Become A Better Blogger - How We Monetize Our Blog...

Published: Mon, 09/29/14

Last week, I shared how how we've adapted our business to keep up with changes in the online marketplace and changes in the social media world.

If you missed last week's edition click here to catch up.  You can also click here to read the first email of this "Become a Better Blogger" series.

At the end of last week's email, I promised to go into more detail this week about how we monetize and structure our business. These are big topics that we'll be continuing to cover over multiple emails. 

Let's get started with the three most common ways of monetizing a blog.

Display Ads

Google AdSense

The most common way to get started with monetizing a blog is putting Google AdSense in the sidebar. This is actually a great strategy that we have used at various times throughout the years.

Google AdSense is simple to set up and can sometimes have a decent return. But you need to compare what you end up earning from a Google AdSense spot against what your alternative uses for that spot are.

In recent years, we had taken down our main Google AdSense ad spot from our sidebar because it wasn't generating enough. Then a few months ago, I decided to put it back. I was shocked at what a good return it yielded. So If you look on our site, you'll see it in the top ad spot in the right sidebar at 300 x 250 in size.

Display Ads Sold Privately

Another way to make money with display ads is to sell them privately. This strategy of selling ad spots in our sidebars independently to advertisers was one of the main ways we monetized our blog in the early years.

These days, we do include 300 x 250 ad spots in some of our larger advertising campaigns. But generally we've found it much more difficult to privately sell these ad spots than it was in previous years.

Display Ads Sold Through An Ad Network

To sell display ads, it's common to sign a contract with an ad network that sells your ad space on your behalf. You insert some html code in your sidebar and whichever display ads they sell automatically show on your site.

We had a bad experience in 2006/2007 where we signed a two-year contract with an ad network. Fortunately we had only contracted out one sidebar to them and we still had the ability to sell spots on our other sidebar (in those days we had two sidebars).

Over one year with that company, we made hardly any money through their ads but we made a nice amount selling spots privately in the other sidebar.

We were frustrated and discouraged with the company because they hadn't done what they said they would. Fortunately they had repeatedly sold our ad spots below our minimum negotiated CPM rate which thus voided our contract and we requested that they let us terminate our account with them.

So since then we have turned down all ad networks that have asked to work with us because we didn't want to sign their restrictive contracts.

And until this very week, we have only sold our own ad spots. But... BIG ANNOUNCEMENT... Thanks to a suggestion by Mom It Forward, we are testing out the ad network called "The Blogger Network". 

The two reasons we decided to go with this ad network are because we trust Mom It Forward's feedback and they do not require us to sign a contract.

We will let you know in a few weeks how we like their service.

Sponsored Campaigns

Yes, we publish sponsored posts. We actually put an incredible amount of work into sponsored campaigns and they may range from one post to a series of posts or a long term ambassadorship.

A sponsored campaign may also include videos... and that's actually a trend that's really growing. You may not like being in videos, but many clients are starting to request them.

Many of our sponsored campaigns also include giveaways for which we usually require a fee. When we started running giveaways in 2007, we did them for free. That soon became impossible as it takes a lot of work to write the post and manage the giveaway. Our fee started quite small and gradually increased over the years.

Campaigns may also include Twitter Parties, Satellite Media Tours, Photo Shoots or other creative elements.

As for how much we charge... Our fees for sponsored posts, giveaways and other campaigns are similar to the fees requested by other mom blogs of our size. (In fact ours might be a bit on the low side.)

If you're a blogger wondering what fees you should charge for a giveaway or sponsored post, feel free to respond to this email and I can share our rates with you.

We will talk lots more in future emails about sponsored campaigns and our strategies regarding them.


The third main strategy for monetizing a blog is suggesting products through affiliate links. We actually haven't focused much on affiliate links at, but we do plan to implement more in the future.

So that gives you an overview of the three main strategies used by blogs to monetize. As you might imagine, the second of those is how we generate most of our income.

Next week I will share more about how we structure our business and who does which tasks. If you have any questions or topics you want me to write about, just reply to this email and let me know. 

Talk soon,

Susan (and Janice)
5 Minutes For Mom

ps. If you have any friends who might benefit from this "Become a Better Blogger" ezine, you can send them here.