Whether you’re blogging just for fun or you’re doing it seriously as a personal “business", there’s no doubt that it’s most exciting when earnings start flowing in.
It is a milestone. And it defines that you’re somehow already “made" as a blogger.
For new bloggers and for those who are just thinking of trying out blogging as a means to earn a living, the question is, “How exactly do I earn from my blog?"
There are many ways to make money from your blog, and there are also tons of options (e.g. different advertising companies) to do so.
This often makes it harder for a blogger who’s thinking of monetizing his/her blog to pick and establish a set of money making strategy that’s well suited to his/her blog.
Let me present to you the many ways you can earn a stream of income from your blog based on what I’ve learned from trying to do so.
HERE ARE THE FIVE EFFECTIVE WAYS TO MAKE MONEY FROM YOUR BLOG
1. ADVERTISING NETWORKS
The first thing that could come to your mind when thinking of making money from your website is from displaying ads.
Apart from earning from your blog, doesn’t it look cool when you see your favorite respectable brands displaying stunning visuals on a piece of ‘real estate’ on your blog?
Earning through advertising networks comes in many forms:
- CPM (Cost per Mille) – advertisers pay you a set amount for every 1,000 times (impressions) their ad is seen by a reader on your website.
- CPC (Cost per Click) – advertisers pay you for every time a visitor clicks on their ad.
- CPA (Cost per Action) – advertisers pay you for every time there is a conversion or action (could be a sale, newsletter sign-up, etc.) done by the website visitor through their ad on your website.
There’s no doubt that the most popular and most respected Ad network on this earth right now is Google Adsense.
It is basically the first ad network a blogger / site owner must sign-up with when considering this method.
Google Adsense uses contextual ad placement, meaning you just place the code provided by Google on your website, and the ads are automatically shown depending on where your reader is from, what keyword your visitor used to stumble upon your site, and also depending on the content of your blog.
Imagine having to place a single ad unit for every page of your website each time you have a new advertiser, and yet you still couldn’t show exactly what is relevant to your visitors because you have a diverse reader base from different countries who regularly browse your blog that talks about a completely different topic per page.
Too tedious, eh? Not to mention your ads will perform poorly because these are not well targeted (e.g. a fashion ad from your other article is also shown on your blog post where you talk about carpentry).
This is exactly what Google Adsense and other contextual advertising networks does for you. They make the process easier for you.
The thing is, you’ll have to apply and get approved by advertising networks before you can start to place ads on your site and earn from them.
And the other thing is, it isn’t exactly easy for your blog or website to get approved by Google Adsense (the biggest ad network in the world, as I’ve previously mentioned).
My suggestion is that you apply with Google Adsense early on when your blog is still relatively new, so everything looks clean and polished when they review your site.
And since Google Adsense is vague when it comes to rejection letters, it really is quite hard to pin point the exact reason for rejection when you apply later on when you already have hundreds of article to look at.
If all else fails and you still get rejected by the big guys at Google, don’t fret, because you can still apply with the next best thing (for me) that is Media.net, which has partnered with Yahoo! and Microsoft’s Bing. Update: Fast forward to September 2016, I’ve earned my first $100 serving their ads! I’ve written all about it in my honest review of Media.net.
The application process with advertising networks is really easy, and could take only up to a few minutes to fill out your details and place ad codes on your website.
Once you start serving ads on your website, you can easily monitor your blog’s performance and daily earnings from your advertising partner’s dashboard.
Your advertising networks earn from your transactions by being the middle man – they use their expertise to contact and negotiate with businesses who wish to advertise and provide the technical codes and requirements so you don’t have to. They, of course, earn a percentage of your transactions.
Now before you start thinking you’re gonna make good money overnight and wake up to a profitable income report the next day, you have to understand that advertising networks pays peanuts – to the point where it’s already too embarrassing to mention it as part of your income.
To give you an example, the most common CPM for a blog is around $.05 to $2 per thousand impression.
Unless you’re getting hundreds of thousands of views each month, you’re most likely to be stuck with a monthly income report of around $20 when you have around 10,000 views per month.
And 10,000 views per month is already something for most budding bloggers.
My point here is that earning through ad networks is already a confirmation that you’re on the right path of making a profit out of your blogging. But this should only be your stepping stone and should not be the sole permanent income method for your blog.
In fact, you should not completely rely on ad networks as a way to monetize your site.
Why? Let’s put it this way – relying on ad networks is like having them as your boss. Your lifeblood depends on them that your only goal will be to please them so they wouldn’t cut you out of your treasured partnership with these networks.
Yes, they can cut your income and ban your account with them just because they see you as an ‘undesirable’ publisher – they have it in their so-called ‘terms of service’.
If you want to earn a comfortable income, you have to also explore other income streams aside from partnering with ad networks. Try to explore other options as soon as possible.
2. Sell ad units on your site
This method differ from advertising networks in a way that you will be the one dealing directly with the advertisers. The middle man (ad network) is gone in this process, so it means you set your own price and you get 100% of your transactional income.
Unlike advertising networks where they have to approve your application and set the price for their ads, you’re the boss when you do your own selling. However, since you’re the boss, you’re gonna have to do all the dirty work.
You have to directly contact advertisers or allow them to contact you and negotiate with them on a partnership that will benefit both parties.
Of course, before you are able to sell ‘monthly’ ad units on your blog, you must have something to offer to the advertiser first.
Ask yourself, “What value can the advertiser get from my blog?", or “Do I have a reader base who will find this ad relevant and might lead to a conversion (usually sales)?"
If the answer is a positive, then you might want to consider this monetization strategy already.
To make it easier for you to seal the deal with prospect advertisers:
- Create a page dedicated to advertisers to let them know that you’re actively looking for advertisers (see image above on how you can plan to do so)
- Include in the page your Media kit, where you show your site statistics, including the number of monthly page views, where your readers come from, and what makes them come and visit your site in the first place. It is important for advertisers to know what matters most to your readers so they can find out if their ads suit well and perform well when placed on your site.
- Include the pricing per ad unit, of course, so potential advertisers do not waste time doing the guessing game.
Offer promotions and discounts. This actually works well especially if you offer specials that are too good for advertisers to miss, like free months if they buy ad space for a year, or free social media mentions included in the package.
3. SPONSORED POSTS / PAID REVIEWS
As long as it is related to your blogs topic or niche, publishing sponsored posts or paid product reviews not only make your blog more informative, you can also earn from it.
You can cold call /cold e-mail potential companies when you’re just starting out to see if they would be interested in you publishing a review of their product on your blog.
However, sponsored posts / paid review opportunities are more available when you gain the trust and attention of your readers, because of course, companies would only want to pay and be associated with respectable bloggers in their industry.
When considering this income method on you website:
- Keep articles of this nature to a minimum. If you publish articles of your own twice per week, try to publish sponsored posts as seldom as once a month or every two months. Although these paid posts are equally helpful and informative, readers came to your blog because of your unadulterated content and they want more of your ‘unpaid’ opinion.
This way your readers do not get distracted by the fact that you’re only publishing paid posts. It also creates a sense of scarcity for advertisers, making that sponsored post slot on your website a rare commodity.
- Please, please, be honest in your review. Remember that you are a blogger with pride and dignity. Do not ever let one biased review ruin your credibility.
When offering paid reviews on your blog, make it clear with the advertiser that you will be honest in your review and not only mention the positive aspects.
Readers will appreciate your honesty, which in turn will help them very much in their decision to buy the product or not.
Remember that honesty and credibility is your responsibility to your readers.
- Do not forget to mention that the article is a paid post. This way, readers do not get confused and can easily identify which one is which.
4. SELL SOMETHING ON YOUR WEBSITE
It’s even so much better when you have a readership and following that puts value and trust on what you have to say.
Depending on your niche or your perceived expertise on a certain topic (your blog’s niche), you can create something that would appeal to your audience and sell them online from your blog. You can:
- Sell your expertise through consulting and other services. If you are an expert in creating, designing, and skyrocketing new blogs, then you can offer services to new bloggers who need help in starting out. If you are a travel expert who can score high-value destinations for cheap, then you can sell this service to your followers as well.
- Sell e-Books. Write an all-out course on a topic that matters the most to your readers, or you can create a very helpful ‘How-to’ guide explaining step-by-step and in complete detail whatever it is that you’re teaching.
When writing an e-Book, make sure that you provide something of value to your customers and remember ask yourself, “What is it in this e-Book that cannot be found anywhere else?" and “What value does this bring to the paying customer?"
Creating online e-Books can be dreary and could take a lot of time from your usual schedule to create. But once your masterpiece is created, it is already a digital product in itself that you can sell repeatedly without having to reproduce.
- Sell your branding through your online ‘gift shop’. If you have a highly engaged fan base who would be proud to wear your brand and if you have a cool logo (coupled with a creative idea or pun) that looks great on shirts, accessories, bags, or mugs, then by all means sell your brand to your audience through an online store from your blog.
Of course do not just smack your logo on the product and sell it as it is. Your product must be visually appealing and also put some fun and clever in it. Also, your product must send a message that is true to the nature of your blog. Try not to create multiple designs that have nothing to do with your blog (unless you’re trying to become an online apparel company).
The barrier-to-entry that stops bloggers from selling their own product is the time and effort put into creating and marketing a product, especially if it’s a physical product where you also have to manage inventory, stock, and logistics aside from materializing your idea.
A great way to go around this is to outsource the production and operations of your products. Remember that you are a blogger and focus on writing and improving your website, not wasting your precious time manually doing the production and fulfillment of your products.
How do you pick a profitable niche for your blog? Find out on my blog post here.
5. SELL SOMEONE ELSE’S PRODUCT ON YOUR WEBSITE (AFFILIATE MARKETING)
If you don’t have a product of your own, you can sell someone else’s product in exchange for a commission. This way you can still earn from selling something through your blog, without the hassles of maintaining your own product inventory and painstakingly handle order fulfillment.
This is called affiliate marketing.
Through affiliate marketing, you earn a percentage of a sale simply because the customer made a purchase through a linked product mention or a banner ad on your website.
A type of blog that would typically generate earnings from affiliate marketing is something that does product reviews or a blog that mentions products that can be bought online, since these types of blogs gives unbiased (assuming we all do, and it should be the case) feedback on the product which readers value more than what the advertiser has to say.
The blogs that earn the most through affiliate networking are fashion and beauty blogs, mainly because these products can be easily bought online with less hassle, and a beauty blogger can easily recommend a product to her mass of following.
There are literally tons of affiliate marketing networks out there that you can easily sign up with as a publisher, and the tricky part here is to find the one network that will suit your needs as a blogger.
It’s not easy, and by my own experience you will really have to simultaneously sign up with multiple affiliate networks at a time (and repeat the process) until you find the best one that suit your blog well, in terms of earnings and the available products on that network that you can ‘proudly’ offer to your readers.
Here are some tips on affiliate marketing:
- If you have to offer other products to your readers, it has to be something you’re already a fan of and would not hesitate to buy and use even without the potential of earning from it. Readers value honestly from the blogs they read, among all else.
- If there’s already a product you think would be a perfect fit on your blog (say, a specific brand of travel gear for example), go directly to the company website or Google it to find out if you can sign up directly with them.
This saves you the hassle of having to sign-up with a third party network, when all you wanted was to offer a specific product to your readers.
- If you plan to offer a diverse set of products from different brands, you may also want to sign-up with a third party affiliate network.
This is because affiliate networks already have partnerships with brands, allowing you (as a publisher) to easily offer multiple products to your readers and manage your earnings in one single dashboard, instead of having to sign-up with different providers and simultaneously dealing with each.
Great examples of affiliate networks who have partnerships with respectable brands are CommissionJunction, TheAffiliateGateway, and Google-backed Viglink. I have signed-up with the first two before and now I am trying out Viglink.
THE POWER OF E-MAIL MARKETING
When starting out, bloggers may find it irresistible to focus on gaining social media likes and following.
It only makes sense – isn’t it awesome to see a social proof that your blog is already gaining traction, as proven by the number of likes you already have on your social media accounts?
I totally agree that social media is one of the best ways to reach visitors and followers, aside from receiving visitors from search engines.
But remember that at the end of the day, social media giants (ehem Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many others) still own your account. And they are businesses as well, just like your blog.
They can choose not to show your new posts about your new article or product offerings to your followers, simply because they are more inclined to show other companies’ paid or sponsored posts to your followers instead of your own posts.
It also means that you also have to pay these giants just to get your message across to your social media followers.
When starting your blog, yes, by all means, create social media accounts for your blog and attract followers as you normally would.
But don’t ever forget to invite your readers to sign-up to your newsletter as well, effectively allowing you to send them an e-mail (but NEVER spam your readers, or worse, sell their email addresses) that no social media giant could ever stop you from doing.
Collect e-mails early on and send your subscribers only relevant and valuable content.
There are lots of free tools and plugins out there that you can use to collect emails – even your free WordPress or Blogger accounts have the same tool. Currently, I use SumoMe’s free e-mail collection tool to grow my e-mail list for this blog (their useful app rocks and my e-mail list went crazy ever since I installed it).
As time goes and as your e-mail list and reader trust grows, that is when you can offer very helpful products to your subscribers. This is especially helpful if you choose to make money using methods 4 and 5 above (sell your own products or sell others’ products).
This, my friends, is called e-mail marketing.
TRIAL AND ERROR
There are a number of ways to make money from your blog, however it can be a daunting task to find out which of the earning methods will actually work for your blog or website.
Finding the perfect way to monetize your blog is like finding a needle in a haystack.
Although I am telling you through this article your options based on my experience, at the end of the day, every single blog has different needs and goals and one method may not be as effective for you while at the same time it might work perfectly for another.
It’s important to test different income streams because each will largely depend on your income expectations (some pay no more than the regular coffee fix each month), target market (offering products that matter most to you and your readers), visitor or reader preferences (some may despise ads, and some may actually be interested in your ad).
I’m quite positive that in the course of your ‘trial and error’ process, you’re likely to test different methods and ditch most (if not all) of them after a couple of months, mainly because it looks ugly on your site, it’s not true to the values of your blog, or simply because you’re not earning enough from it and would like to try another method out instead.
Every blogger has to go through this process in order to make money online, so just enjoy the journey.
It makes you a better blogger actually, because constant trial and error can help you identify the direction for your blog.
And at the end, when you can already earn enough to consider quitting your day job, all your trials and errors start to pay off, making it worthwhile.
So good luck, and I hope this guide inspires you to start your blog already and plan your blog’s monetization strategy early on.
Want to find out if blogging is for you? Find out on my blog post here
Are you all charged-up on starting your own blog which could be the next big thing? Feel free to comment, share your tips, or ask a question. Please feel free to share this with your friends, and also like me on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks!