Just writing a blog post every day does not pay the bills. For some bloggers, the ultimate goal of their blog is to be able to make a living out of it. But in what ways can you actually make money with your blog? In this post, we’ll talk you through a few ways of monetizing your blog. We’ll give some practical tips and discuss the up- and downsides of these different strategies!
1. Selling your own products
Of course, you could make money with your blog by selling your own products. The moment you start selling your own products, your blog will also become a shop. Selling products doesn’t necessarily mean selling physical products. You could also sell digital products like eBooks or apps.
For lots of (larger) companies, the blog is a section on their website, mostly used as a marketing tool. A company blog could be a really powerful tool to get some indirect sales. If you blog regularly about relevant topics, you show your audience your expertise and involvement. Also for people who offer to consult, or give workshops, for instance, a blog can be the way to present yourself to the world. The exposure to your blog will, in the end, result in more sales for your company.
You can set up an area on your blog’s homepage dedicated to running advertisements. You’ll get paid based on the number of clicks on the banner, or on the number of times the ad is shown to your audience. Google Adsense has a relatively easy pay-per-click model you can set up in just a few steps. Google Adsense will then decide which ads will be shown on your webpage.
Advertising is simple to set up, but it won’t make you rich unless you have a lot of visitors. Also, ads can make your site much slower and potentially annoy your readers if you place too many. Above that, ad blocking has become more and more prevalent. A growing group of people uses software that will hide all advertisements. This trend is making advertising with Google Adsense somewhat more difficult. It’s hard to predict how ad blocking will develop from here.
Of course, if you’ve got a blog with a large audience, perhaps there are companies who want to put an ad on your website directly. You’ll have to reach out to them and communicate a bit more in that case. A major advantage of communicating directly with the companies that place ads on your website is that you’ll have complete control over the types of advertisements shown on your blog. That way you can make sure that the ads fit your blog and that you agree with the content of the ads. Advertising in such a way won’t make your site much slower and ad blockers won’t hide these advertisements from your audience.
In the early days of Yoast, we had a great experience using BuySellAds.com. They sell ad space on your site but you can approve each ad individually. Especially when there are advertisers in your space you’d rather not have on your site, this is a very good idea. These ads can also be paid by the time period they’re showing on your site, irrespective of the number of page views or clicks.
3. Promoted posts
If your blog has a large (and loyal) audience, companies may be interested in reaching your audience, telling them about their stuff. They could ask you to write about their products. And they could pay you to do so. Lots of bloggers receive products to review and use. Some bloggers are only paid by the free products or services they receive, but some companies also pay bloggers to write about their products. Writing posts in which you promote a product can be a nice way to make money with your blog.
Writing promoted posts also has a downside. Your objectivity as a blogger could become the object of speculation. It could be wise to make clear to your readers when you’re being paid for your opinion (in writing, or by making it clear in the design). It all depends on your blogging style and subjects.
When you’re selling promoted posts, receiving products for free or adding affiliate links to your site, make sure to disclose this to your readers. Not only is this the morally right thing to do; you’re also required to disclose this by law in many countries.
Another way to make money with your blog is via affiliate products. An affiliate product is a product that you recommend or write about in a blog post, or for which you place a banner or an ad on your website. If someone clicks on the link on your website, they will go to the webshop of the company which product you are promoting. If people actually buy that product, you will receive a percentage of the amount they are paying.
A lot of retailers offer an affiliate program. You will receive a trackable link that you include in one of your blog posts (or in an ad). You will get a commission if someone clicks on the link and buys a product via your blog. How much commission you’ll get varies greatly on the type of product. It could be only 1 or 2% for physical products, but for digital products, it could really be a lot more.
There are some affiliate networks you could join, large ones like CJ and Shareasale, but there are also company-specific networks, like Amazon’s affiliate network and the eBay affiliate network. What fits well really depends on your niche and what type of product you could sell to that niche.
Affiliate can be an excellent way to make money with your blog. As with a promoted post, the risk with affiliate could be that the objectivity of the author could become the object of speculation. In our view, you should make sure that the products you promote are products you really like. Products you would recommend to your friends and family as well. That way, you will make sure that you’re not promoting things to your beloved audience that do not fit you or your blog.
Make sure to add a rel=”nofollow” attribute to each affiliate link and to any and all links in promoted posts, so they don’t count for Google and other search engines. You need to do this to make sure you’re not getting penalized as Google might deem you to be selling links.
In my view, there are four major ways to make money with your blog:
- By selling space on your blog for advertisements;
- By writing promoted posts;
- By affiliating (promoting products or services on your blog and getting paid if someone buys that product or service via a link on your blog);
- By selling your own products or by increasing indirect sales with your (company) blog.
The way you choose to make money largely depends on your own preferences and on the audience your website attracts.