As part of the “Monetizing Your Blog Through Sponsorships and Advertising” panel at BlogPaws 2010, I gave a presentation about our experiences at DogTipper as a member of the DogTime Media’s blog network. Nicole at DogTime made a super Powerpoint presentation that she and Christina, our ad representative, used for their part of the presentation, and it continued on for my portion of the panel.
I told about how we launched DogTipper in August 2008 and joined up with DogTime Media in December 2008. Although the site was new, we weren’t new to internet publishing (we’ve been running websites since 2000…a long time in internet–or dog–years! Our biggest site is a travel site named Lovetripper.com about romantic travel and destination weddings.)
As part of the Dogtime Blog Network, we provide our RSS feeds to DogTime (we have full feeds, not summary feeds) and they republish our content on their blog network. DogTime also serves our display advertising, one of the ways we monetize DogTipper, along with Google AdSense and affiliate programs such as Amazon. (For more about the ways we monetize our various sites, see our ebook “Making Money with Your Travel Website” over on our parisandjohn.com site.)
I talked about the benefits we’ve seen since we joined the network. Our traffic has increased at a rate faster than that we’ve seen on any of our previous sites and one of the reasons, we believe, is the increased exposure we receive from the blog network. We’ve also seen the site receive a Google PageRank 4 within just a year of launch (for our previous travel sites with the same publicity efforts and backlink building, we’ve seen a PR3 for most within a year of launch).
Another benefit we’ve seen is an increased interaction with the pet community, especially public relations representatives for major pet brands. Although we have many PR connections from our years writing about travel, we didn’t have contacts in the pet industry, and we’d attribute much of that to the exposure we’ve received in the network.
Another benefit I discussed is that DogTime provides highly relevant ads to our site. Top pet industry advertisers are featured so the ads contribute to, rather than detract from, the visitor experience. The ads are well-designed as well so they also add to the overall look of the site rather than detracting from it.
Also, I talked about how we’ve worked with DogTime’s Blog Champion program that occasionally provides select products for bloggers to review. One of the products we’ve received through the program was the Santa Buddies movie; I talked about how we were free to write about the movie as we saw fit (and our review had some criticism of the negative way shelters were portrayed which was no problem at all…we wrote our own opinion and posted it.)
One of the biggest advantages to the network for us is that it allows us to monetize our blog through advertising but then turn our attention on the things we do best: building the site and promoting the site!
After the presentations were done, we had a Q&A session. One person asked at what point could a site expect to make money. I answered that we wouldn’t expect to start to make money on a site until it received about 500 unique visitors per day on average. (Of course, I later thought of other things I wish I’d added…why do you always think of the best answers later?…and wish I’d said that it also depends on your audience. If you have a group of very dedicated readers, you could monetize the site even with that lower traffic; you could have more traffic than that but still struggle to monetize a site if the readers were coming and going very quickly.)
And, most importantly, I’d say the two most important things to remember when monetizing your site are:
- Don’t be afraid to try different things. Through the years, we’ve tried many different efforts; some we’ve kept and some we’ve dropped. When you try a new monetization method, give it a fair test, though; it might work better if used in a different part of your site, a different part of your template, etc.
- Don’t get discouraged! Many blogs start their monetization efforts then get discouraged if they don’t see good results in a short period. Work on growing your traffic and continue to add content to your blog on a regular basis…you’ll see the results!