It's been easy enough for independent bloggers to set up ads on their blogs (finding the sponsors is another story), but if you've been relying on the income of a few banners, sidebars, and leaderboards to bring home the bacon, prepare yourself: your gravy train may be on its way out of town.
Besides the fact that Banner Blindness is a real thing, take a look at your desktop verses mobile traffic over the last several months. What do you see? Is there an increase in the amount of mobile traffic coming to your site? If so, this is great news for engagement since it means your readers want to be connected to you wherever they go, but it also means viewing ads in a mobile experience is terrible to non-existent.
If you've got a mobile-optimized site, the display ads in your right rail are not likely to be seen, and even if you don't have a mobile-optimized site (I shudder at the thought), your readers will be zooming in to see your content and your ads won't be viewable . . . at all.
Brands and partners that pay to be seen on your site probably won't like this one little bit.
The lesson here? It's time to diversify your income streams on your blog. Here are two very powerful advertising options to help you future-proof your income:
Sponsored posts are a great revenue stream when done properly. It's very common for advertisers to offer free products in exchange for a review, but more and more brands are opening up to the idea of paying a fee for elevated content that really resonates and engages with your audience. This is thanks, in part, to the popularity of native advertising. Simplified, "native advertising" is another way to say sponsored posts, where brands pay publishers to create content that's very closely aligned with their editorial content, but includes a brands message and/or product. It's not intended to be "sneaky," but more that a brand that is paying a publisher to create editorial content on their behalf.
Native advertising has already proven to be far more successful than display ads (recent studies show that native ads are seen 53% more than banner or display ads and provide an 83% brand lift over display), so you can only expect the trickle-down effect from large publisher to blogger to happen sooner rather than later.
If you think that email subscriptions are only for those that sell things online, you couldn't be more wrong (sorry). Think about this from the brand's perspective:
Blogger A Gets around 15,000 pageviews a month, but has an email list of 5,000
Blogger B gets 50,000 pageviews a month but has no email list to speak of
Blogger A is going to be more likely to get paid more for advertising. Why? Because Blogger A can PROVE that her audience is engaged and wants to receive her content — they've raised their hands and said "Yes! I love what you're doing. Here's my email address; Send me more!". All the SEO, and guest blogging, and linkups, and Tweeting in the world can't prove that for Blogger B because even if you have 25,000 Twitter followers, allowing someone into your inbox is FAR more intimate than into your Twitter feed.
So what do you need to do? Start growing your email list. Sign up for Mailchimp (it's super easy to get started and free for up to 2,000 subscribers), plop a sign-up form into your site, and start sending weekly emails full of valuable content. Link them to your blog, link them to your podcasts and videos, link them to some awesome posts you saw from around the Internet that week. Give your readers bonus content they can't find anywhere else, and tell people to sign up on other platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Your brand partners (and wallet) will thank you later.
Ready to take your blog to the next level and make some REAL money from your hard work? Check out my FREE guide by hitting the button below.