Blogging: it can feel like an elusive practice. One of the top questions I get from people is “Um… how do you make money with a blog?” And it’s a good question! Because many of us read blog posts for free, we wonder how the content creators get paid.
There are multiple streams of income that can be tapped into with advanced blogging But for this post, we’ll stick to basics: how to make money with a blog for beginners. In other words, we’ll cover the most fundamental ways to monetize a blog.
If you’re new to blogging or considering blogging, this is for you! It can help you decide what areas to lean in on and where to focus your time to get the greatest return.
Let’s jump in!
One of the most intuitive ways to make money blogging is through paid advertising. If you build a blog with high quality content, an engaged audience, and consistent posting, you can drive quite a bit of traffic to your site. Brands and advertisers will then pay to tap into that, in order to gain exposure and awareness of their products and services.
There are many possible forms of advertising, but here are a few of the most common.
One of the simplest ways to gain ad revenue is by placing ads on your website. This may be in the sidebar, within blog posts, in the header, footer, or in other places. In some cases, you may place them manually, and in others, you may work with an ad network like Google AdSense to have them placed more automatically.
Manual placement would be something like a company reaching out to you and agreeing to pay you a set amount for the ad to be placed in a certain spot for a specific length of time.
Automatic placement allows for more targeted advertising. With Google AdSense, for example, you can select where you’re willing to have ads on your site, and Google will then place ads accordingly, based on the user. That way, if someone has been searching for say, silver earrings from Stella & Dot online, they may display an ad for those products on your website. Targeted advertising ups the chances of the user clicking the ad, and therefore delivering more revenue to you.
Display ad placement can have different iterations and look different depending on numerous factors, but this offers some perspective into what it can look like.
While you may not see much in the way of advertising revenue as a new blogger, there’s a lot of potential with this revenue stream. Bloggers receiving high traffic (hundreds of thousands of page views per month) can earn several thousand dollars per month in passive income through ads.
Similar to display ads, sponsorships involve a company advertising on your site. But in this case, it’s through more of an endorsement. You may see food bloggers show a specific brand of butter, for example, in their recipe. In this case, the blog post may be sponsored by that butter brand. It’s a way for them to more organically promote their product in a way that is more integrated into the content.
Sponsorships are generally paid on a per-post or per-product basis, and involve more coordination and approval with the brand or company the blogger is working with.
But they can be a great way to begin building relationships with companies that can grow over time. They also give you the opportunity to build a portfolio of sponsored posts, and references you can draw on when it comes to working with new brands.
This revenue stream is another one you may have heard of. Affiliate marketing involves a blogger recommending a product or service and receiving a commission should someone purchase it.
The commission doesn’t impact the customer at all – they don’t pay any more for the product. But it’s a way for the brand or company to reward the influencer and incentivize them to promote the product.
Let’s take an online retail store, for example. If I were an affiliate of Gap and shared a link to Gap jeans, I could include a special affiliate link to them. If a reader clicks that link, they would be taken to the Gap jeans, and Gap would see that they came from my site. Should they buy the jeans, the price would be identical to what they would pay if they had found them on their own. But Gap would pay me a small commission (say, 1-5% the purchase price) for recommending them.
The great thing about affiliate marketing, is that it can be relatively passive once the content has been created. My blog post 10 of the Most Useful Etsy Gifts for Him is over a year old, and I’m not promoting it on an ongoing basis. But it still gets traffic to this day, particularly from Pinterest. Since I’m an affiliate of Etsy, I’m able to make a small commission on any Etsy products purchased once the customer checks out, having used my unique link to get to the Etsy site.
In some cases, you can make money on the entire purchase, regardless of whether the reader bought what you recommended. Let’s say, for example, that a reader is reading that gift guide for men and clicks the link for a custom-made men’s watch on Etsy. They decide not to buy the watch, but spend $100 on other products on Etsy, thanks to me directing them to the site. In some cases, I would make a commission on that $100 spend, even though they didn’t buy the specific product I mentioned.
If you were to look at advanced bloggers, many focus on larger-commission products. That way, if they convert one reader, they are making say, $50-60 per sale, vs. $2-5. Products like web hosting often offer high commissions, as do some courses and digital products.
Another great source of income for bloggers is selling products. These can be physical or digital, and generally pertain to the subject matter of the blog. If you’re a food blogger, you could sell a digital download of a cookbook. Mommy bloggers can sell household planning binders. The options are endless, and products are a fantastic way to deliver additional value while earning revenue.
In terms of actually selling your products, there are a ton of options. You can sell directly on your site (through something like WooCommerce, SendOwl, or Shopify) or a separate site (like Etsy, CafePress, Teachable, and others).
Looking to get started selling on Etsy? Sign up through my link to get your first 40 listings free!
Depending on your niche and skillset, you may want to consider selling services. These may include coaching, consulting, speaking, and freelancing, to name a few. Are you a blogger that blogs about growing a business? Maybe you’d like to consult other small business owners to help them scale their company. If you’re a personal development blogger, perhaps you can speak at local events and turn that into a revenue stream.
The key is to think about your unique skillset and niche to then decide what makes the most sense. My post How to Choose The Best Side Hustle for You is a good starting point.
I hope this post helped illuminate how to make money with a blog for beginners. As your blog grows, you may consider other streams of income, but these basics are worth considering now. And putting them in place now, means you’ll be able to continue to monetize them over time as traffic grows.
Are you just starting a blog? Which one of these income streams is most appealing to you? Leave a comment and let me know!