I’m often asked by people who don’t blog if you can make money blogging. The answer is yes, you can create a full-time job for yourself growing your own blog. But like any profession, it takes effort to earn a paycheck. It’s not a simple as choosing the perfect domain name expecting to hit the SEO lottery.
I think it’s very important for new bloggers to set financial expectations and goals. Are you working on a blog as a side hustle project? Are you simply trying to recoup your blogging expenses? Or are you trying to create a thriving multi-million-dollar business from your blog? Honestly answering these questions will help you choose the best income streams to focus on.
We’ve helped successful bloggers capitalize on their efforts to make money. You shouldn’t wait until your brand is defined, your fully-optimized blog is up and running, and you’re building and nurturing your audience to start thinking about how to get paid. Start thinking about which monetization strategy works best for you as you are planning your blog, and tie that strategy into how you produce great content.
There are plenty of ways to go about monetizing your blogging efforts, and you should explore all of them to find out which methods best fit your brand or business and level of time commitment.
Don’t fall for articles or posts that promise a step-by-step path to get rich quick. The likeliness of being in the right place at the right time without putting in hard work is very rare. Growing a blog is a lot of work and takes a lot of time. Create great content, build your audience, create trust and deliver value—and you will be able to make money blogging.
Here are a few of the more popular ways to make money online.
Join an Affiliate Marketing Program
You can use affiliate marketing to boost your income. Joining an affiliate marketing program is the easiest way to make money off of your blog. This is because you can choose from a wide variety of affiliate products to promote. Many major companies and successful bloggers have affiliate programs that you can join.
Being an affiliate means you’re affiliated with another company to promote its products. The most common programs are:
- Commission Junction
Affiliate marketing works by recommending a product or service to your readers by using special tracking links. You get a referral commission each time somebody buys the promoted product after clicking the link. Most affiliate programs payout monthly for referrals, however, some do quarterly. Good affiliate programs will provide you with monthly income reports that detail site visits, conversation ratios, and how much money you’ve made.
A common example of affiliate marketing (unrelated to blogging) is referring people to apply for a credit card. If someone applies for a credit card based on your referral you would get a cashback bonus.
Just make sure to only be an affiliate for products and services that are related to your content. Remember, as an influencer, your goal is to help people with your recommendations. Don’t promote sugary snacks if you run a blog about healthy eating. Don’t promote a friend’s service if it’s unrelated to your blog just to make some extra money.
Once you know what products you want to promote, you can use a WordPress plugin to manage your affiliate links. These types of plugins allow you to create links and products on your blog that “link out” to the products and services you are recommending. Some plugins allow you to attach photos and descriptions to your affiliate products. It’s important to remember that search engines don’t index links that redirect. Therefore, you want to have as much original great content on your site as possible to ensure you rank with SEO.
Two of our favorite plugins are Pretty Links and SimpleURLs. Bloggers using the Mai Solution platform are able to create affiliate links using the Mai Favorites feature.
Affiliate Programs often have terms and conditions associated with them. Don’t forget to read the fine print when it comes to affiliate companies. Each company has different terms when it comes to how they want blogs to promote their products. For example, certain Amazon affiliate programs won’t let you share your affiliate links in email lists, only on your website and social media.
It’s also legally required to be transparent with your audience when you share an affiliate link. Be sure to have a disclaimer in the footer of your site and add an “(affiliate link)” parenthetical to all social media posts with affiliate links.
Similar to affiliate marketing, writing paid product reviews is another way to make money with your blog. This is where you try out products related to your content and then write about it. Sometimes, companies will send you their products for free so you could test them out.
You can reach out to the companies whose physical products and services you like and use to ask them about doing paid reviews. Websites like PayPerPost can connect you with companies interested in paid reviews.
Remember, transparency is important as well as giving an unbiased review. Even the best products have flaws. If you don’t paint the full picture, you risk hurting your audience’s trust in you. List out the pros and cons and include a section that sums things up at the end. If it’s a product you’d recommend, this is also a great place for an affiliate link.
Don’t plan on writing a review the first time you use a product. Build up some history with the product. Your review should include personal experience and recommendations. Solid reviews with quality content become highly influential posts that affect people’s purchasing decisions. You should share your personal experience with tweets and within your Facebook groups. You can also promote your reviews with email marketing and podcasts.
Display advertisements are a very common way for bloggers to earn revenue on their websites. The way that this works is you select and sign up with an ad network. They provide scripts you install on your website to deliver ads to your viewers. Your website viewers see ads. It’s your responsibility to carefully select the display locations of those ads. Putting too many ads on a page can overwhelm your visitors and create a terrible browsing experience.
Google Adsense is one of the most popular ad networks. It’s an easy way to make money from your blog because all you need to do is add a script from Google to your WordPress blog. Some ad networks set minimum requirements for the number of pageviews you need in order to partner with them. You might need to grow your audience and site visits to participate in those programs.
So how do you get started then, you ask? If you have fairly low traffic numbers you can do what is called curated ads where you work one-on-one with companies that you know and love to sell them ad space on your website.
Curated ads are a little bit different than pure affiliate commissions. You are selling space in your sidebar or the top of every blog post. You can charge a flat money fee, a fee for impressions, or a fee when visitors click through. Small businesses are a great target for you to pitch your site and ad space too. When approaching small businesses, show them your great articles or product reviews and the amount of traffic to related content on your website. The goal is to show them that you can get their product or service showcased in front of potential new customers.
The nice part about curated ads is that you can display them on your website, send them via emails, and talk about them in your podcats.
Sponsored Blog Posts
Sponsored blog posts are a partnership between you and a business where you get paid to represent, talk about, and promote a company or product.
Sponsorships can be great if the business links back to your website too. In addition to providing search engine benefits, it creates authority for you to represent the product or service.
Before you approach businesses to negotiate about potential sponsorships you should put together a promotional kit for your blog. It should only be a page long with your traffic stats, social media following, and audience demographics.
Email marketing is definitely an important aspect of growing your blog. Leverage your email list to share your blog topics with your audience.
Another option is to charge for access to certain sections of your site or for exclusive “Premium” content. For instance, Spotify is free with ads but charges $10 a month for ad-free listening and better functionality on the app.
You can only do this once your blog gains an established following because new readers aren’t going to pay extra if they don’t know who you are and how your content can help yet. However, your most loyal fans will likely want to read more from you and they will pay for more access to you and your site.
You could create a paid subscriber (members-only) section of your site with more in depth posts, video/audio content, downloads, a private forum where you answer questions, or a job board (if relevant to your site).
Having users pay for premium content does put more pressure on you to keep up with production though. This is because you need to deliver something amazing if you’re charging fans for it. You also need to keep producing your free content without any dip in quality or you’ll lose readers.
You can create a premium membership site using WordPress membership plugins.
An extension of premium content is selling digital products. This is a fairly low maintenance way to make money once the content has been created. Some examples of digital products that have been popular with users are:
- Ebooks: These are pretty easy to write and produce. A lot of ebooks from bloggers are just a condensed collection of their most popular posts with some more in-depth information. Once the book is written you can use Canva to design a cover and then you just convert it into a PDF and it’s ready to sell.
- Online Courses: These pull in more money than ebooks. Bloggers usually charge, and get paid, hundreds of dollars for each online course. You would need to plan a lesson with downloads, slides, templates, etc so that it looks good and is easy for users to follow.
- Webinars: These are similar to online courses except they’re live and usually have a q&a session at the end. It’s easy to host a paid webinar on WordPress. You can host the webinar on WordPress or just advertise it to your users and register participants.
Create Your Own Affiliate Program
Now that you have your own products and services to sell, you can set up an affiliate marketing products that others can recommend your products…
Market Your Expertise
If you’re an expert in whatever you’re blogging about, there’s a good chance your readers will pay for your expertise outside of your website.
This is another method, however, where you need to have an established fanbase who know that you know what you’re talking about. You’re going to need to pay your dues and earn authority on a subject before you can get paid for your presence, name, or brand.
There are plenty of ways you can sell your expertise to go more in-depth in areas of your knowledge. Some are in-person, some online, and some through other forms of media. Here are some further ways to share your know-how and get paid.
- Publishing a book: This can be a print or e-book, but there are plenty of bloggers who have gotten book deals. One such blogger is Kevin Perjurer of the Defunctland site and YouTube channel. He talks about the history of theme park attractions that have been closed for a while as well as TV shows that aren’t on anymore and businesses that haven’t been around in years. Basically he talks about anything that used to exist in a lot of people’s childhoods and has an audience based on nostalgia along with his in-depth research. He wrote a book that he sold in digital and print formats about the history of the Magic Kingdom park at Disney World and the print version sold out.
- Public Speaking events: These can be booked at a seminar or conference with others in your field or for you individually. These are hard to get so you should start out at smaller, more casual free community events or meetups. Local libraries are good places to begin your public speaking career. You can announce availability over social media or by reaching out to event organizers in person.
- Freelancing services: As an expert in your field, you should be able to offer your services to users, other bloggers, or small and large companies to make money. There’s no startup investment so it’s a low-risk method. Just offer your services on your site, possibly under your “contact” section or create a separate “Available for Hire” section with your marketable skills.
One additional way you can make money on your blog is to set up a link to accept donations from readers. It’s easy to set up a PayPal button to your WordPress or you could create a donation form on your site. This is probably the least effective method of monetization because you would have to depend on your reader’s generosity without offering them anything they’re not already getting for free.
The practice of it asking for donations is common among WordPress plug-in and theme developers.
It’s very possible to make money blogging, but like anything, it takes a lot of hard work and persistence. Try all of the methods listed in this article to find out what works best for you and your readers. Don’t stick to just one either, most bloggers make money by doing at least three of the things listed. Just don’t be a pest about it. Get started on your blog! Good luck!