9 Best Ways to Make Money Blogging (How To Guide 2017)
You can’t stop thinking – is it possible to make money blogging?
You spend a lot of time tweaking your blog design, sorting out inevitable tech issues, producing compelling content and growing your traffic.
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While blogging is often considered a hobby, the truth is – it takes as much time as a full-time job.
And you wouldn’t mind getting paid at least a bit, right?
Hence, comes blog monetization.
Quick note: You should always focus on publishing awesome content and building an audience prior to implementing any monetization strategies if you want to make a decent income from your blog.
In today’s post I’m sharing the top blog monetization strategies, which bloggers in any niche and of any size can start using right away.
In fact, these are the exact strategies I have personally tested on my blogs and use to earn a full-time income.
By the way if you want to know how I did it, definitely read my tutorial on how to start a blog.
The Greatest Strategies to Make Money Blogging
I’ll get straight to the point. If you want to make the biggest bucks off your blog, here are the strategies you should use.
1. Affiliate Marketing
I personally vouch for affiliate marketing.
For those unfamiliar with the term, affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing where you earn a fixed commission for referring a visitor or a customer to another company.
You recommend a product or service to your readers, they click to the website and make a purchase and you receive a commission in return.
When you sign up to become an affiliate, you receive a special link with tracking, which you can use to link to the affiliate products or services. Commission rates vary drastically from as low as 2-3% to 50% and more. Some programs also offer a fixed rate per sale, so make sure you read the terms carefully when applying.
The obvious pros of affiliate marketing are the following:
- Your income is passive (mostly). Sure, you will have to invest time in creating a prolific affiliate post (I’ll get back to this in a moment), making it rank in the search engines for relevant keywords and building traffic using proven methods. However, this post will continue to bring you income over a long time span without any further investment.
- You can get a very high, recurring payoff. Depending on the affiliate program and product you choose and the traffic your post will get, you can easily earn between $4.000-$5.000 per month if not more.
What Do You Need to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing
A blog, obviously 🙂
Some traffic and an existing readership wouldn’t mind either.
Yet the most important ingredient is a winning affiliate copy, which results into high profits.
Now here’s how a lot of people tackle affiliate marketing (and complain about meager results afterwards):
Write a general blog post, mention any sort of products, use affiliate links to link to it and hope that the readers will feel super-excited and click to buy the recommended goodies.
Well, unless you have a gazillion of fans like Rihanna, who go nuts over each thing you say, wear or recommend, your affiliate earnings will be rather scarce. Why would people decide to buy a product they have just heard off at your blog?
How to Be a Smarter Affiliate Marketer
Step 1: Choose a winning post format. For blogs these tend to be tutorials, reviews and very-very detailed guides.
- How to Find Keywords Your Competitors Have No Idea about (Online Marketing Blogger) – mention paid keyword research and SEO tools.
- How to Lose 20 Pounds in Three Weeks with [Product Name] Supplements (Weight Loss Blogger) – mention supplement products.
- How I Saved $XXX in One Month: [Product Name] Review (Personal Finance Blogger) – mention money management tools and courses.
Step 2: Research the keywords. To make your affiliate income truly passive and recurring, you need to make your post rank for related keywords. Target long tail, low competition keywords and optimize your copy well to achieve better results.
Step 3: Promote your post on social media and via outreach to drive even more traffic, earn links and start getting cash before the post starts performing well in search.
Top Affiliate Networks Worth Checking Out:
- Commission Junction
- Amazon Associates
- Rakuten Affiliate Network (former LinkShare)
- Individual affiliate programs offered by a lot of companies (just check your favorite products and search if they have a referral/affiliate program).
- Other bloggers selling digital products.
2. Create and Sell an E-book
E-books are another great way to earn recurring passive income from your blog.
However, there are tons of amazing, valuable books out there available for free or as email sign-up baits. Do I still stand a chance to earn a hefty sum with a paid product?
Of course! The secret is to create a product people would love to pay for. Here’s how:
Step 1: Choosing a profitable topic. Don’t write a book you think your audience needs. You write about what they want to know.
Tap into Google Analytics and check your most popular blog posts up to date. Scan the comment section. Do you see any common questions people ask? Did you feel like there’s something missing in that post, which you could additionally cover in your e-book?
Run a quick survey on social media or via email and ask you reads to choose name the problems they currently struggle with or test-drive a few potential topics.
Alternatively you can go online to forums and subreddits in your niche and seek for common questions and rants. For instance, a lot of people get puppies, but have no idea how to toilet train them. You are a dog expert. You can spill all the pro secrets and in an e-book and sell it to the struggling puppy parents.
Step 2: Think like a publisher. Draft your book sales page early on. Make it sound irresistibly attractive and radiating usefulness. Having a sales pitch prior to finishing a book will steer your writing in the right direction.
Step 3: Brainstorm multiple titles (at least 4-5) and offer your readers to choose the best one.
Step 4: Avoid front page DIY design. Unless you are very good with Photoshop, it’s better to pay a pro to create the front page design. While they may say “don’t judge a book by its cover,” your product will be judged by the cover as well. Don’t look amateurish.
Step 5: Your book will not promote itself. Your job isn’t done once you upload and hit “publish” on Amazon or whichever other platform you’ve chosen to use. To make your e-book profitable you need to drive as much traffic as possible during the launch. Consider the following:
- Get a few affiliates on board to promote your product.
- Send out free copies to a few bloggers in your niche in exchange for reviews.
- Offer one-day free Kindle download in exchange for reviews from your newsletter and blog fans.
Further Useful Reading:
- How I Wrote a $30,000 eBook (And You Can Too)
- How To Create An E-Book And Sell It In 14 Days Or Less
3. Create and Launch Other Digital Products: E-Courses, Workshops, Membership Websites
The best way to create a reliable income stream from your blog is to launch a personal info product.
In fact, e-courses are the top money makers for six-figure bloggers.
The particular appeal of online courses is that you can reap a good profit even if your audience is relatively small (e.g. just 200 email subscribers).
The key here is to choose a great, valuable topic and craft a compelling, practical course that teaches a very specific skill.
E-courses can take various shapes and forms – email courses, video lectures and workshops, text-only courses and so on.
To tap deeper into the subject, I advise you to check the following posts:
- How to Launch and Market Your First Info Product
- How to Create a Killer Mini-Course
- Launch Recap: 5 Things I Did and Did NOT Do To Have A $450k Launch (Without Spending a Penny on Ads)
- SPI 136: How to Build an Online Course That Sells with David Siteman Garland
The Good Ways To Earn Income From Your Blog
Ok, so we’ve done with the most profitable ways to make money blogging. As I’ve noted previously you should have an existing audience to yield the top results from those strategies.
If you are just starting out and have a mildly popular blog, I have a few other good monetization strategies saved up. Those can bring you a pretty penny to cover your hosting fees, paid tools and even fund a trip abroad once in awhile.
4. Sponsored Content and Brand Collaborations
Depending on your niche collaborations with brands and producing sponsored content can be your primary income stream or earn you some great side-income.
For instance, top travel or fashion bloggers mainly live off ambassador programs, collaboration with brands and sponsored content production and placement.
However, I don’t know any tech or marketing bloggers, who reap the same rewards.
In general, publishing sponsored or branded content on your blog can bring you anywhere between $50 and $5.000+. It all depends on your niche, your blog size and social media stats.
A lot of brands these days don’t mind working with smaller niche bloggers with highly engaged readership, rather than choosing to endorse big name publishers.
The problem with sponsored content, however, is that in most cases you can’t make a viable income out of it without turning your blog into an advertorial and losing credibility among your fans. Bashing bloggers for “selling out” is oh-so-common these days.
Here are a few good networks you may want to join to get on the advertisers’ radar:
5. Product Reviews and Giveaways
This strategy is similar to the previous – you may expect some brands to offer you a fee for hosting their product giveaway or publishing a review or just receive a free product with no monetary compensation on top.
The problems are the same – you can’t host too many giveaways or publish tons of product reviews (unless you run a review blog of course!) to earn a decent sum.
Plus, this income stream is non-recurring, typically requires long-negotiations and detail settlements with the company.
6. Offer Your Services
Your blog is an excellent platform to kick a start an online career.
The options are plentiful:
- Offering writing services
- VA services
- Social Media Marketing
- Design and Branding services
- Travel planning
- Themed workshops e.g. branding, photo editing, guitar lessons – you name it!
In fact, a lot of bloggers I know earn a vast majority of their income from the side services they offer.
How To Use Your Blog To Land Clients
Create an attractive hire me page & sidebar widget. No one will offer you a job unless you imply you’d be happy to take one ☺
Create services page or a separate portfolio website to market your services. Outline your expertise; define what’s included in each service plan and the minimum budget you work with. Include testimonials. If you don’t have any – ask your long-term readers or fellow bloggers to endorse you in exchange for a quick job.
Use your blog to attract potential clients by covering the topics they are likely to search for. On top, network with other bloggers and your fans. You never know who may bring you a great referral.
7. Create a Physical Product or Merchandise
Launching an e-store is easy peasy these days. As a blogger, you already have a potential audience to market and sell the goodies to.
All you need is to figure out what exactly do your readers want to purchase.
For instance, a few blogging bloggers e.g. Allison from Wonderlass sells a blog + life planner for creatives alike.
If you are a food/travel blogger you can team up with another creative and start selling relevant merch e.g. calligraphy travel maps and T-shirts like Jodi from Legal Nomads.
If you are a graphic artist, you can always sell T-shirts and other merch with your personal drawings. If you are into web design, you can create and sell custom blog themes. A DIY blogger can sell her handmade stuff on Etsy and so on.
The problem with having an e-store and/or selling physical goods of your blog is that unless you drop-ship, there’s a ton of hassle involved. Finding reliable vendors and marketing your shop takes a lot of time and effort as well, plus for some of us thinking of a relevant product is rather difficult.
You don’t have to do everything the hard way, though, as there are tools you can use that woud take some of that workload off you.
8. Sidebar Ads
While banner ads seem to be on the decay with a rampant banner blindness most web-users have developed, in some cases, they can still help you earn some extra cash.
Selling Ad Space To Other Bloggers
Exchanging or selling sidebar space as part of the “Sponsor Me” kit is a common practice among bloggers of all sizes. If your blog gets over 50.000 visitors per month you can charge up to $150 per banner and host 5-10 of them per month. Create a separate page advertising the offer (here’s an example). Outline the additional value you can offer e.g. social media shout out, a blog post with sponsors mention etc.
To get more ideas on the potential income and opportunities, check out Passion Fruit Ads marketplace.
Selling Ad Space To Advertisers
To make a pretty penny out of this, you need to have a really popular blog. Most advertisers will pay you per click, rather than per view (with exceptions of course). You also use sidebar space to place affiliate ad banners, however those tend to bring rather low income.
9. Get Support From Your Fans: Donations and Crowdfunding
If ads or selling products does not align with your personal brand and you want to be 100% transparent with your fans, consider asking them for help.
Donations and crowdfunding usually helps creative bloggers (e.g. comics artists, writers, video creators etc) to stay afloat and continue running their blog for free and even paying rent.
If you have an engaged audience who wholeheartedly supports what you do, consider asking them for tips like Maria Popova did to keep Brain Pickings 100% ad-free. You can create a simple donate $5 PayPal form and place it on your sidebar or at any other prominent place on the blog.
Alternatively, there are amazing crowd funding networks to support creators or one-off projects. Do check out:
Patreon – a recurring funding platform for creators, who can ask the fans to donate $X per month in exchange for a small reward e.g. access to a special monthly Hangout with the artist; access to additional content and so on.
Beacon is a crowdfunding platform for journalists eager to pursue unique stories or long-term investigations requiring travel and time-off from their regular job. Wannabe authors can benefit from this platform as well.
Flattr is similar to Patron. As a creator you can register and create a donation request page with them to send your fans too.
The Two Monetization Strategies You Should Avoid
You now know plenty of actionable ways to make money blogging. And I mean a decent living, not some coffee money.
Yet the thing is – a lot of newbie bloggers tend to choose the wrong blog monetization strategies and give up blogging for good afterwards.
I’ve been in your shoes once too and can affirm you’ll only waste time on the following two strategies:
Google Adsense and Other Pay-Per-View/Pay-Per-Click Ad Networks
Stuffing your blog with ads is as simple as one-two-three. Press a few buttons, embed a piece of code and watch your earning grow.
In general Google Adsense brings you around $.05-$.25 per 1,000 views. Depending on your niche, you may be offered as much as $1 per 1.000 views. Doesn’t sound luxurious, right?
Add the fact that at over 198 million people are using adblock software nowadays and the number is expected to grow by 41% by the end of this year and you end up earning change.
The next point against – blog ads make your website look amateurish, sleazy, annoying and cluttered. Blog ads kill conversion rates for other CTAs you have e.g. subscribe to your newsletter or social media follow buttons.
If you are serious about blogging, don’t take the shortcut and use blog ads for monetizing your website since day one.
Contextual advertising is a similar evil to PPC ads. They earn you pennies, look annoying and distractive, plus undermine the trust from your readers, as they never know whether it is the ad they click or a personal recommendation.
Here you have it – the best strategies to make money blogging and even turn your hobby in a highly-profitable, full-time career!
I would love to hear your questions and suggestions in the comment section below. What monetization strategies have you tried? Which results did they bring you?
Great post Abdullahi. Really enlightening.