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Are you looking for ways to make money with your professional blog?

Do you want to know how to leverage your content to monetize your site?

To learn how to make more money with your blog, I interview Leslie Samuel.

More About This Show

The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

Listen to Leslie Samuel explain how you can make more money with your blog.

In this episode I interview Leslie Samuel, whose Interactive Biology blog makes biology fun for students and teachers. He’s also the man behind Become A Blogger, a large site dedicated to the craft of professional blogging.

leslie samuel podcast

Listen to Mike talk with Leslie Samuel to find out how to monetize your blog.

Leslie shares how to make more money with your blog.

You’ll discover the many ways you can leverage content on your blog to make money, the benefits and pitfalls of display ads and affiliate marketing and the strategy behind selling your own products and services through your site.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below!

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You can also subscribe via iTunes, RSS, Stitcher, SoundCloud or Blackberry.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Blog Monetization

How blogging has changed Leslie’s life

To say that blogging has changed Leslie’s life is an understatement. It has done so much and opened so many doors for him, which is why he is so passionate about it.

Blogging changed the way Leslie attracted customers to his business. In the past, he had to consciously, constantly and actively find customers.

With blogging you can build a platform and if you do it right, people will actually find you. Leslie says this was a game-changer for him. The other big way blogging changed Leslie’s life is that it allowed him to start making money online exclusively.

Leslie's first blog, Interactive Biology, presented individual biology concepts in short videos.

Leslie’s first blog, Interactive Biology, presented individual biology concepts in short videos.

Leslie started blogging 6 years ago while teaching at a Christian boarding academy. He launched the site, Interactive Biology, which explains biology concepts, one at a time, with short 3- to 5-minute videos.

Leslie has since left teaching and now focuses entirely on his blogging business.

Listen to the show to find out how Leslie first discovered blogging and came up with a completely unique approach to it. 

The right point to begin a monetization strategy for your blog

Leslie’s philosophy on blog monetization has evolved over time. Where he once advised people to just start a blog and worry about making money later, he now insists that you must start to think about the monetization before you even build your blog.

better blogging guides.

Promote things your audience will find valuable. Be the expert.

If you are looking to launch a professional blog, start putting things into place from the very beginning. People think of selling as a bad thing, but it’s actually a way to provide more value to your audience. There’s no reason to hold back from the very beginning.

Listen to the show to hear how selling on your blog can be a way to provide more value to your customers and readers.

Some of the most common ways bloggers make money from their sites 

When it comes to making money with your blog, there’s a bunch of options. The top four blog monetization strategies that you’ll hear about in the show are display ads, affiliate marketing, selling your own products and providing a service.

succesful blog abstract with flowchart of a blog

When it comes to making money with your blog, there’s a bunch of options. Image source: Shutterstock

Of these monetization options, Leslie considers display ads from networks such as Google AdSense to be the simplest way to make money on your site. It requires very little work on your part, but you have to make sure you have a decent amount of traffic for this monetization strategy.

Listen to the show to discover the pros and cons of display ads, as well as affiliate marketing and selling your own product or service as methods to generate more money from your blog.

Best practices for display ads

Relevance is the key to making money through display ads on your site. According to Leslie, there are people making as much as $10,000 or more per month with Google AdSense, but it all depends on your site traffic and the topic of your blog.

Relevancy is the key to success with display ads.

Relevance to your blog audience is the key to success with display ads.

If you have a smaller site and aren’t getting good traffic, which Leslie cites as a minimum of 10,000 unique visitors per month, then there isn’t a lot of money to be made through display ads.

You’ll hear Leslie break down the differences between ad networks versus selling your own ads, and the benefit of certain ad placements.

Listen to the show to find out how much Social Media Examiner makes through display advertising in comparison to the smaller niche sites like Interactive Biology and the reason why.

Determine ad pricing for your site

There are two ways you can approach display advertising on your blog. These are ad networks and directly selling your own ads.

Ad networks offer a preset rate per click or impression. If you’re lucky, you might get $1 per click, but typically you only get 3 to 5 cents per click. So you won’t make a whole lot of money unless you have enough traffic coming to your site.

Google AdSense can give you an idea of what each placement on your site might be worth.

Google AdSense can give you an idea of what each placement on your site is worth.

If you cater to a very unique niche and would like to try to directly sell advertising on your blog, you might be able to earn more ad revenue.

While approaching companies and directly selling ads on your site takes more time than simply slapping a code on your site, Leslie provides an overview of this process in the show.

Listen to the show to find out the best resources to use to determine the right ad pricing for your site.

Best practices for affiliate marketing

Regardless of what you’re selling, you have to start with an understanding of what your audience wants to accomplish. What are their goals? What tools do they need? How can you help them reach their goals?

When you start from this perspective, you can go on to write content and promote the right products on your blog to help your audience. Instead of asking yourself, “What can I sell on my blog?”, you have to approach affiliate marketing with, “What does my audience want or need?”

Leslie provides unique examples from each of his blogs, Interactive Biology and Become A Blogger, to illustrate this shift in mindset.

lesliesamuel blogmonetization1

Provide value to your audience.

Another best practice for affiliate marketing is to be open and honest. Let your readers know that you have affiliate links on your site. This fulfills the FTC disclosure guidelines for marketers. It also lets people know that you have a relationship with affiliates and get a commission from the products or services you promote.

If you provide value, they will be more than happy to use your affiliate link. In many cases, people ask Leslie for his affiliate link before they make their purchases, simply because they have found so much value in the content he creates. Your audience will want to support you too if you truly help them.

Listen to the show to learn about the pitfalls and downsides to affiliate marketing.

Creative ways to approach affiliate marketing

Leslie took his affiliate marketing to the next level when he adapted his approach to provide the most value to his audience.

Rather than just having a review article with a product link or a resource page, he went above and beyond and created an entire resource center around a service he promotes called GetResponse.

The GetResponse Resources Center is an example of providing even more value to your audience.

The GetResponse Resource Center is an example of using affiliate links to provide more value to your audience.

The Resource Center has videos, training and tutorials to show you everything you need to do within the GetResponse system.

You have to make sure that you encourage your audience to fully understand the purchase they are about to make, which will make them more willing to support the product you’re promoting. Leslie’s advice is to look around and do anything you can to stand out from what everyone else is doing.

Listen to the show to hear what kind of results Leslie received from the GetResponse Resource Center.

Other ways to make money from your blog

You can build a membership site, write an eBook or even create advanced courses. These are just a few of the many ways you can make money from your blog.

There’s a lot that you can explore and do, and it all depends on your niche and the resources you can create from it.

The lower-level stuff like display ads and affiliate marketing are a great way to get started with blog monetization, but if you really want to do something significant, build your own stuff. There’s so much more you can do with it when it’s your own—tracking, optimization and control from beginning to end.

Listen to the show to discover why you should invest in creating something that adds more value to your audience, rather than selling other people’s products through your site. 

Discovery of the Week

Do you use Twitter in your marketing? Do you sometimes have trouble finding the right hashtag to promote your events or content? I recently found a new tool called RiteTag that finds better hashtags to get your tweets found and shared.

RiteTag finds better hashtags to get your tweets found and shared.

RiteTag finds better hashtags to get your tweets found and shared.

As you craft your tweets, RiteTag uses a color-coding system to indicate how effective your hashtags will be on Twitter. Green is great, blue is good and red is overused or too generic. It will also show your tweet’s “chance of discovery” based on your hashtags, so you can tweak them accordingly.

RiteTag integrates with Twitter, Hootsuite, SocialOomph and a number of other available social media scheduling apps. It is offered as a free 30-day trial or as a paid app at various levels starting at $10 per month.

Listen to the show to learn more and let us know how it works for you.

Other Show Mentions

Today’s show is sponsored by Social Media Marketing World 2015.

We are super-excited about Social Media Marketing World 2015. It’s the world’s largest social media marketing conference. Not only do we have amazing presenters, I want to give you four reasons why right now you should consider attending this conference:

  1. If you need to discover new ways and better tactics to improve your marketing, we have more than 100 practical, action-oriented sessions taught by the world’s leading experts.
  2. If you’re getting into a new network, why experiment when you can radically reduce your trial and error time by being in front of these experts and getting up to speed very quickly?
  3. Networking. This is going to be unlike anything you’ve experienced so far in your life. Share stories with fellow social media marketers, share ideas and build relationships that last for years. Networking is built into everything at the conference.
  4. Have the incredible opportunity to meet in person the social pros that you look up to.
See what attendees experienced at our 2014 conference.

The event takes place in San Diego, California on March 25, 26 and 27, 2015.

We have the best sale going on right now. Click here to check out the speakers, the agenda and to grab your early bird discount.

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

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What do you think? Have you thought about monetizing your professional blog? Please leave your comments below.

Successful blog abstract from Shutterstock.
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  • Many thanks for “discovering” us this week, Leslie and Michael! Frankly, I’m pretty sure I discover more from the two of you, particularly on blog tools and social media strategy in general.
    If you’d ever like to do a workshop podcast on social media optimization, I have ideas on this and that, and of course, how to spend less time getting the most out of RiteTag and our integrations. Bonus: what’s coming before the end of 2014 and further out as well. osakasaul@ in gmail to set that up.

  • Cheval John

    Thank you, Mr. Stelzner for this great interview with Mr. Samuel. I can honestly say I went wrong when I put an affiliate site on my blog without much traffic growth. It is a shift in mindset when a person focus on providing value for the readers that can lead to an affiliate sale from a blog.

  • Thanks Saul 🙂

  • For sure Cheval I agree with your shift in mindset idea

  • Shubho Biswas

    Thanks Mike, for your tireless efforts to enrich us….

  • My pleasure Shubho

  • Thanks this is a great post Michael, and it will surely help me to monetize my blog better (I hope)! 🙂

  • Mark P.

    Michael,
    I just signed up on this sight. Excellent source of information!
    Great interview and insight regarding blogging. I’m an MBA student working on a project to help build up a local small business. The business owner isn’t very tech savvy but is interested in embracing social media. I feel that starting a blog is the best place to start. What advice do you have for me to help coach her along and get started ? Any insight would be great!

    Thank you
    Mark P.

  • So good! I am even more of a fan of Leslie after this interview. Big take away for me is the resource centre Leslie built for Getresponse – smart!

  • You have some of the best ‘show notes’ of any podcast I’ve seen. Thank you for over-delivering. And thank you for sharing RiteTag – – think I’m going to give that a go : )

  • Glad you found them useful Steve!

  • Thanks Hugh!

  • Nazmul Hussain

    That`s great post

  • Thanks for these great tips!