Maximizing Your Website's Income by Monetizing RSS Feeds
For blog owners, monetization options are not limited to just the on-screen real estate of the blog itself. In fact, with the growing popularity of RSS, many of your blog readers won’t even visit your blog. If they’re only reading in a feed reader, your monetization efforts on the blog may not be benefiting. However, RSS feeds present some unique monetization opportunities of their own.
Option #1: Sell Ad Space
The first option for monetizing an RSS feed is to sell ad space (or links) just like you would on your website or blog. The most popular method of selling ads in an RSS feed is to place brief text ads at the bottom of the feed (they typically do not appear on the blog itself, just in the feed) which includes a link to the advertiser. Advertisers will gain exposure by having their ad and link seen by your blog’s subscribers.
Another option is to sell ads within the body of your feed. Not many bloggers are currently doing this. John Chow offers a 300 x 250 inbedded ad that appears on blog posts as well as in RSS feeds. This is an option for any blogger, but many audiences will be turned off by an ad of this size within the feed.
MediaFed provides another option that looks interesting.
Option #2: Pay-Per-Click
Pay-Per-Click advertising is popular with both advertisers and publishers. Of course AdSense is the leading choice for website owners who are looking to make money by hosting PPC ads on their site. However, PPC ads can also be included in RSS feeds. Typically, the ads will be placed at the bottom of the RSS feed. If you’re interested in monetizing your feed with PPC ads, here are a few of your choices:
Pheedo – Pheedo’s service is compatible with leading blogging platforms and with FeedBurner. Pheedo ads appear at the bottom of RSS feeds, and ad publishers have the option of including the ads on the site in addition to the feed.
FeedBurner Ads – FeedBurner users have the option of including Google AdSense ads in their feeds. This can easily be set up through your FeedBurner account. Simply login to FeedBurner and select your feed. Then click on the “Monetize” tab and you’ll be able to activate the option.
Yahoo! Publisher Network – The Yahoo! Publisher Network Ads in RSS is currently in beta. Those who are approved for inclusion in the program will be able to include Yahoo’s PPC ads in their RSS feeds.
Bidvertiser – One of the leaders in PPC ads has recently expanded to include PPC for RSS feeds.
Option #3: Affiliate Links
Another popular method of website monetization involves affiliate programs. If you are not interested in using PPC ads in your feed, affiliate links may be the answer. Selling advertising space may require having an established audience of subscribers. For those bloggers who are building their subscriber base, or for those who don’t want to take the time to sell ad space, affiliate links are an easy and potentially profitable solution.
Of course you can include affiliate links within your blog posts, but you can also use them anywhere that you would use direct ads. For example, instead of selling links at the bottom of your feed, you could include an affiliate link to a program of your choice. The down side of using affiliate links as compared to direct ads is that you don’t make any money unless someone clicks through and takes some type of specified action.
Promoting a lot of different affiliate programs can become a chore to track. If you’re promoting 20 different programs, you could have 20 different accounts to watch. For this reason third party affiliate managers are very popular and beneficial for publishers. A third party company may represent hundreds of different affiliate programs that you can track in one place, and you’ll receive one check. Most affiliate programs have a minimum payout, so if you miss the cutoff you’ll have to wait to get your check at a later time. With a third party service you may have a small income from several different products, but they will all be pooled together and you’ll get paid if your collective total meets the minimum payout.
If you’re looking for appropriate affiliate products to promote, here are some of the leading programs that you can join:
Commission Junction – One of the leading managers of affiliate programs, Commission Junction will allow you to apply for hundreds or thousands of affiliate programs in a wide range of industries. Most of the advertisers will provide you with marketing materials such as banners or text links.
ClickBank – If you’re looking for high commissioned affiliate products, ClickBank is a great choice. CB offers only downloadable products, primarily e-books, and many of the programs have very high payouts.
LinkShare – Very similar to Commission Junction, LinkShare manages many affiliate programs for a variety of different companies.
Amazon – One of the leading affiliate programs, Amazon gives you the opportunity to promote just about any type of product you can think of.
How Can You Include Ads in Your RSS Feed?
If you are selling ads or using affiliate ads for your feeds you will need to select an option for displaying these ads in your feed. The first option is to manually include them at the end of each blog post, which means they’ll also appear on your blog. Most RSS advertisements will appear only in the RSS feed itself, not on the blog, and there are a few options for doing this.
For WordPress users there are a number of plugins that allow you to add content to the bottom of your feed without it appearing on the blog.
PostPost – One of the most useful plugins I have used for myself or for clients if Doug Karr’s PostPost plugin. With PostPost you can log in to WordPress and easily add anything that you want to appear before or after your RSS feed (you can also add something before or after the post on the blog without it showing up in the feed). This is an easy way to include ads or affiliate links at the end of your feed.
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