Many people start a blog with a plan to monetize it from the start. Others start a blog to share their interest with the rest of the world and would continue blogging even if it didn’t make them money.
(Guilty! I wrote on a few topics for pennies, sometimes even for free, just because I loved the topic—gaming. Eventually, I got paid for my work, but I didn’t start out expecting to make money. Now, I write about gaming for my own business.)
It’s not selfish or shady to try to make money from your blog. That’s a thought that crosses about every blogger’s mind. And it’s high time you get over that way of thinking if you’re one of the ones that still feel guilty for trying to monetize your blog!
Blogging is a service—the same as any other kind of writing. Whether you’re writing for yourself or for a company, you should get paid! If you’re providing value to your readers, you have every reason in the world to get a little something back. Sometimes that money only covers the expenses of your blog, but for many of us, it has potential to replace your full-time job or at least provide some good supplemental income so we can focus on what we love.
What to Expect from Your Blog
While I’d love to tell you that blogging is easy and that it can start making you tons of money from the moment you start it, that’s simply an unrealistic expectation. Most of the blogs that tell you how to “make money quick” or “rake in the $$$ while you sleep” are finally starting to die down, but they’re still out there.
I see tons of income reports that talk about making over a thousand dollars in their first month…with programs that require a waiting period of several months to be eligible for a payout.
Realistically, you shouldn’t expect anything from your blog for the first year, especially if you’ve never started a blog before. If you’re starting from the ground up with no connections, no audience, no social following, it can take a while to generate any income from your first blog.
My first year, I didn’t make anything off my blog. I wasn’t quite sure how to monetize a blog, aside from things like AdSense and other PPC-type programs that required thousands of page views to make a few cents.
This blog, which I launched in January and started promoting early March, didn’t make a dime until April. Admittedly, I didn’t push it as much as I should have. But despite the fact that I didn’t have as much time as I thought I would, I still made some income from referrals and affiliate links. Most other bloggers I’ve talked to say it took them anywhere between 6 months and a year to start seeing income from their new blogs, sometimes longer if they didn’t have a strategy for promoting their blog.
I don’t say this to discourage anyone—although it might be discouraging after hearing about how easy it is to make money from your blog in your first month. I just want to set expectations and talk about what’s typical. While it’s entirely possible that you might make some income your first month, it’s not likely. Blogging isn’t something that produces quick, immediate results.
Decide How You Want to Monetize Your Blog
There are tons of way to monetize a blog online—running ads and promoting affiliate products are the most common ways to make money from your blog. You can also use your blog to promote your own products and services, if you have a hobby, business, or do any sort of freelance work. I’ll go more into how to implement these later on, but these are some ideas to at least get you thinking about what you want to try.
Selling Your Own Products
The easiest, most straight-forward way to monetize your blog is to sell your own products.
If you already have a business or a product to sell, you have a good chunk of the work done. But promotion (without sounding salesy!) is probably 80% of what you’ll do. I spend about two hours on a blog post, editing included, and about 8+ hours creating graphics, sharing it to social media, and reaching out to people who might be interested in reading or sharing an article.
Blogging about your own products is easier—you already know them and don’t have to take the time to learn about them. However, you’re sacrificing stability by only covering your own products. Your audience likely has diverse interests—fill in the gaps with commission-based sales on products you don’t have. (The game and hobby shop I help run only carries so many cards—rather than missing out on sales, we get commission by referring customers to companies who carry what we don’t. I write content that ties in a combination of our own products and others.)
If you want to come up with a product to sell, but don’t have any products, we’ll cover some ideas in the next blog post.
Advertising is the most common way people make money from a site. The problem is that you need lots of traffic for it to work. This works well for sites that write about broad topics like health, fitness, news, entertainment, and other topics that appeal to the masses.
It’s much more profitable to work one-on-one with companies, rather than relying on PPC-type programs. Especially if you deliver content to a highly targetted audience, companies will be much more willing to work with you and pay a monthly rate for banner ads and even sponsored posts. (Especially with content centered around gaming and other forms of entertainment, banner ads are an easy pitch.)
Affiliate marketing has become a huge part of most bloggers’ income. For some, it’s the sole income from a blog.
The great thing about affiliate sales is that you don’t have to keep inventory, spend time creating products, and can just focus your efforts on content. (This blog is an example of that since I don’t sell any of my own products on the site.)
Affiliate programs are fairly easy to get into. There are tons of programs available to newcomers—you don’t have to have traffic (or sometimes even a site) to apply. Applications ask about how you plan to promote links, which could be via an email list, social media, or a video hosting site. Most bloggers promote links via their website, but you’re not usually limited to just a website. (Keep in mind that some email providers and social sites don’t allow affiliate links—make sure you adhere to the terms and conditions of the site you’re using if it’s not your own!)
Once you decide what you think will work best for your site, start a list. If you chose to advertise as your primary form of income, make a list of companies you want to reach out to. What kind of companies do you want to work with? What companies will your target audience find most appealing? If you chose affiliate sales, make a list of companies you’d like to work with that already have an affiliate program. If they don’t have one listed, don’t be afraid to ask! Some companies don’t make that information public. Others might just think there’s not an interest for an affiliate program.
And if you’d rather just stick to your own products, make a list of your top sellers. Which products appeal to your audience the most? While you’ll eventually want to promote all of your products, start with a “flagship” product and build on that. If you don’t have products, but want to come up with some, fear not! We’ll discuss some product ideas in upcoming blog posts.
Don’t forget—if you haven’t downloaded your Blog Starter workbook, start here! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments or contact me. Keep an eye out for new content—I’ll cover some in-depth strategies on each of these different income streams in the near future. Sign up below to be notified of new blog posts.
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