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I was about two weeks into writing my blog back in 2009 when I first asked myself, “How do bloggers make money?” I fully believe that you should write your blog for you and only you — and only then will readers follow — but there’s also no reason why you can’t at least try to make money from your blog while creating content that you love! I loved what I was doing and while I didn’t yet have many readers (except a few that had migrated with me from an old blogger blog), I wanted to get myself set up so that I could possibly make money from my blog one day in the future.
Through my research then, and through blogging now, I learned there are a few different ways to monetize a blog. Here’s a quick rundown of various techniques, with more in-depth discussions on each technique to follow soon.
How do Bloggers Make Money?
1. Affiliate Marketing
With affiliate marketing, you enter into relationships with advertisers and place their links on your blog (be it text links, images, or banner ads). For the majority of the advertisers you will receive a commission if anyone clicks on your links and then places an order. For some other advertisers you will receive a commission for people just clicking on the ad.
When people ask me “what is affiliate marketing?” the best comparison I have come up with is that affiliate marketing is comparable to being a salesperson who works on commission. When someone purchases something from the salesperson, the salesperson makes a commission. It’s very similar for affiliate marketing. When someone clicks a link on your website and makes a purchase you will receive a commission.
One of the very many great things about affiliate marketing is that not only will you receive a commission on the one item you recommend on your blog, but you will receive a commission on their entire order! Depending on the cookie length that tracks movement to the website, you might even earn a commission if someone places more orders from the same store at future dates.
When I was deciding how to make money from my blog I decided that affiliate marketing was the best route for me because you can place the links on your website and then basically forget about them. Then, as people find those posts and click on those links, you can receive commissions in perpetuity. This is also what is referred to as passive income.
To learn more about affiliate marketing, check out What is Affiliate Marketing?
2. Advertising Networks
Working with an advertising network (or two) is an easy way to fill ad space on your blog. Some of the most common ad networks that bloggers work with are Google Adsense, . With each of these companies you add code to your blog and then advertisements are automatically generated.
Some advertising networks, like Blogher and Mode, have a minimum number of page views they require before letting you into their network. Because of this, you will want to check the guidelines for each network before applying.
On the other hand, you can apply to some networks like Google Adsense and Sovrn immediately. Unless it goes against the aesthetics of your site, there’s no reason to wait to add advertisements to your site. You can usually ad Adsense and Sovrn ads to your site from day one!
Some blogger ad networks require exclusivity. For instance, you can’t have both Blogher and Mode ads on your blog, but you can run Adsense in combination with every ad network.
3. Sell Your Own Ads
Many bloggers sell their own ads without the use of an ad network. The major difference between selling your own ads and using an ad network is that you pursue these opportunities on your own or companies reach out to you directly. There is no middleman.
Selling your own ads takes more time than working with an advertising network, although with no middleman you take home all of the profit! You do have to keep up with placing and removing the ads from your site and invoicing advertisers. Passionfruit is a popular company that helps bloggers manage their ads and there are also quite a free WordPress plugins that will help as well.
When you sell your own ads you can usually run them in conjunction with any ads placed by an ad network, as well as any other type of advertising on your blog.
4. Sponsored Posts
Sponsored posts are a great way for bloggers to make money, as an advertiser will pay you to post on your blog. A sponsored post can take many forms. Perhaps an advertiser has exact copy that they want you to post, or perhaps they want you to write about their item. Perhaps they are paying you to post an infographic on your blog. Maybe they’re sending you clothes and paying you to post photos of yourselves in those items. These are all examples of sponsored posts.
There are some networks that specialize in connecting bloggers with sponsored post opportunities, including:
Sponsored posts are great because advertisers pay you to create content featuring their products or companies. Before accepting sponsored posts you may want to ensure that the brand jives with what is on your blog. Readers will become suspicious and may trust you less if you write a blog about shoes and suddenly start posting sponsored posts about motor oil.
5. Brand Ambassador
It usually takes quite awhile for a blogger to have enough clout to become a brand ambassador for a company, but this is increasingly becoming a popular way for bloggers to make money. Basically, a brand will pay you money to promote their brand. They might request blog posts and social media posts in exchange for free products and money. The terms can vary depending on the brand. Being a brand ambassador differs from a sponsored post because a brand ambassadorship is typically for an extended period of time whereas a sponsored post may be one time only.
6. Social Media
More and more bloggers are making money not just from their blogs but also via their blog’s social media outlets. Instagram, in particular, is good for this right now. Depending on your following count, companies will pay good money for just one picture on Instagram! In fact, quite a few people are forgoing traditional blogs to focus solely on Instagram. Generally speaking the point at which bloggers can begin to see good money is when they have 25k+ followers on Instagram as well as an engagement rate of 2-10 percent.
While Instagram is the preferred social media outlet right now, sponsored tweets and Facebook posts aren’t uncommon either. You can also make money on Pinterest! It was recently announced that you an post affiliate links on Pinterest again, which can be a great way to supplement your blogging income! If you have a large social media following it can be quite easy to leverage those followers into big bucks in your pocket.
The Sky is the Limit!
When asking yourself, “How do bloggers make money?” the main thing to remember is that blogging is a relatively new profession. There is no one way that bloggers make money and the sky is the limit. In fact, what a lot of advertisers will tell you is that they love pairing with bloggers who come up with innovative ways to work with them. If you have an idea for a new way you want to make money from your blog, go ahead and pitch it! You never know… you might just come up with a new way for bloggers to make money!
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