Blogging has really taken off in the last few years and everyone from real estate agents to hobbyists are utilizing blogs as a way to gain leads or build a passive(ish) income.
My biggest online earner (outside of freelancing) is from blogging. They offer a kind of monetization flexibility that cannot be matched by any other form of online marketing, in my opinion anyway.
I never really understood the concept of monetizing a blog until I woke up one morning and received an email from my affiliate stating I had just made $25 for a sale.
I couldn’t believe it, I was making money in my sleep, literally. This gave me to the motivation to really look at other ways I could monetize my blog.
A blog should be looked at like a tree when it comes to monetizing, there are 101 ways you can branch out to make money.
Today I will show you how.
All the methods I listed have been proven to work, some are my own unique tips and a few you may already know of but may not be sure how to put them into full effect yourself.
1. Google Adsense And Other Ad Networks
I love Google Adsense. Here’s why:
Ad networks like the Google Display Network are a brilliant way to generate a passive income. After creating an Google Adsense account you simply copy and paste their HTML code on your site.
People click on the adverts and you get paid. It is as simple as that.
I first ran Google Adsense on a very personalized blog and pretty much plastered my site with ads to the point where I lost integrity (very important for blogs) in the eyes of my audience and they stopped visiting.
You get paid by people coming to your site and clicking ads, the more ads you have on display the greater chance you have of making $$$. But there is a fine line between placing a few ads and totally spamming your site.
To make the best use of ad networks you should use an online tool like Crazy Egg to see where your audience is placing their mouse cursor and place ads there.
Google Adsense is the most famous and most used ad network, but read their T&C first. They are known to ban a lot of people from using their service if their website is considered to be ‘thin content sites’ or you abuse the service by encouraging people to click ads.
Pro-tip: Don’t expect to make huge amounts of money with ad networks straight away, I found building an audience first (500+ views per day) then introducing ad networks are best.
Ensure they blend in with your site so readers don’t feel put off when visiting.
2. Selling Ad Space
Ad space is just a fixed widget anywhere on your blog where someone else advertises their business and gives you a monthly fee. The amount you can charge really depends on your niche, traffic, how targeted your audience is and how good of a salesman or women you really are.
You can do a quick Google and you will find several ‘methods’ of calculating what to charge but I don’t like using them. I don’t think they are all that useful given the amount of variables at hand.
How I come up with a price
I first contact other blogs in my niche (pretending to be a business) and ask them of their rates to get a ball park figure. Next I inspect the product or service the business is wanting to advertise and the more relevant it is to my readers’ needs, the more I charge.
If their medium product price is $500 I will be charging them a higher advertising fee than if they sell products for $10-$15.
Banner ads have a 1% click-through rate on average, if your blog receives 1,000 views per day that’s 300 clicks per month they will receive. Let’s say that 1% of all users who click make a purchase, if the business is selling products for $500, that’ $1,500 revenue they make.
Many blogs price themselves too low, I often see ad space being sold for $15 per month and businesses who take advantage are selling products 10-20x that value, you’re missing out on money!
I love using the ‘buy longer discount strategy’ (new term I just coined). This works by offering a higher price for shorter advertisement options of 3 months and huge discounts if they want to setup a deal for 6-12 months.
For example, my pricing system may look something like this:
3 months = $500
6 months = $800 (20% discount)
1 year = $1040 ( 35% discount)
Obviously I am looking to get them in for the long haul – hence I don’t offer 1 month options.
For small to medium sized blogs you won’t be getting emails daily from businesses wanting to advertise on your blog, but when they do you want them to stay for as long as possible.
Pro-tip: The WWW is a huge place and many businesses who could generate sales by advertising on your site may not even know you exist. I usually hire someone on oDesk to source me email addresses of businesses within my niche.
I then use the ‘write and blast’ email method telling them how advantageous it would be for them to advertise on my site. Remember to enter all emails in the BCC header so they cannot see you’re emailing several other businesses as well.
This has worked very well for me in the past to gain business.
3. Offering Guest Posting / Sponsored Posts
I charged the last company $120 to write a guest post on my blog. While not a continuous income stream, you can expect to make anywhere between $30 to $500+ from guest posts depending on your niche and traffic.
The key to ensuring good sponsored posts is to set some guidelines. You don’t want a business spamming their services in a cringe worthy way to make a quick buck. I generally have a quick chat with them and layout my guidelines.
My guidelines are pretty simple, the content needs to contain value, be unique and I will provide a unique keyword that must be used throughout the article. Hey, it’s free SEO!
4. Affiliate Marketing
As I talked about in creating your first profitable affiliate review site, using affiliate networks like Amazon is a great way to monetize your blog.
If you run a fitness blog, you can create an Amazon page where you link-back to certain health supplements, you can use Agoda to advise hotel bookings or Udemy courses to get as much as 50% commission per referral.
A big part of my passive income comes from affiliate marketing. I create SEO content based around the products I promote and lead them all to one page where I review the product.
My model works like this:
- I create a compelling product review that promotes a particular product. This will have the affiliate link attached.
- I find 5-6 keywords around the product and create SEO optimized content. This involves me creating 6 individual articles, all rich in information, unique and highly useful.
- Each of the articles links back to my main ‘product review’ page where I tell the lead why they should buy the product.
It’s a bit like a mini-SEO funnel. You leverage several keywords and bring everyone back to the underlying sales page. This helps keep the integrity of my blog without me coming across as a salesman by advertising in several articles directly.
Pro-tip: Google also penalizes sites that have too many affalite links on their pages, my method avoids you falling into a ‘thin content affalite site’.
5. Writing an eBook
I always thought of eBooks as being a total joke… until I wrote one and sold over 300 copies in 3 months. If you build a loyal readership, you will be able to profit from selling eBooks (assuming the eBook is good of course).
Writing an eBook can take a lot of time but the effort can sometimes pay off big. Unlike most other blog monetization methods mentioned, you keep all the income from selling your eBooks.
If you’re struggling for a topic for an eBook, go over your most popular posts and see what your readers are asking for. I sometimes email my list asking them what they would like to know if I am stuck for ideas.
Pro-tip: If you don’t have the time to write an eBook, you can always pay someone to write it for you. You need to be careful when you do this, they must know your industry extremely well and come across as highly informative, else it can do more harm than good.
6. Membership Sites
Several websites have areas which are for VIP (paid) members only. This part of the site will contain extra content that is more useful and in-depth than the regular content on the site.
For example, if you run a dog training blog, all your written content may be free, but you can create a special members only area where they get access to videos, forums, live support and more.
Just start with creating one months worth of VIP content and see how your audience reacts, if you get subscribers in the first month you can carry on creating content on the fly.
I am a traveler, I work on the go and live aboard. I get emails each week from fellow travellers who want to do the same thing I do, and ask me 101 questions. While I don’t offer a consulting service because I feel I still have a lot more to learn, I certainly think this is a great idea for the future.
For my travel niche, I can charge people an hourly to answer their questions, inform them on setting up a foreign bank account, finding an apartment, learning the local language and all the other things they would otherwise not have known how to do.If you have expert knowledge on a particular subject – it has a value and someone is willing to pay for it. Click To Tweet
It can be anything from how to talk to the opposite sex, life coaching, business advice to baby sitting.
All you need is a Skype account to get going.
Podcasts will be the future of radio. I am an avid listener of the Joe Rogan Experience, he said he receives more than 9 million downloads per episode. Each show starts off with a small shout out to various advertisers who pay him money to talk about their products.
Walk outside and everyone has earphones plugged into their ears. You can interview guests, talking about personal experiences or offer advice in the form of podcasts rather than blog posts to further monetize your blog.
Literally all you need is an iPhone these days to startup a podcast.
9. Monetize Your Blog With SEO
This was an idea that hit me one day as I was looking at my Google Analytics.
I managed to target a keyword that was getting me 400 organic views per day, but there were no online products I could leverage or eBooks worth creating on the subject that I could sell.
Damn! All these juicy leads coming onto my site but there’s not a single thing I can do to monetize… or is there?
After drinking my second bullet proof coffee on one summer’s afternoon I came up with an awesome idea to monetize keywords.
I decided to contact businesses who did in fact sell products around my targeted keyword and could utilize my blog post as a way to generate leads for their own business.
Today I rank #1 and #2 for two keywords in my niche and have interjected banner links to businesses from who my readers can buy products from.
Levering my SEO skills and blog back-links, I ranked on the first page of Google for a few keywords that other businesses would love to do but can’t because they lack the skills or back-links my site has built.
Since this type of blog monetization is highly specific, I tend to charge businesses a lot more for advertising within particular blog posts than using banner ads.
Banner ads will have a 1% CTR at best, while SEO targeted articles can easily reach 20% CTR or more.
Don’t forgot to read my SEO beginner’s Guide to get started.
10. Getting Feebies
Businesses in your niche may not want to give you money to advertise their products, but they may be more than happy to give you a free product for a review.
Unbox Therapy is one of the biggest YouTube product review channels and has the likes of Apple, Samsung and Nokia sending him their latest products to be reviewed, he also gets to keep them.
I often contact restaurants in Bangkok asking for a free meal for two in exchange for a review, or contact hotels asking for discounts or even free rooms in return from a blog or Tripadvisor review. You will be surprised how often this works if your blog is getting traffic.
Pro-tip: It can be really time consuming to contact people in your niche asking for freebies or discounts for reviews. I outsource this task and hire someone to source the leads, I just end up writing the email.
11. Creating Online Courses
Thanks to the Internet it has never been easier to create an online course. Whether you’re a professional photographer who has put together a simple course to help newbies, or the world’s greatest martial artists, you can create online courses for just about anything.
Gracie University has more than 106,213 people signing up to their Brazilian Ju-Jitsu training courses. You no longer need to travel to Brazil to learn from the best, you can do it from the comfort of your own home.
Speaking of amazing online courses, click the button below to learn more about all the epic BuildPath courses we have to offer (sorry I couldn’t resist).
12. Selling back-links
With everyone understanding the importance of SEO in 2015, never before could you charge a business for simply inserting a URL link of their website on your blog. I get contacted now and again from businesses who would like a back-link on my site using a specific anchor text.
This takes me less than a minute to do and the ROI is insane. All paid back-links are generally do-follow.
Pro-tip: Don’t charge a single fee for a back-link but rather offer businesses a monthly fee. As your blog grows bigger and improves its Page Rank and authority, the back-links on your site carry more weight.
Pro-tip 2: Don’t overuse this method and sell too many back-links to shady sites with low Page Rank and Trust Rank. You can get penalized by Google which can cost you more than you earned in the long run.
13. Creating An Email List
“The money is in the list!”
It’s true. The money is indeed in the list and starting an email list should be one of the first things you do when setting up any type of website.
Not only can you directly sell products and announce new products and services to your email list, but you can also charge other businesses for sending an email to your readers.
For example, if your website is a food blog that reviews restaurants in the local area, you may want to reach out to certain restaurants making them aware of your email list of locals who want to eat good local food.
You can charge them to reach out to your list to promote their next menu or special offer.
Once again you need to be careful how you do this, downright spamming your list will increase unsubscribe rates like never before.
Pro-tip: I tend to persuade a business to write a guest post and will give them an added discount to send the blog article to email to my list.
14. Donate Buttons
I only recommend this option for blogs that are not making any money but are providing good content. You can use various WordPress plugins that give readers the chance to donate or ‘buy you a beer’.
If your site has several advertising banners, online courses, a membership section and product reviews everywhere – don’t use donate buttons.
Your blog will come off as insincere and that you’re only in it for the money. This may be true, but you don’t want to come off that way.
My Experience With Blog Monetization
Create a blog they said…
… it will make you money they said.
With over three years of blogging experience behind me, the most important factor of monetizing a blog is to put your audience first.
Without them your blog is nothing. After I made my first affiliate sale, dollar signs appeared in my eyes and I started throwing out content that was too promotional, less informative and not engaging.
After a month my audience and even my friends were telling me that my blog had changed, it was not as enjoyable as it once was and they really miss the old style of content.
I was churning out crappy content, created a poorly designed Amazon page where I told people to buy guide books and shifted my entertaining personal blog into an empty soul that just wanted to make money.
Luckily I managed to turn it around and found the correct balance of giving my readers what they wanted while still being able to monetize my blog. I removed Google Adsense from one of my blogs because for me it was not yielding the best results and I was getting complaints from readers.
This is not to say Google Adsense is rubbish, it just didn’t well for that particular site. Not all the methods above will work for your niche.
Today I focus on selling affiliate products, sponsored posts, back-links, ad space, in-page SEO ads and getting freebies. I even have plans to create a membership area on my site, write eBooks and eventually start consulting.
There are an unlimited number of ways you can monetize a blog but you need to build it first. Without an engaging blog that has a steady stream of people visiting each day all of the methods I listed today offer you no value.Making money via blogging starts with creating something people want - this can be anything as people want everything. Click To Tweet
It took me over a year before I decided to monetize my blog, I spent on average around an hour or two a week on it. You can monetize sooner if you put in the effort but don’t expect overnight success.
If you build it they will come.