You may have heard the stories of bloggers who can work remotely from anywhere worldwide while earning six figures or more working part-time. The story goes, all you need is a computer, a passion for writing about a particular topic, and some basic writing skills.
But how can it make money blogging, especially in today’s noisy and overcrowded online space? The statistics are somewhat grim. According to a 2014 survey by ProBlogger, only 37% of bloggers make more than $100 a month from their blogs. A staggering 28% earn less than $10 per month, and 10% reported no income.
But what the stats don’t tell you is what these bloggers are doing to generate revenue and drive traffic to their sites. How much you can earn depends on several factors, including your willingness to work hard at first, how often you blog, the quality of your content, your ability to drive traffic to your site, and how you monetize that blog traffic.
One of the most critical factors in making a living from your blog is understanding that your blog itself is not your business idea. Readers will be drawn to your site by your theme and quality content, but that’s not where your revenue comes from.
Instead, your blog is a platform for any number of other sources of income that work by monetizing all of that incoming traffic.
If you want to make money from your blog, here’s what you need to know.
Lay the groundwork for monetization
Before you can even consider monetization, you first need to put in the effort to create a ton of quality content and generate ongoing and consistent traffic. You cannot earn income from your blog without a regular number of readers.
One way to generate a consistent readership is first to fill your blog with lots of quality content. Some blogging experts even recommend that you don’t start your blog until you have at least ten posts. There are four reasons for this:
- Establish credibility with search engines. The more content you have, the more trustworthy your site will look to search engines like Google. This is because scammers often create single-page websites and then abandon them. But if you are constantly blogging, it will look like a credible website. That will help you rank higher in search engines, which means more traffic will be directed to your site, increasing your monetization ability.
- Help with SEO (search engine optimization). The more content you have, the more likely you will appear in searches when readers search for the specific topics you blog about. That will help bring more traffic to your blog.
- Establish credibility with readers. Readers, like search engines, are more likely to trust your website if it has a lot of content. When they repeatedly come across the range they’re looking for on your blog; they’re more likely to return to your blog and trust your content when it comes up the next time they search.
- It makes your blog sticky. When you have a lot of posts, especially if you put relevant links within posts that lead to other posts on your site, your blog will be “sticky.” In other words, readers will linger for a while as they move from reading one position to another. The stickier your blog is, the higher your page overviews will be. That helps a lot with monetization strategies like advertising; Advertisers are interested in how many eyes are on their site when it comes to paying you for ads or offering brand sponsorships.
Most blogging experts state that you need at least 10,000 page views per month before you can start earning significant income from your blog.
Once you have reached 10,000 page views per month, you can start implementing monetization strategies. Remember that some methods may work well with only a modest amount of traffic. In contrast, others need massive traffic, potentially hundreds of thousands or even millions of page views per month, to monetize effectively.
Pro Tip: As your blog grows, you’ll need to ensure it can handle the increased traffic. Cloudways offers 100% managed-to-host plans with 24/7 support. That means you can spend more time creating and monetizing content.
How to make money with your blog
Only after you’ve mastered traffic generation and amassed a significant amount of content on your site should you move on to monetization. However, even if you’re not ready to monetize yet, it can be helpful to have a strategy in place from the start, as it will determine how you build your site and the type of content you create.
For example, since I blog on my author site, my monetization strategy is to sell books. Because I want my readers to see me as an author, I have no ads on my site, nor do I have any interest in monetizing that way. If you similarly use your blog to promote a business, and your blog is a part of your business’s marketing strategy, you probably don’t want to worry about ads. In essence, your blog is already an advertisement for your business.
On the other hand, if your blog is about sharing cooking tips or personal finance, and you want to make money from the blog, looking for advertising opportunities and sponsorships will be a better option.
Regardless, you may need to work on generating traffic for six months to a year before you have enough traffic to justify monetization. So keep in mind, first of all, that making money with a blog can take time.
Once you’ve established enough traffic to your site and a steady readership, here are 12 different ways to monetize your blog.
1. Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising
Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is one of the bloggers’ most common methods to generate revenue. That’s because it’s one of the easiest to implement. It involves signing up for an ad generation service like Google AdSense and posting a widget in various places on your site that will generate targeted ads for readers based on cookies.
Cookies are essentially data packets used to track and identify users. If you’ve ever wondered why, when you visit a website, an Amazon ad appears for precisely what you were looking at on Amazon, cookies are the reason.
When your blog readers click on the ads on your site, you get paid for the click, regardless of whether they buy anything. Your total income from PPC ads depends on how many unique clicks each ad generates.
Although it may be easy to implement, it isn’t easy to make a living from this type of monetization. Ad networks often pay pennies or less per click, depending on the ad and its niche. And when you consider that only a tiny fraction of blog visitors will click on an ad, it could take millions of visitors for this strategy to pay off. Using PPC advertising and other monetization strategies can help increase your income.
2. Direct advertising
Instead of signing up with an ad network, you can sell ad space on your site directly to advertisers. It’s not unlike how a magazine or newspaper sells ads. As your traffic grows and your brand gains more visibility, advertisers will be willing to pay you for exposure to their audience.
If you don’t want to target advertisers directly but still want to get the best price for your ad space, you can work with a publishing network like Mediavine. Once you hit 25,000 unique page views per month, you should ditch Google AdSense and post all your ads through Mediavine or a similar service.
Although the service will charge a commission, usually between 20% and 40% of your advertising revenue, your site will serve better quality ads, with higher paying advertisers and better clicks, which translates into more profit for your blog.
Sponsorships can help make a good amount of money for your website because they give advertisers even more direct exposure to their audience than ads, which many readers often ignore. If you’ve ever watched a TV show and heard the words “This episode is hosted by,” then you’ve seen sponsorship in action.
In the blogging world, a sponsor might ask you to develop a recipe using their cheese brand or discuss backpacking tips using their custom-designed backpack.
Done right; most sponsors will not try to control your opinion of their product. But if you decide to write sponsored posts, you should always ensure that you maintain your readers’ trust by being as transparent as possible.
Sponsored posts usually start with a disclaimer such as, “This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.” You will have difficulty finding sponsors if you lose your readers due to a lack of trust or credibility, so make sure you always put your readers first.
How to find sponsors
When finding sponsors, you may have to wait for them to come to you. The bigger your blog, the more advertisers will contact you. You can further help sponsors find you by including content on your site that mentions the brands you want to work with and by posting a blog post or page that explicitly says your interest in working with sponsors.
You can also proactively seek sponsorships by directly contacting brands you think could benefit from exposure on your blog. Or you can work with a service that finds you subsidies, like Paved.
Sometimes sponsors may offer you money to put a pre-written post on their site. Be careful with these offers; Google doesn’t like these kinds of posts, and they can make you lose the trust of some readers.
You’re better off writing your post that somehow uses or features the article and offers your honest opinion. It’s also best to limit sponsored content or only write about products you already use and believe in; It will help you hold onto the trust of your readers, which you have worked so hard to earn.
4. Affiliate sales
Another way to make money online from your blog is through affiliate sales. If you recommend a product, such as a book, course, or kitchen appliance, to your readers and they click your affiliate link and make a purchase, you’ll earn a commission on the sale.
Affiliate marketing can be done in various ways. You can write a post explicitly recommending the product. You can write a post that mentions the product and then link the text to that product. Or you can place display ads after posting. For example, if you write a recipe post, you can put some ads at the bottom that link to the required ingredients on a site where you can buy them, like Amazon.
Regardless of the method, you will use a specific link or ad created just for you and embedded with your affiliate code. That ensures you’ll receive credit for any purchases your readers may make. How this is done can vary from merchant to merchant, but almost every online store, course, or service has affiliate marketing programs. So if there’s a product you recommend or a service you love, it’s worth checking to see if that retailer has an affiliate program.
You can also work with an affiliate network, such as CJ Affiliate, ShareASale, or ClickBank. Affiliate networks make it easy for bloggers who want to promote products from multiple retailers or find relevant deals in one place.
As with any form of advertising, it is essential to maintain the reader’s trust when promoting any product or service. As a general rule, only promote products you use yourself, believe in and love, and truly feel your readers will benefit from and enjoy.
5. Sale of products
According to Statista, 1.79 billion people worldwide bought products online in 2018, which is expected to grow, reaching 2.14 billion online shoppers by 2021. You can take advantage of that market share by using your blog to drive customers. Leads to your site, using it as a platform to sell any number of products related to your niche that might be of value to your readers.
For example, if you’re an artist, you can sell prints of your artwork, greeting cards, print-on-demand t-shirts, mugs, or canvas bags with your art printed. If you blog about parenting topics, you can sell printable digital downloads, such as birthday party invitations or home organization folders.
You can sell products directly through your website, giving you more control over the sales process and customization of sales pages, and you won’t have to pay a commission to a third-party sales platform like Amazon. Or you can sell through established marketplaces like Etsy, which has the added benefit of bringing you additional sales and traffic from your already established audience.
If you’re successful, your blog could lead to product deals with major retailers. For example, the husband-and-wife team behind the DIY blog Young House Love created a line of housewares sold at Target. And the cookie artist and recipe developer behind Sweet Sugarbelle sells name-brand baking and decorating items through Michael’s.
6. Write and sell ebooks
One type of product that is very popular with online readers is ebooks. With almost $14 billion in sales in 2019, ebooks are the fastest-growing digital product. And thanks to the prevalence of digital readers and platforms like Amazon Kindle and Kindle Publishing, it’s easier than ever to create your eBook. All you need is great content and the desire to write and publish a book.
As a blogger, you should already have the passion and skills to write, although writing a book is not the same as writing a blog post. It takes a lot more time and effort, and the format differs. But as long as you have an idea relevant to your niche and of value to your readers, writing and selling eBooks could be a helpful monetization strategy.
After you write it, you can market your book to your blog readers by offering them discounts, giving away free copies, or even promising supplementary materials, such as budget worksheets for financial guidance, to readers who buy it.
In addition to increasing your income, an ebook can increase your visibility and credibility as an authority in your niche.
7. Create and sell online courses
If you desire to share your knowledge with others in a more interactive and hands-on way than through writing, consider creating an online course. With this strategy, you don’t necessarily need a massive audience. For example, for one of my blogs, I made an online course that generated several thousand dollars in revenue with its first launch, even though it had a modest email list of only 500 subscribers.
To best capitalize on your traffic, find out exactly what your visitors want and create a course tailored specifically to that desire. Then use the credibility you’ve established through your constant blog posting efforts to bring your experience to your readers in a new and potentially interactive way.
You can decide how interactive you include course “extras,” such as answering questions via email, setting up online chat forums, or creating a Facebook group where other course participants can chat with you and each other.
To set up an online course, check out platforms like Teachable, where you completely control your content, or Udemy, where you have less control over the forum but potentially more exposure to an existing audience.
8. Audio Downloads
The audio products industry, which includes podcasts, music tracks, audiobooks, recorded lectures, and sound effects, is a multi-billion dollar.
If you have audio content to share, whether it’s your music, individual audio lessons, interviews, audiobooks, or anything else, you can use your blog to build an audience for them.
9. Sell photography, graphics, or digital art
There is a huge demand for visual art for home decor or other blogs and websites. Some bloggers, like Kayla Butler of Ivory Mix, make a living selling stock photography to other bloggers. Bloggers need visuals, and Ivory Mix answers that need by providing stock images their clients can customize for their websites. Butler then uses his blog to explain how to use his pictures and maximize social media presence and other digital marketing strategies.
To use this strategy, you can sell images directly through your website, as Butler does, or through a platform like Etsy.
10. Sell memberships and subscriptions
Another option that can generate significant and constant income is memberships and subscriptions. Readers pay a consistent amount, like $9.99 per month, to access premium content, a community area, some service, a specific tool, or personalized training.
For example, Shannon Mattern of WP-BFF has several subscription services, including one for access to constantly updated video courses and another for a WordPress backup and security service. She uses her blog to offer valuable website-building tips and monetizes by offering subscription updates to premium content.
11. Sell services
You can capitalize on the expertise and credibility that blogging gives you by offering a relevant service to your readers, such as training, consulting, or design.
For example, if you blog about website design, you can submit your design services to other bloggers who need help setting up their websites. That’s a service Mattern offers at WP-BFF in addition to their membership subscriptions.
12. Become a freelance blogger
Although it may take some time to generate significant income from your blog, you can make money blogging right away by writing for other well-established websites.
You don’t have to give up your blog. You’ll want to keep your writing as a way to build your writing portfolio, as potential clients will want to see samples of your work before they hire you.
Many longtime professional freelance writers continue to write on their blogs to keep building credibility, experience, and their audience, even while earning six figures or more writing for others.
Top freelance bloggers like Elna Cain use this strategy; Your blogs are a way to sell your copywriting services. Other freelance writers like Holly Johnson have created courses to teach others how to make a living from freelance writing.
Many freelancers earn enough money to make freelance writing their full-time job. A 2015 survey by Contently found that 62.5% of freelancers write full-time with no other side work. Additionally, 19% of freelancers earned more than $50,000 in 2014, and 5% made six figures.
So if one of the reasons you’re pursuing a blogging career is to quit your day job, you can get there even faster by freelancing for other websites and brands.
To get started, consider posting your portfolio on a site like Contently, searching job boards like ProBlogger’s, or Googling your niche with the added term “write for us,” e.g., “parenting” + “write for us. ” Websites and brands looking for writers often post submission requests.
Final Words on Making Money Through Blogging
The right monetization strategy for your blog is probably not one thing but a combination of methods. Most blogs that earn enough income to allow their owners to blog full-time do so by generating multiple income streams. For example, you can write ebooks, teach courses, and offer counseling or public speaking services.
It may take time and trial and error to determine which strategy is right for you and your blog. Although it is possible to make money blogging, doing so is time-consuming and labor-intensive, especially in the beginning.
But if you’re willing to put in that time and work, blogging has the potential to earn you a decent side income or even enough to allow you to quit your day job and blog full-time. It can also open many doors, creating opportunities to meet like-minded people, work with your favorite brands, and develop products, ebooks, or courses. A blog can take you far as long as you are willing to work on it.
Do you have a blog that you want to monetize? What strategies do you think could work well for you and your brand?