One of the great things about blogging is that you don’t need your own products or services. Maybe your goal is to generate a full-time income, or perhaps you’re more interested in using your blog as a side venture. Either way, there are plenty of options open to you.
Let’s take a look at four different methods that you can put into practice to start monetizing your blog right away.
1 - Ad Publishing
Blogs are perfect for ad publishing because they are all about content, and that’s exactly what ad publishers are looking for.
So how does it work?
The ad publisher places ads on your pages or posts, and you get paid based on the agreement between you and the ad publisher.
Here's an example of a banner ad displayed on a website (weather.com).
Some publishers pay you for each time one of your blog visitors clicks on an ad, and some pay you based on the results of those clicks. For example, a sale that resulted from one of your visitors clicking on an ad on your blog. Others pay a rate based on factors like how long the ad will be displayed.
Here’s a list of the possible ways to earn money through ad publishing:
- 1Paid each time a user clicks on an ad. In this case, it doesn’t matter whether the click results in any other type of action.
- 2Paid when the click results in a purchase.
- 3Paid when the click results in the user taking action such as filling in a form or subscribing to a service.
- 4Paid an upfront fee based on factors such as the size of the ad and how long it will be displayed on your blog (a day, a week, a month, etc.)
In practice, 1 and 4 are common. 2 and 3, not so common.
The biggest and most popular ad publishing program, Google AdSense, pays for clicks on ads that you place on your blog.
Google matches the ads both to the content of your blog and to the visitor's interests and demographics. You and I might both visit the same blog simultaneously but see different ads because Google tries to show each visitor the most relevant ads to them.
The image below shows an AdSense ad for 'Pavers' shoes displayed to the left of the page content.
1. Relatively easy to set up.
2. Safe and secure.
3. Lots of different ad formats and sizes to choose from.
4. It’s virtually ‘set-and-forget’
5. It’s open to new websites (providing they have enough content)
1. It’s common for a site to be rejected once or twice before ultimately being accepted.
2. Earnings are low—usually just a few cents per click. Most blog owners who use Google AdSense use it in conjunction with other monetization methods, such as affiliate offers (we’re covering that in a moment!).
Other ad publishing options
'Media dot net' is the Yahoo/Bing alternative to Google AdSense and works in a very similar way.
'Buy Sell Ads' works differently to AdSense and Media.net. In a nutshell, ad publishers can buy ad space on your blog at a price determined by you. The downside of this option is that ad publishers will not pay very much for ad space on a website that only gets a small amount of traffic. Therefore, this option works better after your blog has built up a decent number of weekly/monthly visitors.
2 - Affiliate Marketing
As with ad publishing, affiliate marketing aligns well with blogging because, once again, it’s about content!
How does it work?
You promote products or services from other companies by creating content around the product or or service and/or placing banners on your blog. When your visitors click a link or a banner, they are redirected to a website to make a purchase. You get paid a referral commission on every sale that originated on your blog.
Everyone’s familiar with Amazon, but not everyone knows that website/blog owners can get paid simply by recommending products sold on Amazon.
The biggest benefit of the Amazon Associates program is the credibility of the Amazon marketplace. When you direct your blog visitors to Amazon, they are going to a place where they already feel comfortable. Therefore conversions (purchases from visitors who clicked a link or banner on your blog) can be excellent.
The best part…
You get paid a referral commission for every item purchased in the session.
What does that mean?
The best way to explain it is with an example.
Imagine that you have written a post about the Acme (not a real brand!) rice cooker, and you add a special affiliate link in the content of the post. When one of your blog visitors clicks the link, they are taken directly to the Amazon listing page. If they purchase the rice cooker, you get paid a commission.
However, you also get paid a commission on almost anything else they purchase during the session. Amazon defines a session as either 24 hours or the time the customer completes the purchase. It’s whichever happens first.
The customer might (and they often do) purchase multiple items at the same time. Even if the customer doesn’t purchase the item they originally looked at (the rice cooker discussed in your blog post), you still get paid for most other items they purchase during that session. It can really add up!
1. Higher than average conversions.
2. Get paid on most items purchased in the session.
3. Easy to get accepted into the program.
4. Lots of tools and features available.
5. Ability to direct your international users to their own local Amazon website.
1. Low commission rates (3% - 10% of the transaction value)
This is an established and trusted affiliate network. You can promote products from leading brands and websites, such as Etsy, Reebok, Jane, Groupon, and hundreds more! In fact, there are 1000’s of products and services available to promote through ShareASale.
Rates of commission vary from brand to brand and product to product, but you can earn as much as 25% or more on some types of offers.
Another trusted network that works in a very similar way to ShareASale and gives you a huge choice of products and services to promote and earn affiliate commissions.
Primarily an ‘info product’ marketplace, ClickBank is a popular option for online guides, e-books, and video training. It’s easy to get started and has a user-friendly affiliate interface that lets you quickly filter through all the available offers.
Digital products, such as those sold on ClickBank, usually have higher commission rates for affiliates. 50% is common, and 75% is not unusual!
However, it’s worth keeping in mind that although commission rates tend to be high, conversion rates for digital products are generally lower than they are for tangible products.
Independent Affiliate Programs
Aside from CJ, ShareASale, and ClickBank, many companies operate their own independent affiliate programs.
To find opportunities in your niche, do a Google search. For example, let’s say that you have a blog or plan to build one about Pyrography (the art of writing and drawing with fire). You would search for:
‘pyrography affiliate program’
As we can see, there's no shortage of affiliate opportunities for pyrography!
3 - Drop Shipping
This is another great way to monetize your blog without the need to have any products or services of your own.
Drop shipping works by connecting your site with suppliers of products related to your niche. When a sale is made, the customer pays you, and you then pay the supplier, who in turn ships the product to the customer. The difference between the customer's price and the price you pay to the supplier is your revenue.
Here’s an example:
Imagine that your blog is going to be about rooftop gardening. There are lots of different products related to rooftop gardening because, basically, it’s just a garden on a roof.
The first thing to do is check to find out if any suppliers drop ship because while there are suppliers for most types of products, there may be some that are difficult to find suppliers for.
A quick Google search for ‘gardening products dropshippers’ brings up several results.
You can also try replacing the word ‘dropshippers’ with ‘dropship suppliers’.
The main difference between drop shipping and promoting affiliate products is that with drop shipping, you sell items directly from your website/blog.
Even though you do not fulfil the orders (the supplier does that), you are still taking orders and processing payments. Therefore, you need a shopping cart plugin, such as Woocommerce, and you will also need a payment processor, such as Stripe or PayPal, so that users can make purchases with a credit or debit card.
1. Sell products directly from your own website.
2. No need to purchase stock or ship products.
1. You will need to collect and submit sales tax on orders.
2. You will need to set up a payment processor, and this normally requires you to have a registered business (sole proprietor, LLC, etc.).
3. You are responsible for customer support.
4. Profits are typically lower than with traditional (non drop shipping) e-commerce.
In summary, drop shipping can be a good option simply because it gives you the advantage of not sending users away to a different website to make a purchase.
However, in practice, the cons might outweigh the pros, and net profits might not be any higher than they are with the affiliate model.
With that in mind, it’s worth thinking carefully about whether you want to deal with sales tax, customer support, returns and refunds etc. As an affiliate, none of that applies because you are not the seller. You are merely the referrer.
4 - Premium Content
If you have expertise in something that others want to learn, you have an opportunity to create premium content that provides a real benefit to others.
Premium content is high-value content that’s made available only to users who are willing to pay for it.
Some examples of content that you could charge a fee for.
- Video courses.
-‘Members only’ content (subscription-based).
If you decide to make some of this type of content available on your blog, make sure that it represents an additional value over and above your regular content. Create content that gives users more value and more benefit than they can get simply from reading posts and articles.
1. You are creating an asset that can potentially generate revenue indefinitely.
1. It takes a significant amount of time and effort to create premium content that represents great value to the user.
2. In most cases it means processing payments directly on your blog. Therefore you would need to deal with sales taxes and refunds etc.
Unless you happen to have your own products or services that you want to sell, the simplest options for monetization are affiliate marketing and ad publishing. Combining both often works well, providing you are careful not to have too many ads and banners on your blog.
Choose the affiliate offers wisely and focus on creating content related to the offers instead of just displaying banners everywhere!
Drop shipping is a good option because, unlike affiliate marketing and ad publishing, the sales are made right on your blog. The advantage is that users stay on your site instead of being redirected to another site to make the purchase.
However, you need to be willing to take on the extra responsibility of processing payments, collecting tax where applicable, and customer support.
Premium content is another great way to monetize and it can also help to boost your reputation. The key to successful premium content is providing as much value as possible and making sure that users get more benefit from it than they do from your regular content.
The downside is the time and effort required to produce this sort of content, but if that doesn’t phase you, then maybe consider starting out with something simple like an e-book or a detailed guide/tutorial.