Blog Monetization- Make Money With Your Blog
| Suhani Sachdeva
I started my blogging career almost 10 years ago. It has been a great experience and the opportunities have grown over time. Ariana Huffington, Parez Hilton, Jeremy Shoemaker and Mike Airington are among other famous bloggers that became millionaires. I am even more impressed by the many people living in emerging markets built six or seven figure incomes blogging with shoestring budgets.
That doesn’t mean that blogging is a guaranteed path to riches, though. Many aspiring bloggers struggle to generate a sustainable income – or any income at all. If you want to become a successful blogger, you need to treat it like any other business. But monetizing one’s blog can be difficult, however, as there’s really no one-size-fits-all solution.
Now that you’ve chosen your blog topic, set up your WordPress account, bought your domain name, and started pumping out high-quality content on a regular basis. The hard work has finally started to pay off, and your number of monthly visitors has slowly risen into the thousands. The next step is figuring out how you can monetize your blog to create a revenue-generating content machine.
One thing that many bloggers overlook is how many monetization options are available. When that happens, they’re missing out on a world of opportunity.
Getting Started and FAQ
Blogging to Blog… or Blogging to Make Money?
So if I asked you today, are you blogging to blog, or blogging to make money, what would be your answer?
In most cases, many people would say they are blogging because they want to make money. However, most people would also likely say that they aren’t making money with their blog, even if they are writing 2-3 posts per day!
It’s all about the PASSION… I mean PROFITS!
How many times have you heard, follow your passion and the money will follow? I’m sure you’ve heard it a lot and it’s something everyone in the world of blogging likes to say… especially anyone who has already found success in blogging and making money!
Unfortunately this usually isn’t the case… probably more like 98% of the time.
One of the main reasons why passion is so important with blogging is because it takes a lot of time and effort and if you don’t care about what you are writing about, then you will quickly lose interest.
It’s much easier to make money with a financial blog and talk about boring topics such as increasing your credit score or how to get a new home loan — but no one really wants to write about that.
The money is in the Call to Action!
Instead bloggers need to look at their blogs as sales copy and a call to action, while also making it resourceful and informative for the people visiting your site.
People use the internet for three reasons, which one of these fits in with your blog?
- To be entertained
- To buy something
- To find information
Many people fall into the top category of being entertained, and this is one of the hardest areas to monetize.
If you have a blog that helps someone find reviews before buying something, this is a great place to be in for making money.
The last category is all about information, and something that could do very well with Google Adsense and affiliate marketing if done right.
Is your blog worth your time and your visitors time?
If you are still struggling to make money with your blog and your content, then it might be a good idea for you to step back for a moment and look at the big picture. If you were a visitor to your site, would have find any value in reading it’s content, and is it actually providing any value?
Not making money with your blog is one of the biggest turn offs for long term success and you really need to have a plan of attack in place. Blogging takes a lot of time and resources, so the last thing you want is to keep digging yourself in a bigger hole for time and money and not sure where you and your blog might end up in a year from now.
How Do Bloggers Make Money?
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into how bloggers make money. I won’t dive too deep into the topic of how much you can earn since we’ve already covered that at length in our Blogging Basics guide, but I will say once more that yes, it is possible to make a full-time living by running a blog.
Ways To Monetize a Blog
1. Paid Ads
Running display advertising on your website is another way you can monetize your blog. According to many income reports of successful bloggers across the web, much of their monthly income is attributed to affiliate marketing. Display ads won’t make you nearly as much money as affiliate marketing, but they’re still something you should look into when figuring out how to make money blogging.
To make money off display ads, you must first develop a substantial amount of traffic, as is the case with every other monetization opportunity on this list. You won’t see a lot of money roll in without several thousand monthly visitors who are on your site and interacting with display ads.
Display ads function on a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) attribution model. Every time someone clicks on an ad on your site, you’ll be paid a small fee. One click will only be worth a few pennies to a dollar, but if you’re able to garner thousands of clicks per month, you can start developing a secondary source of income.
The problem with display ads is that they make for a very poor user experience. We’ve all been there. You’re browsing your favorite blog only to be interrupted by a pop-up ad mid-sentence. You either get frustrated by the interruption, or you’ve been conditioned to scroll past it with your ad blinders on.
Ads also take people off your site, and you want to keep users on your site as long as possible. After clicking on an ad, users will head over to another website and potentially spend money elsewhere.
Although there are some drawbacks, display ads are still an effective way to increase your monthly revenue. As long as you can incorporate ads in a non-intrusive manner, they can benefit your bottom line in the long run. If you’re interested in display ads, one online ad network you can look into is Google AdSense.
Internet advancement has provided a wide range of opportunities for people to make ‘easy’ money at the comfort of their homes. One of these options is PPC, commonly referred to as Pay Per Click advertisements that enable bloggers and publishers to earn money as visitors click on Ads available on their WebPages.
AdSense is one of the most popular pay per click programs that is being used currently.
The program is specifically designed for online advertisers and the website owners. The advertisers get a chance to promote and market their products while the website owners get to earn from the click of the adverts via their websites.
It is upon the website owners to do all they can to attract more visitors to their websites. There are still a lot of uncertainties on whether the program works. The publishers can join for free and make money. Is the scheme really free?
The Google AdSense is a scheme that is developed by Google with an aim of getting profits. The main aim of the scheme is to encourage the publishers to increase the chances of making a sale through clicks on their websites. The publisher applies to the Google Company and when they are approved they start earning.
The publisher can open a free blog which is also offered by Google to help create free blogs for all bloggers. It is upon the publisher to market their web by having quality articles to attract enough traffic. Where their clicks made on the adverts via your website or blog you start earning. It is a free way to earn money online.
However, this scheme does not really work for all the publishers. There are those who earn thousands of dollars on monthly basis from the Google AdSense program while there are those who make nothing out of it. As a precaution, it is not advisable to take the AdSense program as primary source of income. Make it an extra source of income not to waste your time, just like some publishers have done.
Even though this revenue sharing program has been praised as one of the easiest money earning tricks on the internet, the truth of the matter is that these earnings are not made on a silver platter. In fact, some bloggers and publishers have had to look for other money earning alternatives largely due to current changes that are making it pretty hard for people to earn money on the internet with Adsense.
Some of these reasons making it hard to earn money with Google AdSense include:
- Lack of good volume of free or organic traffic
- Fluctuations in CPC and CTR
- Ineffective Ad code optimization
- High payment threshold
- Poor content optimization
- The risk of invalid clicks
Even though Adsense has been with us for more than 8 years now and some webmasters have made huge chucks with it after its inception, people still hold many controversies surrounding Adsense. In fact, not so many people are convinced that it can really generate a lot of money as such to make it reasonable for one to quit his day job as claimed internet gurus.
However, the truth is that Google has reported Adsense as their main source of revenue since its introduction especially on search page results. This shows you that you still have good chances of making some cash with Google Adsense if you do it the best way.
Top AdSense Alternative to Monetize a Blog
Not aware of the best way to monetize the advertisement space on your website? The Google AdSense would be the choice but there is an AdSense alternative that one should take into consideration. It is so natural to make the most out of the money and time that one spends promoting their websites or blogs.
Directly Selling the Advertising Space
What is the need of sharing the profits earned from the advertisements on your website? It is possible to sell the advertisement spaces to the marketers and the advertisers. All that you need to do is inform of the available advertisement space. It will save up to 20% to 50% that is taken by the advertisement companies in terms of commissions.
Selling the advertisement space also enables the advertiser to sell the space based on time. The time could be a week, fortnight or month or even annual basis depending with the advert timing. One could make more instead of relying on the earning made depending on the clicks.
How to Sell Advertisements Spaces
One can start selling the space available for the advert by contacting companies they may think would be interested in the advert. One can also auction the available Ad space. The auctioning also offers the user with the option of understanding the real market value of the ad space.
It is important to understand that there is more involved in selling the web space privately rather than using the ad network or the agencies. The agents use the automated systems to tell the number of impressions that one might have made and how much is earned.
When one is selling the ad space they should not waste even a single chance. The unsold space could be sold off to the networking companies like AdBrite, Chikita, ValueClick and even AdSense. However, one should not make them the primary option for making revenue.
The website owner should start off by selling the spaces on their own and what remains given to the agents or the networking company. The amount of money earned from the adverts made privately will be more than that from agents as they charge relatively high commissions.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing may be the best way to make money with your blog. Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting other companies’ products and receiving commissions for every referral sale you make.
This type of marketing is a great place to start because it’s cheap and has low entry barriers. If you’re promoting other products, you won’t have the overhead costs of creating your own product or sitting on a stockpile of inventory. You’re simply redirecting people to products you think they’ll love and find useful.
The trick is not coming off as a spammy blogger who’s peddling junk. You should only endorse affiliate products that you can honestly recommend based on your experience with them or products that your audience will find useful.
You should also be upfront and transparent with your readers about how you make money from affiliate links. If they think you’re genuinely trying to help them, they’ll appreciate and trust you more.
You’ll receive a percentage of every sale you refer to another company. Therefore, smaller sales will yield you a few bucks here and there, but higher ticket items can bring in much more money. The goal is to build a relationship with your audience so that they trust you enough to take your recommendation and purchase more expensive products linked from your site.
When getting started, however, you should focus on less expensive products that your audience is more likely to buy. Since they have a lower cost, these products don’t require as much thought from potential buyers and can lead to your first affiliate sales. Once you’ve grown your audience and developed a steady stream of income from these cheaper products, you can start focusing on higher ticket items.
At this point, your audience will begin seeing you as a thought leader and will trust your recommendations. Then you can start pushing more expensive products. These will yield you higher returns and will help your income grow. You can also head to our guide on the highest paying affiliate networks.
Affiliate marketing is one of the newer and more exciting ways to make money online while working at home.
Basically, you’ll partner up with a business to help them sell their products online. You create a website and add useful content, such as product reviews. But you also put affiliate links in your posts; that way, people reading your posts can use the links to buy the products you mention.
Every time someone makes a purchase using one of your affiliate links, you’ll get paid a commission on it. As you grow your site, add more links, and gain new readers, your profits can increase exponentially.
This is a win-win situation for both you and the brands you’re linking to. They make money because you’re helping them gain exposure to new customers. And, of course, you generate revenue with every sale made through your site.
However, you can’t just create a website, start linking to products, and call it affiliate marketing. You need to use the proper affiliate links to get commissions from the sales.
Is Affiliate Marketing Right for You?
There are many things that make affiliate marketing appealing to beginners.
First of all, it doesn’t require any money to get started. You’re not selling products that you carry, so you don’t need to stock up on inventory. The online marketing tactics you’ll use to gain customers don’t require any funds, just some time spent learning how to do them.
You can also choose any niche for your affiliate marketing site. You don’t want to have a general site that features all kinds of random products. Instead, you can choose an area that you’re interested in, such as cooking or fashion, and build your affiliate marketing site around that.
The people who succeed most with affiliate marketing tend to be motivated self-starters. There won’t be anyone watching over your shoulder to make sure you get the work done. But if you’re committed to the idea of making money as an affiliate, you shouldn’t find it too hard to invest the time needed to get off the ground.
3. Physical Products
Selling products is one of the more profitable ways to monetize your blog. The products you decide to sell could range from digital products to physical goods depending on what you’re qualified to offer.
Digital products are quite popular, as they’re a cheap way to make money over time. Much of the money and work that goes into developing a digital product is spent upfront. Once you create the digital product, you can sell it for months or years for little extra cost. They quickly become a steady source of passive income.
Examples of digital products could be self-publishing an e-book or creating an online course. This will require a lot of work, but if you think you’re an expert in a certain area and could help others learn your skills, these might be good options.
You could also decide to sell a physical product through an e-commerce store. This will require you to buy inventory or have access to inventory. If you don’t want to risk shipping products on your own, you can decide to get into drop shipping, which is the process of selling products but having another company handle all of your fulfillment and delivery.
Monetizing your blog with merchandise can take a little work, but it’s surprisingly easy when you really think about it. Get the basics under your belt, and you’ll be making money in no time.
So, what are the basics?
Create Merchandise-Ready Branding
Before you put even a stitch of thought into what type of merchandise you’re looking to sell, it’s important to brand your blog in a way that will be tailor-fit to merchandise.
What this means is that you need a logo and tagline that will fit just as well on your blog as it will on a t-shirt or other piece of merchandise. Most bloggers already have something along these lines, although that isn’t to say that it is well-suited for printing on merchandise.
Keeping things small and compact is key and if you’re hoping to have different types of merchandise, you’ve got to ensure that each of your designs is cohesive with one another. Colors need to be the same, as do shapes and sizes. If the logo or other branding elements you currently have for your blog aren’t suitable for print, it’s time to make some changes.
Avoid Taking the Easy Route
You can easily create some branded t-shirts and mugs to be sold as merchandise on your blog, and quite frankly, you should. This isn’t where it should end, though. It’s important to be as creative as possible when determining what type of merchandise you’re going to sell, and it should coincide with whatever your niche might be.
If you run a food blog, for example, how about branded tumblers or plates? Those who run a tech blog might want to consider selling branded USB thumb drives. The options are endless, and you can brand practically anything these days.
You could even consider taking a DIY approach and use paints or other materials to brand your merchandise. While it may not be the best model for blogs that sell large volumes of merchandise, it could be ideal for those who are just getting into monetizing.
Don’t Overlook Shipping Packaging
Most people can agree that it’s a great feeling when a package shows up at the front door. One way to make your blog’s merchandise stand out even more (and thus further your branding efforts) is to actually focus on the packaging you use for shipping.
Most packages look relatively similar to one another, but you can stand out by using custom printed corrugated boxes or similar shipping materials that allow you to get creative. Even if you like ordering in bulk, you’re not restricted to plain packaging. You can also order custom made boxes in bulk.
The shipping package you end up using should be consistent with your branding, perhaps featuring your blog’s logo and tagline. You could keep it simple, too, as minimalism goes a long way when it comes to packaging.
Either way, you’ll only be helping to push your brand (and blog) in a forward direction by really taking the time to make the shipped merchandise package look unique.
4. Digital Products
As your blog continues to grow and mature, you’ll likely start looking for other ways that you can expand this online business. After all, your blog is a legitimate business, even if it may have started out as a personal interest or hobby. When you’ve built up an audience and developed a sizable mailing list, it’s time to capitalize on that reach by building a product or service off your blog.
You might remember an earlier article in this series where we talked about writing an e-book to accompany your blog. There are two main ways that you can go about handling the e-book. You could use your branding power and reach, selling the e-book to your audience either directly or through an online marketplace like Clickbank. Alternatively, you can give away your e-book for free, in exchange for people signing up for your mailing list.
Either way, it can prove to be very fruitful to offer an e-book or some sort of digital product. In terms of an e-book, you may already have a wealth of valuable material on your blog. You are updating it on a regular basis, after all, and you are establishing yourself as an expert in your field. This content can be re-purposed as an e-book, which can help to further establish and legitimize your position in the growing “blogosphere.”
If your niche lends itself better to a digital product, that’s a great way to go too. If you’re a software developer, perhaps you could offer some sort of online tool. If you’re a designer, you can offer a WordPress theme. It really depends on what you’re good at, what you like to do, and what you think would be received the best by your readership.
Content and Subscriptions
In addition to premium content that you can offer as a “members only” area on your blog, you can also think about subscriptions in a slightly different way. Using the example above of an online tool or service, you can offer this on a subscription basis.
Say, for instance, that you have developed on online tool that will help camera enthusiasts find the most highly-rated camera based on a set of criteria and preferences. This tool can then be made available to subscribers for a monthly or annual fee. Let your imagination be your guide and ask yourself whether you would pay for such an online service. If you would, there’s a good chance that other people with similar interests might too.
Be creative. Be original. And above all else, offer real value to your readers that is worth their hand-earned money.
Another great monetization opportunity is to offer a specialty service to your audience. This will allow you to capitalize on your specialty with much lower overhead than selling a physical product. For example, if you’re a social media guru, you can offer social media consultation to your audience for set fees.
You could also take what you learned from creating your own blog and sell your services. For example, you could help someone else set up their blog or even complete freelance writing jobs since you know how to write posts that bring in plenty of traffic. Whatever your specialty may be, there’s likely an opportunity to make money from it.
Having a blog is a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your field. If you are blogging a lot about real estate and you demonstrate knowledge in this area, people will come to respect your opinion on matters related to real estate. The same can be said about nearly every industry and nearly every niche. This “expert” status can prove to be very lucrative.
In this way, you can parlay your blog into a consulting business, allowing the two to work in tandem. If you are a realtor blogging about real estate, your blog can be a great source of referrals. This has also held true for designers, writers, artists, search engine optimization experts, and more. You can sell your services and use your blog as a means of reaching new clients.
If you happen to be a mobile developer, another great option is to sell (or give away) apps for smartphones like the iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry. These can be directly related to your blog or they can be tangentially related. If you blog about mobile games, why not develop and release your own game?
Sponsored Posts and Partnerships
Once you’ve established a reputable blog with some influence and authority, brands may want to pay you to create sponsored posts and collaborate on content creation.
If you’re unfamiliar with sponsored posts, think about when you see a social influencer on Instagram posting about a product they use. At the bottom of the post, you’ll see a “#sponsored” tag that signifies they were paid for the post. This works the same way with blogs.
For example, if you have a digital marketing blog, you could write an article about SEO and insert how you used a company’s SEO marketing tool during your optimization process. If you genuinely endorse the product, your audience won’t find it too sales-y. You’d also make it clear at the top of your post that it’s a sponsored post.
Another way to collaborate with a company is through partnership posts. This could be an article that was made in cooperation with another brand. For example, if you have a health blog, you could partner with CVS Health to create an article about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. At the top of the article, you’d typically see a signifier like “Brought to you by CVS Health” or “Made in collaboration with CVS Health.” More often than not, you’ll have to reach out to brands to establish these partnerships. But once your blog is up and running with a substantial amount of traffic, don’t be surprised if brands start reaching out to you.
Another way to monetize your blog is by building and maintaining healthy relationships with your audience. This channel isn’t unique but instead combines all of the monetization channels we mentioned above.
One of the best ways to maintain relationships and increase your overall sales is by building a strong email list. With a strong email list, you have an additional point of contact with your customers and can nurture the relationship throughout the entire purchase cycle. Email marketing will help you get people back onto your site, which will increase the chances of them making a purchase or clicking on an ad.
Another way to build relationships is including places for community — say, a forum on your website or Facebook groups related to your blog. This will contribute two positive things to your blog. First, by having user-generated content on your website, you can rank for long-tail keywords, which are many descriptive search terms that collectively drive heavy traffic and strengthen your SEO performance. Second, it will bring people back to your site and increase overall engagement.
The last opportunity you have to monetize your blog is creating an exclusive community that requires a monthly or yearly membership fee. You can establish one more stream of revenue if you’re able to offer your audience premium content and access that’s worth their money.
Reviews and Giveaways
Similar to sponsored posts and partnerships, writing product reviews and offering product giveaways is another way to collaborate with other brands and make money.
In some cases, brands will pay to you write a review about their product. This is a tricky spot because if a company pays you to write a review, you may have an unconscious bias to write positive things about that company. At least, it may look this way to your audience.
Instead of paying to write a review, it’s very common for brands to give you free products and services in exchange for an authentic review. Though you’re not being paid in cash, you’re still benefiting through the free products and services.
Both of these tactics can be paired with a product giveaway. Engagement will increase on your post if your audience knows there’s a chance to receive a free product by subscribing to your newsletter or leaving comments in the comment section.
Choose your niche carefully
Building a blog is going to be a serious investment. You don’t want to spend time and resources creating one that won’t make you money or that you won’t be sustainable because you are likely to lose interest.
This is why choosing the right niche is so important. There are four things that you need to confirm before selecting a niche for your blog:
- There needs to be potential to make money off it.
- You need expertise in the niche or need to be able to learn it well enough to write authoritative content.
- The niche can’t be too competitive.
- It needs to be on a topic that you will enjoy enough to keep writing every day.
The biggest mistake that many bloggers make is focusing on insanely competitive niches.
As you continue to develop your blog and turn it into a full-time income, it’s important to stay focused on what makes your blog valuable to your audience. At its root, a successful blog is built from great content that readers find useful and valuable. If you always keep this in mind, you can grow your blog for years to come and find additional ways to monetize it and bring in extra money every month.
There comes a time when you may want to start making money from your blog. Or perhaps you’re starting a blog with the intention of creating an income from it. Whatever the case, blogging has grown to be a hugely profitable business over the past few years and it’s only natural to want a slice of the pie.
I’m not going to sugar-coat things: making a decent income from your blog takes a lot of time and work. I didn’t start making a livable income from my own blogs until after about three years. I’m not saying that it will take you this long, but it doesn’t happen overnight.
Why not? Because to be really successful, you have to first work on building trust with your audience and allow them to grasp your knowledge. Building trust is SO important if you plan on selling to visitors and subscribers. Think about it, who are you more likely to purchase from or click on an affiliate link that was recommended to you? Somebody you’ve just come across or somebody whose knowledge you’ve grown to trust?
Something to keep in mind before you begin monetizing your blog: You should have your own hosted blog. You can follow my step-by-step guide to setting up your own website/blog here.