Finding ways to make money blogging is all the rage right now. Who doesn’t want to be their own boss, write about things they’re passionate about and get PAID to do it? Score. But are you baffled by exactly how bloggers make money blogging?
There are Many Ways Bloggers Make Money Blogging
There are actually a variety of ways you can make money blogging. If you wanted a quick answer, you could say that bloggers run ads or sell stuff to make money. But it’s a bit more complex than that. I break blog money making approaches down into 11 different methods because to me each one of these 11 ways is a unique way to make money and requires a different approach.
So, to shed some light on all the different ways you can make money blogging and to help you choose the method (or methods) that are right for you, I’m going to break all 11 down and explain what each method is about and some of the special tactics each method involves.
To be clear, none these tactics is more valid than another. They’re all ways you can make money with your blog. Some methods will work best for you, your blog and your niche. While other bloggers will flourish with a different approach.
So here we go:
1. Ad Networks
Even if you’re a total noob blogger, you’ll recognize this method of making money online with a blog.
Many, many blogs and websites online use Ad Network ads. These are those rotating ads you see in a blog header, sidebar or even floating at the bottom of the site. They “rotate” because the Ad Network controls which ads are shown on your site and the ads shown will depend on your content and on your reader and sites they’ve recently visited or searches they’ve made.
Examples of Ad Networks include:
- Google AdSense
- WordPress.com WordAds
- Media Net
- And many more!
To join an Ad Network, you generally have to apply or be invited to apply. Networks may have traffic or social media follower requirements before they’ll even look at your application.
How You Get Paid
In general, Ad Networks pay-per-click (PPC) or pay-per-impression.
Pay-per-click means you get paid a set fee (usually pennies) for each time a visitor clicks on an ad from your site. Making good income from PPC generally depends on having a good flow of traffic to your site.
With Pay-per-impression you are paid each time an ad is displayed on your site. You are often paid a few cents to a couple dollars per 1000 impressions. Again, more traffic equals more income with pay-per-impression.
Pros and Cons of Monetizing with an Ad Network
Many bloggers like ads because they are very low maintenance. You insert some code on your site (the network may even do it for you) and the network shows (hopefully) relevant ads to your visitors. And each time they click or view a page, you make $. A definite tick in the Pro column.
Another pro of Network Ads is that they can provide ongoing income. Other types of ads score you a one-time fee and may be quite lucrative but Network Ads can be the gift that keeps giving as they are not limited to a single fee.
A major caveat about ads is that you need to have decent amount of blog traffic. If your blog is new or doesn’t get a lot of visitors, you may not make very much money from ads.
Another potential negative is that the Ad Network determines what ads are displayed on your site. They certainly use scripts and algorithms to try and display ads relevant to your readers but misses can definitely happen. There are horror stories of NSFW ads being displayed on family-oriented blogs. Something to keep in mind if you feel a need to control everything that appear on your site.
A final potential con is that some internet users are becoming increasingly “ad blind” and find sites with too many ads SPAMMY and that they bounce rather than stick around. Some poorly designed ads can even make your site difficult to navigate, especially on mobile. If you chose to go the Ad Network route, pay special attention to not adding too many ads and making your blog look like one big giant advert. And always test new ads to make sure they don’t conflict with your site.
All this being said, Network Ads can be a great way to create a steady stream of income and can be an excellent choice for monetizing your blog, especially when done in combination with one or more of the other methods listed here.
2. Direct Ads
Direct Ads are when you sell ad space on your blog directly to an individual brand. Rather than rotating ads, your visitors will see a banner for the same product for however long you chose to display the ad.
Companies may approach you with direct ad offers. The company may ask to determine the placement and size of the ad on your site.
To get started with direct ads, you can start a new page on your blog called “Work with Me” or “Advertise With Me”, etc. Lay out your rates, placement options, banner sizes and conditions. Don’t forget to include an email or contact form on this page to encourage advertisers to contact you.
If you feel your site would be a great place for a particular company to advertise, don’t hesitate to reach out to them and inquire.
How You Get Paid
Payment arrangements for direct ads may vary. Some are pay-per-click or pay-per-lead while others may be a set fee for displaying their ad on your site for 30, 60 or more days.
Feel free to set your own rates and post them on your “Work With Me” page. And don’t be afraid to negotiate if a company contact you with an offer. Other bloggers may also be willing to share their rates if you ask nicely.
Pros and Cons of Displaying Direct Ads on Your Blog
One advantage of direct ads is that you have more control over the ads displayed on your site. This can help avoid display of irrelevant or inappropriate ads by a network. If you’re savvy about what your readers are into, a well-chosen direct ad may perform far better than random network ads. Of course, a poorly chosen ad may be a total bust.
One advantage of Network Ads is that you can often choose to remove an ad box from a location if it isn’t performing well or move ads around your site. Direct Ad contracts usually lock you into a specific ad, at a certain size for specified time. There is less opportunity to fine tune your ads performance with direct ads.
Direct Ads also involve a bit more hustle than Network Ads do. With direct ads you have to negotiate with companies and often even recruit them to advertise on your site.
This sort of ad, unlike Network Ads, generally don’t provide ongoing income. If your ad performs well, you may form an ongoing relationship with the brand and sell future ads but Network Ads tend to offer more long term income potential.
Even though they involve a bit more work than Network Ads, Direct Ads can be a great way to make money blogging.
3. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate Marketing and Direct Ads are close cousins. Sometimes it’s hard to truly understand the difference between the two. But I would say the main difference with Affiliate Marketing is that you generally only get paid when a referee purchases a product or service that you’re promoting. With Direct Adds, you are often paid for clicks or for just displaying the ad. Some Affiliate Networks pay-per-click as well, it really depends.
With Affiliate Marketing, you sign up to become an affiliate. Requirements for approval will depend on the program, some being more stringent than others.
Once you are approved, you can post ads, write review posts and promote your links in variety of ways. With some Affiliate gigs you work directly with a single brand and their product(s). You can also join an Affiliate Network which allows you to promote a number of brands and their products. ShareASale is a great example of an Affiliate Network. ShopStyle Collective and RewardStyles are two more.
Many Affiliate companies provide great tools to help you promote their products including pre-made ad banners, links and even customizable product widgets.
RELATED POST: Shop the Post Widgets for Bloggers
How You Get Paid
Many Affiliate programs pay per sale or lead. You will often receive a percentage of the purchase price that was referred through your custom purchase links. Percentages can vary from 10% up to 50%. Or you may be paid a fixed amount like $50 for each customer you refer.
Some Affiliate Networks are kind of a hybrid between an Ad and Affiliate Network. Networks like ShopStyle Collective let you select which products are displayed in ads on your site. These kinds of networks often pay both per-click and per-purchase. This is really kind of a nice compromise between using an Ad Network, Direct Ads and an Affiliate Network.
Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing
Lots of bloggers really love Affiliate Marketing. The earning potential is generally much higher than with ads.
Affiliate Marketing also offers the changes to create a source of ongoing income. You can continually make income from well-written post or promotion.
You can also promote your affiliate products in a lot more ways like by writing tutorials, reviews and round up posts that include your promoted products. A well-written post promoting an affiliate product may take several hours to write and result in $1000+ or more in affiliate income.
To succeed with Affiliate Marketing, you need to be savvy to the types of products that will appeal to your visitors. You also need to put in the hustle to write the post or tutorial and promote it with your readers. This can be both a pro and a con.
Many, many bloggers swear by Affiliate Marketing and it’s no wonder. It’s a great way to make money blogging.
4. Selling Digital Products
I’ve separated this from Selling Physical Goods because they really are 2 very different tactics.
Creating and selling your own digital products can be a wonderful way to make money with your blog. Rather than making a few pennies per click of an ad or trying to sell someone else’s product and only receiving 10% of the profit, you can create your own product and keep all the profit.
There are a plethora of digital products you can create and sell:
- Printable artwork
- Printable planners or organizers
- Videos or Podcasts
- Graphics and Clipart
- Templates for resumes, stationary, etc.
- And more!
Depending on your talents, there are all kinds of digital products you can sell.
How You Get Paid
You can choose to sell your digital products directly from your blog. You would make 100% of the profit (less expenses, processing fees, etc.).
You can also sell on marketplaces like Etsy, Creative Market and Envato Elements. These sorts of marketplaces have some advantages like a large amount of traffic flow and some even actively advertise your products for you. However, their fees can be as much as 50% of your sale price.
Pros and Cons of Selling Digital Products
Two of the biggest advantages of selling digital products are that 1. you don’t have to invest in an inventory of physical products and 2. profits from sales go directly to you.
A great advantage of Digital Products is that you can sell the same product over and over again. This can help you create a source of ongoing income from a single product.
One con is that depending on the type of product you sell, you may need to supply Customer Support for your product. This can make the selling process much less passive and involve a lot more work.
To achieve a decent number of sales, you may need to invest in advertising or work with a marketplace that provides the traffic and advertising for you. Of course, this come at a cost to your from part of your profit.
Creating and selling a digital product can be a bit of work but it can totally be worth it because you have the chance to keep more of the profit and create a product that is perfect for your blog visitors.
5. Selling Physical Products
If digital design or writing an e-book isn’t your thing, maybe you’re crafty and want to sell your handmade goods. I’ve even seen bloggers selling trendy t-shirts with catchy phrases or logos on them. There are tons of ways you can sell a physical product from creating your own to becoming a sales person for a brand.
The ideas for a physical product or products you could sell from a website are nearly limitless. It is important that if you’re adding a shop to an existing blog that your products are something that will appeal to your existing visitors.
How You Get Paid
You may choose to sell your products directly from your own blog or list them on a marketplace like Etsy. Either way, there will be some expenses related to supplies, shipping and vendor and processing fees. You’ll obviously be paid on a per sale basis.
One advantage of selling on a marketplace is the large flow of traffic they receive plus many actively advertise your products for you online.
Pros and Cons of Selling Physical Products
A major con of selling a physical product is the need to invest in inventory. Whether this involves purchasing products to sell or supplies for your crafts, you must be able to have enough inventory of your products to fulfill orders.
Associated costs can be a big issue for sellers of physical products as well. Shipping costs, processing fees and more can eat into your profit. Make sure you know all of your expenses before you price your products for sale.
When selling a product, you must provide some form of Customer Support for questions and assistance for your customers as well.
But a physical product may fit your niche much better than any digital product or ad could. You may create the next in demand product that your blog visitors are just waiting for.
6. Selling Services or Coaching
Blogging is a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your niche or field. And your niche may provide a great opportunity to provide services or coaching to your readers.
If you’re good at web design, you can sell your services setting up and designing blogs or websites. If you’re a personal development blogger, maybe becoming a life coach is for you. Are you an expert writer willing to offer your services to help other bloggers improve their content? There are many services you could offer as a way to monetize your blog.
Virtual Assistants are pretty hot right now. Maybe you can sell some of your hard earned blogging skills to help another harried blogger.
How You Get Paid
Putting a price on a service can be tricky. You may charge by the hour or create special all-inclusive packages for your customers. Scope out other service providers in your field to see what the customary practice is.
To sell your services, you may promote and sell them from your own blog or website. There are also a number of sites online that cater to freelance work listings for web designers, graphics designers, Virtual Assistants and more. They may take a cut of your fee but they do provide a place for you to connect with potential clients.
Pros and Cons of Selling Services or Coaching
When selling your services, your time is worth money, literally. Your capacity for earning can be limited by your available time and how efficient you are. It’s a good idea to create processes and detailed descriptions of your services before getting started.
To sell your services, you may need to hustle a bit with discovery calls, adverts and webinars. Or you may advertise on a freelance marketplace and allow them a cut of your fees.
Selling your services or coaching may be a great way for you to capitalize on your expertise.
7. Selling Online Courses
Monetizing your blog by selling online courses is hot, hot, hot right now. While putting together a great course can be quite a bit of work, once your site is live and successful, it can be an amazing source of relatively passive income.
There are an amazing array of e-courses available these days. From courses on blogging to how to live in a tiny house. From how to restore furniture and become vegan. If you can think of a topic, there’s probably and e-course or a 1000 that covers it.
That isn’t to say there isn’t room for your e-course online. Create an amazing course and market it right and you could have an amazing way to make money from your blog.
How You Get Paid
You may host your e-course right on your site and collect straight from your students. Some bloggers use teaching platforms like Teachable and Thinkific which charge a monthly fee and/or a transaction fee for each sale. You’ll still be pocketing most of the profit.
Pros and Cons of Selling Online Courses
It can be a lot of work to create an e-course. To create a great course that students will rave about it needs to be friendly to all skill levels, informative but not overwhelming. It needs to deliver on your promises. You also need to deliver some level of support to your students whether it’s a Facebook Group, a forum or email support.
If you want to see decent sales of your course, you need to have a good existing traffic or invest in advertising for your course.
Online courses, once up and running, are a great way to create ongoing income because you can sell your course over and over again. An evergreen course that is popular can be a real gold mine since you don’t have to go through multiple launches and re-launches.
Despite the work that can be involved in creating and launching an online course, it can be a great way to make money from your blog.
8. Sponsored Posts
As a blogger, a brand may sometimes contact you with an offer to sponsor a post. For a fee or free product, you will write a post related to their product and include links where readers can buy the product. Sponsored Posts are not really the same as a Paid Review (#9). Sponsored posts may include a review of a product, but sponsored posts do not necessarily include the pros and cons of a product like a review would.
You generally have to follow certain guidelines from the brand or company and insert a tracking pixel on your post so they can monitor how well the post does. You also want to make sure that the brand or product is a good match for your blog niche and your readers so that you don’t risk alienating them with SPAMMY, irrelevant content.
How You Get Paid
For a sponsored post you may be offered a fee or just a free product.
It is up to you to set and negotiate your sponsored fees. Don’t be afraid to post your fees on your site once you established them. And also don’t necessarily take a brand’s first offer. You can definitely counter offer if you feel your site stats and traffic support your fees.
Pros and Cons of Sponsored Posts
Unless the brand writes the post for you (careful what you allow on your blog), you’re going to have to take the time to write the post. The brand will likely have some requirements for the content they’d like to see and possibly want the right to edit your content as well. Make sure you get final say on what you post on your site.
Unlike Network Ads and Affiliate Marketing, Sponsored Posts generally don’t create a source of ongoing income. Because payment is usually a one time fee, you won’t continue to make future money on your post unlike a post that promotes and affiliate product. However, if you form a good relationship with your sponsor and your post performs well, you may make future income by collaborating with them again.
Regardless, Sponsored Posts can be a great way to make money from your blog by working with brands and companies.
9. Paid Reviews
Paid Reviews are a bit different from Sponsored Posts. With a Paid Review you are paid with a fee or free product to provide your opinion about the pros and cons of a product or services.
There *may* be some pressure to provide a glowing, only positive review when you’re getting paid to review a product or service. How you feel about that is a personal issue.
You may be approached by a brand or company with an offer to do a Paid Review or there are sites and services that connect bloggers and brands like PayPerPost.
How You Get Paid
For Paid Reviews, you are generally paid a one-time fee or with a free product. Don’t be shy about setting rates for Paid Reviews and posting them on your site. Rates are heavily influenced by your blog stats like traffic. Make sure you know and track your stats.
Post and Cons of Paid Reviews
One major negative of doing Paid Reviews may be pressure to provide a positive review because you are being paid. These terms should be clarified with the brand or company and you should personally determine how to handle these sort of situations. Although, it always pays in some way to be honest.
If you like getting free stuff and paid to try out new products, Paid Reviews can be a great way to make extra money blogging.
Though an individual Paid Review will not provide a source of ongoing income, it could lead to more work with a brand or company.
10. Guest Blogging
Guest Blogging is when you write a post for someone else’s blog. Some Guest Blogging gigs pay you a fee. Other may compensate you in the form of exposure, traffic to your blog and allowing you to place a link or 2 within your guest post.
You may be contacted by another blog with the opportunity to submit a post to their site. Or many sites advertise when they’re open to Guest Blogging proposals. Look for links on their sites like “Write for Us”.
How You Get Paid
Although many sites pay their guest bloggers a fee, either a set rate per word or per article, Guest Blogging doesn’t always pay you with money. Often the benefit is exposure to a new audience and more traffic for your site.
Some experts argue that the ongoing benefit of being able to include a link to your blog or an affiliate link or two on a busy blog may pay you far more over time than an upfront fee.
Pros and Cons of Guest Blogging
Guest Blogging can have some great advantages. You can make $100 or more per post. You can also capitalize on more traffic for your blog. If you’re allowed to include an affiliate link, you may be able to use a Guest Blogging opportunity as a chance to create a source of ongoing income from your link.
If the site you’re Guest Blogging on isn’t a good match for your blog then you may not receive any good traffic to your site and the exposure may be pointless.
You want your guest post to be some of your best work, so you do need to put in the effort to produce a great post. Despite this amount of work, Guest Blogging can be a great way to make money and get more traffic to your blog.
11. Influencer Marketing
Influencer Marketing is closely tied to social media marketing. Brands team up with bloggers with large followings, either on their blog or social media networks, to promote their products and services.
This kind of gig requires that you have an established online presence with a busy blog and/or lots of social media followers that you interact with. Some influencers make thousands of dollars per post on sites like Instagram.
How You Get Paid
Influencer Marketing is similar to Sponsored Posts in that you generally get paid a set fee per post. Or you may collaborate with a brand on a series of social media and blog posts for a larger package fee.
Brands may contact you about collaborating on your blog and social media. It’s also a good idea to have a blog media kit you can use and rates posted in your kit or on your “Wok With Me” page.
Pros and Cons of Influencer Marketing
The obvious must-have you need to become an Influencer is a large following, either on your blog or on social media. You want your followers to be “real” and interactive as well. Don’t waste your time with Black Hat techniques of used to grow your following. Make sure you build a sincere audience.
Aside from having a large following, brands often like to see your blog stats before they agree to work with you, so make sure you create a media kit with up-to-date statistics including the follower counts of your social media platforms.
Aside from the work it takes to become an influencer, there are few downsides to Influencer Marketing. As with all advert type content, make sure the topic or brand is relevant to you audience to prevent alienating them with SPAMMY ads.
Sum It Up
There you have it, a detailed discussion of 11 ways that bloggers make money blogging.
There is definitely some overlap between these 11 tactics, but each requires a different approach to implement on your blog.
So, which money making method is right for you and your blog?
Well, most successful bloggers use at least 2 or 3 of these methods to monetize their blog.
Darren Rowse at ProBlogger publishes his blog income breakdown pretty regularly. He regularly makes about 50% of his income from affiliate sales. Another 30% comes from sales of his own products including e-books, Lightroom Presets and courses. The other 20% comes from ads, his job board, events and other sources.
Abby at Just a Girl and Her Blog typically earns about 1/3 of her income from her own products including e-books, e-courses and more. The other 2/3’s comes from Affiliate Marketing.
Michelle at Making Sense of Cents makes about 50% of her income from Affiliate Marketing. Another 35% comes from her online course. And the final 15% from a mix of Sponsorships and Ads.
As you can see, all of these very successful bloggers make their money using a mixed approach. Affiliate Marketing and selling their own products are obviously really working for these bloggers but they also tap into ads as well.
So now it’s time for you to keep investigating and discover which money making method(s) are best for you and your blog!