“So, what do you do?”
I take a deep breath and think, Long version or short version? What time is it, and when do I next have to be somewhere?
While I 100% love what I do, explaining it can be a significant challenge! As a writer, blogger, entrepreneur, and owner of multiple businesses, it’s tough to give a short answer (that doesn’t lead to confusion) to the question “What do you do?”
And, while people generally accept “author,” and even “business owner” relatively easily, if I try to explain any of my online revenue streams, things quickly get much more complicated.
I’m a business strategy consultant, but “as a business model” I’m a blogger. I make money online by writing my blog about business strategy and entrepreneurship.
So, how exactly does a blogger make money? Well, I’m glad you asked. Grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit down, and I’ll tell you all about it.
1. Ad Networks
Joining an ad network is one of the most common ways that bloggers make money. Basically, you just sign up with one — such as Google Adsense or Media.net — and then ads get displayed on your site. Those ads you see in the sidebars of most blogs? Yes, those are generally from ad networks.
While this used to be the most popular way to make money blogging, these days it’s starting to fall out of style. You might notice that I don’t have any ads of this sort on my site. That’s because a) they’re ugly, b) you don’t get paid much when people click on them, and c) people don’t click on them as much as they used to.
The reality is, now that the internet has matured more, and there is so much good quality content out there, people simply aren’t as hungry for “dramatic weight loss solutions” or “cheapest blog hosting.” If they want these things, they know that they can easily find them with a quick Google search, and don’t need to click a slightly suspicious looking ad.
Long story short: Yes you can make money with your blog from ad networks, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The relatively small amount of money really isn’t worth “uglifying” your blog over.
2. Private Advertising
Rather than just signing up for random, pay-per-click ads, some bloggers opt to sell advertising on their site to specific businesses. These ads are often sold at a monthly rate, rather than based on the number of clicks or impressions the ad gets.
Private advertising is generally a little bit more of a hassle to set up, but you’ll be able to retain more control over exactly how your site looks and feels.
Plus, many companies are happy to pay for the *exposure* to your readers, even if it doesn’t immediately lead to clicks or sales, because increasing their visibility will help to grow their brand over time.
Once your blog has built up a decent following, you can start approach companies with propositions to advertise to your audience. But, keep in mind that it generally takes a number of tries before you find a great partnership.
3. Affiliate Offers
Basically, if you help a company make a sale, they might be willing to pay you a commission. Many companies, large and small, have affiliate programs that bloggers can join. After you sign up, you get a unique link for a specific product. If someone clicks that link and then makes a purchase, you get paid!
For example, I’m an Amazon affiliate. So whenever I want to share something with my audience that I love and got from Amazon, I use my special Amazon affiliate link. If someone clicks the link and buys, then I earn about 5% of the sale.
Affiliate commissions range anywhere from 2% – 90% of the sale price of a product. They can be a great way to earn money, as long as you keep one very important thing in mind:
Only promote products/services that you have positive, first-hand experience with.
Don’t promote something just because you think your audience might like it, or, worse, because it pays a high commission. Doing this risks your reputation and influence.
But, if you just focus on sharing products or services that you use yourself and truly love, affiliate programs can be a great way to monetize your blog.
4. Create & Sell Info Products
Blogs are free information. But, since your readers are interested in your topic, they very well might be interested in paying for more/higher-quality information on that same topic.
For example, if you write a blog about healthy dessert recipes, your readers might be interested in a whole ebook of just healthy pie recipes.
Or, if your blog is about sewing costumes, your readers might like to buy a video course that you put together about how to sew halloween costumes for kids.
Information products are a great way to monetize because you can create exactly what your readers are interested in, and you get to keep 100% of the profit.
However, on the flip side, they can take a LOT of time and effort to create, so it’s important that, before you start creating, you make sure that you have a good idea that your audience actually wants.
5. Sell Services Online
Writing a blog on any given subject gives you a certain amount of credibility in that field, which may mean that people would be willing to pay for your expertise or help.
For example, if you write about traveling on a budget, you could help clients plan affordable trips. Or, if you write about graphic design, you could… design graphics. (I know, what a concept!)
And, on the most basic level, even if you don’t have a specific field you’re an expert in, you are a writer if nothing else. And people need words written. Lots of words.
The final way that bloggers make money is by working with sponsors. Sponsors are companies who are willing to pay to have their product reviewed, so that they can get more exposure.
Most bloggers are quite selective about who they will do this for, and only accept sponsorships from companies that they love. Furthermore, when reviewing the product, it is VITAL to be honest about positives and negatives, and not just try to persuade your readers to buy.
Your readers follow your blog because they are interested in your topic, but also because they like and trust you. If you lose their trust, they will leave.
Value the relationship with your individual audience members higher than anything else. Focus on connecting and on being helpful.
Why do bloggers make money?
Sometimes, people think that bloggers shouldn’t get compensated because they aren’t doing “real work” or blogging is “just a hobby.”
As someone who has run multiple blogs, I can tell you that writing and running a blog is REAL work that takes 10 – 50 hours per week. And generally, the more time a blogger puts into their blog, the more money they make.
(There aren’t very many bloggers who are only putting in 10 hours/week and make much money.)
Further, running a blog also costs money: we have to pay for hosting, domains, web design, advertising, email services, and more.
Ultimately, it comes down to this — Are bloggers providing something of value? If so, then yes, they should be compensated. Fortunately for the readers, there are advertisers who are willing to pay the bloggers!
How do people make money online?
Blogging is one way that people make money on the internet, but there are a number of others!
If you’re interested in starting an online business, or if you’re a blogger who would like to increase your earnings, I’d recommend you take a look at my free guide, “The Eight Ways to Make Money Online.”