9 Ways To Start Earning With Your Blog
Starting your own blog is incredibly exciting. Just building your own web page and sitting down to pour your thoughts out into the world is an amazing feeling. Blogging is more public than journaling, more personal than business writing, and it gives you an opportunity to build your reputation as an online personality.
Of course, you may not have started your blog just to share your thoughts with the internet at large. Chances are, you were hoping that, like many, your blog could somehow be turned into a reliable source of income. The good news is that anyone can monetize their blog, and there's not a single 'correct' approach to achieve this! Today, we're here to offer a simple and friendly guide to help you start earning with your personal blog. Here, we're going to present 9 ways to transform your blog from an online journal into a real source of income and social prestige.
1) Build Your Audience and Develop a Readership
The first step for any blog monetization is readers. Without readers, even the best-written blog is just a published diary. Readers are your bread and butter. Online traffic in and of itself is monetizable.
If your blog is popular, advertisers will actually pay you money just to get their ads seen by your readers. When it comes to making money from a website, visitors are like foot traffic outside a local store. Each person who passes by to read your blog is a potential customer for anything you might be selling and a potential lead for any business that advertises through your blog.
This means that your first goal is to build your readership. Choose an audience, from DIY moms to IT admins, then make your content punchy and appealing to them. Write articles that answer questions people really want to know about. Reveal your personal secrets of success, share relevant news, and SEO your heart out to draw in new readers and entice each reader to return for more great content.
Once you've got a loyal and growing readership, all other monetization becomes possible.
2) Find Your Natural Affiliate Partners
If you want to make money through your blog without being overly spammy or promotional, affiliate links are the way to go. But first let's cover the vocabulary: Affiliates are companies that you partner with to help them sell their products. Affiliate links are the links in your blog that will take readers to a product or service page. Each time a reader clicks an affiliate link, you get paid. Even if they don't make a purchase.
How here's why affiliates are great for bloggers: Everyone has a few natural affiliates. These are brands and products you would recommend anyway. Let's say that you're writing a cooking blog. If there's a brand of pans or a favorite spice mix you're always recommending to friends and will mention several times throughout your blog, that brand would be a natural affiliate link because you'd make the recommendation with or without pay. The pay is just a bonus, and you're still directing readers to a great product you trust.
3) Display Advertisements
Where affiliate links are the subtle way to advertise, actual banner ads are the obvious and equally profitable alternative. Many bloggers do both affiliate links and banner ads to double-up on the value they get from readers. Banner ads are, generally, even easier to collect from because they count views of the ad, not just times a reader clicks-through to wherever the ad links.
The vast majority of readers will be understanding about a few tasteful banner ads on a blog. Blogs have to support themselves, after all. The key is not to get junky. Try to avoid anything flashy, banners that 'follow' the readers when they scroll, and so on. Google Ad Sense is the main way to get banner ads, but you can also gain more control by partnering directly with advertising companies you approve of. Advertising products in a classy way that meshes well with your blog content.
4) Connect a Gift Shop
Affiliate links and banner ads are the two ways to make money just by having readers. However, if you're ready to expand your blog website and online business plan, you can always open a gift shop for your supportive reader community. Many blogs develop fun catch-phrases, shared inside jokes, and favorite images that your readers would love to have on mugs and t-shirts.
Think about the gift shops of popular webcomics as a model. If your blog has developed a community with a lively comments section and interest in swag, consider opening a little gift shop. You may even have a few topic-specific products to sell like handmade crafts, hard-to-find gadgets, and so on. What you sell should depend on what you write about and what your readers want.
5) Write and Sell an E-Book
Many bloggers get their chops by writing articles that get increasingly longer as they have more to say on favorite subjects. Eventually, you've organized your thoughts on your blog subject so well that you're ready to write an e-book. And believe it or not, dedicated readers and those who believe in your built-up online reputation will buy that e-book.
When you're ready to do so, start an e-book and see where it takes you. A well-written e-book can start selling to people who need offline material and are interested in the expertise you have to offer. And once you have one e-book out, there's nothing stopping you from turning into a series of professional publications that can continue to sell through your blog months and years after each e-book is complete.
6) Develop Paid Membership Perks
One interesting way to monetize a blog is to offer reader membership. The thing about a great blog is that your readership will want to become a community. They may start wanting things like logins for regular commenters or even a forum to discuss each blog and the general subject matter with more freedom than a single comment thread per post. While providing these features may require some additional web development, you can also turn it into an earning opportunity.
If readers want a membership with accounts, profiles, and a forum, you might consider offering a paid membership. To make it worth a few dollars a month, talk to your web dev about other membership perks you can offer like fun reader points, exclusive access to your blogs-in-progress, and other online goodies members might pay for to be a part of your online community.
7) Sell Online Lessons
Is your blog a professional one, or based on a special set of skills you have to offer? From marketing to cooking to accounting tips, chances are that people read your blog in order to learn what you have to teach. But blogs also aren't the best learning method for many people. One alternative to selling an e-book through your blog is to sell lessons instead.
On one hand, you can put together course material that will walk paying students through what you know step-by-step without you needing to get involved. On the other hand, you can sell tickets to webinars and online courses you lead through a conference platform or Skype conference call. Both methods can earn you money and can be used separately or together.
8) Become a Paid Guest Blogger
A successful blog that draws readers, makes money, and displays your expertise has perks that extend beyond the bounds of your personal website. Your blog is a way to build a professional reputation as both a blogger and an expert in whatever you blog about. If you are social with other bloggers and companies that post related blogs, you may be able to get paid as a guest blogger.
There are many other professional and business blogs that need a little spice and may benefit from the expertise you can bring. They pay for articles from their regular writers and would be happy to pay you to bring your spice and knowledge to their readership. At the same time, this gives both you and your host a chance to link to each other's blogs, sharing and potentially increasing your shared readerships.
9) Sell Your Blogging Skills
Finally, never underestimate the possibility of getting hired to blog regularly. Not just as a guest blogger, but as someone's ghostwriter or a named column writer for an online newspaper, magazine, or professional blog. Once you have built a name for yourself as a professional writer, the earning possibilities are not just limited to the blog you write for yourself.
Don't be surprised if, after building a popular and profitable blog, if you find opportunities to make money blogging for others. Businesses need skilled and knowledgeable writers to write their blogs and publications need a steady flow of high-quality content. And, of course, you can always link your content back to your home blog to share your professional success with your original community of readers.
Written by Matt Mitchum
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