The number one question I am asked by bloggers has very little to do with technology (although I do get asked those questions a lot) and a whole lot more to do with MONEY and how to monetize their blog.
This was a huge mystery to me when I started blogging. Granted, I made money pretty quickly thanks to a freelance blogging job, but the truth is that it was pure luck and zero strategy. I had no idea that making money off a blog was a real thing…and I certainly had no clue how to do it.
This is one of those blogging “secrets” that I’m determined to blow the lid off of! Seriously, if I’m not helping other bloggers reach their potential, then I don’t see the point in blogging at all! So let’s really dive into the different ways you can monetize your blog and then I’ll break down exactly what they all look like (I’ll give you some examples from my own blog for reference).
But before we dive in, let’s get something straight. There is NOTHING wrong with making money off your blog. In fact, I encourage you to make money off of it as much as you possibly can! You blog is your WORK and as much as you write it to assist or encourage or engage others, it’s ok to also make money from it. If you’re not monetizing yet, I can’t encourage you enough to start right now with at least one income stream, give it time to start working, and grow from there. Say it with me, bloggers: IT’S OK TO MAKE MONEY OFF YOUR BLOG!
So let’s talk about some common questions about how to make money through blogging:
Can new bloggers make money blogging?
Yes, anyone can make money blogging.
However, I have to be honest in telling you that it isn’t as easy as you would think to make money off your blog. When you are just beginning your blog, your focus should be on creating great content – that’s the first (and only) thing you need to worry about. However, once you find your writing groove, you’re going to want to focus on implementing a few of the tactics we’ll talk about below to actually make money off your blog. Start monetizing early so you can discover what feels good for you, what kind of monetization resonates with you and your readers. Use the early stages of your blog to experiment a little (And don’t you dare get discouraged. Monetization does take time so don’t expect to make bank right away!).
How long do I have to wait before I start making money off my blog?
For most bloggers it can take close to 6 months before they even have enough traffic to make money off their site. That being said, it’s not impossible to start making money faster than that…the sky is the limit with blogging and the possibilities for income truly are endless. Personally, I began making money as a freelance writer/blogger within 3 months of starting Sleeping is for Losers. My site was still new and growing, but my writing was good and caught the eye of the editor of a large parenting site. To be fair, I was only making $200 per month, but it was something and more importantly it was the start of a long freelance writing career that was launched thanks to my blog!
Having been in this industry for a long time, I can tell you honestly that most bloggers think they’ll make more money than they do and most bloggers give up because they’re not making enough money within the first year of blogging.
So here’s the deal: blogging is not a get rich quick scheme. However, if you are serious and dedicated to learning the craft, it can be profitable. The effort you put in is what you get out of it.
How can I monetize my blog?
There are SO MANY ways to monetize your blog. Here are the ones you are going to want to explore right away:
- Affiliate marketing
- Sponsorships & brand deals
- Digital products
- Freelance writing/Ghost writing
- Virtual Assistant (for social media or course launches for other bloggers)
- Media appearances
Personally, I make the majority of my blog money through Sponsorships/Brand deals (here’s a recent example) & Freelance writing (for other blogs, but also for magazines & newspapers). However, you might have noticed that I recently launched an e-book (Zero to 1000 Instagram Followers Real Quick) and it made me more in 2 weeks then I often make in 3 months off my blog. *mind blown* This has taught me a lot of lessons about having multiple types of monetization and the payoff that can come from diversifying your monetization.
Can you explain the different ways to make money?
Sure! Let’s go over them one by one:
Affiliate marketing: This is when a blogger is paid a commission (usually a set rate) when someone purchases an item through a link on their blog. I personally do not use affiliates as part of my income stream as they don’t often naturally fit with the type of content I write, but there are many bloggers who make a great living suggesting products and having their readers purchase through affiliate links. [If you ever see #ad or #aff after a link on a blog, that means it’s an affiliate]. You will have to sign up with places like Share-a-Sale or Amazon Affiliates and get your individual affiliate link.
Sponsorships & brand deals: This is my JAM! So much so that I have created an in-depth SPONSORED POSTS MASTERCLASS where I spill everything you need to know about getting paid for writing posts (I even show you exact emails that have garnered me hundreds of dollars for one post). Sponsorships/brand deals are where I make the most money on my blog. They are done in the form of sponsored posts (where I talk about a product & how I use it or how it benefits me) or a series of blog posts & social media posts about the product/brand and its benefits. I have never once applied for a sponsorship deal – I have always approached the brands I want to work with (sometimes PR companies that I know are working with someone I like!) and negotiate a deal. It’s the best way to ensure you make the most money for your time and effort. [Pro tip: MY SPONSORED POSTS MASTERCLASS will get you making money off your blog way faster than you could have imagined! Check it out today!]
Ads: Advertisements are often the first step into monetizing a blog. There are lots of options for ads but the easiest one to install on your WordPress blog is AdSense. You get a few pennies every time someone clicks on your ad and you also receive some money from the number of impressions your site gets each month. I will be honest, I still don’t make that much money from AdSense but it’s a nice boost to my monthly blog income!
Digital products: These could be e-books (like the one I just launched :)) or courses for people to learn a new skill. These can be very time and labour intensive, but if done well they can be very, very profitable. Generally bloggers start releasing digital products after blogging for at least a year. If I was to give you any advice, I would say that you must start small with your digital products – don’t run out of the gate with a $300 course. Create a low priced e-book that is really useful and grow from there.
Freelance writing: As I mentioned earlier, freelance writing was the first way I made money off my blog. Freelance writing is simply writing content for someone else (either online or in print). Online writing generally does not pay a lot, but it is a fantastic way to get your name out there and virtually meet other like-minded bloggers & writers. There are often opportunities to write content for large blogging sites but not under your own name (it’s called “Ghost Writing”). These often pay better but you won’t have the opportunity to promote any of the content as your own. Sure, the money doesn’t come directly from your own blog, but your blog will act as your portfolio for potential clients so make sure it’s good.
Virtual Assistant: While not a way to make money off your own blog, being a virtual assistant allows you to help out other bloggers (and often learn from them) or business owners by scheduling their social media, preparing sales pages, preparing data for them, etc. You often set your own rates (per hour). I can say that I have been hired as a virtual assistant multiple times based on someone reading my blog and knowing that I knew what I was doing. If you are busy writing great content, promoting it online and creating relationships, the opportunities will often come to you!
Media appearances: This generally comes much later in a blogger’s career, but if you have any media training it could happen sooner! Media appearances could consist of you representing a brand on-air, staring in commercials, or being a guest “expert” on a show. You may have seen beauty bloggers in shampoo & makeup commercials recently…that’s exactly what I’m talking about!
Personally, I have been paid for commercials, representing a brand on television talk shows, as a guest “expert” AND I even had the chance to host my own live TV talk show (here in Canada where I live)…all because of my blog! So media is definitely a possibility in your blogging future!
What’s the best way for me to monetize right now!?
Ok, this is a bit of a tough one because everyone is different. Worrying about making money off a blog right away will end up leaving you frustrated, so try not to make it your focus. But I would suggest doing a few things:
- Put at least one ad on your blog. That way if anything goes viral or you have a huge bump in traffic, you can reap some of the rewards!
- If you are looking for additional income right away, think about the kind of client work you could do while growing your blog. Could you be running someone’s social media? Creating blog posts for another site? Developing a copywriting business? There’s nothing wrong with working for others in the same field as you while you are growing your own online presence!
- Start looking at sponsorships right away. You don’t need a huge following to get paid for sponsorships or sponsored posts. Granted, you likely won’t make huge money off your first few sponsored posts but as you get better and better at it, the money will be there and you will be able to charge more. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – I do not go through middleman agencies in order to get my sponsored posts. I reach out to brands (or sometimes PR companies) DIRECTLY! Spend some time researching (stalking!) a brand on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and then reach out and ask if they are interested in doing a sponsored post! I know I’m simplifying the process a bit but really and truly you would be surprised at how often you are rewarded for simply having the guts to ASK. I could write a whole book on getting sponsored posts and deals (maybe I should!) but I am positive you are overthinking the process even as you read this. Putting yourself out there and asking for the opportunity is the BEST thing you could possibly do!
So there you have it! Monetization does not need to be a mystery for any blogger – in fact, it should be something you are actively thinking about right now. So what’s holding you back from monetizing? What are your hang-ups about making money from your blog? I’d love to hear from you! Leave me a comment down below (I answer them all) or even email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I can’t wait to hear from you!!
And if you’re more a visual learner, I got you! Check out my video on how to make that money from your blog (and if you like videos like this, check out my YouTube channel and subscribe!)
(If you are interested in starting a blog of your own, I created a tutorial that will help you start your own blog easily. In addition to the low pricing, you will receive a free website domain (a $15 value) through my Bluehost link if you purchase at least 12 months of blog hosting. For what it’s worth, my blogging income did not take off until after I switched to self-hosted WordPress.)