I was sitting here thinking about what questions people ask me the most when I mention what I do for a living and the topic of blog monetization keeps coming up.
Many friends and random people I run into run blogs on a wide range of topics and they either ask me how to make money from it, or they simply state that blogs are great for receiving free stuff, but you can’t earn a living off of them.
While I would say a big majority of bloggers don’t know how to properly monetize their site, it can be done and it isn’t too difficult to earn $500-$5000 a month with an average blog.
So you want to make money with your blog?
The first step is to clean up your blog. While you might make a few bucks here and there filling up every free inch of your sidebars and footers with ads and links to products, all you are doing is distracting your readers and making it more difficult to make some decent cash.
Once you clean your act up, implement some of these 10 strategies and watch your income increase.
1. Make Sure You’re Passionate About Your Subject
Although this isn’t a direct way to make money, it is one of the most important pieces to being a successful blogger. Unless you are a full time marketer and know how to enter pretty much industry, stick with a topic you love. I write my craft beer blog because I absolutely love craft beer and it gets me excited.
If you aren’t excited about your subject, no one is going to want to read what you’re writing and that means no visitors. No visitors means no income.
To make money with your blog, you have to put a lot of time into it so make sure it doesn’t feel like work and stick to a topic you love.
Also make sure the topic isn’t too narrow as that could be tough to monetize. While a blog about chocolate candy could work, a blog about something as narrow as just Almond Joy might be a little too narrow to make money with.
2. Build Your Email List
If you want to build a long term asset, make sure you start building an email list for your blog as soon as possible. Look at your list as a marketing channel. You build it up and pretty soon you have fans of yours that obviously are interested in your content since they gave you their email address.
As your list grows you can monetize it in multiple ways. You can promote your products and services as well as new content to your readers. Maybe you find a great affiliate offer and you send out a quick email to your subscribers about it. As long as you make sure they remember you, you will be putting money in the bank.
A great tip for your email lists is to use them to ask readers what they want and what problems they have that you can solve. From that info you take it and build up more content for your site that solves your users problems (and it doesn’t hurt if you throw some affiliate links in the solution if applicable).
Your followers will love you as you are solving their problems and your visitors and income will increase. Cha ching!
For list management, I use Aweber which I really like, but you could use other services such as Constant Contact or MailChimp.
3. Real, Genuine Product & Service Reviews
Most bloggers at some point review a product or service. Either a company gives them a free sample, or to help their users stay informed.
Reviews are probably one of the single best ways to make money on your blog. You could put an affiliate link to a product in your sidebar, but I guarantee you if you write a review about the product, you will make at least 50 times more money with it.
Just make sure to follow these rules of making money off of reviews.
- ALWAYS use an affiliate link.
So many bloggers link to a product on a merchants website and don’t make a dime if someone clicks through and buys the product. Just because a company sends you a free product doesn’t mean you can’t sign up for their affiliate program. Include affiliate links throughout the review.
- Be GENUINE
People can sniff out fake reviews. Actually try out the product or service and give your honest opinion. I’ve had reviews that I wrote that weren’t so favorable still make decent money. People are looking for good information. Provide it to them and you’ll be rewarded.
- Be Thorough
Don’t just write a paragraph review. Go in depth. The more details you can give about a product, the less places your visitors will have to visit before they click through your affiliate link and buy it.
- Do Your Keyword Research
If you’re an internet marketer you should already know how to do this. Basically you want to make sure your post is optimized best for search engines. Are people search for “Green Widget Review” of “Reviews of Green Widgets” more often in Google? Just head over to Google Keyword Tool and do your research. Check out this post on SEOmoz if you want to learn more on keyword research.
4. Paid Posts or Reviews
Offering paid posts or paid reviews can help generate some income fairly quickly, but make sure you are a bit cautious. Many bloggers generate $100-$500 pretty easily per post which can add up if you find enough interest.
One thing you need to make sure of is to not irritate your readers. While paid posts here are there are great, make sure not to let it make up the bulk of your posts.
Also make sure not to allow just anyone to buy posts. I don’t know how many times I get people trying to promote there gambling sites coming to my beer blog wanting to pay for a post. If it isn’t something your readers are going to be interested in, be cautious. With that said, you can earn some great money selling paid posts.
5. Banner Advertising
Another way a lot of bloggers monetize their blogs is through selling banners. Looking at blogs you will see a wide range of prices from $25 a month on up to $5000 a month for a spot depending on traffic.
Like paid posts, I suggest you limit the ads on your site. If there is a hundred ads on a site, the content won’t be the focus and your visitors won’t be sticking around long enough. If you don’t have any advertisers to start with, use Google Adsense or Chitika.
I use a WordPress plugin called OIO publisher to manage all of my advertisements. It makes managing everything from payments to setting up new ads pretty simple. I highly recommend it.
6. Promote Your Own Products
If you have your own products or services, whether it be a book or DVD, use your blog as a marketing channel for them. I’m not talking about doing a hard sell or anything like that. Use your blog as a way to connect with potential customers.
For example lets say you have a set of DVDs that teach people how to golf. Why not setup a blog that gives tips, techniques, reviews and videos and start giving away free content and building up your user base. Pretty soon people will be sharing your posts with their friends and you will get a following.
Now make sure people know about your Golf DVD’s with a few mentions in some of the posts, a link in your sidebar, and your about us page (which is usually one of the most popular pages on your blog).
If you don’t have a product to promote, create one. Write an ebook. Make t-shirts. Build some software. Create something that will generate a new income stream for you.
A great example of promoting your own products is Gary Vaynerchuk’s blog. See how he built his personal brand with his blog and promotes his books in the sidebar. People know and respect Gary because of his blog and speaking engagements so they will be more likely to buy his books.
7. Offer a Service or Consulting
Another great way to make some money is use your site as a tool to sell your services. Setup a page on your blog that describes your services and make sure to mention them from time to time in your posts (as well as link to it in your sidebar or header).
An example of this can be found at QAQN, a podcast site founded by Daniel Clark. Daniel knows what he’s doing when it comes to podcasting so he decided to take that knowledge and start a podcasting consulting service. Now instead of just having a podcast, he has created an additional revenue stream by offering his consulting services.
8. Book Speaking Gigs
A blog is a great way for people in your industry to get to know you. Why not start speaking at events if you aren’t already doing so. The more you do it the more you’ll start getting paid if you’re good.
I know many bloggers who make money getting speaking gigs because event organizers found out about them through their blog (take Seth Godin for example).
Make sure to create a speaking page on your blog listing previous speaking engagements and videos so people know you as a public speaker.
9. Sell Your Blog
Ok, this is a little different than the others, but there is some great money to be made selling blogs with traffic and readers. If you’re unsure of how to monetize your blog, just focus on producing great content and building up your traffic. The more quality traffic you have, the higher the price you will be able to get for your site.
If you run out of time to update your site, sell it quickly if you don’t plan on reviving it. People want to buy sites that have good fresh content.
10. Create Premium Content
If you have a lot of great content, why not create some “premium” content and turn your blog into a membership site. If you have a decent following and people trust your current content, it could become a huge revenue stream.
Just think if you could get 100 people to signup to a $30 a month membership section on your site offering premium content. That’s $3000 a month with only 100 people. Not bad.
It does take lots of work setting up a membership site, but it can definitely pay off.
These are just 10 ways to monetize. There are tons of other options I didn’t cover so I’m opening it up for conversation.
What are your favorite ways to monetize your blog?