“How do bloggers get paid?” is a common question I hear when I tell people about the websites and businesses I work with. Making money from a blog still seems like a pipe dream to many people. But it's a reality for the owners of hundreds of thousands of blogs.
What's their secret? The answer is, there's no secret. It all boils down to strategy.
How do they earn income from a mere ‘blog'? The answer is, it depends. There are lots of ways to monetise a website. And at the same time, there are lots of ways to do it wrong.
Here are some tried and tested methods you can use to turn your blog or website into a profitable business.
I’d like to point out that the information in this article is aimed at bloggers and nice website owners. It’s not aimed at Saas business owners or websites with monetisation strategies in place.
Adsense used to be a lucrative way of monetising niche blogs but it’s not any more.
And what makes it even less compelling is that Google doesn’t even like ads on your website. The company that makes 95% of its profits from ads can penalise you for putting ads on your pages. That’s enough to turn anyone off.
Your traffic won’t drop much if you put advertisements in the sidebar and in the content. But the rewards from a well-optimised ad service can be worth any degradation in speed and user experience.
Mediavine is the way to go here. With a great team and a far superior product to Google ads, any blogger with at least 25k sessions a month should consider Mediavine.
Some bloggers take the ad concept a little further. They reach out to companies aligned with their niche topic and offer them ad space on their sidebar, in content, or on social media posts. What you lose in automation (from Google Ads & Mediavine) you gain in a personal relationship with the brand and potentially more lucrative ad space.
This is a big topic so I've split it into sections
Web Hosting Affiliates
Some of the most popular and lucrative affiliate marketing options are in web hosting. Blue Host, a popular web hosting company, has the market covered. Everyone from Pat Flynn to every travel blogger on the internet recommends the service through affiliate links. However, I wouldn’t use Blue Host, so I simply don’t recommend it. It's a very lucrative affiliate program, and the temptation is there for new bloggers to start promoting it.
A much better option is SiteGround. The commissions are much lower than with Blue Host. But that’s something bloggers and website owners will have to figure out for themselves. Should they recommend a product that they don’t really like or use, just to capture bigger affiliate commissions? The truthful answer is “no”. I encourage you to try SiteGround.
It will be much easier to write about this web hosting company if you are a fan. And I'm sure you will be. Your audience will recognise this enthusiasm and won't be disappointed. This leads to a trusting relationship and future affiliate commissions on other products you recommend.
WordPress Themes & Site Builders
Another good way to monetise a blog through affiliates is to promote WordPress themes and website builders. I've included this here because it's a huge affiliate market and some bloggers make most of their income from recommending themes. With WordPress cornering 30% of the entire web, there is no shortage of people looking for new themes for their websites.
Website owners often chop and change their themes and some like to just keep up with the latest designs and user experience recommendations.
Security is also important and a big selling point of premium themes over free themes.
StudioPress offers some of the best affiliate commissions in the WordPress space. The company also happens to offer outstanding themes. We use Genesis, their flagship product, on 90% of the websites we build. It’s a very secure and fast theme framework.
Website builders are drag-and-drop apps that let you build landing pages quickly. You can even design entire sites with these tools but I'd still recommend using them for landing pages, sales pages, and maybe the homepage of your website.
Everyone needs good-looking landing pages and nobody wants to spend too much time building them.
In the past, website builders were too clunky to be a viable option for serious bloggers. But these days, there’s a much better option for site owners. It’s called Elementor. A lightweight and powerful website builder that many people recommend. They offer a great affiliate program too.
Elementor doesn’t play well with StudioPress themes. So if you plan to offer this site builder, you should recommend either Astra Themes or OceanWP themes. Both of which are excellent WordPress themes and also offer affiliate programs for bloggers.
You can promote these products by mentioning them in blog posts. Create a resources pages to direct people to if they ask you about your technical setup. Product review pages are another good way of promoting a product like a WordPress theme to your visitors. Again, I recommend that you only promote products you use and believe in.
Amazon Associates is one of the most popular ways to monetise websites through affiliate marketing. It works just like other affiliate networks. As a blogger or website owner, you link to products on the Amazon store and when people buy the product, you get a commission.
The difference with Amazon Associates is that the commissions are low compared to other programs. This means that for each purchase you’ll get a smaller percentage of the sale. But on the plus side, Amazon converts customers really well, and you get paid a commission on ANY item that your visitor buys within 24 hours of clicking on your link.
Where you lose on the percentage, you gain on the likelihood of them converting and the possibilities of them buying big-ticket items along with the product you recommended.
Save yourself a lot of time by installing Amalinks, a WordPress plugin that lets you place Amazon affiliate links on your WordPress according to Amazon compliance standards. With Amalinks you can create, preview, edit and insert Amazon affiliate text links within your content with a click.
Pre-Made Affiliate Websites
Building an affiliate website from scratch can be a bit daunting. There are endless questions around starting a new website. Will it work? How long will it take? How much to spend before I see traction?
But you don't have to start from scratch. The guys at Human Proof Designs have done the heavy lifting for you. They offer pre-made affiliate-ready websites that will get you fast-tracked towards an online business. The sites come pre-loaded with blog posts and content so you just need to build upon the proven track.
Let’s imagine you’re a travel blogger and you know how to write great articles that get traffic. You can monetise your blog by offering writing services to customers. In this way, your blog also acts as a portfolio or lead generator for writing services. People will be able to see just how well you write by browsing the blog.
Make it easy for people to find you. Set up a writing services page. Stick a high price tag on it, to avoid enquiries from content farms and low ballers.
Link to some of the best articles on your site. Include testimonials and case studies. If you’ve worked with brands and helped them achieve their goals, this is the place to brag about that.
This is something that takes a lot of skill to get right (and something I still don’t do). But many people can make good money from offering sponsored posts on their websites. Brands need new audiences and new eyeballs on their products.
It’s important not to sell yourself too short. If your blog gets decent traffic, make sure you’re compensated by brands for sharing their products with your audience.
The lower you price yourself, the lower the overall price drops further. It turns into a race to the bottom with brands winning out. Bloggers and site owners should try not to drop their prices too low or it will hurt the entire community in the long run.
Are you an expert on your topic? Are you one step ahead of your audience in terms of skills? If you answer yes to either of these questions, you have the opportunity to offer coaching services.
People generally pay a premium for coaching sessions so charge accordingly.
Which industries work well with online coaching offers? Well, any industry that has beginners looking for answers, advice, and guidance.
Do you have a cooking blog? Offer coaching services on setting up a kitchen or becoming a professional food blogger.
Is your site in the travel niche? Offer coaching on travel hacking, travel writing, travel photography, and anything else you feel confident about.
Do you code? Why not offer coaching on development. This is one of the easiest things to coach thanks to the internet. There’s no reason, other than shyness (which you’ll soon overcome) not to offer coding coaching if people already come to your site for the knowledge you offer.
Are you a personal trainer? Offer coaching calls to people looking to improve their diets or fix their workout routines. Many people don’t have access to dieticians or personal trainers but as long as they have an internet connection, you can help them.
The next two options are firmly in the category of “products”, although they aren’t physical products. The reason I include them here is that building a course or creating an ebook or Kindle book is easier once you understand what your audience is interested in.
In fact, you could consider a bog to be a way of validating the market. If you write about health & fitness for the over 40s and your audience loves it, why not create courses and books to satisfy the people that prefer this kind of media. Video marketing is huge and books are still a great way to package popular blog posts and repurpose content.
Online education is one of the fastest growing sectors of internet marketing. People are hungry for knowledge and short on time. Who wants to travel across a city, find parking, and pay for a physical classroom setting when you can take courses online in the comfort of your own home.
Some courses are unsuitable for online delivery but it might surprise you how many weird and obscure courses are for sale online. And the market is worth almost 300 Billion.
One of the best platforms for selling a course is Teachable. Alternatively, you could run your course inside your WordPress website with course creation plugins.
All of these products also have affiliate programs, so if you like using them, promote them to your audience.
It’s never been easier to produce a book. In fact, it’s often as simple as clicking a few buttons. That’s a simplistic way of looking at it and in reality, creating an ebook or Kindle book takes some effort, but it’s nothing compared to the work involved in creating a book 10 years ago.
Kindle Create lets you transform a manuscript into a Kindle eBook quickly and at no cost.
Here’s a strategy that works for a lot of entrepreneurs.
Figure out which blog topics around a certain niche perform well. Use Google analytics to find the topics that people resonate with.
Ask your audience. If you have an email list or a Facebook group it might even be as simple asking them what they’d like you to write about.
Export the blog posts into a Word document and edit it into a cohesive book. Use Kindle Crate to build a Kindle book.
You can also create ebooks to sell on your site. Another great option for passive income once the initial hard work is done.
Beacon lets you create ebooks from your WordPress content through a plugin
There’s also a free version and a pro version for more advanced users.
Scrivener is the tool I use to write for this blog and over a dozen other blogs. I compose everything in the desktop app and then transfer it to WordPress for blogs or export it to EPUB, MOBI and Kindle.
And now the important bit – getting paid. If you're monetizing your blog through affiliate commissions alone, then you won't need to add anything to the mix. But if you plan on selling courses, products, services, or anything else and you don't want to build complicated payment systems, you need a sales page and shopping card solution.
ThriveCart is a complete solution for accepting payments, recurring payments (for freelance jobs or services), creating upsells (adding more features to a purchase), affiliate software (create your own affiliate programs), landing pages, and more. There's often a lifetime deal offer on ThriveCart which is a total bargain as you'll never need to pay for anything else again.