What do you do for a living?

That’s one of the most common questions I get asked when I meet new people.

I tell them “I’m a full time blogger”.

And the next thing that comes out of their mouth is “oh what!?!?! so… how do you make money blogging?”

Almost always. With certainty. In some form or another, I’ll be asked this question.

So today, I want to answer that question very clearly and as simply as possible.

This guide on how blogs make money is written specifically for beginner bloggers or bloggers who want to start blogging but have no idea how a blog makes money.

How To Make Money Blogging 101

A blog makes money just like a store you shop at makes money

I know when it comes to technology and online stuff, or anything we aren’t familiar with, we sometimes have a hard time wrapping our heads around it.

And I think that’s sooooo true with blogging.

It’s like this weird online thing people do. Not only that, they’re traveling the world doing it and they’ve completely replaced their income from work with it too.

And you’re just like HOOOOWWWW do you do what you do!!

Well, the best way to get your head around blogging for money is to think of a regular retail store.

Here’s a question…

How does Macy’s make money?

In the most simplest terms:

A customer walks into Macy’s. The customer then buys something. Macy’s makes money.

This is painfully obvious.

You of course know this.

However, this process is EXACTLY how a blog makes money as well.

Let me explain in a little more detail.

This is how a blog makes money:

A person on the internet visits your blog (called traffic). The person reads one of your articles you’ve written. And then the person takes a desired action (called monetization).

The action your visitor takes could be many things.

Sometimes it’s an action that makes you money immediately (like clicking on an advertisement).

Sometimes they take a different action that makes you money down the road (like signing up for your email list where you can promote products to them later).

So in a nutshell, this is how a blog makes money: Traffic flows through your website. Traffic takes a desired action that makes you money (monetization).

It’s exactly the same as Macy’s, where traffic goes into Macy’s, traffic takes a desired action (buys a dress). The result is Macy’s makes money.

So, in other words, if you want to become a successful blogger that makes money, you need to master the following 2 things:

  1. Getting visitors to your blog
  2. Getting those visitors to do something that makes you money

Your ability to master the two things above will determine if you make a few hundred dollars or a few hundred thousand dollars a year blogging.

Now, there’s a lot of things you need to learn in order to excel at traffic and monetization.

This guide doesn’t cover traffic. It covers monetization.

Which is the next part I want to talk about.

The five common ways blogs make money.

You may have heard that there are a ton of ways to make money with a blog.

That’s true.

However, there are only a few MAIN monetization strategies bloggers focus on.

These are the things you will want to focus on too when you blog.

The Five Main Ways Blogs Make Money

The following five monetization techniques are the most common ways blogs make money. Like I said previously, the majority of successful blogs focus mainly on these, and many use a combination of them.

1// Advertisements

Advertisements are blocks of ads on a website. They can be located anywhere on a website. You’ll usually see them on the sidebar, in the content area, and somewhere around the top of the website.

When a visitor clicks on one of those ads, the website owner makes money.

It’s really really as simple as that.

And that’s why advertisements (ads) are one of the most popular ways to make money blogging.

To make good money with advertisements, you will typically need a lot of traffic. The really nice thing about ads is that the more traffic you get, the more money you’ll make (almost always the case).

It makes estimating your income more predictable.

Ads are also the most passive way to make money.

When you get your ads up and running on your blog, you don’t have to do anything more.

They appear on your blog. Visitors come. Visitors click. You make money. Which is why this “passive” income strategy is so popular with website owners.

Now, ads do have a disadvantage in that they are “distractors”. The job of an advertisement is to take the readers attention away from your content and to the ad itself.

If the ad is compelling enough, the reader will click through and land on the advertisers website. This takes the reader away from your website.

And though the reader is no longer on your website and therefore cannot consume your content, you made money because the reader clicked the ad.

How much money can you make with advertisements?

Most ad companies pay per click. These clicks could be anywhere from a few cents to several dollars per click.

How much you are paid per click is determined by many factors. The most important factor is what your blog/content is about.

For example, if your blog is about purple elephants in space, no advertiser will want to advertise on this type of content because it’s not relevant to their products/services.

If your content is about something that people pay a lot of money for, like life insurance for example, then advertisers are willing to pay out good money for clicks. Acquiring a new life insurance customer could make the advertiser thousands of dollars. So they will spend spend more money for each click.

Comparatively, an advertiser looking to acquire new customers that subscribe to a $9.99 monthly online music streaming service will likely NOT pay as much per click as the life insurance advertiser. This is because a customer here is worth $9.99 per month (or less), whereas a life insurance purchaser is unquestionably worth A LOT more than that.

The main takeaway here

if your blog is about music, expect less money per click than if you had a blog about life insurance. The type of content your blog is about will determine how much money you make with ads.

If you want advertisements to be a main part of your monetization strategy, make sure you choose a blog topic advertisers are spending money in.

Ads benchmark:

If you’re making around $10 per 1000 visitors to your blog, you are doing great. This is my “benchmark” I guess, from everything I’ve done with display advertisements.

I’ve read a lot of “income reports” from all sorts of bloggers and most of them do not make $10 per 1000 visitors. So I’d say if you end up being in this range, you’re doing awesome.

The biggest thing with making money with ads is that you will need a lot of traffic in order to make good money.

Unless your blog is about something where advertisers pay a lot of money per click, like life insurance, loans, some legal topics, investing, or any topic where people spend a lot of money. If you blog about these topics, you won’t need as much traffic to make money because you’ll make more money per click.

2// Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is when you promote other peoples products & services.

You send readers to a website where they can buy something. If the readers you send buy something, you get paid a referral fee (a commission).

Here’s a really common way a blog makes money with affiliate marketing: A reader lands on your article about low carb chicken recipes. In your article, you link to Amazon.com for one of the spices you used in the recipe. The reader can click on the affiliate link and be sent to Amazon. If they buy the spice (or anything else on Amazon), you will get a referral fee for it.

Making money with affiliate marketing can be as simple as the example above.

I love affiliate marketing. It’s my specialty. It’s my favorite way to make money blogging. And I don’t think that will ever change.

There are many things your blog could be about. And there are so many affiliate programs available for you to promote and to make money with, no matter what you blog about (within reason of course!)

I wrote a couple important blog posts about affiliate marketing that you can check out:

  1. Affiliate marketing guide for beginners (how to do it in detail)
  2. Best affiliate marketing programs to join

How to succeed with affiliate marketing:

Affiliate marketing comes down to writing about topics people care about. And then recommending solutions or enhancements to your readers. That’s how you effectively promote an affiliate product in a nutshell.

So, in your blog post about getting flat abs, you could provide excellent nutrition and exercise information. You could then leave an affiliate link to a nutrition program or a workout program that will enhance your readers experience if they buy it.

And let’s say they do buy it.

What happens?

You make money.

They get a product that will help them solve their problem (they want a flat stomach that they don’t have right now).

It’s a win/win.

And this is always your affiliate marketing goal.

Affiliate marketing also lets you promote more expensive products

In general, it’s easier to make money blogging when you promote more expensive products and services, rather than many products and services that make you little commissions.

There are affiliate programs that pay a lot per referral.

You can make $50, $100, $200 per referral for example.

Some affiliate programs pay you $0.50 per referral.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s usually easier to make more money blogging by promoting more expensive products.

You can see that just converting a few $50 referral products per day will make you good money. And when you learn how to do this on a consistent basis, you can quit your day job.

Thats why I love affiliate marketing so much. The potential earnings are life changing. It’s a fabulous way to make money with your blog.

3// Sponsored Posts

Sponsored posts are when a company pays you money to promote them.

There are a few common ways this happens.

3 common types of sponsored posts:

  1. They write an article for you to publish on your blog – The person/business will write up an article and include a link in it to wherever they want the link to be pointed to. And all you do is publish this article on your blog. So there’s very little work on your part. However, you may not have a lot of control over the content you are publishing.
  2. You write an article yourself and include a link to the sponsors website – Many bloggers prefer this route because they can control what is written. A common way this works is that a blogger has used a product or experienced a service. And they write their experience about it in a blog post. This way, it comes off more authentically. If you care about your blog, you want to make sure your content is relevant to your readers and that you promote sponsors that you would use yourself. Writing your own content helps you achieve this.
  3. They pay you money for a link – Some sponsors are just looking for a link back to their website and nothing more. They do this for SEO purposes (to rank higher in Google). So they pay you a dollar amount for a link on an old article you’ve published before or they may give you an article to be published on your blog. Either way, they really don’t care if you like the product or not or if it send them traffic. They just care about a link from your website to theirs.

How do you get sponsorship opportunities?

There are 3 main ways.

You can find companies/businesses that you want to partner with and then reach out to them about a potential partnership.

Or these businesses will find you and reach out to you.

Your ability to make good money with sponsorships really depends on three things:

  1. How engaged of an audience you have – If you have readers who love you and listen to you, you have something amazing here. First of all, great job! You can leverage this and ask for more money during sponsorship opportunities. Because when you show your audience the sponsored product/service, they will be highly engaged with it. So you don’t necessarily need a lot of traffic when your traffic is HIGH QUALITY.
  2. How much traffic you have – Traffic matters a lot. Basically, the more traffic you get, the more you can charge for a sponsorship. Because the more people will be exposed to the sponsors product/service. Traffic can be people visiting your blog, the amount of people following you on social media or how many people you have on your email list. Basically, it’s the number of people you can reach out to.
  3. How authoritative your blog is – If your blog is more authoritative (more powerful because you have a lot of backlinks and/or high quality backlinks), you can ask for more money. This is because a link from your website is MUCH more valuable than a link from a website that started yesterday.

The holy grail is to have A LOT of highly engaged readers though. You have the best of 1 and 2. Not only can you make a lot of money with sponsorships, you can make a lot of money with affiliate products and your own products too (because you have a lot of readers who listen to you and take your recommendations).

#3 is relevant when people/businesses are looking to get backlinks from your website in order rank higher in Google.

How much money can you make with sponsored posts?

Sponsorships can make you a lot of money.

The range here is actually pretty crazy. Someone looking just to place a link on your site could pay you $75 to several hundred dollars, depending on how authoritative and relevant your blog is.

In terms of product/service sponsorship opportunities, you can partner with companies for one off sponsorships or long term sponsorships (which of course will pay you more).

One off partnerships can pay several hundred dollars and more (where you promote the sponsor once and that’s it).

Long term partnerships are great too. Here’s a good example below.

If you’re a travel blogger and you love using a GoPro, then a long term sponsorship with GoPro would be ideal. You would travel the world and capture moments with your GoPro, and then blog about it. Your readers will see how awesome you are with your GoPro and may go out and buy one so they can be awesome like you.

A partnership like this could pay you a thousand or more per month. It could last a few months or a year or more. Keep in mind that this is just an example. I have no sponsorship experience with GoPro and don’t know what sponsorship opportunities are available with them. But this is a realistic example of how a long term sponsorship opportunity works.

How to succeed with sponsored posts

Well, you want to be a blog that has a lot of readers that are also engaged. And you also want a blog that has great domain authority (a measure of how strong your blog is in terms of authority).

This takes a lot of work to build.

As a beginner, don’t think about making money with sponsored posts.

Because you won’t.

You’re new with little to no readers (traffic) and zero blog authority.

If you do a lot of things right, maybe in the 6 months to 1 year mark you can begin thinking about making money with sponsorships.

But again, don’t focus on sponsorships in the beginning. Your website isn’t ready for it.

There are many other things to work on in the beginning.

Lastly, I want to point out that sponsorships are typically pretty unreliable sources of income (even when you’re fairly popular). It’s not guaranteed every month people will partner with you on a sponsorship basis.

I view sponsorships as “bonus” way to make money. It’s the icing on the cake from building a kick ass blog.

Yes, you can reach out to brands/companies about sponsorships when your blog is ready. This is a great way to generate income for your blogging efforts.

But you’ll also start getting businesses emailing you about partnership opportunities. That’s when you know you’re definitely on the right track. From here, you choose the ones you like and reject the ones you don’t like.

It sounds crazy to turn away easy money, but when you build your blog (your business) into the awesome thing it is, you won’t pollute it with bad sponsorships.

4// Product Creation & Services

If you’re an expert on a topic, then at some point you will really want to consider creating a product or offering a service.

Coaching is a really popular way experts are making money with their blog. For example, people who are really knowledgeable about blogging could create a course on making money blogging.

Their blogs are tools to attract people who are interested in blogging.

Product creation is what a lot of people eventually end up doing as they become an expert at this whole “making money online” thing.

Creating your own products/services is the most lucrative way to make money online (if you do it right of course). Not only will you sell your own products and services, you can get people to promote them for you (they are affiliates of your stuff).

It is the hardest way to make money for a beginner, and I 100% do not recommend you take this route as a beginner.

There’s so many things you need to learn before you start developing and marketing your own products.

Developing a product that you don’t even know for sure people would want, and then having no idea how to promote it is just an awful way to approach blogging. Unless you know both of these things well, and many other important things, then you shouldn’t create your own products / services (yet).

Learn how to kick ass with affiliate marketing first. Once you have this down good, you’ll be so much more ready to create your own products and market them properly.

5// Email Marketing

Email marketing is the secret weapon to making money with your blog.

You want to make a lot of money with your blog? Then you need to learn how to do it with email marketing.

Email marketing is when you capture a readers email address and then follow up/market to them over email.

Everything that goes into capturing that email and then EFFECTIVELY promoting a product to them is email marketing.

There are a lot of things to learn in order to blog successfully. Email marketing is one of the biggest ones.

It truly is the secret weapon of a blog.

And for important and well known it is to start an email list, most bloggers are very ineffective in making money with their lists.

I would say that’s mostly because they aren’t familiar with how effective it can be or don’t have the skill to monetize their list efficiently.

Email marketing is almost a separate entity to your blog

Your blog would be used as way to funnel a reader into your world of email marketing. For example, they could read your article about how to write better headlines. And in your article, you could give them a list of the 100 best headlines you’ve ever written in exchange for their email address.

Once you have their email address, your job would be to market them products / services that are relevant to them.

The keyword here is RELEVANT.

They need to care about what you are talking about. When you learn how to do a good job at this, you will make a ton of money.

There’s a lot that goes into making money with email marketing.

As a beginner, begin collecting email addresses as soon as you can. I personally wouldn’t focus on email marketing yet, as there are many other more important things to learn when you’re new.

But as you get a good grasp of those other things, turn your focus to learning email marketing.

By now, you will have a list of people you can reach out to by email. Which is why it’s super important to start an email list right away.

A complete guide on how to make money blogging for beginners. I talk about how blogs make money and how to make money with your blog effectively. Click here to learn how.

The best way to make money with a blog as a beginner blogger

This is just my humble opinion, but as a beginner, you should just focus on affiliate marketing and collecting email addresses.

And MAYBE ads if you are receiving enough traffic.

Begin with affiliate marketing

If you remember, affiliate marketing is when you promote other people’s products and services for a commission.

It is easier promote affiliate programs that earn you smaller commissions because these things are easier to convert. So you may want to focus on these initially. But don’t limit yourself. Don’t be afraid to try bigger ticket items.

I recommend affiliate networks like Amazon and Commission Junction (CJ) for every beginner. They’re great networks to get started with affiliate marketing.

It will be quite the journey but you’ll have a blast.

I promise you there is nothing more exciting than making your first dollar online. One of my first ever commissions was a hair brush someone bought on Amazon. I think I made 52 cents. It made me so happy and excited I was smiling for like forever. I didn’t care about the money. It’s obviously not much. I cared that I MADE MONEY. The one thing I set out to do when I started blogging.

Should you use ads right away?

You can think about placing ads on your blog when you begin receiving 500-1000 visitors daily. You’re not going to make much money with this amount of visitors, but it will be some money. I don’t recommend placing ads on your blog is you have traffic numbers less than that.

Ads take readers away from your content and they make your website look uglier. It’s a compromise you make to earn ad revenue. However, when your traffic numbers are very small, so will your ad revenue be. It’s better not to compromise the look of your website with ads when you make little to no money from it.

Collect those emails immediately

The one thing you want to do right away is collect email addresses from people who visit your blog.

Literally every blogger will tell you they wish they started collecting email addresses sooner when asked “what would you do differently if you were to go back to the beginning”.

The value of email subscribers is everything.

People who subscribe to your email newsletter are your biggest fans. They are your loyal people. They are your tribe. These are the most special people in your sphere of influence. And they also deserve the best from you.

And most importantly, these people are the most likely people to buy whatever you recommend.

Your email subscribers should make you the most money out of anything you do online with your blog (if you email market right and make it a main part of your blogging strategy).

Also the more email subscribers you have the more money you make (when you do it right). So you definitely want to begin collecting emails right away and you want to continually add people to your email lists.

In the beginning, you don’t need to promote anything to your email subscribers. You can keep in touch by simply tell ing them about your new blog post or updating them about what’s going on in your life (if they care about that).

But when it’s time to promote stuff, you have people who will listen with open ears!

So to recap, to make money blogging as a beginner, start with affiliate marketing and collecting email addresses. You can consider placing ads on your website when you get enough traffic to warrant it (500-1000 daily visitors minimum).

Common strategies blogs use to make money

I want to share a few common ways a blog can make money in terms of the visitor journey. How a visitor flows through the buying process if you will.

I want you to be able to visualize the process of a visitor coming to your website and how you make money from this visitor.

Three common ways your blog makes money

1. A visitor reads your blog post. He sees an advertisement on the sidebar that interests him. He clicks it. You make money.

2. A visitor reads your blog post about the paleo diet food list. He clicks on your affiliate link that directs him to a page where he is shown a paleo diet cookbook. He purchases the cookbook. You make money.

3. A visitor reads your blog post about investing in stocks. He sees your email optin where you promise to give him a beginners guide to stock investing for free. He wants it so he enters his email address for it. You give him the free guide and begin sending him follow up emails with more advice on stock trading. In these emails, you talk about a course you took that helped you become a better investor and link to it for him to check out. He does, and he ends up buying the course. You make money.

The three examples above are the most typical way a beginner to intermediate blogger will begin making money with their blogs.

These are very very common purchasing journeys and visitor goes through.

Cool hey!

And that’s my overview of blogging for money.

Any questions?

Now you probably have some questions. There’s always tons of questions about making money blogging.

I’ll be more than happy to answer them. Just use the comment box below and I’ll get back to you!

A complete guide on how to make money blogging for beginners. I talk about how blogs make money and how to make money with your blog effectively. Click here to learn how.
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