When I tell people that one of my income streams comes from running a blog, they inevitably ask, “How can you make money blogging?” It’s a good question, because for the most part, blogs give away information. In truth, there are many ways to make money from blogging. Here’s why I and so many others have found great success working at home as a blogger.
1. Affiliate Marketing
Blogging and affiliate marketing have made significant differences in thousands of people’s financial lives. The ease and affordability of blogging make it easy for anyone to start a site dedicated to a cause, hobby or interest. Affiliate marketing has made it easy to make money without having to create or sell a product or service. Combined, they can generate extra cash or a full-time income.
Affiliate marketing is essentially referral marketing. You get paid by sending new leads or customers to other businesses. For example, if you recommend a book to your readers and provide a link the book through an Amazon Associates account, you can earn a commission each time someone buys the book using your link. Affiliate programs pay in a variety of ways. Some pay a percentage of a sale, while others will pay a flat fee for a lead. You can find affiliate programs in all sorts of places. There are affiliate networks, such as Conversant (formally Commission Junction) and Sharasale, which manage programs for many businesses. Or you can go directly to the source, signing up for an affiliate program directly with the company.
The key to success in affiliate marketing is to provide valuable resources related to your blog topic. Don’t just link to a product to make money. A bad referral can hurt your site’s reputation. Instead, seek to give your readers the best resources to meet their needs.
Learn more about affiliate marketing:
2. Contextual Advertising
The two fastest ways to make money blogging are affiliate marketing, and contextual advertising. Contextual ads are fed to your blog through a service that disseminates pay-per-click ads for businesses. In most cases, the ads fed to your site are related to you site’s topic, although in some cases, they’re related to the visitors most recent searches or site visits. You’re paid based on clicks your ads receive. The amount is nominal, but can add up if you have lots of traffic.
You’re able to dictate where the ads are located on your site and how they appear. Most programs have text, graphic and video ads. The problem with contextual advertising is that you have little control over the ads that are fed to your site.
The fastest and easiest way to get started with contextual advertising is through Google’s AdSense program. Another good one is Media.net. There are other programs, some of which require that your blog meet a traffic threshold.
Learn more about contextual advertising:
3. Sell Ad Space
Third-party ad options such as affiliate marketing and contextual advertising, aren’t your only options. You can sell ads on your site directly to businesses. The challenge of selling ad space is in setting up your advertising options and payment systems. The benefit is the ability to charge what you want and control what shows up on your blog. To sell ad space, simply decide what space is available (i.e. sidebar), how much you want to charge, and then create a page with your information and buy buttons. You can use PayPal to collect payment. It helps to include information about your blog such as traffic numbers and demographics, as many advertisers want to make sure their ad will be seen by the right people. Check out WAHS’s advertising page to see how we do it.
Learn more about selling ad space on your blog:
Sponsorships can be lucrative, but also, they’re often the most difficult to get. When your blog has a sponsor, a business pays you a sum of money or some other in-kind offer to sponsor your site. Sometimes they’ll sponsor the whole site and other times, they’ll sponsor a single post. Sometimes they’ll ask you to write an article or review about their product or service as part of the sponsorship. Other times, they’ll write something for you to post.
Getting sponsorships requires not just traffic, but influence as well. This means a social media following that listens to and engages with you.
For many bloggers, sponsorships take time to generate. If you’re looking for a site sponsor, you’ll want to build a relationship with a brand you think can benefit your market.
It’s important to note there are some bloggers who have stopped offering post-sponsorships because of Google’s rules that frown upon sponsored posts, as well as concerns about credibility with their readers. If you do take sponsors, especially sponsored posts, it’s important that you let your readers know you’ve been paid. This transparency maintains your readers’ trust with you, and its the FTC rules.
5. Create and Sell Products
Most bloggers, at one time or another, create and sell something whether it’s an ebook, a course, or some other product. Instead of earning a few bucks on an affiliate product, they can earn 100% on their own creatioin. It takes time to create a product and set up the sales page with payment links, but once it’s done, it can be a great source of income. If you focus on automatically delivered digital products, you don’t have do anything but market your products (no packing and shipping) once they’re created and the system for selling and delivery are set up.
Choosing what to sell is easy. What are the most popular topics and most frequently asked questions related to your blog topic? If you’ve been blogging for some time, you’ll have a sense of what your readers want and are willing to pay for.
Learn more about creating and selling information products:
Memberships are extremely popular for businesses of all sizes. Microsoft and Adobe have moved to a subscription model (similar to memberships) because they’re lucrative. The benefit of memberships is that it provides steady, regular income. Instead of selling one ebook month after month to new customers, you can create a membership site where by you have small few paying monthly. For example, if you want to make $3,000 a month, you can sell a $10 ebook to 300 people month after month (no easy feat) or sell 100 $30 monthly memberships once. As long as you retain your members, they’ll each pay their $30 each month.
You can offer many different things through a membership, including tutorials, digital products (i.e. monthly free graphic service), and more.
Memberships can be time limited, such as six months to a year. Or ongoing. The challenge is in having monthly value to your customers as well as the membership site setup, although there are membership site building services that make it easy to get up and running. I’ve recently starting using ClickFunnels, which you can use to run memberships, courses, and more.
The Secret to Making Money in Blogging
The key to success in blogging, regardless of what monetization methods you use, is to have a blog that provides readers with real value. They need to trust you before they follow your recommendations about products and services.
Further, you need targeted traffic. While you don’t need a million visitors a month, you do need people who are actively looking for the information and resources you provide.
My Favorite Resources for Making Money Blogging
I’ll be honest, I don’t know everything. I’m constantly seeking new tools and resources to help me make my blog successful and profitable. Here are a few I recommend:
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing: This is a great course that provides tips to maximize affiliate earnings on your blog.
Traffic Transformation: While blogging courses are helpful, for most struggling bloggers, the reason they’re not making money is they don’t have the amount of traffic they need. This is a great resource that walks through little changes, and some bigger changes, you can make to boost traffic to your blog.
Not sure how to start a blog?
Check out this post on 5 Steps to Setting Up a WordPress Blog
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