One of the number one questions I get from friends, relatives, and yes guys on first dates, is how do you make money blogging? It seems as though people think I would quite a 9-5 job that I LOVED to just write a blog. Yeah, of course, I quit that good-paying job to just sit around in sweatpants and write and make no money. The question bothers me at times, but maybe that’s for another post. However, I do like to inform people of HOW it all works so I then just school them on the industry instead.
When I was a new blogger, I started this whole thing to build a writing portfolio. A writer at heart with a dream to be a journalist, honestly. I quickly learned that I could combine my writing with photographs and still make some sort of living. I had no clue what was out there, but after a few years in the beginning, I realized you could actually make a real living! There’s several ways to do it and today I’m breaking the most common ones down.
There are many ways to monetize your blog and no one way is right for every blogger too. But when you find what works and how to grow from there, you can really generate some good income and make a real living from this fun and creative job. Here’s how to monetize your blog and maybe finally quit that day job to pursue your career as a blogger.
How To Monetize A Blog
An affiliate link is a unique URL from a website that bloggers can generate through different affiliate networks (rewardStyle, ShopStyle, Rakuten, etc). When a blogger shares an affiliate link with readers/followers, and that reader/follower clicks on it and buys something, bloggers make a commission.
If you click a link and DON’T buy anything, bloggers won’t make money. You read that right. However, if you go to the site and end up buying something, anything from that site, said blogger will make an affiliate commission off of this. That affiliate commission can range from 1-20% of the total sale. Sometimes more! Also, if you click on a link, do something else for a few hours or days, then head back to the same shopping site and make any purchase, guess what? That blogger makes an affiliate commission thanks to the genius workings of cookies (mmmm cookies).
You can check out my post on how to shop from your favorite bloggers here. Between clicking links on their blogs and using LikeToKnow.it, you can support your bloggers without it costing you anything beyond what you’re already shopping.
It’s a good thing to try to increase your affiliate revenue since it’s semi-passive income. Old links in posts still generate money for me, and I do nothing to them once they’ve been published. I do recommend as a blogger though, to go through your TOP posts and update any sold out product links so that readers are more likely to stay on those sites and shop.
Guess what folks, blogs are the new magazine, the new billboard and the great thing about them is that it’s instant. No waiting for the clothing to hit stores from the magazine, no waiting to get home to search for that thing you saw on a billboard or commercial, it’s right there, ready to click. This means that sponsored posts with a blogger with large page view numbers can negotiate BIG dollars for this revenue source.
What is a sponsored post? It’s what we call an advertorial. Or a dedicated blog post or Instagram post about a brand or product to raise awareness and drive sales to. Brands or agencies will reach out to bloggers (or bloggers may pitch to brands their idea) to share their product in a blog post. It could be a blog post, Instagram post, or both! Influencers typically receive a flat rate fee to create the content and share their opinions.
PS you can find out how to find blog sponsors for your blog here!
The hard part about sponsored posts is making it feel natural and a good fit. As a blogger, I want to only take on projects and work with brands that I truly love and use. It helps to build credibility and trust with your audience which can result in a better return on investment for the brand. You can see an example of a sponsored blog post here and here. And here is an example of a sponsored Instagram post.
Product placement is exactly what it sounds like it is. Placing a product in a photo for your blog or Instagram. This is something that may be done if a brand doesn’t have enough money to do a fully dedicated sponsored blog post. So instead, they offer to pay for product placement so that there’s some coverage of their brand/product.
Event Hosting or Attending
Just like Kim K gets paid for appearances, bloggers do too. With a large following comes a demand for you to tell your followers to come to something. This really requires you to have a decent size following and an influence in your community. Harder to judge your ROI here, but easy to do so if the event is a total dud.
In addition to sharing the information about an event, some bloggers can be paid to attend the event and create content around it. Whether it be Instagram Stories, Instagram posts or a full blog post. It can create buzz for the business and drive foot traffic and new followers. So this may be a sponsored post from an event. This Joules brunch is a great example of this in action.
Display ads are advertisements on your site and typically live in your
Display ads aren’t sponsors, they’re advertisements. These are filled based on people coming to the site and are usually based off the readers internet activity history. So you may see a different ad than what I see when I’m on my blog. It’s all tailored to what they think you’ll likely click on.
So how do these get paid out? The more people who come, the more ads that get shown, the more people who click them, the more money the blogger will make. This is another great source of passive income as you make money by doing nothing.
A few platforms to consider for display ads are Google AdSense, She Media, and MediaVine.
Create A Product
Whether you create your own clothing lines, capsule collections, collaborations with other brands and so on, the list goes on for the ways you can generate revenue with products. We’ve seen many big name bloggers do this like Julia
Offer A Service
In addition to a product, you can also offer services. Let’s say you love photography and have gotten really good at it thanks to blogging. You could expand your business and start offering photography services. Or if you’ve developed a new skill, or have one from prior to blogging, how can you expand on that? Many bloggers may be experts in personal styling, interior design or makeup. They could easily offer a service in those categories to expand their business.
If you’ve also become an expert blogger, Pinterest guru, or enjoy creating graphic design or logos, you can offer these services up in the industry and grow a complete new business out of it.
Offer A Digital Product
Selling a digital product can really set off your passive income. It may be a bit of work to get off the ground, but the payoff could be huge. Offering a digital product means providing downloadable content (like courses or simply PDFs of content) that you charge a flat fee for.
Let’s say you’ve been blogging for a while and have become an expert in Pinterest, you could create a Pinterest course on how to grow your following. This could mean selling courses on Teachable, or selling handbooks. Are you a fantastic cook and have a food blog? You could sell a digital cookbook and offer additional value to your followers. My favorite example is my friend Lauren of Lauren Elyce. She discovered she had a love for fitness and became a certified personal trainer. Now she has a whole new business dedicated to fitness with Lauren Elyce Fit.
If you can find your calling, or something you’re doing really well with within your own blog, see how you can expand on that and bring more value! What can you create that’s super valuable that people may pay a small fee for?
Sometimes if you’re able to offer a really great service like blogging education, or fitness, wellness, whatever it may be, you could expand on that business and create a membership-based business. I did this with The Blog Societies. It’s a network of digital publishers and we offer value and tools for influencers. By offering a membership, we’re always aiming to provide as much value as possible. A few examples of my favorite membership platforms are Your Social Team and The Nutrition Addiction.
If you got into blogging for the writing, then freelance writing may be a good way to start making money on the side as well. You could reach out to local magazines to get started small. And then grow from there to larger publications and online outlets. Freelance writing is easily done at home and just requires connecting with editors and publishers. Pitch some great ideas, stay connected, and you may start a whole new side hustle of freelance writing.
Press Trips or Immersion Trips
There’s also brand immersion or press trips. For example, a brand may want to immerse influencers with their brand to learn about it in more detail and share it with their readers. It’s a really effective way to build brand loyalty with the influencer and personally has been my favorite type of project to work on. This Coopers’ Craft trip is a great example of this. Influencers typically get paid for their time and the content that they are usually then contracted to share afterward.
There are also press trips which oftentimes aren’t paid, but sometimes are. It’s really hit or miss. But a press trip is similar to a brand immersion trip but instead to experience a destination or hotel specifically. My trip to Boston with Marriott was a great example of this.
Offering image licensing to brands can mean big money. But usually, this money is paid to the photographer who took the photo as well. Licensing images means a brand is provided the rights and license to distribute and use the images you’ve taken however they please. This means ad placements, billboards, magazines, etc. If you take your own photos, this can mean really great revenue for you. Since I work with a photographer, her flat fee for image licensing is paid directly to her.
Start A Podcast
The newest form of revenue streams for bloggers has been starting a podcast. Should you have a really big audience and you have MORE things to talk about, it could be a great platform to reach your current and new audiences. Podcasts make money through selling ad space (those 30 seconds commercial chats they have that are so annoying, but they have to do it). The more downloads you have, the more money you can charge for those commercials throughout your episode.
but let’s be honest
What You Really Need To Make Money From Blogging
You’re probably thinking now though, why don’t all bloggers just work full time doing this? All of the above revenue streams have one common denominator in being successful, page views and a strong audience. A pageview is defined as, and to be quite literal thanks to Google, the instance of an internet user visiting a particular page on a particular website. So you’re currently reading this page, right? If you click to another page, that’s 1 more page view. And so on.
So the more page views you have, the more fill ads come through, the more chances you have of people clicking on affiliate links and buying things and so on.
The next most important thing are PEOPLE. Having a strong community and audience who trusts what you have to say and write about is crucial to generating income. This is why being an honest influencer, and taking on projects that mean something to you is super important. It’s also why the industry looks down on buying followers and likes because it creates a false sense of an audience and influence you may not actually have.