There’s no recipe for monetizing your blog successfully. It depends on your content-type and audience. Some people start blogs for many different reasons. Below, I’ve provided resources that anyone can use, whether or not making money from their blog is a primary goal. Before we go through those resources, I want to discuss a little bit about truly monetizing your site. It is one of the most common points of conversation with my blog clients. I believe that if you want to monetize your site and give it a real go, you need to think outside of the box and understand that there is no recipe for success. The blog market is saturated, and the days of both sponsored content and writing about oneself might be numbered. It is up to you to define and figure out what is the best way to provide value to others.
In one of my Smarter Saturday emails, I wrote about finding one’s focus. There’s a lot of people saying don’t focus and do whatever you want to do. If you are just starting off and trying to figure it out, then that makes sense. However, if you want to seriously use your blog to create some sort of profitable side-hustle, you need to focus. Within your focus, you can develop and expand your areas of income, from that you will diversify. Potential users will be able to clearly identify what your provide. I refer to this as the product-services-resources model. For example, I design and develop websites and blogs.
+ Services: Custom graphic design and web design work (custom work)
+ Product: Premade blog themes (passive income)
+ Resources: Blog content, Free pdf guides and worksheets, resources tab (passive income through affiliate links as well as marketing)
You don’t have to start out with all three channels at once. Maybe your blog (resources) is the first thing, then figure out how you will add a product and services component to your website. I started with services, added products, and eventually am developing the resources. It just depends on where you are at and what you want to do. Through this approach you are diversifying your income sources, it allows for balance and prevents you from becoming too dependent on one avenue or another.
Below, I’ve outlined the different ways you can monetize the “resources” component of your online presence.
Advertisements + Invitation Only Networks: You can earn revenue by adding advertisements to your site. For most of my clients, this revenue is very small, maybe it takes care of their coffee habit for the month. There’s a few different ways you can approach advertisements – use free programs like Google Ad Sense – reach out individually to small businesses, or join invitation only networks. I have known a few people who had concerns about their content copyright by joining these networks, so make sure you review contracts and have a lawyer review the contract as well. Invitation only networks are great for also opening you up to sponsored content opportunities.
- Mode Media
- Federated Media
- Clever Girls (not invite only, you can apply)
- Collectively (you can apply)
- Popsugar Select
Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate Marketing programs are where you get paid based on commission or click. You might recommend a product, the reader clicks the link on your blog, and you either receive a percentage based on click or if they purchase the product. Most of my clients use a combination of affiliate marketing programs. There’s tons of affiliate marketing programs, some common ones include:
- Amazon Affiliates: If you can find it on Amazon, you can link to it. Available to anyone.
- Shopsense by Shopstyle: Free, more fashion and home-focused. Paid per click.
- Reward Style: Invite-only, paid on commission
- Share-a-Sale, Skimlinks, and Linkshare
Sponsored Content: As I mentioned above, sponsored content is where you collaborate with a brand for a blog post and/or series of social media posts. For most bloggers, this source is where a bulk of their monetization. You don’t have to be in a network to do sponsored content. Pitching yourself to brands is also a possibility.
Collecting Donations: Your blog or website might not focus on product promotion, or sponsored posts might not be your thing. You can still monetize your blog in a different way. If you believe your content is truly a must-read for visitors, you make consider asking them to directly make a donation through a platform such as Paypal. If your blog is more project-based, you might want to consider a KickStarter.
Products (Selling Guides + Resources): This year, I’m seeing a lot more requests to design and layout pdf guides and e-books as part of the blog design project. These resources are a great way to monetize your site, and they are a classic example of passive income. When you are writing guides or information, you want to be explicit and clear with your level of expertise.
For as many bloggers as I know, there are very few who are monetizing their blog to the point where it is a full-time and stable job. A blog can be a tool or subsequent revenue stream for you to diversify your income. Maybe you are thinking of exploring your hobby to make it profitable, a blog helps you build your network and reach, but thinking about how to expand it into a product-based or service-based components is really the key to becoming a solo-entrepreneur.