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One of the things I always tell bloggers is that you need to diversify your blogging income. As a freelancer, you just never know when a company may close, file for bankruptcy, change your commission rates, or any other number of factors. Thus, the only way to protect yourself from a constantly changing industry is to diversify!
Since the earliest days of my blog, I’ve been involved in affiliate marketing, advertising networks, and influencer networks. But while I believe in diversification, I’m not perfect and there are always networks and platforms that I prefer more than others and sometimes that has come around to bite me. For instance, Google used to have their own affiliate platform, Google Affiliate Network. It was clunky and outdated technology, but it somehow worked for me and it was through this network that I made the most money. Then, in 2013, they suddenly announced they were closing. It was about this same time that Illinois got hit with a Nexus Law, meaning Amazon kicked all of their associates in the state of Illinois out of the program.
Frankly, it was a rough time for me because even though I was doing everything right, companies were closing doors to me and there was nothing I could do about it. From that point on I decided to double down on my income diversification efforts, and I can’t stress enough that my fellow bloggers should do the same. Having multiple streams of blogging income is the only way to protect yourself from the fickleness of the industry.
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If you want to diversify your blogging income, or are looking for more ways to do so, here are some ideas that will help you get started.
Ways to Diversify Your Blogging Income
Obviously, I am a huge proponent of affiliate marketing. With affiliate marketing, you earn a commission when someone purchases an item that you have promoted on your blog. You can get set up through one (or more) of the major affiliate networks (though I recommend starting with ShareaSale), or you can join private affiliate networks if there are products you really love and want to promote. For instance, I recently became an affiliate for the Skyrocket Your Pageviews ebook because I love how this step-by-step guide walks you through using Google Analytics to increase views on your blog. It’s one of the best blogging-related ebooks I’ve purchased!
Regardless of what type of blog you have, there’s surely an affiliate program that’s a good fit for your content, and a product you can sell without being too salesy.
Using an advertising network to fill sidebar space in your blog – or even space within the posts themselves – is a great way to diversify your blogging income. Of course, everyone knows about Google Adsense, but there are tons of different networks out there that are available to bloggers.
Most advertising networks work on a cost per thousand (CPM) model, meaning that all you need to do is place the ad on your site and you will earn money based on every thousand pageviews each ad receives. It doesn’t get much easier in terms of passive income, although most will find that they need to have decent traffic to start making money from advertising networks.
There are so many different advertising networks for bloggers, including Amazon, BlogHer, Chitika, Infolinks, Media.net, Sovrn, and more. Before joining any network, be sure to check the terms and conditions as some may demand exclusivity (meaning they’re the only ones that will place ads on your site) while others offer more flexibility or make no demands at all.
If you want to place ads on your site but aren’t keen to go through an advertising network, private ads may be an option for you. You can place private ads anywhere you want on your site, but the one key difference between going with this option instead of an advertising network is that you do all of the work yourself. You’ll need to find advertisers, gather the ad artwork, physically place the ads on your site (and replace them when the terms run out), and collect payment. It can be a lot of work, but there are plugins that will help you keep track of everything, including:
Let’s be honest: All bloggers should join influencer networks. Why? They will help you secure paid campaigns, be it sponsored posts, video creation, social media posts or anything in between. They are typically free to join, although some have minimum requirements – such as page view requirements – and once you’re a member you will receive regular updates about campaigns that may be a good fit for you. From there, it will generally be up to you to complete a brief application stating why you would be a good fit for the campaign and then the network will decide if you can participate.
Some of the major influencer networks that I recommend include:
A sponsored post is basically an advertisement, except that you are typically given the leeway to write exactly what you want. You can book sponsored posts through influencer networks, but you can also reach out to companies directly, or wait for them to reach out to you with opportunities.
While blogging used to be THE thing, many are now finding their social media accounts to be more lucrative and are using that to their advantage.
We’ve written about how to make money on Instagram and how to make money on Pinterest, including by posting affiliate links on Pinterest, but that barely scratches the surface of the different types of endorsement opportunities that exist for social media. It literally pays to get creative with social media!
The thing I will say about focusing on a social media account to make money is that you really need to have an engaged following on the outlet you want to monetize. (Nope, you don’t have to monetize all of them if you don’t want to!) To go this route, focus on getting more Instagram followers or more Pinterest followers, and then enjoy the rewards of your focus!
Sell Your Own Products
Are you creative in some way? Can you create something that others need? If so, one of the ways you might diversify your blogging income is to sell something you’ve made. Maybe this is an e-course or an ebook. Maybe you have an Etsy shop, sell digital products on Creative Market or work for a direct sales company. The sky is the limit!
Sell a Service
If you don’t have a product that you want to sell, another way to diversify your blogging income is to sell a service. For instance, our contributor Tiffany is a fantastic writer and offers freelance writing services for other bloggers. Or, perhaps you’re great at social media and want to become a social media manager. If you can do a little bit of everything, you might consider becoming a virtual assistant.
Personally, I love helping other bloggers so I just started offering blog critiques and blog post reviews, but your own service can be anything that you excel at and that’s of interest to you. If there’s something you can do that others may need help with, go ahead and start selling your services!
Have a Membership Site
It probably won’t work for all types of blogs, but one way to diversify your blogging income is to start a membership site. This means that your readers will pay for access to your content. For an example of how this is done, look no further than the infamous Kardashian and Jenner sisters. Each of their sites has some free content, but the majority of it is behind a paywall that you will need to pay $2.99 per month to access. Many newspapers are also following this format online, where they will offer a few posts a month for free and then beyond that you need to pay for a subscription.
The Sky is the Limit
There’s really no right or wrong way to diversify your blogging income. Don’t force it, though. Instead, try to come up with ideas that are within your skill set and that will add to what you’re already doing on your blog.
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