There are few ways of making money more satisfying than blog monetization. By earning money with your blogging, you’re getting to live the dream in a way that not so many people do – by writing about what you love. It’s rare that you can indulge your passions and get paid for doing so, so monetizing your blog is, if you can pull it off, highly recommended.
But how can you go about monetizing your blog? There are many ways of doing it, but some ways of blog monetization may be more effective than others for your particular blog. If your blog lends itself to recommending Amazon products, for instance, then you’re likely to be monetizing it in a very different way to someone who runs third-party banner ads on their blog.
During the course of this article, we plan to take a look at the various ways in which you can turn your blog into cash. In doing so, we hope that we’re able to highlight the best ways for you to transform your blog into a money-making endeavor.
One of the most popular ways of making money from blogs is via the tried-and-tested affiliate marketing route. If your blog revolves around recipes for Italian food, for instance, then it makes sense for you to be marketing Italian sauces, herbs and spices in the course of your blog posts, framed as recommendations for things that the reader can use when they cook the dishes you’ve detailed.
But what, exactly, is affiliate marketing? Essentially, you will enter into a partnership with, say, the Italian sauce manufacturer in our hypothetical example. That sauce manufacturer will give you a personalized link that you can drop into your blog posts. Every time somebody clicks through on that link and buys some pasta sauce, you will earn a commission on that purchase. It couldn’t be easier.
The only thing to bear in mind with affiliate marketing is that it’s important not to overdo it – and when you do do it, it should be in an organic way that doesn’t interrupt the flow of your blog posts. By inserting a few affiliate links at appropriate junctures, it’s easy to have readers clicking through and making purchases based on your recommendations.
However, if every other word in your article is an affiliate marketing link, then your readers may start to feel that they’re being manipulated or overtly marketed to. And if people think you’re nothing more than a glorified marketing blog, they’re going to switch off.
Have a look at our detailed comparison of the best WordPress themes for affiliate marketing.
You may have noticed that many prominent newspapers these days, such as the New York Times, ask readers to subscribe before giving them access to their content. This is known as a ‘paywall’, and can be an effective monetization method to apply to a blog.
Before using this method, however, it’s important to remember that your blog is almost certainly not the New York Times. You’re unlikely to have the sort of cachet commanded by one of the world’s most esteemed newspapers, and so you’re equally unlikely to have people lining up to pay to read your blog posts.
When offering paywalled content as a blogger, then, you need to give people a reason to pay to unlock that content. How can you do that? By regularly offering high-quality free content that acts as a preview for the paywalled stuff. Once readers see how good your content is, they’ll be happy to pay a little extra for the subscription-only content.
You can also create a sense of exclusivity with subscription content. Offer subscribers early access or bonus content that those reading for free simply cannot get. Run competitions or promotions that allow subscribers to get discounts or free products/services, or perhaps even VIP access to special events. The sky’s the limit when it comes to what can be done with subscription content.
Whatever the nature of your subscription content, it’s a good idea to gently remind non-subscribed readers of the goodies that await them should they choose to become a subscriber. This doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be ‘in your face’ or overwhelming, for the same reason that affiliate marketing links shouldn’t be: it’s off-putting and makes your subscribers think that the only thing you’re interested in is their wallet.
Online And Offline Courses
If you’ve established yourself as a leader in your field (and why wouldn’t you have?) then an effective way to monetize your blog is to offer an online course (or courses).
This is, obviously, a little more intensive than some of the other options outlined in this article. Creating a course requires time and money. That should, of course, be reflected in the price of the course you offer.
What kind of courses make for good content? Although your blog is an online endeavor, your course doesn’t necessarily have to be. You could offer in-person seminars, workshops and lectures, for instance. This creates extra incentive to sign up, as many learners find face-to-face learning much more rewarding than online classes or courses. It’s also an opportunity for them to put a face to a name, and an opportunity for everyone to engage in a little networking.
That’s not to say that you can’t leverage online courses, either. By offering a video course, for instance, using pre-recorded content, you can create a single piece of content (or a series of content) and get paid for it every time somebody makes use of it. You can also host webinars and other online meetings and workshops, which cuts down on logistic issues while still ensuring a steady stream of revenue.
If you’ve been running your blog for a while and garnered a good amount of authority in your chosen field, you may well start to get requests from other bloggers who’d like to write a blog post on your blog. The reason for this is simple: they can use the profile of your platform to promote their own content, either by explicitly mentioning it or linking back to it, which in turn will help in legitimizing their blog.
By charging such bloggers a fee to put their content on your website, you can earn a tidy sum with little effort on your end. You simply need to vet the content that goes up to make sure it’s consistent with your brand and vision. You also need to make sure that the blog post is clearly marked as sponsored – not only is it dishonest to try to pass off sponsored content as unpaid, but it also violates the law in a number of countries (for instance, in the US).
In the same vein as offering online courses, eBooks are a great way of generating extra income from your blog. Given that you’re already putting out a lot of content on your blog about your chosen area of expertise, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to create an eBook in the same field. And because it’s purely digital, you can ensure that your overheads remain low.
And not only do eBooks represent a potential new source of revenue, but they also reinforce the idea that you’re an authority in your chosen field. This is particularly true if you’re able to support this idea with positive reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads. You can incentivize having people leave you reviews on such sites with free limited-time access to subscription content or other rewards. Note, however, that you should not solicit 5-star reviews; this is dishonest and manipulative, and will only hurt your credibility in the long run.
If your blog natively gets a lot of traffic, you can even cut out the middleman and sell directly from your own website store. This avoids some of the fees associated with using a third-party marketplace (Amazon, for instance, takes a 30% cut of every copy sold) and keeps people on your website.
If you’re an authoritative and respected voice in your field, then offering consultancy services to your reader can be a great way of monetizing your blog. You might think that they can simply make use of whatever online courses/eBooks that you already offer, but some people infinitely prefer the personal touch that comes with one-on-one consultancy services.
Consultancy is, at its heart, about your imparting your specialized knowledge to people who need that knowledge. In this way, it’s not so different from anything else that you’re doing with your blog – but it does mean that, because you’re offering a single person your time and expertise, the price tag should be commensurate with the value of that time and expertise. You wouldn’t charge the same for a consultancy session as you would for an online course, for instance. Make sure your prices are reflective of that.
Successfully monetizing your blog in this way doesn’t happen overnight. In order to have people pay for your services, you need to prove that your services are worth paying for. This makes consultancy a late-game service, rather than something you’d offer immediately out of the gate. Build your reputation and authority with a solid blog, maybe cement this with some of the other monetization options we’ve detailed (eBooks, online courses, etc.) and then move on to consultancy sessions.
If you have people who repeatedly come back to your webinars or often ask questions in your comment section, however, then they may make for good candidates for consultancy sessions immediately – simply drop them a message and raise the possibility of offering a personalized 1:1 session.
One of the most straightforward ways of monetizing your blog is one that has been used since the dawn of the internet – display advertising.
Display ads do, as one of the oldest blog monetization methods out there, get a pretty bad rap. Nobody likes feeling as if they’re being marketed to, and nothing makes for more obvious marketing than a blog post that’s flanked and headed by loud, glaring advertisements. For this reason, many bloggers tend to shy away from using display ads on their blogs.
And yet, despite this, banner ads remain hugely popular. If they’re nothing more than a nakedly transparent attempt to manipulate readers – and if this is anathema to successful marketing – then why are they still so ubiquitous?
The reason is pretty simple: because they work. And this is particularly true for smaller blogs that are just getting off the ground.
Successfully using display ads is not simply a case of randomly splashing them across your website wherever you can. The most effective ones are optimized using WordPress plugins like Ad Inserter, which can dynamically insert ads into your blog posts in an unobtrusive and organic manner. The best plugins also offer A/B testing, which means that you can trial a few different approaches to banner ad placement and see which one works better.
You can also ensure that ads do not disrupt the flow of your content at all, ensuring that the emphasis stays upon the quality of your blog post – and not the ads themselves. For instance, it might be that you make a really important point in the first three paragraphs of your blog post, and that any interruption would completely disrupt the flow of the post. With a good plugin, that’s not an issue – you can fine-tune the placement of ads to ensure minimal detraction from the quality of your blog post.
Banner ads don’t have to be a long-term monetization strategy for your blog – as mentioned, it can be a little off-putting for many users, and ad-blockers can really hurt your bottom line – but for a way of getting the ball rolling, it’s hard to beat.
Depending upon the nature of your business, you might not want to sell other people’s products – you might want to directly market your own to your readers. In that case, you might want to branch into establishing an eCommerce web store that works alongside your blog, which is a great way towards blog monetization.
If you can leverage your blog in this way, it can be highly lucrative. Many successful eCommerce stores got their start as a blog, and then later branched out into selling products directly to the readers. One such example is Beardbrand.com, which started life as a humble beard-care blog in which its founder offered tips on beard-growing and how to groom one’s beard. From those origins, it’s grown into a fully-fledged eCommerce store offering a selection of grooming products.
If you’re looking to monetize your blog this way, it’s worth remembering that you need to lead with your blog! Don’t put the cart before the horse by establishing your eCommerce website and then tacking on the blog later. This can work, of course, but it’s better to adopt a content-marketing approach – let your blog convince customers why your products are worth having before you try to sell them your products.
Adopting a content-first approach also means that you have a reader base that knows and trusts you as a blogger. This means that they’re much more likely to browse your store and make purchases, and much more likely to recommend you to friends and family.
Distinct from online courses or webinars, virtual summits are much grander affairs that have become increasingly popular in recent years.
A virtual summit is, in essence, a conference that takes place entirely online. They typically feature multiple expert speakers, Q&A sessions, and workshops and seminars. They are highly stimulating and engaging for attendees, arming with them vital knowledge and skills that they can put to use themselves once the virtual summit has been and gone.
Virtual summits are typically free to attend, meaning that they are generally not used for direct monetization purposes. But where you can make money from them is by offering VIP passes via your blog. These passes will allow buyers to access the material generated by the virtual summit (individual lectures, webinars and the like) as much as they like. You can also offer associated courses and services on the strength of the content of the summit, making it a great vehicle for indirect marketing.
Virtual summits are a great way to collaborate with other people who operate within your field, whether they’re suppliers, partners, or even competitors. By pooling your resources, you can work together to offer an amazing virtual summit that will have readers attending in droves – and later purchasing your products and services. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Whatever method is best for your blog and your monetization needs, there are plenty of options to choose from. By diligently researching the choices at your disposal and implementing the most effective monetization tools on your blog, you can go from having a hobby, to having a living.
As we’ve mentioned, however, it’s crucial that marketing doesn’t overwhelm your blog, and turn it from a labor of love into a naked and greedy cash grab. Remember to make the content of your blog the chief focus, and you’ll find that the monetization aspect comes that much more easily.