One of the most frequently asked questions I get is “how do you make money blogging?”. The answer is that there are a lot of ways to do so. Different options lend themselves to different kinds of blogs, subjects, and types of content, so there’s no one-size-fits-all model for monetization.
Display Ads – Display ads are the most basic form of advertising on blogs. These are the banner ads and text ads you usually see on the sidebars of websites and search results on search engines like Google. There are lots of different kinds of display ad networks you can choose to work with, from Google AdSense to blog-specific networks and industry-specific networks. If you don’t know where to start, Google AdSense has the widest variety of advertisers, and is a good one to pick.
Display advertising is easy to set up and has essentially no barrier to entry —you can usually start putting display ads on your blog as soon as you set it up. As such, it’s easy and quick to experiment with.
Display advertising works on a Cost Per Click (CPC) or Cost Per Thousand Page Impressions (CPM) basis, meaning that you either earn money every time someone clicks on an ad on your blog or every time an ad has appeared a thousand times. The ad networks will usually serve an optimized combination of the two types of ads on your blog, so you don’t have to choose which one you want unless you have a specific reason to.
In some industries, the rate you earn per click or per thousand page impressions is high, and in some low, but in general bloggers don’t make much from this kind of advertising. This is primarily because in order to make a lot of money from display advertising, you have to have a lot of traffic and a good number of ads displayed very prominently on your blog. Displaying ads prominently tends to turn off your readers, who might see them as spammy, so as a blogger you have to strike the right balance between displaying the ads prominently enough that you make money, but not so prominently that your audience deserts you for being too commercial.
If you are interested in testing out display ads, do a quick Google search to find out what the average CPCs and CPMs are for the topics you blog about. This will give you an idea of how much you might earn from display ads.
Affiliate Marketing – Affiliate links are unique links to merchant websites that you put on your blog. If someone clicks on them and makes a purchase (or takes a required action), you earn a commission. Commissions can be in the form of a flat fee or a percentage of the sale, and like display advertising, commission rates can vary from high to low.
If you want to test out affiliate links on your blog, there are a lot of different third party agencies that act as middlemen between merchants and publishers (as a blogger, you are a publisher). There are also some companies that run their own affiliate programs. You can sign up with one or more of them, apply to work with relevant merchants, and once approved, get unique links to those merchants’ websites. Once you have earned a certain amount of commissions, you get paid.
Popular affiliate networks include Awin, affilinet, and, Tradedoubler, but they vary by country, so make sure you sign up with the ones that have merchants in your country (or the country where your readers are).
Affiliate links make some bloggers a lot of money, and other bloggers very little. The key to making them work for you is twofold. First, you will have the most success if you write dedicated blog posts about specific products and get your readers to purchase them. Second, you will have more luck if you focus on products that are relatively affordable and can be purchased on impulse. For example, inexpensive fashion items do very well for bloggers that use affiliate links. Many people buy affordable clothing and accessories right after reading a blog post about them. On the other hand, travel products like flights tend to not do well, as they are usually high-value and it takes a long time for a person to make a decision about buying them (you probably wouldn’t book a long-haul flight to Hong Kong right after reading a blog post about how great a particular airline’s seats are even if you’re completely sold on the idea).
As such, think about your industry and what kinds of products you could successfully market to your readers through your blog posts. If there aren’t any that would be easy to promote, you may want to think about other types of advertising.
In any case, if you’re using affiliate links on your blog, it’s a good idea to disclose to your readers that you will earn a commission if they buy something through the links. It’s ethical and transparent, and your readers will appreciate your honesty. Most bloggers put a sentence in italics at the bottom of the blog post disclosing that they’ve used affiliate links and thanking their readers for supporting the blog through their purchases. This is a legal requirement in some countries, so make sure you know the rules before you start.
Sponsored Content – Offering sponsored posts is another popular way for bloggers to make money from their blogs. Many bloggers offer relevant brands opportunities to pay them to write content about a product or service and publish it on their blog. Rates for this vary depending on how much traffic you get and how established your blog is, but it can get very lucrative as your audience grows. The same goes for sponsored social media posts, which work the same way.
Reviews – Product and service reviews are another way bloggers make money. While some reviews are done on the basis of receiving a free product in exchange for writing a review, others are done on a fee basis. The rule of thumb is usually that the more traffic and authority you have, the more likely you will be able to charge a fee for doing reviews.
Partnerships and Sponsorships – Partnerships and sponsorships come in a variety of forms and are growing in popularity as both blogging and influencer marketing get more established. From brand ambassadorships to sponsorships, there is no limit to the type of partnerships that can be formed. For example, I have been sponsored to use a life-logging app for three months, and I have been a brand ambassador for a hotel group for six months. I have also done sponsorships exclusively on my Instagram account, and paid partnerships that involve both my blog and my social media channels.
As with some of the other high-level monetization strategies, partnerships and sponsorships tend to happen as you get more established. Still, it’s worth thinking about how you can partner with brands so that you’re ready if any approach you early on.
There are a lot of agencies that aim to bridge the gap between bloggers and brands, so you can sign up with one or more of them if you want to use a middleman. Most bloggers don’t rely exclusively on agencies or agents to bring them partnerships, but it can be an easy way to get partnerships coming to you.
Blogging is still relatively new, too, so if you have an idea for a partnership, you should approach a company about it. Many companies want to work with bloggers but aren’t sure how, so going to them with your idea can be something they welcome.