This question came in on AskMissyWard.com. Got an affiliate marketing question? Ask away and I'll answer it as time permits.
“I recently started a new blog featuring kitchen-tested vegan recipes and post both great dishes and the disasters. Ideally, I'd like to cover the costs of running the blog – hosting, my email newsletter, etc. and it would honestly be great if I could make some money out of it. I was planning on giving affiliate marketing a shot after sitting in on part your training day during Affiliate Summit East 2012. Can you let me know your thoughts on when I should start monetizing a new blog?” – Michelle
There are two schools of thought on this subject. Below are the pros and cons of both philosophies.
Build Your Blog First, Monetize Later
Pro: Some bloggers believe that the reader’s focus will be drawn to content rather than ads which may build a stronger audience faster.
Con: You'll constantly be trying to figure out that perfect moment where you should start monetizing.
Con: You might underestimate the value of your traffic and leave all that money on the table.
Con: You might have to go through a blog redesign to include space for ads that you didn't account for when starting your blog.
Con: You may realize that your readers are not buyers. They'll love all of your recipes, but won't buy that Rachel Ray cookware you may be trying to sell.
Monetize Your Blog from the Start
Pro: Between the hard costs associated with running your blog plus the time you're spending doing it, isn't some money better than no money?
Pro: You can incorporate space for ads immediately, rather than having to redesign later.
Pro: Your readers will have a consistent experience from day one, rather than questioning your motives the day you decide to monetize your content
Pro: Learning what works early on can increase potential income down the road. (What products sell, where are my best ad placements on my site, which ad serving platform works best for me)
Con: New blogs less likely to make significant money without having traffic.
Con: Finding advertisers can be more difficult as some require you to have a certain traffic level before they'll allow you into their affiliate program.
I subscribe to the “Monetize Your Blog from the Start” because it's rarely my intent to create a blog or website that won't generate revenue.
Let me know what you wind up doing!