"How do you make money blogging?" If there's one question I hear most often, that one would be it. I'm not surprised that people are curious-- monetizing was such a mystery to me when I first started my blog. While I certainly don't know everything, I've learned a lot since those beginning days, and I'm always happy to share my experience.
In this post I'll be sharing the five strategies that we've used to turn my once hobby blog into a six-figure income-producing business.
Before I even get to the monetization strategies, though, I feel like I need to put a few caveats into place. I would never want to give the impression that this is a simple way to make a ton of money right off the bat. While making a full-time income from blogging is certainly possible, it takes time and a lot of hard work.
Learn How to Start a Blog!
Get your new blog set up in a few short minutes with our easy-to-follow guide, and start growing your site today!
So before you even start thinking about making money, remember...
1. Content and relationships come first.
As I say over and over again in my eBook for bloggers, Building a Framework, the two most important things you can do for your blog are to create amazing content and form relationships with other bloggers. If you're first starting out, focus on these two areas first, and when you feel like they are taking shape and falling into place, then add monetization to the mix.
2. Your readers' trust is always more important than making money.
This is a biggie. As a rule, I never ever do a sponsored post or affiliate mention for anything that I don't completely love and/or use myself. My readers come first with me, so if there's something that I think will benefit them, I tell them about it, but I am very, very choosy about what I'm willing to plug on the blog because without the awesome readers, there would be no blog at all!
3. Blogging is not a "get rich quick" type of thing.
If the only reason I had started a blog was to make money, I wouldn't have been at it very long. I blogged for several months before I made my first dime. I blogged for several more before I even matched my expenses. And I blogged and blogged and blogged and blogged for many, many more months before it became a full-time income. Everyone's timeline is different, but it is almost never an instantaneous money maker.
So now that you know the "rules" I follow when talking about monetizing a blog, let's talk about some strategies that you can put into place to start bringing in some income.
5 Ways to Make Money Blogging
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
The very first monetization strategy I used for Just a Girl and Her Blog was putting an ad or two in my sidebar after I had been blogging for a few months. The easiest way to get started with ads is to go through an ad network like Google Adsense. Adsense and other ad networks do the work for you in that they have connected with many, many companies who want to advertise on websites, and they fill your ad spots with their ads so that you don't have to go out and find individual companies to sponsor your blog.
I used Adsense first, and when I was comfortable with them, I added a few other ad networks like Rivit and Sovrn to the mix, always making sure that my ads were subtle enough that they didn't make my site look spammy.
As my traffic grew, I knew I needed my ads to grow with me and become more optimized. Donnie and I considered learning to do this ourselves, but then we found Andy and his brilliant team over at AdThrive. They have managed my ads for years now, and I could not be more thrilled with them. It took a lot of work off of my plate, and I have confidence in knowing that my ad spots are in good hands.
Another monetizing strategy that I used after I had been blogging for a few months was getting involved in affiliate programs. For example, one of the most common affiliate programs you'll see bloggers using is Amazon Associates. You can apply to their program, and if you're accepted, you can generate an affiliate link for any product that they sell that you mention on your site. When people click your link and buy that product (or, in Amazon's case, anything else on their site), you make a small commission. Eventually, those small payouts add up and can become a great revenue stream for your site.
Like Adsense does for ads, there are also companies that act as a "middleman" for affiliate programs. Once you apply and are accepted, you can be connected with many, many companies' affiliate programs through their site. A few of these companies that you may want to check out are ShareASale, CJ, and VigLink.
Other than Amazon and middleman companies, another great way to find affiliate partnerships that would be a good fit for you is to think about the products and services you use yourself. For example, I'm an affiliate for my blog's framework, Genesis, and for my child theme by Shay Bocks. I'm an affiliate for hosting companies I've used and trust, Bluehost and MediaTemple. I'm also an affiliate for my email service, ConvertKit.
Think about eBooks you've read and found helpful. I so appreciate all of the bloggers who are part of my affiliate program for Building a Framework, and I have loved being able to share helpful resources with my readers as an affiliate for others' eBooks as well. It's especially helpful to be able to partner with companies or authors whose products you're already using because you know and love their work, so sharing that with your readers will come very naturally.
To see a case study on how affiliate sales have worked for us, check out our post When Our Blog Became a Business: How We Made $2000 from One Blog Post.
**Note: Both with affiliates and the next category, sponsored posts, you must provide a disclosure within your post to let readers know that the content is sponsored/affiliate related. See this report from the FTC for more info.**
3. Sponsored Posts
A third way to earn an income from blogging is through doing sponsored posts. Unlike affiliate programs, where payment is typically based on readers taking an action or buying a product, sponsored posts usually involve a company paying a blogger a flat fee to write a post based on their product or service.
A great way to get your feet wet with sponsored posts is by going through a media company like Pollinate or BluePrint Social. Again, these media companies act as a "middleman," finding companies who want to sponsor blog content and matching them with bloggers who would be a good fit. Typically, you would apply to the media company and once you're accepted, they will pass along campaigns that you can apply for individually if they would fit in with you blog's content. Other companies you may want to check out are Massive Sway (SITS Girls), TapInfluence, and Collective Bias (Social Fabric).
Maybe there's a company you'd like to work with directly, though. You can always send them a pitch that details your project, how you'll promote them, and how working with you will benefit their company. This might seem intimidating at first, but once you get your pitch down, it's just a matter of finding the right person to send it to.
If you're in a community of bloggers (remember that relationships thing I mentioned at the beginning?), that's a great place to start seeking out contacts. Another way to connect with a brand is to tweet to them on Twitter or reach out on Instagram.
I talk a lot about getting started with brand connections and even provide an example pitch in my eBook Building a Framework, and I also love the eBook Bloggers and Brands by Shannon at AKA Design, which I highly recommend when you are ready to go even more in depth with pitching to and connecting with brands.
So far all of the monetizing strategies I've talked about involve working with other companies or brands to promote outside products, but one of my most favorite (and definitely the most rewarding) ways I've monetized my blog is through creating my own products. I love, love, love being able to help others, and products like eBooks have given me a more in-depth way to do this than a blog post ever could because of their longer format.
Think about an area of expertise that you have that could be helpful to others or solve a problem for them. Could you package it in eBook or e-course form? Could you create printables or other electronic media? Or maybe you can create a physical product that people would like to buy. All of these methods can help to create additional income streams for your blog. If you're interested in writing an eBook, don't miss this detailed post we did about our entire eBook writing and launching process.
In the same vein as products, services are another rewarding method of monetizing your site. Do you have an area of expertise in which you could provide coaching? Could you offer virtual assistant services? How about web design or interior e-design services? There are people out there looking for all of these types of things, and you could be the one to provide them and add to your blog income in the process!
Whew! I feel like that was a long answer, but hopefully it helped to provide some ideas and strategies for blog monetization.
Thank you so much for reading, friends! Happy blogging!
Here are more blogging related posts we'd love you to take a look at:
- How to Start a Blog: The Definitive Guide for 2016
- The Most Effective Ways to Make Money Blogging
- Is a Blog a Business?
- What Should I Blog About? 10 Ways to Discover Your Perfect Niche
We're sharing ALL of the tools we've used to grow our blog!
Stop the guessing game! Get our list of 100+ proven tips, tools, and resources that can take your blog/online business to the next level!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.