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How to Monetize a Blog [9 Ways That Real Bloggers Make Money in 2021!]

13 Mins read

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A few years ago, starting and monetizing a blog was a challenging undertaking. It was as pricey and as complex as starting a business. In case you don’t remember the “bad old days,” creating and maintaining a website used to cost thousands of dollars, and monetizing it was pretty challenging, since PayPal was just created and Stripe didn’t exist at all!

But now, earning money from blogging is easier than ever. You can host a WordPress site for less than $3 per month with a reliable service such as Bluehost. And the best part is, there are a ton of ways to monetize a blog – not just with ads or affiliate marketing.

The 2020 coronavirus pandemic has made people more comfortable working, shopping, buying, and selling online – are you taking advantage of it?

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According to ConvertKit’s 2017 state of blogging report, pro bloggers reported an average profit of $138,064, while amateur bloggers made $9,497.

So, how do you go from being an amateur blogger to hitting six figures every year? Here’s how to monetize a blog like a pro!

How to Monetize a Blog: 9 Ways to Build a Passive Income

1.    Affiliate Marketing

One of the most common ways to monetize a blog is with affiliate marketing. To help you understand the potential of this method, we’re going to give you some numbers. Nearly 15 percent of the digital media industry’s revenue comes from affiliate marketing. Also, affiliate marketing drives as many e-commerce orders as email does in the U.S.

So, what do affiliate marketers do? Well, their job (and blog) is something like a salesperson. Their goal is to promote and sell the products of other businesses. For every successful sale, they earn a commission. (For more details, make sure to check out our comprehensive guide on affiliate marketing.)

Hubspot has an excellent visual demonstration of how affiliate marketing works.

how to monetize a blog
Image Courtesy of HubSpot

Let’s say that you’re selling a product that gets you $5 for every sale (like a 5% commission on a $100 product, or a 50% commission on a $10 product). If you get 200 people to buy that product, you will make $1,000!

And what affiliate marketers like the most is that they can piggyback on a great product and sell that to their own audience.

How to Become an Affiliate Marketer?

To become an affiliate marketer, you need to do the following:

  1. Choose a niche
  2. Find an affiliate product (or products)
  3. Build an audience to promote the product to

And, this is where a blog comes in. Affiliate marketers build their audience by writing about topics related to their niche and the products they’re selling. You should aim to create content that provides value to your readers. This way, you’ll be able to establish yourself as a reliable and authoritative website and sell the product more easily.

The best part of affiliate marketing is that there are multiple options available. You can choose from multiple programs, niches, companies, and products. Make sure to check out our top eight affiliate programs for bloggers and select the most suitable one for your blog!

2.    Display Ads

Another great way how to monetize a blog is with ads. Even though a lot of people install ad blockers, displaying ads is still one of the best ways to turn your blog into a gold mine. The most significant advantage of ads is that they bring passive income, meaning you don’t have to do any work (except continue blogging to keep traffic coming in). And, the more traffic you have, the more money you’ll earn!

How do ads work? Well, take a look at our website.

how to monetize a blog

If you’re not using an ad blocker, this is how our website looks when you open it. You will see ads on the top and the right-hand side of the screen. Every time our visitor clicks on an ad, we earn a small commission. Ads pay a few cents per click, and if your website has many visitors, those clicks will start to accumulate and earn you a few hundred (or thousand) dollars a month!

For example, here is the revenue a website called Meal Prepify generated from ads.

how to monetize a blog
Image Courtesy of Do You Even Blog?

How to Earn Money with Ads?

Well, it’s fairly simple:

  1. First, you need to apply to an ad network.
  2. Then, they review your website and check your traffic.
  3. Once approved, you’ll be able to choose sections of your site to place ads.
  4. Every time someone clicks on an ad, you earn money.

The most popular ad network for beginners is Google AdSense, as it has relatively low requirements. Once you have a blog with quality content that your visitors can browse and click on, you can sign up for Google AdSense.

Most ad networks have a certain number of daily visitors needed to be accepted into their program. Google AdSense doesn’t have this requirement, and it’s fairly easy to integrate it with your website. In addition to Google AdSense, there are quite a few other ad networks that pay more than Google AdSense but have more strict requirements as well.

One of them is Ezoic, which has traditionally required a website to have at least 10,000 visitors per month to be able to join – though at the time of this writing, they’re experimenting with no minimum visitor requirement.

Ezoic stands out from all the other ad networks because it displays only premium ads from multiple networks, allowing users to earn more money. In addition, it is incredibly simple to use. For more information about Ezoic, click here.

Our piece of advice would be to wait until you have sufficient traffic to start making money from ads. If you have a dozen visitors every day, you will probably make some money, but the number isn’t going to be too impressive!

3.    Online Courses

Before you skip this part thinking it’s not for you, let us share a secret with you – you can still earn money from courses even if you’re not a certified teacher. For example, Ramit Sethi makes millions from the courses he creates, not because he’s a certified financial planner, but because he was able to identify the pain points of his audience and offer good advice on how to solve them.

To teach a course, you don’t need to be a professional in any particular field. All you need to do is know more than the people you’re teaching and to be able to present information in a way that people will get value from.

And, don’t worry if you’re not an influencer like Ramit. You can still earn a lot of money! For example, Joseph Michael made $40k as a newbie teaching writers how to use the popular writing software, Scrivener.

how to monetize a blog
Image Courtesy of I Will Teach You To Be Rich

How to Earn Money from Online Courses?

First, you need to come up with an idea for your course. If you already have a blog and a decent following, you can create a survey for your visitors. Send them an email to help you identify their pain points and act on the information you get. You can also check out your comment section (or your competitors’ if you don’t have many comments) and see what people seem to be complaining about the most.

If none of these options work for you, think of something you’re really good at. Is there something your friends compliment you for, such as your drawing or cooking? What do people come to you for advice about? What does everyone around you complain about, but you seem to have no problem with? What have you learned from your past job?

Take your specialized knowledge and transform it into a course that will earn money!

Last but not least, you need to decide where to host your courses. One option is to host your course on WordPress with an LMS plugin. You’d get to keep most of the profit from the course, but you may need to spend a portion on a developer who can help you set everything up.

4.    Selling eBooks

Another popular option for how to monetize a blog is selling eBooks. If you’re a blogger, it will be relatively easy for you to write an e-book. Or, if you don’t have enough time, you can always hire a freelancer to do it for you. However, keep in mind that you usually get what you pay for when it comes to writing. Experienced writers will charge you more, but you will also get a high-quality e-book that justifies a higher sales price.

The greatest advantage of selling e-books is that they also allow you to test if people are interested in what you’re covering enough to pay for it. E-books are a low-risk way for your website visitors to judge the value you can bring before buying more expensive products.

And, the best part is, you actually don’t need a lot of traffic to start making money from e-books. For example, David Oudiette is experienced in building landing pages. He wrote a 252-page e-book and started selling it for $39. At that time, he didn’t have a lot of traffic on his blog, but he was still able to earn over $13,000 in revenue from his e-book.

how to monetize a blog
Image Courtesy of Your Landing Page Sucks

How to Earn Money by Selling e-books?

Here is what David did to earn so much money by selling an e-book:

  • He asked his blog subscribers about their landing page, gave them free tips, and then advised them to consider his book.
  • He answered questions and gave feedback about landing pages on Quora and Reddit, then pitched his book as an additional source of information.
  • David also added the book on Product Hunt.
  • David sent cold emails to businesses and gave them free feedback on their landing page. Then, he recommended his book and services to those that replied.

Besides promoting and selling your e-book directly on your blog, you can also sell it through platforms such as Gumroad or Podia. By choosing one of these platforms, you get to keep 100% of the profit. Harsh Agrawal of ShoutMeLoud decided to dedicate an entire section of his website to his e-books.

You can also create something similar with plugins, such as the Easy Digital Downloads WordPress plugin.

Image Courtesy of ShoutMeLoud

5.    Launching an e-Commerce Store

Selling goods is the most traditional way to monetize your blog. There are some excellent approaches to this monetization strategy. Still, it is up to you to decide which one makes you feel most comfortable. The general process can be focused on providing an advertisement platform for your audience. People buy things from other people, but you keep a commission.

However, keeping up with the times is essential. Platforms that turn to the “software as a service” principle as a core monetization strategy thrive in today’s market. Answering one niche market need can prove to be highly lucrative.

To monetize your website, you can:

  • Identify products that are in high demand and launch a themed e-commerce store;
  • Make a platform that allows for users to market themselves, and you keep a commission for each transaction;
  • Allow company distribution through your website – having an Amazon affiliate blog can prove to be highly lucrative;
Image courtesy of Wix

6.    E-mail Marketing

The practice of gathering email addresses from website visitors or users is referred to as email list building. This is done to expand the subscriber database and enable future commercial interaction with new or existing clients. Email list creation is an essential tactic for marketers. According to statistics, 59 percent of customers say marketing emails significantly affect their shopping decisions.

Email marketing increases client retention, according to 80 percent of company executives. An active email list is a company’s most valuable asset, since it is part of owned media (media channels that your company has total control over).

Owned media offers the advantage of being immune to rapid algorithm changes by third-party social media and technology platforms. For the email marketing model, you keep posting content focused on your needs rather than having vulnerable content that can drive your website value down if the algorithm changes.

This approach allows you to zero in on brand storytelling, offering a significantly greater reach than purchased media while being substantially more cost effective.

In terms of possible email list strategies to generate money for your business, you can:

  • Encourage your audience to interact with your website.
  • Share new content updates with your audience.
  • Notify your audience about exclusive sales or some event available to only invited audiences.
  • Make a landing page or exit pop-up leading to your product or service.

7.    Membership Sites

Suppose you’re looking to target a niche audience that is looking for specific content. In that case, creating a membership blog might be the way to go. Creating a resource hub where access requires a fee could be how you might monetize your blog in the best way possible: monthly recurring revenue.

Assume you create content, regardless of its nature, and you want to be compensated for your efforts. You’ll need a method for your customers to pay before they can access the content, whether they’re consuming or reusing it to generate revenue.

What payment model works best to monetize my membership website?

You can set up your membership payment system in several ways, but analyzing the most appropriate way to make a profit.

The methods most commonly used are:

  • Monthly membership – You must know about this one. This is the most popular monetization strategy, offering products and services for monthly fees. You’ve most likely watched Netflix, so you know how this works. With this model, there is usually a predetermined framework in place that ensures that no matter when you join, you receive the same information.
  • All-in membership – The difference between monthly membership fees and all-in membership is that the payment is made on a lengthier time period. For instance, offering full access to your content for a yearly fee could be the model you opt in for to maximize your blogs’ revenue stream.
  • Online community – If your content revolves around certain types of information interesting to a specific audience, then a membership fee to exchange information and participate in themed discussions might be the best way to introduce monetization to your business model.
  • Length of membership fee – If your content can be distributed to answer a certain need of your consumer, then the length of use for a product or service offered on your blog might be the best monetization model.
  • Service model – Paying for one service you offer on your site can be one of the more lucrative models for membership sites. Even Microsoft entered this market with their Office 365 platforms. It’s worked for them. Why not you?
  • One-off cost – Another popular way of monetization is a one-time payment for your services. This is a good model if you’re offering exclusive content, visible only to paying audiences, but scaling is essential.
  • Hybrid – These days, where everything is done online and demand for all different products and services is starting to aggressively shift to cloud-based services, offering an up-to-date payment option plan is critical.

The hybrid model lets you combine the models mentioned above, allowing you to diversify your paying audience to better suit their needs. While dispersing your core funds, this type of approach can prove to be effective for increasing your one-time paying customer.

8.    Flipping Your Website

For this monetization approach, it is vital to perceive websites as assets that can be developed, purchased, and sold. This shift in perspective is crucial. Considering the possibility of buying a website for $5,000 and selling it for $100,000 a year later (or more) is not impossible. Take into account the size of this market. You can host a website in the USA, develop and increase its value, and then sell it in Australia – or the other way around. In Israel, the world’s highest startup per capita country, this market is currently rising. The opportunities are there for the taking!

Websites may be designed, purchased, and sold from the comfort of your own home. They can be “transported” across boundaries. As a result, they are location-independent, allowing you to reside in a different area than the firm that pays you.

Building a website from the ground up can be a lot of effort, but the entrance costs for buying a website don’t have to be as high as you’d imagine. If you love working with websites, this path might be a good fit for you. You’ll have to optimize your website to make your website competitive – for both search engines and AdSense income, which you can either funnel or reinvest in the website.

Generally, this is a slow process. The flipping time is currently at least 18 months if you start from zero. Many sellers strive to flip their websites before this “deadline.” However, it is hard to guarantee enormous profits for website investors since you could sell before your website has reached its maximum potential.

If flipping websites sounds interesting, make sure to read how WeAreTheCurious owner built a website worth more than $200,000 in less than 2 years!

9.    Selling Your Services

Being mindful of the usability of your service is very important. For example, if you want to be a freelance writer, focusing on a certain topic might be beneficial. It may be considerably easier to get employment as a real estate freelance writer than as a general freelance writer.

Consider who you want to serve and how your unique experience and skill position you to service this market. First, answer the basic question of what service a website might provide, and to whom. Being able to firmly answer these two questions will assist in making your website’s design and messaging far more thoughtful and successful.

Creating content, as well as producing informative and engaging content, is a great way to attract your audience. If your business model revolves around your own services, the way you monetize your website is fairly simple – you attract potential clients, and then simply do the work.

Image courtesy of Khan Academy

However, if your service is more complex, you need to take care of your clients needs and provide necessary support for the best user experience – just so you can have a pool of returning clients, keeping your business model afloat.

How to Monetize a Blog: Wrap-Up

Today, there are a lot of oversaturated markets for both products and services, especially online. You need to tread carefully in pre-planning if you want to maximize your returns and monetize your website in the right way. Choosing a business model is a significant decision, regardless of the idea.

It could also serve as means to diversify your portfolio or income stream apart from the core business. Any one of the models mentioned above can work, depending on the nature of your idea. If you are dwelling on concrete problem solving, you should opt for more traditional solutions, more focused on sales.

Suppose you’re generating the content and looking for a way to monetize on something you’re to do more long-term. It would help if you considered more ad-favorable monetization strategies – and a more personal approach. You have to focus on your community and grow it steadily as your primary income source. Regardless of the best process you’d chose, you have to take into consideration factors such as:

Profitability – Make sure an audience/potential client base is available. Selling services or products in markets that already have thousands of the same solutions might not be the wisest investment of either time or resources. It will not yield profit for anyone. Focusing on the core business and than diversification and growth is the most textbook approach – and it works. Doing extensive market research to recognize competition and calculating fixed costs of your business model will significantly impact the decision on which way you could best make money with your website.

Sustainability – If you plan on making a website that will gather a community, you should make sure that the community is aware of your need for them. You asking for your audience to participate in keeping your website afloat can be one of key initial focus points, when you’re still growing your website business. Depending on the model, you should always strive for the company to keep itself afloat with enough core profits so that you can focus on expanding rather than on surviving.

Longevity of your business model – You should know how long you plan on dealing with this business model. Sticking with something and waiting for it to succeed if it hasn’t shown growth might have very severe consequences on your financial stability. You could end up spending significant money on a business that will not yield profit, ever. An innovative and calculated approach to your website development or online business development is key to avoid overspending.

Originality – if you’re following an already existing business model, or recreating content, make sure you have added value. Make something that will make you stand out from others and stay persistent – following a proven business model will boost your potential profit.

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