Monetizing your blog

Just writing a blog post every day does not pay the bills. For some bloggers, the ultimate goal of their blog is to be able to make a living out of it. But in what ways can you actually make money with your blog? In this post, we’ll talk you through a few ways of monetizing your blog. We’ll give some practical tips and discuss the up- and downsides of these different strategies!

1. Selling your own products

Of course, you could make money with your blog by selling your own products. The moment you start selling your own products, your blog will also become a shop. Selling products doesn’t necessarily mean selling physical products. You could also sell digital products like eBooks or apps.

Read more: Things to consider for your online shop »

For lots of (larger) companies, the blog is a section on their website, mostly used as a marketing tool. A company blog could be a really powerful tool to get some indirect sales. If you blog regularly about relevant topics, you show your audience your expertise and involvement. Also for people who offer to consult, or give workshops, for instance, a blog can be the way to present yourself to the world. The exposure to your blog will, in the end, result in more sales for your company.

2. Advertising

You can set up an area on your blog’s homepage dedicated to running advertisements. You’ll get paid based on the number of clicks on the banner, or on the number of times the ad is shown to your audience. Google Adsense has a relatively easy pay-per-click model you can set up in just a few steps. Google Adsense will then decide which ads will be shown on your webpage.

Advertising is simple to set up, but it won’t make you rich unless you have a lot of visitors. Also, ads can make your site much slower and potentially annoy your readers if you place too many. Above that, ad blocking has become more and more prevalent. A growing group of people uses software that will hide all advertisements. This trend is making advertising with Google Adsense somewhat more difficult. It’s hard to predict how ad blocking will develop from here.

Of course, if you’ve got a blog with a large audience, perhaps there are companies who want to put an ad on your website directly. You’ll have to reach out to them and communicate a bit more in that case. A major advantage of communicating directly with the companies that place ads on your website is that you’ll have complete control over the types of advertisements shown on your blog. That way you can make sure that the ads fit your blog and that you agree with the content of the ads. Advertising in such a way won’t make your site much slower and ad blockers won’t hide these advertisements from your audience.

In the early days of Yoast, we had a great experience using BuySellAds.com. They sell ad space on your site but you can approve each ad individually. Especially when there are advertisers in your space you’d rather not have on your site, this is a very good idea. These ads can also be paid by the time period they’re showing on your site, irrespective of the number of page views or clicks.

3. Promoted posts

If your blog has a large (and loyal) audience, companies may be interested in reaching your audience, telling them about their stuff. They could ask you to write about their products. And they could pay you to do so. Lots of bloggers receive products to review and use. Some bloggers are only paid by the free products or services they receive, but some companies also pay bloggers to write about their products. Writing posts in which you promote a product can be a nice way to make money with your blog.

Writing promoted posts also has a downside. Your objectivity as a blogger could become the object of speculation. It could be wise to make clear to your readers when you’re being paid for your opinion (in writing, or by making it clear in the design). It all depends on your blogging style and subjects.

When you’re selling promoted posts, receiving products for free or adding affiliate links to your site, make sure to disclose this to your readers. Not only is this the morally right thing to do; you’re also required to disclose this by law in many countries.

4. Affiliate

Another way to make money with your blog is via affiliate products. An affiliate product is a product that you recommend or write about in a blog post, or for which you place a banner or an ad on your website. If someone clicks on the link on your website, they will go to the webshop of the company which product you are promoting. If people actually buy that product, you will receive a percentage of the amount they are paying.

A lot of retailers offer an affiliate program. You will receive a trackable link that you include in one of your blog posts (or in an ad). You will get a commission if someone clicks on the link and buys a product via your blog. How much commission you’ll get varies greatly on the type of product. It could be only 1 or 2% for physical products, but for digital products, it could really be a lot more.
There are some affiliate networks you could join, large ones like CJ and Shareasale, but there are also company specific networks, like Amazon’s affiliate network and the eBay affiliate network. What fits well really depends on your niche and what type of product you could sell to that niche.

Affiliate can be an excellent way to make money with your blog. As with promoted post, the risk with affiliate could be that the objectivity of the author could become the object of speculation. In our view, you should make sure that the products you promote are products you really like. Products you would recommend to your friends and family as well. That way, you will make sure that you’re not promoting things to your beloved audience that do not fit you or your blog.

Make sure to add a rel=”nofollow” attribute to each affiliate link and to any and all links in promoted posts, so they don’t count for Google and other search engines. You need to do this to make sure you’re not getting penalized as Google might deem you to be selling links.

Conclusion

In my view, there are four major ways to make money with your blog:

  1. By selling space on your blog for advertisements;
  2. By writing promoted posts;
  3. By affiliating (promoting products or services on your blog and getting paid if someone buys that product or service via a link on your blog);
  4. By selling your own products or by increasing indirect sales with your (company) blog.

The way you choose to make money largely depends on your own preferences and on the audience your website attracts.

Keep reading: Blogging: the ultimate guide »

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21 Responses to Monetizing your blog

  1. Tony Short
    Tony Short  • 3 years ago

    I have not used buysellads but will check it out. Thanks for the info
    Marieke.

  2. Walter
    Walter  • 3 years ago

    Thanks for the post Marieke. Monetizing a blog is not always easy though. Some topics are fairly easy but some can be quite a challenge. You need to go an extra mile in innovation and hardwork

  3. Chaitanya
    Chaitanya  • 3 years ago

    Apart from Adsense, There are many in-text advertising networks Like Viglink that works in a very different way than other blog monetization methods. VigLink converts your standard outgoing links into affiliate links, and if users make a purchase, you earn a referral fee from it.

  4. Lannas
    Lannas  • 3 years ago

    Blog is very powerful tool to approach to your potential audience, but I don’t think that the blog itself should have the main purpose to be monetized. Simply because there are many great blogs written by professionals in various fields that do not make not even nearly you would think of.
    If someone wants to start an online business, I would always suggests them to start with online shop or offering some sort of service rather than writing a blog. Blogs can bring money, but I believe that those who receive the cash were usually not focused on making the money in the first place.

  5. MohsinSidhu
    MohsinSidhu  • 3 years ago

    Thank you for posting this article.

  6. Lionel
    Lionel  • 3 years ago

    I’ve been looking at your website for two days, and I still can’t figure out what Yoast does. That seems to me to be not a functioning website! I read the guide. I’m none the wiser.

    • Maureen
      Maureen  • 3 years ago

      Hi Lionel,
      To me it is clear. Click https://yoast.com/about-us/ and it is perfectly obvious what Yoast does…

    • Paul
      Paul  • 3 years ago

      They have developed a number of very useful plugins for WordPress and I know they help businesses with SEO. I would be surprised if they don’t do webdesign and I would suspect they can program stuff for you.

  7. Odira
    Odira  • 3 years ago

    Great tips.
    I agree with Abhishek. You first need to create a product before you can sell a product, and you also need to create something that is worth buying. That’s the big challenge.

  8. Angela Davies
    Angela Davies  • 3 years ago

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    Two things :-

    1. I would love know as Christian asked – how many visitors per month do you think you need to get some decent money from Adsense.

    2. For ecommerce – I use ecwids ( http://www.ecwids.co.uk ) it is so easy my Granny could use it – but because it is cloud based – you copy/paste the code anywhere – including Facebook – Selling in FaceBook is so much more direct than Google search – as facebook ads mean you can Geo target you exact audience – eg females in the UK that have changed their status from single to engaged – means they are looking for marriage gifts etc.

    Angela

  9. Abhishek
    Abhishek  • 3 years ago

    Well, to sell something, one needs to create something first. And there comes the problem. This is what I think.

  10. Alexis
    Alexis  • 3 years ago

    I would be really interested to know if anybody has any data around the tradeoff of advertising: revenue vs. reader annoyance, page speed impact, and potential loss of traffic (if advertising works it takes traffic AWAY from your site right)?

    I also have about 300,000 visitors a month and I’ve never experimented with it for these reasons but honestly have no data to back up my decision, just gut instinct. I use adblock software and if I turn it off, most of my favorite sites become a horror show of advertising. Thus I’m biased :P

  11. Christian @metromand
    Christian @metromand  • 3 years ago

    How many visitors/month do you recon is needed in order to make any noticable amount of money using google adsense?
    In other words: when is it worth it?

    • tonygreene113
      tonygreene113  • 3 years ago

      when yo make pete cashmore like money off of adsense you may not have a need for it. by the way his site makes roughly 400,000/month.

    • Jon Brown
      Jon Brown  • 3 years ago

      I hear this question all the time in WordPress meet ups groups I attend and the one I organize.

      First, display banner CPMs (ad revenue per 1000 impressions) vary by niche. Uusing round numbers they tend to fall in $1-10, but Let’s assume US$2 for the following example.

      At 1000 views per month, ad revunue would be pretty trival. You couldn’t buy coffee with it. If you run two well placed ads, maybe you can afford a latte (you’re earning $2-4 per month).

      Get to 10,000 views per month and it’s at least enough can buy one dinner out with it ($20-40 per month).

      At 100,000 views you’re getting into territory where the time spent running the site starts maybe starts to feel worthwhile financially ($200-400 per month). In truth by here you probably have hosting/developer costs that offset that ($50-100/m on hosting and the occasional developer help at $1-200/h)

      Obviously YMMV, and full disclosure I am a developer not a pro blogger so take all this with a grain of salt, but my advice is start this thinking about display ads when you’re seeing _more than_ 10,000 per month). Don’t plan on seeing significant revenue until your over 100,000 per month.

      At lower traffic numbers affiliate/direct sales tends to be more attractive for time invested vs financial gain.

    • Michael Bely
      Michael Bely  • 3 years ago

      Christian,
      It depends on your website niche, your writing skills, how beautiful and engaging your content is etc. Anyway, I’d expect realistically $2 for 1000 pageviews or so if you have a blog or similar content website.

      Ads are not very effective monetization ways. It was such in the past.

      A good alternative is affiliate marketing when ads become a natural part of your content. But it requires a different approach than when you deal with simply ads. With aff marketing you need to build trust and authority.

  12. Manohar
    Manohar  • 3 years ago

    Thanks for Great Article.

  13. Avinash
    Avinash  • 3 years ago

    This post help to gain few tips regarding content and help for SEO.

  14. Jon Miller
    Jon Miller  • 3 years ago

    Great article, I run a travel website with over 300,000 monthly visitors (www.bigboytravel.com) and have been looking for alternatives to Adsense. While my revenue per thousand visitors has remained strong despite ad blockers, there is a huge drop off on revenue per thousand visitors on mobile compared to desktop. I see this being as big of an issue as ad blockers as more and more people browser on mobile.

    Would be interested to hear your thoughts on the mobile issue.

    • Paul
      Paul  • 3 years ago

      Hi Jon,

      With very little work you should be extremely rich. I would suggest looking at affiliate schemes with travel organisations + travel clothing, cameras etc. A 1% of someone signing up an expensive holiday is worth hundreds, probably thousands, of clicks on Adsense.

      Just look at the website of businesses you like and google the business name + affiliate.

    • Deepak Gera
      Deepak Gera  • 3 years ago

      Ion, Ad blockers will always be there and I guess these will become more smart so we’ll have to stay with those. But as I can see you have good traffic base so rather than focusing on only ads, If you try to monetize your site using affiliates then it will be a big turn in your earnings.
      Increase your subscriptions and collect email list. Sell your products on your site.


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