How To Make Money With Your Blog
You’ve heard it’s possible to make money blogging, but you can’t seem to figure out how it works. Creating a blog and writing posts is doable, you can work out that part well enough. But how do you turn that into income?
The first thing you should understand is that it’s competitive. There are a lot of blogs and making money blogging isn’t easy. And even before you get to the point of monetizing your blogging, just keeping up with producing regular content is hard – no matter how much you love what you’re writing about.
But if you’re still with us now that the warnings are out of the way, making money blogging is possible. You should expect it to take some time and a lot of work, but here’s how other people do it.
1. Be an affiliate marketer.
Affiliate marketing is when someone who produces popular content (often on a blog, but it can also be on YouTube or another social media platform) includes references and links in their content to products from relevant companies. When those links lead to purchases, the content creator gets a portion of the profits.
A few things have to fall into place for affiliate marketing to work:
- You have to have a following – if no one’s reading your stuff, then there’s no one to click on your affiliate links.
- Your readers have to trust you – if they think you’re just making recommendations for the money, they’re unlikely to follow the links and make a purchase.
- You have to find relevant companies with affiliate marketing programs – If you write about movies and try to shoehorn links for fitness products into your blog posts, you’re unlikely to find much success. The products you promote have to be a good fit for your audience.
Building a following isn’t easy. You’ll need to create great content consistently, promote your blog to people in your target audience to get on their radar, and engage with your audience enough to build trust. And even if you do all that, a certain amount of success falls to luck. But if you can get to that point, affiliate marketing can start to net you some extra income. Learn more about HostGator’s affiliate program here!
2. Run ads on your blog.
Another option you have is to make money the way major online media properties do: with ads. You’ve probably noticed a lot of the blogs you visit show ads show alongside the content.
Those ads make the blog owners money based on the number of impressions and/or clicks they get. You can pretty easily get started making money on your own blog by setting up an account with Google AdSense. Fill out their application, tell them the type of ads you’re interested in, and add the HTML code they provide to your website.
The amount you can make with ads depends on how many visitors you get and how many of them click on the ads. You shouldn’t expect the payoff to be big – you need a lot of traffic and clicks for it to add up to much and Google won’t cut you a check until your account reaches $100, which will take a while. A lot of bloggers don’t recommend using ads at all since they can distract people from your content and, if you use too many, they can make your website look less authoritative and clutter your design.
But, if you’re careful about how you incorporate them into the design and don’t set your expectations too high for the amount you expect them to make you, ads can be a good way to make a little extra cash from blogging.
3. Accept donations.
Another option you have once you’ve started to build up a following is to make it easy for your readers to provide donations. You can include a subtle (but noticeable) donation link at the top of your page and a virtual tip jar at the bottom of each post:
As with the other options we’ve mentioned, this isn’t a sure way to a solid income, but if your readers really appreciate your content, you may get a few extra bucks here and there this way.
You could also consider setting up a Patreon account that provides rewards or exclusive content to readers that commit to donating a set amount (even if just $1) each month. Many content creators have found success with Patreon and it brings the added benefit of providing you with an idea of how much you can expect to make on a monthly basis.
4. Create information products.
One way bloggers make money is by using the blog as a marketing tool to sell products. The type of product that often feels like the most natural extension of what you do as a blogger is information products like ebooks, courses, or tutorials.
If you have enough knowledge on the topic you write about and know learning more about it can be valuable enough to your audience to pay for that knowledge, then consider becoming an infopreneur. For this to work, you have to put the work in to create really strong information products that are worth charging for. Like any business, starting an infopreneur business takes a lot of time and work. But if you choose to go this route, your blog can become a valuable tool to attract people to the knowledge products you have to sell.
5. Become a freelance blogger.
Content marketing has become big business in recent years and lots of companies need a constant stream of fresh blog content. The downside to becoming a freelance blogger is that you can’t be too picky about what you write about – you probably can’t get businesses to pay you for blog posts about your passion for romance novels or video games. But the good news is that it’s one of the best ways on this list for blogging to actually make you a living, rather than just a few bucks here and there.
Working as a freelancer isn’t for everyone, but if you want to make a living as a blogger for hire, it may be a good fit for you. Start reading up on content marketing and get to work building a website and looking for your first clients.
Like the other options on this list, this isn’t an easy way to make money, but it’s one more likely to lead to bigger returns than depending on the pennies you generate from ads or the dollar here and there from donations.
If writing is your dream and you’re prepared to put in the work, you can make money blogging. But you’ll have an easier time building to the point where you’re earning an income if you have realistic expectations going in. Don’t expect a sustainable income overnight and know you may not be able to stick with subjects you’re most passionate about if you want to get paid. But with the right approach, blogging can pay off in real cash.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.