It takes a lot of time and hard work to develop a blog and gain a readership. For most bloggers, this dedication needs to be justified by providing a stable income.
I first started using blogging platforms myself in 2006. My first proper blog was a travel blog that I updated frequently for friends when I was travelling Asia and Australasia. I also developed some small content websites using blogging platforms in that same year.
It was not until 2007 that I launched my first commercial blog. I knew that I could make money with the blog, but if I am completely honest with all of you, I never really looked too far into the future and considered how I would actually make the blog profitable. Thankfully, I was able to learn through experience and make the blog profitable over the first year.
Today I would like to share my experience of developing profitable blogs over the last seven years and show you the most common ways to monetize a blog.
If you stopped anyone in the street and asked them how a blog makes money, I would hazard a guess that the majority of people would give the response “Banner Ads”. This would actually be a fairly accurate answer; though it does not tell the whole story as banners are displayed for a variety of reasons.
A blogger may be promoting their own products through banners. Alternatively, they may be promoting the product or service of an advertiser. Many blogs sell text links too, though this has become less common due to Google’s policy on selling links.
Advertising space can be sold directly to advertisers. Blog owners normally charge advertisers a fixed fee or charge per thousand impressions of the ad (cost per impressions are frequently referred to as CPM). For example, an advertisement with a CPM rate of $3 would cost $300 for one hundred thousand impressions.
I am a big fan of selling advertisements directly as it brings in a stable income every month. Be aware that if you sell through an advertising marketplace such as BuySellAds, the service will keep a percentage of your income. BuySellAds, for example, take a commission of 25%. This is sometimes a small price to pay for the sales they generate, though I would still recommend trying to sell your ads yourself before using a marketplace.
An alternative to selling advertisements directly is to display advertisements from an ad network. Google Adsense is by far the most popular option for bloggers, however there are many alternatives such as Chitika, Kontera, and BurstMedia.
Advertising networks normally pay on a per-click basis or a CPM basis. Due to this, income generated from advertising networks will vary month to month. For most bloggers, I would recommend using advertising networks to fill any advertising inventory you cannot sell directly to advertisers; however the key is obviously to test all avenues.
A large number of online shops and services offer an affiliate program to website owners that pay commissions to those that generate sales for them. The affiliate program usually pays a set fee or a percentage of the overall sales price. Percentages occasionally vary between products. For example, Amazon Associates pays up to 8.5% for Kindle books and 5% for music and movies.
Do not underestimate the potential of integrating affiliate links into your content through tools like affiliate plugins, if you have a WordPress blog. There are many Amazon affiliate plugins that can help make the integration process simple on your WordPress site. For one of my old blogs, affiliate income represented around 75% of my total income due to the number of reviews and tutorials I had written.
Be sure to place a small disclaimer on your blog advising readers that you may use affiliate links from time to time. You will find that the vast majority of readers are happy about this as they know it supports your blog.
Over time, bloggers gain a high level of trust and loyalty from their readers. This makes blogs the perfect platform for launching products. A blog with targeted traffic can make a huge amount of money by selling products directly to readers.
Popular products include books, membership websites, courses, software, t-shirts, and accessories. As long as the product you market is closely related to your blog’s topic, it will sell. To get an idea of what you could sell to your readers, take a look at similar blogs within your niche and see what they are selling.
Blogs are also a great platform for marketing services. I have generated thousands of dollars through my blog for additional freelancing and consultation work. There are a lot of people within internet marketing who are also making great money through speaking gigs and one-on-one coaching.
Your blog is a place for you to market yourself and promote the experience you have. There are a lot of people out there who are willing to pay you for your knowledge and time. I, therefore, recommend offering services to readers to supplement your income and raise your profile as an authority.
Job Board / Classifieds / Marketplace
Once you have an established level of traffic, you will find more and more doors opening for you. One way to take advantage of your traffic is to launch a dedicated job board, classifieds, or marketplace.
They are easy to set up by using a directory plugin and can allow people to advertise, list, and sell items. Once the marketplace has become successful, you can charge users for posting ads.
Sponsored Reviews & Paid Posts
Advertisers are always looking for ways to promote the products and services they sell. A popular way for them to increase sales is to pay for a review on a suitable blog.
A sponsored review refers to a review that you have written about a product or service for a fee. A paid post refers to an article that an advertiser has written and wants you to publish on your blog for a fee.
In my experience, it is always better to do sponsored reviews to ensure the quality of content remains high. Paid posts tend to be nothing more than poorly written advertisements. Though on the plus side, paid posts are an easier way to make money as you simply copy the article onto your website and click publish.
As your blog gains more traffic, you may be approached by advertisers about sponsored reviews and paid posts more frequently. I encourage you to test them out with your audience; however, be sure to place a disclaimer with every paid post that the post is an advertisement (or readers will wrongly assume you wrote the article).
Ebooks and membership websites are not the only way to profit from good content. You can also charge readers to access your best articles.
I have seen a wide range of blogs selling premium content in this way. For example, within the affiliate marketing world, Finch Sells is known for charging for his best content. It is very common within the fitness world too.
Email marketing is the ultimate marketing tool for bloggers. It allows you to instantly deliver your message directly to the inbox of readers. This makes it a more powerful marketing tool than Facebook or Twitter.
I encourage you all to start building your email list now. Do not wait until your blog is established. You should be collecting emails from day one. This will allow you to market all the products, services and monetization methods we have discussed in his post so far.
Email marketing is what separates hobby bloggers from professional bloggers. If you can build a list of a few thousand email subscribers, you are half way to owning a profitable blog.
Sell Your Blog
Lastly, I would like to talk about the possibility of selling your blog. If your circumstances change and you need more time or more money (or both), you could make good money by selling your blog.
There are many factors that are considered when a potential buyer prices your blog. I have over $200,000 in sales on Flippa and around $150,000 of those sales came from blogs. In my experience, the biggest influence on the final selling price is income.
If your blog is making money, you will have buyers fighting against each other in order to win the auction for your blog. Conversely, if your blog does not make much money, there is a good chance that you will be the one spending all your time asking people to bid. It is therefore always better to sell your blog once it has become profitable.
I hope you have enjoyed this article on monetizing your blog. I tried to touch upon the main ways that bloggers monetize their blogs, however there are many other methods. When it comes to making money from your blog, you are only limited by your imagination.
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