to take, mostly because it does require a little more work,” Church admitted. “But I feel better about having people I support. As long as I’m being transparent and honest, I feel okay about it. I don’t want readers to be annoyed about me taking an ad for Kraft Singles when I am writing about raw milk. Everybody draws lines in different places.”
Church says she makes enough to cover her hosting service and her Constant Contact newsletter bill. Maybe I’ll get there one day. I expect my blog income will creep up slowly, along with my readership. And I’m okay with that.