Updated: Sep 28, 2022
Ever thought about blogging for a living? Over the course of the last 20 years, blogging has grown into a lucrative side hustle with sites like Reddit and Medium making it easier than ever for beginners to get started.
Of course, creating a successful blog remains challenging; especially for beginners.
But fear not. This guide is going to teach you everything you need to know in order to make money through blogging.
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A lot of bloggers start blogging as a hobby and eventually find ways to maximize their income from it. As their readership grows, their blog also increases in authority and influence, and they are either able to market their blog to advertisers or make money through affiliate marketing.
High-income blogs can earn as much as $50,000 monthly - and in some cases, they earn even more.
Both blogs were established in 2005, to be acquired by AOL down the road. What seems to be their secret?
Well, for starters, they began by creating great content targeted towards a specific niche, on a regular basis. TechCrunch focuses on tech news, startups, and venture capitalists while Ariana Huffington’s Huffpost stays true to its roots by writing about life and politics from a liberal point of view.
While great content is what got them readership and subscribers, both blogs earn money through ways we will be discussing further ahead in this article: affiliate programs, digital ads, ad banners, conferences, and public speaking, among others.
So, read on to find out how you can get started on your own blog’s monetization.
Ways to Make Money Blogging
If you’re only starting to monetize your content, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of an ad network. It’s challenging to sell ads directly to businesses on your own, especially when you’re just starting to work with advertisers. An ad network will assist you in efficiently filling your ad inventory and maximizing your CPMs.
What are CPMs?
‘CPM’ stands for ‘cost per mille,’ which translates to the amount that you earn per 1,000 visitors. There are different options for blogs of various sizes. Depending on your needs, ad networks can help you monetize your blog in a variety of ways such as traditional display ads, ad links, paid content recommendations, and more.
Here are some ad networks you can check out:
Google AdSense - The most popular option for display advertising; AdSense acts as an ad network by providing access to advertiser demand and helping bloggers set up their ad inventory.
Media.Net - A contextual ad product of Yahoo/Bing, Media.Net works by serving relevant ads based on your blog's content. This includes text and display ads.
Monumetric - Monumetric helps you monetize your blog by asking you to list down your ad inventory. It will then help you fill out the ad inventory with the highest offers available.
Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways to earn an income from blogging. A lot of successful bloggers earn a big chunk of their income from affiliate marketing programs. Simply put, as an affiliate of a company, you help them promote their products through your blog. They give you a link or discount code that you can use in your blog to track affiliate performance. Consequently, all purchases made through that link or code will allow you to earn a commission.
One of the most popular go-to’s for affiliate marketing is Amazon’s Affiliate Marketing Program, which allows you to become an Amazon Associate who uses affiliate links regularly in their content. You can choose from a wide range of products from a trusted site and earn referral fees for every checkout.
Other popular affiliate marketing programs are:
To learn more about affiliate marketing, be sure to check out "A Beginners Guide to Affiliate Marketing."
Post Engaging Content
Many bloggers fail at monetizing their content because their blog lacks focus. In the earlier days, bloggers were told to simply ‘do what they love.’ While this is true, and passion remains a key ingredient in successful blogging, it takes more than that to keep a blog up and running.
You’re going to have to streamline your content in such a way that your content is high-quality, evergreen (as much as possible), and optimized for SEO. Blogging goes beyond your copy or write-ups, too. You should also pay attention to your other digital assets such as images, videos, graphics, or audio, and make sure that they’re optimized for mobile and SEO as well.
Do not forget to research the right keywords for your niche and incorporate them in your blog posts, to make sure that you have a good chance of ranking on Google’s search engine. Higher rankings mean more pageviews and a better chance at getting the best deals for ads.
Google Also Prioritizes User Experience in Search Rankings
So, your blogs need to be well-written, free of grammatical errors, unique, and informative.
Create a Paid Membership Website
If you want to keep your website ad-free, you can always start by monetizing your blog through premium memberships for your readers. By creating a paid membership website with premium content, you can focus on improving your content and growing your community while earning a steady stream of income from subscriptions.
This will work great for you if you’ve already established a loyal readership, as well as a great offering of premium content, such as exclusive guides, coaching, recipes, videos, and the like. Of course, this will require extra time and effort as you will essentially be building a new set of content that will entice your followers to subscribe. However, the payoff will be worth it as long as you charge for your services and time accordingly.
This could also be a great way for you to maximize affiliate marketing and in-platform ads later on, once your paid membership site is up and running.
Here are some great ideas for premium content:
Instructional content such as webinars, videos, recipes, and the like.
Downloadables and printables like checklists, planners, workout guides, and meal plans.
One-on-one coaching or counseling sessions through video or email.
Make sure to generate enough buzz for your premium content by providing snippets and teasers that your readers can preview.
Launch an Online Course
Another great option is to launch an online course, especially if you have extensive experience in a certain field, whether it’s an academic institution or real-life practice.
Your readers are your captive audience, as they’re likely reading your blog to learn more about your field of expertise. By offering an online course, you’re allowing them to learn more and pick up new skills and knowledge.
You can capture their attention by offering a trial or offering valuable information for free as a teaser for your online course. Once they’re eager to find out more, you can promote ways to sign up or enroll in your online course.
Platforms like Teachable offer templates and other resources that make it easy to create engaging course materials and market your expertise.
Courses can take the form of reading modules or videos, or a combination of both. Remember to keep updating your course offerings according to current trends, new studies, or information, so its value keeps appreciating.
For examples on how to create effective instructional materials, check out Coursera, Udemy, and other similar platforms.
If you already have a loyal following and lots of page views, direct advertisements are a great option for you to monetize your blog or earn extra income on top of current monetization efforts.
You can do this by selling direct ads on your blog. Place an ‘Advertise With Us’ section on your blog and list down the different types of ads you offer, as well as the cost per month. It would be helpful to mention your blog’s analytics such as traffic statistics, Google PageRank, and Alexa Rank, which potential advertisers would want to know about.
You also have the option of using a third-party alternative to sell your ads, such as BuySellAds and BlogAds, which are ad marketplaces where you can place listings for buyers to look through. Third-party marketplaces will charge a commission, but they’re also a good option if you don’t want to deal with the nitty-gritty of selling ads yourself.
You can also write sponsored or paid reviews on your blog. It can be about a product or service that a partner company is willing to send you. Your success in this area will also be highly dependent on how well your blog is doing in terms of site traffic, as companies usually tap bloggers who have high page views and site traffic.
Writing sponsored reviews can be a great way for you to earn money, plus you’ll receive a lot of complementary products and services to try. The key, however, is staying as authentic as possible even if you’re writing sponsored content. Disclose the same to your readers, and give your honest opinion on the pros and cons of a product or service.
Make sure to be discerning while choosing which brands to represent, too. Do a background check to ascertain that the brands you choose to represent are legitimate and will not compromise your readers’ security or tarnish your blog’s reputation.
It’s best to choose products and services related to your niche, so there is no confusion about what you are promoting.
Run Campaigns for Brands
Similar to a consulting service, you can run campaigns for brands by blogging for them and aiding in their marketing efforts. You take care of the legwork and can charge a fair amount based on your time and effort for each campaign.
This works well for bloggers who are in the online marketing space, or in advertising, SEO, and similar industries because their expertise makes them a natural fit to run campaigns on the side. Furthermore, having real-world experience and tangible results will allow you and your blog to gain even more expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) in your field, which Google also values.
Blogs and websites that rank high in E-A-T are also prioritized in search rankings because they are the ones that will likely provide the most valuable information to readers.
Add Banner Ads to Your Website
Adding banner advertisements is a great and easy way to earn extra income through your blog. Banner ads may be old-school, but they still work. Also, they’re a no-brainer: you won’t have to rely on third-party networks and can get the profits directly in your bank account, as long as you can put up the banners yourself.
You’ll also be paid using the standard CPM model, which calculates based on impressions (not clicks). This can be more profitable for you in the long run.
But, you will need to take the initiative of reaching out to popular brands and reputable companies that you know your readers will trust and recognize. This way, you can demand higher prices depending on your site demographics and traffic.
Since you already have a blog, you’ll also probably have enough material and/or technical know-how to compile it into an ebook. You should of course expound on each topic and not merely translate your blog into ebook format. The goal is to provide your readers with more context, research, and valuable information to help them better understand the topic at hand.
E-books are profitable because they are not only authoritative but also more comprehensive than individual blog posts, and not to mention more portable. With an e-book, readers can have a handy guide inside their smartphone, tablet, or e-book reader, such as a Kindle.
If you don’t know what to write about, we suggest starting with what you know (your blog niche or focus) and what you find interesting. It could be a specific problem that your readers can relate to, a trend, or a controversial insight that you’d like to discuss in-depth.
Another suggestion is to use your blog posts as guides for each chapter of your ebook. Provided that you already have an organized content tree, you can just delve into each topic in more detail.
Another way successful bloggers add value to their readers is by conducting workshops and seminars. This would be great if you have an authority blog, and especially if you’re in an industry where you can impart large volumes of information or share your expertise with an audience.
You can host it online through Skype or Zoom, or in-person where you can conduct a live seminar or workshop. You also have the option of conducting all the sessions yourself or inviting guest speakers and lecturers who can speak on certain topics. Of course, if you invite other experts, you’ll have to cover their fees as well and factor that into the price of your workshop’s ticket.
It’s a lot of work, but also a great opportunity for your blog and community to grow, as well as earn a good amount of income.
To make sure you’re giving your readers what they want or need, you can casually conduct surveys or interviews asking them about their desired topics, common problems, and the like. Some creators simply use Instagram polls to gather this kind of information. The important thing is that you have enough insight to plan your workshop’s structure so that your modules and sessions are focused and not all over the place.
Once you’ve set that up, it’s important to promote your workshop to get as many sign-ups as possible. Here are some ways you can do it:
Promote it using your blog (homepage, dedicated posts) and social media
Cross-promote with other blogs through guest posts
Be a guest in someone’s podcast, preferably someone significant in your niche
Create a dedicated YouTube channel about the event to generate buzz
Use Facebook/Instagram Ads to gain even more reach
Host Speaking Events
Speaking events are not too far removed from conducting workshops and you can earn extra income by trying your hand at paid public speaking. Institutions like schools, universities, and companies are willing to pay an industry expert or motivational speaker to share their knowledge.
For example, digital marketing and media companies might look for industry experts in search engine optimization (SEO) to educate their employees on the subject matter and improve their business processes. Depending on your niche, you can approach a wide variety of institutions as potential clients for this type of side gig.
Public speaking can also widen your blog’s readership (don’t forget to promote it) and increase its authority. You can even start tapping institutions that you think might be interested in holding a small talk or session for their students or employees.
You can also offer other services such as coaching office teams or departments or offering consultancy services.
Provide Freelance Services
Another lucrative option for bloggers is freelance work. You can pick up blogging assignments from companies, brands, or individuals in need of blogging services. Depending on your niche, assignments may either be tied to your blog (Ex. they ask you to blog about their event or brand) or completely separate from it, such as having various blogging assignments.
The more traction and quality your blog portfolio boasts, the more you can expect to earn from your assignments.
Most of the time, you’ll be approached by brands in your niche to help promote their brand, product, or campaign. Of course, such opportunities are great for your own brand as well, since you will be able to network and promote your own blog as you interact with others.
Some typical freelance tasks for bloggers are:
Event coverage: Popular bloggers are often invited to attend events and paid to write about such from their unique point of view. Events range from product launches to brand or company anniversaries and promotional campaigns. Some brands pay in goods and services, and others pay in cash, so make sure to clarify compensation details before committing your time and effort to attend various events.
Paid reviews: Paid reviews allow you to try a product or service before it launches in the market, and help generate buzz for the brand. Remuneration is usually in the form of PR kits and/or monetary compensation. However, it’s up to you to charge a premium, especially if you are confident that your site traffic and demographics will be an asset to the brand.
Affiliate: We’ve already discussed affiliate marketing earlier, but as part of a freelancer’s tasks, affiliate codes will be more specific to the brand you’re endorsing or helping to promote. They will be the ones to dictate which products you are going to promote, instead of the usual practice of you choosing your own affiliate codes.
Some Tips to Boost Engagement on Your Blog
One surefire way to make money blogging is by constantly posting quality content that keeps your audience engaged. Your goal with your blog is to establish yourself as an industry expert. A trusted, authoritative voice that your readers can always count on.
Here are a few ways to make sure your blog posts are always compelling:
Make Your Content Relatable
Some of the most successful blogs continue being successful because their readers find a sense of community and friendship through the blog. If you have a tech or business blog and are worried that being relatable would mean diluting the tone of your blog, do not fret. Making your content ‘relatable’ doesn’t mean you have to write too casually or informally.
It simply means being able to convey your ideas, especially the complex ones in such a way that your readers can easily understand and appreciate them. People today have short attention spans and your content needs to hook them within that span. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about science, business, or technology: there’s always a way to make your content sound more engaging and relatable to your audience.
Take this SEO blog by SEO and marketing expert Neil Patel. Even though SEO is a complex topic with a lot of technical terms, his blogs are written in such a way that even non-technical folks or SEO beginners would easily understand. As a result, his blog is one of the most trusted resources in the field of SEO.
Another great example is NASA’s ‘SPACE.com’ blog, which happens to be about rocket science. Yet, their blog posts are written in a clear, engaging, and credible manner. You’ll be surprised to find posts on pop culture, such as this post about the sci-fi TV series ‘The Mandalorian.’
Embed Images and Videos
There’s not much to it, really. People are visual creatures and process images 60,000 times faster than text.
Also, did you know that posts with videos attract thrice the number of links compared to plain text posts?
Make your content more visually appealing by embedding images and videos. Most blogging platforms allow you to easily embed and resize media content within the blog post editor, so it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle.
Remember to optimize images and videos and make sure they are high-quality. If they aren’t originally yours, always give credit to the original owner by placing a link to their page on the bottom of the image or video.
You don’t need to hire a professional photographer or videographer for quality images and videos, especially if you’re just starting out. The key is in curating great visuals that go with your content. There are a lot of royalty-free stock photo sites such as Unsplash, Pixabay, and Flickr that will allow you to download stunning images and place a nice photo credit link on your blog page without needing to code. You can also embed YouTube videos directly on your page, as most CMSs (content management systems) like WordPress and Kentico allow you to simply copy and paste a video link or use a templated piece of code.
Never Underestimate Your Headlines
Always use compelling headlines. Some people don’t even read past blog post headlines while scrolling on their social media feed, so it’s important to speak the language of your target audience and write headlines that will catch their attention right away.
Don’t use clickbait, either, as most people find that annoying. Instead, come up with well-crafted, straightforward headlines that will pique your readers’ interest in an instant.
You also want to make sure your headlines are optimized for search engines, so another great practice is doing keyword research. You can use a free tool such as Ubersuggest to find keyword suggestions related to your topic, and find a way to naturally insert that into your blog title and even your subheadings. This way, you’ll rank higher on Google’s search results, too.
Don’t Focus on Selling
It may be counterintuitive to not think about selling when you want your blog post to actually drive sales. But put yourself in your audiences’ shoes. If you come across a blog that seems to only be interested in selling their brand, product, or affiliate links to you, wouldn’t that turn you off?
Stay away from what advertisers call ‘hard sell’ strategies, such as using phrases like ‘Buy Now’ liberally in your copy. Since blogging is much more subtle than older forms of advertising (radio, TV, newspapers) that had limited space and/or airtime to convince readers and viewers to try a product, you want to be as authentic and credible as possible.
This way, readers can focus on the value your blog has and how it enriches their lives. Whether it’s by entertaining them, informing them, or letting them know about great products you’ve tried yourself, authenticity goes a long way. It will be less tiring for you as well because you’re producing content that reflects your actual values, opinions, and personality rather than being a sales persona whose only focus is to sell.
Share Your Experiences
There’s a reason why ‘word of mouth remains an effective means of selling products. It’s because people trust the opinions of friends, family, and authority figures. In fact, research by Nielsen shows that a whopping 92% of consumers trust suggestions from people they know more than they trust advertising.
This goes to show that there is immense value in your own experiences. Especially if you’re an industry expert, you can definitely leverage your expertise by telling stories to your audience.
People react positively to authenticity. Plus, writing about your stories can also help you relate with your audience better. Writing personal anecdotes is a great way to humanize your blog or brand, as it reminds people that there’s an actual, and maybe even a likable, individual behind the words on the screen.
Blogging can be a fun, enriching, and lucrative way to pursue something that you’re already interested in. Once you’ve found your niche and established your community, make sure to at least check out one or two of the options we’ve outlined above, and see which one works best for you.
Not only will you have fun meeting new people, but you can also experiment with new ways of distributing content to your readers and even earn extra money to further grow your blog.
Like we discussed earlier, blogging isn’t as simple as cliché pieces of advice make it sound. Yes, you can do what you love. Yes, you can write about your passions but if you want your blog to also make money for you, it’s going to take more than just writing when you feel like it.
It’s only wise to find ways to monetize your blog. So many people dismiss monetizing blogging because they believe they ‘shouldn’t be in it for the money.’ This, by the way, is a proven recipe for burnout because you’ll be putting in a lot of effort with no reward in sight. It’s only right for a blogger to find ways to earn while perfecting their craft. After all, it’s a product of their time, knowledge, and expertise. It’s a job in and of itself.
Remember that blogging is hard work. If you want it to work for you, you’ll have to keep your readers informed and engaged. This requires dedicating time and resources to researching industry trends and attending events and workshops.
Hopefully, the tips and tools we’ve outlined above will help you find the means to effectively monetize your blog and enjoy the perks of being a successful blogger.