How to Make (More) Money Blogging: Niche Ideas, Case Studies, and Traffic Strategies

Article updated April 21, 2016.

“Hey Low, how can I make money blogging like you?”

Every now and then I get the “make money online” questions from friends and family.

Some wish to earn a little side income online; others, to escape routine traffic jams to work, or to expand their business online, or to quit their 9-to-5 job, or… you get it.

I truly wish to help those I know accomplish this. But, I can only share so much during in-person gatherings or on Facebook Messenger or via Whatsapp.

Hence, I am writing this long article to share lessons I have learned in the past 11 years as an Internet marketer and professional blogger.

Caution: This is a very long post (7,000 words), you can download the entire article as PDF file instead.

Quick Glance & Presentation Slides

What’s covered in this article –

  • Statistics and analysis of bloggers’ income
  • Basic guide on how to start a self-hosted blog
  • Case studies, tools suggestion, personal tips on finding a profitable niche
  • 10 practical tips in attracting blog traffic
  • Ideas / strategies in monetizing your blog
  • Conclusion / last piece of advice

This post in presentation slides

So are you ready? Let’s rock & roll!

How much can you earn via blogging?

If you search ‘make money blogging’ on Google, one of the relevant search results suggested by Google is “can you really make money blogging”. This shows there are many doubtful searchers who have no idea how much one can earn from a blog (Google’s suggestions are based on how often the key phrases are searched).

To answer the question, let’s look around the Internet.

Lindsay and Bjork from Pinch of Yum made slightly more than $25,000 in April 2015. 

In the same month, Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income made $86,371.99, Harsh Agrawal from Shout Me Loud made $11,796, Matthew Woodward made $26,283.41, Sharon from Digital Nomad Wanna Be made $3,334 while travelling around the world with her family; and you can find dozens more other bloggers who share their income online – from hundreds to ten of thousands of dollars monthly.

According to another study published on Blogging Basics 101 (see infographic below), 14% of bloggers actually earn a salary through blogging and make about $2,000/month.

Infographic by Jessica Knapp, Blogging Basics 101

Infographic by Jessica Knapp, Blogging Basics 101

The key takeaways in this –

  1. It can be done. Many bloggers are making good money online.
  2. With the right ideas and strategies, there is literally no limit on how much you can make online. Pat Flynn is personally making (almost) as much as a small-cap public listed company.

Blogging for money: Best options?

There are many ways to monetize your blog.

Advertising, affiliating other people’s products, selling your own products, selling sponsored posts and the list goes on. Depending on what industry you are in and where your blog is at, there will be a better way to monetize your blog.

Gael Breton from Authority Hacker recently analyzed and crushed the numbers on how 23 bloggers make money blogging and came up with the following conclusion:

Own services and product sales are overall the most profitable way to monetise your blog

As you will see from the table below – while the incomes between most categories are quite comparable, the profit margins differ greatly.

Business ModelTotal IncomeTotal ExpensesProfitProfit Margin
Services$21,508$2,805$18,703666%
Ad Selling$235,977$135, 041$100, 93674%
Affiliate Marketing$214,232$47,664$166,568349%
Own Product Sales$434,004$113,767$320,237281%

Services are generally hard to sell and therefore generate less revenue but the profit margin is excellent. A lot of top bloggers make a decent living blogging and selling services.

Ad selling generates a lot of income (2nd best) but because ad sellers need to produce a lot of content and sometimes acquire traffic, the profit margins shrink quickly.

Affiliate marketing is actually the most profitable monetization tactic, which makes it excellent for new bloggers who need to build an income quick. This site is mainly funded by affiliate income – and we managed to grow from a one-man-blog into a team of one editor, six active bloggers, and two social media marketers.

Own products sales generate the most revenue with great profit margins. The margins are slightly lower than affiliate marketing because of the costs associated with customer service, payment processing, etc., but the higher conversion rates make up for it and make this the #1 best source of income for bloggers.

Starting a blog: Where, how, how much?

If you read till this point, I bet many of you are pumped up and ready to jump in.

But where, and how, do you start?

To start making cash out of your blog, you will first need to…  well? Own a blog. If you haven’t blogged already, starting a blog is extremely easy. I wrote a detailed step-by-step guide for newbies in April. If you read and follow the steps given closely, you should have your blog ready in less than 30 minutes.

In brief, here are the 4 steps to create a blog.

Credit: Dave Walker

  1. Pick a niche
  2. Register a domain name
  3. Purchase a web hosting plan
  4. Install a blogging platform (i.e. WordPress)

And your blog is ready to go. Easy as pie.

1. How to pick a profitable niche?

We will talk about this in a later part.

2. Where to register your domain?

To register a domain name, go with GoDaddy or NameCheap.

NameCheap is slightly cheaper in most cases but GoDaddy is the biggest domain registrar in the world. I use both of them to manage and register my domains; both are okay in my opinion.

3. Which web hosting to go with?

For web hosting – if you are just starting out and want something cheap with okay quality – go with iPage. iPage is my #1 budget hosting pick, the host is cheap, pretty reliable (>99.9% most of the time); and has all the necessary features a newbie needs (detail review here).

If you are willing to pay a little extra, I recommend InMotion Hosting and SiteGround. This site, for your info, is hosted on InMotion Hosting (VPS).

4. How much does a blog cost?

A .com domain costs about $10 – $15 per annum. For iPage, first signup will cost you not more than $50/year. InMotion Hosting Power Plan cost $4.49/mo; SiteGround GrowBig costs$7.95/mo (both mid level shared hosting, 12 months subscription).

In short, starting a blog will set you back around $60 – $120 a year.

What about free blog hosting?

I do not recommend running your blog on a free platform like WordPress.com or Blogger.com. Don’t get me wrong – those platforms are okay if all you care about are writing your thoughts and sharing ideas (if this is you, also check out Medium.com).

But a free platform is never a good place to host your blog if you wish to make money. There are way too many limitations and disadvantages on a free platform.

For instance, Blogger.com does not allow its users to post non-Google ads. WordPress.com, on the other hand, does not allow image ads and imposes various limitations on sponsored posts and affiliate marketing.

Screen captured from WordPress Advertising Policy Page.

Screen captured from WordPress Advertising Policy Page.

Profitable Niche + Targeted Traffic = Money

So, now that your blog is ready and we are all set for the gold…

How do you make money blogging, for real?

Some say content is king.

“Build good content; money and traffic will follow.”

Well, that’s not entirely true.

From my experience, content is only 50% of the game, if not less.

Yes. As bloggers, it is our duty to create engaging, informative and, perhaps, entertaining content.

But to make money, you must have two other key elements – a profitable niche and targeted web traffic. Without any one of these elements, your blog will not go far in generating cash.

The importance of a profitable niche

Inflatable boat

This is what an inflatable boat look like.

Here’s a story I have shared in one of my guest posts at ProBlogger.net earlier.

Back when I first started my career as an Internet marketer, I made an affiliate site to sell inflatable boats. Can you imagine how many people might buy an inflatable boat online? You don’t need to be an expert to answer this – not many.

What’s worse, this product is a seasonal product and only sells during the summer, so I was further limited in my sales. That said, I did make some money from the site – averaging not more than two sales per year. My inflatable boat business didn’t even take off enough to launch it onto the small pond, much less a big pond.

The lesson in this – No matter how well written your content or how beautiful your blog design – if you fail to pick the right niche, you will fail converting your effort into money.

So, how do you find a profitable niche?

There are countless ways to find a profitable niche on the Internet. I will cover three methods that work best for me.

Method #1: Follow the money

Why do most robbery cases happen in banks?

Simple. Because that’s where the money is.

The same theory applies to finding a profitable niche. We simply look for industries where advertisers are spending boatloads of money. It’s basic business sense. Advertisers would not invest that much money unless the ads are bringing back positive ROI.

Now this leads to our next question: How do we know if the advertisers are spending money? And, how much they are spending?

Search Engines + Google Keyword Planner

One quick way to find out is to search online – Google or Bing – to see if there are any advertisers in that niche. Generally speaking – if there are more than three advertisers competing for a key phrase – there is money to be made in that area.

Teak wood furniture anyone?

Teak wood furniture anyone?

You can then use Google Keyword Planner to guesstimate the average price of a click for that search term and predict how much you can earn per Google Adsense click*; and hence how much you can earn via selling ad space.

Note that there are no clear rules written but rough estimation (correct me if I’m wrong), Google pays 30 – 50% of cost per click to Adsense Publishers.

Spyfu

Another way to determine how much (and more importantly, where) advertisers are spending on PPC ads is via SpyFu.

Spyfu, originally GoogSpy, is a search analytics tool that shows the keywords that advertisers are buying on Google Adwords. It is the most accurate tool I’ve ever used. I use it every time I need to research a niche in depth.

The following images demonstrate how you can make use of Spyfu (free search). These niches were found when I was doing research for this article – each of these searches take less than 5 minutes to complete. There are more valuable details if we go beyond the free search but we will stick to the free edition for now. To do your own research, simply key in your competitors (or the big players in your shortlisted niche) domain into the search bar.

Niche #1 – $64,000/mo on Adwords

_niche1-monthly budget 64k

Niche #1 – Soft products, business solutions. There are more than 10 other companies offering affiliate programs in this industry. Spyfu estimated this merchant is spending $64,000 on Adwords monthly.

Niche #2 – $100,000/mo on Adwords

_niche2-monthly budget - sport appearels

Niche #2 – Sport apparel – think sport brands like Adidas, Nike, and New Balance but on a smaller scale and focus on one type of sport. This company is spending more than $100,000 a month on more than 57,000 keywords according to Spyfu.

Niche #3 – $60,000/mo on Adwords

Niche #3 - IT solution provider - a global market, most people who run a site will need them. There are 10 - 15 other big players in this field. This company bids on 3,846 keywords on Google and spends about $60,000 per month.

Niche #3 – IT solution provider – a global market, most people who run a site will need them. There are 10 – 15 other big players in this field. This company bids on 3,846 keywords on Google and spends about $60,000 per month.

Niche #4 – $9,500/mo on Adwords

Niche #4 - Web service provider. This company is one of the cool startups few years ago. I am surprised to see them spending almost $10,000 a month on Adwords.

Niche #4 – Web service provider. This company is one of the cool startups few years ago. (I am surprised to see them spending almost $10,000 a month on Adwords).

Niche #5 – $71,500/mo on Adwords

_niche5 - monthly budget 71.5k - financial market

Niche #5 – Global financial products. The screen captured is the analysis on one of the biggest players in this niche. I had two websites in this industry back in 2000’s – wouldn’t be surprised to see businesses spending more than $100,000 per month on Adwords.

Niche 6 – $24,200/mo on Adwords

Niche #6 - Web service provider. This website is actually an affiliate site and does not sell its own products. I am quite surprised to know that they are spending more than $20,000 monthly on PPC ads.

Niche #6 – Web service provider. This website is an affiliate site and does not sell its own products. The site owner is spending more than $20,000 monthly on PPC ads.

Commission Junction

Another method I often use to judge the profitability of a niche is looking at the numbers at CJ.

Login to CJ.com and search for merchants in the niche you are studying.

  • Are there any relevant merchants?
  • Are these merchants offering good commissions?
  • Are these merchants paying their affiliates?

You can use Network Earnings (the green bar) as a potential earning indicator.

See image below to understand how I interpret the numbers at CJ.

Network Earnings = How much the advertisers are paying compare to overall. Higher Network Earnings = more affiliates in the program;. 3 month EPC = Average earning per 100 Clicks = How profitable is this affiliate program in long term; 7 day EPC = Average earning per 100 clicks = Is this a seasonal product?

Network Earnings = How much the advertisers are paying compared to overall. Higher Network Earnings = more affiliates in the program;. 3 month EPC = Average earning per 100 Clicks = How profitable is this affiliate program in long term; 7 day EPC = Average earning per 100 clicks = Is this a seasonal product?

Method #2: Facebook

You can do a lot more than sharing travel photos and posting status updates on Facebook.

The world’s largest social media is actually a great tool to understand the new niche you are getting into. Learn more about your target audience, stalk your competitors, find an angle to tackle your niche, and so on.

I will demonstrate these functions using examples.

Using Own Facebook Page to understand your own fanbase

If you already have a Facebook page (you can create one before you start a blog, it’s free), the first place to look at is your fan base. Dive into some of these fans’ profile and pay attention to their demographics (male/female, locations, married/single/divorced, age, etc) and their interests.

Using Facebook Suggestions to find competitors

For those who own a Facebook page, go to Insights > Overview > Pages to Watch. This is where you can find and compare similar pages suggested by Facebook. You can click on each link to find out popular posts published on these pages.

facebook watch page

Pages to watch – as per Facebook’s suggestion in one of the pages I manage.

Using Facebook Relevant Page to find even more competitors

facebook similar page

Say I am starting a blog about finding jobs, here’s what I will do to discover relevant websites and Facebook pages.

  1. I know Monster is one of the major players in the job listing niche, so I will start with them. First, I’ll dig out Monster’s Facebook page via Google search (search “Monster job Facebook page”).
  2. Next I will extract the page id using this free tool – Find My Facebook Id (the Monster page id number is 87877000648).
  3. Replace X in the following URL “https://www.facebook.com/pages/?frompageid=X” and paste it to your browser.
  4. And this is how I found 20+ more similar page in the job listing niche (see image on your right).

How to make use of Facebook intel

There is a lot you can do with the list of competitors and fans’ details you have on hand.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Stalk big players’ activity on Facebook and learn their marketing strategies.
  • Find out trending topics in your niche – What’s the latest hype in town? Can you find a new angle for your blog by looking at these trends?
  • Expand to a new niche by looking at other players’ activities – This was how I discovered the typography niche when I studied web design (CSS/jQuery/HTML5) blogs.
  • Understand your target audience – Where do they spend time online? What are their problems? Can you provide a solution?
  • See why people are buying from your competitors – Can you provide something similar and make money?
  • See why people are not buying from your competitors – Are their products too boring? Perhaps they are not marketing it right. Can you do something better and win their visitors over?
  • Write better headlines and content – Find out which Facebook posts get the highest engagement, write similar headlines.

Method #3: Old School Keyword Research

I am sure you have heard about keyword research by now.

Or wait… you haven’t? Well I am not beating a dead horse again, so here’s a good read for the beginners.

Why keyword research?

Image source Send In The Fox

Long tail vs short tail keywords. Image source: Send In The Fox

Keyword research is usually performed in the beginning of an SEO campaign. Its objective, more often than not, is to identify frequent searched keywords (be it short or long tail) and set directions for the campaign.

What’s more in keyword data?

But as most experienced marketers know – there is more to harness from this keyword data. With the right set of keywords, we can also understand the following better (and might as well spot new business opportunities):

Level of Competition

More searches = higher demand; more results returned in a search result page = higher supply.

Relevant Brands and Names

Examples: For cameras – Nikon, Canon, Sony; for honeymoon getaway – Bali, Maldives, Hawaii; for web hosting – iPage, BlueHost, Hostgator; for celebrities – Taylor Swift, Linkin Park, Bruno Mars.

Searchers’ intentions

Generally speaking, buying intention is higher when there are lots of searches on ‘widget review’, ‘widget model number and name’, ‘10 best widget brands’, ‘buy widget online’. In contrast, searches for ‘widget history’, ‘complain widget’, or ‘the making of widget’ are less likely converted into business transactions.

Commercial Value

The more advertisers bidding on a particular search term, the higher commercial value is for that search term.

Using keyword research to study a niche: Quick demonstration

Back when I first started, many webmasters (note – back then ‘blogger’ was not yet a popular term) relied on a tool named “Overture” – where you can simply input a search term and the system will give you a rough figure of how often that term is searched, for free. We will then compare these numbers with the amount of results returned and judge the competitiveness (and profitability) of a niche.

Now that Overture no longer exists we can hardly get reliable keyword data for free.

Google Keyword Planner is one of the very few keyword tools that I am still using today (the other two are Google Trends and Ubersuggest).

In the following images, I will demonstrate how I use these tools to study a niche and interpret data obtained. This process could take a very short time (less than 30 minutes) or it could take days to complete. It depends on how big your keyword list is and how deep you wish to dive in to understand the business landscape.

Niche: Movie Posters

Movie posters have always been one of my favorite collectibles. I don’t really collect them but I appreciate the art and sentimental value in them. Let’s see if we could turn my interest into a profitable blogging idea. Note that I have not done any research before writing this guide – so I am as curious as you are right now.

Google Trends

First let’s take a look on Google Trends.

movie poster google trends

Looking at the graph, it seems that the topic is losing traction on the Internet – which is absolutely logical if you look at the time people spend on YouTube these days.

movie poster regional interest

Scrolling down, we can also see that most searchers are located in the United States, Kenya, India, Australia, and Canada.

movie posters vs hosting reviews

To understand the chart better, I often compare an unknown search trend with something I am familiar with. In this example, I have added the search term “hosting review”. You can see that relatively there are more people searching for “movie posters”.

Google Keyword Planner

Next, we will go to Google Keyword Planner to get more ideas.

Key in “movie poster” into the search box and hit “Get Idea”.

Key in “movie poster” into the search box and hit “Get Idea”.

The first result page (see image below) shows that there are plenty of searches for vintage movie posters (41,900+ monthly searches), horror movie posters (5,600+ monthly searches), star wars movie posters, classic movie posters (3,400+ monthly searches), Hollywood movie posters (1,600+ monthly searches), and so on. Also, there is also a relatively high demand for information on creating your own movie posters (~22,000 monthly searches).

blogging niche - google keyword planner - what people are searching for

Relevant keyword stats from Google Keyword Planner.

To go one step deeper, we can click on the keyword for more details. This is where we can understand searchers’ intention better. Pay attention to what type of information the searchers were looking for. Can we spot buying intentions in these searches (if our plan is to sell movie posters directly)? Also, these keyphrases can be our blogging topics.

blogging niche - google keyword planner image 3

Key phrases containing “Make Movie Poster” – these searchers are most probably looking for tutorial and printing accessories.

Ubersugggest

To get an even broader view of our topic, let’s go to Ubersuggest for more keyword ideas.

ubersuggest

Perhaps movie posters jigsaw puzzle is a good online business idea?

Back to Google Search

What if we prefer not to sell physical products? You know – it is no fun handling inventories and logistics. Can we just blog and sell advertising space? To answer this question, let’s try some relevant searches on Google and see if we can spot any advertisers or any affiliate programs.

Also, you can take a closer look on the advertisers’ marketing approach – do they advertise on blogs on top of search ads? If so, what kind of blog? Can you sell ads directly to these merchants? To guesstimate the profitability of this topic, we can apply this keyword data to Spyfu to determine how much advertisers are spending.

To go deeper, we might want to dig into organic search results (site back links, onpage optimizations, social media shares, etc.) to see how difficult/easy it is to compete in terms of SEO.

Money!

Money!

Making Decision: Small vs Big Pond?

crowded fish bowl

Now that we have all the necessary market insights – it’s time to decide. Should we jump in? Is this a good niche? What would be a good angle to approach this niche? I’ll leave it to you to draw the conclusion.

One thing, however, I wish to make clear before we end this section – is about how you decide on a niche.

Quite a number of experts advise newbies to avoid steep SEO competition and pick a smaller playing field when choosing a niche.

“Be a big fish in a small pond”, they say.

I believe the exact opposite. You should try the big pond (target search terms with high demand and lots of big competitors) because that’s where the audience and money are.

Blog Traffic: Who is your audience? What do they want? Where to find them?

Still with me?

We will now move on to key factor #2: Targeted Traffic

To make decent money off your blog, you must pull in sufficient, targeted traffic.

Obtaining a targeted audience (and serving information they want) has always been the key to online success.

The more targeted traffic your blog gets, the more money you can make.

It is simple math.

Let’s say that you run a DIY blog and sell handcrafted art. Your blog’s average conversion rate is 3% and average conversion value is $25. On average, for every 100 visitors you will make 3 sales and make $75. If the number of targeted visitors goes up to 200, then theoretically there will be six sales and $150 profit down the road.

Smart blog traffic tips from team WHSR

So how do you pull in targeted traffic for a new blog? This is where your web marketing skills kick in. Think search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing (SMM), word of mouth, email marketing, and so on.

We have covered quite a lot on building blog traffic from both search engines and social media in the past. Below are some of the best you should read and bookmark.

My personal blog traffic tips

To avoid repeating what has already been said (and to give you actionable tips to start right now), I am going to give you a quick list of specific tactics that work well for me.

1. Guest posting

Regardless of how Google bashes guest posting practices – this strategy works. Writing quality guest posts on others’ blogs simply is the most efficient way to reach targeted audience and build blog readership.

If you are new to guest posting, Lori wrote a detailed how-to guest post guide in the past, go check out.

The key to success, as I see it, is finding the right blogs – those with real readers and social media followers. You can use Topsy or Buzz Sumo to spot popular blogs and influencers in your industry. Or, you can simply take a closer look at the comment section to see if readers are interacting with the bloggers. Always keep in mind that you are blogging for real readers (hence the quality of your content is crucial). Forget about posting on blogs with high Google PR but zero readers – this practice simply doesn’t work anymore in 2015.

2. Crowdsourcing post

Teamwork.

Teamwork.

Crowdsourcing posts is a good way to network with other bloggers in your niche and share each others’ social media followers attention.

I have gotten (and have seen many others getting) some good results via this strategy. This post written by Sue Anne Dunlevie (21 experts reveal their biggest risk that paid off), for example, garnered more than 500 social shares and 80 comments. Another crowdsourcing post on Triberr marketing that I recently bumped into (by Abrar Mohi Shafee) pulled in more than 1,000 tweets in a very short period.

3. Facebook ad

Facebook is a cost efficient way (it goes as low as $0.06/web click in certain industries) to pull in new targeted visitors. The challenging part in Facebook advertising is that you need to test a lot (different ad versions, different countries, different interests, etc.) in order to succeed.

facebook ad

Here are a few ad samples I did on Facebook recently.

4. Syndicate blog posts to other popular sites

Promote your blog to sites that syndicate others’ content; self-promote, beg, bribe, or blackmail (okay, I am kidding) the editor to accept your blog feeds into their syndication.

Make sure your new posts link back to your old content to draw in traffic. WHSR blog is syndicated to a number of popular sites including Social Media Today and Business 2 Community.

5. Attend conferences

websummit

Make new blogger friends and promote each other’s blogs online. I don’t particularly enjoy talking to strangers (honestly I am very bad at that).

However, my previous visit to WebSummit 2014 in Dublin brought me some new experience, and I have to agree it’s an effective way to promote a blog.

6. Blog comments

Leave constructive comments on others’ blogs (do not spam!). Write in a way that makes people want to find out more about you.

Here’s a great example of someone who has done it right.

miller comment

For starters, Mr. Miller goes into some detail, offering a unique perspective relevant to the original post while also letting readers know about him and his relevancy to the topic. By sharing his own experience, he displays his own expertise in the search field, earning my attention and drawing me to learn more about him… so much so that I clicked on his Moz profile and now follow him on Twitter.

7. Forum posting

Find relevant forums in your niche (Google search “keyword” + inurl:forum), post helpful content/replies, promote your site on signature links or drop links in your forum posts, but only when it’s appropriate.

8. Google+ community

Google+ community works pretty much the same as forum – the key to success is to give out lots of valuable info to community members in exchange for social media followings and blog traffics.

9. Giving out free tools and freebies

Everyone loves freebies. After all who doesn’t like getting something for free?

However, keep in mind that not all freebies are good on their own. You need to offer something in demand so you give the public a reason to talk and share your blog on social media. Remember the whole point of this is about getting traffic.

My core business at Web Hosting Secret Revealed (WHSR) is promoting hosting services. Rather than squeezing into the crowded Google SERP, I’ve found better odds targeting web designers who likely have use for my hosting advice. To land a seat with that audience, I’ve created loads of freebies.

Those loads of free icons? Yep – freebies targeted to my primary audience.

The free icons actually earned substantial attention from the blogosphere, bringing in new visitors and social followers. If you’re interested, these are just a few of the blogs that featured our free icons.

10. Twitter

Social followers correlate directly with revenue.

Revenue vs Twitter Followers

Revenue vs Twitter Followers

Many bloggers wonder what metric to trust when it comes to growing their income. The guys at Authority Hacker correlated revenue with a bunch of metrics and nothing came closer than social Twitter followers. If you want to grow your revenue, focus on connecting with people on social media and engaging them with your content. That’s your best shot at improving your bottom line!

Growing your Twitter followers & traffic 

A few quick tips in growing your followers and direct traffic from Twitter:

  • Tweet frequently. To have your followers retweet and click on your tweet links, you will need to first appear on their Twitter wall. To do this I use a plugin named Revive Old Post and spend 20 – 25 minutes every other day on Commun.it to interact with my Twitter followers.
  • Connect truly with your followers. A simple personal message is 100x better than blasting out hundreds of canned messages.
  • Be hyperactive – respond to others’ tweets, join popular conversations, and tweet trending hashtags.

Ideas: 3 clever ways to monetize your blog

We are not done yet. Up to this point, you have learned –

  1. How to find a profitable niche,
  2. How to a blog easily using WordPress, and
  3. How to find targeted traffic to your blog.

Now is time for the last piece of our puzzle – how to monetize your blog visitors.

Idea #1 – Write (and sell) an eBook

Selling an ebook is a classic blog monetization technique.

Ebooks offer a ton of benefits:

  • To create them, all you need is the knowledge you already have
  • Paid ebooks build your authority as an expert
  • You can sell them on multiple platforms (like Amazon and Payhip)
  • They can become great sources of passive income
  • They can make effective additions to your sales funnel as lower-value offers

Many experts started making a name for themselves with an ebook. Remit Sethi, founder of I Will Teach You To Be Rich and one of the foremost experts in online business, sold his first ebook for $4.95.

It was titled “Ramit’s 2007 Guide to Kicking Ass.”

Image 1 Ebook 1

That ebook led to a New York Times Best Seller and 14 different premium products that made him into a very rich person — all completely online and primarily sold through his blog.

Here’s the process you can follow to write an ebook:

  1. Choose a topic. Write about something your audience wants to learn, but can’t be taught in a single blog post. Many are willing to pay for a one-stop-shop of this information.
  2. Create an outline. This will help organize your ideas as you write.
  3. Block out time each day to write. Don’t be the person who starts an ebook and never finishes it. Block out an hour each day, two hours, 15 minutes — it doesn’t matter how long. Just write it.
  4. Transfer it to a good looking ebook template. Here are a few from HubSpot.
  5. Design a cover (ie. Canva) or pay someone to do it (Fiverr).
  6. Photoshop your cover onto a 3D ebook image. Pat Flynn put together a great video on how to do this.

You’re done! Now promote it to your heart’s content.

Idea #2: Promote affiliate products in various scenarios

If you’re already discussing and recommending products and services to your audience, why not make some money from the people you refer?

It doesn’t cost your readers anything, and you earn a commission whenever one of them buys the product.

Affiliate marketing can be a great source of income for little additional work. Check out these ideas for incorporating affiliate sales into your revenue:

1- Find Opportunities in Your Current Content

First, go through the articles you already published and look for products or services you’ve mentioned. Once you find them, simply go to each website and look for an “Affiliates” page.

Then follow the instructions to become an affiliate. Once you become one, you will usually get a unique tracking ID to place at the end of each URL.

When a visitor clicks on that URL with your ID and buys the product, you will earn money.

2- Find Opportunities in the Products/Services You Use

Make a list of every product and service you use. I use a lot of online software that relates to my business. These can be great opportunities for affiliate revenue.

Go to each product’s website and see if they have an affiliate page. If they do, sign up for the program.

Since you don’t have content for these yet, you will need to create some. Here’s what I suggest:

  1. Jot down how you use the product or service. Does it help streamline your work? Does it help you with SEO? Does it help you reach out to influential bloggers?
  2. Create a blog post tutorial that teaches your audience how to achieve the same results using that product or service.
  3. Link to the product or service and add your unique tracking ID.
  4. Promote that post to your audience, on social media, and any online hubs filled with people who might want those same results.

You’re teaching people useful free information and getting money in return.

3- Find Opportunities in the Product/Services You Want to Use

Want to use a certain product but can’t afford it? What if you could make your money back in a relatively short amount of time?

If the product has an affiliate program, this is a real possibility.

First, make a list of the products/services you want to use. Then go to their websites and see if they have an affiliate program.

If they do, buy the product and sign up. Then use it, create a case study/tutorial, and promote the post to your audience like you did before.

These posts can stay active for a long time, bringing you passive income for the life of each article.

4- Promote affiliate products in an email autoresponder

Email is a powerful marketing tool. It’s one of the few channels that people check every day and are willing to be sold to in.

An email autoresponder is an automated sequence of emails that gets sent to people when they subscribe to your email list.

Here are my two favorite services:

  1. GetResponse
  2. MailChimp

Both of them allow you to set up an autoresponder.

Just like promoting affiliate products on your blog, promoting these products in an email autoresponder can generate passive income for you.

You can either promote them directly in the emails or create blog post tutorials and promote those. Either way, there’s opportunity to cash in.

Here’s what I suggest with your autoresponder:

  • Start off your first few emails with useful content that doesn’t sell anything. This will help you establish trust with new subscribers.
  • Sprinkle in relationship building emails, like asking your subscribers if you can help them with anything. This will also build trust and reduce unsubscribes.
  • When promoting the product, focus on the results they can get and not on the product itself. If you’ve gotten results using it, make sure to explain those in detail. This will do the selling for you.

Idea #3: Host a job board

Job boards match job seekers with employers. They can offer full time gigs, part time, or contractual work.

For example, Problogger job board matches bloggers with companies looking to hire someone to create content for them.

If you’ve got authority in your space and you can match job seekers with employers, you can host a job board and make money each time an employer wants to post a job opening.

You can also charge job seekers for access to the board.

Problogger job board

Problogger job board

Note: This part (ways to monetize) is part of Michael Karp’s (WHSR blogger) article published in November 2015. It was edited and added to this article on Jan 18, 2016.

TL; DR

If I can only give you only three key takeaways, that would be:

  1. Yes you can make a living via blogging. Some top bloggers earn close to six figures a month regularly.
  2. The best ways to monetize your blog: Advertising, affiliate marketing, selling own products and services.
  3. Your blog content quality is crucial. But to start making money, your blog also need to be in a profitable niche and getting sufficient targeted traffic.

Take Action!

I have shared more than a dozen personal make money blogging tactics, tips, and ideas in this post. I would be very, very happy if this inspires some of you to take the next step and start monetizing your blog using the mentioned strategies.

Here’s one last reminder before I end this post: Results comes from action.

Many who came to me in the past had sufficient resources (skills, knowledge, time) to start a blog and make money. But they failed – because they also had more excuses to delay their plans and wait for the stars to align.

I can only show you the way and remove a few obstacles along the way. To succeed, you will need to walk the road yourself.

Share your experience with me

Do you have a plan after reading this? What’s your next course of action to start monetizing your blog? Please share with me in the comment section below. I am eager to hear about it and would like to help as much as I can.

Credit: Chart and texts on “What are the best ways to make money from your blog” and “Social followers correlate directly with Revenue” by Gael Breton.