So you’ve started a blog around a topic you love? Congrats!
Now that you’ve invested hundreds of hours into your new blog that has some great content and an audience you might think “Huh, why not monetize my blog now?”. I’ve just been there a few weeks ago! If you’ve started a blog just to make quick money you’ve been fooled: it definitely won’t happen fast.
Even despite the consistency and long hours I put into my blog, I can still remember the sensation when I received money for the first time thanks to my blog! Really hard to explain but worth it!
You might also be wondering “But how? I don’t want to look like an online scammer”. Good point! That’s something every beginner blogger has though about!
Financially speaking, having a revenue-generating blog can be a great way to separate your time from your income: once an article or ebook has been written it’s written, stays there and, if monetized, continues to generate money while you work on your next project. Same goes for online video courses or products!
Some of the most successful bloggers like Pat Flynn have monthly incomes of more than 148K$. Sure, but it’s Pat Flynn. How about starting with a few extra bucks per month? Please keep in mind that there is no shortcut: it takes a lot of time and hard work! Let’s see how you can make it happen by monetizing your blog.
The Prerequisite: Great Content & Traffic
Let’s start with the basics: you will only be able to make money if people visit your website and/or convert by buying some products/services you have to offer.
If you have no traffic, you will have no visitors to convert thus will make no money with your blog. In order to determine how much traffic you would need, a good way is to always start backward. Let’s say you would like to make 1000$/month by selling you 25$ ebook.
You would need:
1000/25$= 40 people to buy your ebook per month.
If we consider that 1% of your website visitors buy your ebook, you would need:
1/100=40 which is a montly traffic of 4’000 visitors.
That’s achievable but that’s hard! Also, it goes without saying that theses numbers are quite optimistic.
Something else that’s crucial here is that people tend to buy only from people they trust. Would you buy the first ebook about digital marketing you run into? Certainly not! Trust is something that takes a lot of time and social proof to build, especially online.
Now let’s jump into the 4 main ways to monetize your blog!
This is often the first thing that comes in mind for bloggers who are starting out. Let’s put ads everywhere on my website and watch the income flow to my bank account!
“I’ll just install AdSense on my website!” is something I often hear. Wait a minute! Once you realize that the average CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) is between 1$ and 10$ and run the numbers to get to 1000$ per month, something unexpected happens:
1000/5$=200 which translates into 200’000 banners views.
Good luck getting your 200’000 banner impressions! Honestly, unless you have a huge traffic and network (like wiki how) I’d forget it.
Something that can work better than AdSense is being part of an advertising network or selling advertising space on your website yourself. None of which are realistic if you’re just starting to think about how to make money with your blog.
Now that’s cleared, let’s jump into the more realistic ways of making money with your blog!
2. Affiliate Marketing
I’m always amazed that so few people know how affiliate marketing works, I guess some people are more curious than others! A quick advice of mine to everyone is to always try to understand how every website generates money. Not only will this give you a better web culture but it will also inspire you to try those techniques on your blogs.
A definition of affiliate marketing for me is “being rewarded for recommending products or services you love”. In fact, affiliate marketing allows you to get a commission from your affiliate partners for each sale you send them. It is a kind of performance marketing that many bloggers (and websites) rely on in order to monetize their blog generate most of their online revenue.
What it looks like in practice is either:
- a link like this one for my WordPress theme that I recommend.
- a unique coupon code (that allows the affiliate partner to know where the sales comes from)
If you click the link and buy a WordPress theme I’ll get a commission on the sale.
One thing that is often misunderstood is the price of the item remains the same for the buyer!
What I really like about this way of monetizing a blog this way is that bloggers can recommend products or services that they really like and be rewarded for it. Isn’t that beautiful?
If you want to go ahead and add affiliate links to your website, make sure you indicate it in the blog post or at least have a “disclaimer” page accessible somewhere on your website.
How to get started? To start with affiliate marketing, you need to become an affiliate partner with the companies that offer the products or services you’d like to promote.
For instance, you can apply to become an Amazon Associate here or type into google “Company + affiliate” and you will soon find whether that company has an affiliate program or not.
3. Products (Online or Physical)
Another good way to monetize your blog is by selling products on or with it.
Products can either be online or physical products that you have in inventory. As most money-making bloggers focus on digital products because of the advantages they offer (no stock to manage, easier to market and sell etc) and will be more inclined to recommend physical products of their affiliate partners. Because yes, even drop-shipping isn’t that easy!
Digital products are no joke, they take a lot of time and effort to produce as well, not to mention promote! But they are a good way to separate your time from your income!
There two best forms of digital products for bloggers to monetize their blog:
As far as ebooks are concerned, they can be sold or given away for free in exchange for an email address (learn more about growing your email list here). They can also be sold or even free while kindly asking for a contribution.
I don’t know about you but personally, I’ve never bought an ebook in my entire life. I always feel like there are other free ways to learn what I want to learn. That’s why I recommend the hybrid of giving away the ebook in exchange for the email + asking for a contribution down the line.
As ebooks are text-based, you can also re-use part of some of your blog posts to create them. For instance, if you’ve done a series of articles on a given topic, why not transform that series into an ebook? Of course, it needs some rework, adding some sections, packaging etc but at least you have the basis of your content already there! Oh, and did I mention they can include affiliate links as well?
- Online courses
Online courses obey the same basic principles as ebooks except that they often take the form of videos or audio courses. They’re also way more technically challenging than ebooks to produce. For a video course, you will have to invest both in video & audio equipment as well as learn to edit videos etc.
What’s more, you will want to sell them for quite more than an ebook which makes them harder to market!
4. Promote your Services
See that “Hire Ambroise” button on the top-right of this page? That’s because I also use my blog to refer me consulting clients.
If you blog with our own name or your company’s name, your website is the centerpiece of all your online marketing actions. If you create great content week after on your blog, it proves that you capable of doing consistent & high-quality work. You will also position yourself as an influencer in your audience’s mind around the particular topics you write about. You’re what we call “top of mind” in marketing.
If in addition to that, people are aware that you do some consulting, who will be the first person that they contact when they have a mission about that specific topic you blogged about? That’s right, you!
Not only does your blog makes people aware of your consulting activities but it also helps you qualify them as “hot leads” for your consulting business!
Even with people who find you elsewhere like in person, on LinkedIn, Twitter etc, your blog will do wonders in reducing the amount of work you have to do to prove yourself as a consultant. You’ve already proved yourself in your article and case studies!
I can assure you that you will have a way lesser hard time to find consulting gigs with a relevant and quality blog: they will come to you!
Diversify with Multiple Income Streams.
When talking about money whether it’s offline, online or in the stock market, it’s important to not put all your eggs in the same basket and diversify!
For instance, let’s say you’ve put a lot of effort promoting a particular product with its own affiliate program.I’m talking numerous articles maybe an ebook etc. And then one day that company changes CEO and the new one decides to cut the affiliate program. You’re screwed!
This advice applies to the 4 ways to monetize your blog that we’ve seen but also applies within each one.
How your Online Marketing Ecosystem Makes Sense
Aren’t you relieved? You eventually know how you can make money with your baby! I mean, your blog…
As with everything in life, it’s much easier to optimize something once there is a goal attached to it. Especially when it’s money.
Now, every time you manage to have people come to your website, you know that there is some proportion of those people that will “convert” aka buy one of your products or become your freelance customer!
That’s why email marketing plays such a strong role (and that I’ve been intensely blogging about it in the last weeks): it allows you to directly reach each one of your subscribers on a 1-to-1 level to 1) provide them value 2) maybe sell them some of your products or services. More specifically, you will want to use drip campaigns rather than a simple newsletter to introduce your new subscribers gradually to your best content and paid material.
To manage your drip campaigns & newsletter, I recommend MailChimp as it allows your to both easily collect email addresses, automate your drip campaign & newsletter workflow! Psst: saw that affiliate link in there? 🙂
You should now have a good vision of how you can monetize your blog. More importantly, the whole ecosystem you’ve built around your blog should make even more sense now that you can optimize it for conversion! I’m talking social media, email list and any marketing channel you use!
Like I’ve done in this article, I recommend you start backward from your goals to determine the big numbers you need to watch!
Here is what we saw:
- Before monetizing, you need some great content and an audience!
- There are 4 main ways to monetize a blog:
- Advertising (not recommended)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Digital Products
- Consulting services
- Make sure you diversify your income streams!
- See how your ecosystem makes sense now?
How do you monetize your blog? What’s worked best for you? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter at @AmbroiseDebret