When I got started in web development, making money from a blog still felt like an underground and exclusive community.
Today, blogging is everyone’s favorite entry to online entrepreneurship. It makes sense. Blogging’s easy, it’s straightforward and it allows you to follow your passions by writing about things you enjoy. It’s also widely discussed and well known.
Unfortunately when you intend to make money from your blog, some of that enjoyment starts to slip away. Monetizing a blog means you’re not always writing about topics you love. Instead, you’re catering to an audience of buyers rather than an audience of readers. You suddenly have to start writing content that’s focused toward pitching products or services in some way. There are subtle ways you can do this without blatantly writing sales copy but the content you produce still has to supplement your monetization strategy.
We’ll explore a few of the most common ways to monetize your blog. These are monetization methods that have been used by stay-at-home moms and multi-million dollar businesses. There’s potential to make a few hundreds dollars per month to tens of thousands. Understanding your options is key to your success and your happiness as a writer.
1. Sell Products
Maybe you don’t want to start an e-commerce store but you’re open to the idea of using your blog to drive traffic to your own products. It’s not a terrible idea and if your products can be digitally delivered, you eliminate all the typical hassles of selling products online.
If you intent to sell physical products, you can create them yourself, find wholesalers or dropship them to your customers.
Selling products online is a big responsibility and it can be difficult to manage when you’re already concerned with filling out your blog with content. If you decide to go this route, understand that a lot of your time will be spent managing orders and shipping your products.
When buying wholesale you will have to find a supplier with low pricing and bulk discounts. The price you pay will need to be considerably less than what you can sell the products for on your website. You will also need to spend a great deal of money buying your initial batch of products so that you’re prepared to take orders when you launch your website.
Dropshipping is considerably less work but comes with its fair share of frustrations. Dropshipping means that when you get an order, you simply provide the dropshipping company with your customer’s shipping address and they will ship the product directly to them. This saves you the hassle of having to ship the products yourself but you will still be responsible for your own customer service.
A common issue that dropshipper’s tend to face is product availability. If your supplier suddenly runs out of stock of a particular product, it’s up to you to update your website to reflect this. If you don’t do this quickly, you might have a customer that places an order for a product that is actually out of stock with your supplier.. Additionally, dropshippers generally don’t provide the same low pricing that you can get when you buy the products wholesale. Competing with other sellers on websites like Amazon or Ebay is close to impossible but if you’re only listing products on your blog then this shouldn’t be a detraction.
2. Sell Services
If you have a skill or you’re confident in your ability to outsource, selling services online is can be a very profitable monetization strategy. It’s a method that pairs well with blogging because you can offer services that are directly in line with the topics you blog about.
Popular services to sell through a blog include content writing, web design, programming or digital marketing. The opportunities are endless and which service you provide depends on your skillset, knowledge and background.
Selling services is a route that many bloggers take because it’s a great way to monetize without having to fund steep startup costs. The investment in providing services is virtually nothing other than your time and energy spent.
Online service providers can use lead generation tactics to find prospects and content promotion to attract them. If you keep your blog updated with quality content and follow proven content marketing strategies, you can drive inbound traffic and build long-term revenue.
3. Sell Ad Space
Selling ad space gives you the creative freedom to continue writing about topics you enjoy. There’s no pressure to cater to any particular audience other than following a general niche.
Sidebar, header or footer space can be used to attract advertisers. High budget businesses will be willing to pay a good price for the exposure and brand recognition that your blog can provide them.
Ad networks give you access to high budget advertisers almost immediately.
These are networks that you can add your website and advertisers in your same niche will begin bidding and competing to display their ads.
To simplify things, you could even use Google Adsense and host Google Adwords ads. You won’t have the option to get paid per-view but the pay-per-click income that Adsense provides is very competitive.
As an alternative option, you could also host content-based ads using ad networks like Outbrain, Zemanta or Taboola. This is a good idea if you don’t want to promote products or services on your blog but are open to the idea of promoting other content. These networks only accept marketing campaigns using non-promotional content from blogs and other businesses in your industry.
Most ad networks will categorize your website based off the amount of traffic it receives. A high traffic site will have more businesses competing for ad space and this will drive up your income.
Blogs are especially popular when it comes to ad space and they are often sought out by investors. Selling ad space is a hands-off approach to making money online and it’s a great way to monetize a blog for a beginner. It allows you to focus on what matters which is producing good content for your audience.
The downside to ad space is that it can take time to accumulate enough traffic to earn a living. When you sell services or products, a smaller amount of visitors can result in more revenue. When your blog doesn’t have traffic, getting businesses to take interest in purchasing ad space is near impossible. Until your website has enough targeted traffic to warrant an investment in ad space, you won’t turn a profit.
4. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing requires slightly more technical knowledge than selling ad space. However, it’s still a beginner friendly concept and more than likely the best way to monetize your blog.
Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting the products or services of others and earning commission on sales that derive from your website.
When you promote these products or services you can do it as subtly or aggressively as you’d like. You could casually mention them using text links in your blog posts or write review articles that link-out to the product or service using a large “buy now” button. There’s no standard way to do affiliate marketing and you have the freedom to monetize your blog through affiliate marketing in whatever way you’d like.
Affiliates don’t have to worry about customer service, shipping products or any of the common hassles to selling online.
You simply link to the product or service using a special affiliate link. The seller will provide you with this affiliate link, which is just like any other HTTP link except that it tracks how many times the link is clicked and how many sales it has generated.
Affiliate links also come with a “cookie” that is stored on the user’s browser for a set number of days, usually 30 days. This cookie ensures that even if the user doesn’t buy the product or service that day and later returns to purchase it days later, you will still be credited with commission.
Since you are linking to the affiliated product, this also means that the traffic on your website will be directed off-site when they click one of these links. For this reason, it’s a good idea to make all external links on your website open in a new tab so that you don’t lose traffic and potentially shrink your audience.
Affiliate products can pay anywhere from one dollar to thousands of dollars per sale.
Most affiliate marketers choose to join affiliate networks to gain access to multiple products and services at once rather than having to join individual affiliate programs.
- Amazon Associates
- Performance Horizon
- Impact Radius
- Web Gains
- Digital River
Once you’re a member, you’ll have access to millions of products and services that you can promote on your website.
As an alternative to promoting products or services you could also join CPA (cost-per-action) affiliate networks. Rather than promoting products you would promote offers that contain an actionable outcome such as submitting their email address, filling out a short survey or signing up to the website. All CPA offers are different and the requirements for each are unique to that offer. In certain industries, CPA offers can be very profitable.
CPA affiliate networks:
- Affiliate Crossing
- AdWork Media
- Matomy Media Group
- GlobalWide Media
- Adscend Media
Affiliate marketing is similar to selling ad space in that your primary responsibility is to build a great website with valuable content. It’s one of the easiest and most profitable ways to monetize a blog. If your goal is to make money online, whether it’s a few hundred dollars per month or a few thousand, affiliate marketing is a promising monetization method.