How do blogs make money? How do bloggers get paid? Is it still possible to make money blogging in 2021? These are the critical questions every blogger or wanna be blogger has on her mind.
Beginner bloggers want it know if it’s even possible to make money blogging. And more experienced bloggers want to know the next best steps to further monetize their blogs.
Maybe your friends and family want to know how do bloggers get paid and you’re looking for all the answers.
You’ve come to the right place. Here is your easy to understand guide to all the ways that blogs make money.
How Do Bloggers Make Money?
Bloggers make money by creating amazing information and content that readers want to know. We call this “providing value”.
It basically means that before you can start making money on your blog, your blog needs to provide great value to its readers.
There are five main ways blogs make money: ads, affiliate marketing, products, sponsored posts and services.
It’s important to know there is no one “right” way to make money on a blog and that each blog will have it’s own combination of money making avenues. What works best for your blog will depend on how you provide that information and your personal preferences. Think of it like investing money: your ‘blog money making portfolio’ will be unique to you!
This How to Make Money Blogging Guide will go over each of the money making methods in an easy to understand format. Here’s what we’ll cover in each section:
- How is a blog monetized by the method?
- How does the blogger get paid for the method?
- When can a beginner blogger make money with the method?
- What should you do to get started making money?
How Do Beginner Bloggers Make Money?
Before we dive into the nitty gritty details on HOW to make money blogging, I want to quickly answer some common questions.
1. Is Blogging Profitable in 2021?
A lot of beginner bloggers wonder if it’s too late to get into the game. They wonder what percentage of blogs make money and if it’s even possible to create a lucrative side income that grows into a substantial full time income?
Yes, it is completely possible. Bloggers are starting an online business and making blogging income all the time. People do make real money blogging. And some of that money is passive income.
But.. that doesn’t mean that it is easy or that every new blogger makes money. Some bloggers never make it past hobby blogging to a successful blog. Strategy and hard work go a long way to making blogging income and a good income stream.
2. How can you make $1,000 a month blogging?
Really this goes for any dollar amount. The answer to ‘How can you make $500 per month blogging’ or ‘how do you make your first dollar blogging’ is the same. You learn HOW to set up revenue streams that will make YOU money. The method and the ‘how’ are the same for your first dollar or your millionth dollar.
Content marketing experts sometimes say it’s harder to make your FIRST dollar than your first $1,000. That’s because learning the HOW is where the real money is. Learn how and then scale up and suddenly you have a profitable blog.
3. How long until a blog makes money?
So many people really just want to know how long does it take to create a money making blog. Unfortunately, there is no magic time frame. It can take time to set up recurring income from various revenue streams. Will a brand new blog make money on day 1? Probably not. Some bloggers, though, do make real money within the first year.
More often, though, successful bloggers focus on their niche and writing great content for their target audience and hone their monetization strategy over time.
How Do Successful Bloggers Make Money?
By now I hope you see that this all comes down to the “how”. It’s not magic. And it’s not a big, dark secret. Let’s dive into all the details!
Bloggers Make Money With Ads
Ad revenue is the most well known way bloggers make money.
How does it work? Ads are provided by ad networks. An ad network places ads on websites. Most often, ad networks use targeted ads that are catered to the specific viewer.
This is why, for instance, when you shop for vacuum cleaners on Amazon and then later visit a crochet website you might see advertisements for vacuum cleaners. An ad can also be displayed based on the content that is on the blog or content the viewer recently visited.
Advertisements pay in two ways:
Paid per Click means that every time someone clicks on the ad, the blogger receives a small amount of money for that click. The number of people that click on an ad is actually very, very small. So, for the most part, you won’t be making much money from ‘paid per click’.
Paid per Impression means that every time a viewer “sees” an ad, the blogger receives payment. In this case, the viewer does not have to click on the ad, the ad just needs to appear while they are viewing the webpage. This is the main source of ad revenue to blogs.
There are several ad placement areas for ads. Your ad network will coach you on ad placement (or will handle it for you entirely). There’s a balance and an art in ad placement between making you, the blogger, great revenue but not annoying your reader so much that they leave and don’t engage with your content.
It also matters when your reader sees your ads. Anything “above the fold” is most valuable. Above the fold is a print newspaper term which means anything that appears above the point where the newspaper is folded in half. On a website, this is anything that appears at the top of the web page before somoene has to scroll down for more information.
Here are the most common ad placement areas:
- Header: This ad appears above your content
- Sidebar: This is on your sidebar. Multiple ads can appear in your sidebar. If the ad “stays” with the reader as she scrolls down, then the ad is called “sticky”
- In Content: In content ads appear as a viewer reads through your post. They are usually spaced aver a certain number of paragraphs. It’s important to not have too many ads in content becuase a reduced user experience can result in lower ad revenue for you! An ad network knows the best maximum number of in-content ads for your particular site (which is why I highly recommend going with an ad network).
- Footer: These ads appear at the bottom of the screen. These ads are almost always sticky.
How Do Bloggers Get Paid From Ads?
Ad networks set a criteria for payment. Most ad networks pay on a monthly basis with a delay, often 45 days or 60 days. So, for instance, if you made $1,000 in ad revenue in November, you could expect to see payment for that period around January 15th or February 1st.
Some networks also have a payment threshold. For instance, Google Adsense has a payment threshold so you may make several months of income before you will actually get paid for it.
When Can You Start Monetizing With Ads?
When you first start blogging and start to see some traffic to your site, you get really excited! And you should! It means you are starting to get some traction online. That people who are not related to you or friends with you are actually finding you and reading your content. It is very exciting!
It also makes you feel like you should capture the income from those pageviews and you might even feel like you don’t want to miss out on lost income opportunities. I know. I did this too.
I really, really advise against it. Here’s why: when you are just getting started the only opportunity—if you can even qualify–are Google Adsense ads. They pay very, very little. And you need a great number of pageviews to get paid anything meaningful. It also is extremely time consuming to place each ad unit on your site (and when you DO qualify for an ad network, you have to go back and take all those off).
It’s so much better for you to harness all that energy and time and put it into writing amazing content and getting more traffic. Do a bit of content marketing by sharing your content on Pinterest and Facebook. Build your content and traffic until such time that you have enough pageviews (or sessions) to qualify for an ad network.
When you get into an ad network, they take over with their expertise and place ads into just the right spots on your site. Because of their relationships with advertisers and their expertise, ads with an ad network pay MORE than ads you can place on your site on your own.
By the time I qualified for Mediavine, which was my first ad network, I had only JUST met the payment threshold for ALL the Google Adsense ads I had on my site for months. And … in fact… I actually received my first Mediavine payment BEFORE the Adsense payment. And the payment from Adsense was so little that the grand total (for months mind you.. and all those pageviews) was LESS than what I was able to earn on Mediavine in a few days.
Tips for Making Money With Ads
To make money with ads, you need quality content that readers want to read. AND you need traffic TO that content.
When you are a beginner blogger this may seem really difficult. You maybe even think a lot of luck is involved. I know when I started my first several blogs, I wrote content and then just waited for it to go viral. I thought that was how the magic happened.. get noticed.. go viral… instant success.
Sure.. it IS fun when something you write DOES go viral. But don’t wait for, count on or even plan on the viral post magic.
The good news is.. YOU have a lot of control and influence over your traffic. You can totally DO THIS!
The first step is to write quality content. Write in depth posts that answer questions and solve problems for your readers. Write something people want to read.
The next step is to market your content. Marketing your content is a really big topic, but the very best place to start is with Pinterest. Pinterest is the easiest and quickest way to get traffic to your blog.
Bloggers Make Money with Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate Marketing is the term for promoting someone else’s product or service and making a commission for doing so. There are a large number of bloggers who make significant income promoting an affiliate product through affiliate links.
How does it work? A blogger applies to be an affiliate for a company or another blogger. Once approved, the blogger receives a unique URL to the website where the reader can purchase the item. When the unique link is clicked and a purchase occurs, the blogger receives a commission.
A commission is either a percentage of the sale or a fixed amount of the sale. Every affiliate program works differently, but often the buyer can click through your affiliate link, buy something else, and you receive commission on the purchase even if it’s not something you specifically referred them to.
For instance, if a buyer clicks through my Amazon link for a low cost crochet hook, but then ends up purchasing an expensive item after arriving on Amazon’s site, I get paid a commission on anything and everything they purchase there.
Every affiliate relationship is different so it’s important to read the rules and to understand how you are allowed to promote your affiliate link, the percentage or amount that is paid and how long your affiliate “cookie” lasts.
You can become an affiliate marketer for companies by going directly through that company’s affilaite program or by joining an affiliate marketing network. Here’s how those work:
Find an Affiliate Program For A Specific Company
If you’d like to promote a specific product or would like to be an affilaite for a company you need to search for their affiliate program. You could search directly on the company’s website for “affiliate” or “affiliate program”. Or even head to the footer of their webpage and see if a link is there for affiliates.
But often you can find a company’s affiliate program even more quickly by heading straight to Google and searching the name of the company along with the words ‘affiliate program’. For instance, if you are looking for Amazon’s affiliate program, you can search for “Amazon Affiliate Program” and the link to their affiliate program is the first answer in the search results.
Join an Affiliate Network
Affiliate networks coordinate with companies to run affiliate programs. Sometimes when you identify an affiliate program for a specific company, they will send you right to an affiliate network. Other times you may wish to join a network and explore the opportunities there. Here are a few popular affiliate networks:
- CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction)
Become an Affiliate for Another Blogger’s Product
When you know and love a product, don’t you just want to tell all your friends about it too? I especially feel that way when I get a lot of value out of a course or ebook by another blogger. I want all my blogging buddies to know about it! Same goes for a competitor in my niche who offers a product that helps my readers. I want to share the good news with others!
When you share your story about a particular product, a blogger may very well share your review to her own audience which can get you even more traffic! (This can happen with brands too, but similar to shopping local, working with a blogger is more apt offer more sharing opportunities.)
If you’ve purchased a course or an ebook, the blogger will often have information on becoming a affiliate right in the product you purchased, or you can send a quick email to see if an affiliate program is available.
How Does the Blogger Get Paid from Affiliate Marketing?
The affiliate income is paid through the same means by which you signed up. If you signed up directly with a company, it is usually paid by the company directly. If you went through an ad network, the network pays you.
It’s important to know that affiliate income percentages and amounts vary a great deal. You may get a very low rate from places like Amazon and a much higher rate from promoting a blogger’s digital product. Be smart about what products you promote AND what companies you promote. Rates vary quite a bit and you may find that there is a greater income opportunity by promoting something equally as good from a different source.
Payout is usually made on a monthly basis, after a holding period (for returns), and when a minimum amount of dollars has been earned. Each program is different and this definitely something to read, understand and track to make sure that you are receiving what you are expecting.
You also want to make sure that you’ve filled out the necessary forms so you can get paid. You very likely need to provide tax information and banking information before your first payment.
When Can You Start Monetizing With Affiliate Marketing?
The beauty of Affiliate Marketing is that you often can start promoting links right away, even if you are a brand new blogger. You will make more money with more traffic, of course. Many affiliate programs, particularly those offered by fellow bloggers, do not have a traffic or blog size requirement to get into their program. Which means you can write a great post and start promoting it right away!
Other affiliate programs, such as Amazon, have minimum requirements to get in and then you need to produce a certain amount of sales within a period of time. All of this is detailed in the information provided at sign up.
What I love best about affiliate marketing is it doesn’t require a huge amount of pageviews or blog “success” to implement. You can totally start promoting affiliates early in your blogging journey. You can sell a product that you know others love and that makes it easier to sell. And you can practice selling someone else’s product before creating your own.
Tips for Making Money With Affiliate Marketing
Often times affiliate income is a numbers game of growing traffic and increasing your relationship with your readers. Readers buy from friends they trust. That means publishing good content that really connects with your readers.
It also means building up your email list and emailing them on a regular basis. This way you establish a relationship, a friendship, if you will, with your readers. You connect with them and when you tell them about something you like, they naturally want to get it too.
You should only promote products you know, like and trust. That way your readers know you are geniune. If you promote a cruddy product you really don’t like.. then it’s very likely your reader won’t like it either. And then later, when you want to promote and sell that reader something else, she doesn’t trust you any more and is less likely to buy from you.
Bloggers Make Money Promoting Your Own Products
Creating and selling your own products is often the secret sauce to ratcheting up your income potential as a blogger. There is a much higher profit margin on products you create yourself. This is why most of the successful bloggers sell their own products.
Products include: digital products, memberships/subscriptions and physical products
I especially like digital products because you can create them one time and sell them over and over again without a lot of effort. Digital products include:
- Printables of all sorts (patterns, planners, invitations, etc)
Printables and Ebooks are easy to create in word processing software or in online platforms like Canva. Then you download into a PDF format and sell on a platform such as Etsy, Ebay or in your own shop. There are also platforms like SendOwl that will assist in the delivery portion of your product.
Courses are a great way to for bloggers to make money. In a course the information is presented in a more methodical, step by step way. It’s a way for readers to dig deep into a topic and they are often will to pay more for that deep dive.
Courses can be handled many ways. Some are all video. Others are more like presentations, with a slide type format and a voice over. Most courses have a combination of elements. Courses are often hosted on platforms like Teachable or Mykajabi. Courses do require a bit more work as you learn the platform and possibly new tech skills.
Memberships and Subscriptions
Some bloggers like offering exclusive content to readers through a membership or subscription program. A food blogger might provide exclusive recipes for members. A crochet designer might provide exclusive patterns and tutorials for members.
A membership or subscription is a way to get ongoing revenue, however, it’s not as ‘hands off’ as a digital product because the blogger has to create exclusive content for the members in the membership or subscription program.
Some bloggers create and sell phsyical products. Perhaps you already have a physical product you create in your business. Or perhaps you have a book and want to promote that. There’s also the world of “print on demand”.
Print on Demand companies enable bloggers to design something specific for their audience like a T-shirt or tote bag. Instead of the blogger printing and inventorying physical product, the product itself is printed once the order is placed and shipped directly to the customer.
Wholesale products are sales models where the blogger is the in-between person. So a person or company creates the product, the blogger pays a wholesale price and then sells the product itself to a customer at a higher, retail price.
There are two typical ways this works in practice:
- The blogger purchases the product at wholesale pricing, receives, inventories and stores the product. Then sells at a retail price and ships the product to the end customer once it is purchased.
- The blogger purchases products at a wholesale price, but works with a wholesaler that drop-ships the products. In this way the blogger never actually receives or ships the product.
How Does the Blogger Get Paid from Selling Products?
For the most part, the blogger gets paid directly (and immediately) by the customer. There is no waiting for payment or no middle man. There are still costs involved. A blogger will incur fees from a payment processor, like Paypal and/or Stripe, to process payments from the customer. The blogger also pays for the platform on which she sells her products (ie Teachable, Shopify, etc).
If the blogger is selling a physical product there are expenses associated with creating the product itself, storing it and shipping it.
When Can You Start Monetizing With Your Own Products?
Technically you can get started with products right away if you’d like! However in practice it’s a better idea to wait until you have a bigger audience.
The general rule is that only 2-3% of your email list will actually buy your products. This percentage of people that buy are called a “conversion rate”. If you sell directly from within a blog post, you might see an even lower conversion rate.
Remember, people are more apt to buy from you when they know and trust you. So it’s more important in the beginning to focus on growing your tribe.. building YOUR people.
The job of an online entrepreneur is about juggling and balance. Unlike other professions, you don’t completely “finish” with one thing, check off that box, and move to the next thing. You often are shifting and readjusting.
So you may take a period of time where you focus energy on creating great content. Then you still put out some content, but shift energy and focus to building your email list. Then you keep doing those 2 things and turn your attention to something else.. perhaps growing your Pinterest reach or working on SEO.
When you first start, the best use of your energy is to focus in on content first, then traffic, then email growth and then turn your eyes to monetization. It’s important to get the ball rolling on the other 3 areas before focusing hard on monetization. Product creation can be time consuming.
That’s why I’ve structured this site to help guide you through these steps in a logical order so you can achieve success as quickly as possible.
Tips for Making Money Selling Your Own Product
Have you ever heard the expression that you were given “one mouth and two ears; use them accordingly?” This is an important thing to remember if you want to sell to your audience. You need to get to really know your audience down to their bones.
What things do they struggle with? What do they need? What do they desire? Ask yourself what does EVERY person in my niche NEED? If you don’t know, then do some research.
What are your readers already buying? Set up a survey and ask them what they need. Work with your email list… email your readers and ask them for feedback. See what resonates with them.
Your email list is really key because you have the closest relationship with your tribe there. When it’s time to sell your great product, they will be there, ready and waiting.
One final thought on products.. be mindful of the time and energy you will put into your product. You need to create a product that you can actually sell. Sometimes when you have an enormous amount of time invested into product creation it can be hard to truly “see” the value of it.
Find good blogging friends you trust and ask their honest opinion. Be willing to adjust your pricing to meet your customer at the perfect price point. If you are selling digital products, keep in mind that you often make more in selling the same thing to many, many people.
So while selling something for $17 that took you a 100 hours to create seems so, so low and disheartening, if you sell 500 of them, thats $8,500. Suddenly that seems like a pretty good return on your 100 hours of effort!
Bloggers Make Money Promoting With Sponsored Posts
When a blogger receives something of value from a company in exchange for promoting to the blogger’s audience, that is considered Sponsored Content. For the company, it is a way to advertise to your audience. The blogger receives product and/or payment for promoting the product.
Any time a blogger receives something from a company, the blogger must properly disclose that in a conspicious spot.
A blogger can receive a product to try out and review. This is a form of sponsored post. Many bloggers are overjoyed to receive a free item and gladly write a post about it or promote it in some way. Often the blogger is a part of the company’s affiliate program, so writing a review post for a free item and an opportunity to promote that item with an affiliate link is a good opportunity.
Other times companies and brands contract with a blogger to create content around their product and pay the blogger money to do so. The arrangement can be for a variety of things such as:
- Blog post or article
- Social Media Posts
- Email Promotion to your subscribers
Every campaign is different. A blogger and company will negotiate terms. Everything should be in writing so both parties are clear on expectations and payments.
How Do Bloggers Get Sponsored Posts?
Bloggers get sponsored posts in one of two ways: either the sponsor approaches them directly or the blogger pitches an idea.
If the blogger has a large blog, a large social presence or simly just catches the eye of a sponsor, that brand may reach out and see if the blogger would like to collaborate.
Alternatively a blogger can contact a company or brand to pitch an idea. The brand will want to know your reach, so be sure to include statitics like traffic volulme, social media following and email list.
Bloggers can also learn of sponsorship opportunities by joining an Influencer Network
Popular Influencer Networks include:
You can also network with other bloggers in your niche to find influencer networks that work well in your niche.
Why Should Sponsors Invest In You?
For a sponsor, you represent a low-cost way to reach their target audience! Your readers are their future buyers! A sponsored post is a great monetization method for you not only becuase you receive a product or actual cash, but because the sponsor may drive new people to your post.
And it’s good for the sponsor because your great content provides another income stream without a huge advertising expense. The name of the game in advertising is to hit your target audience and you are delivering them on a silver platter. It is a mutually beneficial relationship.
How Does the Blogger Get Paid from Sponsored Posts?
If a blogger receives product only, the product is received prior to the blogger’s promoting efforts. When the the blogger is paid money in exchange for a sponsored posts, the terms for payment including the amount and when it will be paid is negotiated before the promotion occurs.
If the sponsorship opportunity is through a sponsor network, then the network pays the blogger and the pay rate is set ahead of time.
When Can You Start Monetizing With Sponsored Posts?
The truth is.. it depends. Many companies love to give away products to blogs that are on the newer end of the spectrum. Others will want to see more of a track record.
And brands paying for sponsored content most definitely want to see at least 6 months of blogging experience and a significant following. What they constitute as a following matters too. Some sponsors might want a large number of Instagram or Facebook followers while others will be pleased with a nice size email list.
Tips for Making Money with Sponsored Posts
The key to success with sponsored posts is to remember your audience. When a brand approaches you, it can be hugely flattering and money can be tempting. But it’s important to recommend things that really will resonate with your readers. Put them first and you make money in the process.
Write in a way that conveys how wonderful the product is, why you like it and why it solves a problem for them. And establish a good relationship with your readers through your emails, blog posts and social media posts. Be approachable and relatable. Connect with them. People buy things from people they know and trust.
Bloggers Make Money From Providing Services
Some bloggers offer services as a way to make income. Perhaps you want to help your audience in a more personal way. Or you might want to offer your expertise to other bloggers. There are all kinds of services you can offer. Some may be specific to your niche. Or you may just offer coaching and consulting in your area of expertise.
Your experience in your niche and running your website is the basis for your expertise. You may do this as a core money making method for your blog. Or you could do this as a way to support your blog in the early days. Many times new bloggers serve as virtual assistants for bigger blogger in their own niche, for instance.
How Does the Blogger Get Paid from Providing Services?
The blogger and recipient of the services work out the details of payment. It’s best to lay out the details ahead of time. PayPal offers the ability to prepare and send invoices to make it easy for clients to pay the blogger–plus it creates a great paper trail for accounting purposes.
When Can You Start Monetizing With Services?
If you are providing services to another, more experienced blogger in your niche, you might not need to have much experience yourself at all! Often a more experienced blogger looking for help is just grateful to have someone interested, knowledgeable about the topic and willing to work!
On the other hand, if you want to coach, consult, mentor or provide a service to your audience, you need to have some expertise and good content under your belt. Your client must see that you are knowledgable and able to help them succeed. There isn’t a specific time frame – so for some bloggers this could be early in their blogging journey and others might need a significant amount of experience to feel like they can provide good, helpful value with their service offering.
Tips for Making Money with Services
Knowing what your audience needs is the best path towards creating a service that will benefit them. It’s good to really brainstorm ideas, thinking through the pain points and desires of your readers.
Building community is important. So if you’re offering a service to your readers let them know about it on social media and in your newsletters. If you are offering services to other bloggers, find a few good blogging groups on Facebook. Hang out there and join in on conversations. When you’re ready with your own offerings, you can tap into those networks.
How Do Successful Bloggers Make Money?
If you’ve made it this far, you hold all the secrets in your hands. You know the ‘how’: all the various ways bloggers make money blogging. The next steps are to think hard about your blogging niche, your strengths, your target audience and all your various options. Write them all down.
Pick the next best thing. Do it. Implement it. Learn from it. Then pick the next thing. With hard work and determination it is possible to achieve your money making blog goals.
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