There are many ways your blog can make money; I am going to cover the 3 most popular and profitable ways I have made money with my blogs: ads, affiliates, and products.
How do Blogs Make Money?
When I do blog coaching, one of the top questions I get is “how do blogs make money?”. These folks want to blog, they see that bloggers make money, but they need help connecting the dots to figure out how exactly it's done.
The Only Way: Traffic
Every single way to make money online comes down to getting eyeballs on your site or product. If you don't have eyeballs, you don't have anyone giving a shit, and you don't make money. You need traffic to make money with a blog. This isn't to say you need a million pageviews every month, but traffic is a must if you want to make a full-time income with your blog.
Check out our other posts on how to get traffic to your blog, even if it's brand new:
Ad revenue is tied directly to your niche and your traffic. Some niches perform better than others, and some niches (like adult topics, politics, or gambling) may not be able to get ads at all. This is something to keep in mind when choosing a niche.
Are ads annoying to my readers?
Ads are one of those “necessary evils” that pay the bills but annoy readers at times. As long as you work with an ad network to ensure you don't have auto-playing videos with audio, or intrusive pop-up ads, you're good. Readers are used to ads and if there are a few in your content or on your sidebar, they will be used to it.
How do I get ads?
The easiest way to get ads on your blog is to use an ad network. They will handle everything with the advertisers, and will even put the ads on your blog for you.
Here is a list of ad networks to check out:
- Ezoic: this is the network I use for my blogs until I have enough pageviews to get into Mediavine or Adthrive.
- Mediavine: I have personally used this network and recommend it.
- Adthrive: I have personally used this network and recommend it.
Each ad network has its own minimum requirements for pageviews or sessions. Ezoic's website says they have a minimum of 15,000, but if you sign up through my referral link you may be able to get in before that. Not 100% sure on the numbers but I've heard from many people that a referral link gets you in under that minimum number.
I have gotten a blog approved at 5,000 pageviews. Your earnings will be lower, because they're directly tied to how many people see your site, but you can earn a few bucks a day while you work up towards the other ad networks.
What does RPM mean?
You may see terms like “RPM” thrown around when talking about putting ads on your blog. RPM is “revenue per 1,000 impressions”. The graph above is an example of RPM vs Sessions. Sessions represent a single visit to your site (you may also see them called “uniques”).
If your RPM is $23, you earn $23 per 1,000 sessions. 10,000 sessions = $230.
Ad revenue isn't an exact science, and it fluctuates quite a bit. While it's the bulk of income for a majority of bloggers, it's important to diversify. When a popular ad network went under a few years ago, hundreds of thousands of dollars were (and still are) owed to bloggers. If ad revenue is your only income, or even the majority of it, you're totally screwed if that happens. Let's set things up so that isn't a concern.
One of my favorite ways to earn money as a blogger is by recommending products using my referral, or affiliate, links.
Rules for Affiliate Marketing
Like with most other things in life, affiliate marketing has rules. Our course covers them in detail, but here are a few tips:
- Only recommend products you use and love.
- Always disclose that your links are affiliate links.
If you wouldn't recommend it to your grandma, don't recommend it to your blog readers. TRUST is key. Do not recommend something just because you'll make an affiliate commission.
Here are two examples:
You refer me to a $100 product that pays you a $25 commission. The product is complete crap, so I ask for a refund and I never buy something you recommend again. Not only did you lose me as a customer, chances are you'll lose your affiliate earnings as well because most people take the commission back if the customer asks for a refund.
In this scenario, you make $0 and have lost a loyal reader.
You refer me to a $7 product that pays $3 commission. It's amazing, I love it, and I now know, like, and trust you. I buy more products, and more, and more. Okay, maybe I have a shopping problem, but you get the point: being honest pays.
In this scenario, you make $100+ and have a loyal reader who will share everything you put out!
It's not about the amount so much as the value that is delivered. I don't mind buying high-ticket items if they're good. But don't recommend something just because you'll get a good commission. In the long run, you'll make more by gaining trust and being honest.
How to Find Affiliates
We have a few posts here on Easy Blog School about affiliate marketing, the best affiliates for each niche, and more. Spend some time getting familiar with this content and you'll be one step closer to making a full-time income with affiliates.
Another way to find affiliates: search product + affiliate program in Google.
How to Maximize Affiliate Earnings
Here is an example of a high-earning ($1,000/mo) affiliate post:
Show your readers you know and love the product or service you are promoting. Be authentic, show in-progress or before and after pictures. Walk them through, step by step, how to use the product if it's something like Canva or PicMonkey that you can do tutorials for. Give your reader the confidence to use the product you are recommending.
Want to take your affiliate earnings to the next level? Check out Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers!
Sponsored posts are my least favorite way to make money as a blogger, mostly because blog networks have gotten out of control with their requirements and low pay, and many bloggers have spent years doing sponsored posts in such a half-assed way that it's all left a bad taste in my mouth.
With that being said, I personally know bloggers who make five figures a month just from sponsored blog posts. These are bloggers who work directly with brands and get paid the big bucks, either as one-offs or as brand ambassadors.
I worked with a well-known toilet paper company and got paid $1,000 per month to write one blog post. At the time, I didn't really know how to make a GREAT blog post, so I didn't deliver the results I wanted. The brand loved my posts, though, and kept me on as an ambassador all year. If you have 5 brands you work with on this scale, that's $5,000 a month or $60,000 a year!
When you do sponsored posts, keep these things in mind:
- Only work with brands that closely align with your blog, your vision, and your morals.
- Work just as hard on a sponsored post as you would a post you want to rank on Page 1 of Google.
- Answer questions your readers may have by creating a post with loads of subheadings, photos of you using the product, etc.
One more thing about sponsored posts: don't feel like you are “lucky” to be chosen for a sponsored post opportunity. It's a job and you should be compensated well. Those that feel fortunate to be “chosen” end up working for pennies (or writing 384279 posts for a Disney trip and annoying all of their readers, for example). Think of this as a job, as a business, not as an “omg I'm so lucky they like me!”.
Info products are ebooks, courses, printables… anything digital, basically.
Courses are a helluva lot of work, but they're mostly passive (other than updates once in a while and customer support) and a fun way to teach others about a topic you're passionate about. You can use Teachable or LearnDash to host your course. Both have completely different setups.
I love writing ebooks so much! You can start in a Google Doc and convert to PDF to sell on your blog, or use a program (or hire someone from Fiverr) to format your ebooks for Kindle and sell them on Amazon!
We have a VIP area where we host our most premium content: video replays, live chats, printables, workbooks, and more. It's $14.44 a month, which is probably way cheaper than it should be LOL, but it works for us. Delivering value to your readers is the key.
If you aren't going to deliver value, do NOT set up a VIP section. VIPs really need to be treated like VIPs. We also give our VIPs a 50% discount on ALL of our products. That means if a course is $50, VIPs pay $25. Could we make more money giving a smaller discount? Of course! But we want to make sure our VIPs are well taken care of.
Note/rant: Please, for the love of all things, when someone asks for a refund on any of your products, give it professionally and gracefully. I purchased a “Savage Affiliates” bundle from Franklin Hatchett and had a terribly negative experience. I have purchased hundreds of info products and have asked for a refund a total of three times. His product was one of those times.
The other time I asked for a refund, the creator asked for feedback and gave a refund without any fuss. I ended up purchasing two courses from her in the future and they were much better!
Getting snarky emails back from Franklin Hatchett talking about how amazing his products were and that it was ridiculous for me to ask for a refund was the easiest way to save me money – I will never buy from him again, I'll never watch another one of his YouTube videos, and I'll damn sure never recommend him.
Lose the ego, and don't take refund requests personally.
Another way to make money with your blog business is to sell physical products. My husband and I have a shop called Just Resist, where we sell anti-racism tees. It doesn't specifically fit with our brand (he has a food blog, I have a blog about blogging LOL) but it fits with us, so it works.
Design Your Own Products
T-shirts, stickers, mugs, and other physical products sell well for many bloggers. You can set a store up via Shopify (recommended) or TeeSpring (easy but not as customizable for your brand) and sell branded products as well as tees with cute sayings related to your brand.
René does a great job of branding her blog, Black Girl, Lost Keys, with her shop: Black Girl, Lost Tees. She sells tees, hoodies, stickers, and more. A shop like this can easily help you get to full-time income with part-time work.
I don't have a ton of experience with dropshipping, but I have tried it and I have made money with it. Dropshipping does have a learning curve and there is a small investment in a domain, Shopify, and Oberlo, but other than that you aren't paying for much up front.
Making Money With Your Blog: A Realistic Timeline
So many bloggers sell the dream of making $100K a month instantly. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way, especially if you're keeping things honest.
You can expect to make money within 6 months to a year of starting your blog, assuming you did it the right way, depending on your niche and how much focused work you put into it. Everything comes back to content, content, content… so if you don't have at least 50 blog posts up yet, you need to focus on writing as much as possible. While I believe in quality over quantity, you have to have quantity to get the traffic, to get those eyeballs on your blog, to make that money. 🙂