Every blogger wants to make money from their blogging efforts, but which method is the best one? How do you choose from the myriad of options available for monetizing your blog?
A lot of people still (stubbornly? desperately?) cling to the low hanging fruit when it comes to monetizing methods, but the truth is, the ones that really work are those that take a bit more effort.
If you want to make real money from your blog, it’s important to realize a couple of things:
- A blog isn’t actually a business, it’s just a promotional mechanism.
- A blog does not make money, but a business does.
This means that when it comes to making money on your blog, it’s not just about choosing a technique to make it happen, it’s a matter of setting up a real business and using the blog as a means of attracting your ideal audience to that money-making machine that you’ve set up.
Once you understand this, then everything else you’re going to do when it comes to monetizing your blog will make more sense.
In this article, we’re going to discuss some of the best strategies that you can use to monetize your blog effectively. Any one of these will put you miles ahead of other bloggers who are still struggling to make money from their blogs.
1. Create a Membership Site
An online business model that can really turn your blog into a business is the membership site. Such sites can take on different forms.
One model of it is the recurring monthly program, but that’s not the only one that can provide revenue. You can still make a lot of money with other models that don’t require monthly membership fees.
This is by far the best and most effective strategy for monetizing a blog.
Your blog is already an informational resource, and your audience is there for the information that you provide on that platform.
So wouldn’t it make a lot of sense to create premium-level content and make it available for people to purchase right there on your site?
It’s a natural extension of your blog.
You could offer this for sale on a per-page basis or on a bundle basis.
You could also offer full-on membership levels and charge monthly, quarterly, or even yearly fees. There are lots of great membership platforms that you can use such as MemberMouse which gives you full order processing capability from right on your blog.
Your membership site content can range from single training videos to full multi-module courses.
You can even offer content upgrades where your members receive special bonuses after reading your posts (while everyone else sees an option to sign up for site membership).
2. Create Your Own Information Products
A membership site is just a platform to sell digital information products, but some people prefer other formats such as selling ebooks or selling their digital products through third-party marketplaces such as JVZoo, Clickbank, GumRoad, and E-Junkie.
All these are valid options for monetizing your blog. The bottom line is that online education and the sale of knowledge, in general, is a massive business.
Things are changing in the world of education as everyone is moving away from total reliance on universities and colleges, and they are embracing the ever growing cottage industry of specialized education on demand.
If you have any knowledge that your audience wants then you can participate and carve out a slice of the revenue pie for yourself.
There are a lot of sites such as Udemy that give you a platform to distribute and sell your own online courses, and you can use your blog to promote those courses.
However, keep in mind that with sites such as Udemy, there are certain limitations that are placed on you.
There are a lot of rules on this site that may not be in your favor, and you will have to be strategic in using them if you want to make money with them.
3. Services, Coaching, and Consulting
Selling information is one of the most attractive options for making money with any blog, but selling services is another great option that we should never discount.
It may not be a great option for a lot of people who are more focused on using their blogs to create passive income (and for those who speak out against the horrors of trading time for money…), but it’s one of the quickest and most direct ways to make money on your blog.
This is simply because there is no lag time. If you’ve got the expertise, you can be up and running within the day.
Also, you will be able to charge higher prices for your services, coaching, or consulting than you would charge for a digital course. Being able to sell a done-for-you service can prove to be very lucrative.
The goal here is to use your blog to establish your credibility and expertise.
You can still give away a lot of your best stuff for free to your ‘do-it-yourself’ crowd and be safe in the knowledge that most of them won’t want to do it themselves when they can simply hire you.
To make this work even better, combine the sale of information as shown above with the sale of services. This way your blog will have lots of revenue potential.
4. SAAS or Physical Product Sales
While information products are very lucrative, we shouldn’t dismiss the sale of other ‘real-world’ products such as physical e-commerce or digital products like SAAS (Software As A Service) – which happens to be an amazing business model.
You just basically solve a problem for a group of people using custom software and then sell it to them.
You can even have a built-in stream of revenue if you can charge for it through a recurring model. This is better than a membership site in some ways because membership sites offer training which requires upfront work prior to seeing the desired results, whereas SAAS carries the promise of instant results.
And don’t forget about e-commerce where the intention is to sell physical goods that get shipped to customers.
While this isn’t really my area of expertise, it is a multi-billion dollar industry that lots of people have found success in.
On the surface, some of these models may not seem to have a lot to do with blogs, but remember, blogs aren’t a businesses.
Blogs don’t make money – businesses do. Blogs are merely promotion mediums. So what your blog needs to be (in this case) is an amazing platform for promoting either your e-commerce business or your SAAS business.
Monetization is all about providing solutions to people’s problems and whether that solution is in the form of a physical product or software, a blog is a great tool that gives you countless free and paid options to get the word out.
5. Affiliate Marketing
Another effective way to build up income from your blog is through affiliate marketing, which is very simple.
You earn a commission when people purchase a product through your personal affiliate link. Affiliate marketing is attractive to most people because you don’t have to create the product yourself.
Also, there are no support or fulfillment issues that you have to deal with.
There are a lot of big-name bloggers who are doing it successfully and they sure make it look easy. But, it’s important for you to realize that it wouldn’t be easy if you were to rely on affiliate marketing as your main business model.
First of all, you have next to no control over the sales process.
Also, not all niches have decent products that you will feel good about promoting and still make good commissions.
This means that the strategies we discussed above where you would make direct sales of your own offer would be preferable to this one. It’s best to use affiliate marketing as your business’s profit maximizer instead.
You will be able to make money that way, but it won’t be the core of your business.
And besides, we’ve established that a real business is one that sells solutions to people so it stands to reason that if you’re just a middleman then you don’t have a real business.
To be successful as an affiliate marketer, you must treat each product that you promote as if it were your very own.
Don’t ever promote something just for the commission. Only do it if it really presents a solution for your audience’s problem.
Everything you do in your blog should be focused around helping someone make the shift from a ‘before’ state to an ‘after’ state.
Look for the usual obstacles that crop up during this period of transformation and you will be able to find the products that best get your customers where they desire to be.
You must also provide them with valuable and helpful content that enables the transformation and the product that you’re promoting should be the means to that end.
6. Paid Posts or Paid Reviews
Paid posts and reviews can generate quite a bit of cash flow.
They are often seen in markets where there’s a lot of reading and community and people buy a lot of stuff but there isn’t really a clear transformation.
The ‘mommy blog’ market is a great example of this.
Blogs are an extremely powerful branding tool and in some markets like the mommy market, there are some huge brands created by women that just don’t sell anything, but they do have a lot of influence.
So it makes sense for companies who need to promote themselves to approach these bloggers and make a deal with them to talk.
The reason this strategy is so low on our list is that it doesn’t really work for everyone.
If you’re going to sell paid posts, just remember to disclose fully (it’s required by law) and look at it as more of a package deal. Think about your social networks and email list as well as your blog and set up bundles providing the advertiser with different levels of exposure.
This is basically paid advertising, except that you’re the direct provider.
You can charge large amounts of money depending on the level of your influence. But remember, you want to build a business with a solid foundation, so this means providing direct solutions to your audience so even if you do this, always be on the lookout for those opportunities.
7. Banner Ads
Banner ads are at the bottom of our list for a lot of reasons.
First of all, making money from banner ads isn’t impossible but the truth is that in order to make any real income, you’d have to have TONS of traffic.
And after you’ve done all the work necessary to make that happen, you could make ten times that amount from selling to those people directly.
Besides, why work so hard to get them to come to your site only to send them somewhere else for a few pennies?
Doesn’t really make sense, does it?
And yet, there are some markets such as politics and news that don’t lend themselves to transformations.
This means that if you’re in such a niche then you have few other options for monetizing and that’s where banner ads can be used heavily.
People in these types of markets have to rely heavily on banner ads as a monetizing strategy.
I’m guessing that you arrived at this post either because you’re just starting to think of making money with your blog or you’ve been trying to do so for quite a while without any success and you are desperate to find the best way forward.
Either way, while all this may seem complicated and overwhelming, all you need to do is pick one of the strategies that you can implement first and work on that.
As long as you understand the real purpose of your blog, you will be able to start making money no matter which monetization method you choose.
Feel free to post your comment below. An email address is required but it will not be shared with anyone, put on any list, or used for any kind of marketing, just to alert you if there are any replies. Thanks and happy hunting!
Updated: Originally published June 7th 2018
This Post Has 10 Comments
Your post has really given me a lot to think about.
I am at a crossroads with my business or blog at the moment and you have given me a new perspective on how to view it. The blog is not a business but a means to promote my business.
Currently I consider myself to be an affiliate marketer but it needs more direction. I know I don’t want to get into coaching, I spent over a decade doing that face to face but it would definitely be trading time for money again.
Membership sites or ebooks is probablly my best option. Which Do you think works best and has the best money potential?
I would use ebooks as lead magnets and a membership site for generating revenue. The reason is that ebooks are so easy to copy. It’s impossible to prevent people from just giving them away to each other. So, embrace the idea!
Use ebooks as something to give away, with your website link inside, to promote your membership website and gain leads. They can act as teasers for your best stuff in the membership site. They should provide value, but not give away everything.
Reserve your best stuff for a membership site. It is less likely to be spread around for free.
Just my opinion, I am sure there are other strategies as well, but this is the direction I would go.
Thanks for the comment Karen!
Thanks for these great tips on how to monetize your blog. The only one I’ve really got involved with is affiliate marketing — as it seems one of the easiest and effective ways to start out with monetizing your blog.
Plus you don’t have to deal with a lot of the other problems that usually occur when you create products and such.
Not having to deal with customers is one of the biggest advantages of affiliate marketing. It’s a little tougher to get filthy rich doing it, but, it is certainly possible to make a good living at least. Some have made huge fortunes through affiliate marketing, most earn more than a typical 9-5 job and it is a lot more fun being your own boss.
Thanks for the comment Michael!
This is a very interesting post! My website up until now focuses solely on affiliate marketing and I’m determined to get it up to a level of sustainable income. Do you think that this is unrealistic?
I focus on writing guides for hiking the mountains in Scotland (and further afield) while on the side I do gear reviews as well as hiking tips. Do you think I could make this a membership site?
No, you aren’t being unrealistic at all, and yes, you certainly could make your niche a membership site if you decided to go that direction. Or, you could do a combination of free articles to attract visitors and a membership for your best stuff that can’t be found elsewhere.
It takes time and determination to make any website sustainable. You seem to be doing everything right so far, hang in there, keep going.
Once you find your audience, provide good quality information and gain trust, you will have success.
Thanks for the comment Stephen!
Your website flows easily, has great media content and is full of great information.
I know it is a tightrope to walk with the number of links you have in a blog/post. I think you have done well. I would like to have seen a couple links in some of the areas where you didn’t have a link…just a thought.
Maybe a “Pros/Cons” section about each one, although you did mention them.
Great article. Great information. Keep up the good work.
I admit, I do miss link opportunities. I plan to go back over older posts and include useful links when there is more time.
Thanks for the suggestion and comment Joe!
Hi there Steven,
Thank you kindly for sharing your thoughts in regards to the very best strategies for monetizing blogs. It is appreciated, thanks.
I am one for using multiple manners and channels of monetizing my sites. The very reason for that is I do not wish to be reliant on one single manner (say Affiliate marketing) or one single company/merchant (like Amazon).
I have the tendency for seeking out 3 monetization strategies, each with at least 3 “suppliers/merchants” For example affiliate marketing Amazon plus two independent merchants. Dropshipping (3 suppliers!) and ads (Google adsense +2 others).
Implementing those is of course as each site grows and establishes itself. I wish my business and livelyhood not to be dependent on a single supplier or monetization method.
It is smart to diversify. Having more than one source of income adds to your chances to make a conversion.
Thanks for the comment Derek!