This is a guest post by Amanda Green.
To ad or not to ad, right? For most website owners, that is the question. If you’ve got a highly visible website with a regularly-updating blog, you probably know that your increased web presence brings hundreds if not thousands of visitors to your site every day. (Even more, if you’re using SEO properly.)
So you’re well aware that adding advertising to your site can turn those pageviews into cash, but you’re probably hesitant to pull the advertising trigger. You’re a designer, after all. You like clean lines and unified themes. The last thing you want is one of those scammy “Take 6 inches off your belly with one weird trick” ads cluttering up your right sidebar.
Luckily, there are a few tried-and-tested ways to gain ad revenue without having to add weight-loss scams or dancing mortgage men to your beautiful, carefully-crafted website. If you’re averaging more than 100 pageviews per day, you’re leaving money on the table unless you implement one of these options.
Google AdWords are those tiny ads that appear on the sides and bottoms of webpages. They’re visually discreet but can earn you a large chunk of money if you have a regular following. Unlike the other solutions in this article, there’s very little you get to choose about Google AdWords; you get to decide where the ad is placed on your site, but Google does all the rest. You barely notice the ads are there until you get an email from Google with the subject line “You’ve Been Issued a Payment.”
AdWords uses suggestive advertising, so if you write about using Photoshop to create a logo, it’s likely to generate an ad for a Photoshop tutorial. This is good for your readers, because they are able to read your blog and then find relevant information by clicking on the AdWords links.
Like most aspects of advertising and SEO, Google AdWords changes its algorithms regularly. This means you need to stay up-to-date by following people like Rich Gorman, the SEO and advertising guru who regularly reports on new AdWords developments. That way you can continue to write posts that generate the best suggestive AdWords, which in turn earns you the most clicks and the most money.
The Amazon affiliate program works in two ways. First, it pays you every time someone buys a product by clicking through a recommendation on your site. Second, it pays you every time someone clicks through a recommendation, doesn’t buy the recommended product, but buys something else instead.
The easiest and cleanest way to use the Amazon affiliate program is by including Amazon affiliate hyperlinks in your blog posts. Write a post about how much you love Edward Tufte’s book series, and then hyperlink every time you mention a specific Tufte book. Readers click on the links and are taken to Amazon’s page to buy the Tufte books immediately. Whether they buy their own copy of The Visual Display of Quantitative Information or they buy something else, you get paid.
Amazon also creates clickable icons you can embed either in blog posts or on your sidebars. Each icon shows the image of a specific product, and it is possible to create a carousel of icons under the header “Tools I Use” or “What I’m Reading.” These are great ways to gain additional revenue without covering your website in garish ads. (They’re also a great way to answer the question “what tools do you use,” because I get that question all the time.)
Suppose you’re the type of designer who doesn’t want ordinary ads. Suppose you want artistic ads, created by design artists just like you. That’s where Project Wonderful comes in. Created by Ryan North, the man behind Dinosaur Comics, Machine of Death and other uber-projects, Project Wonderful allows artists to design their own ads and bid to place them on other sites.
You get to choose the size of the ad, the placement of the ad, and the types of ads you will accept. Maybe you only want web developers to advertise on your site. Maybe you’re fine with webcomics or musicians advertising on your site. Whatever you choose, you’re guaranteed to get a striking, well-designed, often quirky ad that reflects your own commitment to artistic work and creative thinking.
Use these three ideas to get some non-scammy advertising on your site and start earning more money. The next time you ask “to ad or not to ad,” you’ll know the right answer.