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So you’ve finally started your blog, and things are going pretty great.
You’re publishing new posts regularly, promoting them on Pinterest or other social media platforms, and you’re finally getting some steady traffic.
And now you’re wondering, “How can I start making some money off this thing?”
We get it!
Ads are usually the first place that everyone starts because they’re the easiest to set up and require the least amount of effort.
And that’s a good thing because you’re SUPER busy in the beginning stages (and frankly all stages in the first couple of years) and don’t have time for much else.
Ads can be a really great way to earn a quick buck on the people that are already visiting your site.
But putting ads on your blog isn’t always the right thing to do…
We specifically did NOT have ads on our first blog for at least a year or so, despite having TONS of traffic at the time.
And we STILL don’t have any ads on this blog.
We talk a bit more about our first experience with putting ads on our website in our podcast episode about what not to do when you want to make money blogging:
We have some good reasons why, and we’ll share those in this article along with everything else you need to know about ad networks for bloggers.
But first, let’s go over the basics about what ad networks are and exactly how you make money from them so you know what you’re getting yourself into when you start shopping around for a good ad network.
How Do You Make Money From Ads?
This is a great question because there are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there surrounding ads and how businesses make their money.
I, for one, am definitely the person that SWEARS Facebook is listening to me because they serve up ads about a product 5 minutes after I have a conversation about them.
But contrary to this popular belief, Mark Zuckerberg, Alexa, Siri, or whatever tech god you pray to, is not listening to your conversations.
Companies — and more specifically the data that they have access to — are just that good.
You know the general gist of it: Your online search habits and activities are monitored to some extent and these companies are able to put together an entire profile or avatar for someone like you.
(The Social Dilemma, anyone? Highly recommend it!)
Companies create ads for their products and then pay ad networks to push those ads in front of a targeted audience.
And you get served with ads for all the things you’ve already looked at and for all of the things that you don’t even know that you want yet!
How great! This is why we’re all broke with houses full of shit we don’t need.
Anyway, this is also great for you just like it’s great for the companies that pay for these ads.
Because these are the ads that are also placed on your website — that target the wants and needs of the people that visit your website.
As an online content creator, you have developed a targeted audience, and those ad network agencies want to pay you to put ads in front of your audience.
Or, alternatively, some ad networks place ads related to the context of your content and niche, so that even when someone has their cookies turned off, they can still see relevant ads.
So, if your blog is about training dogs, there might be ads related to dog training, puppy food, etc.
The ad networks specifically act as a middleman between you and the advertisers — bringing a large number of digital publishers together with a vast selection of advertisers, and pairing them up based on niche.
This is why your spare website space is valuable to ad networks and advertisers. Keep reading below for how exactly the money is determined and paid.
How Ad Networks Determine Payments
In most cases, how much you get paid depends on either how much traffic your website receives, or how many clicks or actions the ad on your website generates for the advertiser.
Each ad network has different qualifications and criteria, but here are the three most common ways payments are calculated:
CPM (cost per mille, or cost per thousand impressions)
With CPM, you get paid a set amount per 1,000 impressions (views) on your site.
This is one of the most common payment formulas for ad networks, and the average payout ranges between $1 – $15 per 1,000 impressions.
CPM is great if you have a lot of traffic, but you won’t make much money if you’re only getting a few thousand visitors per month.
One of the greatest benefits of using an ad network with a CPM payment format is that it can make your ad income relatively predictable, assuming you have stable and consistent website traffic.
CPC (cost per click)
With a CPC payout method, you get paid a set amount for each time someone clicks on an ad on your site.
The average pay range for CPC payout types is $1 – $5 per click.
Success is pretty variable by niche–meaning some niches (like fashion, fitness, etc.) have an audience that is more likely to actually click on an ad, while others might be less likely to do so.
Traffic plays a role here, but having a highly engaged audience is most important.
And since your ad income depends on your readers taking action, it is not as easy to predict how much you’ll earn each month.
CPA (cost per acquisition or action)
As you can guess from the definition, a CPA payout type means you get paid each time someone makes a purchase or takes a specific action (like signing up for an email list) after clicking on an ad.
This is less common for ad networks and is more similar to affiliate marketing.
The biggest difference between the two is that you can earn money from someone signing up for an email list or another similar action, where most affiliate marketing agreements don’t allow for that.
Usually, these campaigns have much higher payouts per acquisition or action, compared to CPC or CPM models, because it’s much harder to actually make a sale or get a reader to complete an action.
And of course, that means much less predictable income–but with the right partnership, you can make a pretty penny.
How Do Ad Networks Work?
You have to apply to ad networks and actually get approved to work with them. More on the conditions for that later in this article.
Many of the better ad networks for bloggers will generally ask you for information on your site performance so they know how much traffic you get to your website.
Occasionally, you’ll find that there could be a setup fee to get started, but most applications and setup are free and/or fees are often waived if you have enough traffic.
Generally, ad networks want to partner with websites that have a LOT of traffic, because those will be the most profitable partnerships.
The way ad networks make their money is by taking a commission from each ad campaign that advertisers purchase from them. Think of it as their cur for doing the networking and negotiating for you.
You can always approach companies directly on your own to see if they’d like to purchase ad space on your website, and some people do.
But then you have to do all the invoicing, monitoring of ads, figuring out dimensions, and keeping a steady rotation of ads on your site so you continue to earn money.
It’s more work than it’s worth for most people — us included.
Ad networks are the best way to go if you want to make any serious money from ads on your website.
Are Ads Right for Me?
Well, as exciting as all of this sounds, there is a catch. A big fat catch.
Ads, to put it simply, just look like shit.
Here’s an example of what our health and wellness website looks like. Also, I’m writing this from Germany, so that’s why you’re seeing ads in German. 😅
Any blog or website will ALWAYS look better and navigate easier without ads. 100% of the time.
I mean… I have a blog on weight loss for WOMEN — and this is the ad that gets served up to me when I view my website:
Some ads definitely look a lot better than others, but they’re still ads… They look tacky and unprofessional and they divert attention away from your content.
In fact, the entire point of ads is to divert attention away from your content — to get people to click on other people’s products and websites.
And this can be great, of course. Because this is how you make money.
But you need to consider it relative to the other ways that you can make money with your blog. If it means fewer people are signing up for your email list or clicking links to your products, it might end up doing more harm than good.
Or there is just the overall impression to consider. If your website is littered with ads, people might think it’s less trustworthy and simply leave for a more reputable source of information.
But the more ads you have in the more obtrusive and obnoxious places, the more money you will make.
The bottom line is that you need to find a balance between the aesthetics and navigation of your website and the money you want to earn from ads.
I think that the decision of whether or not to put ads on your blog boils down to a few things:
- How much traffic you’re getting to your website
- How desperate you are to make a quick buck NOW
- What niche you’re in and whether they make sense for your overall strategy
We chose to wait a year before putting ads on our health and wellness blog until we had enough traffic to partner with a premium ad network.
We earned as much as $4,500/month with ads on this website at the height of its traffic and this turned out to be a GREAT diversification strategy for us when it came to earning money.
But we’ve also chosen not to put ANY ads on this website because we don’t want to sacrifice any of the aesthetics or our credibility to make a little extra money on ads.
And we’re very happy with that decision because we monetize this blog in a variety of other ways that are more profitable.
For us, after deciding that we DID want to put ads on our health and wellness blog, the traffic numbers were key to deciding WHEN to get started with ads…
What to Consider Before Choosing an Ad Network
Well, the very first thing to consider is whether or not you even qualify to sign up with an ad network.
Much like college, you don’t automatically get accepted. But there is a space for [almost] everyone!
Many ad networks have strict traffic requirements, only work with specific niches, and require a certain quality of website and content before allowing you to put their ads on your site.
You will have to research these requirements for each company that you look into to see if you qualify because it varies by company. But we’ve done some of the initial groundwork for you in this article.
Generally, the biggest one that you will have to worry about is the traffic requirements.
The higher your traffic is, the better the ad network you can partner with, and the more money you will make.
That being said, this is what we advise our students about getting started with ads:
If your blog is brand new and the visitors are still barely trickling in, there isn’t any point in putting ads on your site. Don’t sacrifice the look and credibility for $1/day. It ain’t worth it.
Instead, wait until you get some steady and consistent traffic to your site (100+/day at least) and then partner with a better ad network.
Ads can also slow your site down and the higher bounce rate is not worth the $16 you might make over the course of a month.
Additionally, most ad networks typically have a minimum payout amount, so you might have to wait a while to receive your earnings if they’re that low.
They also differ in how they pay you: direct deposit, PayPal, etc. The PayPal fees can add up, so it’s something to consider.
Of course, every blog is different, and so is each ad network; so let’s take a look at our favorite ad networks, and what you need to know about each of them.
Top 6 Ad Networks for Bloggers
Monumetric is one of the highest-rated ad networks out there.
They first started out as publishers, and then moved into an ad agency, which gives them a unique perspective and understanding of the needs of publishers, not just advertisers.
They have personalized support, offer lots of customization, and ensure mobile optimization of their ads on your site.
Most importantly, though, they have one of the lowest commission rates in the industry at just 15-30%, compared to the industry standard of 40-60% commission–which means you make more money from each ad campaign.
Monumetric is a great place for new bloggers to get started with ads once you’ve reached 10,000 average monthly pageviews, which is their minimum threshold to sign up.
They do charge a $99 setup fee if you have fewer than 80,000 page views per month, but you can quickly make that fee back with the extra money you pocket thanks to their low commission charge.
Additionally, Monumetric has four different tiers of service and ad management based on the number of page views your site receives–from their entry-level tier that starts at 10,000 monthly views, all the way up to their top tier, which is anything over 10,000,000 page views per month.
That means Monumetric can truly grow with your online business–and you can continue to grow your ad revenue, without skipping a beat.
Also, they offer a free site audit and consultation if you meet their minimum requirements. It’s a great place to get started and chat with someone to see if this is the right ad network for you.
What you need to know:
- Payout Type: CPM
- Minimum of 10,000 page views in 30 days to sign up
- $99 setup fee if your site has less than 80,000 views per month
- A minimum of 6 ad slots is required
- Net 60 days payout schedule
- Low commission of 15-30%
This is by far the best ad network to start out with because it has lower traffic requirements than many of its competitors! This is what we recommend to our students in our Launch Your Blog Biz course.
This is the first stepping stone before…
Mediavine is a very well-known ad network, and for many bloggers, getting accepted into their ad management program is often seen as a milestone achievement.
That’s because there is a higher barrier to entry with a minimum of 50,000 sessions in 30 days — and they also require long-form, engaging content to get accepted.
On top of that, they are also known for their high earning potential.
With Mediavine, your revenue share actually increases based on the number of impressions you receive, not just site traffic–which means the more engaged your audience is, the more you earn.
This is important because it means you’re getting rewarded for the high-quality content that you’re creating that keeps people clicking over to other pages on your website.
One of my favorite features of Mediavine is that they use advanced “lazy loading” software that won’t slow your site down.
And if you create video content, their video player allows you to easily showcase and monetize your videos (or other people’s videos if you don’t have your own). This can also lead to increased ad revenue.8
I personally love that Mediavine totally supports my “find a balance” approach and takes a similar “less is more” approach to ad placement — fewer, higher-quality ads with the right placement.
They do extensive testing and optimization to make sure you make the most money with the least amount of ads possible–which improves site speed and user experience.
And as an added bonus, they accept publishers from just about any niche–which makes them a great fit for many of the more specific niche blogs out there that might otherwise struggle to find a compatible ad agency.
What you need to know:
- Payout Type: CPM
- MInimum of 50,000 sessions in the previous 30 days (per Google Analytics)
- Original content in ANY niche as a lifestyle publisher
- Long-form, engaging content is a must
- Revenue share grows as impressions (not unique visits) grow, which allows you to focus on increasing engagement, not ad clicks
- Advanced “lazy loading” software that won’t slow your site down
- Optimized for video content
- Automatic, optimized ad placement (not customizable)
It’s for all of these reasons that we personally use Mediavine on our health and wellness website — after switching from #3 on the list below.
This is our top recommendation once you hit 50,000 sessions per month. They’re a fantastic company and one that is truly growing with their audience. We’ve love working with Mediavine!
AdThrive is another ad network that has a very high reputation amongst bloggers.
They have very high standards for both their advertisers and their publishers, and they take a hands-on approach during each step, from setup to rotating ad campaigns, to creating personalized ad layouts and more.
In fact, AdThrive is so confident that you will earn more ad revenue through them, that they promise to raise your RPM (revenue per thousand impressions) by at least 20% within two weeks, or they will pay you the difference.
On top of that, they also guarantee that you will get paid your share of the ad revenue, regardless of whether the advertiser pays up for their ad campaign or not.
But… The approval process is pretty rigorous.
You need a minimum of 100,000 monthly pageviews, which is a LOT! And you’ll also need unique, original, and engaging content in order to be approved (which I hope is something you have anyway).
If you apply and are not accepted, AdThrive is known for providing a detailed explanation of what needs to be corrected in order to be approved–so you can always make those changes, and apply again in the future.
But maybe get some more traffic first!
What you need to know:
- Payout Type: CPM
- Minimum of 100,000 monthly pageviews
- Unique, original and engaging content
- Rigorous approval process
- Personalized ad layout recommendations
- If you’ve been working with another ad network, they promise to raise your RPM (revenue per thousand impressions) by at least 20% within two weeks, or they will pay you the difference
We used AdThrive for years and really liked working with them. They placed all of the ads for us and would contact us when they identified areas with higher earnings potential. I have nothing but good things to say about them, although we did eventually switch from Mediavine.
This was primarily due to concerns over site speed and Mediavine being known for being very page speed-friendly. That being said, it’s possible that you can still earn more with AdThrive.
It depends on how you’re monetizing your site and what is most important for you. If you’re optimizing for ad clicks and money, AdThrive might be the way to go.
If you’re optimizing for email subscriptions and clicks to your product sales pages, page speed is going to become much more important to you.
If you have enough traffic to qualify for AdThrive, pat yourself on the back. You’re doing GREAT. We hope you’re monetizing all that traffic! It would definitely be worth it to reach out to AdThrive to see whether or not it might be worth the switch from Mediavine.
4. Google AdSense
Ah, Google AdSense… the ad network we love to hate.
I’d rather not have it on this list, to be totally honest with you.
But alas, I feel that I must because while they aren’t considered a “premium” ad network, they are sometimes the only option.
And that’s because they have no minimum traffic requirement.
So, if you really wanted to and I don’t know why you would, you could get started with Google AdSense ads immediately after launching your blog.
BUT having a lot of Google ads can slow your site speed, which will increase your bounce rate and lead to earning less money. And with a minimum payout amount of $100, you ain’t gonna be paid any time soon without much traffic.
Another thing I dislike about Google AdSense is that because it’s on so many sites, users are seeing the same ads everyyyywhere. It just makes your site look spammy and so much like everyone else’s.
And because they aren’t a premium network and are open to everyone, you’re going to have to set the ads up yourself. Premium networks generally set them up for you (because you already have the traffic that proves your worth to them as a client).
You want your blog to look amazing and unique and stand out from the rest! Don’t make it even harder to build trust and gain an active, engaged audience.
I’m clearly opinionated on this topic, but I will say that there are a lot of creators who earn quite a bit of money from Google AdSense AND it can be a great way to score some early wins on your website to keep you motivated.
What you need to know:
- Payout Type: CPM
- No minimum traffic requirement
- High payout minimum of $100
- Not a lot of real human support
- You can choose auto-placement for ads or customize placement yourself
- Not considered a “premium” at network and therefore has lower-quality ads
- This will take some work to set up yourself.
Google AdSense isn’t a bad starting point, but we recommend waiting to put ads up until you reach at least 10k/month and can start with Monumetric or an alternative premium ad network.
The peanuts that you make from Google AdSense just aren’t worth it.
Media.net is another good option if you’re just starting out, and don’t meet the minimum traffic requirements for some of the larger ad networks.
It’s also a great way to earn ad revenue even without cookies because their ads are all context-based–which means advertisers choose to place ads on your site based on what your content is about, and not by tracking your audience.
Contextual ads also help your ads feel less spammy because the ads are relevant to your content, and no cookie tracking provides extra security for your audience.
And don’t worry–Media.net, while a little different than the other ad networks listed above, is super legit. They’re powered by Yahoo and Bing, so they have a wide base of trusted advertisers to bid on your ad space.
The biggest drawbacks for this ad network are that the ad revenue typically isn’t very high, and the minimum payout amount is $100, so they might be holding your monies hostage for a while…
What you need to know:
- Payout Type: CPM
- No minimum traffic requirement
- Contextual ads–no cookies necessary
- Powered by Yahoo and Bing
- High minimum payout of $100
- Very customizable, and can be adjusted to match the look and feel of your website to avoid the copy-paste stock look of many ads
While we haven’t used Media.net ourselves, I would give this one a go before I chose Google AdSense.
6. Revenue Hits
Revenue Hits is different from the other ad networks on our list because they use a CPA (cost per action or acquisition) payout method.
That means that your site traffic, ad impressions, and even ad clicks are not relevant–only your reader engagement matters.
This also means there is no minimum traffic requirement to sign up for Revenue Hits.
As we mentioned earlier, CPA payout methods work more like affiliate sales, since the reader has to complete an action (like signing up for a mailing list) or actually purchase something in order for you to make money.
BUT there is a much higher payout per acquisition — often anywhere from $10 to $50.
Think of this more like playing a longer-term game where you aim for fewer, more targeted actions on your ads. Rather than the shotgun approach of tons of impressions and clicks.
What you need to know:
- Payout Type: CPA
- No minimum traffic requirement
- Payouts of $10 to $50 per acquisition or action
- Minimum payout of $50
- Great customer support
- Reader engagement is a must in order to make any money, since clicks and impressions won’t earn you anything.
We’ve also never personally used Revenue Hits before. But it’s also a good idea to test out different networks if you aren’t satisfied with the one that you have. For example, if you decide to start with Google AdSense or Revenue Hits, see how they work for a month or two.
Then maybe consider trying out Media.net or a different ad network.
Just make sure to compare any revenue earnings to actual traffic so you can get an idea of how much you’re making per visitor.
What about Ezoic?
Ezoic is another ad network that is popular amongst many bloggers.
I think it became popular because they don’t technically have any traffic requirements, but they have a different monetization program for anyone under 10,000 monthly page views — called Access Now.
Anyone with more than 10k views can sign up under their normal monetization program.
Ezoic does have some interesting features that allow you to set monetization goals and test out different ad locations. But overall, I find their website to be very technical and a little hard to understand for the non-ad savvy person (which includes myself and most bloggers, I think).
Feel free to check them out, but they aren’t a company I would personally use and I’ve only heard pretty negative feedback from many of my blogging students in our student support group.
Keep reading our conclusion below for our overall recommendations and, in our opinion, the best ad networks for bloggers.
How to Get Started with Ads on Your Blog
Hopefully, at this point, you’ve decided which ad network sounds like a good fit for your website and you’re ready to get started!
Remember to consider our earlier advice about whether it’s actually the right time for you to put ads on your blog or whether it will ever be right for you.
Putting ads on your blog does mean that you will make some compromises, including a less professional look, perhaps reduced credibility, slower site speed, and increased bounce rate.
But you make some monies, and that’s super important too!
Now that you’ve set some proper expectations, here is a summary of our recommendations:
- We recommend waiting until you reach 10,000 pageviews per month, and then starting with a premium ad network like Monumetric.
- Once you’re getting 50,000 views, you can and absolutely should upgrade to a higher-paying ad network like Mediavine. Or consider AdThrive if you are able to reach the 100k mark.
- If you absolutely have to start with something before you reach that 10,000 pageviews per month mark, then Revenue Hits, Media.net, or Google AdSense are all good options.
Just make sure you don’t place too many ad spaces on your site, and monitor your page speed to make sure you’re not losing traffic thanks to slow load times.
One thing I can tell you for sure is that if you are at the stage where you don’t yet qualify for most of the better ad networks on this list because you don’t meet the minimum traffic requirements, you turn your sights to two things:
- Getting MORE traffic (It solves all problems, really.)
- Monetizing in other ways.
Traffic heals all wounds. The more people you have, the more subscribers you are going to get and the more money you are going to make.
Increasing your traffic is definitely WAY easier said than done, and we’ve had our own struggles in this department, especially when it comes to SEO.
We made some big mistakes with SEO in the beginning that still haunt us to this day, but we’ve been able to right our SEO ship since (after a lot of blood, sweat, and mostly tears).
You can check out our SEO Blueprint for Bloggers course for more information and strategies on how we did that.
While working on increasing your traffic, make sure that you are also working on building your audience through email — so you can capitalize on every visit that your site gets.
And finally, focus on a revenue stream that will pay you MORE — in both the short and long term… like affiliate marketing.
This is where we started making our money and how we still make a large chunk of it today.
And no matter which path you choose for making money with your blog, make sure you get started today. Your future self will thank you!