How Bloggers Make Money – The top 5 ways that you can start making money as a blogger that you can start using right away.
There’s no right or wrong answer here, as many different bloggers have their income from many different sources. Bloggers make an income through so many different ways.
It can really seem overwhelming if you’re a beginner. Even a year after I started blogging, it still seems overwhelming at times! But I promise that once you get started and get into the swing of things, you won’t feel so overwhelmed.
First, a little bit about me:
In August 2015, I started my blog as a way to have social interaction with other adults after the birth of my third son. I saw a post on Pinterest that said “how I made $20,000 in a month from my blog” and I thought “if YOU can do it, I can do it too!”
And so I started my blog expecting it to be SUPER easy… and it wasn’t. But the good news for you is that I’ve been at this for long enough to know what works and what doesn’t.
Within my first 16 months since I bought my domain name, I was making a full-time income from my blog and now, almost 5 years later, it’s a 6-figure business that helps me earn more than my husband and really change my whole life’s story.
So when I say that I know what I’m talking about… I mean it. I promise I’m not some weirdo pretending like they have all the answers for blogging after only spending 2 days on their blog and they’re just after your cash monies. That’s not what I’m about at all.
Back to how bloggers make money…
I want to reiterate, there are many, many, MANY ways to make money from blogging (or “monetize your blog”). And no one does it the same way. What worked for you might not work for me, and vice versa. Different niches see better results from different types of monetization strategies.
Most bloggers make money through “passive income,” or income that you set up once and then don’t have to do anything with every again but it keeps making money for you.
FIRST, you need to understand that there are 2 categories of earning: PASSIVE and ACTIVE incomes.
Passive Income or earning is essentially earning without asking for a sale.
This could be anything that’s not relying solely on sending an email or asking someone to buy.
Ideally, you want to set up as MANY streams of passive income as humanly possible. This is the true KEY to not having to work 40 hours a week. When someone tells you that they make a ton of money and only work 20 hours a week, it’s because of the passive income that they generate from their blogs.
I’ll tell you which of the following ways to earn are passive income.
Active income or earnings are creating a new product and selling it. It’s having to make new YouTube videos every day to get it to earn money from it. Coaching programs are a perfect example of active income:
Anything that requires you to work every day or you don’t make money is considered active income.
There’s nothing wrong with having active income! Let me be very clear… because I LOVE launching products and doing coaching, but that’s NOT the only way I’d ever recommend someone making money from their blogs.
I’ll share which other ways are active income.
Here are the top 5 ways how bloggers make money.
1. Ad revenue
These are the ads that you see in the sidebars, tops, and bottoms of a site. The way that they work is that you, the blogger, join an Ad Network and they pay you to show the ads on your site.
You get paid based on
- “CPM” or “clicks per mille,” also known as “paid per impression,” which translates roughly to “for every 1,000 people who show up to your site, you’ll make some money.”
- “PPC” or “pay per click,” ads that pay you a certain amount for each time someone clicks on the ad, taking the reader to another site.
The ad revenue might be as low as $0.57 to as high as $19.98. But just starting off, it will be fairly low. But it still adds up! Here are the best places to start monetizing through ad networks:
- Google Adsense
- Monumetric (pay $99 if you have under a certain number of pageviews, but they have a great CPM compared to AdSense)
- Mediavine (You need 25,000 pageviews per month to join, but they’re awesome. They have a very high CPM compared to AdSense.)
- Adthrive (This is a premium ad network and you need at least 100,000 pageviews per month to join. I’ve been with them since 2016 and they’ve been fantastic to work with. Very helpful setting things up)
Neither one of these ad networks have minimum pageviews per month to join, so you can join them the day after you start your blog. Adsense might actually be the more difficult Ad Networks to set up, so here’s a super helpful step-by-step guide to setting up Adsense.
A great piece of advice I read was that if you plan to monetize your blog, you should start off with ads on your site to get your readers used to them. I felt that was reasonable so I applied for Adsense the day after I started my blog.
I’ve always made most of my blogging income from ad revenue. It’s a very easy way to make passive income that only increases as your blog grows.
Words of warning about ad revenue:
While ad revenue is GREAT, and it is, you don’t want this to be the only thing that you rely on to make money from your blog. Because ad revenue changes seasonally. Meaning if you have 1,000 pageviews in February, it could earn you $1, but in December, that same 1,000 pageviews could earn you $20 with Mediavine or Adthrive.
So while it’s a super passive way to earn, it’s not a steady or dependable way to earn each month. Chasing pageviews is no way to live or to build a sustainable business. It’s a great way to start earning right off the bat with your blog, but you WILL need to actually sell things or use the other ways of earning to make money from your blog.
2. Paid Ads
These are similar to the Ad Network ads, but instead of being paid per impression, you get paid a lump sum. Think of it like an ad renting a spot on your sidebar. You have total control over them, and you can control how much you charge each month.
With paid ads, you can advertise these on your own blog by saying that advertising space is available. You will likely need to provide a media kit to the advertiser to show the number of pageviews per month you have.
Remember not to short-change yourself and your worth as a blogger! Don’t undervalue your ad space, and don’t be afraid to say no if you feel that someone is trying to pay less than you feel that you deserve.
3. Sponsored Posts
Sponsored posts are posts paid for by companies. The company pays for bloggers to write a post about their company or product. There are sites that set up these sponsored posts:
Some bloggers set their prices for sponsored posts, and others negotiate with the sponsoring company based on what they are willing to make and what the company is willing to spend.
Share-A-Sale recommends this pricing for sponsored blog posts:
$50 – 5,000 unique visitors/ month
$100 – 10,000 unique visitors/ month
$250 – 20,000 unique visitors/ month
$500 and up – 50,000 + unique visitors/ month
(Personally, I think these numbers are crazy sauce. Get your butt in there and ask for WAY more than that!)
Sponsored content isn’t limited to blog posts. Some companies will pay for you to tweet to your followers. Others will pay for Instagram content using their product. There are many possibilities with sponsored posts.
I have friends who have large social media followings and they make more than $5,000 per sponsored opportunity that they get.
Leverage the audience that you have in all platforms of social media or from your blog or email list and you can earn quite a bit from a package (a blog post, and Instagram post, and YouTube video, etc. )
4. Selling their own products
The (1,000%, no questions asked) best way for bloggers to earn money is through the sale of their own products. So many bloggers have ebooks, courses, guides, classes, webinars, printables, coaching, books, coffee mugs, clothing lines, and so much more!
The best thing about having your own product for sale is that the majority of the profit goes directly into your pocket. You can self-publish books using Amazon or SendOwl. You don’t need to wait around for a publisher to come knocking at your door to make your own product.
Some bloggers who have made their own amazing products are:
- Ruth Soukup – How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul (Ruth is also the mastermind behind my beloved Elite Blog Academy class that changed my life)
- Crystal Paine – Money Saving Mom’s Budget, Money Making Mom, and the 14-day Make Over Your Mornings Course
- Abby Lawson – Buidling a Framework, The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog
- Brittany Ann – Strategies Worth Sharing, Facebook Strategy
And there are so, so, SO many more out there who have made a substantial living off of selling their own products that it would be impossible to name them all!
5. Affiliate Income
This is the biggie. The real earning potential is here. There are some bloggers who earn $40,000 a month JUST in affiliate income. It’s insane!
Affiliate income is income that a blogger earns through the sale of someone else’s product. It’s like a sales commission. The more products sold, the more income generated. It costs the reader/ clicker nothing at all to pay the affiliate income for the blogger. Chances are that you’ve already clicked on an affiliate link today and didn’t even consciously realize it.
Affiliate income works when you sign up to be an affiliate for a product or a company. Once you’re an affiliate, you get a specific link that lets the seller know that it was your specific link that was clicked on. Once someone makes a purchase using your link, you get a commission from it.
The best way to make affiliate income is by promoting products that you love and can naturally recommend to people without sounding like a used car salesman.
All of my highest affiliate products are things that I have used, love, and would actually recommend to people in real life without getting paid for it. Getting paid for promoting a product is like icing on the cake. I want to tell everyone about the products that I use and love. This makes it a lot easier to promote a product without making it sound forced or fake.
Affiliate products also depend a lot on the niche of the blogger. As a personal finance and mom-preneur blogger, it would be really strange if I was promoting the best dog food. And it would be weird if a style blogger was promoting financial products. It all depends on your niche.
Here are the best places to find affiliates:
- Amazon Affiliate (the commission is low, but you get the commission for everything that someone buys, not just the product link that they clicked.)
- Convert (formerly Commission Junction)
- Check at the bottom of your favorite sites to see if they have an affiliate program.
No matter which source of income you choose, don’t forget to make a disclosure statement.
No matter what kind of affiliate or sponsorship or pay-per-click ad, you need to make sure that you disclose that you’re being compensated. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is very strict about these standards. I put my disclosure in the sidebar so that it gets seen with every post, and I disclose further in sponsored posts. Check out other bloggers’ disclosure forms to get an idea of what they do to let readers know about the way that they earn through their blog.
It’s OK to make money blogging!
No matter how bloggers make money, it’s important to remember that it’s ok that bloggers make money! I’ve heard so many bloggers say that they’ve been told off by people for using affiliate links on their site, or for having ads, or making sponsored posts.
I tell you this because I don’t want to deceive you and make you think that blogging is a get-rich-quick scheme: blogging is hard work. Your favorite bloggers love what they do, and they should get paid for it.
I think about Crystal Paine from Money Saving Mom. She posts deals on her Facebook and blog all day, every day. Do I think she should do this for free? No! Do I feel betrayed knowing that she makes her living from her blog and from people like me visiting her site? No way!
How bloggers make money isn’t always an easy question to answer. Even for one blogger, the answer might change drastically one month to the next.
And that’s ok! There are so many different variations of “normal” in the blogging world. What works for one blogger won’t work for another. But that’s ok! You’ll need to try things out on your own blog to see what works best for your and for your readers.
Have you started monetizing your blog? What’s your biggest income earner?
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