Update: This post was published in Fall of 2012. Since then it’s helped lots of bloggers and even non bloggers earn good money online. As it brings in lots of rather interesting traffic, I’ve had to close comments to prevent spam. Please ask me any questions you have on Twitter!
The blogging world isn’t what it was 10 years ago.
Google changes everyday and SEO is synonymous with scam.
And yet, some good still exists in this blogosphere. Whatever you blog for, be it fashion, travel, food, or some wild topic I’ve never heard of, you still deserve one thing: You deserve to earn a living doing what you love.
This post, my longest yet, contains 14 ways I’ve earned from blogging. You’re welcome to use all of them too.
NOTE: If you’re just starting to make money from a blog, post a question and someone will definitely help you with these strategies. It’s a lot of fun and doable if you follow these steps.
About money blogging
Blogs didn’t always make money. When they began in the late 1990s they were weird places only tech people went. But as niches formed and some authors learned how to build a following, blogs evolved into marketable webpages.
They became a place where selling and advertising made sense, not to mention a lot of money for the parties involved.
Now I know a lot of readers view “making money from a blog” in a negative light. I did too at first. Well I’ve got news for you, many bloggers do blog for a living, and the ones who do it best use techniques that don’t disrupt their content but instead add value to it.
What’s inside this article?
In this 2870 3170 word entry I’d like to explain the good ways out there to make money blogging. Read on to discover:
- 12 14 proven techniques experienced bloggers use to make money online
- An advertising network I love that pays monthly via Paypal
- The most lucrative affiliate program on the web
- Recommendations for where to begin monetizing your blog
- Brief stories of my own success
You’d be wise to use this entry as your manual for blog monetization. I’d recommend bookmarking it!
And let me know if I’ve missed any techniques you use. I’d bet the Dear Blogger community would really appreciate that.
Note: If you choose to sign up for these earning options through my links I’ll earn a tiny commission at no extra charge to you. Can’t say it enough, thanks for the support!
Beginner Monetization Strategies
Your beginner stats: PageRank of 0-1 and Pageviews of 100-10,000 a month
My best advice: Use multiple methods, don’t overdo Adsense, join a text link network, avoid affiliate options.
1. Adsense from Google
Adsense is Google’s ad network. To get started, you setup an account, create a new ad units, then copy and paste the ad HTML code into your sidebar in a blank text widget. You can also put ads above posts, below posts, within them, or whereever you feel your readers will click them.
Google pays you roughly $1 per click on your ads, and mere cents for pageviews. The general numerical standard is if you’re getting 1 million pageviews a month, your ads will earn you about $3000. So scale those numbers down to see what you can make. If you can somehow get lots of clicks, you’ll amount some good earns as a beginner. Check out how eHow places ads, they make a TON from Google ads because people mistake the ads for the search results. Tricky, huh?
I’m fairly sure Google states you can’t request clicks, but who are they to tell you what you can do. You’re the one placing their ads on your blog, and helping them earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a day. They can absolutely afford to cut you a check for $100 a month. So ask friends to click. Don’t be silly and request your friends this through Gmail or Gchat, that could easily get your blog flagged especially if you’re on Blogger.
Successful for me? Yes. I’ve earned a several checks from Adsense each at around $200 dollars. This isn’t rent money but it could be beer money. Dear Blogger, however, will probably never use Adsense, find out why.
2. Text Link Advertising Networks
I’ll admit I was a bit hesitant joining a text link network. I just didn’t know anything about them, other than I had hear a few bloggers were really killing it on them.
So I did my research, and end up finding Text Link Ads. There are other networks out there, but to date, Text links Ads is the only one that has made me significant money.
It’s free to join, of course, because you’re doing them a favor by joining. They couldn’t exist without awesome blogs like yours! What Text link Ads does is find advertisers in your niche who want to buy ad space on your blog.
To begin, sign up for a Publisher account, tell TLA a bit about your site, then submit your blog.
Once approved, you’ll typically get a trial ad. Yes, you’re paid for this ad. The ad shows up in your TLA marketplace, and once you agree to post it you’ll have a timer on you. It’s actually pretty fun.
Post the ad, then show TLA your new blog post my giving them the link to it. TLA will give you a confirmation, and you’ll be paid at the end of the month via PayPal. Of course, sign up for PayPal first.
Once you post your first ad, you’re in! They’ll email you every time they have a new ad for you. How about that huh?
Here’s my earnings statement from September 2012 for Text-Link-Ads.
Not a ton, but adds up (no pun intended) Text-Link-Ads is a good start to advertising. You can also opt-out whenever you’d like, and if they ask you to post an ad you just don’t like, you can of course say no-thanks.
My account has been live for about 1 year and I’ll get emails occasionally from them offering ads. If I’m not too busy, I’ll post an ad or two.
Successful for me? Yes, and very little work.
3. Sell Links Independently
If your blog has a decent PageRank you will inevitably get requests from independent text link advertisers. These people find you through Blogrolls and random Google searches, and will pay you to place their links on your blog homepage or within the posts.
See also – How I Got Google PageRank 3
These deals are low risk to you: Payments come through PayPal and if they don’t pay, just remove the link. Assuming you can edit content on your blog, this is pretty attractive to a new WordPress blogger. Just put links in a text widget or within a post.
The Online College market is huge with backlinks. Online schools want to rank in Google for words like “online bachelors degree” and “business administration courses” and will pay good money for you to place their link, with that link text, on your blog. Anyone else looking to improve SEO through this grey hat technique would also request text-links.
Google Panda has hurt this market, because backlinks are not longer worth as much in SEO. 5 years ago, you could start a niche site with 3-5 short posts, get a few backlinks from top blogs, and you’d be seen in Google Top 10 for whatever phrases you had focused on. Not the case anymore. That said, backlinks are still very important and play a large role in SEO.
Successful for me? Negative. Dear Blogger does not engage in this.
4. Sidebar Ads
You can also sell adspace through banners. I’ve had success in this through independent vendors, just see HonestCollege and look at “My Homemade Ads.” It helps to know basic HTML and CSS so you can go the extra 9 yards and style ads for your clients, that’ll keep them coming back.
Successful for me? For the first 1.5 years of blogging this was my primary source of income. See Honest College blog.
5. Corporate Blog Sponsorship
Heck yeah you can get sponsored as a beginning blog. My first successful blog was called HonestCollege, so I finagled a sponsorship with Honest Tea. Yes, I got free tea. Yes, that’s all I got. It was free stuff nonetheless.
Getting sponsored is all about good writing. If a company sees your blog, sees you have a growing following, and most importantly can see that you love what you do, they’ll be more likely to hire you to write on their products. No one hires a boring writer.
What I would not recommend is tailoring your entire site or blog around a couple products you want sponsors for. Examples include textbook blogs, or sports equipment blogs. Don’t fool yourself. Someone else is already doing this, really well, and is probably working simultaneously to make sure you won’t succeed. Don’t fight an uphill battle and write about content you don’t believe in just to make spare change. That’s like rule number 1.
Successful for me? Yes, and a ton of fun. Sponsorships connect a well known brand to a potentially unknown blog. Leverage them the right way and you’ll reach new heights of blogging.
6. Review Products
Yes, reviews! Tech reviews are great, like laptops and software. If your audience wants a product and often needs a bit of reading and review searching before making a purchase, you’re in luck.
I was found by a PR company who wanted me to write on laptops and Adobe software because my first audience was college students. Can you picture how pumped I was talking on the phone with a PR person on my roof on a sunny Saturday as she explained she’d be sending me $4000 worth of electronics to review? It was almost better than sex.
Sure, you’ve got to be a bit worried. Don’t get scammed, don’t give your credit care out, and play your cards very close to your chest if you’re dealing with a new PR person or really anyone who wants to buy out your blogging efforts. Think about what you both want, and look out for yourself.
Successful for me? Yes, I received well over $4000 worth of products. The amount of empty boxes in my apartment did really piss of 3 roommates though.
Intermediate Monetization Strategies
Your intermediate statistics: PageRank of 2-5 and Pageviews of 10,000-100,000 a month
My best advice: Use a product for at least one month before affiliate marketing it, get a great product that doubles as an affiliate network, overall be patient.
Intermediate blogging is where the going gets tough. Everyone thinks they’re hot, and you really have to connect with your strengths and your audience to rise above other blogs.
The options are mainly affiliate related, but of course you can dip into the beginner market too to reap some serious rewards.
7. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketers sell products and earn a commission on each sale. I’m an affiliate marketer. You usually sign up to a network or community then get approved to recommend their product. Check out ClickBank for a good introduction to affiliate networks.
The money lies in products you actually use however. Products like blog hosting, email subscribe forms, and premium themes. I mentioned Text-Link-Ads above because I actually have made decent money with them with little work on my part. It’s incredibly hard to market a product you haven’t actually successfully used. People just won’t buy it.
Vendors of blog hosting and domains, like GoDaddy, BlueHost, and HostGator are ridiculously good for affiliates. My advice remains the same: you must actually use a product in order to sell it as an Affiliate.
8. Aweber Email Forms
Oddly enough, the most lucrative affiliate network in blogging is Aweber’s. Aweber Email Marketing is the largest email marketing service on the web where you create opt-in forms and collect subscribers. They also let you send autoresponse messages, track subscriber stats, and have a fantastic form builder. Their affiliate program is simple. Users pay each month to use Aweber, and if you refer a user, every time he or she pays you earn a commission. The payments are monthly and continuous.
Let’s say you refer Ben to Aweber Email Marketing and Ben signs up at $19 a month.
Each time Ben is charged $19, you earn $5.70 of that. You earn that $5.70 continuously for every month that Ben uses Aweber.
If you refer 20 people, that’s $114 a month in your bank account. If you refer 100 people, as some blogs do, that’s $570 a month.
So the benefits of signing up for Aweber are two fold: you can build subscribe forms, and you can become an affiliate and earn. Its the epitome of affiliate marketing at work: both earner and company grow together.
See how ridiculous affiliate marketing can get if scaled upwards properly? More explanation on Aweber’s affiliate info page. Aweber is also really, really useful, so most people don’t deactivate.
Sounds like something you want try? Sign up for Aweber today. Their forms help leading bloggers like Darren Rowse and John Chow build email lists, which in turn lead to long term earnings.
9. Write and Sell eBooks
If you have expert knowledge in a certain field, document it in an eBook. eBooks can be sold, or they can be free. Either way, there is ample free blogging technology you can use to write, package, and deliver them to readers. I’ll have a post on this in the coming months.
As long as you eBook provides value to the reader and directly answer their questions, people will want it.
Our biggest selling ebooks are practical & on things our readers have a need in – not ‘cool’ stuff we thought they should know #blogchat
— Darren Rowse (@problogger) September 24, 2012
eBooks are also fun to write, and can be affiliate vehicles too. You can definitely use them to recommend products on which you earn a commission.
Like I said before, intermdiate blogging is the hardest of these three. It’s where the most competition exists. You can and should try out the beginner options if you haven’t already, and being an intermdiate blogger will make them even more lucrative. These two sections above can make you thousands upon thousands a month from your blog.
Advanced Monetization Strategies
Your advanced stats: PageRank of 6-8 and Pageviews of 500,000 to 1M a month
My best advice: I don’t have anything brilliant here, just be careful…
Advanced bloggers come in the form of ProBlogger and ViperChill, Pick the Brain and Seth Godin’s Blog, ChristianPF and Daily Blog Tips. Most of them have been around a good 5+ years and are now enjoying the fruits of their hard work.
10. Sell WordPress Themes
If your blog looks good and you believe others may want a similar look, become an affiliate with your theme provider. My theme provider is Theme Junkie and I do just that, pretty successfully too. Theme Junkie isn’t the only provider of premium WordPress themes, not by a long shot, but they are ranked best in customer support. Their forum just plain rocks, and the fast answer I get from it have helped me add everything you see here. Check out the bottom of this post to see how I “sell my theme.” It’s a method used by big dogs like Darren Rowse, though I don’t much care for the Genesis Network.
11. Create Blog Products
With a bit of expertise you can make WordPress plugins and themes people will good money for. I see bloggers like Glen Allsop creating WordPress Optin Skin. I’ll begrudgingly admit Glen’s bit further along than me, but I respect their creations and have definitely thought of purhasing them.
12. High-Volume Link Sales
High volume links sales are a wild industry. You need multiple domains, several blogs, and really strong PageRanks (6-7). I’ve seen guys like John Chow engage in such business, leveraging one domain to help another and vice versa, and if you’re really big into SEO and algorithmic data, you could use this tactic to earn big time income.
13. Flip Domains
If you can create blogs quickly, ones that don’t hold too much personal flare yet have strong audiences, Adsense potential, and other great stats, you can sell domains for an income. Performing “land-grabs” is brilliant too, that’s where you buy potentially important and lucrative domains well before they become wanted. Example: My good friend’s dad bought “WorldTeamPoker.com” in the early ’90s and sold it for $65,000 in 2008. I think he paid $12 for it.
13. Consult for Others
Oh yes, you can consult. This is actually the most lucrative blog money maker in here, which is why I saved it for last, but of course it’s also one of the hardest. You need significant proof of past success, and the balls to convince clients you’ll actually help their efforts. Design consulting and SEO consulting will nowadays take you the furthest; major companies with huge budgets still haven’t got a clue how to rank in Google or use Adobe Illustrator so if that’s where your skills lie, go at it. Check out Neil Patel for a great example.
14. Blogging How-To Guides
Now, I’m putting this in advanced because for a how to guide to really work with readers, you have to have a powerful voice. Readers need to see you’re well established to follow a how-to. Sure, you can write on whenever, but it may not work. My 10 quick steps to set up WordPress in 10 minutes post is the only how to guide here. It’s working, to some degree. But I’m not going to litter this blog with guides like that. Afterall, “guides” are boring. Who really wants to go on an adventure accompanied by a guide? I certainly don’t, I’d rather learn on my own.
Use guides sparingly, but know that through affiliate options then can be used to earn money from your blog.
Conclusion: How much money are you making?
I waited to write this post for 9 whole months because I was too busy actively using the strategies above. Now I hand off the tools to you. What sort of success have you had making money online? Are you really killing it with these strategies? Do you have questions on how to get started? Go for it, share your thoughts in the comments.