A common question I get asked is "how do bloggers actually make money?" It's not surprising considering a large majority people don't believe in making money online at all. Unfortunately for them, they couldn't be more wrong.
Blogging can lead to a generous income for anyone. Heck, you don't even have to like writing (voice to text can be done with your computer for free!)
In fact, blogging can be so beneficial that it can change your life. It can be extra money for that trip you want to take, it can help you catch up on your bills, it can even help you leave your job.
Before I begin, I recommend you read Part 1: How to Make the Ultimate Money Making Blog to learn how to set up a blog through Bluehost. If you already have a blog, keep reading.
*This post contains affiliate links to the products I LOVE, used and purchased, please see my disclosure for any questions.
Let me start off by saying, it isn't easy.
Bloggers work hard for their income. It takes thorough research, superior marketing, and patience to be able to make it. As a blogger, you have to come to terms with the fact that you may put in hundreds of hours initially to see any pay months to years later. It's an incredible invest in time. But for those willing to sacrifice time up front, it's worth it.
It's these bloggers who have been able to bring in not only tens of thousands, but over a million dollars in blogging.
Now you are probably wondering "how?"
Let me explain.
There are five main ways to monetize a blog. Some bloggers choose to focus on a particular method, while others choose to subsidize their income with all five.
How bloggers make money
This is my favorite way of making money online. Why? Because after the initial work, it's passive.
Affiliate marketing is similar to the "sales" industry. Companies reward you for referring their products and making sales. For example, I always recommend my readers to take "Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing" by Michelle Schroeder. It is hands down the best course for monetizing your blog (and how I learned to make money with affiliates).
However, for every sale I recommend, I also get paid. Therefore in this example, I'm an affiliate for an affiliate course. Doesn't get much better than that, does it?
The best part? I get to refer products through writing, to thousands of people without feeling pushy or offensive. I believe and use the products I recommend, and if I make money form it, it's only a bonus.
You can become an affiliate for nearly any business, service, book, or course you can think of. I'm also an affiliate for stores like Cabelas and Amazon. They give me a small commission from any sale that originates from my site.
It sounds easy, right?
Here is a more detailed breakdown of what to expect.
HOW THE BUSINESS KNOWS YOU MADE THE REFERRAL
Once you pick a business you want to recommend, you will receive a special link from them. This link is your "identity" and tracks the referral. For example, my link for Tailwind is:
I embed that link throughout texts in relevant posts. Every person who clicks that link will be redirected to the Tailwind site. I will receive a small commission from anyone who would choose to purchase a Tailwind product through that link.
HOW TO RECOMMEND PRODUCTS
You can recommend products through blog posts, social media accounts, and your email list.
You can also pass links to friends. I do this when I know they are looking for a certain product that I have an affiliate for. It's an easy way to make a few extra bucks with no extra work involved.
HOW YOU GET PAID
They will explain all of the terms prior to you signing any agreement. However, most of the time you will receive it through the mail or PayPal.
UNDERSTANDING THE BENEFIT OF PASSIVE
Passive means that you make money with little work involved. Once you have your blog post up with your affiliate links embedded, you can receive commissions for as long as your site is running.
Just think, one day you wake up to find that a post went viral. That post was loaded with a high paying affiliate, and you make $500 overnight. You might have written that post a year ago.
How to Start Making Money With Affiliates
A. Start a Quality Blog
Start building content and get on Pinterest immediately. Pinterest drives the majority of my traffic. You can learn how I learned to grew my traffic to 10,000 page views by using this Pinterest method.
B. Find Products You Love
Do you shop on Amazon often? Are you into beauty products? Have you taken social media or business courses that you can't get enough of?
You can be an affiliate for any, or all, of them. In most cases, it only requires you to have an established blog (that doesn't mean you have to have tons of traffic) or a decent social media following.
Usually establishing a blog is the best and most effective way to become a successful affiliate marketer.
A couple common affiliate networks are
Also be sure to reach out to the owners of your favorite products, books, and courses. You can easily grab an affiliate link from them as well!
C. Educate yourself with strategies that work
First and foremost, learn the rules. You do have to inform your readers of affiliates that may be embedded in your posts. This can be done by adding a note at the top of your post, much like the one you can find above.
Learn from the best: Michelle Schroeder. She makes over $50,000 a month from affiliate marketing. She does it using this method!
To learn more about affiliate sales you can read my post: 5 Things I Did to Make My First Affiliate Sale.
Another common method for making money with your blog is through services.
For example, you have built up a crazy social media brand. You have links all across your blog and you regularly blog about social media strategies.
It would probably be wise for you to start selling your social media management skills as a service. You'd advertise this on your website and drive traffic to your services through your blog.
Examples of services include:
Health and Fitness
Social Media Management
Consulting (sell your knowledge)
Branding & Graphics
There is really no limit to the services that you can sell, as long as you have an audience to sell to.
How do you get paid for your services?
You can have your clients pay you through your website (many have a built-in eCommerce system) or get paid through PayPal.
If you want to take selling a step further, and can create and sell your own products. The nice thing about products is you can create and forget it.
After all of the initial up front work, it can become a very passive type of income.
For example, health and fitness bloggers sell their own fitness plans, blogger's sell their own courses, and online chefs sell their own recipes.
Anything you think there is a demand for, you can sell.
An easy way to do this is by creating an ebook or a downloadable PDF.
However, if you want to build a course, it's a little more technical. You'll need to host it somewhere. A few popular options are:
It's never too early to be crafting your perfect product; however, I recommend you have some sort of promotional strategy prepared first. Building up your email list is usually the best way.
You were probably expecting me to mention ads first, weren't you?
Ads are the most recognized form of blogging income. However, they aren't the most popular. Why? Because it takes a lot of pageviews to make it worth the hassle.
I use to have ads on my site. I was signed up for Google Adsense; however, they are not yet worth the return.
There are 3 main issues with ads that you should be aware of:
They make sites look cluttered and spammy. Two qualities that I'm not a fan of when reading other people's blogs.
Unless you have a large amount of traffic, they don't pay well.
They can take our visitors away from your own content
With affiliate marketing, products, and services, you can make money off of any audience, as long as they trust you and what you are doing.
However, with ads, you usually need hundreds of thousands of page views before you see any real income. Therefore, it's wise that new bloggers avoid ads until they have a large readership already in place. Otherwise, ads can be detrimental to developing a loyal audience.
If ads are something you want to start with, I recommend Google Adsense. Once you build up your audience, you can eventually graduate to AdThrive.
AdThrive pays very well.
As your blog begins to build an online presence, you can start chasing sponsored posts.
Instead of waiting for a commission like with affiliate marketing, sponsored posts are when bloggers get paid for simply mentioning (and linking) to a product.
Therefore, it's relatively easy money for the amount of work involved. It's not uncommon for bloggers to get $300 - $500 per post.
For new bloggers, finding brands to work with can be a bit of a challenge. Instead of expecting businesses to come to you, it's better if you pitch to them. To do this, I recommend having a media kit. This kit should include your social media handles, bio, and website/social statistics.
So how do you start?
By determining what your ideal audience will want from you. Are you primarily "blogging" or is your niche a service? Are you running a blog as a way to develop traffic or looking for a specific group of clients?
The first step to looking professional (and knowledgeable) is to make sure your blog is up to par. You can read my post "How to Make Your Blog Look Like a Professional Website (in No Time at All!)" to help you improve your site and set it up for success.
Once you have a quality site in place, make sure to set up your services or products. It's never too early to start selling them.
If you are more like me, and just love curating content and sharing it, then start with affiliate marketing. Although a product might be in the future for you, it's more important that you develop loyal readers and a relatively large following, first.
Of course, my biggest piece of advice for everyone is to START. You will learn as you go, but you will never get anywhere if you don't start somewhere first.
Other articles you will love:
Below are a few resources that I highly recommend EVERY blogger invest in. These are the same resources I've used to build my own money making blog (and build others!)
My FAVORITE Pinterest course is Pinteresting Strategy which has helped me get over 8,000 followers (and significant traffic).
The BEST course for building traffic with limited time and resources is definitely Ready Set Blog for Traffic!
I also use Tailwind religiously for building my Pinterest account.