• Scott Herring

10 Ways You Can Make Money Blogging

Perhaps the main reason you're here is to figure out how to monetize your writing. There are so many knobs & dials on that dashboard that, well, we made a blog about it. There's no one silver bullet. You have to write good material, break a few rules, be different, build an audience, make it accessible, and be engaging. It's a molotov cocktail of writing and socializing and technology. But assuming you have done the basics, and you're building a decent following, you probably want to get paid for your work. So build your tribe, and then check out these 10 ways that you can make money blogging.

Affiliate Marketing

Being an affiliate means you get a piece of transactions you initiate. If you're blogging about camping gear (or books, software, or beauty products, or...), you can get commissions from another website that sells camping gear (or any number of e-commerce items). You'll sign up with some website (e.g., Amazon) as an affiliate, completing forms and getting the tools you need, such as links to the products you blog about. When someone clicks *your* link, you get credit for it. Get more traffic, drive more clicks, make more commissions. If you want to find a way to become and affiliate, search for your industry with "affiliate marketing" and you'll probably find an option or three.

Display and/or Sell Ads

You can sell ads on your website, either using your own mechanism or a Google/Microsoft/other embedded ad service. Before AdSense, many websites sold 'real estate' like banners to advertise. You can still do that, or you can put a widget on your website where someone else sells the ads (e.g., Google) and your site gets credit for links you generate. For example, if your blog is about accounting, you may provide a way for Intuit or Sage Accounting to showcase their software when a search lands on your site. Or if you're writing about hunting equipment, it could display ads from sporting goods stores or outdoor brands.

Sponsored Blog Posts

Like selling ads, you could sell 'real estate' on your blog in the form of posts. A sponsored blog post is a post for which you are paid to publish. The advertiser or you write it (you can charge for writing). FTC regulations require indicating that it's a sponsored blog post, usually at the end of the post with a byline: “Post sponsored by (ACME ANVIL CO.).” This method is typical for popular blogs with many articles published (and bigger audiences). It's "pay for play".

Paid Reviews (Influencer)

The influencer marketing world blew up over the past decade. Build a big, targeted audience and you can get paid to write about products. From cosmetics to kitchen gadgets to sneakers, there are influencer blogs around the world covering them. The most famous influencers are the Kardashians, but you don't have to marry a Laker to be an influencer. You just need to have a niche-ish blog and accept payments.

Paid Listings

As with sponsored posts, you can offer a pay-for-play directory of listings. Presumably, a vendor gets some value from being visible on your website. For example, a site like Capterra (capterra.com/) offers free listings in a review directory, but you can also upgrade to include a variety of tools that enhance and feature your listing (this site is prominent in software reviews, so appearing at the top of the list has serious advantages). Think of listings as tiered, with bronze (free), silver (upgraded), and gold (ultra premium). Charge accordingly...

Paid Membership Website

If your content is truly unique and high quality, you may want to "gate" your content. Perhaps you use your public blog as a lure, and then offer memberships for exclusive articles, videos, or other media. Ideally, memberships automatically renew, deliver high value (to ensure retention), and grow over time.

Sell Digital Products

Similar to paid memberships, you may sell one-off digital products, like e-books, webinars, or digital courses. Purchasers should get something of high value that they can't get many other ways. I've paid for marketing courses, SEO tutorials, and pitch training -- all from world leading instructors, and all worth the investment.

Sell Physical Products

Michael presents a prime example of earning money by offering physical products (on smartclassroommanagement.com). The blog, which I've been reading for years, offers tremendous value every week, for free. But while reading the latest blog post, you may notice a few analog (and digital) books for sale on the site. Like the blog, Michael's books offer great value (I've read many of them too, even though I'm not in the target audience). You could sell items like branded (yours!) t-shirts, your own manufactured goods, or products you resell.

Sell Services

You could also sell services, such as coaching. If you're an expert, your audience gets a return on reading your materials, and they want even more of you, you can sell your time. Note, this route doesn't scale well and offers some technical challenges. For example, you probably have a full plate with your regular work and writing your blog. Do you have a few hours left over to help others? And if you do, do you have a good way to collect the money, deliver (e.g., via Zoom/Skype/Hangouts) the service, and support the customer (e.g., they are late, cannot connect)? It's not easy. Michael has a few horror stories on that subject, and I've worked with others who echoed his complaints. If you can overcome the hurdles, it may be a way to develop some digital products, or even enhance them (e.g. office hours).

Accept Donations

I've built blogging sites that accepted donations, especially helpful with non-profit organizations. I've also seen sites where the author delivers valuable content and simply holds out the tip jar -- "If you like my work, would you consider buying me a cup of coffee?". It's a simple addition, with zero risk. The downside, perhaps, is that it seems like you're busking, but that depends entirely on your audience.

Finding Ways to Make Money with Your Blog

If you look around, you may find other ways to make money with blogging. The ten listed here are pretty common, and many are well-documented and well-supported by tools. If you're using WordPress, you can find all kinds of plugins to deliver online revenue, from membership platforms to online stores to integrated webinars. Before you try to monetize, though, you have to be delivering good value to a reasonably-sized audience. If no one is on your site, you won't be able to convert customers. A smart strategy would be to build your blog, grow your audience, engage with them, ask them if they would consider paying for your content, and then starting small. Add and experiment over time. We've seen so many bloggers do that over the years. The next one could be you making money with your blog...


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