You’ve gotten to know the basics of blogging, you’ve built your online community, and you’ve mastered the art of creating pinnable images; now it’s time to consider turning your blog into an income source. Long gone are the days of bloggers needing to explain the value of their online platforms. Companies are well aware of the value of online influencers, and the sky’s the limit for ways bloggers can convert their time online into a substantial income.
In this article, you take a look at common ways to monetize blogs, but keep in mind that creativity is king in the online world. Let this article inspire you rather than confine you.
A multitude of advertising companies offers bloggers simple solutions to monetize websites. Most of these programs work in similar ways but have unique delivery methods. Many bloggers also choose to work with a specific ad network, which serves ads directly to their bloggers’ sites. As a blogger, choosing an advertising program that works for your audience can make the difference between an increase in readers and turning off your existing traffic.
Joining an Ad Network
Most bloggers choose to incorporate advertising programs by signing up with a company that serves as a middleman between the blogger and the advertiser. This company typically negotiates rates with the advertiser, tracks ad performance, and pays the blogger for advertising placement.
Although you can cut out the middleman and sell your own ad space, many bloggers find that they don’t really want to spend their time dealing with the negotiation, tracking, and technical overhead.
But even the most time-pressed blogger can likely find the strength to listen when an advertiser contacts that blogger directly and offers to sponsor the blog. These arrangements are typically more lucrative for the blogger (and the advertiser, presumably), and the two parties negotiate this relationship on a case-by-case basis, depending on the audience, product, blog traffic, and other factors.
Putting Ads on Your Blog
To get these ads onto your website, the programs you sign up for usually provide you with a bit of code that you insert into your website templates. Some programs have step-by-step instructions for popular blog software packages, but be aware that you might also need to consult your blog software documentation for help with putting your ads where you want them.
First, decide just where you want the ads on your page. The best thing to do when you’re thinking about introducing ads into your blog design is to make sure the ads aren’t overpowering.
Don’t damage your reputation or credibility by overloading the site with ads or by associating ads too closely with your blog posts and content. Aside from pop-up ads, nothing is more annoying than having a blog design that’s created around ads rather than a blog that’s designed to include ads.
At the same time, you need to place ads in spots where readers can see them. Bloggers have discovered a few truths about ads, although your results might differ:
- Ads at the top and bottom of each page do poorly. Readers often ignore and rarely view advertisements along the top or the bottom of a blog because the site content usually appears in the middle of the screen. While users scroll their windows to view site content, they may never see these top and bottom advertisements at all.
- Ads in the sidebars perform well but might interfere with navigation. The left side of the website is a traditional place for ads. However, it’s also a prime place for navigation tools, and your website design might require that you locate such tools higher than the ads you want people to view. As for the right side, not only are navigation tools sometimes placed here, but the bulk of blog content tends be aligned to the left side of the screen. Some users might cover the right side with other windows and therefore miss these right-side advertisements entirely.
- Ads within the content itself get clicked. Some blogs have their ads placed within their content, so visitors don’t miss the ads. But you need to be careful when you use advertising within your content. Remember that you want to make the content king, not the ad.
Try out ads in different places on your blog and see how your audience reacts, as well as how your earnings do. You might need to try several different locations before you find one that balances your readers’ needs with those of your advertisers.
2. Sell Online Courses
Another way to profit from blogging is to sell digital online courses. The rest will be smooth sailing for you if you develop intuitive and useful courses that add a great deal of value. Put your heart and soul into these courses, and they will sell on autopilot for you, another great passive income opportunity.
Ensure your course is relevant
First and foremost, the topic you select for the online course you intend to create or become an affiliate seller for must be relevant to your blog theme and of high interest to your blog readers.
Make sure you don’t just create or sell courses about anything just to make money.
Your course offerings will earn you more money the more niche you make them.
Create an online course from scratch
You can use your blog posts to create your own online course on your blog topic! Review your blog analytics and pick your top 10 most popular articles.
You can use these as the main structural content for your own online course.
The next step is to convert your blog articles into tutorial videos, and then upload them all to an online course platform, like Thinkific.
Add a ‘Courses’ tab
When your course is live on your online course platform, the next step is to make sure that it is easy to find for your readers.
Add a ‘courses’ tab to your website that takes readers directly to your online course or online school.
Use your widgets
Sales widgets are clickable images or cards you can add to your blog that link directly to your course checkout page.
To make sure your readers have the opportunity to buy your online course always in front of them, add your course sales widgets to your blog templates.
Call to enroll
Your readers are clearly interested in your topic, and they are seeking answers in your content.
The fact that you have a hungry audience of potential buyers already in hand indicates that there is demand for a course on that topic.
Your blog can be more profitable if you add ‘buy now/enrol now’ buttons throughout your articles, as well as at the bottom of your templates to encourage your readers to purchase your course.
3. Affiliate Marketing
If you ever blogged about a product that you really like and just knew that you were helping the company that makes the product make a sale, you can now make some money from that sale with affiliate marketing.
Popular retailers have set up affiliate marketing programs, most notably Amazon.com. You sign up with an affiliate program, and when you blog about one of its products, you include a piece of identifying information that the company gives you. You earn cash when readers of your blog click the product and buy it.
If you find yourself blogging about items that others might buy as a result of your recommendation, check to see whether the company that makes the product has an affiliate program, and sign yourself up.
In short order, your blog can contain links to books, DVDs, or other products that provide you with a commission on each product bought through a link from your website.
Amazon Associates Program
Amazon is the most recognized affiliate program available, and it’s arguably one that you likely benefit from using because many bloggers mention books and DVDs that they’ve enjoyed.
Amazon Associates works by letting you create specially formatted links that you can use on your blog to drive traffic to the Amazon website. Anything that a visitor who clicks your link purchases earns you a percentage of the sale as a referral fee.
Rakuten Affiliate Network
Rakuten Affiliate Network, formerly called LinkShare, is another affiliate program that calls itself a pay-per-action marketing network. You can place both text and graphical ads on your blog and make money from any sales that come from readers’ purchases.
4. Seeking Sponsorships
You can get sponsorships in two ways: by receiving requests from companies and by seeking them out yourself. Such sponsorship can mean one of two things:
- Sponsors might pay you to put their ads on your website or advertise their products in content you create in exchange for monetary payment.
- Sponsors might simply provide you with free goods or services in return for advertising on your website.
You need to think carefully about whether to take on a sponsor because you might not want to agree to the requirements, such as the following:
- Prominent placement or exclusivity: A sponsor is different from the usual ad on your website because sponsors like a prominent placement on your blog — possibly including the exclusive right to advertise on your blog.
- Acknowledgment: A sponsor might ask you to use the phrase “This blog sponsored by …” or some variation of it to let your readers know that a specific company is funding your blog. You may also want to thank your sponsor occasionally to generate extra goodwill.
- Time commitment: Sponsorships often run for a set length of time, usually much longer than a standard ad runs. Sponsorships of several months to a year aren’t unheard of.
Getting sponsors interested in your blog is probably the hardest advertising strategy, though it’s also the most lucrative. To find a sponsor, you need to “sell” your blog, from the design to the content. Make the sponsor want to post its advertisements on your site — not someone else’s. When you’re seeking sponsors, keep your blog dynamic, on topic, and well written.
One of the best things sponsors do for your blog is legitimize your work. Many bloggers might be viewed by the public as “just another blogger” within the static of the Internet. But, if you have sponsors that believe in what you’re doing, you can attract other professional relationships, such as speaking engagements or press interviews. If you’re regarded as an authority, you can build a stronger brand.
Negotiating a sponsorship experience
Sponsors can be demanding advertisers, and they can restrict how you develop your monetization plan by changing the way you advertise on your site. Some sponsors demand exclusivity — which means that they’re the only business of that type that advertises on your site, forcing you to turn away other potential sponsors. Others might demand that you always write about their products or services in a positive way. Dealing with sponsors can be a true balancing act. But the rewards can be worth the work.
Here’s my recipe for a successful sponsor/blogger relationship:
Be clear on your topic. Know who you are and what you’re writing about. If you have a blog that isn’t clear about its subject, when you’re seeking sponsorship, potential sponsors may be unable to understand why they are a good match for your blog. Sponsors want a very clear idea about the content you’re creating and what you can do for them. Keeping your blog on topic is especially important when sponsors are actively using their brand identities on your site. Make sure that they’re aware of everything you might write about so that they don’t have any surprises or objections to editorial content.
Be clear about what you’re promising. Be sure that both you and your sponsor understand exactly what influence and control — if any — the partnership offers the advertiser. Thoroughly outline how you’ll handle both content and advertising placement of the sponsor; the advertiser should be upfront about its expectations of you.
Know your audience. Educate yourself on your audience if you’re seeking paying sponsors for your blog. With increased sponsorship, you absolutely must address the question of who your audience is. You need to document the activity in your community, track your comments, and analyze the information from your web statistics.
Banner placement and visual cues. If you’ve been placing advertising on your blog for awhile, you already have a good idea where ads appear to have a good effect on your site, and you probably also know what types of ads work best. So, you can demonstrate the benefits of placement and ad types to any potential sponsors.
However, if you’ve never had ads on your site when you first seek a sponsor, be prepared to offer ideas and suggestions for adequately highlighting the sponsor’s ads and branding. You can even provide a design mock-up or some kind of visual representation. Or you might even consider creating a demo website that actually shows the ads in the positions and formats that you think can work.
Limit other monetization methods. Some bloggers find that if they use other advertising systems at the same time as a sponsor, it dilutes the effectiveness of the sponsorships. Many sponsors ask to be the exclusive advertiser on your site or that you limit what other kinds of advertising and advertisers you use while they sponsor you. This request isn’t unreasonable, especially if you have a lucrative sponsorship agreement that compensates you for the loss of those ad spots.
Jumping to the professional level in the blogging world poses a few potential pitfalls and requires ongoing reinvention on your part. Set up and keep to a few simple rules about what your professional limits and intentions are, and don’t be afraid to write those rules down in a document that you share with sponsors and your readers.
Also, be ready to say no. Some sponsors might want more than you’re willing to give. Yes, you may be able to earn some money from your blog, but don’t forget the reason you’re blogging in the first place. Your blog is your territory, not your sponsor’s. You’re renting the sponsor space on your site, giving it access to your audience. You aren’t signing up for someone to tell you what to do. You already have parents for that!
Don’t jump at every offer that comes in the door. You may find this advice difficult to follow when you’re seeking your first sponsor, but you need to maintain a high level of professionalism — not just for yourself but also for your audience. In the same way that you protect your audience from nasty comments and spam, you need to be sure that you give them an appropriate experience with your sponsors and advertisers. Protect the integrity of your blog and avoid sponsors that demand more time, editorial control, or space on your blog than you’re willing to give.
5. Sell Coaching Services
Even though coaching services seem to be invading every aspect of the market these days, selling coaching services through your blog can certainly be lucrative. With just a few clients, you can earn a considerable income as a life coach, career coach, or business development coach.
It is common for coaching services to charge by the half hour or by the hour. You value your time, and people decide whether that value is worth it. If they decide it is, you make money – probably more than you would have normally made in that hour – and you don’t even have to work.
If you’re a travel writer, you can offer coaching services. Share what you’ve done to establish a travel-based lifestyle with others. Before traveling the world, talk to people about how they can establish a solid foundation for their lives. The basics of packing and traveling, as well as how long you stay at different places. On your blog, you love to discuss how you find deals on travel, how you find cheap lodging, and how you find restaurants.
If you’re a graphic designer, maybe you can be a mentor. Coaches cannot become art teachers, that’s a completely different position. However, you could coach someone on refining their style. Mentor someone on how to interpret client demands and produce the best logos possible. What websites are useful and what aren’t, what tools have become invaluable, and how to use them, etc. Coach someone on how to self-market and set up a graphic design profile.
You can also coach on more specific topics. You can essentially sell services as a travel agent through your travel writer blog. You can help people plan their dream vacation by selling coaching time. Book them with the kinds of places they want to see based on their budget, time availability, and location. Instead of just making that trip a vacation, help them make it a special occasion.
Start with 5-10 sessions of 30-60 minutes each. Set up a registration page and charge a reasonable fee. It might surprise you how quickly they fill up.
Feel free to offer the first five or so sessions for free if you’re not confident in your coaching abilities. Consider them a trial run for your coaching services. Maybe you aren’t ready for coaching if you can’t help your readers. It can reaffirm your confidence and give you a basis for future coaching if you are able to provide value.
You can start coaching by setting up a landing page, advertising it on social media, and contacting people directly when they book.
6. Email marketing
Email marketing is one of the most powerful methods for making money from your blog. To be successful, you must build your list. Use a popular email marketing platform like ConvertKit, Aweber or InfusionSoft to implement the systems necessary to start marketing via email, whether you promote blog updates or create a lead magnet.
You can choose from dozens of legitimate email marketing services, but they are all extremely similar.
Your pricing is typically determined by the number of subscribers on your list. The price increases as the list grows. It’s all good; don’t worry. Your goal is to build a large email list.
Create an opt-in form
Once you’ve signed up for a service, you need to create an opt-in form for your website.
On your website, you should definitely have a landing page for email sign-ups. However, you should also include sign-up forms on other pages of your website, such as your blog’s main page, and every blog you publish.
These forms can be created through your email software. Depending on which service you’re using, the instructions and wording may vary slightly. However, it should be very straightforward and easy to find.
You can then embed the form on your website using a shortcode.
Add an incentive
What are the benefits of signing up for your emails?
That’s a fair question. You want their email address to monetize them, but what do they get in return?
People are unlikely to sign up if you don’t give them a reason.
Consider an eCommerce site, for example. In your blog posts, you can offer a discount code for joining your email list. Give the visitor a dollar amount or percent off their next purchase.
Create a visual CTA
To draw attention to your email list, you might try making something a little more appealing than a traditional opt-in form.
The best thing to do in this case would be to create a custom visual image with a call to action. This can be placed at the top or bottom of your blog posts.
7. Sell eBooks
Making money from your blog is relatively quick with ebooks. Your ebook should align with the content of your blog. Creating non-fiction ebooks is relatively easy, and if you offer a skill that many people struggle with, the ebook is likely to be profitable.
To create an eBook, the first step is to gather a variety of ideas, then find the one that most suits your audience. Your eBook should be engaging and interesting. You can always find interesting ideas by looking at Google Trends, competitor blogs, or even by joining Facebook groups if you don’t yet have a blog. There are countless topics you can write about if you try any of these.
The next step is to convert your eBook into multiple formats. Your eBook can be read on various devices by converting (via various websites online). Formats include:
- Epub – for most e-readers, including Kobi and iBooks
- Mobi – for Amazon Kindle
- PDF – to make it easily accessible
Upload your eBook, set up a payment method, and begin promoting it if you plan to sell it on your website (we recommend this approach because you keep 100% of the profits).
Set up a PayPal link on your website or use a service like Selz to allow visitors to buy directly from you. You can create an account on Selz fairly easily, and you can always upgrade to Pro if you want more features.
Selz allows you to upload eBooks once you have created an account. Once you’ve filled out the price, description, etc., you can embed the widget on your blog. If you prefer, you can also set up a full page for your book. Furthermore, no technical knowledge is required to sell several books on one page. That’s all there is to it.
All transactions are handled by Selz. You don’t need to set up a shopping cart on your site or manage any technical stuff. Once a week, Selz will deposit money into your account.
On Selz, you can sell as many eBooks as you like. There are no limitations.