How to Make Money From Your Blog With 4 Effective Strategies

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By Ben Rudolph

Whether you’re writing out of boredom, expressing a passion, or sharing expertise in a particular domain, blogging can be a fulfilling and profit-making passion. There is no “correct” business model for blogging, and success often depends on where your blog is at in terms of readership and content output. Here are four ways that can help your blog to generate a profit.

1. Affiliate Links. Writing about tech products? Retail brands? Skin care routines? Affiliate link represent a great way to earn commission by writing about the products and brands you and your audience already care about. In fact, affiliate links, which can be placed within the body of a blog post, comprise a large portion of revenue generated by bloggers and content creators. For example, Pat Flynn, an expert in digital marketing, makes 85% of his revenue from affiliate marketing, compared to just 15% in books sales. 

Affiliate links are simply the digital equivalent of commissions and referrals. These links are pay-per-action; they require your blog audience to click the link and either sign-up and register, or make a purchase of a product. 

If you’re just getting started with a blog, and don’t have direct industry contacts that would like to advertise directly on your blog, you can apply to an affiliate program. Amazon Associates is one option that is great for beginners. It has millions of product options which cover a diverse range of blog topics and pay between 4%-15% of total sales in affiliate commissions. Other options include programs like Commission Junction and LinkShare.

2. Advertising Space. The easiest way to place a web banner on your site is to use Google AdSense. This requires you to copy and paste a snippet of HTML code on your website that will display ads that use Google’s ad platform. 

Estimating earnings from AdSense can be a difficult task, as earnings depend on the types of ads appearing on your page and the pricing of ads appearing on your pages. Obviously, all of these factors stem from your content. How many visitors are you getting a month? Revenue per thousand impressions (RPM) is the key ad “terminology”, and even one view to your blog could result in multiple impressions if you have several different ad boxes. Who your audience is also affects AdSense revenue - brands pay a premium for young, North American readers - as does your subject matter.  Topics like money, health, or fitness generally have more advertisers competing, driving up RPM. Through his Apple-focused blog, Daring Fireball, John Gruber commands over 4 million monthly readers, and reportedly made $500,000 in revenue in 2014.

AdSense isn’t your only option and you shouldn’t limit yourself to basic banner ads. Consider other more effective spots to place ads. Do you have space on your site’s newsletter pop-up, or in your blog’s newsletter? Think outside the (AdSense) box.

3. Sponsored Posts. Once you have built a significant following, you may receive requests from brands to partner through sponsored posts. Sponsored posts are a form of native advertising. Brands will seek out bloggers, even niche ones, that attract consumers they deem valuable and have them write blogs about the brand. 

Native advertising which looks similar to a post a blogger would normally publish is alluring to brands who are looking for opportunities to market their products and services without explicitly doing so. Native advertising doesn’t disrupt the user experience in the same way an ad banner does, and actually offers helpful information or other tricks of the trade that users can engage with and share in a meaningful way.

If you elect to use this business model, it is important to remain authentic and disclose to your readers the brands that are sponsoring the post they are reading. In fact, the FTC has renewed efforts to ensure that advertising is properly labeled and displayed. Don’t deceive your readers and make sure you’re leveraging your audience by giving them real articles rather than just glorified marketing for your partner brands.

4. Premium Content. In addition to your usual blog content, you might have worked on longer-form, premium content. This could be an ebook, white paper, or guidebook that small businesses or other creators would benefit from.

In addition to premium content, you could also elect to put some of your regular blog content behind a paywall. If you read news online, you are familiar with this concept; papers like the NYTimes or Globe and Mail offer a certain number of free articles a month, and require a subscription if you wish to read more. 

Bloggers can create a similar business model of paid-gated content by restricting the number of articles read and placing premium, long-form content behind paywalls. Various website plugins exist for this: companies like MemberPress or Paid Memberships Pro allow you to create and charge for various membership levels in 10 minutes or less.

Your choice of blog business model is really dependent on your readership numbers and content and whether you want your blog to be a side-gig or a full-time career. Ultimately, a combination of the previous approaches may be strike the best balance.


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