If you’re here it’s probably because you’ve seen people post publicly about how they make money blogging. But, they probably didn’t tell you exactly how it works behind the scenes.
Some of the most common questions I’m asked are how we really make money blogging. What goes into it? How does it really work?
Today, I’m going to break down the four main ways people make money blogging. There’s a detailed description of each and I hope it will help you understand how bloggers make money from their websites. Who knows, it might even inspire you to start a blog of your own!
One of the first ways most people try to make money blogging is through advertising. There are several forms of advertising that bloggers use to make money, including pay-per-click ads, direct advertising, and sponsored posts.
Pay-per-click advertising is usually offered by ad networks, which are large companies that contract with brands and retailers to display their products. Then they turn around and re-sell the ads to bloggers and website owners.
The pay-per-click is usually pretty low, but some networks offer more than others. Well-known ad networks include Google Adsense, and Media.net (associated with Yahoo!). But there are some networks that are not associated with these internet giants too.
I have pay-per-click ads on my blog in the side bar and above and below the content of my posts. Every time one of my readers clicks on these ads, I get paid a small amount.
For example, the ads I see when I visit blogs are usually about Kate Spade, Maurices, or Amazon products I was recently viewing. These companies know what websites you visit and they use that data to tailor the ads directly to you.
Pay-per-click ads are usually one of the easiest ways to make money blogging as soon as you start your blog because Google Adsense will approve any website regardless of traffic (as long as you don’t have banned content, like pornos or something). Many beginners start with this form of advertising to make money blogging from day 1.
Direct Advertising and Sponsored Posts
Once your blog has been around a while and you have a decent amount of traffic, you can start searching for direct advertising. Some companies may even come to you via your contact page. These companies and brands will pay you to display a “banner ad” on your website, or to sponsor a post on your blog.
FTC guidelines say you have to disclose if a blog post is sponsored and reputable companies will be ok with this. But bloggers are also contacted all.the.time about hosting sponsored content without a disclosure from “spammy” companies. These companies are only interested in gaining a link back from your website. They don’t actually care if anyone sees their content or clicks their link. Instead, they are only using your website’s rank with Google to improve their own.
This is against Google’s guidelines and your website could be punished within Google’s ranking system if you are caught doing this. This will push you down the list of search engine results and negatively impact the amount of traffic you’ll receive from search engines.
Bloggers can expect to receive offers all over the board for direct advertising, but it’s usually done at a flat-rate for a specified time period, usually one year. The spammy companies will try to get bloggers to publish their content and give them a link for $10-20. They may go up to as much as $200 for one link if you have a high-ranking blog.
Legitimate companies are willing to pay more and may offer you several hundred or even a couple thousand dollars for your blog’s traffic, especially if you promote them on social media, to your email list, or if they are sponsoring multiple posts on your website.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Another way to make money blogging is with affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is when a blogger gets paid if you use a link on their website to buy something. Instead of the pay-per-click ads where the blogger gets paid just for your click on an ad, you usually have to buy something for the blogger to get paid.
In order to make money with affiliate marketing, you have to join affiliate programs. Some companies have their own individual programs that you must apply for. But, there are also affiliate networks, like Commission Junction, Share-a-Sale, or Amazon Associates, where you can find many companies and products to offer on your blog.
Once you’ve joined an affiliate program, you are given a special link with a unique tracking code. You can use this in a blog post, on social media, or in an online store. If someone uses your link to buy something, you get paid a percentage of the sale.
How Much Can You Make?
The amount you can make on one affiliate sale can vary greatly depending on the company you are working with and what the reader is buying. Bloggers can earn a few cents or a few hundred dollars on each sale. Different companies will offer different percentages to their affiliates.
One of my blogger friends, Michelle, earns over $50,000 every month from affiliate marketing. She created an awesome course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, to help other people with affiliate marketing too.
In order to make affiliate sales happen more frequently, bloggers will usually write a review about a product, or a guide about several products. These encourage readers to buy something because they already trust you. Reviews may also attract traffic from search engines for people who are researching a product they are already thinking about buying.
Most bloggers realize that they have to be careful with affiliate marketing so they don’t take advantage of their readers. Thus, many bloggers will only promote things if they’ve tried them themselves.
Benefits of Affiliate Marketing
There are a few really good things about affiliate marketing. One is that you can write a single blog post, or create a page, and re-share it on social media for years and continue making money off of it.
Another benefit is that your tracking code will usually work for a few days. So, if a reader clicks on an Amazon link on your blog post, anything they buy on Amazon for the next couple of days will be credited as a sale for your website, even if it’s not the specific product you linked to.
For example, I recently wrote this post about great gifts for solopreneurs. Someone used my Amazon link and bought an electric toothbrush type thing. I made a commission off of that even though that’s not the product I had originally linked to. Score!
Plus, readers are not being charged any more for using an affiliate link vs. going to the website directly to buy something. So, it’s an easy way to support the bloggers you love without harming your own finances. In fact, you may get a discount on some products by using a blogger’s affiliate link.
Some of my top-earning affiliate links are for Freshbooks (my awesome business accounting software), Survey Junkie (to earn cash for taking surveys online), and Credible (for refinancing your high interest debt).
3. Selling Your Own Products
The third way that people make money blogging is by selling their own products. When you sell your own products, you get to keep most of the money you earn from sales.
The only bad thing about selling your own products is that you must have a product to sell. It takes time and money to make a product to sell. This means you may not actually see any profit for quite a while. However, evergreen products that don’t become out-dated quickly may be able to be sold for years, meaning you could profit for a long time from creating one product.
What Kinds of Products do Bloggers Sell?
Bloggers can sell lots of different products to make money blogging. Some bloggers write books or create courses to teach people how to do something. These both take a tremendous amount of time and effort to create.
Smaller products that some bloggers sell are printable checklists or ebooks. These still take time to create, but not nearly as much.
How Much Can You Make?
When you sell your own products, you get to keep a much larger percentage of the income than when you sell things with affiliate marketing.
Books sold though Amazon will usually net you up to 70% of the price.
Courses can be sold for anywhere between $30-40 or several hundred dollars depending on the length of the course. It also depends on the type of content you are creating and what people think it’s worth. Just because you think your course is worth $500 doesn’t mean people will pay that much.
4. Building a Service-Based Business
Finally, some people will make money blogging by building a service-based business. This is what I did and how I currently earn five figures per month!
I started blogging to tell my own story. Once people started noticing my website, I was able to leverage it into a freelance writing and virtual assistant business. I talk more in-depth about how to do this in my Resource Center.
If you’re not sure how to get started with a service-based business, there are plenty of great courses out there than can help you get started. I took Get Paid to Write for Blogs and it definitely got me started off on the right foot toward building my online business.
As you can see, there are several different ways to make money blogging. Every blogger uses a different mix of these to make money blogging, but they all use these same four general ways. Take a peek at their income reports (you can find mine here), you’ll start to notice this yourself.
If you’re a blogger, how do you make money blogging? If you’re not a blogger, did any of these surprise you?