Is it still possible to make money blogging? Clients and friends looking for another way to earn an income often ask me this... so it's time for an article about it.
The only way to literally make money by writing blog posts, is by copywriting - writing articles for somebody else’s blog, and getting paid for this.
Is starting a blog to make money a bad idea then? Not necessarily… but you’ll have to think about how you’d want to monetise it.
Very few bloggers make a lot of money. Stories like “how to make a million dollars from a blog” are real outliers; if you ask me, most of them make their money by telling others how to make money blogging. Most bloggers don’t make a lot of money; if they do it right, they’ll earn a small part time income - which is fine, if you don't want to work on your blog full time anyway.
Can you make money from a blog, and make it a full time job? Absolutely - if you follow the rules, know what you’re doing, and are not afraid to invest some time and money into it. Training, know-how and marketing are just necessary in order to start making money with your blog from the start.
There are several ways to make money off a blog, and in this article we’ll just list the most important ones. We’re talking about possible income streams here - the things you actually need to do in order for your blog to make (more) money, are a topic for another post, another time.
How to make money blogging
Before you start your blog, think of how you’d like to monetise it. And with every blog post, plan how you’re going to make money with it.
1. Affiliate marketing
One way many (most?) bloggers make money from their blogs, is by including affiliate links in their blog posts, newsletter and social media posts.
When you become an affiliate for a certain company, product, service, course, event or other, you get certain special “affiliate links” from that company to post in your network. When somebody clicks on the link, different things can happen:
- In some cases, you get a small amount of money every time somebody clicks on the link
- In most cases, you get a percentage every time somebody who clicked the link ended up buying something.
There are usually certain rules and restrictions involved in sharing affiliate links. Many companies won’t accept you as an affiliate unless you’re a customer yourself; most also want you to openly disclose that the links you are posting are affiliate links, and that you have something to gain from people clicking it.
If you have a cooking blog for instance, you can link to the different ingredients in your recipe. If you’re an affiliate with the online shop you’re referring to and if your followers end up buying their ingredients from that shop, you will get a piece of the cake.
Although I’m sure some bloggers will share affiliate links for products they wouldn’t use themselves, affiliate marketing works best if you’re sharing products, services and others that you use, trust and / or believe in fully. Don’t forget people will buy things of you (or click your links) if they know you, like you and trust you; posting random links is not a good way to gain and retain that trust!
One company many (many!) bloggers are affiliated with, is Amazon (and yes, this is an affiliate link!). Amazon is a company most people worldwide know, like and trust; most our your readers will appreciate you helping them out by linking to a product they need if it’s available on Amazon.
The downside of affiliate marketing is that if you don’t have much traffic to your website, or if you post links to products that your audience isn’t looking for right now, you won’t be making much money. So make sure you know what your audience wants (and post those links!), and build and grow your audience as much as possible.
The upside of using affiliate links in your blog posts, is that they’re great passive income: once you’ve set up the links, they stay there; that way, it’s possible to make money with a blog post you’ve written years ago.
2. Selling products, services or courses
A very popular way of making money with a blog is by selling products, services, courses and more. You can make a bit of affiliate income by selling other people’s products or services, but it’s even better if you have something of your own.
If you can use your blog to grow an audience, build their trust and establish yourself as an expert, then you should have no problem marketing your products or services to your loyal readers or followers.
If you already have a business, products to sell or services to offer to your clients, then you’re all set. All you need to do, is write regular blog posts that will tell your audience more about what you’re selling, how to use your products, how your services can really help them,… Make sure to include clear call to actions and links to your product or landing pages, so people know where to click if they want to buy something from you.
If you have no products of your own to sell yet, it’s time to start thinking about it. Who is your audience, and what do they need right now? Can you provide that to them? What is your area of expertise, and can you write an e-book or set up workshops or a course around it?
3. Sponsored posts
A great way to make money from your blog is by writing sponsored posts for other companies. This means a company will pay you for writing about their product - or often just to namedrop / link to their product in a blog post of yours.
This is not only for big bloggers; if you have a good and professional looking website and capable of writing an engaging blog post, most companies would be happy working with you. They can use your article to promote their products, even if your website doesn’t have much traffic yet.
Going back to our cooking blog example above, you may get the opportunity to get paid by the producer of an ingredient you use often - or get new kitchen appliances in exchange for a review. If you’re a travel blogger, you might get free food and accommodation by writing a review. If you’re in fashion, you could get free products in exchange for posting about them.
One big question with sponsored posts, is whether you want to get paid in products, or in real money. Many bloggers are afraid to ask to get paid - and most companies of course find it cheaper not actually spending money on marketing. However, don’t forget that you need to make money off your blog; don’t be afraid to ask for the amount you think your blog post is worth.
Don’t wait for companies to come to you and ask you to promote their product; if you’re using something you love and would feel comfortable writing about and promoting, get in touch with the manufacturer or seller!
Another way to write sponsored posts, is by contacting influencer networks. These are websites or companies that help connect bloggers to brands that fit their audience, in order for the blogger to create sponsored posts and get paid for them.
You can find a lot more information about writing sponsored posts and using influencer networks in Victoria Pruett’s awesome e-book, “Make Money Blogging - At Any Level”. The book also provides templates in case you’d like to contact companies directly.
Advertisements are the number one way you can make money off your blog.
Getting set up with an ad network can be a bit of a hassle; once that’s done, the ad network of your choice will provide ads for your website. You can get paid depending on the number of impressions or depending on the number of people who clicked on the ad; where the ad is placed, how big the ad is etc are all important factors as well.
For more information about making money by placing advertisements on your blog, I’d again like to refer to Victoria Pruett’s book “Make Money Blogging - At Any Level”. She goes into different ad networks that will (or will not) work with smaller bloggers, ways to optimise your blog to make the most of your income streams, and so much more.
One last piece of advise I’d like to leave you with, is to not bet everything on one horse. Unless you have a business that is already making you a decent income (and your blog is just something you add to your website to improve search engine optimisation), the wise course of action is to spread your income streams.
Sign up as an affiliate with companies you like to work with, and companies that you know your readers would have no problems with. Sign up with an ad network. Develop some products of your own, and look around for ways to get paid for writing a blog post. But first of all, get the book - and start to Make Money Blogging. At Any Level.