It is simple to start a blog. It is slightly harder to make money from this blog.
I have both good and bad news.
Let’s start with the bad news: Blogging is not going to make you rich overnight. Blogging is not a “get rich fast” scheme.
It will take some time. Sometimes it takes only six months. It will usually take two years.
The good news is that a blog can turn into a very lucrative business. This is a great way to make a side business. It’s possible to make six figures, seven, or even more per year by blogging. You can sell your blog for $6,000,000 with hard work and luck. This is what I did in 2018.
You can make money online by blogging.
Are you looking to start a blog?
You can find my Guide to Starting a Blog and Making Money.
This article will be about how to monetize a blog. Here are some simple ways to make money online. Each option will be broken down and explained to you, along with its pros and cons.
These suggestions might not be right for you. It all depends on the business niche that your blog falls into.
My previous investment blog was one example. Affiliate marketing was the main source of my income. But, I could have made money through ad banners and sponsored posts. Digital products and membership sites would also be an option. Selling physical products would not have been an option.
TL;DR: How to Make Money Blogging
Here are the easiest ways to make money blogging. The easiest option is the first, while the hardest one is the last.
Although there are some exceptions, this is the most comprehensive list of online ways to make money with a blog.
- Coaching and consulting
- Blog Advertisements
- Sponsored Post
- Affiliate Marketing
- Digital Products
- Public Speaking and Conferences
- SaaS and Membership Sites
- Physical Products
- My Recommendations
1. Consulting and coaching
Miranda Marquit, a freelance writer and consultant, is full-time.
Pros It’s easy to get started
Cons: You trade time for money, just like a job.
Trading your time for money is the easiest and fastest way to make money with your blog. Although I don’t like this kind of work long-term, it can be a good option for those just starting out.
Miranda Marquit was a great example of how I used her to write articles for my blog Investor Junkie. Her income comes from her work as a freelance writer and consultant. She has also written for other personal finance blogs.
Holly Johnson is another example and friend. Holly Johnson and Greg make more than $200,000 annually from writing. Their blog is not the only source of income. They also have affiliate marketing.
Coaching is a way to help your client achieve a goal. Consulting is where you do the work for the client. For our purposes, coaching and consulting will be considered the same thing.
Actually, my blog offers consulting services. Although I am in a good financial situation, I still want to help people who have the ability to use my skills.
Consulting or coaching can be costly and not easily scalable. To make more money, you will need to have more time.
You will eventually want to increase your skills and make more money while you sleep. This is not possible with consulting. You are only paid for the time you work. You get paid only for the hours you work.
You may eventually want to make your consulting work available as an online course, software or service.
Freelancing is a great way to get your business started. Your website can be described as an online brochure. Your blog can be used to market your products and services to potential clients.
You should have a sales funnel in place if you decide to go this route with your blog. It can be as simple a posting your email address or phone number.
These are the methods prospects can reach you via:
- Sign up online
- Telephone number
- Social media
- Mailing list
But, I don’t like the idea of your email address being posted on your website. You’ll be getting a lot of spam if this happens. However, you won’t be pre-qualifying prospects.
It is a good idea to use a website form to ask basic questions about potential customers.
I recommend WPForms to create your web form.
2. Blog Advertisements
Pinch of Yum is a blog advertisement that makes more than $52k per month!
Advantages: Easier to Implement
Cons: High traffic is essential for any significant revenue. Refers people to your blog
Online ads come in many forms, but they are most commonly banners, buttons and videos. Although these ads are often placed in your navigation sidebar or content header, they can become too intrusive and disrupt the user’s experience.
Pinch of Yum reports that its last income report shows it earned $52,000 from AdThrive. This is for one month only and does not include affiliate marketing income or sponsored posts.
Online ads can be used to make money in two ways:
- CPC/PPC – This stands for Cost Per Click or Pay Per Click. You get paid every time a reader clicks on your ad.
- CPM – This refers to the Cost Per Mille (thousands) impressions. These ads pay a fixed amount based on the number of people who view them.
Online ads are not something I like to use for blogging. It’s an option that many people consider.
These are my complaints about online ads
- Important Traffic Required — Before you can make a decent income from ads, you must have significant traffic (50,000 page views per month).
- More Visitors Are Not Seeing Ads — An increasing number of people are installing ad blocking software. Current data shows that between 20-30% of all visitors have an installed ad-blocker. This means that they won’t see ads on your blog.
- Distraction from Your Brand — This is my greatest pet peeve. After all the effort you’ve put into attracting visitors, an ad banner redirects them to another site. They might never return.
Two ways are available to use ad banners to monetize websites:
- Ad networks
- Private placement
Networks do the heavy lifting. They handle all of the ad inventory, and they serve the best-suited ad to each visitor. Each ad that is displayed on your site is a cut for the ad network.
This arrangement benefits everyone — the merchant, the ad network and the publisher. This arrangement is preferred by merchants because they have instant access to a large number of blogs (i.e. page views), instead of having to negotiate with each blog individually.
Ad networks may specialize in a specific niche. Make sure to speak with an advertising representative first to ensure your blog is suitable. These are some options for ad networks that you could use to promote your blog.
These ad networks need at least 100,000 unique visitors per month. This is a problem if you’re just starting out.
Google AdSense is the easiest advertising network to start with. Google AdSense can be set up in minutes if you already have blog content. AdSense does not require a minimum traffic count. AdSense generates the lowest amount of revenue. CPC ads are a better option to make more money.
Google AdSense is my last choice for ad networks.
Ad networks are trying to maximize ad revenues. This is the problem with them. This may seem great at first! This revenue can be great, but it can also hurt your Google search ranking. The more ad banners you have, the better. Google will not rank you for highly competitive keywords.
Ezoic is my recommendation for an ad network. It’s easy to set up, and unlike other networks, has performance options that can speed things up.
Private ad placement is another way to monetize your website with ads. This option allows you to do all the work, but retains all control. This is usually possible if you have a large website audience or work within a niche.
Private ads allow you to find merchants and set their terms and prices. You also create an IO (Insert Order), which you then use to determine how to display the ads on the blog.
This is the most difficult part. It is essential that you have a way to deliver the ads to your target audience.
There are three options available:
- WordPress plugin
- Self-hosted Ad Server
- Option to be hosted
If you are just starting out, a WordPress ad plug-in is the best option. I recommend AdSanity. As you grow, you will likely not want your blog to show the ads. This slows down your blog’s loading.
You can create your own ad server if you are technically skilled like me. I used Revive to host my ad server. It is completely free. You can also separate the ads from your website and make your blog more efficient.
Hosted options are the last option. Google offers a free option for this. It’s called Google Ad Manager. It’s free and very advanced, but I find it too complicated and hard to use. It is not something I would recommend.
Revive has a paid-hosted option that I prefer to Google Ad Manager.
3. Sponsored Post
Fit Mommy In Heels, an example of a sponsored article with disclaimer
Pros You can use your authority for bank transactions
Cons: Could make you appear like a salesperson. You may not see big rewards for the work you do.
Sponsored posts sound exactly like they are.
The merchant or you create the article that you publish on your blog. You are paid by the merchant for publishing this content. This payment could come in the form of cold, hard cash or a free product. You and the merchant will agree on the terms for sponsored posts.
You can promote the advertiser’s product as part of a package deal. These can include your social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and so on. You can also include your mailing lists.
Fit Mommy in Heels is a blog written by Lauren. It’s aimed at stay-at home moms. Her example shows that she has earned over $9k in one month from just sponsored posts.
You can reach out to companies to ask if they would sponsor your posts. A sponsorship network is a better option, especially for those just starting out. Networks often require a certain amount of followers or traffic monthly. Before you apply, make sure you check that you meet the “influencer” requirements.
Sponsored posts are required by the FTC in the U.S. to disclose the source of the article. You and the merchant are at risk if you fail to disclose.
If you are doing a sponsored post, ensure that the links to the merchants are nofollow. Sponsored posts are a common way for merchants to increase their website’s link count.
SEO is reliant on backlinks for its survival. Google doesn’t like backlinks that don’t naturally occur — this means they are not paid for. Don’t count sponsored links. rel=”nofollow Sponsored” when linking to the merchant within the sponsored post.
Sponsored posts that are well done are authentic and useful to the reader. If done wrongly, sponsored posts can make your brand look cheap and sellouts.
Sponsored posts have one problem: they require some web traffic before vendors will accept them. The company will determine the amount of traffic required. Some companies might not care because it’s part of their ad budget. They view sponsored posts as branding exercises.
Sponsored posts are not something I like. They require too much effort and a low payout. You should plan your actions carefully if you are considering using them.
4. Affiliate Marketing
Wirecutter was sold for $30 Million in 2016 and its only revenue came from affiliate marketing
Pros: Unlimited revenue potential. There are no products to support or create.
Cons: Affiliate programs are not under your control. They can sell as well as you.
Affiliate marketing allows you to promote and market products from another company. When a visitor clicks on the link, and then converts, you make money.
The merchant defines the conversion. The merchant can make it as easy as signing up by email. Or, they could require you to deposit money and open an account (as was the case for Investor Junkie). Affiliate marketing programs are very common and will credit you for any sales.
These are the two most popular methods of converting:
- CPL — Or Cost Per Lead. Signing up for the affiliate’s mailing lists earns you a commission. Signups to the affiliate’s mailing list may lead to paid customers.
- CPA — This stands for Cost Per Action. A commission is paid when a particular action takes place. A sale is the most common example, but it could also be any other action that the merchant considers successful.
Affiliate marketing, unlike online ads, is better suited to beginners bloggers with limited traffic.
This is because conversions are more important than quantity. Affiliate marketing is only profitable if a visitor converts. Ad banners on the other hand make you more money if you have more visitors.
Affiliate marketing can bring in a lot more income than ad banners for aspiring bloggers.
Affiliate marketing can make you a six- to seven-figure-a-year business. In 2018, my blog Investor Junkie was sold for $6 million. Affiliate marketing was the only source of revenue for my blog. In 2016, Wirecutter sold to The New York Times for $30 million. I have documented every affiliate blog that was sold for at least seven figures.
Affiliate marketing is all about your audience’s engagement as well as the relevance of the merchant’s products. Affiliate marketing is my favorite method to make money online.
Affiliate marketing is a wonderful way to make money. There’s:
- No inventory
- No customer service
- There is no research or development
It’s possible to make money while you sleep. You can sell a product you like on your website in a matter of minutes.
How to become an affiliate marketer
To help you get started, I have written an article about the best affiliate programs.
Affiliate marketing has one drawback. You don’t have ownership of the product. Affiliate marketing programs can change and are subject to the will of the merchant. You lose revenue if the affiliate program is shut down by the company.
This happens far more often than you might think. You must diversify your revenue streams by using multiple affiliates, and not just one merchant.
5. Digital Products
Mike Yanda, Bobby Hoyt and other online course sellers make seven figures
Advantages: You can make 100% profit and have no revenue sharing with merchants. There is no inventory to manage
Cons:Others are able to easily duplicate the products that you have created
Next is to build your own digital products, rather than selling others’ via affiliate marketing.
There are four types of digital products:
- Online courses (via audio, video, or text).
- Virtual conferences
- Software (one-time download and purchase)
Digital products are easy to create. Although you don’t have inventory, there is unlimited upside potential. Your ability to market to a captive audience is the only limit.
Some digital products may take longer than others. A short eBook may take a few days to create, while a long course, depending on its complexity, can take up to three to four months to complete.
It was difficult to create audio and video online when I started my website development career. Instead, audio CDs and DVDs were sent to customers. This created inventory that had to be replenished as soon as you ran out.
Today, most products should be available online for the majority of the market (with the possible exception of those 65 and older).
Instead of printing a book and mailing it out, you can send it online via Adobe Acrobat files. Rob Berger, my friend, did it. He published his book himself. Retire before Mom and Dad: The Simple Nuts Behind a Lifetime Financial Freedom. Available on Amazon.
Rob’s book can be purchased via Amazon’s Kindle platform as well as as a printed copy. Amazon handles all printing and shipping. You also have the prestige and benefit of being an author.
Because eBooks are relatively simple to create, they work well in comparison with other digital products. An eBook can also help you build credibility on the subject. Additionally, I have seen eBooks that were simply blog content repackaged in book format.
Online courses allow you to deliver education material electronically. This is far more flexible than traditional classroom environments, such as coaching or consulting. It takes about the same effort to teach one person as it does to teach 10,000 people.
Another advantage is that you can eliminate the geographic location aspect of teaching. Online teaching is available to anyone anywhere in the world, at any time. There are courses online that will teach anyone in Germany how to make the best blueberry pie at two o’clock in the morning.
Today’s format is usually a form of video. You can capture screen slides from PowerPoint presentations with your voiceover. You can also speak in front of professional videographers with background and lighting. Although you can also do audio-only or text courses, most customers prefer some video.
Online courses have many benefits. Online courses can be hosted on your own blog or, if you are just starting out, an educational platform like Teachable might be a good choice.
You can either pre-record the online course or use webinar software live to teach it.
This opportunity has only recently come to my attention. It’s like a mastermind group but digitally. A group of experts assembled and held an online event. It is a great way for people to connect and form a network.
Software development is more laborious but it can be very rewarding if you are a technical wizard. You can organize what you know and make it accessible to others through courses. Software uses that domain knowledge to create a useful tool anyone can use.
Software can be web-based, including WordPress plugins and smartphone apps. Software that is paid for once, instead of the more popular SaaS (software-as-a-service) model. However, most online software has been sold as SaaS (software-as-a-service). Option No. will discuss this in greater detail. 7.
6. Public Speaking and Conferences
FinCon was created by Philip Taylor to assist other personal finance bloggers.
The Pros: A great way to make a lot of money with very little effort
Cons: No one will face-to-face in the age of COVID.
It is often overlooked that you can speak offline in public settings or organize a conference about your niche.
Public speaking is the easier of the two options. After you submit your topic, the conference approves it, and then you create your slideshow. Then, you go to the conference and give your presentation. After that, it’s time for a party.
High speaking fees can be a result of your ability to speak in public and being well-known within the industry. A speaking fee of $1,000 to $10,000 for a conference is not uncommon. It can be even more. It is possible to get as high as $100,000 per person from some very famous speakers!
Speaking at conferences can bring you greater recognition among your peers, which is one of the greatest benefits.
Another option is to organize a conference on your topic. My friend Philip Taylor earns most of his income from the FinCon annual Conference. It’s an excellent conference that brings together personal finance bloggers.
Philip’s conference generated $85,000 in revenue and $11,100 profit in its first year. It’s not bad for a conference with more than 2,800 attendees in 2019. FinCon’s profit and revenue are sure to be much higher now, I’m certain.
Blogging is a lonely job, even though you communicate and write all day. It is not uncommon to spend hours at a computer. You can work in your pajamas. A conference is a great way for you to meet people in your niche.
7. SaaS and Membership Sites
DigitalMarketer offers a membership area, where thousands of people pay a monthly subscription
Pros : Creates engaged members and generates monthly recurring revenue
Cons: It takes a while for significant revenue to start to rise.
This business model is one of my favorites and I have done well with it.
Together with Investor Junkie, we owned a web hosting business. Technically, this fell under the software-as-a-service (SaaS) umbrella.
Instead of the one-time sale, SaaS allows you to generate recurring revenue. Without that recurring revenue, 2008 would have been a disaster.
SaaS is not a business model where revenue resets each month. Instead, you get a monthly income from your customers. This is the type of business which starts slowly but quickly speeds up once it gains momentum.
You can find more information in my article about how to create a member site on WordPress.
This type of monetization has a problem: it takes time to increase your MRR (monthly-recurring revenue) to sustain yourself. If you don’t have a clear vision of your goals, this is not the best way to make money blogging. Instead, see it as a part of a larger picture.
8. Physical Products
Vani Hari, Derek Halpern and Devin Duncan co-founded Truvani, a supplement company.
Advantages:Much more difficult to copy than digital products
Cons: Requires inventory. It is not possible to scale Each item has a fixed price
You could also be selling other people’s products.
Amazon’s FBA program is a common option. If you are interested in selling products on blogs, you will need to have your own storefront. This will allow you to generate additional traffic and revenue. WooCommerce can be a great option if WordPress is your favorite platform.
Drop-shipping a product is the next step up. You don’t need to keep inventory and you can ship the products yourself. You accept orders from customers and another party in your supply chain ships the product.
Many services will handle this task for you. It’s a great way to get started. The problem is that you don’t have control over the costs, other than switching vendors.
Although I don’t like selling physical products personally, I know a few people who love this approach. One option is to find a product similar to yours and to offer it to your customers via an affiliate link.
Physical products have a downside. They are not infinitely scalable, which is a problem with digital products. COGS (the cost for goods sold) is something you have to consider. You might be able to increase your margins by selling more but there is a fixed cost.
If I was you, I would diversify and make use of all eight of these options to increase my revenue. Relying on one source of income is not a good idea for any business.
Make Money blogging:
- Affiliate Marketing
- Digital products
Once you have built up an audience, you can start to think about creating a SaaS product or membership site.
Your niche may be unique. These are good options for almost all niches.