Hand holding out money

Show Me The Money

It's an overused phrase, I know, for those of us old enough to have watched Jerry Maguire back in the days before Tom Cruise went absolutely batshit crazy and started running around being a bugfuck lunatic everywhere.

But it's what everyone starts saying about blogging. Where does the money come from? How do you make money from a blog? I mean, some people make a living at this, right? How does this work? How do you make that happen?

Well, the fact is, there's only one way.


One of the first things you're going to have to beat into your head is that you are never going to get any money unless you ask for it, and even if you ask for it you are not going to get it unless you are delivering something in return. The cost of a thing is what you give up to get it, remember?

That works in both directions. When you sell someone a bicycle for fifty dollars, the cost of that fifty dollars is one bicycle.

Sudden clarity Clarence
Wait, what? You mean... what?

And that leads directly into the question of how trade can make everyone better off. The simple fact is, if you would rather have fifty dollars than a bicycle, you are better off selling the bicycle for fifty dollars. And if the buyer would rather have a bicycle than fifty dollars, then he is better off, too.

It's always an exchange. And if nothing else, your blog is developing an audience. In the most base and vulgar terms, you areĀ getting eyeballs. And advertisers pay for eyeballs.

If you can get people's eyeballs on the ad, an advertiser will pay you for it. This is called CPM advertising, which stands for "Cost Per Mille" where mille is Latin for "thousand" - every thousand times the ad is seen, you get paid a specific amount. Some advertisers only pay for "unique IPs," which is just a fancy way of saying they only want to pay for a thousand different people seeing the ad. One of the more popular choices on this front is ValueClick.

Adfvertisers will pay even more if people actually click on their ad. This is called CPC advertising, or "Cost Per Click" which you can probably figure out on your own. The best-known version of this is AdSense, which is run through Google and probably gives you the best all-around performance of any CPC provider. (In fact, most other CPC providers inherently assume that you have been rejected or banned by Google, and therefore are a high-risk client.)

And there's an entire class of advertising called CPA - "Cost Per Action" - where you get paid for specific outcomes. Netflix has a CPA campaign running, for example, where you get paid every time someone signs up for a free trial account. Other advertisers and marketers run CPA campaigns where you get paid when someone fills out a survey, or requests specific information. Sometimes the latter is called CPL, or "Cost Per Lead" - contact information is called a "lead" by sales professionals. MaxBounty is the CPA network I've heard the most about historically, but PeerFly is supposedly on the rise.

There is also CPS, or "Cost Per Sale," which is just plain affiliate marketing. You put up an affiliate link, and when people buy, you get a cut of the sale. I've been doing that with Amazon links in the past few posts; Amazon is the best known single clearinghouse for this, but ClickBank is another big one, and every industry has its own top performers. (In the internet marketing niche, for example, you're looking at JVZoo and Nanacast as the best-of-breed networks. Other niches and focus areas will have different ones.)

People overcomplicate advertising. You get paid to deliver something. CPM pays you to put eyeballs on the ad; CPC pays you for people clicking on it; CPA pays you for customer action at the other end; CPL pays you for the receipt of contact information; and CPS pays a commission on actual sales.

However, especially in the early stages, I recommend sticking with large networks (so you know there will be products available in whatever focus area your blog ends up with)... and I also recommend keeping to CPM and CPC providers. These kinds of networks are best able to provide advertising targeted to your site's visitors, even if the demographics of those visitors change, because they have a huge number of advertisers and a huge collection of customer data.

As you zero in on what your blog's readers want (and are trying to get into their buckets), you'll be better able to identify needs, which I'll talk about more tomorrow.