Blogging, although difficult, is one of the best ways for people interested in starting their own side-hustle or business to begin their journey. Why? Unlike other business ideas, blogging gives you access to a host of monetization methods so that you can start bringing in revenue that matches your traffic. But exactly what options do you have as a blogger? If you’re looking to create your own blog but want to have everything laid out beforehand, let’s dive into how you can make money blogging and where to get started.
I Want to Make Money Blogging! What Monetization Methods Are Right for Me?
1. Using Google Ads on Your Blog
I know, I know. You’ve already read this heading and you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t want to put a bunch of spammy ads on my website”. The truth? You don’t have to! But unless you have a platform, having money coming in to afford hosting and other operational expenses can be extremely helpful, which is why this first-step monetization method is the most recommended for new bloggers who have yet to develop a strong follower base.
Displaying ads typically pays you by click or by impression. The money that you earn from this monetization isn’t amazing, but as you grow your traffic, you can expect to see bigger and bigger paychecks that reflect your progress (and you can eventually scrap these ads later once you’re able to thrive off of other options we’ve provided on this list). But where do you get started?
The best ad platform to use to display ads is Google AdSense. With Google AdSense, all you need is an established blog with some pieces of great blog content and a functional design. Once Google has reviewed your blog application, they’ll then populate ads on your website and pay you for how much engagement your ads receive. If you do run into any other platforms that you may be interested in using, make sure to do your research. Some ad platforms can end up scamming you by holding onto your money and not paying the full amount!
2. Skip AdSense and Sell Ad Space Directly
Google AdSense may not be for everyone, especially since these ads are PPC (pay-per-click) and may instead drive away users rather than enticing them to stay on your blog. So, is there an alternative? There is! One way to go around platforms like Google AdSense is to sell advertising space directly to advertisers.
Beyond being able to make more by skipping over the inherently flawed PPC model, you also have full control over the types of ads that you display to your audience, making it easier to tailor ad campaigns to their needs so that they see exactly what is relevant to them. If this appeals to you, you can use a marketplace like BuySellAds to let advertisers know that you’re looking to populate available space with ads. There are other platforms as well, so make sure to do your research and find one that is the best fit for your needs.
3. Recommend Outstanding Products to Your Audience AND Make Money Through Affiliate Marketing
Have you ever gone onto your favorite website to find a section underneath listed as “Affiliates”? Affiliate marketing allows you to join a company’s referral program and earn a portion of the sales that you drive to their platform. Obviously, this is a bit harder to pull off for new bloggers as they don’t have the audience yet to truly profit from this model. However, if you build a community of people who trust your buying decisions and are looking for products that you love, you can switch over to this model instead of relying on things like PPC ads or direct advertising space to bring money in.
The good news? Unlike selling advertising space, there are far more opportunities out there to help you pitch products to your audience in your blog’s niche. Some great affiliate marketing programs to consider joining include:
No matter your niche, there are bound to be companies offering affiliate programs that you can sign up for. However, in order to get the most out of your marketing efforts, you must pay attention to the finer details of your desired affiliate marketing programs. Some ads need to be regularly updated and some may pay minimal profits for your work. Always look for the highest-paying platforms that are easiest to work with to make the process seamless.
Affiliate Marketing Must Be Disclosed!
The most common issue that bloggers face is not knowing all the legal hoops that you have to jump through in order to run your website. Among one of the most commonly unknown laws is that you have to disclose all advertiser relationships if you’re promoting products on your blog.
Unless you have purchased the product yourself or have been gifted a product to review by the company you’re reviewing, you must disclose your business relationship. As the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states on their website:
“Suppose you meet someone who tells you about a great new product. She tells you it performs wonderfully and offers fantastic new features that nobody else has. Would that recommendation factor into your decision to buy the product? Probably.
Now suppose the person works for the company that sells the product – or has been paid by the company to tout the product. Would you want to know that when you’re evaluating the endorser’s glowing recommendation? You bet. That common-sense premise is at the heart of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Endorsement Guides.
The Guides, at their core, reflect the basic truth-in-advertising principle that endorsements must be honest and not misleading. An endorsement must reflect the honest opinion of the endorser and can’t be used to make a claim that the product’s marketer couldn’t legally make.
In addition, the Guides say, if there’s a connection between an endorser and the marketer that consumers would not expect and it would affect how consumers evaluate the endorsement, that connection should be disclosed. For example, if an ad features an endorser who’s a relative or employee of the marketer, the ad is misleading unless the connection is made clear. The same is usually true if the endorser has been paid or given something of value to tout the product. The reason is obvious: Knowing about the connection is important information for anyone evaluating the endorsement.”
It’s important to look over these Guides and gain a full understanding of these laws (and brush up on other blogging legal issues while you’re at it). The way bloggers will disclose these affiliate relationships will differ.
4. Sell Sponsored Blog Posts to Companies in Your Industry
There’s a difference between monetizing your blog content and getting paid to blog on your own website. The latter is made possible when you decide to sell sponsored blog posts! Sponsored blog posts are blog posts commissioned by other companies that you either write for your blog or that you accept from them and post directly on your website. These types of blog posts are good for a number of reasons. Some of these include:
- You get paid substantially more for, essentially, advertising another person’s company. The type of advertising will vary (sometimes you’re getting paid to insert a backlink to their website in your content while other times, you may be reviewing the company as a whole or a specific product that they want you to cover) but you’re still going to get paid for work on your website.
- You’re getting paid to do something that you’re already doing well. This is like a bonus during your blogging journey.
- Unlike ad campaigns placed in free ad space, people are likely to enjoy your sponsored blog posts far more than PPC ads.
Of course, selling sponsored blog posts is a completely different story compared to some of the other monetization methods that we’ve mentioned insofar. There are websites where you can sell blog posts, but not all of these are the safest and you may have to hassle with interested buyers in order to receive the payment that you’ve requested. The best way to go about it is to either craft masterful blog topics and concepts and send them to brands you’re interested in working with or establishing a sponsor and media page on your site to advertise your desire to sell sponsored blog posts to others in your industry (remember that you will have to disclose your business relationships, however).
It can take a bit of work to get this type of method to pay off, but with the right amount of hustle and continual networking in your industry, you should be able to find sponsors who want to pay for high-quality content on your blog!
5. Create a Membership Platform for Your Website
Some blogs are designed to cover a specific topic quite extensively, but never quite venture beyond that goal. Other blogs, however, are jampacked with information that people need in order to progress in their daily lives. For example, let’s imagine that you run a blog that covers career opportunities. Rather than just blogging about different careers and side hustles that people can pursue, you may also want to develop a membership model that allows people to tap into something more valuable for a price.
But just what exactly would a membership subscription provide your readers? It all depends on what you have to offer! Continuing with the above example, you may have your own separate job board where you post available jobs for your audience. If you have physical goods that could help your readers, you could open up a digital storefront where you sell these or provide them for a discount (or free) to those who want these materials. Regardless of what ideas you have or which membership websites you look up to, the sky’s the limit when it comes to developing your own membership model to increase revenue to your blog.
6. Create Your Own Digital Goods to Sell on Your Website
Bloggers can sometimes have a hard time imagining success on their other business endeavors. But given the fact that you’ve been able to create your own website, conduct SEO research, and produce well-written content, you’ve already achieved so much in your journey. If you’re creative and looking for ways to leverage your skills to make more money on your blog, one of the best ways to create additional income streams is to produce digital goods that you can sell to your audience.
Some recommendations that you’ll come across include:
- E-books: Have a strong command of the English language and plenty to discuss with your readers about a certain topic? Writing your own e-book will allow you to further monetize your ideas in your blog’s industry and profit off of your hard work. You can either sell these directly to your readers on your own website or receive further exposure by using a platform like Kindle Direct Publishing.
- Printables: Do you have your own coaching blog or a blog where you’re giving your audience instructions on how to do something or improve a certain aspect of their lives? If so, printables are another digital product worth creating. Printables like worksheets, calendars, planners, and other tools can be sold to provide your audience with some type of value that falls in line with the other teachings or information on your website. As with the previous suggestion, you can either sell printables in an online shop on your blog or decide to use a popular platform like Etsy. Just remember that using another platform besides your own can sometimes be easier but that other platforms will often charge you a fee for using their website to sell your digital goods.
- Webinars: Webinars are live events where you cover certain topics for your audience. Sometimes, webinars are the perfect lead-in for you to pitch new products that you are looking to sell and you can offer them for free. In other instances, you may want to sell tickets to webinars packed with valuable information that you either host yourself or with the support of other experts in and outside of your industry. Just make sure that you highlight the value of your webinar in your email marketing campaigns to truly make the splash that you want to with these online meetings.
- Online Courses: Online courses are a great way to build your reputation, develop a passive income stream, and demonstrate your extensive experience within a certain niche. If you have a blog audience that looks up to you for very specific information and you want to help them advance in a specific part of their life, starting your own course to teach them more about a subject and provide them with actionable advice and resources is a great way to do so. As with the recommendations above, you could either create your online course and post it directly on your platform or decide to use another platform like Teachable to get the job done.
Digital goods are an easy way to monetize your blog and are far easier to establish and sell than physical products are. If you’re the creative type that really wants to go above and beyond, consider one of the ideas we’ve listed above!
7. Offer Leads to Other Companies in Your Industry
This recommendation is going to take a bit of time to reach after you’ve officially launched your blog, but it’s something that you should keep in the back of your mind if your blog is attracting the right users. Lead generation is rarely offered on lists that discuss how you can make money on your blog, but it’s arguably one of the most lucrative and simplest ways to do so.
That being said, lead generation can be confusing to those who are unfamiliar with the concept. Let’s imagine that you run a website that’s all about dental work. Let’s also pretend that your dental work website is bringing in around 50,000 people a month. Unfortunately, you don’t offer dental services, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t tap into the needs of your readers. All you have to do is create a page for individuals looking for great dental work who want to express their interest to you.
Once you have the traffic and the interest, you can approach local businesses or national businesses that have a lower ranking than your website and pitch them with the idea of warm leads. You can tell them that you already have people signing up on your website for high-quality dental work and that the dentist you’re negotiating with can save money by spending (x amount of money) with you for warm leads rather than paying (x amount of money) for Google Ads to get their new clients, which charges them a certain amount per click. If they bite (pun intended), you can then direct your warm leads to them for a certain fee per lead or per month.
True, this method isn’t the easiest and takes time to develop. However, as someone who is now a blog owner, these types of monetization methods are more than possible down the road with the right amount of hustle and vision!
8. Use Your Blog As a Way to Boost Your Business
For the most part, people who want to start their own blog are more interested in passive income than active income. But for the working professional, your blog can help you accomplish both. While you’re focusing on developing some of the income stream ideas we’ve listed above, you may also want to use your blog as a portfolio and a way to land gigs so that you can boost your income and improve your blog along the way. Just a few business ideas that people use their blogs to support include:
- Freelance Writing: As a freelance writer, your blog is quite literally a live portfolio of all of your best work that’s been published. If you write about freelance writing or craft masterful content that amazes and gets the results that others are looking for, advertise your services on your website to start landing clients.
- Digital Marketing: Of course, blogging is about far more than just great writing. You also need to have the necessary marketing skills to make sure that your website is maintaining continuous growth to help you rise to the top. Much like a blog is a great way to promote your writing skills, you can also advertise digital marketing skills to land small businesses that need the support.
- Consulting: Running a blog requires a certain level of expertise. If you’re in a high-demand niche and have an audience hungry for knowledge, consider offering consulting services to help others in your industry thrive and get ahead of the existing and oncoming competition in their field.
- Virtual Assistant: Throughout your day-to-day, you manage a wide variety of blog-based tasks that require your full attention. This is a good indication of your dedication to your work. Consider shifting this focus over to other clients and offering administrative help to them as a virtual assistant. (This idea can be a little more time-demanding, so it’s important to make sure that you can handle your blog and your clients at the same time.)
- Professional Speaking: Want to get paid by others to hear your expertise. Use your blog as a way to land speaking gigs to talk more about not only the information on your blog but some of the tools and digital products that you sell to others!
Using your blog as a way to land gigs isn’t right for everyone, but if you already have an interest in some of the careers above or have already started on one, you might as well use your traffic to maximize your income!
9. Flip Your Website to Truly Profit From Your Hard Work
Running a blog can be very rewarding, but after a while, you may not feel up to taking care of all of the day-to-day operations or hiring outside help to help you manage your business. Fortunately, you don’t have to just give up on your blog once you reach this point. Instead, you may want to find an interested buyer who would pay to take your blog off your hands.
Some people may develop their blog with the sole purpose of selling it later while others may just want to move onto another business later on. Regardless of which side of this equation you’re on, you’ll discover that flipping your website can be quite lucrative. Rather than just earning money from the current revenue streams you’ve established, you can often sell your website for two to three times what it makes in a year, potentially even more if you have high DA and a lot to offer a potential buyer. Although finding a buyer may be the most difficult part, this is another monetization option to have on hand in the event that you no longer want to run your blog later on.
As you can see from the above, there are a host of opportunities to help you earn money from your favorite pastime. That being said, the issue is getting your website to the point where you can benefit from the traffic coming in. As someone who’s either interested in starting your own blog and making money or who already has a blog that they want to monetize, where exactly do you get started on your journey? Let’s dive into some helpful tips that will guide you along your journey.
Paving the Way to Profitability: How to Grow Your Blog
The biggest issue that bloggers face today is the unrealistic expectation set by side hustle websites on the web. You may have heard the common refrain, “blogging is an easy way to earn money”. Although writing articles and publishing them is easy, there’s a lot more to blogging than most people are prepared for, which can easily result in you having to shut down your blog shortly after launching it.
The good news is that, with the right education and preparation, you can circumvent some of the common problems that stop prospective bloggers in their tracks. If you want to run a blog that generates revenue, you will need to…
Choose a Blog Niche That Leaves Plenty of Room for Growth
The most common tip that beginner bloggers receive is to choose a niche before starting. The problem? If you choose a niche that’s too hyper-focused, you can end up writing yourself into a corner. For example, let’s imagine that you have an interest in automobiles. This is a great niche as there’s tons of potential for growth and it will be relatively easy to find keywords to help you rank. However, let’s imagine that you focus specifically on mufflers. Although you may be able to come up with some information strictly on mufflers at first, you’ll likely end up running out of ideas within months. Always look for a niche that you can expand on as you move forward. The more room for growth, the more you will be able to write about.
Use a Versatile Blogging Platform That Works for Your Needs
As you can see in our guide on various blogging platforms, there are a wide variety of website builders for you to choose from. However, each builder comes with unique advantages and disadvantages that could make or break your blog. For example, let’s say that you decided to create your website on Wix. While this platform offers you the ease of website creation, the biggest issue is that you’re very limited in how you can arrange your website and won’t be able to easily migrate your website to a new platform later if you need to.
Instead, we recommend using a platform like WordPress to get the support and freedom you need to create a blog that you and your audience loves. Always do your research to determine whether or not a website builder is good for the short-term and the long-term. If you choose a builder that offers very few templates and plugins and you offer a design that’s clunky and difficult to navigate, you’re going to drive away readers rather than encouraging them to stay on your blog.
Focus on Creating Outstanding Content That Stands Out
You can absolutely write whatever you want on your blog, publish it, and hope that people will come in and read it. However, your focus should always be on cultivating outstanding content that audiences will love. But what exactly does great content look like? Content that attracts readers is:
- Engaging: If you’re working in a science field, your content may be a bit stuffy. However, if you’re working in a non-technical field, your content should always be engaging. Think of your readers as though they were close friends. Then, write your content as if you were explaining something to them. The more engaging you are, the more likely the reader will read your content all the way to the end.
- Well-Formatted: New bloggers will often write walls of text. Not only are these large text blocks ugly, but no one is going to stay online long enough to read it. Instead, separate your text using headings, bullet points, and numbers. The easier it is to read, the better it will be for your audience.
- Knowledgeable: The goal of starting a blog is to share your knowledge with the world. However, to stand out from competitors, you must offer the most accurate information possible. Write with confidence and show your audience you know what you’re talking about. It’s also okay to link to other websites where you go your information (as long as they’re not competing pieces or competing blogs). Just remember not to insert too many links or you run the risk of giving away too much link equity!
- Actionable: Creating blog posts for the sake of creating blog posts won’t provide any value for the readers. Instead, focus on crafting content that gives them actionable advice on how to use the information contained within. For example, if you run a food and fitness blog, you’ll want every blog to contain key points that they can walk away with and implement into their own lives. The better they can apply it to their day-to-day, the more effective and attractive your content will be.
- Helpful: Every blog you write should aim to help your audience in some way, shape, or form. Before you sit down to get started, ask yourself, what angle can I use to ensure that this piece offers something to my readers?
- Visually Pleasing and Scannable: Design plays a HUGE role in your rankings and whether or not you’re able to increase your organic traffic. Enhance your blog posts with an attractive font and layout, inject photos or videos into your content to make it more exciting, and aim to satisfy both your mental and visual senses!
Your blog should always be filled with your best work. If you feel like a piece is lacking or if you can step back and say that you wouldn’t be excited to be on your website as a visitor, make some changes until you feel satisfied with your work!
Brush Up on Your SEO Skills
Do you want your blog to thrive? If so, you can’t just focus on writing great content. You need to set aside some time to learn more about search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO refers to a set of guidelines set forth by search engines like Google that you have to follow in order to get your content to rank. If you fail to meet these standards, the search engine can’t properly locate and rank your content, making it so that your blog remains invisible until you do follow the rules.
Gaining a comprehensive understanding of SEO is something that will take time, which means that we can’t cover everything here and provide you with a full scope of SEO strategy. However, we can cover some key terms and concepts that you will need to understand in order to make sure that your blog can grow. Let’s dive into these to help you get started.
- Black Hat SEO Vs. White Hat SEO: Even in the internet world, there are people willing to accept money to provide you with shortcuts you want so that you can get your blog to rank faster. These types of strategies are called black hat SEO. Although link farms and other black hat SEO techniques can help you rank faster, they also put you at risk of being discovered engaging in these activities and getting flagged by Google. Let’s put it this way: if it sounds to be good to be true, it probably is. Stick to the white hat SEO strategies that you learn along the way and your blog will be safe!
- Keyword Research: In order for content to be discovered and ranked, there will be keywords that you will use in your content to optimize it. Starting out, you’ll lose longtail keywords that are more specific and often easy to rank for. We recommend Ahrefs.
- Linkbuilding: There are two different types of SEO strategies: on-page SEO and off-page SEO. On-page SEO consists of formatting and keyword optimization. Meanwhile, off-page SEO relies on websites pointing back to you to show Google that you’re an authority in your space. This is accomplished through linkbuilding. Make sure to network with others in your space who would be willing to incorporate links in their websites that point to your blog and create valuable resources like infographics that other blogs will want to use and credit you for.
- Domain Authority: All domains have an authority ranking that is numeric in nature. The higher your domain authority ranking, the easier it will be to rank for keywords and the more visible you will be. Pay attention to the terms “keyword difficult” when you’re conducting keyword research. This term will point to a number (your DA) that you’ll have to have in order to rank for your chosen term. If you write for a keyword that is beyond your DA, you’ll have to wait until you reach that ranking in order to rank for that keyword.
- Link Equity: Think of every website as though it were a bank. When you link to another website, you’re giving away a little portion of your equity to them by telling Google that you trust them as an authority. It’s good to include a backlink here or there. But if you insert too many links into your content, you can end up giving away a significant portion of your equity, which will end up stifling your DA. Keep this in mind and make sure to add a nofollow tag to links that you don’t want to give equity to other websites.
SEO can be quite easy to understand once you have the right resources. If you’re not looking to invest too heavily into your education, you can use other websites and platforms like HubSpot to start learning more about SEO. If you have money to spend and want to make sure that you’re getting the high-quality education you need to succeed as a blog owner, you can turn to a platform like Moz Academy or SEMRush Academy to get started. The more you invest in understanding digital marketing, the more effective you’re going to be as a business owner.
Create a Strong Business Plan Long Before You Launch
One of the easiest things to overlook when you plan on starting your own blog is that it’s still a business. Even if you’re testing the waters initially, you’re going to be bringing in revenue over time, making you a business. As a business owner, you need to have a business plan that will carry you towards your blogging goals. Here are a couple of things to focus on when you begin developing a roadmap towards your blog launch.
- Legal Requirements: Most side hustles, such as a blog, for example, will start you off as a sole proprietor. A sole proprietor is a small business owner that is fiscally and legally responsible for their company. However, as you start to grow, you may want to switch over to a different business model, especially if you have to acquire special licenses and permits in order to grow your blog. Now is the time to dive deeper into your federal, state, and local small business requirements using a website like SBA.gov to make sure that you’re set up for success and encounter few roadblocks along your journey. Beyond licenses and permits, you also want to brush up on blogging laws to avoid lawsuits.
- Content Calendar: At first, coming up with ideas for your blog will seem easy. However, as you continue to look for keywords and content ideas, you’ll find yourself hitting roadblocks, which prevents you from posting consistently and growing your traffic. The best thing to do is to create a content calendar ahead of time. Whether you want to have ideas for the month ahead or for several months ahead, set aside some time to conduct keyword research, create a blogging schedule, and plan out your favorite ideas. This will reduce the stress you will face as you focus on other aspects of your business like posting to social media, networking, and establishing the right monetization opportunities.
- Marketing Plan: We’ve covered one of the most essential components of marketing: SEO. But that isn’t the only way to bring attention to your new blog. You’ll also want to take advantage of paid ad campaigns and free resources like social media. Sit down and figure out which channels are right for you, what your budget is (if you have one or if you want to take advantage of paid options later on), how to best use your chosen tools, and when you want to post new updates or ads. Much like the previous suggestion, you’ll have an easier time running your blog when all of this is planned out ahead of time.
- Business Goals: At first, blogging can be fun. But as you continue to pay for hosting and other expenses, you’ll start to realize that planning ahead is a good idea. One aspect of planning that should be in place is business goals. Without goals, you can’t properly grow your blog in the direction that you need to scale your website and tap into the monetization methods listed above. Ask yourself, where do you see your blog in a year? Where do you see your blog in five years? What do you want to achieve with your blog? How much money are you looking to make, and when do you expect to reach those profits by? The clearer a picture you have for the future of your blog, the easier it will be to achieve. Don’t worry if things seem vague now or if you don’t have too many goals. They will come to you once you have your blog set up and ready to go.
- Blogging Resources: There are a host of free and paid tools out there that can help you run your blog more efficiently. If you’re still in the creation phase, you may want to look for themes and plugins that are compatible with your website builder and will offer you the look and functionality that you want your blog to have. If you’re worried about offering great content, you can use tools like Grammarly to correct any overlooked mistakes and Hemingway App to make your writing easier to understand for your audience. No matter what you need support with, there’s a tool out there!
- Educational Opportunities: You’re not just a blogger, you’re a business owner. This means that you’re responsible for all of the technical aspects of your blog, writing your blog posts, marketing your blog posts, and dealing with every step of the blogging process (until you have the funds you need to pay a professional to do it for you, that is). It’s completely unrealistic to expect yourself to get all of these skills down right away, which is why it’s important to find resources that can help you learn these skills and become a better business owner over time. Some places where you can begin learning marketing skills and business skills include platforms like Coursera, edX, and HubSpot Academy, just to name a few.
Learning that you can make money through your blog can be an exciting discovery. But unless you know what you have to do in order to grow your blog to the point where it’s profitable, all of the ideas that we’ve provided you in the first half of this guide are moot. If you want to make money through your blog, use this portion of the guide above to grow your traffic then utilize the ideas we offered in the first half to capitalize on your growing audience. Blogging can be hard work, but it can be very lucrative if you build the right platform!
Anybody Can Start a Blog…
… But not everyone knows how to monetize it. Fortunately, we’re here to provide you with all of the information you need to not only start a one but to start a successful one that brings in the revenue you need to achieve financial freedom (or at least gain some passive income) in your life. If you’re ready to start a blog around your favorite topic, use the guide above to discover what the first steps are, what skills you need to learn in order to generate more traffic and make your blog visible to Google users, and which monetization methods can help you turn your hard work into steady income!