14 Ways You Didn’t Know You Could Make Money Blogging
If your goal is to make money online, you’ve probably stumbled across more than one get rich quick scheme. Starting a blog takes more time than some of the gimmicks out there, but if you put in the work to do your research and create an amazing blog, it can be a truly fun, rewarding, and profitable source of income.
Whether your goal is to quit your day job and live the influencer life or just pocket a little extra income while you do something you love, there are lots of ways to turn a blog into a revenue stream.
In this article, we’ll be going through how anyone with a great idea and a little dedication can make money blogging, including:
- Ways to monetize your blog content
- How to make money producing members only content
- What it takes to successfully sell digital products
- Selling physical products online
- Accepting donations for your creative content
How to Monetize Your Blog Content
Monetizing your blog content sounds pretty straightforward -- it’s just making money for blogging, right? But how do you get there?
There are lots of ways to monetize your blog content. You can sell ad space, join affiliate programs, write reviews, or place sponsored posts. In this section we’re going over some of the most reliable ways to make money from the actual pieces you place on your blog and how to get started with them.
1. Affiliate marketing
Lots of brands offer some sort of promotion for referring friends to their service -- delivery brands like GoPuff and UberEats, meal boxes like HelloFresh, even gym programs like ClassPass.
Affiliate marketing takes that same idea a step further -- rather than just referring friends, affiliate programs give you a unique link that you can place in your blog content to direct readers to specific products or deals. When a reader makes a purchase through your unique affiliate link, you earn a referral commission for sending a customer to that brand.
Obviously, affiliate marketing is something of a numbers game, and it works best if your blog is already generating a decent amount of traffic. The more readers you have on a page, the better the chances someone will make a purchase through one of your affiliate links. There’s also an art to driving sales through your affiliate links, but that is a topic for a future post.
How to get started with Affiliate Marketing
- Join the Amazon Associates program. The Amazon Associates program is one of the largest online affiliate programs in the world (duh, it’s Amazon). Just sign up, create affiliate links, and start earning. Click here to get started.
- Sign up with Commission Junction. CJ is a hub that connects brands trying to expand their reach with content creators who want to cash in on affiliate marketing. Signing up for a publisher account is free and opens you up to partnerships with some of the biggest brands in the world. Click here to get started.
- Create a ShareASale account. ShareASale is another option for connecting and building partnerships with major brands. Having a ton of affiliate opportunities all in one place definitely streamlines the process and makes monetizing your content easier. Click here to get started.
- Do some research. If you really want to optimize the money you’re making through affiliate marketing, spend some time researching the most lucrative affiliate opportunities out there. You may stumble upon something awesome.
- Make your own opportunities. Think about the brands and products you already love. What do you use everyday? What products completely blew you away the first time you tried them, the ones you recommend to anyone who asks? Check out their websites to see if they offer any sort of affiliate program -- these can be a great place to start your affiliate marketing experience.
2. Place ads with Google AdSense
If you’re ready to jump into the ad game but aren’t sure how to get started, Google AdSense is the perfect starting point. All you have to do is sign up for a free account and place a script from Google in your website’s code, and boom. Your blog has ads.
Ads placed through Google AdSense are Cost Per Click (CPC) ads, which means the advertiser sets an amount they are willing to pay for each click and each time someone clicks their ad on your site, that money goes to you. The nice thing about using a platform like Google AdSense is that advertisers are competing for the ad space on your site, which means only the highest paying ads actually go live.
Plus, Google automatically optimizes the ads displayed based on device size, which means you don’t have to worry about ads that look great and enticing on desktop looking super janky to your mobile readers.
Much like affiliate marketing, making money from ads works best if you’re already driving a fair amount of traffic to your blog. Be sure you’ve optimized your content if you want to get the most out of AdSense or any other ad placement platform.
How to get started with Google AdSense
- Sign up for an AdSense account. Getting started with AdSense only takes a couple of minutes. Click here to get started.
- Activate your AdSense account. Before you can really dive into AdSense, you’ll need to complete a series of verification tasks (connecting your site, adding a phone number, etc.)
- Set up ads on your site. When you set up ads with AdSense, you have some choices. Be sure to research Auto ads vs Ad units to make sure you’re getting the ad experience you want for your blog -- don’t worry, there are plenty of support docs from Google as well as videos walking through the whole process on YouTube.
3. Sponsored blog posts + paid reviews
If you aren’t interested in including advertisements on your blog, there are still ways you can monetize your content. Outside of selling ad space, sponsorships are one of the easiest ways to translate blogging to earning money. Basically, you’re partnering up with a company to represent their product(s) and get their name in front of your readers.
Where do you find brands to partner with? This part can be tricky. It may be on you to approach brands you’d like to work with, but brands may also reach out to you to offer sponsorship opportunities, either in a single post or on an ongoing basis.
How to get started with sponsored posts + paid reviews
- Put together a media kit. If you want companies to give you product to review or pay you to talk about their brand to your audience, you’ll need to give them an idea of what exactly they’re paying for when they sponsor you. Be sure to include traffic stats, audience demographics, and any other information that might make your blog look like an attractive place for them to highlight their brand.
- Approach potential sponsors. Compile a list of brands you’d like to work with -- some big, and some small -- and start reaching out to their marketing teams to inquire about sponsorship opportunities. Start small, and as your blog grows and you get more sponsorship experience, the bigger names on your list may come within your reach as well. There are also websites that aggregate sponsorship opportunities and make them easier for bloggers to access, like PayPerPost. Click here to get started.
- Set up a blog email + wait for opportunities to come to you. Want sponsorship opportunities in your inbox? Of course you do! Keep your personal email clutter-free by creating an email specifically for your blog and make sure it’s clearly displayed on your site. That way, companies who want to partner with you know exactly how to get in touch.
How to Make Money Producing Paid Content
If monetizing content isn’t your style, fear not. You can still turn your blog into a source of income by transforming your blog itself into a product -- that’s right, we’re talking about paid content.
4. Create members-only content
Does your blog have a loyal following? Nice! Now that people have had a chance to fall in love with the amazing content you produce, you can give them more of what they want -- for a small fee.
Paid content means that your most loyal readers can unlock exclusive blog posts, white pages, PDFs, resources, podcasts, videos, or any other exclusive content you choose to create by signing up to support your blog through a membership subscription.
From a time standpoint, commodifying your blog requires more of a commitment than adding a snippet of code to start running ads, but the time you invest can pay dividends. Subscriptions generate recurring revenue, which means if you’re able to produce exclusive content your readers really want to see, this can quickly become a very profitable option for you.
How to get started with paid content
- Leverage your expertise. People are more willing to pay for expert, in-depth content that they can’t already get with a simple Google search. So what do you bring to the table? Developing valuable exclusive content is essential.
- Build your platform. Do you want your members-only environment to live on your site? If so, figuring out the logistics may take a little bit of work. Luckily, there are plenty of guides out there to help you build members-only areas using popular website building platforms like Wordpress, Webflow, and Squarespace.
- Sign up for a Patreon account. For a less dev-intensive option, consider creating a Patreon account. Patreon allows you to set up memberships and assign rewards/unlock exclusive content for members who sign up at certain membership levels, which takes care of the logistics so you can focus on producing awesome content. Click here to get started.
5. Build a private community
Another way to monetize your blog is turn it into a community. This is particularly useful if your blog has a niche audience with a strong identity, like sharing a very specific area of expertise, life experience, or desire to learn about and engage with a particular topic.
Are your blog followers all language learners? Digital marketers? Moms to be? Then giving them a private space to connect and an active community to engage with may just be enticing enough for them to sign up for a paid membership.
How to create a paid members-only community
- Build a free community on your site. Your readers have to get to know each other somehow, right? The easiest way to do this is to set up a comments section. If you aren’t sure how to do this, there are plenty of paid and free comment platforms out there, like Disqus, which allows you to set up commenting for free with a simple code snippet. Click here to get started.
- Identify what sets your community apart. Why should readers join your paid members community instead of joining a free Facebook group? Decide how you’ll curate and enhance the member community experience ahead of time so that you can hit the ground running.
- Invite moderators. A community isn’t quite a community if there’s only one person in it. Create a community environment from the get-go by having a few members in the form of mods already involved in the community and actively engaging every day.
- Build your platform. Once again, there are development-intensive options here (i.e., building a forum or chat room on your blog) and less development-intensive options (like creating a private Facebook group). Weigh your options and choose one that is right for you and your audience.
How to Create + Sell Digital Content People Actually Want to Buy
Digital content is thrown at us constantly. You can’t scroll through social media or visit a website without digital products being thrown your way. So how do you stand out from the pack? How do you create digital content that will actually make money? That’s what we’re here to discuss.
This section is a crash course in the types of digital content you can create and promote on your blog to make additional income.
6. Publish an eBook
Ebooks are a great way to jump into digital content for many bloggers because they are essentially just a more in-depth version of what you already provide to readers. Plus, your blog does a lot of the advertising for you -- it gives your readers a chance to get to know your writing, which helps you build a loyal readership before you even write your book.
Most readers won’t pay much for an ebook, but if you put in the ffort to write a valuable piece of content, you can put it up for sale and more or less forget about it. Plus, having a publication to your name never hurts your blog’s credibility.
How to publish an eBook
- Develop an amazing piece of content. Choosing a topic for your ebook should be a data-driven process. Which of your blog posts generate the most traffic? Get the most interaction on social media or the comments section? Who is your audience, and what segment of your audience is most likely to purchase an ebook? Keep all of these things in mind when getting started.
- Don’t forget about design. Laying out your ebook and creating an attractive cover is essential. Not sure how to do it? No problem. A quick search on a site like Fiverr will deliver dozens of designers willing to take care of exactly this for a small fee. Click here to get started.
- Self publish with Amazon. Amazon makes a dizzying number of sales per day, so if you’re looking for an easy, reputable publishing platform for your ebook, it’s a great place to start. Just sign up for Kindle Direct Publishing, and you can have your ebook published in about 5 minutes. Click here to get started.
- Promote your book. We’re talking social posts, pop ups, CTAs, links within relevant blog posts, you name it. Now’s the time to let your audience know you’ve taken your content up a notch and get them interested in buying.
7. Start an online course
If an ebook is a step up from blog content, then an online course is a step up from an ebook. An online course won’t work for every blog, but if you have positioned yourself as an expert on a certain subject or built a community around a certain topic, creating an online course might be a good option for you.
Creating an online course is more time-intensive than creating an ebook, so it’s definitely a good idea to test the waters with an ebook before you dedicate the time and energy to developing additional audio, videos, transcripts, worksheets, and so on.
How to create an online course
- Start with an ebook. Maybe a few ebooks. This is a good way to test different topics against each other before jumping into an online course.
- Design your course. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, you don’t have to worry about recording audio/video, transcription, etc. all on your own. Platforms like Thinkific roll the course design process into one user-friendly experience. Click here to get started.
- Promote your course. Much like promoting an ebook, your blog should be your home base for promoting your online course. If possible, start out by targeting readers who already bought your ebook -- if they liked what they read, they might be ready for an even deeper dive into your topic.
8. Host a paid webinar
In-person speaking gigs can be difficult to coordinate, but webinars allow your audience to tune in from anywhere in the world. Once again, if you are an expert in your field, this is a great way to turn your blog’s readers into paying customers.
How to host a paid webinar
- Develop a topic. Choosing a webinar topic should be a data-driven process. Start by diving into your stats to understand what kind of content will be most likely to preform the best.
- Prep your materials. Do you need slides? A script? A platform? An audience? Get everything lined up well in advance.
- Host your webinar. Yes, you can host a webinar on a familiar platform like Zoom or Google Meet, but you may be missing out on some key features. Platforms like Webinar Geek offer additional support specific to webinar hosts -- like giving attendees the option to tune in later -- you won’t want to miss. Click here to get started.
9. Offer paid freelance work
As a successful blogger, you’re already an expert in the writing niche -- now you can leverage that expertise to make some extra money. In this instance, your blog essentially serves as your portfolio, letting potential clients get to know you writing before they hire you.
The best part about freelance work? Unlike creating an ebook or a webinar, there’s no extra work that needs to be done upfront to get things started.
How to become a freelancer
- Clean up your blog. Again, this is your portfolio. Make sure your posts are all updated and looking their best before you start advertising yourself as a freelance writer.
- Sign up for Upwork. Upwork connects skilled freelancers with remote projects from all over the world. Signing up is simple, and you can choose what jobs you’d like to take on. Click here to get started.
- Create a Fiverr profile. Fiverr is a platform that connects businesses and individuals with freelancers who specialize in all sorts of skills. Becoming a seller is easy, and you can sell services ranging from $5 all the way up to $10,000 depending on the level of expertise you are able to offer. Click here to get started.
- Let your audience know you’re available for hire. Not only can you leverage your blog as a portfolio on your Upwork/Fiverr profiles, you can also advertise your services to the potential customers who know your writing best -- your readers.
10. Become a coach
Everyone needs a mentor, someone they can turn to for support and advice when asking the internet is too impersonal. If you have expertise in a certain area -- writing, fitness, tiny home living, whatever it may be -- you might be able to market yourself as a coach to those looking for one-on-one help.
How to become a coach
- Consider credentials and certifications. Depending on the type of coach you want to become, you may need some additional training in order to offer your service. Look into certifying bodies within your field and see what it takes to become official -- often, training and certification can be handled entirely online.
- Set up an appointment calendar. There are free options for setting up appointments -- like putting appointment slots into a google calendar -- but you can also take a more robust approach with a paid software like Thryv. Thryv allows clients to schedule appointments, sends them reminders, and even collects payment all in one place. Click here to get started.
How to Sell Physical Products Online
Selling physical products might sound like an entirely different ballgame, but there are actually plenty of platforms out there that make it easy to create and sell physical products online. You don’t even have to worry about finding manufacturers, shipping, or any of those other details if you don’t want to -- you can produce and sell physical products without ever having them in your hands. Here’s how.
11. Turn your eBook into a book book
The physical book versus ebook debate has been going on for decades, and there’s no chance of it fizzling out anytime soon. For every person out there who prefers the convenience of keeping their whole library in their pocket, there is a person out there who believes reading is an inherently tactile experience.
What does that mean for you? Well, if you’ve already put the work into developing an ebook, it means there’s an easy way to potentially expand your reach and grow your profits.
How to self-publish a physical book
- Publish paperbacks with Amazon. Kindle Direct Publishing, the same platform you can use to sell your ebook all over the world with Amazon, also makes it possible to publish and distribute paperback versions of your book. KDP prints your books for you and subtracts publishing costs from your royalties, so you don’t have to worry about the nitty gritty details of physically publishing your book. Click here to get started.
- Publish using Shopify and Lulu xPress. Looking for more options when it comes to how your book is published? Shopify is an ecommerce platform that makes it easy to find customers, drive sales, and manage your products. Shopify offers a free trial, after which you can choose from a few different payment plans -- the cheapest is around $30/month. Once you create your Shopify website to sell your book, download Lulu xPress from the Shopify app store. It will walk you through your publishing options, connect you with suppliers, print books, and ship them directly to customers. Click here to get started.
12. Design + print shirts (and other merch)
T-shirts are one clothing item that will never go out of style. You can dress them up. You can dress them down. You can wear them to work, to do yard work, or to sleep. They make great gifts. And those are just a few of the reasons opening a t-shirt shop and selling blog merch can be a lucrative way of monetizing your blog.
Your shirts can be as complex or as simple as you want them to be. You can get a designer to put together a creative, colorful design, or you can stick a single sentence or slogan on the front of a shirt and call it a day.
How to design and print shirts online
- Set up a Shopify account. Again, Shopify is a great home base for any of your ecommerce ventures. Starting at around $30/month, Shopify is a great option because it helps you set up your ecommerce site and manage every aspect of the selling process. Click here to get started.
- Download Teelaunch from the Shopify App Store. Teelaunch is a Shopify app that lets you produce and sell custom apparel and other items all over the world. From products that your customers personalize to laser etched mugs, cutting boards, and coasters to the classic t-shirt, you’ll have plenty of merchandise options to choose from. Click here to get started.
- Download Qstomizer from the Shopify App Store. Not sold on Teelaunch? Qstomizer is another great option that allows you to design shirts, pop sockets, posters, and more. With 250+ reviews and an average rating of 4.9 stars out of 5, Qstomizer is a Shopify fan favorite. Click here to get started.
Accepting Donations for Your Creative Content
Long ago, patrons of the arts donated money to support creative folks like writers and artists in their craft. While an artist can’t thrive on commissions the way they might have in Renaissance Italy, bloggers can still leverage donations to offset the time and energy spent creating content.
If you aren’t interested in turning your blog into a business, per se, but you’re still producing amazing content that people appreciate, this is probably the best option for you.
*Note: In many areas, money that is donated by patrons is considered taxable income unless you are a legally recognized not-for-profit company. Be sure to check out the tax laws on donations via fundraising platforms in your jurisdiction.
13. Patreon… again
Although Patreon is a great way to create and distribute member-exclusive content, at its heart, it is much simpler than that. Patreon’s goal is to change the way that art is valued, allowing your most passionate fans to support your creative work via monthly membership. By growing this recurring monthly revenue stream, creatives like you are able to generate some income and free themselves to focus on their work.
Plus, it’s free to sign up. Your Patreon membership is paid with a percentage of the revenue you generate, so it’s not an out-of-pocket expense.
14. PayPal, CashApp, and Venmo donations
There are other ways to collect donations from readers who want to support your work, and one of the simplest is by setting up a payment platform, if you don’t have one already. PayPal, CashApp, and Venmo all provide a secure way to send and receive money. They also make it possible for patrons to donate using whatever payment method they prefer, which means added convenience for everyone involved.
How to accept direct donations on your blog
- PayPal Donations. Want to add a “Donate” button right to your website? PayPal Donations might be the way to go. PayPal is one of the biggest and most trusted names in the online payment industry -- after all, it has been orchestrating secure payments for decades. To get started with donations, just sign up and create a PayPal button -- PayPal will generate a code snippet for your site depending on how you customize it. Click here to get started.
- Cash App. Cash App makes it easy to send and receive payments. Once you sign up, all your patrons need in order to donate is your $cashtag, phone number, or QR code. Click here to get started.
- Venmo. Venmo is a social payment platform, which means other members can see who you are sending money to and receiving money from (but not how much money is exchanged). Venmo also gives you the option to send memos and gifs with payments, as well as like and comment on transactions. If you go the Venmo route, patrons just need your Venmo username to donate. Click here to get started.
These strategies may not necessarily be fast cash, but they are reliable sources of income that will give back what you put into them. Need help developing your media kit, writing your ebook, setting up Shopify, or finding other ways to monetize your blog? Don’t sweat it. Reach out to the Boylston team today, and we’ll help you take your blog to the next level.