As long as the internet still exists, there will always be people asking the question, “Can you make money blogging?”
It’s easy to understand why we will never hear the end of this.
After all, who doesn’t want to be able to make as much (or more) as they do in their 9-5 job from the comfort of home? It seems like all that you need is a laptop, a catchy domain name, and you will be raking in the dough in no time!
Here’s the truth: it’s never going to be that easy.
Here’s another truth: the answer to “can you make money blogging” will always be yes.
However, the best ways to make money blogging are constantly changing. We have put together this guide to give you the tools to take action, and to keep you on the right track.
But first, here are some important things to remember.
There are actionable ways to help you grow traffic faster, like our pre-made affiliate marketing sites.
But we believe that the keys to making money blogging are:
The answer is yes, and that’s because of how the world is changing.
People are spending more time online (especially on mobile) than ever before. In 2019, American adults spent approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes using mobile internet daily.
This is an increase of 20 minutes from the previous year.
As people spend more time online, they are sensitive to how brands are taking up more space in the content game.
This means they are searching for smaller, independent information sources. They want to trust these sites for information about products, hobbies, and everything else under the sun.
If you use the right monetization strategy, you can capitalize on this need for great content and information.
When you start researching affiliate marketing, you will hear about the “mega-marketers.” These are the ones who clear six-figures every year and drive sports cars.
You assume that there are also plenty of bloggers who make absolutely zero money from their blogs.
So, how much money can you expect to make? The answer is, somewhere in the middle.
Many consider a blog successful if it brings in $100 to $1000 monthly after your first year of blogging.
Blogs in the right niches (with the right monetization strategy) can bring in tens of thousands of dollars monthly.
Try to find success stories in the niche that you choose and analyze what seems to be working for them. This is a great exercise for finding inspiration and goal-setting.
The following list shows the most popular ways that bloggers can make money. This list is constantly changing, as is with anything in online marketing.
So without further ado, let’s get to it.
We know that affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make money with a blog right now.
Every day, more companies make their products available through affiliate programs. These same companies are realizing how effective it is to market this way, and are providing great commission rates.
We go into a lot of detail on this topic with our blog posts How to Start Affiliate Marketing and Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: 7 Steps for Success.
Here are some of our key takeaways from these articles.
We will admit that affiliate marketing is incredibly popular, and many aspiring affiliate marketers start out every day.
However, it’s important to realize that the market is crowded, not saturated. You just need to find the right niche.
In fact, eMarketer estimates that global e-commerce will continue to grow by at least 15% every year until 2023. This means more products and brands for you to promote.
Still unsure if you would like to give affiliate marketing a try? Explore our list of 1,452 profitable niches to see if your hobby has the potential to earn you money!
This is often viewed as the simplest method of earning money off of a blog. It has the potential to bring in money, but is also one of the lowest-paying methods on this list.
You will need a lot of traffic to bring in a significant amount of money from your site. Still, Google AdSense is a great way to start out and learn the ins and outs of display advertising.
There are two main models used for determining how you receive payment when you use display ads on your blog.
As a blogger, you often don’t have control over what kinds of ads are shown on your site. So it’s usually preferable to get paid for the number of views or “impressions,” rather than clicks.
However, CPM ads often pay low rates, so you will need a large amount of traffic to make real money.
You will encounter ads with the CPC method more frequently, especially with Google AdSense.
Google AdSense is a convenient and easy to use method of earning ad revenue from your site. However, it has its limitations.
Except for special cases, most bloggers don’t earn much from this service. Google takes a cut of the advertising revenue, and many ads suffer from low click through rates.
When you advertise with WordPress plugins, you can go directly to businesses in your niche that want to advertise and cut out the middleman. This allows you greater potential for earning.
Advertising through WordPress plugins also allows you more freedom with the placements of display ads on your site.
The following plugins are our recommendations for getting started with WordPress advertising plugins. Consider how each of these can help you make money with your blog.
This is an introductory ad management plugin and allows you to place ads on your blog using the Visual Editor. The Visual Editor is a great tool for bloggers who aren’t experienced with coding.
AdSanity supports both Google AdSense and your own ads, and it allows for custom widgets and shortcodes within WordPress.
Look to Ad Inserter if you have web design experience, and are looking for the ultimate freedom in creating ads for your site.
Sometimes you need complete control over the ads that are going onto your site. Ads Pro Plugin is the answer to this necessity.
You can explore the benefits of 20+ different placements, geo-targeted ads and billing methods. This plugin is for advanced users with solid monthly traffic and a well thought out display ad strategy.
Sponsored blog posts have a lot of advantages over other ways of monetizing your blog.
This option is a great alternative to using display ads for your site. Depending on the niche, site visitors really don’t like ads, and many will be using ad blockers as they browse.
Sponsored posts allow you a degree of control over what goes on your site.
You first agree to share content about a company’s product or service. Then you can then create content about it in your own distinct style and promote it to your readers.
If you are thinking of selling blog posts in the future, it’s a good idea to build a media kit you can present to possible clients.
A media kit will include your traffic stats, demographics, and methods of promotion that you use to reach new followers in your niche.
Above all, you have to sell what makes your blog different from competitors. It helps to show the goals you have with your blog, and how you plan to continue to grow its influence.
Remember, you will need to disclose that you are working with a brand whenever you are making posts about someone’s product.
Laws for sponsored posting vary depending on your region. Always research what methods you need to use to mark your blog post as “sponsored.”
Have you recently started researching affiliate marketing? Have you been inundated with ads on Facebook, YouTube, and the rest of the internet?
Plenty of these ads may be from successful bloggers who will try to sell you courses and workshops with their “biggest secrets” to making a ton of money.
The reason that they invest in these ads is that courses and workshops are one of the most lucrative ways to make money with a blog right now.
Isn’t it funny how everything comes back to niche research?
Finding an opportunity for an online course or workshop is a matter of finding out the questions that people in your niche are asking. It’s about finding out what skills are in demand, and what people are eager to learn.
Use research tools like Quora and Google Trends to see what people want to learn about in your niche.
It’s important to have several ways that your viewers can interact with you, including through social and email.
This way, you can engage and ask them what topics they want to learn more about.
Once you have decided on your topic, you can use a Learning Management System (LMS) like Learn Dash to develop course materials.
Books and e-books have been a popular way to earn revenue from a blog for a long time. This is because blogging and publishing books are complementary, and they help each other grow over time.
Take Ryan Holiday as an example. He is an acclaimed author, former director of marketing for American Apparel, and media expert.
He released his book Growth Hacker Marketing after testing it as a 1,000-word article for Fast Company. Based on reader feedback, he further refined the concept to appeal to their interests.
He then released it as an e-book and later as a paperback to an audience who was eager to read it after following his blog content.
Other writers – like Mark Manson with his The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** book – have secured deals with major publishers after starting out with a humble blog post.
Now you are probably thinking, “Wow, so all I need to do is release a massively successful e-book to an army of devoted followers? This seems easier said than done.”
Our response to that is, no. You have chosen your niche for a reason, and there is no reason why you can’t create something of value to people who read your blogs.
E-books are much easier to produce than books, and anyone can do it. The goal here is not to reach the New York Times bestseller list, rather to sell to your core following at a reasonable price point.
Some aspects of your e-book or book are best left to others. Here are our best tips for outsourcing to create a high-quality product.
Proofreading and Editing
Seek out a professional editor for hire on a site like UpWork. Your credibility in your niche will depend on your ability to craft clean, easy to understand content.
A site like 99 Designs offers easy and cost effective ways to find great cover art. You can even A/B test different cover prototypes against each other! Remember, people do judge a book by its cover.
Organizing text, graphics, and images in a book is one of those things you don’t often think too much about. In reality, it is tough work and makes a big difference in how your e-book is received. Leave this one to the professional layout designers – you can find them on UpWork too.
Opportunities like coaching and consulting may seem difficult to aspire to.
You may wonder, who would really want to pay for my advice? What if someone tried it out, didn’t find any value, and then asked for their money back?
The answer to this goes back to where the affiliate marketing journey starts, by selecting a niche that you are interested in and motivated by. This isn’t only because it will be easier for you to devote time to in the long run, but also because it will unlock your greatest earning potential!
When you are constantly learning and producing strong content for your niche, you can reach the point where you can refer to yourself as an expert.
Online consultants generally work with businesses to offer strategic advice to reach their goals. Online coaches do very similar things, but more commonly for individuals than for businesses.
A key part of selling yourself as a service is using a sales funnel to qualify leads who are a good fit for your services.
It’s easy to assume that posting your email address on your site is all you need to do to bring in potential clients.
But this exposes you to two big negatives. First, you may receive spam messages, and second, you won’t be able to pre-qualify your prospects.
We recommend using methods like social media and an email list to build a list of prospects. Keep a record of individuals who you want to target, then entice them with a blog post or email explaining that you are open for business.
Next, direct these prospects to a web contact form where you can ask basic questions to determine whether they are the right fit for you or not.
With all this talk about selling services, referring visitors to affiliate partner sites and digital advertising, it can be easy to forget that you can still make money online by selling physical products.
You can sell your own or someone else’s products on your blog.
If you sell your own products, you will need to ensure that you can make enough sales to cover the cost of your production of the product.
Selling someone else’s product is another way to earn revenue. You can “dropship”, which allows you to sell products without holding any inventory or shipping items yourself.
With dropshipping, your only job is to maintain the website, do marketing, and manage customer service.
Dropshipping has increased in popularity in recent years, so competition can be fierce. But there is always opportunity in the right niche.
Whether you are selling your own physical product or someone else’s, you will need to find tools to set up e-commerce on your site.
WooCommerce is a great free WordPress plugin that allows you to create an e-commerce shop, or add one on to your existing blog.
This tool makes it simple to add products and calculate shipping costs, leaving you more time to promote your products.
You are an expert in your niche, and people are visiting your site because they trust your insights and want to learn more. What is the best way to monetize it?
The freelance method of earning income from your blog doesn’t really involve your blog at all.
You can offer your expertise as a freelancer, which will allow you to earn more with less investment upfront than other methods on this list.
Freelancing has a lot of potential for earnings, but it can also be time intensive. While other ways to make money blogging are focused on passive income, this method relies on your own time and work ethic.
However, you can charge a higher rate when you are specialized in your niche. Just like with consulting and coaching, you will need to implement a sales funnel to effectively manage leads.
Freelancing effectively is about making the most of your time. Tools like Freshbooks for invoicing and Trello for project management will help you streamline your process and free up time to continue creating content for your blog.
Whatever skill you will be selling to your readers, remember that showing them your expertise is often better than telling them.
Take time to develop a portfolio section on your blog using a tool like WP Portfolio to showcase your best work. This allows every visitor to your site to become a potential customer.
Creating members only content works very well in niches where insider knowledge is highly coveted.
In a niche like home speaker systems or sneaker releases, everyone has access to the same information. It would be very difficult to convince people to pay for your “super top-secret 2020 list of the best home audio.”
This is because anyone can find that information for free.
But for a niche like investment services, where certain information is hard to come by, things are different.
You can charge loyal readers to access members only areas where you can share high quality blog posts, videos, and more.
Making money off members only content depends on one thing: consistency. You need to consistently release premium content that brings exceptional value to your followers.
If you can’t keep this up, you will lose the recurring money from memberships as your followers go elsewhere to find value.
Creating a membership only portion to your site can be done easily using a plugin like MemberPress.
You will have the ability to choose between payment methods for fees, membership levels, and even a pricing plan page for your site.
Creating a private forum is another great way to develop members only content. Doing this allows for two-way interaction between you and your followers – and when you’re an expert answering people’s questions, the membership can be sold at a higher price.
A great plugin for integrating a form into WordPress is bbPress, and it can also be easily integrated with your membership plugin.
Now that you know it is possible to make money blogging, it’s probably time to choose one of these methods and invest your time and energy into earning as much as possible, right?
Just like with any business, your ability to make money long term depends on whether or not you can generate income from multiple sources.
This insulates you from running into problems if one of your methods stops producing. It also challenges you to continue developing your skills in your niche, and as an online marketer.
Remember that different methods of making money with your blog can complement each other.
Affiliate marketing and ads allow you to analyze your audience, which can give you ideas for an e-book or course to develop. Always utilize the tools at your disposal to find what your visitors want to learn about, or what services they would pay for.
Finally, don’t allow the idea of making money to take over what your blog is really about.
Building a community online is about sharing valuable information and producing great content. Be sure to stay disciplined and keep learning, and your blog will keep growing as a result.
Looking for more on how to get started making money with your blog? Check out our Amazon Associates Success Story, where a Brand Builders customer walks us through how he made his first $500 online.