There comes a time when you may want to start making money from your blog. Or perhaps you’re starting a blog with the intention of creating an income from it. Whatever the case, blogging has grown to be a hugely profitable business over the past few years and it’s only natural to want a slice of the pie.
I’m not going to sugar-coat things: making a decent income from your blog takes a lot of time and work. I didn’t start making a livable income from my own blogs until after about three years. I’m not saying that it will take you this long, but it doesn’t happen overnight.
Why not? Because to be really successful, you have to first work on building trust with your audience and allow them to grasp your knowledge. Building trust is SO important if you plan on selling to visitors and subscribers. Think about it, who are you more likely to purchase from or click on an affiliate link that was recommended to you? Somebody you’ve just come across or somebody whose knowledge you’ve grown to trust?
Something to keep in mind before you begin monetizing your blog: You should have your own hosted blog. You can follow my step-by-step guide to setting up your own website/blog here.
How to make money blogging
Before monetizing your blog, you should always work on creating great free content (to help build trust!) and map out an overall income strategy. Start to think of your blog as not just a hobby, but a business… because once you start earning money from your blog, you are no longer a hobby blogger, you are operating a small business.
With that in mind, here are some of the most lucrative ways to start earning money from your blog, and they don’t involve setting up CPC ads (more on that later…):
Selling digital goods is like the holy grail of blog monetization. Everywhere you look, there are bloggers selling downloadable content such as templates, stock photography, graphics, software, and the list goes on. The reason is because it works! That is, if you are offering something of value.
Based on your free blog content and the type of posts you create, you can try to come up with a product that connects with your audience and then advertise that product on your blog.
Once you’ve built up trust and have consistently shared your expertise on a subject with your audience, try looking into education products to earn some cash. These include:
Once again, these products should offer a promise and be something that your ideal reader would want. Use your skills and expertise in a certain area to teach others your ways! Don’t even worry if your educational idea has been done already because there are so many different perspectives and ways to learn. What makes your unique? Use that and go with it.
Physical goods require more effort than digital and downloadable goods and can include things like:
- Handmade goods
- Equipment or supplies
Creating a shop that ties in with your overall blog theme and content is good practice and can be advertised on your blog to drive sales. Showcasing your physical products in blog posts regularly can also help improve awareness. Think about sharing your behind-the-scenes process, or offering advice within your posts that can be linked to your own products in a relate-able way.
If you don’t have a digital or physical product to sell, how about a service? You can take your skills and package them into a unique service that offers your audience help in a certain area. Some ideas include:
- Virtual assistance
- Book formatting
Think about what your readers might benefit from and how you can be of use to them. Offer lots of value and don’t ever price yourself low just to “beat the competition”. You don’t have to… you are worth it!
Someone else’s products
If you don’t have any physical, digital, or service products to offer, try making money from someone else’s products instead. This comes in the form of affiliate marketing and can be a huge money-maker if you choose your partnerships correctly.
How this works is you get a commission from promoting and selling items as an affiliate. The companies you choose to promote must align well with the type of content you produce to make the most impact. If you can somehow incorporate affiliate links to their products in your free written blog post content as “recommended by you”, you’ll increase the chances of making money from single posts.
Affiliates are different than CPC ads (like Adsense, for example) in that you are actually promoting a single, specific product or service and encouraging your visitors to buy it. You often make much more money through affiliate marketing than banner ads because you have complete control over the promotion aspects.
Selling Advertising (not monetizing with CPC ads)
Selling advertising to individual businesses is a proven way to make a little extra pocket cash, though it might not be the best option in the long run. When starting out, a lot of bloggers will accept paid advertisements on their sites to test the waters and see if their blogs can actually make them some money. While this is a good option for some, it can also be much more effective to advertise your OWN products in place of those ads. Sending someone away from your site and onto someone else’s is never a great idea, especially when you are trying to sell your own products/services as well. Think about this option carefully to determine whether or not it will work for you.
Offering special memberships can be a great way to make an ongoing monthly income. I’ve seen some bloggers offer paid access to special areas of their websites, where the value of content is high and educational (and UPDATED often!), while others offer digital goods to their members each month. Some ideas for memberships:
- Offer password access to course sections
- Offer a number of exclusive downloads each month via email (i.e. recipes, templates, graphics, etc.)
- Create a special member’s area with forums
- Monthly group coaching/webinars
- Exclusive video content
- Expert advice and chats
The truth about CPC ads
You might be wondering why I failed to mention CPC ad networks like Adsense or private networks. The truth is, those services can be good for a little extra money, but for a lot of bloggers, it’s not worth the time and ad real estate space on their sites.
With these networks, you earn money for each ad impression, and you don’t have control over the ads that display, or the rates that come with them. Your income is not consistent and these type of ads should never be used as a sole source of monetization.
I use CPC ads on my blogs, however I have a specific purpose for them and my overall business plan. The ads that run on this blog and my other blog merely cover the costs of web hosting and upkeep, website related fees, as well as my virtual assistant. They don’t add anything to my revenue at all.
The myth is that if you place ads on your website, you will automatically start earning money. That doesn’t happen, quite frankly, and it takes quite a bit of daily traffic to be able to make a few hundred bucks a month. If you’re looking for a more reliable way to make income that you can control, definitely try the other methods above all else and don’t rely solely on CPC ads to boost your revenue.