Does Banner Ad Revenue Sustain Bloggers?

Yesterday, I came across an article on Problogger, Is Advertising Revenue Dead as a Blogging Income Stream? It spiked my own interest because I have never gone the advertising/affiliate route when it came to monetizing my blogs. From day one, I hated ads on my blogs.. and have yet to find an ad network that has provided anything substantial enough to even make a half my rent.

 

For some bloggers, affiliates and ads do work as substantial business models, however I'm seeing that with fashion bloggers that's more the exception than the rule. Here is some speculation* why this may be the case….

 

  • The fashion industry is slow to adopt digital marketing strategies, many fashion brands are just now dabbling in the social media space
  • Fashion bloggers tend to have lower traffic rates than other blog sectors (compared to say… celebrity blogs and news blogs)
  • Fashion companies have relatively smaller advertising budgets than other sectors
  • Clothing price points are lower than technology price points (this could be debatable, as for my birthday my husband bought me an SLR because it was cheaper than a handbag)
  • Fashion is a small niche. While people in the fashion industry say there are too many bloggers… Technorati still hasn't quantified fashion or even clothing as a topic .. unless it goes under ‘personal musings'

 

via Technorati State of the Bloggosphere

 

While banner ads may be the most obvious model for monetization because that has been the media model for print, television and radio, it's not necessarily how people are growing their businesses online. From doing the series on IFB, Professional Blogger Spotlight, I've come to see that ads play a relatively small part in giving bloggers the income to go full time. Fashion bloggers generally go with the following routes when it comes to monetization:

 

  • Their blog is the ad for their business. From Wendy Brandes to NicoleWarne of Gary Pepper Vintage many bloggers use their blogs to promote their businesses, whether it be their own collections, their vintage finds, their styling and writing services the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating the community around your business.
  • Bloggers monetize their influence, not their site real estate. We've all seen blogger collaborations rise in the past few years. Some of the top tier bloggers have been working with brands to create experiences beyond what they could on their own accord. Of course I think this is still being worked out in terms of how lucrative this can be…but it's an interesting development that will certainly evolve over the next few years.
  • Blog as a launch pad to a new career. How many of you got a new job because of your blog? This I've heard over and over and over again… people getting hired because they were able to create successful blogs and understood how to use social media to create a community.

 

I'm sure I'm missing something.. and again, I'm not saying that banner advertising doesn't work… I'm saying it's never worked for me. How are banner ads working for you? Do they provide enough income to live off of?

 

What is your biggest revenue stream related to your blog?

 

Image by Shandi-lee

*speculation: the bulleted list is not backed by facts or statistics , but from my own observation


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About The Author

Ana is a Travel Blogger and Blogging Coach at The City Sidewalks. With her expertise in online marketing, she's able to help other bloggers, creatives, and entrepreneurs grow their businesses so that they can achieve financial freedom to travel the world on their own terms.

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43 Responses

  1. kendallerica

    jennine you are just so insightful.
    i adore your candid approach to your writing – and really look up to you in that sense of what it means to be a blogger.

    I’ve had several great/amazing sponsors approach me – but I too just like the clean lined approach and figured there are other ways to engage the brand.

    I really enjoyed this segment at the IFB conference too – I took so many notes, thanks again j.

    Reply
  2. Olivia

    Income aside, do you think banner ads provide bloggers (and their readers) with something/anything else?

    Reply
  3. DWJ

    I’ve had a few affiliate ads on my site but honestly it pays maybe enough to cover my hosting. I’ve never really used my blog as a way to make money (I don’t even know where to begin in approaching folks) but it did get me my current job as a Webmaster/Web Specialist for a large trade association – and that means more money in my pocket. YAY!

    Reply
  4. Style Eyes

    I don’t find that banner ads on cpc basis pay but a those paying a monthly rate are more worth it. I try and avoid toom many banner ads as they clutter the blog though.

    I have found the most profitable marketing tactic is affiliate marketing with a link to a specific product that I love or have even bought or perhaps do a round up of a particular style I am loving. This usually gives a good keyword too which can be useful if you want to optimise the post. I usually try and state that a post contains affiliate links if I use them in the interests of transparency.I go on the principle if I really like somthing so will some others and they might want to buy it.

    I also use my blog to promote other stuff that I am working on and build a general internet prescence for my online marketing business.

    Reply
    • Jennine Jacob

      oh yeah, the cpc ads can do well, but not as well as the monthly rates for us anyway. clutter is crazy, and i’m not really a fan…though it can help drive awareness. i’m testing it out for my other blog eat sleep denim and placing ads seem to do well. it’s just getting paid for running ads that seems to be a lot of work for the return.

      Reply
  5. roxy

    For awhile, my affiliate revenue links were doing quite well! My blog started off as a niche blog about one brand, and I think that actually helped me from a revenue perspective because I had a captive audience that was already interested in buying. I’m not saying I was making enough to pay my rent but it was enough to run fun contests with decently sized gift cards as prizes. Unfortunately as more blogs about the same topic have popped up my affiliate revenue has gone down, down, down to the point where I’m pretty much losing money on my efforts. (To be clear I welcome any other blogs on the topic but I lament my revenue losses.)

    On the other hand, the blog audience has grown as more people spread the word so even though my affiliate revenue is down my banner ads revenue is up. It’s still less than 35% of what I was making before but it’s helping to sustain my interest in blogging. It’s also opened doors for me; a few of my Adwords/Google affiliates have reached out to me to do partner posts. Unless your audience is very anti-ad I think it’s worth it to run them.

    Reply
  6. Madeleine Gallay

    Ads .. I wonder how much revenue they bring and the risk of having little ads that could take away from a serious sponsorship or collaboration.

    Reply
  7. Kelsi (Dedicated)

    This is, as always, well timed. I actually recently removed all my banner ads from my site.

    I realized that the time spent generating sponsorships, posting the ads, tracking the ads, reviewing them monthly, just was not worth the $30 a month I could pull in from one ad.

    On furthur thought I also realized that the way in which I am succeeding as a site is through the opportunities which I receive by using the site as a platform for me – which is far more exciting!

    Reply
    • Jennine Jacob

      Yeah, that’s what I always thought, many ads go for $30, but with all the negotiating tracking and setting everything up, it usually takes 30min/1hr minium for one ad. That can’t add up to a monthly income!

      Reply
  8. Bella Q

    I am soooo glad you’ve brought this topic up over at IFB. I’ve been reading similar articles over at the blogging sites, and truth be told, I’ve been finding it a struggle to find the right ads and affiliates to add to my sites. And I’ve wondered if the few pence that float my way is worth the clutter.

    I just read an article over at Blog Tyrant the day before yesterday which had me take off most of the ad banners from my site and serious re-access my approach to monetisation. While I would LOVE to work with the right sort of companies of fashion brands, it has been a struggle- it has been more exception to the rule to be approach by a company whose product ties in nicely with my brand.

    So far my best gigs and income have come from freelance writing that came from interest in my blog contest. Not enough to earn my own keep however, which is something I’d like to do in the future. And however much I LOVE to write, I know that my main focus is on writing original content for my OWN sites, and not just filler for others.

    Thank you for getting this conversation going- I think your post just put a nail in the coffin for my affiliate endeavors. xo. -Bella Q
    the Citizen Rosebud

    Reply
  9. Bella Q

    oooh there are so many typos above. the most glaring being contest, which should read content.

    Memo to self: proof read!

    Reply
  10. Abigail Ny

    I recently got approached by a big online store to advertise on my blog and where asking for rates. If you seem to be a growing blog then you are likely to be approached. There is a business tactic to that, but if I say them it will just fill up this whole comment section. I haven’t answered them yet, but I decided to open my blog to adverts but one thing you have to be clear on [that I do not waiver on] is that you’re blogging integrity and aesthetic should be respected above everything else.

    Opening my blog to adverts I’m not sure if it will work for me but I’ve been getting questions on adverts from brands. Got asked to host a giveaway and as tempting as it was it was a home-decor giveaway, I could have done it and people would have participated but my blog is a fashion/art and all other aspects of art and didn’t feel comfortable doing it so I told them I couldn’t be a part of it and I gave them links to blogs that focus on home decor more.

    Reply
    • Alterations Needed

      I was just approached by a big online store to advertise as well (wonder if it’s the same one). When I sent my rates, they came back with an offer of placing a banner ad on my site for 5% commission of sales, with a link to another blog that had implemented the ad, so I could see what it looked like.

      The ad was full of “dofollow” links, to increase their SEO for specific keywords. Ick!

      Take-away points from my story – This retailer wanted to pay me nothing for my valuable ad space. 5% commission on a banner ad will NOT make me money. However, this company would gain a presence on my blog, pagerank juice from my hard work, and increased search engine rankings, that will probably bring them more money than anything else.

      I passed on this one…

      Reply
      • Jennine Jacob

        oh my, I have gotten a similar pitch.. ok, i get a lot of these, but one shop in particular tends to send ‘advertising opportunity’ advertising meaning affiliate… it’s so misleading.

  11. SACRAMENTO

    Fantastic post Jennine, I am not for ads in my blog, and I am very put off by bloggers who talk about brands all the time.
    I am glad to know that it is not really worth it anyway.
    I will say like Bill Cunningham: if they don´t pay me, they cannot tell me what to do.
    You are marvellous!!!

    Reply
  12. Alterations Needed

    Great post, as always Jennine!

    CPC has worked well for me (on products I personally love and am suggesting to my readers), but not enough to go full-time. I’ve been trying to sell ad space, but as you mentioned, it’s difficult and time consuming. My blog is also a small niche, within a small niche (petite fashion), so companies that I want to advertise on my site, are really small and don’t have the money to advertise at all. There must be another way!

    Reply
    • Jennine Jacob

      I’m sure there are other ways… it’s just a matter of thinking out of the box. I rarely count on ads for any kind of income, but from the projects I do relating to the blogs make it possible to sustain a full time venture. it’s hard, but also a lot more fun than selling ad space.

      Reply
  13. Anika www.byanika.com

    Hi Jennine, thank you so much for adressing this subject. I have been pondering this issue since I started blogging a year ago, and so far I have held off on ads on my blog. I need to really believe in a product to be ok with it, I can and will not compromise on the integrity of my blog. That said I am working towards combining a business with my blog, and would be open to collaborations etc, if it seems like a good thing. My brand is me, so I need to keep it real. I would rather have my grow slowly, keeping my content original and enjoying and learning from the blogger experience than trying to get as many followers as possible etc. I have learned a lot about Klout (thanks Vahni http://www.gritandglamour.com) which I find really interesting.

    Thanks again for everything you are doing for the blogging community!

    xx Anika
    http://byanika.com
    @AnikaByAnika

    Reply
  14. Kate

    Good article! I don’t necessarily like banner ads on blogs, especially the way they look (flashy and distracting). I think it’s more profitable to attract sponsers with a brand you admire. I worked for a company that would pay $200/month for a small ad on a popular fashion blog. Get 6 or 7 sponsers, and you’ll have a tidy little income.

    Reply
  15. ...love Maegan

    If I didn’t live in Los Angeles {or NY or any other ridiculously overpriced city} I could live off of the revenue I make from my banner ads no problem at all. That said …it’s taken me years to get enough traffic to my blog to make it worth my while. {Once my ALexa hit under 100K is when really they started paying off} AND, while I don’t really love the way they look, I have at least 5 different banner ad companies -ads- on my site at the moment which when combined, add up to a profitable revenue. However, affiliates have never really paid off …GILT & Amazon, yes …but nothing else.

    Reply
    • Jennine Jacob

      you know what’s funny, i was talking to someone who lives in madison wisconsin, and they pay more rent for a one bedroom than i do in manhattan. oh my… they probably have a MUCH bigger place, but still!

      anyway, i had good luck with ebay affiliates, but the content on ebay got so crazy it was hard to use them in a legitimate way. amazon is pretty good, but mostly because they are so easy to use.

      gilt has me hooked! half my wardrobe is from gilt credits!

      Reply
  16. Khola

    I’m relatively new to blogging and when I first started I had a few ads on my page. They are now gone. The last straw was when I found an ad for the VA when I’d ask that my ads my content (fashion) related.

    So I’m ad free and content for now. We’ll see what the future holds!

    Khola’s Kloset

    Reply
  17. Moe

    I’ve used affiliate ads for over six years at a few locations and they were quite successful but I’ve noticed a steep decline the last three years with the proliferation of affiliate use and businesses using affiliate companies to take advantage of us.

    I say “take advantage” because I just received a form email the other day from a company congratulating me on a successful year and thanking for the growth but in the next breath they reduced the commissions. This is becoming a popular email from companies using affiliate advertising.

    I don’t know of any other platform that offers advertising space for free unless you sell something. These companies are getting incredible exposure across the board but don’t take care of us (not all but most, and it’s growing).

    As for selling ad space, that seems to cycle, sometimes it’s really good and some times it’s really bad. I turn down a lot of offers because I don’t like the message or they are asking too much for too little. I also demand payment up front (I shouldn’t have to e-chase someone to pay me after the advertising term.

    Reply
    • Jennine Jacob

      oh my, that’s really disheartening to hear…i was wondering how people made it with such crazy affiliate structures… and i don’t understand what bloggers get from posting ads with affiliate links..they rarely work!

      Reply
  18. de la Pen

    Awesome article! Thank you for opening up the discussion, Jennine. I was starting to get the vibe that affiliate/banner advertising wasn’t working especially after the last IFB conference where most of the top tier bloggers said they don’t make money off banner ads and were considering taking them down. I personally detest banner ads although I understand why people do it.

    To me, the web is a completely different space than TV, Radio, & Print media the advertising on the web should be more subtle b/c no one is gonna click on an obvious banner ad but they may tune into a funny TV commercial, radio spot, or cool fashion ad campaign in a magazine.

    That’s why I decided to start using advertorials but it’s not gonna be enough to cover everything which is why I’m so glad I now have my own business dealing with marketing & PR b/c monetizing my blog to the point where I can really live off of it is really alluding me.

    Reply
  19. Style Maniac

    What a terrific topic and post. Thanks, Jennine, and all the commenters above–lots of good info here.

    When it comes to advertising, flashing/banner/google adsense ads leave me cold and I will stop reading blogs that have them.

    Tastefully done and pertinent “button” ads don’t bother me, particularly if they lead me to a truly great site or resource. So I’ve been considering including those types of sponsors on my blog. But …

    They do clutter up a blog, which I don’t like. And as a commenter above noted, all that time and effort and redesign and you get just 30 bucks. And does it then become more about managing the ads than focusing on what you love in the first place–producing the content?

    I’d love to hear more about other, non-ad ways bloggers are generating revenue. I often hear about “brand sponsorship deals”–what exactly does that mean? What kinds of jobs, specifically have people gotten from their blog and how did it happen? It would be a great follow-up post to this one, Jennine (hint hint).

    Reply
  20. Kate

    Banner ads barely bring in good money for companies…I know this because I work both sides, but when those bloggers interact with a brand as in wear it or mention it or have a contest with it brands will see an increase in revenue. Also, the clothing industry does not have as large an overhead as the tech community does. Clothing still costs a lot to make and your looking at rising costs in countries like China and Indonesia for clothing and the natural disasters do not help with the cost. Most clothing companies only mark up 200% maybe a little more depending on how big they are where as beauty can mark up 400 to 800% the tech community goes up to around 400% to 500% mark-up. But all in all it comes to manufacturing. After all there is a reason the manufacturers in China can sell us stuff on ebay for much less than what we could buy it for over here.

    Reply
  21. Linda

    I certainly I am seeing more and more people use their blogs to promote themselves. As a celebrity fashion blogger I have a lot less options in this realm since I don’t blog about myself, of course the flip side is that it’s much easier to get traffic writing about other people. I have good traffic on my sites, but they are really under-monetized at the moment. I’ve tried affiliate banner ads and they did even worse than AdSense, I do make decent money from affiliate links in my posts though. All of my experience building and popularizing websites did help me land a totally awesome job doing online marketing, so that’s been the major financial benefit of blogging for me so far.

    Reply
  22. Christy

    I’ve honestly never been a huge fan of tons of ads on a blog, in fact it is sort of a turn off for me. I had tried a few ads, didn’t really think they added much to my site so I pulled all but one of them down.

    Like a few other ladies said I’ve gotten more out of writing jobs I’ve been hired to do as a result of magazine editors and website owners stumbling upon my blog and approaching me to write for them than I did with the ads. Ads might bring in money but the writing gigs are bringing me more exposure and credibility.

    Reply
  23. Debbie Baker Burns

    I am a new blogger just trying to figure things out. I added Adsense to my blog. I’ve looked at Amazon Affiliates. The main thing to me right now is writing quality posts, taking good photos and thinking up original ideas. I feel like this is my brand and I am growing it!

    Reply
  24. Lill

    This post is so helpful Jennine! I think what’s important is really knowing who you are and what you believe in to build integrity to your blog and ads. If monetizing your blog is something important to you then make sure find or get something that stands up to what your blog is about.

    Reply
  25. Jessie

    I have an interesting perspective on this because I am a fashion blogger who has been able to quit my full time marketing position (last summer) and go full time as a wardrobe stylist, fashion marketing consultant & vintage online retailer – all because of work that came from people who have read my blog over the past almost two years. That in itself is really how blogging for me has paid off monetarily.

    For my online vintage store, I do purchase ad space on other bloggers sites, because it vastly increases the amount of purchases I see per month. If I get just one average/small order from a referral from each ad I buy per month, then I’ve already paid for the ad, and in many cases each monthly ad I buy generates several purchases per month.

    As far as advertising on my own site, I typically have 3-4 buttons on my sidebar at any given time, and while it doesn’t make a ton of money, I do like helping to promote independent businesses that I believe in. That said, I see wayyyy more reader interaction and click throughs when I do a product review or collaboration with a company, as compared to the click-through rate of my banner ads. I’m not necessarily getting paid for those, but there is typically some type of gift or credit issued, and for me, that little something or extra spending money is worth it since my styling work is really what pays my bills.

    Reply
  26. Naste Magazine

    Came across your site randomlly enjoyed reading some of your posts even though im male.

    I have worked with online fashion stores that offer 10% commission per sale. I sent them over 250(minimum ) ad click links that were all advertising seperate items of clothing. I also have gotten mails from readers thanking for suggestions but havn’t/won’t be receiving a single penny even after getting in contact with one of ‘the reps’. Just be carefull who you work with then it comes to affilate sales some of these companies use and abuse.

    Reply