When thinking of some of the world's top websites, you might not even equate their format with blogging, and yet The Huffington Post (Arianna Huffington), TechCrunch (Michael Arrington) and Mashable (Pete Cashmore) all began with relatively small blogs.
Many blogs that now make a ton of money started out with humble beginnings, run by individuals in kitchens or garages, or small teams of friends working to a common purpose. A lot of profitable blogs didn't start out as money-making ventures. They began with people who were passionate about a subject or wanted to share their expertise or experiences in an area important to them.
At the heart of making money with a blog is generating traffic. At the heart of generating traffic is creating valuable content. At the heart of creating valuable content is skill, passion and/or expertise in your subject area.
Keep creating valuable content with skill, passion, and expertise at the core of what you do, regardless of whether or not you intend to make money blogging.
Here are ways you could be earning an income from your blogging.
1. Become a Thought Leader in Your Industry
You can use your blog and your growing position as a thought leader to draw people to your website and your business.
By posting considered, valuable content on your blog, responding thoughtfully to the blog posts of influencers and being available to give your perspective on industry concerns, you can become a go-to resource for information and insights. You'll not only be attracting laypeople with your blog but industry professionals too.
A well-maintained blog can establish your authority and help people to develop trust with you. If you already have a business, that personal trust you're building up will rub off. Would you rather buy from a stranger or from someone whose opinion you've been following, who is respected by his peers and who makes himself available to answer questions?
With patience and consistent application of the guidelines in this book, readers of your blog will come to trust your experience and perspective, giving you a solid groundwork for expanding your business.
Your position as a friendly, helpful, on-hand expert can help provide a confident, satisfied customer experience.
Happy customers often become repeat customers, and they tell their friends about you. Make your story compelling.
2. On-Site Advertising
Advertising on your blog is arguably the quickest way to monetize your blog. Unless you’re selling ad space directly to relevant companies, you’ll be using a service like Google Adsense.
Unfortunately, although advertising is relatively easy to set up, it’s unlikely that most people will make much money using this model.
People do click on sponsored links and banner advertising, but it's usually a very low percentage compared to the number of actual views your blog receives. There are many variables that determine how much traffic you attract, how likely those visitors are to click on an ad, and how much that ad click will earn you, but for the sake of illustration let's assume that:
- You want to make $100,000 a year from Adsense. That's $274 per day.
- 1% of your visitors are clicking on an ad. In many cases, this is a very generous estimate.
- Each ad click is earning you $0.25.
To make $100,000 per year, you'd need around 400,000 clicks per year or about 1100 per day. This means that, on average, you'd need traffic of 40,000,000 views per year and 110,000 views per day.
Remember that the 1% click-rate was quite generous. How do these figures look to you?
People are doing it, and you may be one of them. And note that a goal like this is more achievable if you have hundreds of quality blog posts attracting traffic to your site, with adverts on every post earning money for clicks.
The making of quality content is not something to enter into lightly nor is it something you can bash out overnight. Quite the opposite. Depending on the subject matter of your site, you'll probably find that making a significant amount of money through advertising is a long-term game.
That said, not everyone's goal is to make $100,000 per year from blogging. To begin with, you might be satisfied with a few dollars per day or per week and be happy with that. Your goal might be to make enough to pay for your hosting and other blog-related expenses.
If your blog advertising revenue means that you then have multiple income streams, this can be a boon for your business in uncertain times. It can be good to diversify and have several forms of revenue, so why not use your blog to make money in a number of ways?
3. Join an Affiliate Program
Amazon’s affiliate program is probably the most well known and widely used, but there are plenty of other opportunities out there. Search for those that are most relevant to your business.
The idea with an affiliate program is that you advertise another company or individual's products or services, and you get a commission for successful sales through your site. With Amazon, it’s pretty simple. Many people offer reviews of products on their blogs and link to the Amazon page using their trackable, affiliate link.
Amazon's vast catalog means that you're very likely to find products that will be relevant and helpful to your visitors. Be mindful of the way you interact with your readers, however, and demonstrate your integrity when you recommend a product.
4. Sell a Book
If you’re an expert in your field, or if you have followers who appreciate your opinions and style, an eBook can be a great way to bring in some income.
EBooks, books in digital formats, are inexpensive products to make compared to paperbacks or hardcovers. Your main expenses will be your time - unless you've written the book already - and paying for a professional editor and cover designer. Once your book is formatted (you can also pay someone to do this relatively cheaply), you can sell your books without ever running out of supply.
Books in digital formats are easy to deliver. Customers can buy them from your blog or your chosen retailers (Amazon, Kobo and/or Apple, for example), then receive the book on their PC or e-reading device within seconds, and you don't need to do a thing. Typically, a retailer or distributor will take a reasonable commission of every book sale in return for handling the transaction and distribution of the product.
If you already have more than one book, consider giving one away free to build that relationship between you and your visitors and to encourage them to purchase other titles in future.
If you've not started writing a book yet, and you're toying with subject ideas, note that many books began their lives as blog posts that were collated, reorganized and revamped. Also, with digital publishing, length needn't be so much of an issue as in traditional publishing. The concerns of printing costs and shelf space don't apply to eBooks, giving you freedom to put out a book that might be shorter than average, without being penalized so long as the book is priced accordingly.
It's not all that much harder to produce a print version of your eBook. Once again, independent publishing is relatively inexpensive compared to traditional publishing. CreateSpace and Ingram Spark are major providers of print-on-demand services to independent publishers. You market your book as you’d like and only pay the self-publishing service when a book sells.
There's little so good at stating authority as a well-produced print book. Books in print make excellent - though expensive - business cards and it might be worth having a few around, even if only to impress people, to direct them to your blog and other services, and perhaps to boost sales of your more cost-effective eBooks.
5. Sell Your Services
If you have a skill that's relevant to your blog and your visitors, selling it can be as easy as creating an ad and having your visitors sign up with a payment and/or their contact details.
Your blog is the perfect place to demonstrate that you know your stuff. Blog consistently and thoughtfully and people are likely to be more persuaded to enter into a working relationship than if they'd never read your content at all.
If your blog is something that can be taught and lends itself to visual instruction, you might consider selling instructional videos and learning material. With improved internet capabilities worldwide and more and more people taking advantage of online learning, you can use an online service such as Udemy to create, perfect and sell one or more courses to your visitors.
You could also invite people to hire you for speaking engagements or to pay you by the hour for coaching or consulting in your field of expertise. The more authoritative your blog becomes, the better you'll be able to find speaking and consulting opportunities, which in turn will add credibility to your blog and your brand.
6. Sell Products
Professional blogging platforms typically carry an option that allows site owners to add ecommerce to their store. How about an ecommerce page for your site?
If your business is making products, then having an ecommerce site is a no-brainer and hopefully, you're already using all that you've learned to attract the right customers to the right products and to make money using your blog.
If you are not a manufacturer or retailer, are there relevant products you could buy wholesale and sell at retail prices via your blog?
Rather than reviewing products and sending your visitors to other sites to complete their purchases, perhaps you could make some cash (and perhaps more than from affiliate revenue) by offering those products right on your blog.
People are spending more and more money on the internet. If you want to sell products from your site, your blog will help develop trust and generate confidence that will encourage people to purchase from you online.
7. Setup Membership and Subscriptions
Memberships and subscriptions can bring in a relatively predictable income stream through your blog.
Via membership, you could ask for monthly cash in exchange for exclusive material or knowledge that is reserved for members. Offer some perks. Use words like 'Only in the members' area!' to entice people to register.
Whenever someone becomes a member, they are trusting and backing you. Thank them for appreciating and supporting the work it takes to maintain a blog.
A membership area might include a forum where like-minded individuals can have discussions, network and exchange information. Or you might perform Q&A sessions or provide access to training.
Subscriptions imply that the reader will receive something regularly in return for their money, such as reports, newsletters or a video series. If you can, have your content planned and, where possible, produced well in advance. Deliver on time and don't disappoint.
When charging for membership and subscriptions, consider allowing your visitors some flexibility so that they can pay what they think your service is worth. Allowing customers to decide the price doesn't always have expected results, but you might benefit from experimenting and analyzing the results. You might find that people value you more highly than you realize.
8. Sell Your Blog
If you’re receiving hundreds of thousands of views every day and your shares via social media are going through the roof, you may be able to sell your blog.
Those who have already monetized their blogs and are earning real money might not be eager to sell. Even though a profitable blog can command a 5, 7, or even 9 figure sum. It's worth considering how much you might have earned from the blog yourself over the years and that your lump sum isn't going to last forever unless you have another source of income and/or a plan of action.
Note that when selling your blog, you're cutting ties with your work. You'll lose all rights to the site, and you're going to need to let go of all the people you've connected with through your blog too, such as followers on social media and the names on your mailing list. The value of your blog is not only measured regarding how much revenue it can bring in per month.
In order to sell your blog, buyers will want to see your analytics and revenue, so make sure that you have this in place early on. Potential buyers are going to want to see stability or graphs that are on the up. They will also likely to be looking for a business that they can take over with as little hassle as possible, so make sure that you can hand over not only your website but the domain name, associated email addresses and social media accounts.
Savvy investors will be looking at more than revenue. When Michael Arrington was ousted from TechCrunch, causing its new owner AOL to fight to reestablish trust, Poynter reported: "Readers come to TechCrunch for the latest information, but what makes a blog stand out is the trust in the people running the site, the editorial voice, and a site’s adherence to its standards."
Your integrity and your relationship with your audience will be key factors when putting your blog up for sale.
Flippa is one online marketplace for buying and selling websites. domains and apps. Although sites like these charge fees for being an intermediary between buyers and sellers, they do have a ready supply of both and they take away some of the stress of organizing a private sale. Sites for sale vary in age, quality, and revenue earned. The sites that generate the most interest include those with at least four-figure revenues per month, high volumes of traffic and/or subscribed users who are active on the site.
Whatever the level of your blog when you're thinking about selling, be prepared to provide as much information as possible. Be honest and helpful. You might find that you can sell your blog for a nice fat sum while you move on to the next stage of your career or possibly even your retirement.
Whatever strategy you explore to monetize your blog, it's crucial to remember that successful bloggers build a community around their expertise, opinions, and personality online. Building relationships and trust with your readers.
The bottom line may be calling to you, but don't let that seep into your blog! Satisfy your bottom line by creating great content and nurturing community where readers return time and again for your advice, information, products, and/or services.
If you choose to monetize your blog, do so in a practical, honest, and transparent fashion that in no way detracts from the experience of visiting your pages.