Yes, it is possible to monetize your blog without being a tool. Whether you got into blogging to make money or you started your blog and just realized you can actually make money blogging, what monetization methods you see others using may not be right for you.
There are tons of ways to make money from your blog. But you need to keep in mind your audience and what they want. So long as you are following the rules (aka the laws) you can monetize in several different ways, but don't dive in and do it all at once. Carefully think about each way you want to monetize your blog.
You can monetize several ways, and you should be picky about which ways you do monetize. But don't make the mistake of only monetizing one way.
While it might be good to start with just one monetization method, the more income streams you have the more stable your blog income stream will be. If one method doesn't do well one month you'll have other money making methods to help pick up the slack.
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Talking the talk is one thing, but walking the walk is another. Yes, I use multiple methods to bring in income from my blog. Here is how I use my blog to make money. If you want to know just how much I make you can check out my Income Reports.
Affiliate marketing means sharing links to products or resources you love and have a relationship with or are part of their referral program. When someone on your blog uses your affiliate link, the company sends you a thank you in the form of compensation/money.
It is important to realize that the law requires you to disclose when you are sharing affiliate/referral links, which is why my disclosure statement is the first thing you see when looking at my blog posts.
Affiliate marketing sounds easy, just throw some links up on your site and you're good to go. Not so fast, you're forgetting the marketing part of affiliate marketing. In order to earn money from affiliate links you need to drive traffic to them.
This is just one of many lessons I learned taking the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner who earns over $50,000 each month through affiliate marketing.
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing: Michelle is an affiliate marketing maven. She regularly makes over $50k a month from affiliate marketing. I bought her course at the end of Nov. 2016 and mid-December 2016 while I'm still working to implement everything I've learned, I've already seen an increase in my affiliate marketing income. She really knows what she is talking about and the Facebook community that accompanies the course is a terrific resource. Learn more about Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
I'm currently utilizing the strategy from the Pinterest Traffic Avalanche course, to grow my blog's traffic and specifically direct it to posts with affiliate links. Posting the links is not enough, you need to continually share those posts and those links.
I've also been utilizing SmarterQueue and Tailwind to do social media campaigns and share the links to my affiliate posts on my social media profiles. They make it super easy and fast to set these up.
SmarterQueue (social Media Scheduling) is a lower cost alternative to meet Edgar, SmarterQueue does pretty much the same thing but it costs about $20/mo for up to 4 social media accounts. They have a free 14 day trial but if you use my referral link you get a 30 day free trial.
Tailwind (Pinterest Scheduler) had been a game changer for me, I went from 10,000 impressions on Pinterest to over 100,000 impressions and have seen traffic to my site grow (by 40%) as well as email subscribers. The ease of use to schedule pins and track analytics has been awesome. Learn more about Tailwind.
Depositphotos (stock images): You are human, which means you do not have time to be taking pictures for everything you need a picture for on your blog. Enter DepositPhotos which I've found to have a fantastic variety for the very affordable price of $1 per image. Because I need stock photos, but I don't have a huge budget for them.
Pinterest Traffic Avalanche (course on growing Pinterst) When I bought Pinterest Traffic Avalanche, I'll admit I didn't have super high hopes, I'd bought a lot of Pinterest courses and strategies and ebooks in the past and while I'd learned a lot I hadn't actually seen a big increase in my traffic to my blog. In the month after taking this course traffic to my blog increased by over 40%. Which is why this is the only Pinterest course I'm recommending here. Though make no mistake, you do have to do the work. If you are willing to put in the time and do the work, this is a great course.
While I do have this site to provide information on my freelance services, I only recently created this separate site. I've been able to use my older more established site, Less Debt More Wine (formerly, Friday Night Shenanigans) to not only showcase my blogging abilities but to direct potential clients to this site.
I have in the past and continue to work with companies to draft a sponsored post. This means the company paid me to write the post. This does not mean the company paid me to write positively about the company. However, my personal choice is to only consider doing sponsored posts for companies I like or think my readers might find helpful.
You'll have to decide your own rules for doing sponsored posts and which companies to work with. Keep in mind if you aren't putting your readers first, you won't end up with very many readers and you likely won't be able to charge much for a sponsored post.
Similar to any other affiliate program except this could encompass any number of products with one site. The benefit of the Amazon Affiliate program is that as long as the reader uses your link to get to Amazon, even if they don't buy what you linked to if they do buy something in that shopping session, you still get paid as an affiliate.
The amount you earn can vary by product type but typically max out at 8.5%. While 8.5% may not seem like much when looking at a $12.99 book, but it could amount to a lot for a higher priced item such as furniture or tech items that can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars and a percentage of those is a much better payday.
You might also choose to work with companies directly to put ads on your site for a specific company or resource as a rotating ad. What you can charge and how much you make will typically depend on the amount of traffic to your site.
Even though I do take action to monetize my blog there are other things I have chosen not to do. These are some things that other bloggers do to monetize their blogs.
Just because I don't use these tactics doesn't mean they aren't great, I just didn't feel it was a good fit, at least right now, I'm sure I will look at monetizing with many of these methods in the future. .
People will pay for convenience, it's why Target does so well, it's a one-stop shop. The same can happen for your content. You can repurpose some of your content to create a course. Add in some new content and organize it in an easy to follow format. Create some worksheets and tutorials for tools to help and at the end of all that you will have a course to sell.
Creating a course requires a lot of work upfront but can continue to bring in revenue for a long time to come. I've used Teachable in the past for my courses, and they do have a free plan you can start with. Your blog allows you to connect with potential course customers.
Besides creating and selling courses, many bloggers make money by creating other products such as eBooks and selling them on their site. You can use a site like Gumroad or DPD to deliver your products. Or you could always work on getting them listed on Amazon.
Ultimately, it's going to be up to you. I know that is a terrible answer, but every blog is different. What I can say is that some things are easier to get started with than others.
Ads usually require a certain amount of site traffic before you earn a decent amount of income.
If you've got at least a small audience, you could find some success with courses, but you might want to test the waters with a free course first. That way you build up your email list and have people to pitch when you've got a paid course.
Affiliate marketing can be easiest to start with since tools you already use likely include some sort of referral program. You may not even have to apply, you just have to go into your account and find your referral link.
Affiliate marketing and courses are likely the easiest to start with, but as I mentioned before you might want to just start with one. Get that one going and then look at adding another method to make money with your blog.
How did you make your first dollar with your blog? Let me know in the comments!
Elizabeth Stapleton is the founder and voice behind Less Debt More Wine and ElizabethStapleton.com. She is a freelance writer, online entrepreneur, and recovering attorney whose writing has been featured on The Huffington Post, The Penny Hoarder, Budgets Are Sexy, Credit Sesame, and Magnify Money. Additionally, she has been quoted in articles on Business Insider, Student Loan Hero, and Nerd Wallet.