When I built my first website, making money online from blogging still felt like an underground and exclusive community of entrepreneurs. We were members of several internet marketing forums, and it seemed like there were only a handful of us that were really into it.
For most of us it was more of a hobby than it was a career. Websites we’re my pride and enjoy. I could create my own piece of art that the world had access to. It was a way of expressing myself and my interests, with potential to make money. Today, blogging is a favorite of entrepreneurs.
The cat’s long been out of the bag that running a good blog can be profitable.
What’s probably most appealing about blogging, is that it’s a simple concept that allows you to follow your passion and write about topics you enjoy. You don’t have to be a salesman and there are plenty of monetization techniques. Some don’t involve listing products or services on your website at all. You can continue focusing on writing great content without having to change much, if anything, about what you do or how you do it.
The most common ways to monetize a hobby blog
These are monetization methods that have been used by thousands of businesses before you. There’s potential to make a few hundreds dollars per month, to tens of thousands. Understanding your options is key to your success, and your happiness as a writer and hobby blogger.
1. Sell Products
Maybe you don’t want to start an e-commerce store, but you’re open to the idea of using your blog to drive traffic to your own products.
Create digital products
If your products can be digitally delivered, you eliminate all the typical hassles of selling products online. There’s no need to carry inventory, you don’t have to ship anything, and customer support is typically pretty easy.
Great digital products for monetizing your blog are things like coaching videos, educational ebooks, consulting videos, and digital downloads. If you’re an expert at something, you can use that expertise to create a digital product that offers something of value to your readers.
List physical products
Selling physical products online is a big responsibility and it can be difficult to manage when you’re already tasked with providing great blog content.
However, if you decide to go this route – you can create the products yourself and source a factory to manufacture it for you, find wholesalers that carry existing products, or find a dropshipping company. With each method you will be responsible for your own customer service.
Dropshipping is probably your easiest way to physical products. A dropshipper ships direct to your customer, which means you don’t have to carry stock or worry about shipping. There’s typically a dropship fee that will eat into your profit, but it’s a worthy fee to avoid the common pitfalls of running an ecommerce store.
A common issue with some dropshipping providers is product availability. If your supplier suddenly runs out of stock of a particular product, it’s up to you to update your website to reflect this. Most systems aren’t automated so if you don’t do this quickly, you might have a customer that places an order for a product that is actually out of stock with your supplier. Additionally, dropshippers generally don’t provide the same low pricing that you can get when you buy the products wholesale.
When buying wholesale, you have to find a supplier with low pricing and bulk discounts. The price you pay will need to be considerably less than what you can sell the products for on your website. You will also need to spend a good amount upfront to get stock and inventory behind you. Buying an initial batch of products prepares you to take orders.
Manufacturing your own product
If you have a great idea for a product and your blog is the perfect way to raise awareness, consider manufacturing it yourself. You will have to source your own manufacturer, order samples, communicate your suggested quality enhancements, and work out a rate for bulk purchases. However, once the process is finalized, you’ll have a product that’s unique to your website, you’re guaranteed the lowest rate because you went right to the factory, and there won’t be any competitors.
2. Sell digital Services
If you have a unique skillset or you’re confident in your ability to outsource something successfully, selling digital services online can be a very profitable monetization strategy. It’s a method that pairs well with blog content because you can offer services that are directly in line with the topics you write about.
Build a talented team behind you
More likely than not, you’ll want to continue spending your time blogging. Switching gears and being a full-time service provider might lead to the decline of your blog and your business. To counteract this, you can hire help and develop a team for providing your digital services. This takes some of the workload off you and allows you to manage the team, rather than being the jack of all trades.
Dozens of service options
Popular services to sell through a blog include content writing, web design, programming, coaching, or consulting. You’re by no means limited to the tech and marketing industries though. The opportunities are endless and your service depends on your skills, your knowledge, and background.
An easy transition
Selling services is a route that many bloggers take because it’s a great way to monetize without significant startup costs. The investment to provide your own digital service is virtually nothing, other than your time and energy.
As a blogger, you can easily transition into an online service provider without compromising the structure of your website as well.
3. Sell Ad Space
Selling ad space gives you the creative freedom to continue writing about topics you enjoy. There’s no pressure to cater to any particular audience other than who you’ve been writing for all along. You don’t have to add products or services to your website, you just keep blogging away while earning ad revenue.
Sidebar, header, or footer space can be ideal places for advertisements. Businesses will be willing to pay a good price for the exposure and brand recognition that your blog can provide them.
Reach out and offer media buys
Selling directly to businesses in your industry is the most profitable way to monetize your website with ads. You can use cold calling or cold email tactics to get in touch with potential buyers. Look for thriving businesses in your industry that might benefit from an ad on your blog.
Adsense is the Google platform for earning ad revenue on your blog. Their partner program, Adwords, is where these advertisements come from. Businesses spend millions of dollars through Adwords to reach their target audience on Google, and through partnered websites within Adsense.
If you use WordPress, can use monetize your blog with Google Adsense by installing a plugin such as Quick Adsense. This will be the easiest way to choose ad locations and implement your unique Adsense code. Ads don’t go live on your website until your Adsense code has been added to the proper areas of your website. If you don’t use WordPress, you may have to paste your Google Adsense code into your theme’s files manually.
Try other AD networks:
Other ad networks give you access to high budget advertisers immediately. These include:
With many of these networks, advertisers will begin bidding and competing to display their ads on your website after you sign up. If you have a high traffic site with desirable content, you should get bids within the first few days.
There are many ways to earn with ad networks
In comparison, the major difference between these ad networks and Adsense, is that they offer multiple ways to earn revenue. Some allow you to feature contextual links within your content that are automatically applied, while others off pay-per-view and pay-per-impression earnings. Adsense is a pay-per-click platform. While they do track views and impressions, you don’t get paid for these.
Use content marketing networks
As an alternative, you could also host content-based ads using ad networks like Outbrain, Zemanta or Taboola. This is a good idea if you don’t want to promote products or services on your blog, but are open to the idea of promoting other content.
These networks only accept ad campaigns that use non-promotional content from blogs and other businesses in your industry.
Why ad space makes sense
Blogs are especially popular when it comes to ad space and they are often sought out by investors. Selling ad space is a reliable way to monetize a blog for beginners. It allows you to focus on what matters, which is producing great content for your audience.
The only downside to ad space is that it can take time to accumulate enough traffic to earn a living. When you sell services or products, a smaller amount of visitors can provide more revenue. When your blog is new and doesn’t have traffic, getting businesses to take interest in your website and purchase ad space is near impossible. Until your website has enough targeted traffic to warrant businesses to investment in ad space, you won’t earn ad revenue.
4. Use affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing requires slightly more technical knowledge than listing products, selling services, or earning ad revenue. However, it’s still a beginner friendly concept and one of the best ways to monetize a hobby blog.
How it works
Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting the products or services of other businesses, while earning commission on sales that derive from your website.
Virtually every product and service on the internet can be promoted as an affiliate. Amazon, Walmart and almost all major retailers have affiliate programs that generally offer commissions between 1% and 15%.
You’re not limited to physical products either, as digital service providers commonly have affiliate programs as well.
freedom to choose your approach
When you promote affiliate products or services, you can do it as subtly or aggressively as you’d like.
You could casually mention them using contextual links within blog posts, write review articles that compare multiple products or services, or blatantly sell them using a large ‘buy now’ button.
There’s no standard way to do affiliate marketing and you have the freedom to monetize your blog using in whatever way you’d like. Affiliate marketing gives you options that other monetization strategies don’t have.
No Customer support or shipping
Affiliates don’t have to worry about customer service, shipping products, or any of the common hassles to selling online.
Simply link to the product or service using your special affiliate link. If you get a sale, the seller is responsible for shipping the product or delivering the service. They also provide all customer support.
When you sign up for an affiliate program, you will be provided your special affiliate link. This is just like any other http://empowermented.com/ link, except that it tracks how many times the link is clicked and how many sales it has generated. Affiliate links also come with a browser cookie that is stored on the user’s computer for a set number of days, usually 30. This cookie ensures that even if the user doesn’t buy the product or service that day, and later returns to purchase it days later, you will still be credited with commission.
Some buyers will be lost
Since you are linking to the affiliated product, this also means that the traffic on your website will be directed off-site when they click one of these links. For this reason, it’s a good idea to make all external links on your website open in a new tab so that you don’t lose those visitors for good and potentially shrink your audience.
However, even opening links in a new tab doesn’t fully safeguard you. Some buyers will be lost forever. It happens for when the buyer has no need to use your website again and was truly only interested in the affiliate product you directed them to. This is why your website’s content is extremely important. If you can keep your audience engaged, they’ll always have a reason to come back.
Most affiliate marketers choose to join affiliate networks to gain access to multiple products and services at once, rather than having to join individual affiliate programs.
- Amazon Associates
- Performance Horizon
- Impact Radius
- Web Gains
- Digital River
Once you’re a member, you’ll have access to millions of products and services that you can promote on your website.
As an alternative to promoting products or services you could also join CPA (cost-per-action) affiliate networks. Instead of promoting products, these are offers that require an actionable outcome from the user such as submitting their email address, filling out a short survey, or signing up to the website. All CPA offers are different and the requirements for each are unique. In certain industries, CPA offers can be very profitable.
CPA affiliate networks:
- Affiliate Crossing
- AdWork Media
- Matomy Media Group
- GlobalWide Media
- Adscend Media
Affiliate marketing is similar to selling ad space in that your primary responsibility is to build a great website with valuable content. It’s one of the easiest and most profitable ways to monetize a blog. If your goal is to make money online, whether it’s a few hundred dollars per month or a few thousand, affiliate marketing is a promising monetization method that’s beginner friendly.
Blogging is a great way to earn money on the side, or even earn a living, online.
Your blog content provides a way to attract an audience, while your monetization method uses that traffic as leverage for revenue. There’s a number of ways to do and your approach can be entirely your own.
Entrepreneurs, business owners, stay-at-home moms, or anyone with a passion for writing – look at the above methods as ways to monetize your blog and start making money. You can continue doing what you love while turning a profit. Hobby blogs can be very successful with the right plan in place.