When I started my blog a little over a year ago, I didn’t really know that it was possible to earn any kind of dough from running a website. I’d heard of bloggers, of course, but they might as well have been mythical creatures of the new millennium. I didn’t know any steadfast bloggers, and certainly none that were making cash from their hobby. But as I began to dip my toes deep into Blogland, I realized that the possibilities were nearly limitless. With hard work and some research, I knew that blogging was a gateway and tool to reach many other things. One of those things simply being, income. Since I was absolutely clueless about all of this when I first started, I thought it might be helpful for you all if I shared some of the ways I’ve found for how to earn money as a blogger.
Ad networks / Content Marketing
Ad networks are kind of like the middle men. They work with brands and companies to create ad campaigns and sponsorships with bloggers. There are various types of collaborations that they facilitate, from sidebar ads to sponsored posts (i.e. posts dedicated to a certain brand, like this one). If you’ve ever seen a sponsored post on a blog, it was likely the product of a collaboration with an ad network (though, not always). Below are some of the most popular (and in my experience, best) ad networks for bloggers. The first three are the ones I’ve had the most success with.
- Tap Influence
- Pollinate Media
- Clever Girls Collective
- Massive Sway
- Lijit / Google Adsense / Yahoo Bing Network
- Blogher (I have been on their waiting list for like, a year. Seems difficult to get into this one!).
Affiliate marketing is a little bit different, but easier to explain. Basically, you can sign up to be an “affiliate” with different companies — meaning that when you share about that company on your website, and someone goes to that company’s site and buys things, you will earn a commission. There are thousands of affiliate programs out there. Seriously, tons. If you’re curious, sites will usually have a link at the very bottom of their webpage that says “affiliates,” which explains how to sign up for their program. However, there are “affiliate networks,” like Share-A-Sale, where you can easily browse through and search for your favorite brands and apply for their programs. Usually, you’d sign up to be an affiliate if you like the brand already. It’s kind of like, if you’re going to talk about a product on your blog, you might as well earn a commission for marketing that company’s product to your audience. I find affiliate marketing to be easier if your blog has a clear niche or focus. I imagine fashion bloggers could earn decent commissions because they have the chance to link their clothing using affiliate links. My blog? Not as much. But I still use them from time to time if there’s a product I want to share. Bottom line, if you like something, why not become an affiliate? Here are a few popular affiliate networks:
Sidebar Ads / Sponsors
Sidebar ads are just that — ads you see on the side of a site. Though, they can also appear elsewhere, like at the top or bottom of a page. Basically, you earn money when someone buys a little piece of web space on your blog. I have a some on the right side of my page — see ’em? Sponsorships, as they’re often called, can also include other things — like a tweet about your sponsor’s site to your Twitter followers, for example. I use Passionfruit Ads to handle my sponsorships and have never used anything else. There’s a small, yearly fee to use their service, but I personally think it’s well worth it. I’ve been running sponsors on my blog for almost a year now and have really enjoyed the experience, as it’s not only made me an increasing amount of income, but also connects me to tons of other bloggers each month.
(Related: How to Kick Ass at Blog Sponsorships)
Personally, I think that the most lucrative way to earn money from your blog is to use your blog as a marketing tool and stepping stone, rather than the whole shebang. Branching out also helps you to grow your blog in general, because it increases your presence around the web (and the world). So, what do I mean by “branching out”? Here are some examples of how you could use your blog to gain income and create more followers:
- Sell e-books.
- Sell e-courses.
- Create a membership group (like this one or this one) that people can pay to join and subscribe to.
- Teach live workshops.
- Speak at events, such as blogging conferences.
- Create a digital business that can be promoted through your blog. For example, many of my graphic design clients are people who have found me through my blog. Other ideas are to create an Etsy shop or be a social media guru.
Final Thoughts About How to Earn Money Blogging
- Don’t expect it to come quickly. I have worked pretty tirelessly on my blog and genuinely love blogging, but realistically, only make 20-25% of my income from blogging (13 months later). It takes time and an awful lot of work. Don’t feel bad if it takes a year or two to start seeing any momentum.
- I don’t know many bloggers who earn money from their blog alone. By that, I’m referencing mainly to my previous point about thinking bigger than your blog. Most bloggers don’t earn a living just from selling sidebar ads and writing one post everyday. A Beautiful Mess sells books and e-courses. Designlovefest teaches Blogshop, a popular Photoshop workshop for bloggers. Oh Joy! just created a line of products for Target. These are some of the biggest bloggers I know of, yet they are constantly innovating and thinking of new ways to use their blog as a creative starting point and marketing tool. Be an innovator. Branch out.
I know this is a lot of information and I hope it doesn’t overwhelm you! Basically, there are a LOT of ways to earn money from your blog, if that’s something you want to do. Be creative and think of new ways to build on what you’re already doing or interested in. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments! 🙂 Do you earn money from your blog? What have been your best strategies?
p.s. Want more blogging tips? Check out our blogging archive with TONS of advice.