Bloggers put a lot of time, thought and energy into their work. While many do it simply because they’re passionate about what they write about, it’s not easy to find a blogger who is against the idea of making money off of what they do.
Monetizing one’s blog can be difficult, however, as there’s really no one-size-fits-all solution.
One thing that many bloggers overlook is how many monetization options are available, which are often overlooked. When that happens, they’re missing out on a world of opportunity.
I started my blogging career 20 years ago. It has been a great experience and the opportunities have grown over time. Ariana Huffington, Parez Hilton, Jeremy Shoemaker and Mike Airington are among other famous bloggers that became millionaires. I am even more impressed by the many people living in emerging markets built six or seven figure incomes blogging with shoestring budgets.
That doesn’t mean that blogging is a guaranteed path to riches, though. Many aspiring bloggers struggle to generate a sustainable income – or any income at all. If you want to become a successful blogger, you need to treat it like any other business. Here are some steps that every successful blogger needs to take.
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Getting Started and FAQ
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Blogging to Blog… or Blogging to Make Money?
So if I asked you today, are you blogging to blog, or blogging to make money, what would be your answer?
In most cases, many people would say they are blogging because they want to make money. However, most people would also likely say that they aren’t making money with their blog, even if they are writing 2-3 posts per day!
It’s all about the PASSION… I mean PROFITS!
How many times have you heard, follow your passion and the money will follow? I’m sure you’ve heard it a lot and it’s something everyone in the world of blogging likes to say… especially anyone who has already found success in blogging and making money!
Unfortunately this usually isn’t the case… probably more like 98% of the time.
One of the main reasons why passion is so important with blogging is because it takes a lot of time and effort and if you don’t care about what you are writing about, then you will quickly lose interest.
It’s much easier to make money with a financial blog and talk about boring topics such as increasing your credit score or how to get a new home loan — but no one really wants to write about that.
The money is in the Call to Action!
Instead bloggers need to look at their blogs as sales copy and a call to action, while also making it resourceful and informative for the people visiting your site.
People use the internet for three reasons, which one of these fits in with your blog?
- To be entertained
- To buy something
- To fing information
Many people fall into the top category of being entertained, and this is one of the hardest areas to monetize.
If you have a blog that helps someone find reviews before buying something, this is a great place to be in for making money.
The last category is all about information, and something that could do very well with Google Adsense and affiliate marketing if done right.
Is your blog worth your time and your visitors time?
If you are still struggling to make money with your blog and your content, then it might be a good idea for you to step back for a moment and look at the big picture. If you were a visitor to your site, would have find any value in reading it’s content, and is it actually providing any value?
Not making money with your blog is one of the biggest turn offs for long term success and you really need to have a plan of attack in place. Blogging takes a lot of time and resources, so the last thing you want is to keep digging yourself in a bigger hole for time and money and not sure where you and your blog might end up in a year from now.
How Do Bloggers Make Money?
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How Much Can Bloggers Earn?
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Ways To Make Money With Your Blog
1. Paid Ads
Internet advancement has provided a wide range of opportunities for people to make ‘easy’ money at the comfort of their homes. One of these options is PPC, commonly referred to as Pay Per Click advertisements that enable bloggers and publishers to earn money as visitors click on Ads available on their WebPages.
AdSense is one of the most popular pay per click programs that is being used currently.
The program is specifically designed for online advertisers and the website owners. The advertisers get a chance to promote and market their products while the website owners get to earn from the click of the adverts via their websites.
It is upon the website owners to do all they can to attract more visitors to their websites. There are still a lot of uncertainties on whether the program works. The publishers can join for free and make money. Is the scheme really free?
The Google AdSense is a scheme that is developed by Google with an aim of getting profits. The main aim of the scheme is to encourage the publishers to increase the chances of making a sale through clicks on their websites. The publisher applies to the Google Company and when they are approved they start earning.
The publisher can open a free blog which is also offered by Google to help create free blogs for all bloggers. It is upon the publisher to market their web by having quality articles to attract enough traffic. Where their clicks made on the adverts via your website or blog you start earning. It is a free way to earn money online.
However, this scheme does not really work for all the publishers. There are those who earn thousands of dollars on monthly basis from the Google AdSense program while there are those who make nothing out of it. As a precaution, it is not advisable to take the AdSense program as primary source of income. Make it an extra source of income not to waste your time, just like some publishers have done.
Even though this revenue sharing program has been praised as one of the easiest money earning tricks on the internet, the truth of the matter is that these earnings are not made on a silver platter. In fact, some bloggers and publishers have had to look for other money earning alternatives largely due to current changes that are making it pretty hard for people to earn money on the internet with Adsense.
Some of these reasons making it hard to earn money with Google AdSense include:
- Lack of good volume of free or organic traffic
- Fluctuations in CPC and CTR
- Ineffective Ad code optimization
- High payment threshold
- Poor content optimization
- The risk of invalid clicks
Even though Adsense has been with us for more than 8 years now and some webmasters have made huge chucks with it after its inception, people still hold many controversies surrounding Adsense. In fact, not so many people are convinced that it can really generate a lot of money as such to make it reasonable for one to quit his day job as claimed internet gurus.
However, the truth is that Google has reported Adsense as their main source of revenue since its introduction especially on search page results. This shows you that you still have good chances of making some cash with Google Adsense if you do it the best way.
Top AdSense Alternative to Monetize a Blog
Not aware of the best way to monetize the advertisement space on your website? The Google AdSense would be the choice but there is an AdSense alternative that one should take into consideration. It is so natural to make the most out of the money and time that one spends promoting their websites or blogs.
Directly Selling the Advertising Space
What is the need of sharing the profits earned from the advertisements on your website? It is possible to sell the advertisement spaces to the marketers and the advertisers. All that you need to do is inform of the available advertisement space. It will save up to 20% to 50% that is taken by the advertisement companies in terms of commissions.
Selling the advertisement space also enables the advertiser to sell the space based on time. The time could be a week, fortnight or month or even annual basis depending with the advert timing. One could make more instead of relying on the earning made depending on the clicks.
How to Sell Advertisements Spaces
One can start selling the space available for the advert by contacting companies they may think would be interested in the advert. One can also auction the available Ad space. The auctioning also offers the user with the option of understanding the real market value of the ad space.
It is important to understand that there is more involved in selling the web space privately rather than using the ad network or the agencies. The agents use the automated systems to tell the number of impressions that one might have made and how much is earned.
When one is selling the ad space they should not waste even a single chance. The unsold space could be sold off to the networking companies like AdBrite, Chikita, ValueClick and even AdSense. However, one should not make them the primary option for making revenue.
The website owner should start off by selling the spaces on their own and what remains given to the agents or the networking company. The amount of money earned from the adverts made privately will be more than that from agents as they charge relatively high commissions.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is one of the newer and more exciting ways to make money online while working at home.
Basically, you’ll partner up with a business to help them sell their products online. You create a website and add useful content, such as product reviews. But you also put affiliate links in your posts; that way, people reading your posts can use the links to buy the products you mention.
Every time someone makes a purchase using one of your affiliate links, you’ll get paid a commission on it. As you grow your site, add more links, and gain new readers, your profits can increase exponentially.
This is a win-win situation for both you and the brands you’re linking to. They make money because you’re helping them gain exposure to new customers. And, of course, you generate revenue with every sale made through your site.
However, you can’t just create a website, start linking to products, and call it affiliate marketing. You need to use the proper affiliate links to get commissions from the sales.
Is Affiliate Marketing Right for You?
There are many things that make affiliate marketing appealing to beginners.
First of all, it doesn’t require any money to get started. You’re not selling products that you carry, so you don’t need to stock up on inventory. The online marketing tactics you’ll use to gain customers don’t require any funds, just some time spent learning how to do them.
You can also choose any niche for your affiliate marketing site. You don’t want to have a general site that features all kinds of random products. Instead, you can choose an area that you’re interested in, such as cooking or fashion, and build your affiliate marketing site around that.
The people who succeed most with affiliate marketing tend to be motivated self-starters. There won’t be anyone watching over your shoulder to make sure you get the work done. But if you’re committed to the idea of making money as an affiliate, you shouldn’t find it too hard to invest the time needed to get off the ground.
3. Physical Products
Monetizing your blog with merchandise can take a little work, but it’s surprisingly easy when you really think about it. Get the basics under your belt, and you’ll be making money in no time.
So, what are the basics?
Create Merchandise-Ready Branding
Before you put even a stitch of thought into what type of merchandise you’re looking to sell, it’s important to brand your blog in a way that will be tailor-fit to merchandise.
What this means is that you need a logo and tagline that will fit just as well on your blog as it will on a t-shirt or other piece of merchandise. Most bloggers already have something along these lines, although that isn’t to say that it is well-suited for printing on merchandise.
Keeping things small and compact is key and if you’re hoping to have different types of merchandise, you’ve got to ensure that each of your designs is cohesive with one another. Colors need to be the same, as do shapes and sizes. If the logo or other branding elements you currently have for your blog aren’t suitable for print, it’s time to make some changes.
Avoid Taking the Easy Route
You can easily create some branded t-shirts and mugs to be sold as merchandise on your blog, and quite frankly, you should. This isn’t where it should end, though. It’s important to be as creative as possible when determining what type of merchandise you’re going to sell, and it should coincide with whatever your niche might be.
If you run a food blog, for example, how about branded tumblers or plates? Those who run a tech blog might want to consider selling branded USB thumb drives. The options are endless, and you can brand practically anything these days.
You could even consider taking a DIY approach and use paints or other materials to brand your merchandise. While it may not be the best model for blogs that sell large volumes of merchandise, it could be ideal for those who are just getting into monetizing.
Don’t Overlook Shipping Packaging
Most people can agree that it’s a great feeling when a package shows up at the front door. One way to make your blog’s merchandise stand out even more (and thus further your branding efforts) is to actually focus on the packaging you use for shipping.
Most packages look relatively similar to one another, but you can stand out by using custom printed corrugated boxes or similar shipping materials that allow you to get creative. Even if you like ordering in bulk, you’re not restricted to plain packaging. You can also order custom made boxes in bulk.
The shipping package you end up using should be consistent with your branding, perhaps featuring your blog’s logo and tagline. You could keep it simple, too, as minimalism goes a long way when it comes to packaging.
Either way, you’ll only be helping to push your brand (and blog) in a forward direction by really taking the time to make the shipped merchandise package look unique.
4. Digital Products
As your blog continues to grow and mature, you’ll likely start looking for other ways that you can expand this online business. After all, your blog is a legitimate business, even if it may have started out as a personal interest or hobby. When you’ve built up an audience and developed a sizable mailing list, it’s time to capitalize on that reach by building a product or service off your blog.
You might remember an earlier article in this series where we talked about writing an e-book to accompany your blog. There are two main ways that you can go about handling the e-book. You could use your branding power and reach, selling the e-book to your audience either directly or through an online marketplace like Clickbank. Alternatively, you can give away your e-book for free, in exchange for people signing up for your mailing list.
Either way, it can prove to be very fruitful to offer an e-book or some sort of digital product. In terms of an e-book, you may already have a wealth of valuable material on your blog. You are updating it on a regular basis, after all, and you are establishing yourself as an expert in your field. This content can be re-purposed as an e-book, which can help to further establish and legitimize your position in the growing “blogosphere.”
If your niche lends itself better to a digital product, that’s a great way to go too. If you’re a software developer, perhaps you could offer some sort of online tool. If you’re a designer, you can offer a WordPress theme. It really depends on what you’re good at, what you like to do, and what you think would be received the best by your readership.
Content and Subscriptions
In addition to premium content that you can offer as a “members only” area on your blog, you can also think about subscriptions in a slightly different way. Using the example above of an online tool or service, you can offer this on a subscription basis.
Say, for instance, that you have developed on online tool that will help camera enthusiasts find the most highly-rated camera based on a set of criteria and preferences. This tool can then be made available to subscribers for a monthly or annual fee. Let your imagination be your guide and ask yourself whether you would pay for such an online service. If you would, there’s a good chance that other people with similar interests might too.
Be creative. Be original. And above all else, offer real value to your readers that is worth their hand-earned money.
Having a blog is a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your field. If you are blogging a lot about real estate and you demonstrate knowledge in this area, people will come to respect your opinion on matters related to real estate. The same can be said about nearly every industry and nearly every niche. This “expert” status can prove to be very lucrative.
In this way, you can parlay your blog into a consulting business, allowing the two to work in tandem. If you are a realtor blogging about real estate, your blog can be a great source of referrals. This has also held true for designers, writers, artists, search engine optimization experts, and more. You can sell your services and use your blog as a means of reaching new clients.
If you happen to be a mobile developer, another great option is to sell (or give away) apps for smartphones like the iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry. These can be directly related to your blog or they can be tangentially related. If you blog about mobile games, why not develop and release your own game?
Choose your niche carefully
Building a blog is going to be a serious investment. You don’t want to spend time and resources creating one that won’t make you money or that you won’t be sustainable because you are likely to lose interest.
This is why choosing the right niche is so important. There are four things that you need to confirm before selecting a niche for your blog:
- There needs to be potential to make money off it.
- You need expertise in the niche or need to be able to learn it well enough to write authoritative content.
- The niche can’t be too competitive.
- It needs to be on a topic that you will enjoy enough to keep writing every day.
The biggest mistake that many bloggers make is focusing on insanely competitive niches. I can’t even count the number of Forex and weight loss blogs that were started by people with no actual experience in those fields. You also usually need a very large budget and solid knowledge base to even try to compete in these niches. Matthew Papaconstantinou, the founder of Weight Loss Triumph was able to be successful, because he had a PhD in medicinal chemistry and multiple awards from the American Heart Association. He also spent thousands of dollars a month on his SEO. The average blogger can’t even try to compete with that. This isn’t to say that there aren’t successful newbies in that niche, but it is an uphill battle.
If you have a smaller budget, it is best to focus on a niche that isn’t saturated with competition. You will have a much easier time ranking and generating an income stream, which will help you feel encouraged to keep blogging.
You might also want to consider focusing on a very specific niche. I created a blog on helping basketball players improve their jumpshot. Since the niche was very specific, I was able to make the site one of the best resources available.