Please note: This post introduces you on how to make money with your blog. Hopefully, you’ve started your blog, set up your wordpress site, and uploaded your first post prior to reading this article. For any specific questions about how to make money ask us at my free Facebook group.
In this post I’m going to explore the basics of making money with your blog. First, you need to remember that to make money on the web you need people visiting your website. Generally, the more visitors your website receives the more income you’ll rake in. There are four main ways to make money from your website.
- Affiliate Programs
- Sponsored Content
- Display Advertising
- Membership/Exclusive Content
These four methods should help you formulate a strategy that works for your particular target market. That’s what everything comes back to when you run your own business, your target market. I’m going to assume you’ve identified at least one target market that your blog is going to attract. As you read this post, I want you to be asking yourself which method above makes the most sense in terms of generating income. You should expect a lot of trial and error.
Let’s breakdown these methods one at a time.
Currently, the hottest revenue generator on the block is affiliate programs with Forrester Consulting estimating an annual growth rate of 10% through 2020. Affiliate programs pay you a percentage of revenue when someone purchases a product or service that originated from a link on your site. These links are called affiliate links. While it’s a form of advertising, I consider it different due to the nature of how these programs function when compared to traditional ad networks. Here’s an example, if you have a blog that reviews birdfeeders, you’d probably do a lot of linking to bird feeders on Amazon. The good news is that you can affiliate all those links so that Amazon pays you a small cut when someone purchases anything from them for 24 hours. Yup, anything and everything.
Amazon is just one of the affiliate programs out there, many larger retailers and service providers have affiliate programs. Most of these places use networks that act as marketplaces, versus a company running their very own affiliate program. Here are some examples.
- Amazon Associates – As I discussed above, Amazon is the most popular affiliate program in the digital space. I highly suggest that if you are reviewing or simply discussing products in your blog you give Amazon a try.
- Viglink – Viglink is an interesting service that acts as a middleman by automatically turning links on your website into affiliated links. This is great if you link to many different retailers, including Amazon, and are just starting out. Simply signup and add their WordPress plugin to your site to get things rolling. Viglink has extensive reporting that will show you exactly what websites are making money for you. With over 60,000 partnered merchants, I highly recommend using them when starting out.
- Cj Affiliate – Started back in 1998, CJ has is one of the oldest and largest affiliate marketplaces on the web. Their network is filled with retailers and services, but do require individual approval. So, if your website isn’t established you might not qualify for every offer. That’s why I usually suggest Viglink when you first launch.
- Clickbank – Another network similar to CJ, but these guys only offer lifestyle products. That means their network is filled with e-books, training courses, and stock images. There’s a plethora of products to peddle on your website, my advice is to make sure you personally review whatever you recommend. The last thing you want is to recommend something that is of poor quality.
- Affiliate Window – Another great network geared toward retailers. Awin, short for Affiliate Window, also handle Etsy’s affiliate program. I use Awin on Geekbaby when I post Etsy products. They have a cool Wordspress plugin that automatically affiliates are your Etsy links.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to affiliate networks and programs. Thousands of merchants operate affiliate programs to help market their goods. If you are looking for a specific retailer, such as Bath and Body Works, simply google their name along with the phrase affiliate program. You’ll have to do some research, but you’ll be able to figure out which network to join, so you can make some cash by linking to their products.
Finally, once your traffic increases and your conversions with a particular retailer continue to climb, you’ll probably be able to speak to the retailer directly. Another option that will sometimes happen is when the merchant reaches out to you. This is how blogs and publishers sign contracts and get special deals on affiliate deals.
Trust me, you’ve read and seen more sponsored content than you realize. Sponsored content happens when a company pays a blog, media website, or even a Youtube celebrity money to discuss their product or service. This can be as simple as showing the name of a popular brand of soda while it’s being consumed on your favorite Netflix series, all the way to an editorial in the New York Times.
A hypothetical example of a post being sponsored on your blog would be a list type post. For instance, let’s say you run a website that reviews blenders and recipes you can make with them. Proctor and Gamble, maker’s of the Proctor-Silex 10-Speed Blender, reach out to you or vice-versa and agree to pay you $300 for a post featuring their blender. Sometimes, companies will write their own sponsored content, but in most cases you’ll pitch them a piece and hope they agree to it. You both decide on a top 10 list titled, 10 Thirst Quenching Summer Drinks Straight From Your Blender. The post isn’t directly about the Proctor-Silex Blender, but you mention that particular blender throughout the post. Making sure to drop links and stating that the post is being sponsored by Proctor Gamble. That’s just one example and usually it’s up to the marketing department of the company on exactly how they want their product or service to be featured. Sponsored content might also be featured on an accompanying social media post as well.
My advice on landing sponsor content posts is to email the heck out of every company related to your blog. If you are reviewing their product or service, shoot them an email introducing yourself.
Keep it simple, “Hi Company, My name is XXXX and I just posted this review of your-product at my website about blahblah.(Don’t forget to link directly to the post) I hope you enjoy it and would love to keep in touch about your upcoming promotions and news. Feel free to link to my post in your own blog. Thanks again, your-name.”
Notice, I’m not trying to sell them anything. Your blog is too new for them to want to spend any money on, however it’s nice if you can get a contact over there for later. You just want to warm the lead. I’ve done this approach before at Nerdywithchildren.com with every single product we mentioned. Not only did we get some great backlinks from companies, but we also laid the foundation for some profitable relationships in the future. As your blog grows, you can send more cold emails concentrating getting companies to sponsor posts on your site.
Banners, text/image ads, and video ads make up display advertising. The best ad network out there is Google Adsense. Google Adsense places relevant ads on your site based on the content of page and the information they know about the visitor. You get paid a small amount for each click you receive on an ad. You have to place the ad code yourself, but there are a few great WordPress plugins that will automatically do it for you. Ads have been around forever, and the only one worth trying is Adsense. If you can’t make money on Adsense then it’s not worth your time.
I don’t recommend ads at all. For one, they are old school and no one likes them, which could cheapen the look of your blog. Second, in most cases you won’t make much money unless you have a ton of readers visiting your blog. Avoid them for now and revisit them when you get some readership. You should always test, but now is not the time.
One thing I do want to mention, you could always sell ads directly, in lieu of sponsored content. Some companies might just want a banner up on your site. However, never accept any offer from someone that simply wants a link with specific text in a post. These people up to no good and are trying to unethically manipulate Google searches. Just ignore any emails you receive in regards to that offer.
As your blog grows in terms of traffic, you might want to sell premium content to your readers. Online courses, private forums, or e-books are wonderful products that could evolve with your blog. For instance, my last position had me working for a company that sold an e-book geared to helping people fix their own credit. Sure, all the information already existed for free out on the web, but by curating all that knowledge into one place it became a time-saving product. I’d hold off on memberships for now, but I plan to do a future post that goes into more detail. First, you got to get people coming to your website.
In closing, I’d stick to affiliate marketing and building an audience of readers before trying other methods listed on this post. Don’t worry, I’ll be posting more on sponsored content and how to devise a sales funnel in the future. Currently, the most important thing you can do is grow your traffic. We’d love to hear any ideas on making money that’s working for you over at our Dollar Efforts Facebook Group.