5 Blog Monetization Methods for Beginners
So you’ve decided that being a blogger is for you - you’ve decided that you want to get your voice out there; you’ve got an area of passion or expertise that you love to write about, and you’re committed to putting in the hours and building a loyal audience.
You know it’s not easy, especially if blogging is something you’d like to do full-time: sticking to a publishing schedule and writing interesting posts that your audience will enjoy and engage with.
Then there’s learning WordPress, SEO, finding a sweet web hosting deal, researching your audience and your subject matter - the list of things to know about in order to make blogging a hobby or job that pays is extensive.
But probably the most important thing above all else, especially if you want to make even just a side income from blogging, is how to monetize your blog effectively.
Here’s a rundown of the most common ways to earn an income from your blog. A lot of the most successful bloggers use more than one of these to bring in multiple streams of income. The best method or combination of methods will depend on factors like the type of blog you run and your audience.
It’s also important to know that blogging isn’t going to bring you instant riches overnight - don’t get me wrong; blogging can be a source of very comfortable full-time income, and is for many people, but you really need to know your audience and grow it. Your earnings may be meager, to begin with, but invest the time into doing things right, and as you grow your audience, you’ll grow your income too.
The 5 Top Ways to Monetize Your Blog:
1. Affiliate Marketing
Driving affiliate sales can be one of the most lucrative forms of income from blogging. In basic terms, affiliate marketing is where you get paid a commission from the vendor of a product or service when a customer makes a purchase or completes a specified action as a result of your referral.
The beauty of affiliate marketing is that no matter what niche your blog is in, there is more than likely an affiliate program that will fit your blog and its audience. No matter what your blog post, whether it be talking about something you use yourself, doing a review, a roundup, a listicle, a best-of or top list, or even if you just happen to casually mention a brand or product in a post, chances are there’s an affiliate program you can be using.
The great thing is just about every major retailer like Amazon, Walmart and BestBuy have affiliate programs, so this opens up an almost endless number of products you can promote.
Once you’re signed up with an affiliate program, the rest is easy - you’ll get a unique affiliate link that contains your ID that is used to track referrals and sales. This is the link that goes in your blog posts, and once clicked, if your reader makes a purchase, you get credited with the commission.
2. Google AdSense
Google Adsense is a form of cost per click or CPC advertising. It is called cost per click because every time a user clicks on one of these ads, the advertiser incurs a fee. Conversely, the owner of the site receives a payment, which is a percentage of the total cost charged to the advertiser.
To be able to use Google Adsense on your site, it is a matter of signing up and having your site reviewed and approved. As is to be expected of Google, there are certain criteria that your website needs to meet to be eligible to run Adsense ads. These include: you have to be over 18 years old, and in some cases, your site has to have been active for 6+ months. Your site cannot host adult content, and it must adhere to Google’s content standard guidelines. According to Google, your website must contain good unique content that will drive traffic organically.
Adsense works by crawling your pages’ content and delivering ads based on that content. Therefore, having compelling targeted and text-based content will allow Google to serve up more relevant ads.
Setting up Adsense involves adding a script to your site. If you use WordPress for your blog, this process is pretty straightforward and easy, and depending on what plugins and theme you use, you can tinker with ad placement.
And you will want to experiment with ad placements, too. Adsense ads appear in blocks of different sizes and appearance, and in different parts of your pages and posts. Testing and optimizing the placement of Adsense will make a real difference to your income - there are 18 different ad sizes, and ads can be text or images. So trying and split-testing different sizes, placements, etc., and keeping track of your analytics after each change, will allow you to narrow down the optimal way to place ads for maximum click-through and, therefore, earnings.
3. Sell Ads Directly
If you would rather take matters into your own hands and not be reliant on a third party (ie, Google) for your ad revenue, then selling ad space yourself is a potentially lucrative alternative. It comes with the added advantage that you have control over who advertises on your site.
The amount you earn through Adsense can vary, too, as different ads pay different amounts. Selling ad space directly means you are getting a predictable, set amount each month for each ad spot. And the more your site traffic grows, the more you can charge.
There is a bit more work involved in getting your site set up to sell advertising directly than with Adsense - you need to have proper analytics records showing traffic stats. The numbers are what you will need to prove to prospective advertisers that your site is worth having their ads on and to justify your asking price. Then there is negotiating your advertising agreement and terms, pricing, invoicing, communicating with clients, and other admin tasks. However, this all comes with the territory of being a serious blogger.
Again, using WordPress makes the process easier, as there are many ad management plugins that can manage everything from ad placement to A/B split testing to client invoicing.
If your blog readership reaches high enough numbers, selling ad space can be lucrative - having anywhere from just one to a handful of main advertisers buying space on your blog can be enough to provide a comfortable income.
4. Sponsored Posts
You may be one of those bloggers who aren’t a fan of display ads - let’s face it; there are many reasons not to like ads on your blog - they can be obtrusive, distracting, get in the way of content, disrupt the look, feel and style of your site design - and dare I say it, even make you look like some kind of corporate sell-out! Even if you and your readers have no problem with ads on your blog, the widespread use of ad-blockers can be a big cause of drops in revenue.
A good compromise that many bloggers employ is sponsored posts - rather than having ads plastered over their blog; they will allow businesses to “sponsor” individual blog posts in exchange for a mention and link.
Again, like with selling advertising, you need to know your analytics. Once your site reaches a certain level of traffic and your stats are good enough to look attractive to advertisers, it’s an excellent idea to produce a media kit that outlines your site’s traffic, audience demographics, social media followers, etc. Basically, it acts as a bit of a bragging tool to make your site as attractive as possible to advertisers and show what’s in it for them.
Once you feel your blog is at a level where you can offer real value to advertisers, you can even approach businesses that you would like to work with and think would be a good fit for your blog and its audience. Many businesses find this form of advertising appealing, as it fits in with the “influencer” style of promotion - it’s much more targeted than other types of advertising, and the promotion of a brand by a blogger to their loyal audience carries more weight, too - even if it is paid.
One thing to be wary of is disclosure requirements around sponsored content, so it pays to know the laws in your particular region. For example, the FTC in the USA has endorsement guidelines, whereby sponsored posts need to be clearly identified.
5. Build an Email List
Using your blog to build up a list of email subscribers should be one of your top priorities when thinking about monetizing your blog. The benefits of getting as many visitors to your blog sign up to an email list are numerous and can benefit not only your blog but also your bank account.
It would help if you had an email list signup box prominently displayed on your blog, with a compelling call to action to get your readers to sign up. You could use inducements, like a free downloadable pdf guide, checklist, or something similar. Like ads and other website elements, you should use split testing to optimize your sign up box, and it’s CTA for maximum conversions.
You can use an email list to improve your site’s stats and drive traffic. Your list is going to consist of loyal readers, so you can use email to alert them to newly published posts, provide teasers for upcoming content, keep them up to date with anything of interest, and even use it for market research - use polls, surveys, or even one-on-one emails to talk with your readers and find out what content they want to see on your blog.
As well as being a useful tool to improve your blog and its readership, an email list is one of the most essential money-making assets you can own. It is an asset that you own; that isn’t subject to the whims of search engines or web host downtime. It gives you the ability to make money from your blog’s audience but away from your blog.
You can send promotional emails at any time and see a return. What you can do on your blog you can do with email - you can use it to make affiliate sales, insert ads, and sponsored content in your emails. Or you can sell your own products or services; create products that cater specifically to your blog’s audience, or sell coaching or consulting services - whatever you decide, having a massive email list effectively lets you send one email and see immediate results. You have to know how to nurture and talk to your subscribers, but having them sign up to your list from your blog gives you the advantage of them already knowing and liking you.
Making a living, or even just a side income from blogging isn’t a walk in the park like some might have you believe. It takes thoughtful planning, learning, and dedication. Not many have the stones to stick it out and keep producing consistent content for the long run. Still, if you have the know-how and discipline, and genuinely enjoy it, blogging can be a rewarding income-producing hobby or even career.
In order to truly make the most out of your efforts, you’ll need to learn how to monetize your blog effectively. This is a whole area of learning in of itself - the above guide, while by no means extensive, should have given you a quick introduction to five of the most popular ways of making money as a blogger. Blogging is not a get rich overnight endeavor, but if you get the formula right and put the work in to grow your audience to a high enough level, then having your blog monetized correctly can make your hard work pay off, and then some.