“How do blogs make money?” is always one of the first things people ask me when I say I’m a blogger. It’s like this big mystery that no one understands, but really it’s very simple.
There are 4 main ways blogs can earn money, plus any number of other freelance and “on the side” type opportunities that could arise as a result of having a successful blog and becoming an influencer. Most money-making blogs have multiple income streams, and they pick and choose various forms of revenue from this list:
These are the little banners and blinking lights that go in your header, on the sidebar, or even mixed in with the text in your posts. Google Adsense is one of the most popular ad networks for bloggers, especially new ones, with Infolinks and Media.net also being good beginner options for new or smaller blogs. Mediavine is a higher paying option for more established (read: high traffic) sites. There are lots of ad networks! These are a just a few.
2. Affiliate marketing
This is where you talk about products you use, love and/or recommend, and via specialized tracking links earn a commission every time one of your readers clicks through and makes a purchase. Amazon is a popular affiliate program as they accept new bloggers and incorporate so many niches. Shareasale is another good option. A good rule for finding affiliate programs to join: Think of products you already love and use regularly (and that fit your blog niche), and then search Google for “brand name + affiliate program” and see what comes up.
3. Sponsored posts
There are two types of sponsored posts, on your blog and on your social media, but both involve a brand paying you to post about them. Sometimes they’ll want a whole post devoted just to them, sometimes they’ll just want a mention or product placement in a post related to their niche (for example a tent company might pay you to do a post about 10 tips for camping and include their tent in the tips and/or the featured photo on the post). They may also pay just for a tweet on Twitter, or a post on Facebook or Instagram. MassiveSway and Social Native are two of my favorite sponsored post networks, but there are hundreds out there, plus you can sometimes have better luck pitching brands directly via email.
4. Selling a product or service
If you have an area of expertise (and it doesn’t have to be significant, just something you know more about than the average Joe) you could make and sell an ebook, course, product or service on your blog. It could be a 10 page ebook on favorite Keto recipes, a 30 day course on how to improve your relationship, a guide to the best potty training methods, coaching or consulting services, website design, anything! If you can make it or teach it or provide it, you can sell it on your blog.
5. Freelancing and “ala carte” work
Once you’ve established yourself as a quality writer and an authority in your niche you may be offered paid opportunities to write for other websites and blogs. Congrats! You’re now a freelance writer. Alternately you may be offered paid speaking gigs, etc. All kinds of things pop up.
Or, alternately, maybe you’ll fine tune other skills. If you develop an affinity for photography, for example, or video production, brands may pay you just for those services. For example no blog post required, but XYZ Company will send you product and payment in exchange for a set of images featuring their product. Or a resort may hire you to make a video of you and your family enjoying their amenities just so they have something to share across their social media platforms and website. These types of opportunities probably won’t come until you’re very established, but they can become a legitimate income source.
These are the main ways blogs earn income, and it can be a little or a lot (making a full time income+ takes time but is totally possible). Are you surprised by anything here? Or is it what you expected?