Blogging can seem like fools game. You have two sides of the spectrum. Some people will think it’s just a hobby and there’s no way to make any real money with blogging, and others think it’s a get rich quick scheme. Neither of those are true. For bloggers that run their blogs like a business, there is some serious money to be made – but it takes time. For bloggers that are doing it for “funzies” – chances are they’re spending more than they’re making.
This blog post may contain affiliate links and sponsored content. All ideas, creations, and opinions are my own.
There are a bunch of ways to make money blogging, and if this is your full time gig it might not take you but a few months to start seeing that revenue come in. But you have to be hard working and patient. This blogging business isn’t for the faint of heart. If you want to have fun and have a blog as a hobby that’s one thing. If you want to build a brand and a blog as part of your business through which you can pay off debt, feed your kids, and buy a new car – well that’s another.
As with all my other posts, I will continue to update this one as new options and ideas become available.
Just like you saw under the pin image above, you’ll find on many blogs have a disclaimer towards the top notating affiliate and sponsored content. Affiliate links can be done through places like Amazon, courses you’ve signed up for, brands you work with, etc. You’ll find many bloggers have an image in their side bar or a link in text like this one >Hey! Buy Convertkit! that links to a service they use. By dropping those links in blog posts or having them in the side bar, whenever someone purchases through that link, you get a commission. It doesn’t cost the purchaser any more money for the service, it just gives you special perks in the form of compensation or a discount on a service you already use. It’s like word of mouth – but money! Sometimes companies will even bring their affiliate program a step further by offering the new purchaser an additional perk such as a percentage off for using your link. It is a super easy way to get the word out about products and services you love while getting a pat on the back and thank you from the company. Just be sure to never recommend something you don’t actively use or support. That could bite you in the butt. Also, with systems such as Amazon affiliate it is best to have an already active and engaged audience. Amazon affiliate is free to sign up for, but unless someone purchases within three months of opening your affiliate account – they close it. You also need to be sure you understand TOS or terms of service. For example, I could drop a referral link to Convertkit in a Facebook Group when someone asks and it’s not against their TOS. Amazon affiliate requires that referral links are public. That means you cannot drop them in private facebook groups or ask a friend to purchase using a link. It would need to be some place available to all such as a blog post. So – check out the programs and products you use for referral or affiliate programs they may have and write a blog post about them!
Sponsored content consists of social media posts, blog posts, and the link in which the blogger was compensated in some way to speak about a brand. Compensation could be in the form of a free product, money, or a combination. Sponsored content is done by approaching brands and offering yourself as a vessel to get the word out about their product or service in story form. Their service or product is often weaved into a blog post and the reader doesn’t even realize it. Take my Chicken Wing recipe for example. This was a sponsored post. I entered into an agreement with a brand that I approached about working together. I offered my services (photo, video, recipe creation) and essentially access to my audience in an evergreen and authentic way. Because I know my audience over at Chase Studio Co., I knew that they would love products from a brand such as Grass Roots. I knew I could provide a delicious recipe for them, and entice my readers to support this brand in an authentic way such as Spicy Mango Chicken Wings. You’ll also see posts on social media like Instagram that have #ad or #sponsored. This is the same thing as my disclaimer up at the top of the blog to let you know that the blogger or influencer did the post in exchange for something. To learn how to pitch to brands like a pro, I highly recommend Jenny Melrose’s Pitch Perfect Pro Course. (See the affiliate link there? Cool, right?!)
While I hate ads as a reader, ads are a real way for a blogger to make some cash. There are three ad networks that I’m familiar with and have heard a great deal about.
- Google AdSense: This is for the basic blogger. There is no minimum required as far as page views or sessions go so you can implement it from day one. However, it is based on views and you don’t get paid until you’ve reached $100 worth. Long and the short of it is Google Adsense takes a while to get paid, but you can implement it right away.
- Mediavine & AdThrive: These two are competitors. They are the large ad networks that most “legit” bloggers are using. They both require a high number of page views or sessions a month in order to get paid. Some bloggers that put out an amazing amount of content consistently and know how to market themselves, can achieve what they need to within 3 months. Others, it may take a year or more.
You’ll notice that I don’t currently have ads on my site. For me, user experience is key. For the fraction of a penny that Google AdSense pays, I don’t find it beneficial to implement it into my income stream. I would rather at this point, you see the content and enjoy it. Once my page views or sessions are up enough for the bigger ad networks that pay more and I’m able to consistently drive traffic to the site, I’ll add it to my income stream. You have to really weigh the pros and cons for each. I also recommend talking to other bloggers about the pros and cons they’ve experienced with their ad networks. Most will tell you they’ve tried both and now stick with one over the other.
Just beware that with any ad network you go with, the key is to bring readers to your site. This is only done with quality content people want to know about.
Selling a Product
If you’re a food blogger, you’ll likely have the idea cross your mind at some point for a cookbook. While this is totally doable, and certainly one way to make some money – it also costs money to make professionally. The market is well saturated with ebooks right now. However, when done right and to an established audience that you know wants it, you can sell on Amazon and make a pretty penny. Then there are also the hot commodity of courses. For example, I obviously know things about photography. In addition to writing blog posts about it, I’m working on an artificial lighting course. If you have a specialty and want to teach people, creating a product in the way of a course is smart and another way to bring in money. You could also have an Etsy store if you have t-shirts, mugs, or other items like the pottery I make. Products come in all kinds of variations. You can sell multiple products right off of your website platform or use another such as Amazon or Etsy. Some bloggers even dive into Subscription Boxes. Although, I do not recommend that until you are well established and have a routine. Subscription Boxes take a ton of time. As a photographer, you could also sell your photos as stock photos (on your own or on sites like Adobe Stock).
Selling a Service
Very similar to selling a product, you could sell your services. We are all VA’s (virtual assistants) in one way or another. Do this blogging business long enough and you’ll see that with all the things you need to do for your business, that you’re actually really good at a few. So if you’re handling your own Pinterest account for your website and can show great results by your own management of it, consider offering it as a service to other bloggers. Are you a food blogger like I am, have some down time, and are really good at photography and video? Create a service for other bloggers in your niche that are busier or not as skilled as you are. I saw a need for food bloggers that are super busy creating new content, that they don’t have time to update old content. So I offered to rephotograph old recipes for them. This saves them time from having to do it all themselves, and still allows for their old posts to be updated resulting in an increased SEO for their already hoppin’ site. Win-win!
Writing for Other Bloggers
While this could fall into the services or sponsored category, I thought it deserved it’s own. There are big name bloggers that have other bloggers “guest star” on their blog. These big bloggers are publishing new content daily – sometimes multiple times a day. To keep up with this demand, some of them will open up applications and then hire other bloggers for the content. It’s very competitive so you certainly have to bring your A-game. You also need to have a relationship with the blogger. If there is a blogger you love and would like to appear on their blog someday (for trade of money or them name dropping you), be sure to follow and engage with them. Follow them on Instagram and interact. Comment on their blog posts. Do all the things that you know helps to boost their SEO and remain authentically showing your support for what they do. Become a name and face they recognize.
This is one of the newest ways to make money. As you grow and get more followers on your blog and social media accounts, you’ll get the opportunity to apply to Amazon’s Influencers circle. Amazon created this separate portion of Amazon affiliates for those with high follower counts. Now they can actually create a “store” on their website using all amazon products and receive commission. These bloggers don’t actually have or ship any of the products. They are all actually being ordered through Amazon. Pretty cool! Right now to qualify for that, you have to have some insanely high numbers of followers.
Patience and Persistence
That’s the name of the game. If you want to really build a brand through blogging, you need to be in it for the long haul. There is no get-rich-quick scheme with blogging. You need to know your mission, know your people, and know that it’s going to take a lot of hard work and persistence. But if you want it bad enough, are willing to put in the time and effort to make it happen – it will. Be sure to pin this post and check back for updates, or subscribe to the email list to be notified.
AND REMEMBER, YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE A B.A. IN PHOTOGRAPHY – TO BE A BA IN PHOTOGRAPHY.