Even as early as 2008, Paul Krugman was wondering if authors would soon find that the ancillary market is the market. With the advent of the Kindle he saw low prices coming, and with low prices comes pressure to find new ways of making money, much as musicians turned increasingly to live venues to make up for plummeting music sales.
But non-celeb authors aren't exactly selling out nightclubs. So how about making a penny or two from ye olde blog?
Here are some ideas. Note that I am not currently monetizing my blog at all, unless you count my books (which we don't). But the gears, they are turning IN MY HEAD.
The most obvious way to make some dinero from your web presence is through advertising. Now, there are lots and lots of ways of going about this. Some blog platforms, such as Blogger, offer integration with advertisers like Google's Ad Sense. It's pretty easy to set up by adding Ad Sense widgets/banners to your site, and the amount you earn will vary depending on your traffic and the number of people who click on your ads.
If you have very consistent traffic and/or a specific focus for your blog, you can also apply to join an ad network like BlogHer or Federated Media, which offer higher returns, sometimes as high or higher than $10 per thousand page views.
And if you get really huge and you're extremely in-the-know, you can sell those ads yourself.
Also, advertising doesn't stop with the blog! You can work through RSS feeders like Feedburner to add ads to your RSS feed and you can advertise in a newsletters as well. And don't forget about photos and slideshows, which can significantly increase your number of clicks.
Another way to make money from a web presence is with Affiliate Marketing.
What is affiliate marketing? Well, basically whenever your recommend a product (or book or movie or lawnmower), you can link to a vendor like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell's, or WalMart. Whenever someone clicks through that link and buys something (and often even when they buy more than the thing you linked to), you get a commission.
Before you go slapping links everywhere and Tweeting how much you love Three Wolf Moon T-shirts, remember that the FTC says you need to disclose your participation in the programs when recommending stuff, even via Twitter. (Disclosure: I don't participate in an affiliate program and find Three Wolf Moon T-shirts awesome)
How much can you make? As always, it depends on how much you sell, but some programs offer upwards of 6% or more on sales.
And, of course, you can sell stuff.
It's extremely easy to get set up in CafePress and design and start selling t-shirts, mugs, and more, especially if you are artistic. On every sale you get a 10% commission. You know you want a T-shirt that says "What do you have against rhetorical questions?"
With Merch, the sky is seriously the limit. You can use your presence to sell goods through Etsy or work with a store platform like Open Sky to create your own merchandising outlet.
We're all good hearty Ron Swanson-style capitalists, right? Welllll... not so fast.
Author website monetization is not without its discontents, and there have been articles decrying the practice of book bloggers receiving money for the books they're reviewing. And some people feel there's a certain unseemliness to authors milking their web presence for all it's worth.
Doesn't it affect their impartiality? Shouldn't it be all about the readers?
I have lots of questions:
- Do you think authors should open up the money-making spigot or does it corrupt the experience for readers?
- Do you find blog ads obtrusive? How much is too much?
- Do you think certain affiliate programs are better than others?
- Do you still trust a reviewer when you know they're participating in an affiliate program?
- What are some other ways authors can monetize their web presence?
- Do you want the rhetorical question t-shirt so badly you may die of want or just really really REALLY badly? No? What about a mug?