Being a blogger doesn’t mean that you are unemployed, or that you need to have another job to cover your expenses. In contrast, there are many people that earn money from blogging and even some of them managed to turn their hobby blogs into six-figure businesses!
Read below to find some ways you can use your blog to make money, either as your stand-alone income or as a side-hustle. All ways below can be applied to any blogging niche and they are only a starting point of the hundred of opportunities you have to monetise your blog.
Getting Started to Earn Money from Blogging
Many times being a blogger is associated with being a freelancer, and that’s not entirely inaccurate, as you need to be the boss of yourself and manage your income and your running expenses. At the same time, you need to ensure that you have laid out everything needed so that you don’t get into trouble. Below are a few things you should have in mind when getting started with earning money from your blog:
- Check the rules of the country you are based regarding taxation and registering your income. In many cases you need to be registered as a self-employed or set up a company before being able to earn an income. Besides, some of the tools that I am sharing below require you to enter a tax number before you get your payment.
- Create a PayPal account or another similar online banking service to be able to get payments easily. This will allow you to get paid without fees from many countries around the world.
Ways to Earn Money From Blogging
Below, I share four ways you can make money from your blog. Note that each of them can have many variations, and if you break them down you can literally find hundreds of ways to earn money. If you need me to get in more depth about any of them, let me know in the comments.
Set Up Display Ads
The easiest way to get started with monetisation is to set up some display ads. Display ads are the advertisement boxes you see in many websites, which can either be a static photo, an animation or even a video. Usually, the publisher who is hosting these ads on their website is earning a payment based on how many people view the ads (i.e. based on the number of impressions).
Joining ad networks
Google AdSense is one of the few ad networks that allow you to get started from day zero as you do not need to pass any monthly traffic checks. It is very easy to set up and start placing ads on your blog. I suggest you start with automatic placement, and then if you notice Google placing ads on a position you don’t want, you can disable this option and start putting the ads manually.
However, although it is easy to set up Google AdSense, they do not pay you very well. So, if you want to get a substantial income from display ads, you may need to consider checking the requirements of the more lucrative ad networks.
Mediavine is one of the most popular ad networks and they are known for their good rates. As expected, they also have some strict acceptance requirements, including having at least 50 000 monthly visitors. Don’t worry if this number looks way high for you, as there are other networks that can accept you for less than that. Such an example is Ezoic, which even though it is not a traditional ad network, still provides monetisation options for a minimum of 10 000 monthly visitors.
Note: If any of your readers have an adblocker in place through their browser, your ads may not show. Hence, you will not get any income from them.
Join Affiliate Networks
Another way to monetise your site is to join affiliate networks and put affiliate links in your posts. You should have already noticed the short note at the beginning of this post, saying that it contains affiliate links. This note is called disclosure and you should include a similar one at the beginning of every post you use affiliate links.
What are affiliate links?
Affiliate links are like regular links but with tracking codes attached to them. These links allow you to get a commission if the person who clicks on them proceeds to make a qualified purchase at no extra cost to that person.
The way this is done is by using cookies that follow users from the beginning of their journeys, i.e. from the moment they clicked the link until the point they made a purchase. Then, the tracking code within the affiliate link allows the brand to know that the purchase happened through your site.
To get access to such links, you need to sign up to the affiliate programme of the brand you want to advertise, or to an affiliate network that represents multiple brands.
What are affiliate networks?
Affiliate networks connect you with multiple brands. They act as a middle-man between you, known as the publisher, and various brands, known as the advertisers. These networks usually cover a broad range of advertisers, but signing up for an affiliate network doesn’t mean that you automatically become an affiliate partner with all their advertisers. You still need to apply to each advertiser individually and get accepted to their programme.
You can easily find affiliate networks to join as most of them don’t have specific requirements. Some examples are Awin, CJ (or Commission Junction), Share a Sale, Skimlinks and FlexOffers. However, individual advertisers may have specific requirements like your content being relevant to them. So, my advice before starting applying to individual programmes (either through affiliate networks or directly through the brand) is to already have some content on your blog.
After an advertiser accepts you, then you get access to their affiliate links (or to tools to create them) and other creative media that you can use to advertise their products.
In addition, some affiliate networks, like Skimlinks, have tools that automatically convert your already existing links on your site to affiliate links. This can make your life easier, as you will not need to go through the procedure of converting each link to an affiliate one manually. You can find instructions on how to do that in the help section of the affiliate network.
Lastly, before proceeding with affiliate links make sure you read the terms and conditions and where you were given permission to put them. You are usually asked about this when signing up to affiliate networks. For example, you may only be able to put affiliate links within your blogs, but not within your social media posts or any emails you send to your readers.
Earning money through affiliate programmes
As easy as this monetisation method seems, it is not always an efficient way to earn money. Usually, most links are difficult to convert, unless you curate your content around that particular link. For example, it will be easier for someone to purchase something, e.g. a hair strengthener, if you write a whole blog post reviewing that product, instead of just mentioning it in a more general post.
Another point to note is commission. Not all advertisers offer a good commission. Popular affiliate programmes, like Amazon’s one, offer very low commission and they are very strict with their terms of service. So, you may want to create that specific content I mentioned above only for advertisers that offer good commission rates so that it is worth the effort.
Tied to the above is cookie life. As I explained before, a cookie follows the user on their purchasing journey. Some advertisers set cookies with a large lifespan, e.g. 30 days, which means that even if the person who clicked your link didn’t proceed to purchase at that time, you can still get a commission if they come back and complete their purchase in the 30-day window. Of course, this assumes that the user didn’t clear their cookies in the meantime and that they didn’t visit the page through an affiliate link of another publisher.
Getting paid from affiliate programmes
Now, if we assume that one of your readers went through the above does this mean that you get a commission? No. Your user may have purchased a product that was not qualified for commission, or they may have returned the product and asked for a refund. This means that you will not be given a commission for that product. This is also the reason for having a confirmed balance and a pending balance, as first, the advertiser needs to ensure that that person did not return the product.
Note that to be able to get paid from any affiliate programme or network you join you may need first to reach a specific threshold (e.g. $50). This means that it may take some time, especially when you are just starting, before actually being able to put this money into your bank account.
Overall, the best way to earn money from affiliate marketing through your blog posts is to understand content marketing and the different marketing funnels that exist.
Create and Sell a Product
Creating and selling a product is the most direct way to earn money. Think about what you are aiming for with your blog and try to come up with a relevant product you can create that your readers will want to get.
The product doesn’t have to be a physical one. It could be a course, an e-book, a webinar, a conference, a downloadable template, it could even be a service, like 1-2-1 coaching. The important thing here is to create something in a field where you are the expert so that other people want to learn from you.
Also, don’t forget your target audience. Do your potential buyers have the money to purchase your product? For example, if you blog about helping university students save money, then it will be more difficult to persuade them to buy your money-saving master class. If your product is targeted at a specific person (e.g. trying to sell an article to a magazine), do you have the right contacts and portfolio?
Note that in order to be able to earn income from that product, you don’t just need to create it but also market and promote it correctly. For instance, courses and e-books tend to perform well if you have a strong product landing page, while for services word of mouth is usually stronger.
How to create a product?
Creating a product hugely depends on what you are trying to do. For physical ones, you will get in touch with suppliers to agree on price and quantities. On the other hand, for digital ones you just need some software to create your product. The software doesn’t have to be expensive or over-the-top. Free software, like Canva, could also do the work, but I would suggest avoiding using free resources like icons and stock photos so that you reduce the chances of other people stumbling upon something similar elsewhere.
Overall, for any type of product, you create you will need to invest some money and probably lots of time. So you should do good research upfront, to increase your likelihood of launching a successful product.
How to sell a product?
You can sell your products directly through your website, but this will usually be an expensive way, as you will need to get a license for different software to make this work. For example, if you have a physical product you might need some inventory software, while for all types you will definitely need to use a secure and reputable partner to collect your customer’s payment details. Despite all that, many people choose this way, as they can control their income more efficiently.
Sometimes, some products are better to list on other websites. For example, you could sell your product on Amazon instead of your website. Likewise, if you want to sell your digital photos, then stock photography sites will usually work better instead of your blog.
Another example could be with standard products which you customise the design, like for t-shirts or phone cases. In this case, it may be better to find a company to provide them with your design and allow them to handle the rest, i.e. printing the items, storing them and then delivering them to customers. Although note, that such platforms will usually get a substantial commission on your earnings.
Whichever way you choose to sell your products, make sure that you have a rigid policy in place, so that you can handle any unhappy customers fairly and with transparency. Among the things you should look at is if you are accepting returns and exchanges and the relevant timelines for that.
Partner with Brands
As you start to grow you may be able to get some partnerships with brands that you can advertise their products. For example, brands may gift you a product (or even pay you), so that you write an honest review on your blog, or produce other types of content such as social media posts. Some brands may even want to buy your photos and articles to put on their own website.
How to find brands to collaborate with?
Finding brands to collaborate is not the easiest task. If you manage to get a large number of followers on social media, then brands may even come to you and ask you to work for them. However, most of the time, it’s you that has to do the first step and try to persuade a brand to work with you.
Try to find brands that you are already using their products so that your experience can be authentic. Your audience will understand if you genuinely like a product, or if you are just doing it for the money.
At the same time, you need to consider your audience too. Do they like this brand the same as you, so it is a matter of pushing them to purchase more, or is it a new brand for them? In the latter case, you should consider if they will like that product and eventually want to buy it. If this is not the case, then despite how much you like that brand then it may be better to try something different.
Lastly, you should research the brand on social media, and in general their whole online presence. From this research, you may find things that you could help them improve (like offering them better photos), or you could see that they already collaborating with other bloggers. In this way, you can consider what you could offer them to make you stand out.
How to approach a brand for a potential collaboration?
The best way to do this is to find a PR (Public Relations) contact from the brand and email them directly. If you can’t find one, then you can email the general address or even message them on social media and ask for a relevant contact. If you don’t get a response after a few days (in either scenario), you can try sending a gentle follow up email, before you assume a negative response.
Before approaching a brand though, you need to be clear about what you want to get out of them and what you can offer in return. If you expect free services or products and additional payment, then what you offer should be of the same value.
The way that you value your content is based on many factors, and social proof is one of them. Many brands not only want to raise awareness, but also sell their products to your audience. So the amount of engagement your audience shows (either on social media or directly on your blog) will highly affect your rates. Besides, any past statistics you have, e.g. from affiliate or product sales can also reinforce your position.
Sidenote: It is very important when collaborating with brands, to set standards and expectations. Having a written contract between you and the brand means that it is clear what you are expected to offer them and what you will get back in return. At the same time, you can use this document against the brand if they delay paying you or demand more than what was agreed.
When to start approaching brands?
In the beginning, it may be more difficult to approach brands to work with, so I would say that you first need to focus on creating quality content and growing your audience. Then, once you are at a stage you feel you are ready to give back to brands you can start approaching them.
There is not a specific number that you need to reach before you do that, as it is different for each case. A good starting benchmark is 10 000 followers/readers (especially important for Instagram), but don’t be afraid to try with a lower number than that. In the meantime you can still monetise your blog, using one of the other methods discussed.
This was a general overview of some ways you could use to earn money from blogging. However, there is a lot more to that, and each method has its own tricks and tweaks to be successful.
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