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How to Monetize a Blog: 23 Proven Ways to Make Money Blogging + Real-Life Examples

There’s a ton of information out there on how to monetize a blog, but so little of it gives you the specifics and action steps you can take RIGHT NOW to make money blogging.

This post is different. I will list out 23 legitimate blog monetization methods, give you real-life examples of bloggers who employ those techniques (and how much they make from them!), and then give you action steps to take TODAY to start seeing a profit.

I’ve broken down the 23 blog monetization methods into 7 broader categories:

  • Advertising
  • Sponsorships
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Digital Products
  • Physical Products
  • Monthly Subscriptions
  • Freelance Services

Now, let’s dive in and find out how to monetize a blog!

 

*This post has affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you choose to purchase after clicking my affiliate link. This costs you nothing extra. Thanks for supporting this site!

How to Monetize a Blog - Pinterest


 

Advertising

 

You’re probably familiar with advertising, as it’s the traditional way any publication makes a profit. Ads have gotten a bad rap recently, and with the rise of ad blockers and “banner blindness,” people like to claim there’s no money to be made here. They’re wrong. My blog is relatively small, and I earned more than $1,000 in ONE MONTH from advertising.

#1 Join ad networks

This is the easiest way since you don’t have to worry about selling ads; it’s all done for you via the ad network. It’s probably the most passive way to earn an income.

>>Real-Life Example: Lena Gott of WhatMommyDoes.com earned $3,200 from advertising networks in February 2016.<<

how to monetize a blog - ad networks

>>Your Action Step: Join an ad network!<<

Here are some ad network options:

  • Google AdSense – I recommend starting with AdSense when you’re just starting out, because it doesn’t require a minimum amount of traffic.
  • Media.net – While they don’t state a specific minimum traffic requirement, you do need to have a good amount of steady traffic visiting your site. And I’ve seen this ad network recommended by other bloggers. However, I do not have personal experience with them.
  • Mediavine – This is the ad network I currently use! They require a minimum of 25,000 sessions in the last 30 days for you to apply.
  • AdThrive – They require a minimum of 100,000 pageviews in the last 30 days for you to apply. I’ve never used AdThrive, so can’t vouch for them, but I know some big bloggers who use them.

The way to maximize your earnings from ad networks is to increase your blog’s traffic. Unlike the other methods described below, your ad revenue increases in direct proportion to your traffic—no matter how “targeted” that traffic is. So it means you don’t necessarily need to publish content for the purpose of selling anything; you can just publish content (ideally, content that gets a lot of traffic) and make money from ads.

#2 Sell banner ads directly to a company

Instead of going through an ad network, you can sell space in your sidebar, for example, directly to a company. Reach out to them in an email, tell them your blog stats, and let them know how much you would charge per month for a banner ad in that spot on your blog.

>>Real-Life Example: Harsh Agrawal of ShoutMeLoud.com says he prefers direct ad sales vs. using an ad network. << Here’s what he writes:

“Direct advertisements are good because you are saving money by eliminating the middleman. These direct advertisement sales are making me almost $1500 per month.”

Below is an example of a direct ad on his website. This means that ad is placed there by him, and he sold the spot directly to the company, rather than having it be served by an ad network:

how to monetize a blog - direct ad sale example

>>Your action step: Check out ShoutMeLoud’s post on why he prefers to sell ads directly.<<

#3 Sell text links (the legit way!)

This is just another form of advertising, but instead of a display ad (those big images you see in sidebars and such), it’s simply a text link to a brand’s website of choice. Now, I want to be very clear: Selling text links to companies is frowned upon by Google and runs the risk of getting your blog de-indexed (that’s very bad). To avoid being penalized, you must “nofollow” paid text links. This is very simple and requires only adding a few characters of code into your HTML. Here’s how to “nofollow” link.

>>Real-life example: Here’s an example of a paid text ad offer from foXnoMad:<<

how to monetize a blog - paid text ads

#4 Start a podcast and sell ad spots

I know, I know, it seems like everyone’s starting a podcast these days. And with good reason: Podcasts can be profitable. Once you grow your number of listeners to a substantial amount, you can sell ad spots to companies. What’s an ad spot? It’s basically what you hear at the beginning, middle, and/or end of a podcast when the host says something like, “This episode is brought to you by [company name]…”

Typically, when a company is interested in sponsoring a podcast, you need to provide them with your number of listeners and/or the average number of downloads your podcast gets per month. You can sell ads at a per-month rate, with a minimum commitment if you’d like. For example: “Ad spots on my podcast are $897/month, with a 3-month minimum.” That means the company will pay you $897/month, but they have to commit to working with you for 3 months, a total investment of $2,691.

>>Real-life example: The EOFire podcast generated $100K in sponsorship revenue for the month of August 2015.<<

how to monetize a blog - podcast sponsorship revenue

>>Your Action Step: If you want to make money blogging via podcast sponsorships, check out this extremely thorough podcast sponsorships guide by Entrepreneurs On Fire.<<


 

Sponsorships

 

Sponsorships and advertising are basically the same thing, as both seek to promote a company you’ve partnered with. However, sponsorships are often less obvious than ads. This is why it’s important you disclose your relationship with a company by letting your readers know the post was sponsored.

#5 Publish sponsored posts on your blog

It’s important to disclose that you were compensated by adding something like, “This is a sponsored post” or “This post is sponsored by [company name].”

>>Real-Life Example: Here’s an example of a sponsored post from It’s a Lovely Life:<<

how to monetize a blog - sponsored post example

And here’s how much It’s a Lovely Life made from sponsored content in April 2017, according to an income report published on their blog:

how to monetize a blog - sponsored content income

#6 Publish sponsored posts on your social media

You need to disclose that you were compensated by adding something as simple as #sponsored or #ad in the social media post.

If you want to monetize your blog with sponsored Instagram posts, you need to build an engaged following and curate a beautiful feed, like this one from @jar.of.lemons:

how to monetize a blog - sponsored instagram post 1

>>Real-Life Example: Here’s an example of a sponsored Instagram post from @jar.of.lemons:<<

how to monetize a blog - sponsored instagram post 2

And here’s how much she made from sponsored posts in August 2017, according to an income report on her Jar of Lemons blog:

how to monetize a blog - sponsored post income

#7 Land press trips (in-kind compensation)

Press trips or sponsored trips are what most people think about when they think about making money from a travel blog: Scoring free hotel rooms, tours, and trips thanks to your blog.

Well, I own a travel blog, and I have never done a press trip. One reason is that getting paid “in-kind compensation” is not the same as getting paid in cash. Still, for some of you, that may be the dream, and if so, it’s definitely attainable!

>>Real-Life Example: Wanderlust Storytellers scored $827 worth of accommodation, tours, and tickets in one month.<<

how to monetize a blog - press trips

How? They collaborated with brands on their trip to Tasmania. If you want to explore press trips, it helps to reach out to the local tourism board of whatever destination you’re traveling to. Make the pitch about them, not about you. Tell them how many people your blog reaches and how it can help them boost revenue.

#8 Become a brand ambassador (in-kind compensation)

When you’re a brand ambassador, you represent a brand and show them in a good light. Usually, you’re paid in-kind compensation with free product and merchandise, though sometimes it can be monetary compensation.

>>Real-Life Example: Matthew Karsten of ExpertVagabond.com is experienced with long-term ambassadorships. He says he earns up to $20,000 per project.<<

how to monetize a blog - press trips


 

Affiliate Marketing

 

Affiliate marketing is when you promote a product and get a commission for every sale made via your affiliate link. Ideally, to be an effective affiliate marketer, you will promote products you use and love. This helps build trust with your audience and is just the right thing to do. Also, the FTC requires that you disclose each time you post an affiliate link to your readers.

#9 Join affiliate networks

>>Real-Life Example: We can’t talk about affiliate marketing without talking about Michelle of MakingSenseofCents.com. She earned more than $62K in ONE month from affiliates:<<

how to monetize a blog - affiliate marketing income report

>>Your Action Step: Join some affiliate networks today!<<

  • Skimlinks – The reason I like Skimlinks so much is that it automatically converts regular links on your blog into affiliate ones if those affiliate programs exist for that product. All you do is paste some code, and Skimlinks does its thing. The huge advantage is that you don’t have to go and apply for every individual affiliate program. Lots of time savings.
  • Amazon Associates – Everyone uses Amazon, right? (Okay, maybe not everyone, but a LOT of Americans do.) You can use Amazon Associates (their affiliate program) to promote products you use.
  • Awin – Awin is a pretty major affiliate network with some big names, such as Etsy, Eurail, and Lonely Planet. Sign up for Awin here.

#10 Become a direct affiliate for your favorite products

This is my favorite way because you cut out the middleman, build a relationship with the brand, and get to promote products you already use and love!

>>Real-Life Example: Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome.com is an affiliate for ConvertKit (he’s also an advisor), and earned $36,956.18 in December 2017 from ConvertKit affiliate income alone!<<

how to monetize a blog - direct affiliate

>Your Action Step: Think of the of your favorite products. Then do a Google search to see if they offer an affiliate program. Sign up for at least ONE affiliate program!<<

Here are some products I’m an affiliate for:

 


 

Digital Products

 

Digital products are another favorite way to make money blogging, because there is no need for storing inventory or dealing with shipping costs. Plus, unlike with affiliate products, when you create your own digital product, you get to keep 100% of the sales! (Minus processing fees for your payment platform)

#11 Create an online course

Perhaps the queen of online course creation is Melyssa Griffin, or maybe Mariah Coz. Both have built six-figure-a-MONTH empires from selling online courses. Online courses are all the rage these days, and it’s true, you can earn a VERY high profit from these because you can sell them at a higher price point than, say, an ebook. However, they do require a lot of time to create and maintain (creating the curriculum, filming and editing videos, beta testing, marketing, launching, managing students, customer service, etc.). They’re not so passive, if you think about it.

>>Real-life example: Alex and Lauren of CreateAndGo.co earned $50,131 from sales of their online courses in November 2017.<<

how to monetize a blog - create online courses

>>Your Action Step: Check out Alex and Lauren’s Six-Figure Blogger course.<< 

They gave me complimentary access for me to try it out, and I’m going through it right now. I’ll write a full review of my results when I’m done!

#12 Write an eBook

If you don’t want to create an online course, I highly recommend you write an eBook. You will likely have to sell it a much lower price point than an online course, but it also takes less time to create and maintain. You don’t have the “classroom” element that requires you to manage students like an online course does.

>>Real-life example: Abby of Just a Girl and Her Blog earned $2,256 from one ebook in one month. <<

Where to sell your eBook

  • Gumroad – I highly, highly recommend using Gumroad when you’re selling your first ebook (it’s what I use!). Why? Unlike SendOwl (which is awesome too), Gumroad requires no upfront fee for selling an ebook. It simply takes out a fee if and when you sell an ebook.
  • SendOwl – Once you get to the more advanced stages and you’re selling tons of ebooks, it makes sense to switch to SendOwl if you plan to build out an affiliate program for your book. This is because SendOwl has a much more sophisticated affiliate management system, whereas Gumroad’s is very manual, as in, you have to manually add every affiliate who wants to join. With SendOwl, you simply share a link and the prospective affiliates can go sign up themselves.

#13 Create contract templates (or pitch/email templates!)

If you have a certain skill (and you probably do!), why not turn that into a downloadable PDF template and sell it on your blog?

>>Real-Life Example: Christina Scalera of The Contract Shop took her legal expertise as a lawyer and opened an online shop that sells contract templates for creative entrepreneurs! Check it out below:

how to monetize a blog - contract templates

I’ve even purchased a Privacy Policy template from The Contract Shop. And yep, if you are a blogger, you NEED to have a privacy policy on your website. Here’s what The Contract Shop (which is owned by a lawyer!) says about it:

“Did you know that without a privacy policy, you could be breaking federal law? That applies even if you’re in another country, especially if you have readers based in the US or Canada.”

I recommend you get the Terms & Conditions + Privacy Policy template from The Contract Shop here (it’s the same one I bought!)

#14 Sell printable downloads

>>Real-Life Example: Sarah Titus made $69K in one month selling printable downloads.<<

how to monetize a blog - printables income report


 

Physical Products

 

While physical products require storage and shipment, the advantage is that they sometimes can be easier to sell than digital products. Consumers like tangible goods, and thanks to the Internet, they can have a hard time justifying purchasing something digital. Here are some ideas for physical products you could sell on your blog:

#15 Sell planners

>>Real-Life Example: Regina of ByRegina.com made $3,224.22 in January 2015 from a physical blog planner she sells on Amazon.<<

how to monetize a blog - physical planner

#16 Start a dropshipping business

>>Real-life example: JohnnyFD made $30,167.82 from dropshipping in March 2017.<<

how to monetize a blog - dropshipping


 

Monthly Subscriptions

 

The subscription model is brilliant because it creates the coveted Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) that makes your business revenue so much more predictable and stable.

#17 Create a membership that charges a monthly fee.

You can create a membership targeting a specific audience with exclusive resources for members, such as videos, audio trainings, courses, downloads, masterminds, Facebook groups, and more.

>>Real-Life Example: Heather Crabtree hosts The Savvy Community, which charges a monthly $39 fee for access to masterminds and library of resources (videos, audio trainings, worksheets, etc.). I’m actually a member!<<

#18 Create a blog subscription model

Much like magazines charge a subscription if you want to receive their issues, blogs too can charge a subscription for readers who want access to premium content.

>>Real-Life Example: If you think it’s implausible, just look at Ben Thompson of Statechery.com, who said in 2015 that he had 2,000 subscribers paying $100/year to access his premium content, which would mean potentially $200,000 in revenue from his subscription. Whoa.<<

how to monetize a blog - subscription model

#19 Create a paid job board or directory

>>Real-Life Example: Tom Ewer of LeavingWorkBehind.com launched PaidtoBlog.com, which includes a job board of high-quality blogging gigs. He charges a monthly, quarterly, or annual fee for its members.<<Paid to Blog Jobs


 

Freelance Services

 

Selling services is the fastest and simplest way to monetize your blog. Period. However, many bloggers balk at services because they’re not “passive.” I think freelancing is a great way to get your blog monetization kickstarted, and then you can slowly transition to the more passive methods. Here are some ideas: 

#20 Offer blog audits

>>Real-Life Example: Jonnie of ByJonnieMarch.com offers blog audits to her readers. It made up $75 of her $3,077 in blog income in August 2017<<

#21 Sell freelance writing services

>>Real-Life Example: Gina Horkey of HorkeyHandbook.com earned $18,516 in gross income in November 2015, and 15% of that came from freelance writing.<<

how to monetize a blog - freelance writing

>>Your Action Step: Check out Gina’s FREE 200+ Writing Niches guide to get an idea of how you can make money freelance writing.<< 

#22 Offer SEO services

If you know a lot about SEO, you could offer SEO audits and consulting services to other bloggers!

>>Real-Life Example: Grant Sabatier Millennial Money made $13,500 in January 2017 selling SEO consulting services.<<

how to monetize a blog - seo services

Here’s what Grant writes about that decision:

In early December I launched my Work With Me page, with a specific SEO consulting call to action. This has been really popular and I signed 14 different bloggers in January, charging between $500 and $2,000 for a full site audit and strategy depending on the size of the website. These are services I have previously sold for $50,000+ to large companies.

#23 Offer coaching to your readers

If you have an area of expertise, offer coaching in that area to your readers! For example, if you write a blog about freelance writing, offer freelance writing coaching. Or, if you write a blog about social media marketing, offer Pinterest coaching to your readers.

>>Real-Life Example: The Practical Saver earned $645 in 9 months via a Pinterest Coaching side hustle on their blog.<<

how to monetize a blog - coaching example

 


Recap: How to Monetize a Blog

Those were 23 proven ways to make money blogging. The biggest takeaway from learning how to monetize a blog is there is no one perfect way. What works for one blogger may not work for another. It’s all about trial and error, experimenting and tweaking.

Sell advertising

I highly recommend starting with Google AdSense, then when you hit 25K sessions/month, upgrade to Mediavine (the ad network I currently use!)

Alternatively, if you don’t meet the 25K sessions/month for Mediavine just yet, sign up for Media.net. You’ll likely see higher ad revenue than AdSense (try both to see which works best) AND a HUGE reason I like Media.net is you have control over what kind of ad content appears on your blog; you can block certain advertisers or you can block by certain keywords in your ads dashboard. This is really important to me.

Get sponsorships

To do this, you can either go through a platform like IZEA or Activate, or you can email brands directly with collaboration offers.

Join affiliate programs

Here are some good ones to start with:

  • Skimlinks – The reason I like Skimlinks so much is that it automatically converts regular links on your blog into affiliate ones if those affiliate programs exist for that product. All you do is paste some code, and Skimlinks does its thing. The huge advantage is that you don’t have to go and apply for every individual affiliate program. Lots of time savings.
  • Amazon Associates – Everyone uses Amazon, right? (Okay, maybe not everyone, but a LOT of Americans do.) You can use Amazon Associates (their affiliate program) to promote products you use.
  • Awin – Awin is a pretty major affiliate network with some big names, such as Etsy, Eurail, and Lonely Planet. Sign up for Awin here.

Sell digital products

Online courses are probably the most popular digital product to create right now, but you don’t have to go that route. I don’t have an online course. Start out with creating a smaller product, like a workbook, printable, or ebook to see how it goes.

Sell physical products

Personally, I prefer digital products over physical products, but one idea that’s been executed successfully by some bloggers is selling physical books or planners, particularly via Amazon. You can do this easily through CreateSpace.

Create a subscription

This is the ideal situation, in my opinion, because you get monthly recurring revenue, making your business so much more predictable. Consider creating a membership site or a subscription to your blog.

Sell freelance services

If you want to learn more about freelancing, check out my book on how to earn up to $6K/month freelancing.

Related: 


So did you find any new ideas on how to monetize your blog? Did I leave anything out? Comment below to help your fellow bloggers!

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2 comments

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  • What an incredibly well written blog packed with examples. I admit that I loved the blog and there are several areas that I considered but said no in the past, but now rethinking. In all honesty, the most difficult part about the blog it’s very busy and can be overwhelming.

  • This incredibly amazing, am working and hope to reach such levels, this post really inspires. I currently use Media net and other ads networks to make money on my blog. My goal is to qualify for mediavine and also start selling my own products like E books. Thanks for sharing this great insights.

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