I have operate almost 10 blogs including this blog. 2 of my blogs made more than 90% of my income. The rest do not make enough to cover my hosting. If I had only those site, I would have to either give up, or fight on (but pay hosting out of my own pocket).
Why do you not earn enough to cover for your site’s hosting
1. Your site is too new
Even though you write long, thoughtful and useful content, it will not rank if your blog is new. Most new blogs would start to see result (ie exponential growth) in about 6 months.
Many people would have given up before the 6 months is up. It is hard not to give up because low traffic and earnings may affect your self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.
Last year, I have given up on a site after 4 months when the earnings from my site do not even cover the cost of my domain. I understand how that felt because I was getting a little fedup of waiting. Hence I did a 301 redirect of all my articles to my current site and cancel the renewal of the domain name.
I could do that because I had another established site to fall back on. Had I been just starting, I would probably hang in there a little longer.
How about for sites that existed for more than 6 months? Possible reasons could be….
2. Wrong niche for site monetization
The niche can be wrong or not suited because of one the niche does not pay much for advertising keywords. Or the people who are searching on your niche do not intend to buy, hence if you place ads, they pay very little. If you put in affiliates, they do not convert.
For example, a blog like Postsecret.com generate millions of page view in a month. But unless it is direct advertising, ad bids would be low because visitors who are going to the site do not have intention to buy.
Instead of selling advertising, the blog author turned the content (the archived content) into bestseller books.
And if you write a blog where most of your readers are from Asia, the earnings per click is at least 3 times lower than visitors from US, UK and Australia.
3. Not enough of posts/ content
A blog with only a handful of blog posts would not attract enough money to warrant for a substantial income. Mega sites churned out multiple articles daily. They hire writers to write the content for them.
Once they reach a sizeable number of visitors and page view, they would approach companies for direct advertising or paid reviews. These companies would not make money through Adsense/ automated ads or affiliates alone.
4. A lot of posts but ‘thin’ content
I have 2 blogs that have more than 100 posts in them but the content would be mostly what I consider as ‘thin content’. No, do not write spammy stuff or copy from other sites. These blogs were set up close to 10 years ago during the time when quantity triumphed over quality. I post short ramblings with photos in most of the posts, a number of them from my mobile devices.
If I only have these 2 blogs, I would definitely not earn enough to cover for my hosting, not to mention my time. 10 years down the line, earnings from these two blogs are miserable. However, I did spend about a few full days restructuring one of the site- I basically went through each posts and added more content and tags. I also created custom pages and sidebars for easy navigation. I did not see immediate results from the effort. But about 3 months on, traffic from the site started to increase. I could see if I were to add in more articles, the traffic would probably go up and so would my earnings.
5. Poor ad/ affiliate optimization
If you monetize your site with ads, you need to be continuously testing your ad placements and number of ads and monitor the results. Too much ads destroy the reader’s experience. Too little ads or under optimized placements may impact your earnings.
Taking sometime to tweak a little (be sure not to violate any polices of your ad provider) may bring significant changes to your earnings. Don’t just follow what a blogger suggest. Experiment with the placements a little as what that works for one site may not work for your site.
On the other hand, when you monetize with affiliate links, you also need to consider factors such as your traffic source, buyer intend and the price of items you are promoting. If you promote relatively cheap items, you would need a large sales volume to earn a substantial income. However if your traffic is low, it is going to take you a long time.
If your traffic is outside US, then you would not earn much from Amazon US, Shareasale or Commission Junction.
If you are monetizing traffic from Asia and for some reasons could not get your Google Adsense account approved, you can try to sign up under AccessTrade Malaysia (it is an affiliate link which I would earn a small referral fee if you click on the link to sign up). You can also refer to my writeup on AccessTrade.
After you sign up, you still need to wait for approval but basically I’ve gotten my approval within a day. Once approved, you would be able to promote most of their participating merchants on board such as Shopee MY, Lazada, Watson, Lotus’s, Air Asia and many other companies.
If a visitor clicks and goes to the merchant’s site via your affiliate link, a cookie would be placed in their browser. If the visitor eventually ends up making a purchase of the merchant’s online site within a stipulated period (differs between each merchant), you would be paid a certain percentage of commission. It varies from merchant to merchant.
One final consideration before throwing in the towel
If you feel hopeless and is on the verge of giving up, there is one last consideration that I hope you would make.
Instead of setting up the blog just to make money, consider it as part of your personal branding or as a portfolio site. Perhaps you may spend a considerable amount of money on clothes, facial, hair cut/perm/colouring, make up, grooming and dining out with friends.
If you can spend few hundred to a few thousand dollars a month on the stuff above, why can’t you spend a small fraction of the amount to keep your site?
Having a self hosted blog with good content puts you at an advantage when it comes to landing on better job offer especially in sectors of sales, marketing, communication, content writer, web development, PR and social media.
Years ago, when I wanted to move away from customer service, I was able to convince my boss to transfer me to their online division simply because I had my own website.