First of all, it is vital to say that my blog is not a best example of maximizing your profits. The reason is simple: I want to keep my blog as ad-free as it is possible, and I do not want to turn it into a cash-earning machine, as I want to keep my style of writing, the frequency of posts as I please even if I see opportunities.
There are three major sources of earning with your blog.
1) Accepting an offer to place a text link or a banner to another site. Banners are a great source of traffic, while text links serve as a big helper for SEO-reasons: the more theme-related quality links lead to you, the better. Why not: all the offers I’ve got were either ridiculous in cash or failed to provide a valid banner code to display.
2) Accepting an offer of placing a third party article which would contain – yes, also links to another website. Why not: well, obviously my blog is a personal WoW-diary, and posting articles of other people would feel super weird for both myself and my readers. I would consider that if my blog was a sort of an analytical & news WoW website – but it’s definitely not. It’s just me talking about personal game experience, and I want to keep it that way.
3) Finally, displaying ads. I went with what WordPress built-in system provides. Free version of WordPress is showing ads to readers in any case, yet if you buy a premium account you might tune their placement and start earning with them. Also after buying premium you may switch them off entirely and/or go with some other system like Google Ads or whatever, but I find it less convenient.
So, yet another trigger when I decided to finally try & monetize my blog was when last October I opened it on my phone browser without login, and saw ads that other readers see anyways. So why not earn cash for my content? The idea was to buy premium account for a year, see how things will go (will premium even pay off?) and then either cancel it or proceed. Spoiler: it did pay off!
Mind you, my priority is user experience over earnings. Obviously the more ads you show the more money you get, and yet I limited myself to one ad on homepage, and a couple of ads in the bottom of every post which don’t bother much – it’s about 1/3 of placement options. As all contextual ads work, what content you actually see in the ads depends on your own browser history and personal interests, it’s not defined by me and differs user from user.
Now, the earnings would depend on two major metrics:
- The number of ad displays. Obviously, the more blog views you get – the more ads show, and the more the income.
- CPM – cost per mille, or cost per thousand impressions. This is a tricky and flexible metric that does not depend on you and varies day by day. It makes all the difference though. For example, if you show 2000 ads with CPM of $0,13, you earn $0,26. But if CPM is $0,23 – it’s $0,46 for the same amount of blog/ad views.
So as you can’t influence CPM, the goal is to provide frequent and quality content and optimizing it for search engines (the latter being luckily my job IRL!).
Yet again: I would stress that I’m not a cash-earning machine in this blog. Websites like wowhead.com or Russian most popular WoW-related noob-club.ru are quite ruthless about that – and even get reprimanded by readers/players: every small sneeze in WoW development will get a separate piece of news. What could be arranged into one article will be spread into dozen for the only sake of getting more page views – and naturally ads. Not in my blog: I would only comment news if I really have something to say about them, and the same is with my game experience itself. In other words, I keep my writing style and posting schedule intact, and nothing changed since October 2019 when I started the whole ad thing.
So, some stats. My traffic naturally grows year by year:
I will exceed the numbers of 2018 in 2020, because it’s just the middle of October now. The decline in 2019 was due to BfA failure – ergo, less readers, even though I had more posts in 2019 than in 2018. Yet another reason: my bread-and-butter of traffic and income are guide posts.
Again, gnomecore.com is my personal diary rather than a guideline book. As you know, guides in my blog are rare, and follow the same terms as news posts: writing a guide requires an inspiration, it means that I have some experience to share. God forbid I don’t post profession, class or any other guides ahead as pro-sites like icy veins or wowhead, although I could. And yet my rare guides do most of traffic.
Now let’s see my top popular posts this year:
7 posts out of 10 grossing the most traffic are guides. The most useful was a post describing shortcut through the long and tedious Ashjra’kamas cloak questline shortcut, and it brought me the major share of the overall traffic. Strange enough, but my guide through the pretty obvious class mount questline in Legion remains super popular, along with the class mount stories.
What did we learn out of this? Guides are essential for getting traffic. It’s not that I’m switching to writing guides-only, no. I’m keeping my posting pace intact, yet when I would think of whether it is worth writing a guide or not (casue it’s a huge job frankly), I’d rather do.
The second thing worth mentioning is search engine optimization. I would monitor search keywords that attract readers to my blog (available in wordpress admin panel). The interesting example here is Hellfire Citadel post. Initially it was just a “hooray” that it can be solo-farmed with Hellfire Assault encounter becoming soloable, and how I ran the whole raid in 20 minutes – a classic diary post.
Then, by keyword analysis, I noticed that people are hoping to find the Hellfire Assault encounter tactics here. So what did I do? I returned to the post and edited it, providing the accurate guide right at the top, and putting the initial diary text in the bottom. The initial post remained intact, but it now holds an encounter guide as people clearly wanted, and I also added all the keywords needed to maximize post potential in search engines. I guess everybody wins! New readers get the information they wanted, I get more traffic to the blog which just became more useful. This simple change helped to drive this post into my top-5 this year.
Finally: does my non-aggressive earning approach work? Here’s my earnings graph October 2019 – September 2020:
As you see, it started poorly and most discouraging. Then, little by little, the numbers grow – depepnding on CPM at large and not always corresponding on number of blog views/ads shown! In June I was finally able to pay off the premium wordpress account (9 months in “business”), since then I doubled the earned number in just 3 months. Let’s just say that my blog now pays for my WoW – and more. It’s not something to live for, nothing even close compared to my salary, but isn’t it cool when your hobby pays for itself, especially if you don’t maximize blog/ad potential and just keep doing what you’re doing?
I have most high hopes for Shadowlands – as many players do – and hopefully it will also have an impact on the traffic and revenue graphs as well :) Yet I’m still the same: writing my WoW diary with an occasional guide or two, and, cards revealed, be rest assured: my every new post is still what I really want to say, not a cold-calculated Wall Street business plan :)