What’s the best monetization strategy to focus on for creating an income from your food blog: ads or products?
Both ads and products are the best monetization strategy when you’re trying to create an income from your food blog, but you need to make sure that you’re not using both at the same time.
That last part is important: make sure that you’re not using both at the same time.
Ads vs. Products
The question doesn’t necessarily need to be “Which is better, ads or products?”, but “Which is better in a given situation?” In order to know the answer to that we need to know the purpose of ads and the purpose of products.
The purpose of ads
The purpose of an ad is to divert someone’s attention away from your blog and towards the company that is advertising on your blog. The ultimate goal is to get a visitor to click on an ad and leave your site. You (the blogger) will be paid more if your blog readers leave your site and go to the site that is being advertised.
The purpose of products
The purpose of selling a product on your blog, whether your own or an affiliate product, is to capture the readers’ attention and communicate why the product would be a good investment. You (the blogger) will be paid more if your blog readers stay focused on the content that you’ve written and eventually decide to purchase the product.
Shopping at Target for a Pug Shirt
Let’s cut to the chase: You should only use ads on posts or pages that don’t promote a product.
This concept is easiest to understand if we use a brick and mortar example, so let’s imagine you are going to buy a new (pug) t-shirt at Target.
You go to Target and head to the back of the store. You find the clothing section, but when you turn down the aisle you notice a group of people huddled around the t-shirt rack.
After you get a little bit closer you realize the group of people are sales reps from Tide, Folgers, and Gap.
As you browse through the different t-shirts the sales reps start to chat with you about their products.
“Did you know that Tide PODS are on sale today?”
“Folgers has a brand new flavor you should check out!”
“Don’t forget that Gap’s spring sale starts tomorrow!”
You’re a bit annoyed, but you remember that you’re actually running low on Tide PODS. You take out your phone and add “Tide PODS” to your grocery list. Once you have your phone out you see that you have a message from your best friend and you decide to call her back.
You completely forget about the t-shirt and continue on your way.
The same exact thing happens millions of times a day (an hour?) on blogs across the world.
People that are interested in making a purchase come to a page, start to read or engage with the content, get distracted by something not related to the product, and then end up leaving the page without making a purchase.
Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it, but oftentimes there is.
The best thing you can do in these situations is to make it easier for your readers to focus. We’ll talk more about this in a bit, but it’s also important to understand when we should use ads.
When should I use ads?
Ads are a good fit whenever you don’t have a specific offering.
An obvious example is a recipe post. Usually when a food blogger publishers a recipe post it’s not accompanied by an offer for a certain product. It’s a recipe that’s meant to be shared, but there’s no strong call-to-action associated with the post.
In a situation like this advertising would be a good fit. While the ads are still distracting, they’re not distracting the reader away from something they might purchase from you.
Creating a focused page
So we know that on pages where we promote a product or have a call-to-action that we shouldn’t have distractions (like ads), but what exactly should these ad-less pages look like?
Note: If you’re interested in creating your own product for your blog we suggest starting with an eBook. FBP members can check out the Creating an eBook series to learn how to create and sell an eBook on your blog.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Remove the sidebar
If you’re going to focus on promoting a product then you should get rid of all the distracting elements, and one of the most distracting elements on a blog is the sidebar. Many blogs have ads in the sidebar, but there are also lots of other distracting elements like social media buttons, email sign ups, and “about me” sections.
Removing the sidebar will make it much easier to focus on the primary content.
2. Center the content
If you remove your blog’s sidebar then you’ll quickly notice that the design of the site might seem a bit off balance. Centering the content will make the page feel more balanced and intentional.
3. Create an obvious call-to-action
A simple text link isn’t enough.
If your goal is to encourage people to purchase a certain product then you need to make sure they know how to purchase it. Make sure to include a button or image that makes it obvious to people where they should click to purchase the product.
Bonus: Studies show that web users spend the majority of their time looking at information above the fold, so bonus points if you can find a way to (authentically) include a call-to-action above the fold.
The Bottom Line
Promoting products and using ads are both effective ways to create an income from your blog, but their effectiveness decreases when you use them at the same time.
Do you have an example?
I’d love it if you leave a comment with a link to a product page (that doesn’t include ads) from your blog or another website. The comments will be a great resource for other bloggers that want check out some examples.