You’ve made a lot of progress on building the foundation for a profitable blog. It’s time to create your monetization strategy. Without this plan, you won’t earn money from your blog.
Some monetization strategies you can start immediately. For instance, you can include affiliate links in your posts right from the beginning. You won’t earn much (if anything) from them, but it will give you a great chance to practice the strategy and get it refined.
You can offer services from the get-go. You’ll have to be more proactive at marketing your services and finding your clients until they start finding you, but this is a good way to get the income needle moving.
Other earning methods require more readers and content. For instance, you can launch a product of your own anytime. But, you won’t have anyone buying it unless you have an audience to sell to. Keep working on building your audience, and then dive into this type of monetization.
Don’t assume you will need to have thousands of page views each month to make money. Small blogs can earn, too. The secret is to make sure your content is a great fit for your ideal reader. Then they’ll keep coming back and you’ll build trust. The more your readers trust you, the more likely they are to buy from you. Even if there aren’t very many of them.
When monetizing, you must find what works for you and your audience. You might need to experiment with several things. On the plus side, having multiple streams of income is never a bad idea. If one income stream suddenly dries up, you won’t lose your entire income.
In this chapter, I will introduce you to six different methods of monetizing your blog. They are:
1. Affiliate marketing
2. Product creation
3. Offering services
4. Advertising income
5. Sponsored posts
6. Hosting events
After the overview in this chapter, I will dive deep into affiliate marketing, product creation and offering services in the next two chapters.
Affiliate marketing is when you promote a product or service belonging to someone else. When a visitor clicks through your link and makes a purchase, you receive a commission.
When you sign up as an affiliate for a company or brand, you receive an affiliate link. This link has unique identifying characters in it. It’s different than all the other affiliate links out there.
Once you have your link, you promote the product. Make sure you use your affiliate link each time to get credit for any sales.
How do you promote your affiliate links? Here are some ideas:
> Write a blog post reviewing the product.
> Compare and contrast two products.
> Write a round-up of five of the best tools (or books, or whatever the product is).
> Promote the product in a tweet.
> Post a Facebook update about the product.
> Create an appealing pin and link it with your affiliate link.
> Do a Facebook Live about the product and include your affiliate link in the comments.
As I mentioned in chapter two, you must disclose any relationship you have with a product or company.
No matter where you post your affiliate link, you must tell your readers that you will benefit from their purchase. In addition to having a full disclosure page on your blog, you need to include a disclosure on every single post that contains an affiliate link.
And this disclosure can’t be at the bottom of the post. Before seeing an affiliate link to click on, your readers need to know what it is.
You must also use disclosures on social media. If you have limited characters, you may need to be creative. You can use the hashtags #ad or #afflink to disclose. If you have more space available, be a little more transparent in your disclosure.
How Much Can You Earn with Affiliate Marketing?
Each affiliate program runs a little differently. Some offer a flat fee per sale. Others offer a percentage. You can even find programs that pay you monthly for as long as the customer you referred continues to be a paying client.
Make sure you learn the specifics for each program you are with. This way there are no surprises.
When you first start, you may not get many sales. You may have months where you don’t earn any money from your affiliate links. But don’t give up. There really is no limit on the amount of money you can earn through affiliate marketing.
Caroline Vencil from CarolineVencil.com regularly shares monthly income reports on her blog. Affiliate marketing is her top source of income. I love how she breaks down this information so readers can see which companies she earns money from.
In October of 2017, Caroline earned $12,007 from her blog. Of that, $7,368 came from affiliate marketing. She broke down all the numbers for you to see here.
Now, you can’t just throw a couple of affiliate links online and expect to bring in four figures. It’s taken Caroline years to build her blog and her following. Her readers trust her and know they can count on her to deliver quality information. She doesn’t take advantage of them by linking to subpar products.
The next chapter dives into affiliate marketing in more detail.
Is there a product you can make that would meet the needs of your readers? If so, consider creating it.
When you create your own product, you can sell it for an income. And since you don’t have to continue remaking the product each time you sell it, it’s a more passive form of income.
Here are five common products bloggers create:
2. Downloadable products (workbooks, bookmarks, a PDF game, customizable labels, etc.)
4. A video series
5. An audio-based training series
Each time you sell a product, you receive income. The more products you sell, the more you earn. And by selling multiple products, you diversify your income.
Suzi Whitford from StartaMomBlog.com shares her income reports with her readers. In September of 2017, she earned $24,754. Her courses and ebooks accounted for a large chunk.
Once again, it takes time and consistency for bloggers to earn this kind of money. The first monthly income report Suzi ever published (for June of 2016) was for $1,007. Of that, almost $900 was from one of her products. Back then, she had fewer products available and a much smaller audience.
In chapter nine, I will talk more about how to create and sell a product from your blog.
By creating a “Hire Me” page on your website, you have a home base for offering a service. Providing a service is a fast way to monetize your blog even if you have a small following.
Here are ten services you could offer:
1. Freelance writing
2. Virtual assistant work
3. Graphic design
5. Photography/stock photos
6. Web design
8. Social media management
10. Blog management
Think about what you enjoy doing and what you’re good at. What services are people willing to pay for? Then, add a Hire Me page to your website.
Your income from services depends on how much you work, and how much you charge. Most of my income comes from freelance writing and virtual assistant services. I currently average $2,300 a month working on a part-time basis.
Other bloggers earn much more! Miranda Nahmias from MirandaNahmias.com offers a couple of different services on her blog. She offers coaching, done-for-you social media packages, and digital marketing services for clients.
Her January 2018 income report shows that she earned $16,765.05. Of that, $15,900 was from services. You can read all the details of her income and expenses in her report here.
Chapter ten covers providing services in more detail.
You can earn money by allowing advertisements on your blog. Bloggers have several advertising options open to them.
The first is Pay Per Click (PPC). For PPC ads, you earn a small amount each time a reader clicks on the ad. You partner with an ad network and give them space on your site.
Be sure to check with the companies you work with to see how much control you have over the ad content. With some companies, you can select specific industries and have any ads that don’t resonate with your audience removed.
Some popular PPC companies are:
> Google AdSense
If you have decent traffic, you can work directly with companies to sell advertising space. Before approaching a company, you want to have a media kit to share. This includes specific information about your traffic and the demographics of your readers.
Each company has their own set of metrics they’re looking for. Often, these include at least 20,000 page views per month.
By comparing your numbers to their metrics, companies can decide if they’d be a good fit for your blog. Once they decide to advertise, you’d put their ad on your site for the agreed upon amount of time.
Another option are Amazon native shopping ads. These allow you to refer shoppers to Amazon. If they make a purchase, you receive a small commission. These are sort of a hybrid between affiliate marketing and ads.
As a beginning blogger, you won’t earn a ton of money from ads. There is a definite correlation between traffic and income.
In fact, you may not be eligible to join any advertising networks until you’ve significantly grown your traffic. Always read the requirements before you apply and make sure you have enough traffic.
If you have enough followers, advertisements can help you earn consistent income from your blog. Mindy, from ThisFairyTaleLife.com, earns money each month from advertising. In her January 2018 monthly income report, she broke down details. She earned $1,876.55 from her blog. Of that, $881.7 was from ad networks. The vast majority of that came from Mediavine.
As a blogger, you can partner with brands to create sponsored posts. These are blog posts a company pays you to write. Often your post will need to include a link to a specific product.
Here are some important things to know about sponsored content.
> Don’t promote junk. Your readers deserve better.
> Honesty is important. Share your honest opinion, not an over-the-top gushy review.
> You need to disclose the sponsorship, so readers understand the relationship.
> Pick products that align with your blog’s niche.
> Offer your readers value even with a sponsored post. Provide a detailed review, compare and contrast products, use a specific ingredient in a simple to prepare recipe. Pick an angle that your readers will find useful.
> Make sure you have a nice mix of sponsored and regular blog posts. You don’t want to bombard your readers with sponsored content after sponsored content.
You can find sponsored post opportunities through influencer media networks, by reaching out to brands directly, or through advertising and having brands find you.
Some media networks that work with bloggers are:
> She Speaks
> Mom It Forward
You may need to meet certain traffic and social media stats before you qualify to join these networks. The more engaged your audience is, the more value you offer the brand.
If you are interested in doing sponsored posts, make sure you have a media kit with information about your demographics, blog stats, and social media following. This gives brands the information they need to decide whether to work with you.
Your fee per post will play a large part in the amount you can earn. You are bringing value to the brand, so make sure you agree to a fair rate.
Think about how much work the sponsored content will take. Will you need to buy any new photography props or ingredients to create a recipe? These all add to your expenses for the content.
Some bloggers start at $50 for a post, others start at $300. There’s no right or wrong answer, just make sure you pick a rate you are comfortable with.
The last monetization option is hosting events. Events range from an hour-long webinar to multi-day online summits. In-person conferences, meetups and workshops are other possibilities.
No matter what kind of event you decide to host, make sure you plan it. Don’t try to throw something together at the last minute and hope it works.
Test your tech. Make sure everything is operational. And have a tech backup plan, because if something can go wrong, it will.
Write out an agenda. Draft talking points to remind yourself what you should be discussing.
If you involve other people in your event, work closely with them. Put expectations and timelines in writing. Keep everyone in the loop so there are no surprises.
Communicate with your audience as well. Know your pricing structure and put it in writing.
The scope, speakers, and attendance of your event each affect your earning potential. A small one-day meetup with your readers won’t bring in as much income as a multi-day virtual summit with influencers in your niche.
There is a ton of potential to earn. Nick Unsworth discusses his experience creating a six-figure virtual summit on the Life on Fire podcast.
There are plenty of ways to monetize your blog. And you want to have multiple streams of income.
But don’t dive into everything all at once. If you do, it’ll be overwhelming. You may feel like you’re in way over your head. Instead, pick one strategy to start with. Once you have that figured out, add another.
Most bloggers start with affiliate marketing. If they are interested in offering a service, they can do this right from the beginning, too.
As they get to know their audience, and understand their pain points, they might create a product. The easiest products to create are digital downloads. You can work your way up to premium video courses, events, and even physical products if those are a good fit for your blog and your audience.
After spending time building up traffic, bloggers might add sponsored posts and advertisements to their monetization plan.
Don’t expect to be an overnight success. Every blogger starts at the same place—zero. It takes time, patience, and experience to grow. Don’t give up on a monetization strategy after a week or two. Give it time to grow.
1. Write down your income goal for your blog.
2. Review the strategies for monetizing from this chapter. Which ones would be a good fit for your blog and personality?
3. Pick one strategy and begin researching it. Learn more about how other bloggers successfully monetize with that strategy.
4. Start. Put your new knowledge to use and start monetizing your blog.
Phew, we covered a lot of ground in this chapter. Remember to go back and reread this section again down the road. You can’t implement everything all at once. In the next chapter, you’ll learn specific tips for earning money through affiliate marketing.