Several people have asked me recently how much money I make on my blog. I can answer that extremely quick: In terms of pay per hour, it’s close to minimum wage (and in Norway, we don’t have one). SharePoint blogs is no way to luxury living.
I don’t blog for money, I blog to learn and to share what I learn, and sometimes to piss people off enough that they take a stand on important issues (even if they just flame me back).
Oh, and I also live in Norway. We pay $10-15 for a beer. What will yield maybe a dozen roses for my wife may pay the rent for someone elsewhere in the world.
That said, I’m happy to disclose the inner workings of my blogging empire and teach you a bit about what it takes to run a blog like mine.
My main direct source of revenue from the blog is SharePoint Ads. Inna Gordin has done the community a bigger service than I think many realize. Through her efforts, bloggers suddenly have a reasonable chance of getting income, which is far more than one can say about other ad networks.
On my blog, you see mainly three ads, on at the top just under the header, one on the right sidebar, and one at the beginning of an article. In addition, I have a few recommended text links in the side bar that is a combination of ads and sponsors that I hand pick myself.
With SharePoint Ads, publishers (that’s us bloggers) get paid US$2.8 every time someone clicks those ads.
That is usually more than you’ll earn from Google Adsense on clicks, at least on average, but there are further huge benefits of SharePoint Ads above other networks.
First, as a blogger I can decide which ads to display. Because I write a lot of developer stuff here, I can choose the developer targeted ad channels. That’s important because it allows me to prioritize the ads that make sense to readers.
Second, the advertisers are from respectable companies that deliver valuable SharePoint tools, products, and services, so I know I get quality ads. Again, this is important because I don’t want to be associated with questionable advertisers.
I am hugely grateful for the advertisers too. They help make the SharePoint blogging world better and I honestly believe they are worth visiting. In fact, I encourage you to Google their names if you don’t want to click the ads, just to see what they are all about. That’s something I probably wouldn’t be able to say about advertisers from other networks.
Third, the ratio that I get compared to what the advertisers pay is much higher than in other networks. SharePoint Ads charges the advertisers $4, of which I get 70%. Important, because it means that those that deliver the value (bloggers) get most of the benefit without the hassle of having to sell their own ads, collecting payments, setting up and maintaining the infrastructure, and so on.
Although not unique for SharePoint Ads, I also very much enjoy the reports I can get, which tells me on an ongoing basis how my ads are doing. I can drill down into individual clicks to see which articles generate clicks, I can see which advertisers generate clicks, and I can pick up on any issues quickly, for example if there are people repeatedly clicking on the same ad, which can tell me that there is a problem with ad delivery.
Here’s a typical report from today that I can get with a few keyboard shortcuts.
Enough Marketing, Show Me The Numbers!
OK, OK, but note that these are numbers that are current at the time of this writing, so they will likely not be very relevant. Thus, I’m focusing more on ratios rather than actual numbers.
During a typical month, Google analytics shows me that I have somewhere in the area of 10-20,000 unique visitors with somewhere in the area of 30-50,000 page views.
This screenshot was taken on the same time as the above stats from SharePoint Ads, and are fairly representative. This means that on average, I need 327 page views or 153 unique visitors to get a single unique click.
That is a click-through ratio of 0,6% in terms of visitors and 0,3% in terms of page views. This is in the high end of average for ads in general, at least according to Wikipedia (0,1-0,3%), although it is lower than Google has claimed should be average goal (2.0% average CTR as goal, not as real number).
Of course, CTR isn’t very useful on its own. Unless you know the cost-per-click (CPC) it isn’t useful at all to publishers. I stick with SharePoint Ads still, after reviewing the alternatives and that may tell you enough.
I actually do keep some AdSense stuff running, mostly because I’ve forgotten to turn it off. However, the usage policy forbids me from discussing actual number or performance, but I’ll dare to say I’m not getting what Google claims.
I despise secrecy clauses, as I have written several times. When I asked Inna, however, whether she would be OK with me disclosing my figures, she was very forthcoming and even encouraging. Good attitude in my book!
So, How Do I Start?
Hold your horses! It’s not that simple. It never is.
If you are not blogging already, then you need to carefully consider your expectations and the amount of work involved. I’ll tell you a few of the pros and cons.
First, starting a blog to earn money is stupid. You’ll earn a lot more money per hour invested by flipping burgers, not to mention working actual work on SharePoint.
To put that into numbers, writing an article like this usually takes 4-5 hours of planning, research, and writing. I can probably expect to get somewhere around 20-30 clicks over the first year on it. That puts my revenue at a maximum of around $16 per hour. Most articles get less, some get more. It’s not lucrative, at least not compared to what I could be doing as a SharePoint consultant.
Second, I’ve reached those numbers as a result of years of hard work. Compare what I can now make with that of the time spent getting here, and my revenue per hour will not be above minimum wage. You will not turn your blogging into usable revenue for a long time, even if you start now, unless you happen to hit one of the very few sweet spots.
It’s not all bleak, though. Blogging is a learning experience, and I learn an insane amount from researching and writing about SharePoint. By doing so I have gained some reputation in the SharePoint world which leads to client work, which leads to revenue. I’m not going to even attempt to speculate what I’ve gained from my blog in terms of client work, but I can assure you that SharePoint can be very lucrative if you are able to find and do good work, and my blogging has certainly helped with that.
It is also a great way of getting in touch with people. When you blog something interesting people will comment, expand on, or criticize you, and from that you learn even more. I’m a learning addict, which is why I blog, even if it doesn’t make financial sense to someone in my situation.
Finally, if you are already a blogger, and especially if you are using other ad network, I highly encourage you to check out SharePointAds.com. I’m almost certain you will see a better revenue, possibly even to the point where you can make a living as a SharePoint blogger 🙂
PS: Yes, I left the link to SharePoint Ads at the end so you’d actually have to read the whole story. I’m evil that way.