So here were my top programs in various categories of earning.
2011 Sponsored Blog Review Programs Used
It wasn’t even close, SocialSpark brought in earnings of over $800 by itself in 2011, this program has earned me more than $2000 since I started up doing reviews with them back in September 2008. IZEA SocialSpark cares about the quality of reviews and advertisers genuinely want reviews not a “dofollow” link. All links are nofollow in reviews, full disclaimers are required so no hiding or non-disclosures and you get to review high quality advertiser products or services that match your blog niche. I have reviewed quality software from Carbonite to Microsoft OneNote as a result of SocialSpark.
SocialSpark depends heavily on your blog niche and traffic to get advertiser opportunities, I see around $15 opps on my personal and poetry blogs, with around 2500-7000 unique visits per month. Personal blogs, mommy blogs tend to get more opps due to the type of advertisers. Tech blogs get far fewer offers but they are generally good when they come in. On occasion there may be a blog post that fits with the blogging/Wordpress/social media bloggers, so SocialSpark is worth signing up for no matter what your blog niche.
2011 Social Media Programs Used
Programs used: MyLikes, IZEA SponsoredTweets, Magpie (now SponsoredTweets), BuySellAds
Consider this, an average sponsored Tweet takes about 40 seconds to write and I get about $2.00 per sponsored tweet. If you do the math this would be a $180 dollars per hour if you had enough sponsored opps to write tweets for an hour straight. Now I don’t have a huge following at 12.5k Twitter followers, and I know entrepreneurs with 100k plus followers who make $70+ per tweet.
SponsoredTweets is a high profile earning program with many celebrities joining and they even launched SponsoredTweets India which is specific for Indian entrepreneurs to help monetize their Twitter networks.
I am picky about what I Tweet and I have turned down far more opps than I accept, this is why I have $311.50 in lost earnings compared to $201 earnings from my Twitter profile. MyLikes lost a lot of traction in 2010 and the quality of opps seems to be very poor, which is a shame since MyLikes was a really good program back in 2010. I still think it could have life again if the system gets a higher amount of quality advertisers. To date I found no great programs to monetize your Facebook / Google+ social networks. MyLikes will allow you to promote on Tumblr, Facebook but the CPC ratio is fair and though some make decent earnings it isn’t a program I highly recommend anymore.
2011 CPC Programs Used
Winner: Google AdSense
AdSense was single handedly the largest money earner for my site in 2011, with most of the earnings coming from this tech blog. Over $2,200 for the year with an average of just under $200 per month in 2011, AdSense alone earned almost as much as my entire 2010 year in earnings. Luminate I started late in the year and wound up averaging $8 – $20 per month but it was still new and unstable with them having an outage almost an entire month. LinkWorth, Infolinks I had put on smaller blogs and had very little earnings due to my blogs not really getting above 5k traffic per month.
2011 Affiliate Programs Used
Winner: Amazon Affiliate
2011 was the first year I really started making decent earnings with the Amazon Affiliate program. This was in part because I bought the EasyAzon plugin and started using it on all my blogs to help easily insert product images, details pages and affiliate links. You will also see that my personal blog which gets less than 7k monthly traffic accounts for almost 1/2 of my Amazon Affiliate earnings.
I had over $14,941.10 in sales from Amazon Affiliate related purchases in 2011 which yielded nearly $800 in commission. I broke down my channels also but one thing I don’t have is separate tracking ID’s for my social media efforts. From my own estimation I would say about 20-30% of my earnings come from promoting Amazon products like Android apps and such on my social media accounts. This technically would make Amazon Affiliate the best program to earn money on Twitter/Facebook.
Note, I sold many copies of Formidable Pro in 2011, this is my favorite WordPress forms plugin and I love it. I use it on all my blogs and I thought it worth promoting to other WordPress bloggers. I did make several hundred dollars from referral sales of Formidable Pro but not nearly as much as Amazon Affiliate. Though at $11.10 average per sale the commission per sale is much higher than Amazon Affiliate average.
I also made over a hundred dollars as a Blog Engage RSS Affiliate which is a great program that allows bloggers to auto submit their articles to the BlogEngage network. These commissions are recurring every month since it is a subscription so you can get a ton of repeat income.
2011 Ad Selling Programs Used
Programs used: BuySellAds, AdvertiseSpace, Komoona
I earned over $300 in banner ad sales through BuySellAds which was far more than any other advertising program. This is largely due to the BuySellAds market which allows advertisers to find your blog to advertise on easier. Komoona had a nice feature where you could give away ads with a coupon code and also allowed you to replace unsold ads with AdSense ads, but ultimately did not have a lot of conversions to banner sales. AdvertiseSpace had only a handful of sold ads on one of my smaller blogs in 2011.
No doubt if you have a blog with a lot of traffic you can make some big bucks with BuySellAds, but this network favors sites that get 100k to 1 million+ impressions per month if you want to make thousands per month from selling ads. You generally also need over 20k Twitter followers if you want to monetize your Twitter account.
2011 Programs that Sell Links
I am constantly experimenting with ways to make money online and even though Google frowns and penalizes blogs that sell links on their website, I vested time and effort into testing programs and took the risk. I was appropriately penalized for it as well. When I had a PageRank 4 on DragonBlogger.com in 2011 link offers came in mass, Intellilinks was the easiest and best system to use for earning money from hosting some links in a sidebar or footer section on your blog. I earned hundreds of dollars for doing nothing but hosting a link, but it comes at a price. I received a message in my Google webmaster tools from Google that paid links were detected and that my site would be penalized. As a result I lost my PR4 status and was downgraded to a PR0 in 2011 from testing services which pay bloggers to host links.
But hey, sometimes you are curious and you have to know. In the end, it didn’t hurt my blog traffic when I lost PageRank nor my earnings in any other platform, but it did cause the paid link services to stop offering paid links. If you really are looking for a passive way to earn on your blog, this is something potentially to try and I did make some with LinkWorth, LinkVehicle and Teliad, but Intellilinks pays the best and had the best offers. If you want to reduce risk of penalty then I suggest you host no more than 1-2 links at a time. The higher your PageRank the more you can get for your links too.
This was a summary of my top online earning programs for 2011 and my blogging related income came to $9155.59 which was higher than my previous 2 years of blogging combined. This was my 3rd year running my blogs and my momentum was going strong. There were 2 months in 2011 where I exceeded $1000 income in a single month.
I did however have a lot of blogging related expenses with hiring on site writers and experimenting with programs, marketing and such. As a result about 40% of my gross income went to expenses, so my net profit was actually about only 55% of the total income shown above.
In 2012 I continue to look to optimize AdSense performance as well as develop stronger affiliate earnings with Amazon.com. I don’t really see any new paid blogging programs popping up, but if any do I will test them out as well. SocialSpark is probably still going to be the leader for sponsored post reviews in 2012.