Blogging has come a long way in the past few years.
Until a few years ago, people used to start a blog on free platforms such as Blogspot or WordPress and write about their thoughts and experiences.
It was more about expression and less about making money or achieving financial independence.
But lately, blogging has become a serious profession and a necessity for some businesses.
I live in India and I have been blogging for more than 5 years now (3 of which has been as a full-time blogger).
I started my first blog in 2013 as a way to be able to share my technical skills. At that point, I didn’t really know about making money from a blog, and nor did I care.
It was only after a year and half of writing content and scaling my blog that I realized that I could make money from the blog.
Over the years, I have created multiple blogs (in different niches) and have tested various blog monetization tactics.
In this article, I am sharing the ways I have made money or have seen other bloggers do it.
Note that not every blog or website can use all the monetization tactics discussed in this article.
In most cases, you can use a couple of these and stack multiple tactics (more on this later).
Show Display Ads
Display Ads are easy to use and a low-maintenance way of making money. A good example of this is the Google Adsense network.
If you have an approved Adsense account, all you need to do is copy a simple code on your site’s backend, and the ads would start displaying, The more people see or click your ads, the more money you make from your blog.
The flip side of this is that you need a lot of traffic to earn decent money. Also, where your traffic comes would have a huge impact on how much you earn.
A blog where most of the traffic is from countries such as the US, the UK, Europe, Middle-east, is likely to earn a lot more as compared with a blog that gets most of the traffic from India.
This monetization tactic is suited for blogs that have a lot of information content with low or no scope of selling a product.
For example, if someone is searching for – “Motivational Quotes for students“, they are unlikely to do anything except reading that quote and exiting your site.
In this case, using display ads can earn you a few bucks.
Below is a screenshot of one of my high traffic blog that makes INR 2,00,000+ every month (and has been growing consistently).
You can connect your bank account in India with Adsense. Every month, your income (if more than $100 [~INR 6500]) would be transferred to your bank account.
Offer Your Services
You can use your blog as a way to establish yourself as an authority.
If you have useful content on your blog and you can drive targetted traffic to it (it could be organic search, social media or paid ads), you’d be seen as an expert in that topic.
A lot of people have a separate ‘Hire Me’ or ‘Work with me’ pages on their blog where they give a visitor a way to get in touch with them.
I have seen this work extremely well in a few niches – such as content writing, graphic designing, photography, etc.
There are many ways you can accept the payment in India. You can get it transferred to your bank account or set up a payment gateway such as Instamojo or PayU Money and allow the buyer to make the payment using it. Note that payment processors charge a small percentage of your money.
Sell Affiliate Products
If you have a blog with good traffic (or a social media or email subscriber base), you can make money by referring your visitor to an affiliate product.
There are two ways to begin as an affiliate:
- Reach out to people in your niche that already have an affiliate program and sign up for it. Now you can promote their products and earn some commission. In most cases, you would need an existing audience to whom you can pitch these products (sending email to your list works great in this case). You can also place the affiliate product links in relevant articles.
- Join affiliate programs such as that of Amazon, Commission Junction, Shre a Sale, etc. Based on your niche, you can find affiliate networks that you can join. Once you have your affiliate link, you can drive traffic to these affiliate products and earn a commission whenever someone makes a purchase.
The good thing about being an affiliate is that you don’t have to manage the customers. All you need to do is drive targeted traffic to the affiliate products and make money when someone makes a purchase.
Also, make sure you’re only recommending products that you truly believe will benefit your audience. Don’t get swayed by higher affiliate commission, because if the product is of low quality or low value, it will harm you in the long term.
I never recommend a product I haven’t used myself. This has two major benefits:
- Being a user/consumer of the product/service, it makes me 100% sure that the product is right for my audience.
- It helps me explain the intricacies of the product in a clear way. This helps in better conversion.
Below is a snapshot of the income I generated when I sent an email about a software tool that I believed would help my readers. Within a few hours of sending this email, it earned me INR 25,000+ and over a week it gave me INR 48,000+ in affiliate income.
For the above product, I created a video where I showed how the tool can solve a pain point and showed how easy it was to use this tool.
Sell Info Products
If you have an existing audience (email list or social media following), consider creating your own info products. It could be an ebook or a course.
This is one of the most profitable ways of making money as you can create a product once and keep on selling it. If you have the right system in place (through which you get the enrollment and deliver the course content or Ebook), selling a course is all about getting the right people and pitching them at the right time.
Personally, I find having an email list works really great when you’re trying to sell your own info products. But if you’re starting out and have no email list, you can try paid social media marketing or you can reach out to the influencers in your niche and make them your affiliate (who can then sell your info products to their email list).
Here is a snapshot of one of my sites where I sell a video online course. It has become a consistent source of income and takes very little of my time to manage.
Create a Course on Udemy
While it’s great to have your own info products, it needs you to have an engaged audience who trust you and are willing to buy from you.
And trust can’t be built in a day.
You need to provide a lot of value to your readers before you can expect them to open their wallet and give you money.
While you’re in the process of doing that, you can explore platforms such as Udemy or Coursera and experiment by having your course hosted on these platforms.
The good part about these platforms is that they already have an audience to which they can push your course. It can be a great way to make some money while you work on building your audience and getting your own video course ready.
Sponsored Products / Posts
When your blog builds some authority and starts getting traffic, you may get offers to review products or write blog posts for money.
Here is an email I got recently:
In many cases, the intent of the person paying you for the sponsored posts/article would be to get backlinks to their own site (or their client’s site). These backlinks will help them rank better in search engines.
While I don’t use this technique for my blogs, I have seen a lot of popular blogs do this (especially in the tech niche). A popular blog using sponsored posts is Pinch of Yum (a food blog).
A few pointers in case you plan to use this technique to monetize your blog:
- Make the links in the sponsored articles no-follow. Making a link no-follow means that it will not contribute to improving search engine rankings. Pinch of Yum no-follows all links and still get a lot of sponsored articles as it gives the sponsors visibility in front of a huge audience.
- Make these links live for a limited period of time. For example, you may want to charge money in exchange for a link that will stay live for 1 month or 3 months, and then it will be removed unless renewed. If you can get a couple of such deals, you can make decent recurring income.
Upsell to Your Existing Customers
It’s easiest to sell to people who already trust you and have bought from you in the past.
If you have an info product (an Ebook or a video course), you can create another one which your existing customers will find useful.
Another good upsell is offering personal coaching. This could be one-on-one coaching or group coaching.
In my experience, the best time to pitch for an upsell is right after someone has bought from you. As soon as someone makes a purchase, show them an upsell offer. Since they already trust you (after all they made a purchase a few seconds ago), you’re likely to see a much better conversion.
Retarget Existing Audience with Products/Affiliate
Not everyone who lands on your blog is going to buy the info product you’re selling or the affiliate product you’re promoting.
And one thing is for sure – anyone who lands on your blog is going to leave.
Now, one way to make sure you get to reach out to them again is by capturing their emails. But again, not everyone is going to give it to you.
Another way is to re-target these people on Facebook with relevant offers.
For example, if you’re selling a video course and someone visits the sales page but doesn’t buy the course, you can retarget them on Facebook with a relevant ad.
This can be done by installing Facebook pixel on that page and creating a custom audience of all the people who visited the sales page.
Now you can run ads on Facebook to retarget these people. Since they have already been to your page and have some idea about it, they are more likely to make a purchase.
You can also use retargeting if you’re promoting a high commission affiliate product.
Work of Fine Tuning your Email Funnel
If you’re not collecting email ids already, drop everything and do it now.
Related: Hacks to Build Your Email List
Your email list is your most prized possession and is the best way to monetize your loyal readers.
But just collecting email ids is not enough. It’s only the first step in getting details of your potential customers/clients.
Suppose someone joins your email list and you send then the eBook or the PDF you promised.
What after that?
You can send them an occasional email about your new blog post or a new offer you’re promoting. But that’s not the best way to go about it.
And this is where email funnels come into the picture.
With an Email funnel, you can segment your email subscribers and send them emails that are relevant to them.
For example, if you’re running a blog about learning how to play guitar, you can segment your audience based on whether they are absolute beginners or intermediate guitar players.
Based on this, you can send them emails that are more relevant to them. And once you have nurtured them by providing value through your emails, you can try different methods to monetize.
For example, to someone who is an absolute beginner, you can recommend guitar related products or some beginner information product (an eBook or a course). And for someone who is a little ahead in their guitar learning, you can offer advanced courses (or even promote other people’s courses).
Below is a simple example of the kind of email funnel that can convert well. Since every funnel and audience are different, you need to test it out and optimize it from time to time.
Having a funnel and optimizing it is a great way to grow your income. It allows you to make sure each person joining your email list goes through the same experience.
Above I have shown a very simple email funnel, but the concept remains the same. Segment people based on their interests and monetize them based on it.
Conduct Workshops (Online & Offline)
If you have a good following of your blog and you’re seen as an authority in your niche, you can conduct paid workshops and leverage your blog to get registrations.
A very good example of this is Problogger events. Darren Rowse, the owner of Problogger blog and Podcast, uses his blog/podcast to get people to attend these events. Since he is already seen as an authority in the blogging world and has a huge following of bloggers, it makes it easier to get to people who are the right fit for these kinds of events.
I have also started using this technique in India. I am a co-host of the Blogging Retreat in the Himalayas, where we conduct is 3-day intensive workshops on basic and advanced blogging.
Below is a snapshot of a blogging retreat we conducted in April 2018.
This blog helps me in reaching people who are interested in blogging and can be a good target for these workshops.
Start a Paid Newsletter/Community
While I have not tried this technique myself, I have seen a lot of bloggers do it successfully (especially in the personal finance niche).
If you have an interested audience, you can start a paid email newsletter or a forum.
You can charge people either a one-time fee, a yearly fee or a monthly fee.
Now there are two ways you can use paid newsletters to make some serious money:
- Charge a fee regularly (monthly/yearly). Once you have this in place, you need to share exclusive content with the people on your list. It can’t be a rehashed version of your blog posts or videos. It needs to a few notches up in quality. You also need to be consistent in sending out this newsletter. It’s best to have a day fixed for it, and stick to it.
- Charge an onboarding fee to weed out freeloaders. Now there is nothing wrong in being a freeloader, but if you really want people who are serious about your niche and are action takers, it’s best to charge some fee, to begin with. Once you have an engaged following, you can pitch affiliate products or your own products.
Stacking Your Income Sources
In the above sections, I have covered some ways of making money from your blog. There could be other ways as well.
As a blog owner, you may want to maximize the monetization potential of your blog. The best way to do this is to stack multiple techniques in one blog and experiment a little.
For example, along with display ads, you can also have affiliate products in relevant articles. This can help you generate a few extra dollars from some posts which are better suited for affiliate products.
Similarly, if you can find people/companies who are ready to pay your for sponsored content, you can have it along with other monetization techniques on your blog.
I have been working on improving my income stack by adding more affiliate links. In one of my blogs, I witnessed a 20% increase in monthly revenue after adding affiliate links (without any impact on my Google Adsense income).
Can You Make Money from a Free Blog?
A lot of people are skeptical when it comes to starting a blog. You need to invest a few bucks (at least domain and hosting) to get it up and running.
And many gravitate towards starting one for free.
So this brings us to the question, can you make money from a free blog?
The answer is Yes!
But I recommend you still buy a domain and create a self-hosted blog. With a self-hosted blog, you can access to a lot of monetization methods that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to do with a free blog.
Also, in case you decide to sell your website in the future, a free one is unlikely to fetch you much.
Another major reason I recommend getting a self-hosted blog is that you own that property and the data. With a free WordPress or Blogger account, you never know when they change the rules and how it may impact your blog. With a self-hosted blog, you get more control over how you can create and use your website.
Bottom line – if you want to make money from your blog, don’t start a free one.
Hope you find this article useful.
Have anything to say, jump to the comment section and let me know.