This is my second post in a new series about “Blogging for Business,” which is basically where I’m going to give you alllll my secrets for turning your blog into a business and/or using your blog to support a business. Today let’s talk about how bloggers make money and how you can put these practices into place on your blog!
When I first started blogging, I was like, “OK! Let’s do this! I am totally going to make money with a blog.”
Then I went…”Ummmm…ok. So I actually have no idea what I’m doing? Or how to make money with a blog? And I think I should have ads but I don’t even know how people get ads on their site, so…”.
And that’s kind of how it went for longer than I care to admit. I never expected it to be a “get rich quick” kind of deal, and I certainly never expected to make a real living doing this (which at this point, I AM doing – yay!). But I knew I wanted to make at least something.
I wanted to know how bloggers make money, and I wanted to know how to tap into that. But I didn’t know where to start.
A couple weeks ago, I started a new series for bloggers or small business owners who want to blog for business. This can mean your blog IS your business, or this can mean your blog feeds into your business (for me, my blog is both of those things). You can read my first post, which shares a few actionable ways you can increase your traffic, here.
Today I want to have a frank discussion about a few typical ways bloggers monetize their sites (myself included). This will get you started if you think you want to make money blogging, but don’t actually know how to do this.
And of course, my disclaimer for every blogging post: For most people, blogging is a long-term deal – you’re not going to jump in and get rich overnight, although apparently some people do. Unfortunately, I am not one of them! I encourage you to stick to your course and plan on putting in some time before you see big results. But YAY if you get rich overnight! 🙂
How Bloggers Make Money
1. Ads. Most of us work with ad networks, like Adsense or The Blogger Network or Media.net. Sometimes, you can work with more than one network (I currently have ads with more than one). One of these networks brings the ads to my site. I tell them where I want the ads and set the guidelines for the types of ads (no pup-ups, for example), and they do the work. I also manage a few ads on my own through a second network. Some tech-savvy bloggers manage all of their own ads.
Different ad networks and types of ads will pay more than others. For example, pop-ups or ads over a picture will generally bring in more revenue than standard sidebar ads.
I also occasionally work directly with a brand to place a specific ad on my site.
It’s really, really hard to say how much you can make with ads because there are SO many variables – pageviews, types of ads, etc.
2. Sponsored posts. Sponsored posts are paid advertisements that bloggers create for a brand. These are in the form of a story and showcase how someone uses a product or service, or might tell about an event. These days, it’s not enough to just write about a product – you’ve got to be creative, and most bloggers will use these opportunities to create great content for their blogs by turning a product into a recipe or craft post, or perhaps teaching something helpful to their audience through the post.
You can read all about how to find blogging jobs here. Although I do have brands reach out to me directly, I probably do most work through blogger networks like the ones I share in that post.
Like ads, there are lots of things that factor into a blogger’s rate or how much a brand is willing to pay. I would say that most typical jobs (requiring a blog post and social media syndication) pay between $150-500, although I have certainly felt those numbers creeping up lately.
3. Affiliate programs. Some bloggers do really, really well with affiliate programs. There are tons of affiliate programs out there. The one I use the most is Amazon, which allows me to link to any product on Amazon and receive commission if someone clicks through my link and makes any purchase on Amazon within 24 hours (they do not have to buy the item you linked to).
Amazon says that you can expect 100 clicks for every sale, and that has proven to be accurate(ish) for me. So you need a lot of traffic and lots of well-placed links to really make this work, but it’s worth it to me to try to add a link to every relevant post. The commission is very small…about 4-5%, which means that when someone buys a $10 book through my site I make $.40. But it adds up.
There are lots of other places that have affiliate programs though, and if you have really targeted content, you can make a lot of money when you find the programs to promote. (You might check out Shareasale.com – they have tons of brands you can partner with).
For example, in these blogging and business posts, I’ll be linking to sites I recommend and to products I actually use and love – some of those programs have affiliate programs that the people reading these posts would benefit from. This kind of targeted affiliate marketing is the way to go!
A real life example of this: In my posts about how to find blogging jobs, I share a referral link to a blogger network I do work with occasionally. Every time a blogger signs up and is accepted into the network through that link, I get $5. That’s not a lot, but the people reading that post are looking to sign up with blogger networks – and the post went viral. I’ve made hundreds of dollars from that link.
And another real life example (in which I use an affiliate link I hope you will click >>>): you should totally check out this ebook full of posting ideas if you want to start a blog.
4. Original products or services. I sell planners and planning products. My shop’s number one source of traffic is my own blog!
But it doesn’t have to be a physical product. You can sell digital products, like ebooks or online courses (and these are way easier to deal with than physical products, TRUST).
You can also use a blog and social media to direct traffic and customers to a service-based business (hairstylist? start a beauty blog! involved in direct sales? use your blog to create relevant content and direct people to your sales page!).
5. Social media. More and more bloggers (and non bloggers) are finding that they are just rocking a platform in the social media world, and brands will pay big bucks to work with them. If you’re an Instagram superstar or a YouTuber with a gazillion subscribers, you don’t need a blog to make money. You can advertise across these platforms instead of, or in addition to, your blog.
These are just a few of the ways bloggers make money. The tip of the iceberg, so to speak. But I think these are good places to start, especially if you’re new to this.