27 October 2009

How has the economic downturn impacted your blog earnings?

Team Nirvana recently emailed to ask me what impact the recession has had upon my blog earnings – it’s actually a question that I get quite a bit when talking to friends and family – (I guess everyone is asking it about everyone’s jobs at the moment).

In answering the question here I want to acknowledge that this is not one answer for all bloggers. As I’ve pondered the question for my own circumstances I’ve realized that the economic downturn will be impacted bloggers very differently depending upon factors such as their blogs topics (some topics are booming at the moment while others are not), the life stage of their blogs and numerous other factors such as the demographics of their audience.

That being said – here’s how things have been going for me of late:

Ad Revenue – Steady and Up in Private Ad Sales

My biggest income stream across my blogs at the moment has been advertising revenue. This comes from a combination of sources including AdSense and Chitika (I run these on DPS) and Private Ad Sales (here on ProBlogger, DPS and TwiTip) as well as a few other ad networks like Shopzilla and WidgetBucks.

Overall my advertising income has increased however this is largely due to an increase in private ad sales. I’ve noticed that ad networks like AdSense, Chitika, Shopzilla and WidgetBucks have been holding their own for me. Some have decreased a little but this is mainly due to me dedicating more ad space to private ad sales and decreasing the space I give to the networks (due largely to demand for private ad sales).

While I’m hearing other bloggers reporting a decline in private ad sales (which they attribute to the economy) I’ve seen the opposite and I put it down to a couple of reasons:

1. increasing traffic – DPS has continued to really grow in size and a natural reaction to his is that it is easier to sell to premium sized advertisers. For example we’ve recently been doing a large campaign with Lenovo which has gone particularly well.

2. my topic – here on ProBlogger I’m in a somewhat unique position to be blogging on a topic that there is actually more and more people coming online to learn about (making money online). As a result of this I’ve noticed more advertisers coming into the space. Similarly – starting a blog on Twitter recently was pretty good timing as Twitter is really growing at the moment.

Affiliate Revenue – Up a Little

Affiliate sales have certainly been healthy for me over the last 6 months (on all of my blogs). Again, there are a number of reasons for this:

1. Traffic is up – (see above – increased traffic means that you’ve more people potentially seeing your affiliate promotion)

2. Increased Affiliates to Promote – I’ve always found that affiliate marketing earnings seems to have periods where it naturally goes up and down partly depending upon what programs there are launching in your industry. For example in the ‘blogging’ space there were a few quality affiliate programs that all launched within weeks of each other a couple of months back.

3. More emphasis on Affiliate Marketing – at DPS I had rarely done an affiliate promotion (except for Amazon) since I started it two and a half years ago. In recent months I’ve begun to experiment more with it as an income stream on that site (with mixed success). I’m still looking for a high quality product that ‘fits’ perfectly with my audience but the attempts that I’ve had have brought some success so far.

Job Boards – Up a Little

The ProBlogger Job boards have continued to grow over the last month or so (particularly in the last month). Again this is one of those examples where the economy itself has actually benefited me as more and more people are moving online to find work and more and more people are looking to hire in this space.

Dollar Conversion Rates – Up

Perhaps the biggest contributor to an increased income of late has been the decline of the Australian dollar as opposed to the US dollar. Mid last year we were close to a $1USD = $1AUD scenario. As you’ll see by the graph below this has changed significantly which means as I write this $1USD converts to around $1.50AUD. Considering 99% of my income is in USD things have certainly improved of late. Of course the preceding 4 years saw us going from a similar position to what it was back in July so there are ups and downs in this type of thing.

Picture 4.png

Overall – Up…. a little

The largest contributor to my income increasing of late has been the conversion rate. All of the other three areas (ad sales, affiliate revenue and Job Board earnings) have seen small increases but not massive. In fact if you were to analyze the earnings increases against traffic increases I’m almost certain that traffic is up significantly higher than earnings – if traffic had remained steady I suspect earnings would have dropped.

My Strategy Going Forward

Here’s what I’m concentrating on in the next 6-12 months.

1. Building the Best Blogs I Can and Increasing Readership – while the amount of money that companies are spending online with their advertising MAY be decreasing, my approach is to continue to invest as much of my own time and energy into building great websites to attract what advertising I can now but to position myself for when things improve.

My prediction is that the internet is here to stay and will only continue to grow. As a result I firmly believe that we’ll see the ad dollars come back. I want to have sites with thriving communities and large readerships when the advertisers return.

2. Exploration of New Income Streams – on both of my main blogs (here at ProBlogger and at Digital Photography School) I am working on adding new income streams. I’ll hold off on announcing them here and now but in both cases they build on what I’ve already been doing on the sites and will hopefully add revenue so that I’m not quite so reliant upon the advertising revenue that the sites currently draw in.

No comments: