You have a blog and you want to monetise but you don’t know where to start.
Should you be signing up for affiliate programs? Selling links? Making a book?
How do you do these things and is there any point if you don’t have a huge audience?
In this tutorial, I’m going to step you through how you can get started with monetisation (including what methods to start with).
You will learn...
- Why you should start with monetisation today
- How to get started with affiliate marketing
- How to get started with advertising (and why you might want to wait)
- How to get started with sponsored posts
- How to get started with freelancing
- How to get started with products
- Recommendations from other bloggers
1. Why you should start with monetisation today
The biggest mistake I made with blogging was chasing the wrong thing – I went after page views when my goal was a financially successful blog.
I then exceeded all my traffic goals but didn’t have any money and it was a very empty and frustrating feeling.
I feel stupid saying it now, but I expected money would come if I had the traffic.
Like it was some type of magic that would happen by itself.
If you want to make money from your blog, this is what you should focus on from the moment that becomes your goal.
That means monetising from the beginning.
You don’t need a big audience to make money from your blog. Less than 4,000 people looked at this blog over the last month and it made a 6 figure income last year.
The best thing about monetising from the start is that you will be clearer on who your target audience is and more focused on your marketing to them. This means you will do a much better job of monetising a small audience compared to when bloggers (like me) wait until they hit tens of thousands of page views but then find that their audience just doesn’t work for what they want to do.
It’s quicker and easier (and more satisfying) to focus on it from the beginning.
2. How to get started with affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is a great monetisation technique to use from the beginning. This is because you only need to hit one article out of the park to make a lot of money from affiliate marketing.
If you can write an article which will attract people with the right reader intent (i.e. people who already want to buy something that you recommend) which is optimised for affiliates, you can then focus on this article for your marketing.
If you put all the effort you put into marketing your blog content now (whether via SEO, social media, etc) into marketing your new affiliate articles, you’ll not only see more traffic but more income as well.
I like to market my affiliate articles using SEO.
This is so powerful as you can use keywords which target people searching in Google who already want to buy a product and just want someone to tell them which one.
Then, when you work on link building for your blog, you can build the links to your affiliate articles. As your traffic goes up, so will your income.
You can also learn how to find good keywords here.
3. How to get started with advertising (and why you might want to wait)
I am in two minds about starting your monetisation journey with display advertising using services like Google AdSense.
Some people say it’s better to use them from the start so your audience gets used to them.
My personal feeling is that advertising is distracting and takes people away from your content and site. If it’s not going to lead to real money, I would put it on hold until it earns enough to make the distraction worthwhile.
At what point this occurs really depends on your content and audience.
It is possible to make good money with ads with low audience numbers, but with the topics most bloggers write about, large numbers are going to be needed to make much money. This is because the amount paid for ad clicks varies depends on the topics you write about.
The good news is that it’s really easy to get started with a service like Google AdSense so why not try it out and see if it is worthwhile.
I talk more about using advertising here.
4. How to get started with sponsored posts
Sponsored posts fall in to two categories:
- Posts where the sponsor wants access to your audience
- Link selling – really the sponsor just wants a link from your blog
If your domain authority is over 20 then you can already make money from selling links on your blog (note that this is against Google guidelines and they can remove your site from their search results if they think you are doing this method.
You can read more about increasing your domain authority here. The higher it is, the more money you can make from this.
The first category does not necessarily require a big audience but you will want a niche audience – as in one that is easily described and will appeal to sponsors in your niche.
I describe the process of getting started with sponsored posts in my book, How To Make Money From Blogging.
5. How to get started with freelancing
Freelancing is another area of monetisation that you can start whenever you want. This is when you use your blog as a platform to show what you can do and then do work that’s for someone else and not your blog.
You should have a Work page on your blog that describe your services, but then you can use sites like Upwork to actually find work.
In your applications for jobs, you can use your blog as a selling point and show future clients the best examples of your work.
I would never recommend freelancing as a long term monetisation method for your blog – after all, I assume you are reading this article because you would like your blog to support you at some point. But it can be good in the short term while you continue to work on other methods like selling your own product and affiliate marketing.
6. How to get started with products
Products can be the best way to start monetising your blog as they can be the fastest way to earn money.
This is because you usually receive the money immediately, you can keep selling the product over and over again (if it’s not a physical one off item) and can have higher priced products to really accelerate your income growth.
This is how I have been able to grow my income dramatically in 2017 on this blog. I also find it a much more meaningful and enjoyable way to earn money from blogging as I get to give a lot of value.
It may seem daunting when your audience is small but that isn’t necessarily a problem. It’s about finding the right product that will suit your audience.
It can also be far easier to sell a more expensive product fewer times than to sell a cheap product many times.
For example, say your goal is to make $1000 from your blog in the next month.
This means you could work on selling 100 x $10 products or 10 x $100 products or even 1 x $1000 product.
This is why products can be a great monetisation method to start with. Even with a small audience, you could make $1000 with the right product more easily than the other methods with great scope to grow.
7. Recommendations from other bloggers
I asked some of the bloggers in Build Blog Freedom how they started with monetisation and what they would recommend. These are their responses:
- The first way I monetised my blog was with hotel booking sites. The first money I ever received was from booking.com. I have since started with articles written purely for Amazon and these appear to be doing well also – Melissa
- For me it was affiliate marketing. I was writing hundreds of reviews on TripAdvisor on places that we stayed and linking to them in the blog. Then I figured, I was giving TripAdvisor free advertising. So I signed up with the Affiliate Window folks and one thing led to another. My traffic is improving and I’m spending my time writing on my own website rather than on TripAdvisor’s, but I still do review when we stay somewhere. However, one of the posts that gained more traction is actually a post related to a packing list – and it’s an Amazon affiliate post – https://asocialnomad.com/travel/pack-these-things/ is a quirky look at some of the items you’ll find in my backpack that make life on the road a little easier! – Sarah
- The first thing I did was to set up adverts in the sidebar, but you need a lot of traffic to make these worthwhile. I think affiliate marketing is a smart way to start, as you just need a few posts to do well to start generating an income – Marianne
- The first way we directly monetised our blog was by publishing and selling e-books in easily downloaded PDF formats. We premiered with a title that was co-written with another blogger more than seven years ago, and it continues to sell along with subsequent titles. These now cover a range of self-help and how-to topics. Once we had a range of titles on a particular topic, we bundled them with related titles and other digital products (downloadable spreadsheets, checklists, etc.) to incentivize package and discounted sales. You can always sell what you know in the form of a quality e-book, and it’s one of the easiest ways for new bloggers to get started making money – Betsy
- I recommend Amazon as the first way to start monetising. It is low overhead and easy to understand. Just about everyone you know shops on Amazon anyway, so this is a good way to get started – Nicole
- My first money came from sponsored posts. They are few and far between but I am always grateful that someone actually managed to find us. As for new bloggers monetising, I suggest they read up on the pros and cons and also the difference between no follow and follow links – Michele
- My first income came from a sponsored campaign with AmEx. But sponsored posts are the easiest way to start seeing income – Kevin
- I first monetised my blog via the awesome Amazon affiliates program. It’s a great way to start your monetisation journey as it’s easy to get accepted into the program and Amazon excels at converting clicks into sales. It’s worth checking out the EasyAzon plugin too! – Clare
- I first monetised by running a teleclass over the phone! (Yes, that was many years ago!) – Cate
- The very first benefit of my blog came from doing gear reviews. I kept my kids outfitted in snowsuits, boots, skis, and other gear for several years that way – Melynda
- I started monetising my site selling travel guides. The first one I wrote was for another company then I wrote, published and sell them through my blog. Realize that it requires a lot of work and effort to make it profitable. Now, after 3 years I’m starting a new niche travel blog to replicate the current success of my first travel blog – Alejandro
- I used to sell links before but that was nearly 10 years ago. I had no idea about nofollow links and wasn’t sure how strict Google was about penalising such sites. My current site is four years old but has sporadic income. I first earned from it indirectly when I used it as a portfolio to get writing jobs. I made direct income from it through sponsored posts – Pam
- My first way of monetizing my brand new blog was through SEO-powered affiliate posts. They helped me get a few keywords and early rankings, and that precious “first dollar” as an early win – Valerie
- The first way I monetised my blog was through sponsored posts. I’d recommend this method to new bloggers as it pays well, but it’s also a great way to build up content for your site and practice writing to a brief! – Nadine
- I first tried monetising my blog through Google ads. However, I recommend using affiliate linking if you are looking first up to monetise your blog as it is quick and easy to set up – it only requires following a set process and once you hone in on buyer intent you don’t need the huge amount of traffic to earn income like Adsense and other forms of monetisation can require – Mary-Anne
Blog monetisation is something you can start at any time. Don’t be afraid!
It’s not as scary as it seems if you just get started and take it step by step.
Otherwise, read through the above, select a method and GET STARTED! You won’t be sorry.