Blogging for profit was the farthest thing from my mind when I started my first blog, but what started out as a small hobby soon turned into an obsession, and I found myself spending all of my free time crafting blog posts, creating graphics, and interacting on my social media accounts.
And I loved every single minute of it.
But as the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months, I started to burn out. I was scrimping on my sleep, the laundry was piling up, and I couldn’t remember the last time I had scrubbed our toilets, and while my husband continued to cheer me on from the sidelines (love him!), I knew something had to give.
I simply couldn’t pour that kind of time into a hobby that wasn’t paying me something in return, but when push came to shove, I just couldn’t shut down my blog and walk away.
I enjoyed it too much.
So, after my in-laws accidentally saw me naked during a family vacation over the 2013 Christmas break (true story!), I decided enough was enough and silently made a promise to myself that I would dedicate the next 6 months to monetizing my blog, and if I wasn’t able to earn a substantial profit from it, I would shut it down.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Within the first 6 months, my pageviews grew from 125,00+ to 470,000+ per month, and 6 months later I was averaging over 1,100,000 monthly pageviews.
I was earning more per month than I did when I worked on the management team of a huge insurance conglomerate before I had my daughter, and I was able to work around her schedule so I didn’t miss out on all of the important milestones in her life.
Fast forward 3 years and I’ve managed to keep the momentum going, and today I’m going to teach you how to make money blogging 11 different ways.
Are you ready?
Let’s do this!
1. ADVERTISING NETWORKS
I waited 2 years before I joined an ad network, and it was probably one of the silliest things I’ve ever done. I was worried ads would make my blog look messy and turn my readers off, but after realizing how much money I was leaving on the table by not monetizing my blog in the easiest way possible, I decided to take the plunge.
I work with Monumetric (formerly The Blogger Network) for my desktop ads and PadSquad for my mobile ads and I’ve been very happy. Both companies provide excellent customer service, and are willing to increase or decrease the number of ads on your site depending on your preferences.
Don’t have a mobile-responsive website? No worries. PadSquad takes care of all of that for you. They use a pre-existing template which can be customized specifically for your brand. Check out my website HERE on your mobile phone and you’ll see just how slick and clean it looks!
2. AFFILIATE MARKETING
Affiliate marketing allows you to earn a commission by promoting a product or service that was developed by someone else – you find a product or service you like and tell your readers about it, and for each sale generated via your affiliate link, you make a small profit.
One of my biggest regrets in my blogging career is that I didn’t dive into the world of affiliate marketing right from the start. It seemed like more effort than it was worth at the time, but after learning that Michelle from Making Sense of Cents makes over $50,000 per month in affiliate sales, I knew I had made a huge mistake. I immediately signed up for her course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, and it has taught me a ton of fabulous things about not only linking to products and services on my blog, but also promoting them to my email list.
Want to get started with affiliate marketing right away?
I suggest signing up with Amazon, Share-A-Sale, and Ebates to start with. Amazon is always my first pick when sharing affiliate links on my blog as their tiered commission rate is competitive, but since Amazon is pretty strict with how products are promoted (i.e. you can’t use Amazon affiliate links in email promotions), you will need to find other alternatives. Share-A-Sale has a tone of great advertisers in their network, and I cannot understand why anyone wouldn’t want to sign-up for Ebates!
3. SPONSORED POSTS
Sponsored posts have been a huge revenue stream for me over the last 3 years, and while I initially resisted the idea of promoting products and services to my readers, working with brands is something I’ve become really passionate about and I have a few pointers I’d love to share with you:
Create a media kit
Before you start working with brands, you want to make sure you have a killer media kit that outlines everything about you and your blog – what your monthly reach is, what your social media influence looks like, what you’re passionate about, and who your target audience is. Sound complicated? It’s not. In fact, I’ve put together an entire guide to walk you through what to include and why, as well as a killer course you can take if you’re not creatively inclined.
Connect with media companies
Almost all of my sponsored opportunities come my way via the media companies I work with. I just submitted an application, created an online profile, and everything else is taken care of for me. I’m alerted via email when a sponsored opportunity is available, and I can accept or decline based on my availability and interest.
I have worked with tons of companies over the years, but my 3 favorites are:
–TAPINFLUENCE: It took a few months before opportunities started to filter through to me after I signed up, but the work has been pretty steady ever since. One thing I love about the Tapinfluence platform is that it provides recommendations on what rates you should charge based on your pageviews and social media reach, which helps ensure you aren’t over- or under-pricing your services.
–IZEA: I wasn’t a huge fan of IZEA when I first signed up as it seemed most of their offers were spammy and grossly underpriced, but within a few months, I started receiving direct offers that are in-line with my niche and rates. I have worked on some great projects with IZEA, the most recent being a Sephora campaign that not only paid me my sponsored post rate but also gave me over $400 worth of makeup to test!
–MOM IT FORWARD: I have been working with Mom It Forward for over a year now, and they are a delight to work with. Their rates are very competitive and their campaigns are really cool.
Don’t be afraid to say no
If an opportunity doesn’t fit within your blog, or you tried the product and hated it, DO NOT PROMOTE IT TO YOUR AUDIENCE. Your readers are the glue that holds your blog together, and once you lose their trust, you will probably never get it back. So don’t be afraid to be picky and choosy, and say no when you have to!
Know what you’re worth
When I had my first offer from Mom It Forward, I was shocked to see how much they were willing to pay me for a sponsored post. It was more than double than what I was charging! I immediately increased my rates, and I’m amazed at how much brands are willing to pay to work with bloggers. Don’t be afraid to ask for more, but make sure to be reasonable.
4. PRODUCT AND SERVICE REVIEWS
Brands love working with bloggers on reviews in which they send you a product or service to try in exchange for a written review on your blog, and while I much prefer monetary compensation, I’ve landed some pretty good opportunities over the years through review relationships. For example, I once negotiated 10 months of music lessons at Yamaha Music School and a free keyboard for my daughter in exchange for monthly written updates on her progress, I wrote a 2-part blog post in exchange for a stainless steel Frigidaire dishwasher, and I’ve even had companies offer to fly me to the US to do an in-person interview with them.
5. SOCIAL MEDIA BLASTS
A great way to earn a little extra income when you first start blogging and your pageviews aren’t very high is to write social media promotions in exchange for a small payout. IZEA offers lots of social media opportunities, and you can easily negotiate this set-up with brands. One great piece of advice I was once given is that even if you have a small social media following, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a decent reach. While some bloggers have hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, that doesn’t mean their audience is engaged. There have been lots of algorithm changes happening in the social media space lately, which has had a devastating effect on social media reach. Make sure to mention this when negotiating a deal with a brand – they will be impressed with your knowledge and may agree to a high payment rate!
6. PRIVATE ADVERTISING
Many bloggers offer private advertising on their sites through sidebar links and ads, and this can be very lucrative if done correctly. A great service to set this up is Passionfruit Ads, but they are closing their doors as of December 31, 2016. This is a real bummer as their service was very easy to use and I had a lot of success with them when I first started blogging. Another great service to try is BuySellAds. I haven’t worked with them personally, but based on the feedback I’ve heard, it seems they are the next best thing in the private advertising space.
7. BLOG STORE
Do you make jewelry? Knit scarves? Design cool mugs? Create pretty cakes? If you do, setting up a blog store can be a huge money-maker for you! Check out Etsy, Gumroad, and Woocommerce to get started.
8. CONSULTING SERVICES
Are you an expert in something other people want to know about? Maybe you make a decent living as a freelance writer, figured out how to save thousands of dollars through menu planning, can write email subject lines that convert like a boss, or have lots of great organizational tips and tricks? Whatever it is that you excel at, consider educating your readers through consultation services. Allow them to book a free 30-minute discovery call with you so you can determine their needs and show them your expertise, and then set-up a program where you help them reach their goals on a pay-per-consult basis.
Another great way to earn extra cash is to write and sell an eBook. Survey your readers to find out what their biggest challenge is (I love using Survey Monkey to do this) and then put together a comprehensive eBook that offers them a solution to that problem. It could be as simple as putting together a workbook to keep people organized, to sharing the step-by-step plan you use to save money each month. The possibilities are endless!
10. PAID MEMBERSHIPS
If you have a hobby you’d like to earn a bit of extra cash from, consider creating a paid membership section on your blog. For example, if you like creating free printables, you can set-up a page devoted to all of the printables you create, and then allow people full access to download and print each of them by paying a small membership fee.
I find more and more bloggers are creating online courses to sell to their audiences, which is another excellent way to earn passive income. It takes a lot of upfront work, but once you have the system in place, it can offer a steady stream of income if promoted properly. Don’t know how to go about doing this? Teachable offers a fabulous platform to create and sell online courses, and if you sign-up for their email list, they’ll send you their Course Creation eBook for free.
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