There are some amazing blogger success stories out that about people who started a blog and made it rich. Pete Cashmore, founder of Mashable makes around $7.2 million a year and TechCrunch's Michael Arrington makes around $10 million a year.
Of course, for every millionaire blogger, there are millions of other bloggers not pulling in very much at all. While becoming an overnight Daddy Warbucks may not be in your future, you can certainly monetize your blog and start bringing in a bit of money. Over time, and with hard work, you just might hit those six figure monthly incomes that give the richest bloggers their net worth.
Once your blog is firmly in place, there are many different ways to monetize your blog. Planning ahead so you can develop and perhaps even one day sell your blog is smart business.
Your first step is to decide what your boundaries are.
- Do you want ads on your site?
- What type of ads will you accept?
- What type of ads will you ban from your site?
- What percentage of ads versus content do you want?
Be careful, because if site visitors and the search engines see your site as spammy, you will take a ranking hit.
Once you've set some guidelines for the types and number of ads you'll accept, there are many different ways you can start bringing in money as a new blogger.
Method #1: Sell Ads Directly
Until your site is bringing in a good amount of traffic, advertisers likely won't be interested in placing an ad on your site.
Take the time in the beginning to build your following and you'll have more success selling ads. Ads can go up on your site in a number of ways.
- Banner ad
- Text ad
- Article as ad
When placing an ad on your site is to make sure you feel comfortable with the content of that ad or the product the person is selling. Remember that you have a responsibility to your readers to give them the best information possible and that includes only linking to products you would be willing to use yourself.
Also, be upfront that you are placing an ad. If it is in the form of an article or review, add a disclaimer that this is a paid ad. Your readers will appreciate your honesty.
Method #2: Affiliate Sales
The beauty of affiliate sales is that you don't even have to create a product to offer on your blog. As an affiliate, you can make money by simply selling other people's products. However, if you offer low-quality products or things that your readers will become dissatisfied with, you run the risk of losing those readers forever and possibly damaging your reputation.
Tom Crawford, a long-time freelance blogger, has this to say about listing products on your site:
“Never promote a product unless you have personally used it and would be proud to have your name associated with it.”
This is excellent advice. Before you promote something, try it out. Make sure it is worth promoting. If you make this a rule before plugging a product, your readers will appreciate your integrity. You will also be able to offer an honest review that will encourage them to try that item.
Method #3: Sell Your Own Product
If you aren't comfortable selling other people's products, consider creating products of your own to offer. Whether it is a new software that helps business owners, a cooking utensil or a how-to guide, are many different items you can create and offer on your website.
The most common items are ebooks and instructional videos. These items are based exclusively on your knowledge of your niche area. They go a bit deeper than short blog posts or offer very specialized information. It is easy to get ebooks out via platforms like Amazon Kindle Publishing and SmashWords. You can learn more about self publish a book as a blogger here.
Method #4: Membership Site
Speaking of specialized information, some blog owners choose to create a separate, membership-based area where the best articles or videos are places. Those who are members can access this information. You can entice people to sign up for membership by offering a short excerpt to entice the reader to subscribe.
There are a couple of keys that will help make your membership area more successful:
- Keep membership fairly reasonable. Think $5/month instead of $5/day.
- Offer quality articles, videos, guest speakers and other events to your members. No one wants to pay for a membership to something that is never updated.
- Make payments recurring. Use PayPal or another recurring billing model so that membership payments and cancellations are automated. This is a huge time saver.
Method #5: Coaching
Individualized coaching can add another source of revenue to your blog. Let's say you are writing a small business blog. There are many people out there who want to start their own business. Offer coaching sessions that will get someone started on this process. Life coaches earn good money.
According to Forbes, about 20% of the 100,000 plus life coaches earn six figure incomes. Your blog can serve as a springboard to a successful coaching career. Coaching usually consists of a monthly package of 30 to 60 minute phone calls with about three or four calls each month. So, for four to eight hours of your time, you could earn around $200.00, depending upon the rate you plan to charge.
Method #6: Google AdSense
Although you might think we already discussed ads above, Google AdSense deserves its own mention because so many blogs are paying the bills from AdSense revenue. There are a few things you'll need to keep in mind with AdSense:
- Google is strict about their AdSense policies. AdSense makes up about 1/3rd of Google's revenue, so they aren't going to put up with you breaking their rules. You will likely lose your AdSense account if you try.
- No more than three ads per page. This is good for you anyway, because it will keep your site from being too ad heavy.
- You will need a lot of quality content to draw readers.
- You will need a lot of readers to make money and those readers will need to view and click on your ads.
Google keeps changing their algorithms and this can impact a site's traffic and in turn the AdSense revenue. Back in 2012, Google had a huge algorithm rollout with Panda. Some sites that were making thousands a month suddenly saw an almost complete drop in AdSense based revenue. Writers lost their income, were laid off and many lives were impacted negatively by these changes.
Google's goal was to stop rewarding content that was not quality. It could be argued that some site owners were caught in the crossfire who had quality sites, but once Google has spoken, that is that.
With this in mind, I wouldn't feel right mentioning AdSense without warning you that income from this source can change drastically overnight. It is best to have several different sources of revenue, or streams of income. That way, if one disappears, you are still making money from your blog.
Method #7: Product Reviews
Another way you can make money is by taking on paid product reviews.
With a paid review, the company sends you a product to try and sometimes pays you as well. You then give an honest review of the product and post it on your site. A few things you might want to keep in mind should you choose to accept product reviews:
- Decide upfront if you'll post negative reviews. How will you handle it if a company pays you to review their product and you hate it? Will you refund a portion of their money? Post a negative review? Have a policy in place ahead of time and it will be an easier decision to make.
- Be upfront with your readers. Tell them you were paid either in product or product and cash to review the product. It isn't fair to act like the item is something you went out and tried on your own if you are being paid to review it.
- Be upfront with the advertiser. Let them know that you will list it as a paid review and what will happen if you don't like their product.
Streams of Income
As mentioned above, developing multiple streams of income is one of the smartest things you can do as a blogger.
If one type of revenue dries up, you'll have other money trickling in. The ideas above will get you started, but be open to new online business ideas or additional ways to make money. A blog can also serve as a platform to launch a speaking career or consultation business.