10 Useful Ways to Monetize A Blog (2021)

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Starting a blog can be wildly exciting. And then you realize you can actually use your website to gain passive income to go along with your writing. This is where many “blogging moms” make extra income without over-stressing daily routines or interfering with family time, and doesn’t always require a lot of hard work. Why? Because quality content creation is widely valued, helps solve problems, provides time flexibility, and has the option of being used for several years.

As a new blogger (or newly monetized), the moment you receive your first paycheck (or bank deposit), your excitement skyrockets… even if it is less than $1. Earning an income from your writing gives you a new sense of edification for creating and maintaining your own blog.

One of my favorite aspects of blogging is the flexibility and different ways to earn an income from a variety of sources. With that flexibility also comes with a few limiting factors… namely you won’t want to use any of the free blogging platforms if you choose to monetize your blog. Free options often come with stipulations that you don’t own your content, are very difficult to find using search engines, and terms of service that may shut down your site without warning if you use blog monetization methods. Free blogging sites are intended for hobby bloggers who don’t want the expense of a self-hosted website. Once you decide to make money from your website, you really need to embrace that entrepreneurial streak speaking to you and go all in with your own domain, website host, and plan.

Decide on how you will monetize

There really is no shortage of ways you can make money from a website:

We all start somewhere. I’ll never forget my first $0.27 the first month I added Amazon Affiliate links. I was so excited. Of course, I didn’t see the money until my third month after I reached my first cumulative $20 (which totaled $387 from my second month)… but it still felt amazing. I was so proud of that $0.27.

Quite literally, if you can dream it up, you can make it a reality.

As for which one is best, I personally believe creating your own products or offers is best because most affiliate programs will only provide you with 1-9%. High earning affiliate programs may bring in 30%, but aren’t nearly as common.

There Is No one-size-fits-all Monetization Strategy

What I like best about creating blog content… you don’t have to fit in someone else’s box. Opportunities are quite literally unlimited. Well… in all honestly… your only limits are those that you put on yourself. If you can imagine it, you can create it, you can monetize it… just might take some advance thinking and strategizing.

Personally, I do a variety of the options, and feel the best way to monetize your blog is to embrace diversity and not stick with just one revenue stream. Having that diversity is the easiest way to build and maintain a more consistent full-time income, especially if some of your content and paid offers are seasonal.

eBooks

eBooks are a great way to gain authority, respect, and market to a new audience. eBooks can even be created from a series of blog posts, so you don’t necessarily have to write completely from scratch. One of my favorite uses for eBooks is providing simple forms of them for free as a way to exchange a reader’s email address. You can also upload your eBooks to Apple iBooks, Amazon’s Kindle, Google Store, and other areas to expand where your readers find you.

You can list your book for free or for a fee. I usually recommend charging something if you’re not trading it for someone’s contact information to use for email newsletters. I do give eBooks away for free on Amazon Kindle through their Kindle Unlimited program. This enables the readers to read for free, but I still receive a small stipend (usually between $1 and $2 per page read). This is a great way to still earn some residual income while providing free eBooks. Though with how the pay scale goes, you’ll either want long books or a lot of them to make much money on it. Over time that isn’t difficult to do… just make sure you’re leading with quality and end with a call to action to another offer.

A great use for eBooks is to add links to references you offer, your website, and supplemental information. This will enable you to sell your eBook on multiple platforms and have a way for the readers to find you to learn more or engage with your content.

You can sell your ebooks through your own website using a plugin like WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads, or through complimentary websites like Amazon, Gumroad, Shopify, eJunkie, Send Owl, or Podia. The cheapest option for listing your book would be Amazon, though they do take a significant chunk of your profits. If you do use Amazon, please consider signing up for their affiliate program and use your affiliate link to promote your Amazon products (this way you receive affiliate pay too that Amazon automatically takes in their fees, whether an affiliate promotes your material or not). Personally, I recommend Podia because of other benefits and having an easier way to diversify your other endeavors.

Affiliate Programs

Affiliate marketing programs are a way to earn commission by recommending products, services, or programs. Many people who sell information or products online offer social media influencers, online marketers, and bloggers the opportunity to earn additional income for recommending their audience to purchase through their links.

There is quite literally an affiliate network for every niche. So you can take part in this whether you’re a photographer, online course builder,

My favorite affiliate programs are

Unless you are actively promoting affiliate programs, which you can and should to increase your sales, affiliate income from your blog posts is largely passive. Once you make your post, it becomes “evergreen” content, enabling you to make commissions while you sleep, or days (even years) after posting.

Some of my affiliate income still comes directly from posts I initially wrote in 2015, and rarely if ever still share on social media anymore!

Sponsored Posts

Sponsored posts are a great way to monetize your site. Once you have traffic flowing to your site, many brands will be enticed to sponsor a post, whether they provide the post for you or ask you to write one. The amount to charge depends on the amount of traffic your website receives, and how much time you need to put into the post. You don’t need to be an experienced blogger to accept sponsored posts, so it is wise if you choose to accept them to have a Media Kit put together to send that includes your reader demographics, topic genre, requirements, and price list. What you charge and the metric you use is entirely up to you.

Charging for sponsored posts based on cost per word could mean you charge approximately 10 cents per word ($200 for a 2,000 word post). Most freelance writers I’ve talked with charge anywhere from $0.05-$0.25 per word, to give you an idea of how much your writing could be worth.  

If research is needed, consider charging an hourly rate. If you’re charging hourly, you may want to track your time carefully with a time tracker tool, like Toggl.

If you choose to charge a flat fee, you’ll want to set a word count limit. For example, many of my beginning blogging clients charge $250 for a blog post with 1,000 words.

You can also calculate based on how much traffic your blog sees. This means doing a little math (or set up a spreadsheet to automatically calculate for you). Divide your number of page views by 1000, to find your CPM. If your website sees 100,000 page views each month, your CPM is 100. Then set your rate per 1,000 page views. If your rate per 1000 impressions is $3.00, you’ll be charging $300. If your rate is $12, you’ll be charging $1,200. I’ve seen friends charge over $2,700 for a sponsored post on a blog with less than 100,000 page views.

You can also make a hybrid of these options. For me, I choose a flat rate of $350 that covers my SEO based research. Then add to that my rate based on my traffic from the past 30 days. I also have a minimum 2,000 quality words required for posts published on any one of my blog websites.

*** Please keep in mind… as a blogger, you will receive A LOT of people from various websites asking to pay you for placing a link on your website. Some get down right ugly about wanting to be cheap and add a link to an existing post. This is not allowed. If Google finds out (they have weird ways of knowing), your ability to rank within search engines will be seriously hindered if not completely blacklisted. This is not ok. I offer them to sponsor a post based on my sponsorship rates, whether the post was written in the past or a fresh one is written just for them. Most will never reply, and that is ok. ***

Write Product Review Posts

I treat product review posts in a similar way that I do sponsored posts. Reviewing products is a great way to provide value to your readers and have more relevant content within your niche.

Many brands reach out to bloggers to review products. Most offer the product for free, whether it is a physical or digital product. While this is very enticing, I do believe in charging for your time. Also, just because you’re receiving something for free, or possibly being paid for it, you do need to be 100% honest with your opinions… the good and the bad.

If a brand reaches out to you to review something for them and you receive that item for free, that must be disclosed in your post, as per FCC rules.

You don’t need a brand to reach out to you in order to do a product review. If you pay for a product (or find it free online), let your audience know that you acquired it yourself. This is a fantastic way to help sell affiliate products and services that help to serve your audience.

Network Marketing – Done Right

You can also look into other creative ways to sell other people’s products for commission. For example, over on my healthy lifestyle website, we provide information about reducing your family’s exposure to harmful chemicals, increasing your energy, enhancing your quality of sleep, and choosing healthy lifestyles, and provide links to our favorite network marketing health and wellness products.

I know… many people cringe about MLMs, but several of them do create fantastic products, and can be highly profitable without being obnoxious to friends and family (which is exactly what I teach to my leaders: genuine ways to grow a business without hassling anyone, being obnoxious, or selling your soul). Through blogging alone, I bring in 1-3 new customers each month, and several new business leaders each year, and have never once made cold calls, left spammy messages, or used outdated hard sales techniques.

Even if it isn’t your primary income… I highly recommend having something on the side you can slowly grow while you focus on your website… especially if you have a solid team who has your best interests in mind and willing to help support you when you need some extra time.

Memberships

Memberships are a fantastic way to earn recurring income while making a larger impact. Through groups, communities, masterminds… at whatever level you choose… either in person, online, or an element of both… you enable yourself to serve more people while setting up reliable monthly income centered around providing quality information and producing a community (large or small… or a variety of both) to serve your audience in a manner that helps them solve their problems.

What I like the most about memberships… if you’re already providing information or consulting/coaching to people, you can scale up without adding to the amount of time you’re spending.

For managing memberships, I highly recommend Podia and Mighty Networks. They are relatively inexpensive by comparison to other programs (and I’ve personally tried most of them), and truly is a fantastic option. Through Podia, you can sell digital downloads, eBooks, physical products you make or keep inventory of, memberships, online courses, services you provide, and more. Its definitely worth the investment, and is relatively cheap, costing under $40 each month. Plus, they have an affiliate program, so you can pay your own affiliates for marketing your products and services for you.

Drop Shipping

Drop shipping can be a lot of fun.

  1. Create designs, upload them to various products, and offer them for sale… or even coordinate with manufacturing companies to create things for you.
  2. List them on your website.
  3. Market your website and listings
  4. Then when someone purchases them, you don’t lift a finger… everything is processed, printed, and shipped automatically… with your only involvement after the design and upload process is receiving the profits.

While you can sell just about anything with a Shopify Store, my favorite ways right now for drop shipping are uploading my designs on the Merch by Amazon program and syncing my Printful account with Etsy. You can also take a few extra steps in with your website in how it is setup to include a security certificate and store WordPress plugin (like WooCommerce) to integrate with Printful as well.

For just starting out (especially if you’re not technologically inclined), it is much easier to use sites like Etsy. Having products on those platforms offer an easier way of getting them noticed because you can take advantage of the search functions. AND you can use your affiliate links to post them, earning product profits and affiliate commissions. Using your affiliate link in this manner doesn’t cost you anything because it comes out of the fees you already provide to Amazon and Etsy.

My favorite part of drop-shipping… you aren’t tied down to one location, but still have a way to expand your brand and creativity. What a great way to earn some extra passive income!

Selling Services

Whether you decide to offer your services online or offline, you can use your blog to help you drive sales. This can work for

  • consulting,
  • coaching,
  • financial services,
  • virtual assistance,
  • freelance writing,
  • design work,
  • online courses
  • … etc…

There is no shortage of service options you can provide to someone else to help solve their problems and make their lives easier. This does require you to exchange your time for money, so be sure to price what you’re providing adequately.

Advertisements

Advertisements through ad networks like Google AdSense, Ezoic, Monumetric, SheMedia, MediaVine, AdThrive, or ClickBank are very popular. These are the ads you see on various websites that don’t usually make sense with what you read. While I have friends who make a good amount of money posting ads on their sites, I’ve noticed many people are shying away from having too many or even using “ad blocker” software on their computers to block those ads (which loses ad revenue).

I personally choose not to run ads from ad companies. I much prefer affiliate links because I feel I can better bring in specific programs and products that more aligns with what each post is written about. I enjoy providing a more visually appealing layout, and love spending the extra time needed to best serve my readers.

There is one ad company I do recommend once your blog is established and has grown is Mediavine. Once you reach over 50,000 page views in a 30-day span, you’ll qualify for Mediavine. This ad company is one of the best, providing the most amount of ad revenue. I like how they’re not obnoxious with their ad content too, attempting to tailor the ad experience to the viewer and making the ads relevant.

Host Virtual Summits

Virtual Summits are a great way to network with other experts in your niche, connect with additional affiliate marketers, grow your audience, and increase your traffic along with potential sales. I’ve had a lot of fun building websites for friends as they embarked on their virtual summit journey. Most often these are shared free for the first week with upgrade paid options for lifetime access.


How to start Monetizing Your Blog

When you’re just starting out with creating a new blog, most experienced bloggers recommend starting out with 10 posts. You may publish one by one, or all at once. When I started, I took a challenge to write and publish a new post each day for a month. This took me from brand new with zero readers (not even my mom looked at my website) to about 50 readers by the end of that month.

When just starting out, you do not need to have an audience or have page traffic in order to implement affiliate programs or to set up your own offerings. However, there are many affiliate programs that will require a certain amount of page views in order to accept your application.

When you create your blog posts, you’ll want to focus on SEO (search engine optimization). This is really difficult when just getting started because it does require a learning curve. If you can afford it, I highly recommend using tools like SEMrush and RankIQ to help you find keywords to focus on. Optimizing for search engines is a slow game. It often takes 2-18 months for google to pick you up, providing you’re listed in Google’s Search Console tool with your sitemap uploaded. But, being visible in a Google search is one of the fastest and easiest ways to grow consistent and reliable page views.

When you combine keywords in with your search engine optimization (I highly recommend the YOAST WordPress plugin to help), you are noticed faster. Once you have 25 viewers in a single month, you should be set to start with Amazon’s Affiliate program, though you will be probationary until after you make 3 sales (required in your first 90 days). As you grow, you’ll be more likely to be approved for additional programs. You can also get started with Share A Sale and other affiliate programs right away without needing to wait. Share A Sale is one of my favorite tools to use for affiliate programs. They host countless opportunities in nearly every niche.

Definitely stick to a schedule. I’ve done posting every day, every week, every month, and sporadically. It is much easier to gain reliable traffic when posting consistently on a schedule. You don’t need to every day, but based on my own experiences, I would recommend once a week (minimum once a month). This helps with keeping your blog growing.

Once you have a large amount of valuable content, you can reuse old posts as well. This is simply done by adding relevant info, updating links, and changing the published date to today. I did this seasonally on my first blog, and my healthy lifestyle blog.

Monetizing Your Blog’s Social Media

Having social media pages help a lot with growing your website. Especially Pinterest, which is more of a social search engine. It is a great way to boost your blog traffic and increase your email subscriber list.

This is another way of reusing great content that helps boost your sales, commissions, blog views, and email subscribers. Reusing content is a smart way to share your message across multiple sources, and also helps to diversify your blog traffic sources.

Using social media to help promote your own offers, affiliate opportunities, and market any other service or event you have planned is very useful. Many sales are made daily for bloggers who share what they’re up to and valuable offers for their followers.

Social media sites, and visual search sites like Pinterest, also provide you another platform to share your affiliate, digital, or drop ship products. Not everyone on social media regularly visits your website, so it is beneficial to include them in appropriate-sized posts. This also gives you additional content to serve your audience with, and grow your audience with.

When it comes to deciding which social media platform to use, don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to jump into all of them at the same time. Use what you’re comfortable with or where your ideal readers are.

Monetizing Your Email Marketing

Having an email autoresponder (way to grow an email list and send out emails to them automatically) offers me the ability to automate emails, send one email to all my subscribers, set up my own memberships and courses, provides a way to create special sales pages, and even handles payment info for digital products. They even have the capability for me to create my own affiliate program to pay other bloggers a commission for promoting my digital products!

Email marketing is one of the most efficient ways to convert readers into buyers. They give you permission to email them, and you provide them with value with how it relates to what you write about, and supplement with things you love, like the products, services, and programs you decide to affiliate with. For emails, I have two favorites: ConvertKit (free option with referrals) and MailerLite (has a free option).

While there are other free options out there… I’ve tried numerous… I found them to be massively limited in capability. ConvertKit and MailerLite have been the most user friendly options I’ve found with the best prices.

The Most Important Piece of Advice For Monetizing Your Blog

Regardless what you choose to do to monetize your blog with, the most important thing to remember is that you are writing to serve your audience.

As algorithms change, many bloggers are stuck with playing catch up after the fact when their traffic suddenly tanks. With the way our online landscape is changing, the number one thing to keep in mind is developing a positive user experience. If you choose to run ads, be mindful of your ad space. You don’t want 50% of your content to be ads, nor do you want a ton of pop ups that cause people to use ad blockers or exit your site without seeing your exclusive content.

If you choose to use a freelance writer or accept guest articles, ensure they are unique and not used on other sites. Many people will use PLR (private label rights) content that anyone can purchase and use anywhere. This will make your SEO efforts much more challenging, and will prevent you from using most ad networks.



Thank you for reading!

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Nicole

When you become a part of my free online community, a few times each month you’ll receive an email from me sharing information about working from home, keeping sane during challenging times, encouragement, intensifying intuition and spiritual gifts, and what we are up to with our unconventional methods homeschooling.

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