how to make money blogging

This article is part of HostGator’s Web Pros Series. In this series, we feature articles from our team of experts here at HostGator. Our Product Managers, Linux Administrators, Marketers, and Tech Support engineers share their best tips for getting the most out of your website. 

You’ve got a blog or a great idea for a blog. You’ve also got bills to pay. Can you use your blog to generate some income? 

It’s possible—with smart planning, hard work and some know-how about the best ways to monetize your blog. Here’s what it takes to build a blog that works for you.

Build your blog’s audience 

Blogging is really about connecting with your readers and building a relationship with them. That’s the first step, because to monetize your blog you need readers and a decent amount of traffic. 

Posting great content will help you generate traffic because content creation helps with SEO. But building a blog audience also takes time, hard work and patience. Once you have enough traffic and loyal readers to make the transition to moneymaking worthwhile, you need to decide what approaches are best for your blog.

Decide how to monetize your blog

There are as many ways to make money from your blog as there are things your audience is willing to pay for. In general, bloggers’ strategies for making money fall into three main categories.

Offer a service to your audience

Got skills and experience your audience wants? Serve it up! You can become an “infopreneur” by selling tutorials, eBooks, online courses, one-on-one and group coaching services, consulting and more. 

Run display ads

Another way to make money from your blog is to run display ads. The upside is that it’s easy. 

  • You join an ad network, like Google AdSense.
  • You decide where you want the ads to display on your site and pick the banner size you want to use.
  • The ad network displays the ads.
  • You earn for every visitor that clicks on the ads on your site. 

The downside is that you don’t get to choose the ads the network serves to your site. Networks strive to keep their ad content viewer-friendly and relevant, but there’s always a small chance you could get an ad that doesn’t align with your blog’s audience

Do affiliate marketing

We’ve saved the biggest option for monetizing your blog for last. Affiliate marketing is earning a commission in exchange for sending referrals to a company. 

Unlike display ads, you get to select products and companies you like, believe in and stand behind. The trade-off is you’ll need to do some work to get your affiliate marketing revenue stream flowing.

6 steps to affiliate marketing on your blog

Let’s walk through the process of setting your blog up to make money with affiliate links.

1. Optimize your site 

Blogger (and HostGator affiliate) Chris Naish at Start Blogging Online helps other bloggers set up and grow their blogs. He says the right structure and tools can help you get better results from your affiliate partnerships. 

“If there is one thing I would recommend that’s usually missed, it’s adding relevancy and a structure to your site that not only helps ranking, but also funnels people to the products and services that they need,” Chris says. 

hub & spoke technique for bloggers

He explains what he means in this beast of a post for new bloggers. It includes a section on planning your blog structure for better keyword rankings, so you get more traffic. Chris also shows you how to set up the ideal structure in WordPress. 

In particular, he recommends installing the Ultimate Posts Widget in your blog sidebar and setting it up so visitors only see related posts from the same category as the post they’re on.

2. Pick your partners

You can reach out directly to businesses you like to see if they have affiliate programs and sign up directly with them. You can also join one or more affiliate networks to get affiliate links to more than one company from the same source. Commission Junction, ShareASale and Impact are three of the biggest networks that you may want to join. 

HostGator also has an affiliate program, and you can apply to join through our HostGator Affiliates page. Our affiliate program is a good fit for people who blog about blogging and for bloggers on virtually any topic with an audience that’s looking for support services to start their own blog. 

earn money with the hostgator affiliate program

3. Pick a plugin to manage your affiliate links

Even if you just have a couple of affiliates, managing links manually will take some time. Rev up your affiliate marketing and you’ll need something to automate the process. 

WordPress plugins like Pretty Links and ThirstyAffiliates Affiliate Link Manager make it easy to shorten, add, track and secure all your affiliate links.

prettylinks affiliate link manager for wordpress blogs

4. Create affiliate-friendly content

A good way to send sales to a company through your blog is by creating content about their products, like product reviews. Maybe they’re written posts, or maybe you’re creating YouTube videos. Whatever format you use, try to make your content evergreen—something with information that will last a long time, so you’re not constantly having to update it.

In these posts, you provide (and disclose!) affiliate links that route people to the company’s website for the product you are reviewing. Whenever a click-through using the link ends with a purchase, it tracks back to your blog and you earn a commission on that sale.

5. Set realistic expectations for growing affiliate revenue

How quickly will you start earning money from your affiliate links? It depends on how many readers you have and how well your content works. 

The more readers you have, the more people are seeing your content. The more your content resonates with your readers, the more likely it is they’ll look into purchasing the product that you’re reviewing. Getting readers to your blog depends on the work you do on SEO, too, which is why the blog structure that Chris Naish recommends is so helpful. 

Maintain your SEO efforts, deliver helpful content, connect with your readers and recommend merchants you support and over time, your work can pay off. You may be able to build a thriving side hustle, or even develop your affiliate marketing into a full-time job. We have successful side hustlers and full-time bloggers in HostGator’s affiliate program.

6. Learn more about HostGator’s affiliate program

Joining HostGator’s affiliate program is completely free and it’s easy. Once you’re approved, you can start earning up to $125 per referral right off the bat. HostGator offers a ton of different banner options you can use on your site with exclusive affiliate links. We also offer custom promo codes that your readers can use for special discounts on our products—and you get a commission on those, too.

Ready to get started? Sign up to be a HostGator affiliate.

kimberle branson

Kimberle Branson is the manager of the HostGator Affiliate Team. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, Paul, and dog, Presley. In her free time, you can find her learning a new craft (wood carving is the favorite so far!) or trying out a new recipe.