Anyone can make money online these days. Virtual assistants, freelancers, graphic designers, copywriters, and—you guessed it— bloggers. In the internet's early days, blogging was simply a way to document and share your thoughts, experiences, and/or expertise. Back then, bloggers simply blogged for fun. But now, blogging is a full-time profession for some.
For non-bloggers, it’s not always so clear how people can afford to blog as their job. Especially considering the landscape of digital consumers— they want high quality content, but they’re not accustomed to paying for it. So how does a blogger make a living? Surely, they must be living in a shoe box, and they’re probably perpetually on the cusp of going into the red with all of the expenses associated with hosting and managing a domain… right?
Wrong. Sure, there are plenty of blogs that fail to monetize sufficiently. But there are plenty that make a killing (like this one that makes $100k PER MONTH).
Whether you’re an aspiring blogger, or simply a digital consumer who is curious as to how your favorite content destinations stay up and running, read on to discover the most common revenue streams for bloggers.
Also known as banner ads, these are the most obvious and up front form of monetization on a blog or website, and it’s probably what most people think of first. However, display ads are not very effective, nor are they lucrative. This is mostly because people have learned to tune out pop ups and banner ads, and in most instances viewers are not required to meaningfully engage with them. Display ads are measured in CPM (Cost Per Mille) which is in other words the money you make per 1,000 eyeballs that see the ad. So unless you have a massive audience, these will never make you big bucks.
Interesting case study: Jon Morrow of Smart Blogger put up 3 ads for his own products in the sidebar of their website. The ads converted $50k in sales. He then went out and shopped out those same spots to advertisers, and found that if they sold those ad spaces they would only make $15k per month. The lesson here being that you’re almost always going to be better off advertising and selling your own products rather than other people’s.
These are displayed ahead of video content. If you have a YouTube presence, you can make a bit of money off of pre-roll ads, but again, not a substantial chunk of change. These are generally dictated by the viewer’s past internet behavior, as opposed to banner ads, which you can have more control over on your own site. However, pre-roll ads are more valuable than banner ads since viewers have to engage with them in some capacity before getting to their content. A study by YuMe showed pre-roll ads to be twice as effective as banner ads when it comes to driving brand recognition, engagement, and intent to purchase. Consequently, these generally bring in a little more money than banner ads do for bloggers.
This is where a lot of bloggers and social content creators have the opportunity to make a substantial portion of their income. Brand work is an umbrella term for any sort of brand partnerships, from sponsored blog or Instagram posts, to podcast or video sponsorship shoutouts, to pure content creation for brands to use themselves. This is a particularly useful offering if you have a niche audience, because brands are looking to get their name in front of targeted audiences. Sponsored content can become spammy easily if you are not transparent or artful about it, or if you post ads too often. To ensure this is a sustainable source of income without audience backlash, it’s important to be authentic and create value.
Affiliate marketing is one of the least intrusive ways to make a bit of money on your site. You’ve built a following, you’ve cultivated trust with them, and they want to know what products you swear by. Find affiliate programs for products or services that you know and love that will also be relevant for you audience. Pop in those affiliate links here and there (but be sure to disclose your affiliate status!) and you’ll rake in some pretty passive income. Just make sure that your blog is beefed up with non-monetized posts and pages— nothing turns readers off more than a sales pitch in every post.
Amazon Affiliate is one of the most common programs that bloggers join. You can then easily link to some of your favorite products whenever they come up in your blog posts. Alternatively, you can create your own “shop” or page with tools you use, or things you love.
These can be digital or physical. Many bloggers sell printables, eBooks, print books, t-shirts, tote bags, coffee mugs, online courses, webinars, and more. Going back to the idea that you’re better off developing and marketing your own products— this is where you stand to maintain the highest margins, especially with digital products that have very low overhead costs. Starting off your blogging career with affiliate marketing or selling ad space is fine, but for longevity, consider developing your own products.
Often full-time bloggers offer some sort of services. The most common are probably coaching, consulting, and freelancing (content writing, copywriting, design, or photography).
Less common but good to consider:
Patreon is a membership platform that facilitates a modern form of patronage. Creatives of all kinds, from musicians to podcasters to painters to bloggers, can create pages where their fans pledge a monthly payment so that they can keep viewing and experiencing your creations. In other words, you crowdfund financial support so that you can keep creating. You can set up perks for fans that pledge varying levels of support, like exclusive content or early access. Although many digital consumers are not accustomed to paying for content, if you have a devoted audience, you’ll likely find that many are willing to contribute a few bucks per month to support you and your work.
Subscription based content
Some bloggers put part of their site behind a paywall. Behind that paywall is premium content that only paying subscribers get access to. This is more common with blogs that provide tutorials or recipes, or other educational resources. Many bloggers market this as a membership community of sorts. This is really only a good idea if you have a large, engaged audience.
Have you monetized your blog? Email us at snapfluence[at]snapfluence[dot]com to let us know how you support your creative endeavors.
Creative Community Developer at Snapfluence.
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