Can you really make money with a blog?
Absolutely. But here’s the thing… Having a blog doesn’t make you money.
Yes, I said it.
This is the number one mistake people make when they get into blogging. They create a blog on WordPress.com and start writing about whatever, then they’re confused why they don’t have 3408395032 readers, sponsored opportunities flowing in, and wait what’s that, you have to pay to make ad revenue from WordPress.com?
So then how do bloggers make money?
Your blog is a marketing tool
The truth is, blogging is only part of a monetization strategy. A blog is a MARKETING TOOL, not the product.
Even when you’re doing sponsored content, the blog post isn’t really the product. It’s your audience, as it is now and how it will be in the future. This is why previously companies used to focus hard on numbers, like followers or traffic.
Fortunately, brands are realizing the quality of quantity aspect of smaller, more engaged audiences. It’s a lot easier to get a slice of that sponsor action even if you don’t have 100,000 followers.
You use the blog to build an audience and when everyone is captivated by your wonderful, helpful, super awesome posts, they like and trust you enough to take up your suggestions when you tell them x product helped you achieve x result. Or that this thing you just made is rally awesome and worth buying from you.
Anyway, I’m getting a little bit off track here, so let’s get back to it and talk about the different things you can do to make your blog a profitable marketing tool.
Ways to make money with a blog
All right, I didn’t mean for this list to be alphabetical but it turned out that way, so let’s check out a few ways you can make money through blogging. Most things will fit within one of these 5 categories.
Ads are the type of revenue most people turn to when they start monetizing their blogs. Ads can be lucrative, but only with the right amount of traffic and the right ad networks. Unlike most of the other monetization options, you do need thousands of people visiting your blog each month to make a decent amount of cash through ads.
Some ad networks have certain requirements that publishers (that’s you!) have to meet in order to serve ads from the platform. High paying networks like Mediavine and AdThrive have minimum requirements for sessions and page views before you can even apply – 25,000 sessions for Mediavine and 100,000 page views for AdThrive.
Fortunately, there are lots of ad networks out there that accept many different levels of bloggers. Use your time in the lower paying ad networks to test which ad placements make you the most money. That way when you are ready to switch over, you’ll know what works best for your blog to maximize your earnings.
For new bloggers, I suggest joining Fomo first because they have no minimum requirements to join and no minimum payout threshold.
What’s a payout threshold? Most places where you make money, like ad networks and affiliate programs, will have a minimum amount you have to earn before you can cash out. Usually this minimum is somewhere between $50-100.
I like Fomo because of their unique take on ads. Instead of a whole mess of contextual banners all over your pages, Fomo creates a little popup on the bottom of your page, much like those messages you get from live chat services.
Fomo pays per impression, at $2 per 1,000 ad impressions. According to Fomo, 1 page view on your site often results in 3-5 ad impressions, so you could make something more like $6-10 per 1,000 page views. Pretty nice to start out with!
After your blog is a little bit established, you can apply for Media.net. Media.net is a pay per click network, so you’ll get paid when someone clicks an ad from your site.
Media.net likes active blogs, so make sure you’ve created several posts and you’re keeping to your schedule when you apply. They may even contact you first. They’ve contacted me through two of my previous blogs.
Media.net uses a two-click system where someone is brought to a search page after clicking an ads from your site. Once they click on one of the links on the search page, which contains highly relevant sites for maximum engagement, you’re then paid for the click.
Every Media.net user also gets assigned to their own ads specialist, so you can ask them to help you optimize your ads for the most clicks.
For best results, try combining Fomo, Media.net, and Google AdSense.
Affiliate marketing is probably the quickest and easiest way to monetize your blog. You don’t have to source a product, you don’t have to deal with customers, and pretty much anyone can do it. There are affiliate programs for pretty much every type of product out there.
Some programs are picky about who they let in, but there’s a huge majority of those who aren’t. I know this for a fact because I’ve joined MANY over the course of finding my blogging self in many different areas.
Due to how easy it is to find affiliate programs and the need to put your audience first in order to succeed, I believe affiliate marketing is a great place to start as a new blogger.
With the incentive of earning money, people are more likely to learn to write in a way that serves other rather than just sitting down to write a personal diary, which is what makes a successful blog different from one no one knows about.
Good affiliate posts are helpful, which attracts people to your posts, which means more and more traffic over time.
This is an obvious one, but I don’t think the application is one people think of. Rather than creating blog posts that are just announcements for new products, the magic is in showing off the product in a real life setting.
What problems do your products solve? What purpose do they have? How can you present your product as a solution? Just like affiliate marketing, the best way to sell your own products is to show, not tell.
A product doesn’t have to be something complicated. It could be as simple as a set of planner pages or an eBook. Digital products are a popular source of income for bloggers because you can sell an infinite amount of copies and don’t have to worry about inventory or shipping.
Sponsored content is what most people think of when they think about making money blogging. Trying to make all your money off sponsored content is kind of a mistake in my opinion.
It’s not an impossible thing to do and even I’ve done a few sponsored posts myself, but it does rely a lot on another business. Once you’ve done the sponsored post, that’s usually it until another offer comes along.
What to charge for sponsored content
I like to use this Blogger Rate Card from Hobo with a Laptop for reference when negotiating prices for sponsored posts. This takes into account page views and your Domain Authority (DA) to determine a minimum rate that you should charge.
As you can see, the bigger your site, the more you can charge. To increase your value for sponsored content, get more people to your site and improve your site’s SEO for a higher DA (you can check your DA here). Domains that have been around longer will also have a higher DA, as well, one of the main reasons why you should own your own domain as soon as you start blogging.
It’s okay to start out charging less and build up. One tip I remember reading awhile ago, not sure where unfortunately, is to up your price with every new offer. I think this is a good idea because you’ll probably end up low balling yourself with your first sponsored offer just because you’re so excited for the opportunity.
Once you’re done with it and see how much work has been put into creating that sponsored post, you’ll probably start to realize the value of your time. Next time someone approaches you, go above what you were paid for that last offer.
How to handle rejection from potential sponsors
You’re going to have to get used to rejection, especially if you’re going to pitch brands yourself. Never take it personally. Remember you are a business and so is the brand.
Remember this, too: if someone approaches you first, then rejects your offer, they were likely just looking for new bloggers to get sponsored posts cheaply. It’s not a reflection of you, it’s a reflection of them.
You can try a bit of negotiating here if you like, start with more than you actually want and then get it down to you minimum if needed, but know your worth. Have a minimum amount that you’ll accept.
Even for a new blog, I won’t get out of bed for anything less than $50. That seems like a pretty good minimum to me. So for people who think that’s too much, it’s me rejecting them, they’re not rejecting me.
What can YOU do better than most people?
What can YOU do that other people hate doing/can’t do themselves/would rather pay someone else to do?
Those are the two questions you should be asking yourself if you want to use your blog to find freelance work. Answers to that last one might surprise you.
For example, there are people who focus on Pinterest marketing, so their job is basically to use Pinterest all day for their clients. Others may focus on Instagram or Facebook.
The best part is that you don’t have to connect with a large brand to be a social media manager. There are people just like you and me who need this sort of work done, too.
One thing that’s popular in my personal line of work is being a manager for a virtual store brand. Most people do this as an extra cash thing but there are some people who work for the more popular brands and make pretty good money. But would you have EVER thought that was a job idea? Probably not.
For Freelancing, having a blog functions as a way to introduce yourself clients. Posts might include 5 things to consider when hiring a brand manager or how to communicate ideas better with your graphic designer. Target questions people have when searching out someone who does what you do.
This includes writing for other people’s blogs, which is probably as close as you’ll get to strictly “getting paid to blog” as most people think of it.
When you should start monetizing your blog
Right away! If you don’t, you’re basically throwing money away.
I always advise people to start learning how to monetize as soon as you make the decision that you want to. If you wait, you’re going to let thousands of people come and go from blog without capitalizing on those views.
Feel free to read more on why I think waiting to monetize isn’t actually a smart idea, but it basically comes down to one thing. People visiting you don’t know or care how much traffic you’re getting. They can about reading what they came to read. Focus on making a sale to that one person and ignore the idea of everyone else.
Take advantage of your low traffic time to learn about ad placements, customer journeys and sales funnels, or effective affiliate marketing so when you do finally get that influx on traffic, you’re prepared for them instead of losing opportunities.
Learn to sell
Anyone who wants to make money needs to sell something. As I’ve mentioned all throughout this post, it’s not always a product. Sometimes it’s time, skill, or as often is the case with content creators, access to an audience.
The first step to making money online is figuring out which one of these you want to focus on. You may end up doing all of them eventually, but it’s best to focus on building up one thing before moving on to another.
Once you know what you’re going to focus on, it’s time to sell it. You might have this awkward time where you’re either not comfortable with selling at all, or you just have no idea how to do it. Or maybe it’s both!
This is another reason why waiting until you’re getting 10,000 visitors per month or something is a bad idea. If it takes you a year to build up that much traffic and you wait until then to start looking into how to make sales, you’ve wasted a year that you could have been testing and practicing on 1,000, 3,000, or 7,000, monthly visitors.
This way, once you do hit your goal of 10k+ visitors, you’re ready to do to some hardcore sales growth. You’ll have a better idea of what your audience expects from you, what they’re most likely to engage with, and what problems you should focus on solving for them.
Of course, you’re not going to have as much sales potential as you would with more traffic coming in, but something is better than nothing. Making that first $1 is surprisingly motivating. It’s better to make it sooner rather than later. It also decreases the chances that you’ll totally give up all together, because you’ll have a little taste of what’s really possible.
Monetize your blog now
How will you monetize your content? It’s best to collect income from multiple sources. You can use ads, promote affiliate products, and sell your own products, for example. A lot of bloggers take advantage of all these
Also, check out my post on why waiting to monetize your site is DUMB if you’re still unsure about starting your monetization ASAP.
Tell us how you already make money with the help of your blog or other content in the comments.
If you don’t yet, how has this post inspired you to try it out?