There is a new record-holder for most popular post at this blog: Making Money From WordPress.com. It is part of a series on how Automattic, which runs WordPress.com, can make money as a firm based on free/open source software.
Seen out of the context of that series, the title can and has suggest that the earlier post is about how bloggers can make money from their WordPress.com blogs. It isn’t, but this post is. To be more specific, the current post is mostly about affiliate programmes, with a few words on each of a couple of other ideas.
I should start pointing out that this post reflects my opinions and my opinions only, but that I hope to see other opinions in the comments. One of my most fundamental opinions on this subject is: if you want to make serious money blogging, then WordPress.com is not currently the best place for you. There are exceptions, such as those already so well positioned to make money blogging that they are a natural fit for VIP hosting (e.g., Om, Schill). Most of the rest of us can’t afford VIP hosting, and if you have to ask how much it costs, you are among those of us who can’t afford it.
As I write this, I have in mind a reader who: wants to cover the costs of the WordPress.com extras they buy and use (e.g., CSS, domain); wouldn’t mind also covering the cost of the Flickr Pro account where they keep their photos; but doesn’t see making money as the purpose of their WordPress blog. If you’re still reading, then thank you, and it is just for you that I identify and explain three things you might do with you WordPress.com blog.
- Use affiliate programmes, such as Amazon Associates.
- Link to other sites from which you can make money: your Etsy store, your self-hosted WordPress blog which carries ads,…
- Promote your consulting or other services.
I’m not going to write a lot here about “problogging” itself. There’s a lot of good stuff about that on the web already. I’d start with Darren Rowse’s page for beginners: Make Money Blogging. Darren’s top income stream is Google AdSense.
But, as the WordPress.com FAQ tells us, Adsense, Yahoo, Chitika, TextLinkAds and other ads are not permitted to be added by users. Change to this policy has been under consideration for a long time, and I presume it’s still under consideration.
If you read on down the above-quoted FAQ page, you’ll find a link to another page: Types of Blogs. That page explicitly states that things like linking your book review post to Amazon are allowed. It implies, to me at least, that some affiliate links are allowed. I’d self-servingly classify my post on The World is Flat as a respectable example: here’s my take on the book, following this link will give you, not only a chance to buy this book, but also further information to help you make the decision.
For this reason, one of my criteria for using an affiliate program on a WordPress.com blog is: will the program give me plain enough html code that WordPress.com won’t spit it back at me? But before it gets that far, affiliate links have to pass the following tests.
- Is it likely that some readers will find the link helpful? Amazon links do well on this test, because the provide user reviews, further recommendations, etc.
- Is it likely that other readers will find the link annoying?
- Do I use the stuff myself? For example, do I wear Threadless tshirts? Yes, and I feel a sense of affiliation with Threadless that goes beyond getting a free shirt every few times someone orders using m “street team” code. Do I stream music using Rhapsody? Yes, almost every day, and so I am confident that some of my dear readers will be interested to know that they can get a 14-Day free trial to Rhapsody Unlimited then pay only $12.99 per month.
I’ve set up a site to keep track of affiliate programs for bloggers. There are probably existing directories, but I don’t know of any that tag programs that generate plain enough html to be acceptable to WordPress.com. The first five programs I added do so, and so are tagged html.
If you’re wondering when we’re going to get on to the topic after affiliate programs, and link to an external site revenue-generating: we just did. BricaBox, the tool I used to set up the directory of affiliate programs mentioned in the last paragraph, allows ads. By the way, BricaBox is a “social content platform” about which I’ve previously posted.
Finally, there are lots of examples of WordPress.com bloggers who make their readers aware that they do more than blog. For example, Lorelle is a consultant, photographer, and teacher as well as a blogger and writer.
I hope that this has been helpful. Due to technical problems, I had to retype some the last few paragraphs, and re-edit the whole post. I hope that I caught everything.
If I’ve made errors with respect to WordPress.com policies, or to anything else, please let me know by email or commemt. Talking of comments, I see as I do the final edit (again) that we have a comment already.