Before I get started on six proven ways to monetize your blog, I just want to say that it is my firm belief that if you aren’t blogging because of the passion for it first and foremost, you’ll give up before you even get to the “making money” bit. Making money from blogging is a fabulous, freeing experience, but you’ll never stick with it if you don’t have any other ‘why’ behind it than money.
That being said…how do you rake the cash in?
Here are ways you can earn money from blogging, as well as an explanation on who these methods work best for so you can really nail down what avenue you’d like to pursue (hint: do not do all of them, you will be running around like a chicken with your head cut off and very little money to show for it.)
If you’ve been around the blogging world for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of this income earner that works by you recommending product or services you enjoy. When something sells through your link, you get a cut of the proceeds.
My course, Pitch Like a Pro, has its own affiliate scheme where those who have signed up for it can make 40% of every course bought through their link, which makes it a great way to ‘make your money back’ for the resources you use.
You can be an affiliate for almost anything these days – sign up for Siteground hosting and you can be an affiliate earning $30 for every plan bought through you. Sign up to Amazon affiliates (everyone shops on Amazon!). One of the most popular affiliate aggregates is shareasale.com. They work with loads of popular companies so you have plenty of option when it comes to linking to products you enjoy.
The pros of affiliate marketing is that once you place the links, you can keep earning month after month, even from posts you wrote years ago. It’s considered ‘passive’ income, as you can literally make money while you sleep.
The cons of affiliate marketing are that it takes time and energy to learn how to do it properly, as you can’t just slap your link up on your site and expect to make millions. As explained below, it is also hard for smaller bloggers to make money through it due to low numbers of people clicking through your links.
Who it works best for:
Affiliate marketing works well for two kinds of bloggers: those with large amounts of traffic, and those with a niche, ‘buying’ audience. It makes sense, because the more people you have clicking on your links, the better chance you have of someone following through with it. Similarly, if you have a smaller audience but they are particularly interested in something very specific (women’s running socks, as an example!), then they’re more likely to buy through your links to the best women’s running socks.
Ad networks like Google Adsense and Media Vine are one of the first ways that beginning bloggers think to monetize their blogs, but I’m going to warn you now – if you’re not raking in the traffic, making money from ad networks is going to take a long time and not be the quick road to cash (or road to cash at all!) that you’re expecting.
One suggestion for those of you who want to try your hand at ad networks: start sooner rather than later. Let your audience get used to ads on your site from the beginning, rather than springing them on them later on.
Who it works best for: bloggers with high traffic
Sell a Product
Many bloggers are often scared of selling a product. It seems time-consuming and you’re not sure exactly what to sell. But a product can be anything – from a travel guide to an e-book to an online course like Pitch Like a Pro.
I actually started selling products on my blog long before my pitching course. In fact, my first product was through Girl Gone London and was an eBook for Americans studying abroad in London (a subject I knew a lot about). I priced it low, around $3.99, and while I didn’t make enough to pay the mortgage off, I learned that people ARE willing to buy products from even beginning bloggers, as long as you show them WHY you are the expert on that particular topic.
This stream of income CAN be passive, though I’ve found that especially in the beginning of launching projects, it takes a lot of active involvement in selling the product to give it traction.
Who it works best for:
Selling a product online can really work for anyone, no matter what your niche is. Even budget bloggers can sell products (a 99 cent budgeting worksheet, perhaps?). Really, anything goes, and you might be surprised to find what people are willing to pay for when you provide a high quality experience.
Offer a Service
If you’re using your blog as more than a hobby blog, it’s almost already understood that you’re going to be a good writer who enjoys creating content. You’ll notice that many bloggers, including myself, have used their blogs to launch freelance writing careers. This can be an incredibly lucrative way to make money from your blog indirectly, using the articles you’re writing anyway as a portfolio.
Even if you’re not a keen writer, there are plenty of other services people are always needing that can help you make money through your blog.
For instance, you could offer social media management services, travel planning services, SEO services, photography services, coaching services, online stylist services – the list goes ON!
In addition to freelance writing, I offer 3 services on my blog, including Media Kit Design, in-depth blog assessments and personalized pitch templates.
This form of income is not at all passive, as it requires that you put in the work constantly to earn the money, but it’s a popular one and if you pick a service you enjoy doing, you won’t feel like you’re working too hard!
Who it works best for: bloggers with specific skillsets who speak to audiences that are in need of a particular service
This is a controversial one, but some bloggers have a button on their site linked to PayPal that says something like “If you enjoy my content, let me know by buying me a cup of coffee!”
Some feel that blatantly asking for money for nothing in return is not a good look. Others feel that it’s perfectly acceptable to do, as you are giving away your content/entertainment for free and leaving it up to your readers if they’d like to throw some money your way.
I’ve never done it myself, and it doesn’t align with my goals, but if you’re a particularly literary blogger who often puts out free short stories or books, it may be a good option to consider!
Who it works best for: bloggers with an audience who would be likely to donate instead of being turned off by the ask
Everybody and their brother is all about sponsored posts as a way to earn income from blogging, and for good reason – it’s one of the most popular ways that bloggers across all genre earn money online. It can work one of two ways: you can get in touch with the brand yourself to see if they’re up for a sponsorship (I teach you how to pitch to brands on my course, Pitch Like a Pro) or a brand finds you online and reaches out to you to talk about working together.
When participating in sponsored posts, it’s important to make sure you’re disclosing the sponsorship and being true to yourself (for instance, not saying you loved a product when you definitely didn’t!). I think sponsored posts are a great way for beginning bloggers especially to start turning their blog professional, and I wrote a post here about why you don’t owe your audience a non-sponsored environment.
Who it works best for: bloggers who are brand-friendly, particularly lifestyle, fashion, travel, family and recipe bloggers