I was talking to my dad the other day and he asks, “Does your blog make money?”
My short answer to him was “Yes,” but it’s really more complicated than that.
Honestly, my blog just sitting there doesn’t earn much in passive income.
What’s necessary to make money with my blog is promotion, on my part. Reaching out to brands and networking with like minded people. That’s when the real monetization opportunities start to happen, and no two are exactly the same.
So to answer the question of how to monetize your blog, I find it necessary to determine how a blog makes money directly, as well as indirect opportunities to profit off the platform you’ve built. Here are a few that have worked for me:
Ways to Monetize Your Blog
I recently had the good fortune to be hosted at an event by the awesome folks at Rakuten Marketing, an organization that specializes in connecting bloggers with brands.
The way it works is that you apply for several brands’ programs, and once accepted, use trackable links to drive traffic and sales to their websites.
There are a LOT of national brands working with them, with categories as general or detailed as the bloggers representing them. So whether you run a fashion, food, lifestyle, or product review blog, there’s a brand partner or 10 for you to connect with and to start making money off of your blog.
If you have further questions, I suggest reaching out directly to the Rakuten Marketing team – they’re very friendly and helpful!
A sponsored post is when a brand reaches out to you (or you reach out to a brand), and you form an agreement to promote an event, product, or service on your blog in exchange for free event entry, or the ability to use the product or service for free.
In many cases, the deal also involves some type of payment. This payment is usually based on the time you put into creating the post (unless they send you the wording they want and you agree to it), and an advertising fee that in some part correlates to the reach of your blog. Again, you must disclose if a brand is paying you to work with them – it’s the law!
Bloggers can determine blog reach/followers by adding up a couple numbers:
- Unique monthly visitors on Google Analytics
- Social followers (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
- Email newsletter subscribers
Product reviews are just another, more specific version of the sponsored post. In many cases, product reviews revolve around technology.
Product reviews may allow you use of a product or device you must eventually return, after post-completion. I do this with Verizon, which allows me to test out some pretty cool tech toys for a month at a time.
Product reviews may also include a paid element, depending on negotiations. Be open and honest when writing reviews – don’t only talk about positive features to please the client. At the end of the day, it’s not worth your audience to be inauthentic. More on that next.
Social Shout Outs
There are many different influencer networks. These networks will ask you to fill out an application and usually have strict requirements that may include tens of thousands of monthly views, specific blog layout, specific type of blog, and more.
A good one to get started on that caters to women is BlogHer. You don’t have to have a ridiculously large following to be eligible for their influencer programs.
Social shout outs are exactly what they sound like: a company asks you to give them a shout out on your social networks. I personally think that having a good social media presence and a successful blog have a huge link.
The brand you’re working with may ask you to create the message or give you a pre-made message to post. They may require that you post it on one network, or may just ask that it go on the network with the most targeted reach.
These gigs usually pay well for the amount of effort required. Just make sure that you aren’t promoting things you can’t personally get behind in the name of money. It will come across badly to the followers you worked so hard to build up.
Make sure to include the #ad hashtag at the end of each social shout out.
Google Adsense (and other ad networks)
Google Adsense is a piece of code you install on your page (it’s easy, I promise) that displays contextual ads that change depending on the demographic and behavioral information of the person visiting your page. The ads that are displayed aren’t boring banner ads that stay the same no matter who’s on your page. As such, they are one of the most effective ways to make ad money.
The problem with Adsense is that unless you get a ridiculous amount of traffic, you won’t make more than pennies. There are other programs worth looking into that may pay out better, but again… the key is great traffic.
Media dinners are typically for food or lifestyle bloggers. The idea is that a restaurant is looking for a social media and sales boost, so they invite influential people to dine out on their dime.
As such, they will be expecting the blogger to post about their experience on their popular social channels, with potential for a blog write-up.
Media dinners may range from a comped meal, to direct payment, to gift cards to use on a subsequent visit.
I see it like this – everybody eats. And if I can get an amazing meal for free, I’m saving money on my food costs, even if I don’t always make money when attending media dinners. They’re also great for networking with other influencers, which is invaluable.
One of my blog clients is wanting to eventually write a book, and thought that writing a blog would create the ideal targeted audience to go after. I think she’s got it exactly right! What better way to entice people to buy your writing than to win them over with your blog writing leading up to the book?
Scott, the creator of Content Academy, plans to write an eBook. EBooks can be used for a few different purposes, but the main ones are:
- To create a stream of revenue
- To offer potential customers/readers an incentive to give personal information like an email address
Used correctly, creating an eBook can be very profitable.
Depending on the subject of your blog, you may be offered (or will want to pursue) opportunities to speak at relevant events and conventions. Some of these opportunities will not pay, but may include free registration to an event you’d like to attend (not to mention bragging rights and a chance to call yourself an expert). Other opportunities will pay a fee that might include travel or lodging. Definitely a worthwhile opportunity to pursue!
The last thing that’s worked for me personally is finding clients by blogging. Whether it’s someone who wants me to help set their blog up, write for them, or reach out to influencers, blogging has taught me all three skills. Potential clients can see that and reach out. Don’t underestimate the power of personal branding, and don’t be afraid to brag about your accomplishments if it means impressing a potential future client!
You may also like: 13 Established Bloggers on what they would have done differently
In conclusion, this post outlined a few ways to monetize your blog.
Did I miss anything big that’s working for you? Let us know in the comments!