Every now and then I get a question from someone who wants to know about starting a blog. Sometimes they ask how much it costs or what it takes as far as technical know-how. But most often, people want to know if they can make money.
The answer is yes, you really can make money with your blog. In fact, it's how I've earned my living for the past 4 years.
However, there are a lot of ways to do it, so you have to follow a method that suits you. This post will help you do just that, including links to further training, 13 more methods of earning, and how to get help building your first blog.
The Most Popular and Effective Ways to Make Money with Your Blog
It might surprise you to know that there are practically an endless number of ways to monetize a blog. So many in fact, that you could easily get stuck trying learn or choose from all of them. That is exactly what happens to a lot of new bloggers, and it’s exactly what I don’t want to happen to you.
So instead of spouting off a list of strategies, we’re going to look at only the most effective methods used by successful bloggers. We will start with advertisements because it’s a method everyone knows about.
Making Money with Ads on Your Blog
If you’re thinking of trying to make money with ads on your blog you will most likely use Google’s Adsense program. There are plenty of other ad programs to choose from but Adsense is the most popular, highest paying and easiest to use. Amazon CPM pays well in my experience, but requires a private invite from Amazon. Chitika doesn't pay well. Media.net is Microsoft's version, but require that you have a ton of views before signing up.
There is no cost to sign up for Adsense (or any other ad program that I know of). All you need to do is complete an application to provide information about your blog. When you’re done, you will get a piece of code to paste on your blog. That code is what displays the ads on your blog.
From there, it’s a matter of gaining traffic to make the ads profitable. More traffic = more ad revenue. That's part of the beauty of monetizing with ads like this – the business model is simple. That's how big sites like Huffington Post, Forbes, Buzzfeed, and all these other sites make money, and why they are so desperate for your views and clicks.
Of course, there’s a little more to it than just traffic. You will also want to think strategically about where to place the ads, how many to use and a variety of other things that could maximize your efforts. I'm currently working on a website monetized only by display ads, and ad placement is a pretty big part of optimizing for clicks and ad revenue!
How Much Can You Make with Ads?
There is no set rate for ad earnings. Your blog’s topic, visitor engagement and of course the number of visits to your blog are all factors that affect how much you can earn. However, it is possible to get a rough idea of what you might earn.
Recently on Quora (a question and answer site), one user posted a question to Adsense members, asking how much money he could make with the program. Here’s the answer he got…
As you can see, this answer discusses some of the factors I mentioned above (topic, engagement, number of visits, etc). The answer also gives us an estimated earning based on those factors.
This user gave a CPM rate of $1, but your CPM rate cold be higher or lower. Again, there is no set rate for this. If you don’t know, “CPM” means Cost Per Thousand.
The example in the image is based on this:
- 1,000 visitors
- Each visiting 3 pages on your blog
- With each page containing 2 ads
2 ads x 3 pages x $1 cpm = $6
A thousand visitors may not seem like a lot, but for a new blogger it might as well be a million. That doesn’t mean you can’t eventually get to that point, but it will take some time.
To give you a bit of context, The Huffington Post receives about 25 million monthly visitors. They also average only two pages per visitor, as opposed to the 3 pages in the example above. I think I saw a blog post once that said you need 100,000 visits per day to make $10,000 per month from Adsense. I dunno, “potential” earnings seem to be all over the place.
The point is, you need a lot. But it's a super easy way to start. My one site monetized with display ads has about 100 visits a day and makes $0.12 per day from Google and $0.16 per day from Amazon CPM.
With some hard work and patience you could make money with ads on your blog, but I don’t recommend it if you are a newbie. There is nothing wrong with being a newbie, but it is important to get some money coming in quickly, just so you can see that it is possible. Waiting on ad revenue could discourage you. So let’s take a look at some other methods.
The best guide I know on how to earn money with display ads is called Niche Tycoon. You basically supercharge your traffic with paid ads from Facebook (and social media). This means you need to invest money into traffic and do “arbitrage”, meaning your target is to earn more from ads than you pay for the traffic. It's tough, and I haven't cracked the code yet. But I'm working on it, and it has a huge potential for scalable earnings.
Offering Services on Your Blog
One way you can make money from a new blog is to offer services to your visitors. A lot of bloggers, newbies and veterans, like this option because it is easy to get started with. All you really need is a “Hire Me” page with your contact information so people can reach you.
The type of service(s) you decide to offer is completely up to you. The only real requirement is that the service needs to be related to the topic you blog about. Otherwise you will confuse your readers and potential buyers.
What Type of Services Make Money?
Coaching is a great service to offer anyone who reads your blog. Blog readers are looking for information and many of them will pay hundreds or even thousand of dollars for coaching.
Freelancing is another service you can offer to make money with your blog. The majority of bloggers either are or were freelancers at one time. Good freelancers are in high demand in almost every market.
Speaking, if you aren’t too shy, is very lucrative service, especially in B2B markets. Speakers get to travel the world and demand premium rates at the same time.
Here’s just a few niches you could apply to your coaching, freelancing or speaking service:
- And specialty niches can pay even more!
Make Money Selling Products
You probably already know that you can sell products from your blog. Maybe you have your own products, like homemade soaps that you want to sell on your blog. That’s great! Blogging about topics related to products you make yourself is a smart way to earn money.
But selling your own products isn’t the only choice you have. In fact, you can sell pretty much any product you can think of from your blog. But you want to be careful about what you choose to sell. Why?
- Choosing the wrong products — things your visitors aren’t interested in — is a huge waste of time. With a little trial and error you can figure that out pretty quickly though.
- Choosing products you have to ship or store can be an expensive and time consuming! Ordering in bulk, then storing, paying for packing, shipping, returns, etc is a full time job. It can be done, but you need a plan.
You could try drop shipping as well, but again, it's another aspect of your business that you'll need to learn about. There's more than just blogging! You'll need to source products, set up an ecommerce site, and get everything in motion on how to communicate between your website and the product maker. Will you place the orders? Will orders go directly to the shipper? Are you white-labeling the products?
Though Proven Amazon Course doesn't talk about blogging or owning a website per se, they do a great job discussing selling on Amazon, and have drop shipping training you could make use of as well. It's an excellent course, with very good reviews, and an active support community to help you get your business going.
Affiliate blogging (or affiliate marketing) is the one method that many successful bloggers use to make up at least part of their income. In fact, I use it for 100% of my income.
You can look for yourself. Visit any any successful blog, and you will see links to products being sold at places like Amazon, WalMart and just about every other online retail website, big or small. Even podcasts will encourage you to go to their website and click their Amazon link, or purchase with a “discount code”.
Those codes are not just to help you save money…the podcaster is earning money from each sale they help produce and the code tracks sales.
Most blogs even include an an affiliate notice, which is simply there to let you know they earn money through those links.
Affiliate blogging is simple, it works just like any of the other methods. The only difference is you link to specific products you use or recommend. It's much more targeted. Rather than have random ads placed on your website based on a users search and purchase history, you can make specific recommendations based on what the visitor is reading.
If someone is reading an article you wrote about how to build a birdhouse, you can recommend a birdhouse building kit you think is great. When they buy that kit from Amazon or wherever, you'll make a percentage of the sale.
You just need to join the affiliate programs that offer the products you want to sell. Though your unique affiliate link, you get credit for clicks, referrals, and sales.
Affiliate programs are free to join but each one pays a little differently. For example, Amazon has the most popular affiliate program, but they only pay up to 4-10% on each sale. If you blog about car repairs, you might be better off joining Auto Zone’s affiliate program, which starts at 8% and goes up according to performance. Some digital products pay 75%! On pricey items like video courses which can cost $300+, you can make hundreds of dollars per say, and several sales per day.
You can also combine affiliate blogging with other methods mentioned above to increase earnings!
Getting Started Earning With A Blog
There a lot of ways to make money with your blog. It would be impossible to list them all in one one post, but the ones above are definitely the most popular and effective. I've written another post discussing a full 13 ways to earn money with a WordPress Blog. WordPress is one of the easiest ways to make your first blog/website, and it's the website builder I use on a daily basis!
Affiliate marketing has always been the best way for me to earn money online. You'll notice I don't have any display ads on my blog because I don't want to waste the time with them. But the great thing about owning a blog is you don’t necessarily have to choose one method or the other. In fact, the most successful people all agree that you must have multiple income sources.
The more years I gain in this business, the more I realize how true that is. This is why I started the second website that earns with display ads (discussed earlier), so I can diversify my income.
That said, all these options can leave you feeling overwhelmed, unsure of how to move forward. And that’s the worst thing you can do. You have to get started.
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great” ~ Zig Ziglar
There are two great ways to get started.
- You can read my book Money Blog. It's available on Kindle (from Amazon). It costs $9.99, and discusses, in extensive detail, how to start a website and earn money from it. The good thing is that it's cheap and reveals all my methods of earning a living through affiliate marketing. However, there's no personal support included in the book. You'll need to be an independent learner and supplement your journey with outside research.
- You can sign up to the online business community where I got my beginnings. Check out the free Starter Membership and you can actually build your first website for free, plus get 10 free lessons on how to set it up properly (including videos, text, and pictures). You also get access to community support, including live chat. However, keep in mind that for the full set of lessons and continued personal support from me and the community, it's $47/month for a Premium Membership.
But if you’re serious about making money with your blog, Wealthy Affiliate is hands down the best resource on the web to help you do that.