If you want to run your blog as a business instead of a hobby, you gotta start thinking about monetization strategies early on.
But how do bloggers make money?
Is that a question you keep hearing from family and friends who love you dearly but seriously don’t get what you are doing and how this could possibly be anything anyone would EVER pay you for?
Let’s equip you with some conversational ammunition for the inevitable next round of the ‘Can’t you get a REAL job’-crosstalk.
Roadmap to a Successful Online Business – Part XII | Monetization Strategy – 9 Proven Ways to Monetize Your Blog Now
Before we dive right in, let’s look at what the Solopreneur Safety Net can help you with. I’ll make it quick, I promise!
In a nutshell: If you are toying with the idea of building your own online business as a blogger or infopreneur but are feeling totally lost and don’t know where to start – you have come to the right place! 🙂
My mission is to help you get out of that confusion and overwhelm and break things down for you, so you can follow along easily.
My Roadmap to a Successful Online Business blog post series will take you through all the major steps of building your blog or online business.
Download your FREE step-by-step business guide that gives you a quick overview of the whole process and let’s get going!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means when you purchase something through those links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions expressed here are my own!
How Much Money Do Bloggers Make?
We know there are bloggers out there who make millions of dollars from their blogs. Like Jon Morrow from Smart Blogger. He claims that that blog made him $5.3 million.
And there are other top bloggers who make thousands, tens of thousands, or even over $100 000 a month. How is that for motivation? 😉
The super cool thing about blogging: Your income isn’t capped. If you figure out how to run and scale your blog, you can turn it into a money-making machine that is able to generate a ridiculous amount of money.
The super annoying thing about blogging: Your income isn’t guaranteed. You could work your ass off and still earn a big fat zero.
I couldn’t find any recent numbers, but a ProBlogger survey from 2012 among 1500 bloggers showed that 10% of bloggers who aimed at making money blogging, actually didn’t make a dime. 28% were making less than 30 cents per day. And a whopping total of 63% made less than $3.50 per day. How is that for discouragement?
Please exit the emotional roller coaster on your right and proceed with caution. 😉
Monetizing your blog requires you to know your audience, set an income goal, create a strategy, put in the hard work, analyze, tweak and repeat.
Now that you know you could make anything between nada and – well, as much as you can imagine, let’s look at some monetization strategies you could implement to come out on top.
1. Monetize Your Blog Through Affiliate Marketing
I think this is probably the easiest method to start making money off your blog.
Imagine that: You make money WITHOUT needing your own product. Say what?!
Actually, you help someone else sell theirs by promoting a link to their product. And because those people really appreciated getting more sales, they’ll generously pay you a commision. That process is called ‘Affiliate Marketing’.
There are thousands of individual affiliate programs you can join – check out the websites of your favorite products, courses or online tools and you’ll see that lots of them run an affiliate program.
Even if they don’t you could contact them, saying you are interested in becoming an affiliate. If enough people inquire about an affiliate program, they might actually start one.
Affiliate Marketing Networks
Apart from these individual affiliate programs, there are also several big affiliate marketing networks you can consider joining.
This might be a good option if you don’t know where to start, as they have gazillions of products to choose from.
One of the best known would have to be the Amazon Associates program. Everyone knows and trusts Amazon.
Nobody thinks twice about ordering from that online titan. A fact that plays into your hands as you don’t need to convince your audience to trust that seller.
Moreover, it seems like Amazon sells everything you could possibly imagine. Therefore, you should be able to find at least a bunch of products your audience really likes.
That’s the crucial point: Finding products and services that help your audience.
Joining a high paying web hosting affiliate program like the one FastComet offers probably won’t make too much sense if your blog is all about dinner recipes – as tempting as earning up to $125 per referred customer might sound.
If all your audience wants from you is recipes or DIY inspiration, they are less likely to be interested in a web hosting provider. Unless you are a huge star in your niche, then you can probably sell anything, because people wanna copy you (or at least your success)…
You gotta find the right programs for your niche.
Another big affiliate network that I joined and recommend is ShareASale. Easy to get approved and with lots of great merchants to choose from.
Some of the merchants you can promote through ShareASale include big players like WP Engine (another excellent web hosting provider), StudioPress (a great place to buy WordPress themes built on the Genesis framework), or Tailwind (your official Pinterest scheduler to skyrocket your Pinterest marketing) – to name but a few in the blogging niche.
Who this monetization strategy is suitable for: Everyone, even complete blogging beginners. All you need is a blog.
If you haven’t started your blog, learn How to Create a Website All by Yourself and start building your blog today!
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2. Monetize Your Blog Through Email Marketing
You’re probably sick and tired of the ‘money-is-in-the-list’ that you keep on finding everywhere. Apparently, it’s true though.
According to a 2015 study by The Direct Marketing Association (UK), the average return for email marketing is $38 for every dollar invested. That’s an impressive Return-on-Investment (ROI) of 3800%!
While these things change quickly and every study will find different results, most studies show that Email Marketing comes out on top, when comparing different marketing methods.
Check out Marketing Return on Investment: What is a Benchmark Average and What Marketing Methods Have the Best ROI? for a head-to-head comparison of various marketing methods and their associated ROIs.
I’ve yet to confirm this, but according to the experts, building an email list is what you gotta do to increase your income substantially.
How about we do a little experiment together? You join my Email list and I’ll keep you updated on the importance of building your own Email list? 😉 *evil laugh*
Choosing an Email Service Provider
If you haven’t started your Email list yet – start thinking about a freebie to give away as an opt-in incentive. Since everyone is doing it, it has become somewhat expected. Who joins a list these days without getting some sort of freebie first?
Personally, I’m using MailChimp – mainly because it’s free to use as long as your list is smaller than 2000 subscribers. I’m not hugely impressed with their service though. Lots of technical issues that I can’t seem to resolve.
For example, for some elusive reason, I’ve been getting the confirm-your-subscription Email for my own Newsletter about 4 to 5 times a day for the last few months. Seriously. Quite annoying. I sincerely hope this doesn’t happen to you! I contacted MailChimp about this issue, but it hasn’t been resolved so far.
Therefore I’m considering switching to ConvertKit. Then again ConvertKit is pretty expensive: Their cheapest plan starts at $29/month (up to 1,000 subscribers)… Mhm. Not quite sure yet.
Given the high ROI of Email marketing, it might be worth the investment. Because ConvertKit was specially created to cater to the needs of online creators like bloggers, it has all the neat features to make grow and monetize your list.
For example, you can customize your opt-in forms, segment your list to better target different groups of subscribers and create automated sales funnels.
If that sounds interesting, why not check it out and make up your own mind with their 30-day free ConvertKit trial?
Who this monetization strategy is suitable for: Slightly advanced – obviously you need an Email list first.
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3. Monetize Your Blog Through Sponsored Posts
As the term ‘sponsored’ post suggests, you partner up with a brand which will pay you for writing a (favorable) piece of content about their product or service.
You want to have something to show for before you think about getting a sponsored post. If you are just starting out and don’t have an audience, brands probably won’t be that interested in working with you.
Once you feel you have a big enough/engaged enough audience to offer, you can put together a media kit that highlights your accomplishments in this area (website traffic stats, follower numbers, Email list size, engagement metrics…) to negotiate a sponsorship.
Who this monetization strategy is suitable for: Advanced – you need a big enough audience and good website traffic.
4. Monetize Your Blog Through Displaying Ads
Another widely popular way to monetize your blog is through ads.
To be honest though, I usually find ads annoying as hell. I watch Netflix to avoid TV ads. I skip YouTube ads as quickly as possible.
If you write an excellent article on something I’m interested in, say SEO for example, but you have car insurance or dog food ads every few paragraphs, I’ll leave your site faster than Donald Trump can piss off the rest of the world…
Generally, I’d say go easy on the ads. That being said, a few RELEVANT ads here and there won’t hurt and if this helps you diversify your income streams, so be it.
How do you get started with displaying ads on your blog?
First off, there are two different types of ads:
- CPC (= cost per click): You’ll be paid a set amount of money each time someone clicks on the ad.
- CPM (= cost per thousand impressions): You’ll be paid according to the number of people who see the ad.
One easy way to start earning money through ads is by using Google Adsense to display CPC ads on your blog. For detailed instructions on how to do this on your WordPress website, check out How to Properly Add Google AdSense to Your WordPress Site.
When your blog gets more than 25 000 page views a month, you can apply to advertising networks like Mediavine, that pay more and are a better Adsense alternative, once you reach their traffic criteria.
Without wanting to crush your high hopes: Ads don’t pay much ($0.1 – $0.5 per page view) – to make a significant income from ads, you’ll need a high amount of website traffic.
Who this monetization strategy is suitable for: Everyone, even complete blogging beginners. The higher your website traffic, the more you can earn.
5. Monetize Your Blog Through Selling A Service
Now, this obviously depends very much on your skillset.
Anything is possible here: coaching, designing websites or graphics, SEO implementation, virtual assistance, Pinterest managing, legal advice, proofreading, writing – you name it.
Whatever your area of expertise, there’s bound to be something you can teach someone to do it or do it for them.
Who this monetization strategy is suitable for: Everyone, even complete blogging beginners. Your website should look professional and trustworthy though and a little social proof will go a long way.
6. Monetize Your Blog Through Selling A Digital Product
Another – and more scalable way – of selling your expertise is through creating digital products.
Again, there are lots of things you could create: Ebooks, E-courses, design assets, planners… Anything that helps your audience overcome their obstacles and make their lives easier.
The great thing about digital products is that the cost of creating them is usually very low and you don’t need to worry about storage and shipping.
Who this monetization strategy is suitable for: Everyone, even complete blogging beginners – depending on how well your product caters to your reader’s needs. The better you know your audience the easier this will get.
7. Monetize Your Blog Through Selling A Physical Product
Of course, you can also create physical products that you can sell through your blog. Maybe you wanna monetize your blog by creating and selling your stunning artwork.
If you’d like to sell your designs on various products like T-shirts, postcards, etc., finding a drop shipping company like Printful might be something you wanna look into.
You can display your products on your blog and whenever a customer orders something through your site, the order goes straight to the drop shipping company which will then print and ship your designs.
Thus you won’t have to deal with printing, storing and sending your products. Sweet, eh? 😉
Who this monetization strategy is suitable for: Everyone, even complete blogging beginners.
8. Monetize Your Blog Through Selling Memberships
This monetization method requires you to build a reputation first.
Once you have an audience of raving fans and a library of helpful resources that you constantly update and add to, you can then set up a paid membership area and limit access to paying members.
Who this monetization strategy is suitable for: Advanced bloggers. Become a guru first.
9. Monetize Your Blog Through Writing on Medium
Their content guidelines state: “[..] Cross-posting content you have published elsewhere is allowed provided it follows the aforementioned copyright guidelines. […].
In case you were wondering what this Medium Partner Program is: You can choose to publish and lock your posts so that they are only visible to paying Medium members.
When those read your article and engage with it through claps and comments, you’ll earn some money.
In case you were wondering how much you could make: According to their stats from August 2018, the highest amount of money earned for a single story was $3,714.78. Not bad!
Then again, only 8.3% of active writers have earned over $100… Just to put this into perspective for you.
Who this monetization strategy is suitable for: Everyone, even complete blogging beginners. You might have to start building a fan base on Medium before you see any results though.
It is possible to make money blogging – it’s just not as easy as some bloggers wanna make you believe.
It won’t happen overnight and it requires hard work and dedication.
You’ll have to test what works for you and your audience and change things up accordingly.
But if you’re willing to do that, the sky is your limit. 🙂
A word to the wise: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – diversify your income streams to create a solid foundation for your blogging business.
Blog Income Streams
Quick recap: Try using any or all of these monetization strategies to start earning an income from your blog:
- 1. Affiliate Marketing
- 2. Email Marketing
- 3. Sponsored Posts
- 4. Displaying Ads
- 5. Selling A Service
- 6. Selling A Digital Product
- 7. Selling A Physical Product
- 8. Selling Memberships
- 9. Writing for the Medium Partner Program
Hope this list helps you find a way to monetize your blog and quiet those who question your path. 🙂 If it does, don’t forget to spread the love and share the post with everyone who might find it helpful too.
Oh, and I’m as curious as a kitty in front of an aquarium: How do YOU make money from your blog? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below! 🙂
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XII: 6 WORK-LIFE BALANCE TIPS FOR STRESSED SOLOPRENEURS