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.

Feedvertising from Text-Link-Ads is a free program that will help you to manage ad space within your feeds. For more information on Feedvertising, read this article from Tubetorial.

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.

RSS Signature – I have not personally used the RSS Signature plugin, but it allows you to add content after your feed.

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28 Responses

Comments are now closed on this post.

  • Lee Robertson, January 7, 2008

    I use RSS Singature on a couple of WordPress sites and it works well. Not inserting any ads into those feeds at the moment, only Copyright information, but it could easily handle any kind of HMTL content. You would probably be best to use only HTML content. I would suggest using some kind of Ad Serving software to keep track of clicks and impressions for advertisers.

  • Karen Zara, January 7, 2008

    Just like Lee, I use RSS Signature on my blogs (the self-hosted WordPress ones, at least). The plugin is very easy to use.

    I don’t think I’m at a stage where I can monetise my feeds, but I’m going to keep your suggestions in mind just in case.

    Diana from 134u.com has written a good post linking to more plugins that let you add HTML to your feeds. Click here to check it out. And no, I haven’t been paid to promote her article. :-P

  • Wayne Liew, January 8, 2008

    Great resource for those who wanted to monetize their blog but at the same time have no any more space available on their blog.

    It is still good for me if a feed that I subscribed to have text links within it but a banner ads will be too much. A feed sometimes are subscribed because they contain no ads.

    Having significant amount of ads or prominent ads in a feed might just chase our subscribers away.

    Also, one needs to have a high amount of subscribers before monetizing their feeds as this is a big risk to lose the precious few subscribers.

  • Douglas Karr, January 8, 2008

    Thanks for the mention on PostPost! Ironically, I just updated it and added an is_single functionality to cover posts for single pages as well.

  • Wayne Smallman, January 8, 2008

    I did toy with advertising during the first year of ‘blogging, but then I abandoned most of that stuff around the summer of 2007.

    There are plenty of ways of making money from ‘blogging — almost as many ways as there are to annoy your readership.

    So caution is required…

  • Vandelay Design, January 8, 2008

    Karen,
    Thanks for the added resource. I’ll take a look at her article.

    Wayne L.,
    I agree that you wouldn’t want to go overboard with ads in feeds (or anywhere for that matter). Personally, I find the text ads at the bottom of feeds to be very unobtrusive and that certainly wouldn’t lead me to unsubscribe. As with anything, I’m sure there are some mixed opinions.

    Wayne S.,
    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Yes, it does need to be done with caution.

  • Tay - Super Blogging, January 8, 2008

    Thanks Steven, I have been meaning to look into this for some time and you’ve finally reminded me to do so. I downloaded one of the plugins and I’m working on tweaking it at this very moment. :)

  • 47, January 8, 2008

    Thanks for the tip! What kind of click-through and conversion rates are typical of RSS advertising?

    47

  • Thanks for the tips Steven,

    Especially about the ones on WP plugins to include content to feeds.

  • website beoordeling, January 9, 2008

    Thank you for this article and the comments given on this article. It has helped me much.

  • oppossum, January 9, 2008

    Thanks for the tip!
    Nice articel.
    Keep going!
    Happy new year!

  • Vandelay Design, January 9, 2008

    47,
    I’m just starting to experiment with this, so I don’t really have an answer for that question. I’m expecting click-throughs to be low, but I don’t have a specific number in mind.

  • Marc Money, January 10, 2008

    I have always gone down the Adsense route. It works quite well but I loose sleep worrying about getting kicked out. Thanks for a new idea! :-)

  • Beauty Product Blog, January 10, 2008

    I have to confess I am one of those people who had not considered the opportunities with my feeds. Talk about a “duh” moment! Thanks for getting my thought process kickstarted.

  • Diana13, January 10, 2008

    I’ve just installed the Feed Footer plugin and display affiliate link in my RSS footer. I don’t like ads on RSS either, but I think a link in footer is harmless.
    I will try Bidvertiser for RSS to see how it works.
    But I think that in order to monetize your feed, you must have a lot of subscribers. Just my 2 cents.

  • Diana13, January 10, 2008

    Thanks Karen for promoting my post :)

  • Vandelay Design, January 10, 2008

    Diana,
    I’d be interested to hear how the RSS monetization works for you. Yeah, I think I agree that you need a fairly large group of subscribers for it to be very effective.

  • Madhur Kapoor, January 10, 2008

    I think in order to be successful in this , you need to have a very large subscriber count . And those are some nice plugins you mentioned. I will give them a try .

  • Vandelay Design, January 10, 2008

    Madhur,
    I’m glad you like the plugins. PostPost is one of my favorites.

  • Tomas, March 23, 2008

    If Pay-Per-Click… then only adsense. I used another programs but they don’t work as good as adsense. Google pay high price for clicks.

  • fornetti, August 30, 2008

    I do not believe this

  • Leo, July 28, 2009

    Good info on PPC! Let this comment take as discussion, as I want to ask few some facts from you about pay per click. Do you think that pay per click is important for every webmaster? How much ppc expense (in percentage) of your income do you think is ok to incur? Actually, I have no experience about PPC, as I never used it for my websites and still I am gaining a lot of customers and sales. I am not going to say anything about my way of working because I do not want you to consider this comment as spam. But visiting my site can give you more information about how I am gaining thousands of customers in short time without PPC. I visited your blog because I am collecting information about the webmasters, campaigns and anything about pay per click that’s why when I saw your blog is great, I could not stop myself sharing something. In my opinion PPC is only beneficial if you optimize keywords and use the most relevant keywords only! Let this discussion going on? What are your views? Your Blog is really a great one! Maintaining a blog like yours is not an easy task, yet you did that! Congrates! – Any Comments? – Thanks – Regards

  • Yasmine, January 9, 2012

    Hi there,

    I realize this is an old article and I wanted to pass along one more tool that monetizes RSS feeds in case you were thinking of updating the post or one of your readers stumbles upon your post from Google like I just did.

    We have a new tool that helps blogs/sites monetize their RSS feeds called RevResponse’s RSS to Email tool (link is above). Instead of showing Adsense (or contextual ads), it suggests free resources such as whitepapers, PDFs and ebooks that’s relevant to the content of the newsletter. When a visitor downloads it, the blogger gets a commission.

    It’s completely free to use. Right now, we’re accepting business, career and tech sites/blogs. Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions.

    Thanks!