When I started this blog in 2014, I was blissfully ignorant of the real potential of blogging. I had created mine as a hobby and creative outlet with little knowledge of the ability to really make money. I hadn’t been blogging long when I started to notice other bloggers talk about making an impressive amount of money, and I began learning the different ways to monetize a blog. I didn’t actually really start monetizing my blog until about one year in and was able to learn a ton in that year to prepare myself and my blog. Since I know this is something on the minds of many bloggers, both new bloggers and those who have been at it awhile, I wanted to share a post on how to make money blogging.
This post is sponsored by QuickBooks Self-Employed. Although I have been compensated, all opinions are my own.
Before I jump into the different ways to make money blogging, I want to iterate that blogging is not a get rich quick scheme. As I mentioned above, I blogged for an entire year before I began to make money. I know many bloggers who blogged far longer than that. If you’re not prepared to put in the incredible amount of hard work that comes with growing and monetizing a successful blog, you likely won’t be successful. If you’re hoping to make money blogging in the future, you may want to read this post about things to do before you monetize your blog.
Now that we’ve covered that, let’s dive into the different ways to make money blogging!
I think when those outside the blogging industry think of how you could make money on a website, this is what comes to mind. In reality, sidebar and in-content advertising have become less and less popular as far as methods of monetization go. When you first get started, your options are quite limited – most people start with Google Adsense. Honestly, unless you have a ton of page views, you’ll likely make barely anything. Early on in blogging I experimented with Google Adsense and made pennies per day.
However, that’s not to say you can’t make money with advertising. Plenty of blogs make thousands of dollars per month using this strategy. Now that my blog is significantly bigger than it once was, I work with a company called AdThrive to manage the ads on my site and it has made a huge difference in the amount of income I get. Most networks like AdThrive require a certain number of page views, so I recommend focusing on really growing your traffic first if this is a way you’d like to monetize.
This seems to be the most popular means of monetizing for what I would call “lifestyle” bloggers. In my years of blogging, this has been the main way I have monetized my blog, though I’ve begun expanding my streams of revenue.
Sponsored content, whether it be on your blog or on a social media platform, is where a company pays you to promote their product. Typically you’ll see bloggers take a product and seamlessly weave it into a post that you might have found on their blog anyways.
A popular way of working with brands, especially early on in blogging, is to go through a third-party blogging network. They facilitate the relationship between brands and bloggers. Some of my favorite networks I’ve used in the past have been Social Fabric, Clever, Collectively, and Activate by Bloglovin’.
The option for sponsored content is to work directly with brands. Once your blog starts to grow, you’ll notice you start getting emails from companies wanting to see their products on your blog. Unfortunately, most of these companies will want you to work purely for free products without any other means of compensation. I find that reaching out to brands directly is a far more profitable means of working with brands.
Affiliate marketing is at this point the method I have the least experience with, though it’s something I’ve been working hard to incorporate more into my business model! The premise of affiliate marketing is that you recommend a product on your blog or social media platforms via a special affiliate link and if something purchases that product through your link, you get a cut of that sale. Commissions can be as low as just a few percent on sites like Amazon, but as high as 40-50% for eBooks or eCourses. It can be super easy to start using affiliate links on your blog because you’ve likely already talked about your favorite products, whether those be clothing, beauty products, or your favorite blogging resources. Now you can go back and update those links to affiliate links to start earning money!
I’ve been truly amazed and the earnings I’ve seen some bloggers bring in from affiliate marketing. The potential is huge regardless of what niche you blog in.
Physical or Digital Products
Over the last several years, this seems to have become an increasingly popular method of monetizing your blog. It seems that just about every blogger out there has some sort of product for sale whether it be an eCourse or an eBook or products they’re selling in an Etsy store. This can be a really effective method for many reasons!
First of all, you’re selling your own product. Unlike advertising, sponsored content and affiliate marketing, selling your own products allows you to keep your audience on your own site to spend money rather than referring them to someone else’s company to spend their money.
Second, selling your own products allows you to keep more of the profit. For digital products, you’re likely keeping all of the income from your product, minus the upfront cost of design services, an email platform, landing page, etc. that you use to create and sell your product. Though the profit margin for physical products is likely smaller, it is still going to be much larger than if you were to market a similar product via an affiliate link.
Finally, selling digital products can be a largely passive income source. Once you’ve created the process and streamlined the means by which people find the product (social media, email list) then the sales in large part take care of themselves.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of how to make money blogging, let’s dig in a bit to what happens once you do start making money. Unfortunately, money that you make on your blog is still income, and that means the IRS expects you to pay taxes on it just as you would income from your regular day job. Learning the ins and outs of blog finances is definitely tricky, and my best recommendation is to find tools that will help you to stay organized in that area.
The biggest tool I’ve really come to rely on is QuickBooks Self-Employed. I have it connected to my blog bank account and PayPay account so each new transaction is automatically logged in QuickBooks Self-Employed, and it has been set to automatically log those as business expenses. And since I also use Intuit’s TurboTax to file my self-employed taxes each year, the two products work together and do just about all the work for me.
I’m definitely not an accountant, and the idea of tracking my income and expenses and saving receipts was super daunting at first. However, QuickBooks Self-Employed literally could not make this easier for me. The receipt capture and categorization are super easy to use. They also have mileage tracking, which is perfect for those of us who rack up any miles for our business! Finally, QuickBooks Self-Employed helps me to maximize tax deductions to make sure I’m getting the best deal when tax time rolls around.
It’s amazing what I’ve learned in the last several years about how to make money blogging. I went from no understanding at all, to actually making a decent part-time income. I know it can be overwhelming when you first start out, but it’s okay to take it slow! And having the right tools to help you is a big part of the learning curve.
Have you started monetizing your blog? What are your favorite ways to make money blogging?
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