No blogger makes their income exactly the same way another blogger does. The best way to make money blogging is to have several different streams of revenue coming in. The most common ways bloggers make money are sponsored posts, affiliate linking, ads, and selling their own products.
I have nothing against sponsored posts and definitely want to work them into my stream of income, but currently my blog income comes from affiliate links, my own products, and lastly ads. I'm going to share with you what's been most successful for me in each of these ventures.
Shareasale is a platform where you can sign up to be an affiliate for lots of different companies and brands. I make the most sales through promoting the design I have on this blog, the Flourish Theme from Restored 316 Designs. I have used this theme for over a year now and really love it, so it's easy for me to promote since it's like a walking advertisement. Whoever you bought your blog theme from probably either has an affiliate program or is on Shareasale.
Bluehost is the most popular web hosting company for WordPress. They're easy to recommend since WordPress has them in their top choices for web hosting and my own experience with them has been good. The easiest way to incorporate Bluehost affiliate links into posts that will make money is to write an article on how to start a blog or your reviews and experiences with web hosting, for example. I have a post called Everything You Need to Start a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog which is actually this blog's money maker (as far as affiliate linking goes).
I update that article frequently, I've created step-by-step tutorials, and I've shared my experiences and blogging-related purchases I've made myself. It's a win-win post for both me and my readers because I'm sharing the knowledge and experience I've gained in the last 5 years of blogging, and in return I get compensated for any purchases that are made through my links.
I don't make much on Amazon ($110 this month, which is actually the most I've ever made with them in one month) but I link any product I mention that can be purchased on Amazon because you never know when affiliate income can take off. I have a blogging colleague, Carolina from Mama Instincts, who has done really well with Amazon Associates. Here is a perfect example from her blog (although this article is more link-y than her normal posts because it's an informative article on a particular subject). She is personally a huge advocate for non-toxic products and went in search of the best non-toxic play mats she could find. She shared this information on her blog to help other parents and without her even expecting anything, this article became very successful. It's an extremely helpful post with a lot of research done on her part to find out what was in all these different mats, and so it rose to the top of Google search results for people looking to read more about non-toxic play mats.
Ways to incorporate affiliate linking
This is the best way to make money in general with affiliate linking: be super helpful. It's not enough to just say "click here, buy this cool thing". Tell them why they should and let them know if you have purchased it yourself or not.
Another very simple way of making passive income from affiliate linking is creating a resources page on your blog where you share links to products you love and use. As a reader, I actually LOVE finding a resources page when I come across a blog I'm into because I want to know what they're using, what they're reading, where they got this or that, etc.
One more thing to note about affiliate linking: SEO doesn't really gain traction until around 10 months after the post has been published. That means that for 10 months, your post may not make a cent and you'll think it was a failure, but you might be pleasantly surprised several months down the road when you start making money off of that post. Not all posts will be winners, but when you get one that does well, it's awesome! My post on starting a self-hosted WordPress blog didn't make a penny until around the 6-8 month mark; sales started slowly trickling in and then it became multiple sales a month.
Selling Your Own Product
Ah, now this is where so many bloggers can make their bread and butter. My only regret is that I didn't create products sooner than when I did.
I've created two products: Anything Can Be and Sacred Self-Care for the Highly Sensitive Mom. Both are guides that come with a printable/worksheet bundle because I'm personally a worksheet whore and can't imagine creating anything without including some worksheets with it.
Now, here's what I've learned as far as selling them. I started out selling my first book, Anything Can Be, on Amazon for $2.99. That hurts the soul even to type it out now. The theory I had read in books about selling books on Amazon was that $2.99 is a perfect price because it's so affordable and you've got this massive Amazon audience. Butletmetellya, that's not how it always works.
I got sales, sure. But I was only making $2 a pop. If I could re-do the whole Amazon thing, I would've priced the ebook for at least $9.99 and the paperback at $15. Best-selling books may be cheaper than that, but they're selling waaaay more copies so it's worth it for them. Indie authors don't have that kind of platform usually so you need to charge more in order for it to even be worth your time and work.
My revelation moment came when I finally decided to pull my book off Amazon and sell it myself through Gumroad. I first priced it at $15 and didn't get many bites, but this inner voice kept putting $22 in my head. I thought "well, I don't have anything to lose." I started getting consistent sales after I upped the price to $22.
So, I went from making less than $100 off my book a month on Amazon to making hundreds of dollars a month selling it at almost twelve times the original price from my own blog. I recently added my second product, which I currently have priced at $18 but will likely raise that up as well.
People like value. Don't undervalue your products.
Making your own product 101
Just a super quick tip on this subject since this could take an entire post or book or even course to really elaborate on, but everyone has expertise in something. You don't consider it expertise because it comes easy to you or because you've known how to do it for so long that you don't even realize how much you know about it.
I suggest that you think about something you know how to do well or that you really enjoy talking about. Ask yourself these 3 questions:
- If someone had an entire month with me, what could I teach them about a particular subject?
- If they had a week with me, what could I teach them about that subject?
- If they had a day with me, what could I teach them about that subject?
All three of these questions help you to whittle down your product and give you some starting ground. If you have no products, start with something small that you can make in a short amount of time. My first book took me 4 months to write and my second one, which is almost the exact same length, took me one week. I wasn't so skittish the second time around and just wrote the damn thang!
Creating a product doesn't have to take a long time. There are so many tutorials on Pinterest for creating a product for your blog in anywhere from 3 to 30 days. You can do it and I highly suggest you do.
Last and (also least), I make money from my blog through ads. Here are the ones I've had and currently have, and what I think about them.
When I was handling my own ads, I never really made that much money, but Adsense is the best to use if you're putting ads on your blog yourself (or Amazon CPM ads which I mention below).
No. Just no. My contract is up in July and I will be leaving. They do not pay blogger's what their ad space is worth in my opinion. I have one BlogHer ad in my side bar and it made me a whopping $15 this month with 130,00 page views. I heard some great advice once that said if an ad in your sidebar is not making you at least $100 a month, it's not worth it. I would say if it's not making you at least $50 it's not worth it.
Amazon Native & CPM Ads
These are ads that you can add to your blog through Amazon Associates. I have yet to try out the CPM ads which are basically like Adsense and you can place them throughout your blog. Native ads look like this:
These are nice because you can tailor them according to what you're writing about in your post, like I just did with blogging books for this article I'm writing for bloggers.
Once your blog gets a certain amount of page views a month, you can apply to ad networks to have them manage your ads for you. They take a percentage of your earnings but in theory they're supposed to watch your ads like a hawk and see which ones do best and which placements are most successful for your blog.
I've been with The Blogger Network for a few months now and I'm not super impressed. I've never seen them change my ads around and there are bloggers with page views similar to mine who make a lot more money a month from their ads.
Not sure on these guys yet but I just recently applied to join their network so I thought I would share them in this post. I've heard great things about them so we shall see.
So now you've seen behind the curtains on how I personally make money from blogging without writing sponsored content. There are so many ways; one blogger's affiliate linking will be their honey pot and for another blogger it will be their own products. The main thing to remember is to just set all the streams up because you never know which one will take off!