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The Converting Visitors to Revenue Interview Series :: Darren Rowse, ProBlogger


Converting Traffic into RevenueLast week, I asked you about your challenges regarding making money online. The most common answer to my questions was, “Getting things to convert”, as in, getting your products or services to sell, getting an affiliate link to convert into a commission, getting a visitor to convert into a subscriber, or getting a visitor to click on an ad.

I think nearly every internet marketing program out there promises riches, but honestly, I don’t think many of them focus enough on this very, very important part of your internet business. Massive amount traffic that doesn’t earn you any revenue isn’t going to keep you in business for very long. So I have reached out to several well-known marketers & bloggers for a 3-Question interview on the subject of getting visitors to covert into revenue.

First up is Darren Rowse of ProBlogger. Although Darren has a business model in which his revenue comes from a wide variety of sources, Darren is particularly talented at making money from CPC (Cost Per Click) ads, in which you earn revenue when a visitor converts into a click. So I the questions I asked Darren were specific to this kind of “conversion”.

Darren, you are well known for earning a six figure income from ads that pay if a visitor clicks on them. What are the different things you have done to test, change and improve your click-through ratio over the years on your sites, and what has worked the best?

Darren Rowse InterviewThe first lesson to learn is that every site/blog converts differently. For starters some ad types work well on one blog but not another but also the positioning and design of ads will work differently on different sites also.

The second lesson (with the first one in mind) is that you need to experiment and track your results. Try different designs/colors but also ad sizes and ad positions. You’ll be surprised what you find when you do. I run split tests on some of my blogs (A/B tests) and will run one ad unit with one color scheme 50% of the time and one with another color scheme the other 50% of the time. Do this for a day or two and you’ll see the difference. Then go with the better converting one and split test it with another style. You can do the same thing with the size of ads and positioning (and even between networks). It’s fiddly but it can be well worthwhile.

Some general principles to keep in mind:

Positioning - in general ads close to your content work best. Ads above the fold usually work best. Other key spots are anywhere that your reader naturally ’stops’ reading (ie at the end of an article).

Relevancy - you can have the prettiest and most well positioned ads in the world but if they are not relevant to your reader (and the content you’re writing about) then you’re unlikely to have them click it. This is why ‘contextual’ advertising works so well - it see’s you’ve just written about iPods and puts an ad up for iPods. If you’re using an ad network that isn’t contextual you’ll need to find ways to manually choose relevant ads.

Traffic - it’s obvious, but once your ads are well optimized you can have the most impact upon how much it earns by getting more traffic to it. However not all traffic is equal in terms of conversion. I’ve found that traffic from search engines can be quite good at getting clicks on ads like ‘AdSense’ ads while traffic from another blog with a good recommendation from the blogger can do better with affiliate programs. Traffic from regular readers is harder to convert with CPC ads so again affiliate programs can be better.

What are the factors that a publisher should take into consideration when choosing a CPC ad network (Chitika, AdSense, AdBrite, Kontera, etc.), and how can they find the one that is the best match for their niche?

Darren Rowse InterviewProbably the main thing that I’d suggest is signing up for them all and testing. Like I said above - I find that they all will convert differently on different blogs. This is partly about the topic of your blog (ie a product related blog can do better with Chitika) but also about the type of reader you have (ie a blog with lots of loyal and regular readers can become blind to AdSense).

For me the main thing I look at is the topic of the blog and try to match it with an ad network that I know serves relevant ads.

If you were a blogger with an excellently written article/review with affiliate links in the post, how would you go about promoting that post?

Darren Rowse InterviewDepends partly upon the blog and it’s current readership but I’d probably consider:

  • Emailing a few key bloggers in the niche with the link
  • Posting it to Twitter, Facebook etc
  • Talking to a social media expert friend to see if it was worthy of them Digging it
  • Adding it prominently to a sidebar/navigation bar on every page of the blog
  • Writing a follow up post a few days later linking back to it

Most of the above is fairly basic - but together it can have an impact.

If you would like to request that I interview a particular person for this series, or want to be interviewed yourself, please email me with the details such as name, URL, and why you think this person (or you) would make a good addition to this series on Converting Visitors to Revenue

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  • Discussion

    What do you think? Leave a comment. Alternatively, write a post on your own weblog; this blog accepts trackbacks [Trackback URL]. Comment Policy


    On January 24th, 2008 at 9:55 am, Elizabeth said:

    Excellent interview with 2 of my favorite people!

    On January 25th, 2008 at 9:18 am, Bag Lady said:

    Do I just put an ad on my page and a company send me funds when someone clicks on it? I presume I would need to contact the company and make arrangements in advance. If this is the case, how do I go about it?

    Bag Lady

    Bag Lady’s last blog post..Snow Today!

    On January 25th, 2008 at 9:44 am, Wendy Piersall said:

    Hi there Bag Lady :)

    Great question - getting paid for ad clicks is pretty tough to manage for an independent publisher, and an advertiser probably wouldn’t want to track clicks like this on a smaller site (as in, less than a million page views a month).

    So you need to find a CPC ad network, such as AdSense, Chitika, AdBrite, or ShoppingAds. Since I see that you are on Blogspot, if I were you I would start with AdSense.

    Good luck! :)

    On January 26th, 2008 at 3:36 am, Suzie Cheel said:

    this is so useful, great questions Wendy I can see what I can do.
    his looks like being a great series

    On January 26th, 2008 at 6:00 pm, CB Blankenship said:

    Wow it can really get overwhelming. I have started up an ecommerce site and am doing what you did in ‘06 . . . learning on the fly! There are so many avenues to getting your name out there and trying to make money. thanks for the article I am going to google Daren and get deeper into this.
    Neat concept and advice . . . thanks!

    On January 27th, 2008 at 6:27 am, Tom At The Home Business Archive said:

    Good ideas! I always digg and stumble my posts, but also other peoples posts.

    Tom At The Home Business Archive’s last blog post..By: How To Have Success With A Home Based Business | Internet Home Business Marketing Strategies, Resources And Tips By Online Home Business Expert Tom Lindstrom

    On January 27th, 2008 at 9:54 am, Dorothy Stahlnecker said:

    Wendy, great interview..I hope I can get my partner to read this as she is the techie part. We know traffic is important hope to tack this year, and interesting regarding some readers too loyal to click and buy..gotta find that product they have to have…

    Many hugs..your so helpful..

    Dorothy from grammology
    remember to call your gram

    So glad to be back…

    Dorothy Stahlnecker’s last blog post..Hello from the other side?.I’m back?.

    On January 27th, 2008 at 11:27 am, Cookiemouse said:

    Darren makes a good point about regular readers getting blind to Adsense. Natural search brings a lot of clicks so SEO is very important.

    Cookiemouse’s last blog post..Raw chocolate at the Noordermarkt

    On January 28th, 2008 at 6:35 pm, Barbara Rozgonyi, Wired PR Works said:

    Great series, Wendy - have to stay tuned!
    RE: affiliate links. Here’s a suggestion that works for me - buy a URL that relates to the product and then redirect it to your affilate link so that you “Brand” your affilate site. Ideas: add an s to the end of the domain, a “the” at the beginning, hyphenate the words and use .net instead of .com. Google picks up the your affiliate site in the search this way.
    Love the CommentLuv!

    Barbara Rozgonyi, Wired PR Works’s last blog post..Networking and PR | Making Friends-Managing Contacts

    Mentions on other sites...

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    3. The Converting Visitors to Revenue Interview Series :: Kris Jones, Pepperjam | eMoms at Home on February 5th, 2008 at 1:34 pm

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