I’ve already written A Beginner’s Guide to Twitter Basics and A Beginner’s Guide to SEO Basics, and someone much smarter than me wrote about podcasting basics, so today I wanted ton continue this theme and write about monetization. Now, there are people who write entire blogs about monetization, so believe me when I say that this is a quick overview. If you’re new to blogging, though, this post can help you figure out how to make money from your blog.
Bloggers who want to make money from their blogs have five main choices for monetization. Under each of these categories, you have multiple options as well, so I’m going to list as many as I can. The great thing about blogging is that bloggers are always finding new and innovative ways to make money!
First and foremost, you can monetize your blog with advertising. Advertising comes in two main forms: selling ads directly for a flat fee and PPC ads where you’re paid a very small amount every time someone clicks on the ad. You can also add advertising to videos and podcasts with commercials, the same way a TV show or radio show sells advertisement time.
Advertising is also available in the form of posts. Someone can pay you to sponsor a post or even write an entire post on your site, though FTC rules mean you have to disclose when you’re paid for something like this. If the post isn’t high quality, it can also hurt you blog, so take this into consideration.
- Selling Stuff
You can use your blog to convince your readers to buy stuff. Working as an affiliate is the easiest way to get started doing this – basically, you’re selling other people’s products, and in exchange, you’ll get a cut of the money. Amazon is my favorite affiliate program for general stuff since they have just about everything, but you can also be an affiliate for an individual product, such as the latest ebook your favorite blogger releases. If you can’t find affiliate program information on their website, just shoot them an email and ask if one is available.
To make more money, you can sell your own products. Informational products (like ebooks and courses) are most popular for bloggers since you can create them with little overhead cost, but you can also sell products like t-shirts and mugs.
- Membership Sites
If you create great content, you might want to charge people to read it. To do this, you’ll sell a membership to the site, where people will pay on a monthly basis to access your content. Another form of a “membership site” is a subscription to content via email. Membership sites often focus on the community aspect and include forums, profiles, and more.
- Using your Blog as a Platform
This is a more indirect way to monetize your blog. Instead of actually getting money from your readers, you use your blog as a platform to make money. For example, you could use your blog to land a book deal or become a paid public speaker. You can also use it to find clients. For example, if you’re a financial professional, you could advertise your services on your free blog.
Product reviews are a bit controversial in the blogging world, since some bloggers think you deserve more than free products for the work you do to review a product. The choice is up to you, though. I think it depends on what you’re reviewing. If someone is willing to give you a car, for example, I think that’s a pretty sweet deal! A company that send you free potato chips? Maybe not so much. It also depends if you want to support the company because you have a personal connection or because you think your readers need to know about a product.
Some companies will not only send you free stuff to review, but will also pay you a set amount to write the review, so it’s kind of like a paid post. Remember that you have to disclose everything if you’re reviewing a product that you received for free or were paid to review.
Setting Your Advertising Prices
One of the questions I hear over and over again is this: how much should I charge? It’s not a question that can easily be answered, unfortunately. Heck, even big companies have trouble setting prices. Just look at Netflix if you want an example of a company having a hard time feeling out their market.
Let’s start by talking about advertising. I think the key here is finding a price that is fair for those buying from you without being so cheap that you cheat yourself out of the money you could be making. Basically, you want to set advertising prices based on traffic. So, it depends on how big you are – and don’t be afraid to raise your rates as you grow.
In my opinion, no one can say it better than what Daniel Scocco has said in his guest post for the Problogger blog. Whenever someone asks me how much to charge, I said them to that post. It’s also how I set my own advertising prices.
Every blogger goes about monetizing in a different way, and that’s one of the best things about blogging; there are no right or wrong methods! Well, almost. There are a few things I think almost all bloggers should avoid when monetizing. Don’t make these mistakes!
- Giving top billing to your ads: Unless there’s a reason (like the advertising is paying extra), banner ads shouldn’t be on the prime real estate of your blog. Reserve that spot for your own stuff, like a sign-up box for your mailing list, an ad for your own products, or buttons to subscribe to your RSS feed.
- Not disclosing when you’ve been paid: This isn’t just shady – it’s illegal. If something is an affiliate link or you’ve been paid to write it, the FTC requires that you let your readers know. How I understand the law (and I’m not a lawyer), this also includes your social media updates (tweets, status updates, etc). When you use an affiliate link, mark it as such! Don’t try to trick your readers. It’s just not cool.
- Sending readers to your competitors: We like to think there are no competitors in blogger, but if you’re using your blog as a platform, there are other sites you just don’t want to advertise. For example, if you’re a writer and looking for clients, you don’t want to advertise for other writers on your blog sidebar! Be careful when you use advertising services such as the one offered by Google – block ads that drive potential money away.
Like I said, there are entire blogs just about how to make money with your blog. This isn’t in the least the end-all post about the topic. But for beginners out there, I hope this will get you started.
And I hope you’ll share a link to your favorite blog about making money online! My favorite resource is David Risley’s blog (hey, there’s a reason he’s BlogWorld’s monetization track leader!) – what are your favorites?