How do blogs make money? How do bloggers get paid? These are burning questions on every wanna be blogger and current blogger’s mind.
Beginning bloggers want to know if it is even possible to make money blogging.
Bloggers that have been at it for a little while want to know how to better monetize their blogs.
Your Mom (or maybe even your spouse) wants to know how do bloggers get paid.
The answer is really quite simple.
How do bloggers make money?
The same way everyone else does: by offering something of value in exchange for money.
Which means before you can start making money on your blog it has to be a valuable place on the web. The type of value you blog has to offer will differ on how you want to monetize your blog.
There are five main ways bloggers make money: ads, affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, products, and services.
In this article I am going to break down what each of these so that anyone can understand how bloggers make money and get paid.
Make sure to save it to Pinterest. This is going to be one of those articles you keep coming back to.
Each section will start out explaining how blogs are monetized with that plan and then answer the following questions:
- who pays the blogger
- when can beginning bloggers start making money with that method
- tips for getting your blog ready for making money via that route.
Which best describes you?
This post is beefy. I wanted to give you the most in-depth overview on how you can make money blogging. Feel free to skip to the sections you are most interested in.
Here’s a brief overview in Story format:
#1 Bloggers make money with ads
Let’s start here because ads are probably the most well-known way bloggers make money.
How does it work? A blogger signs up for an ad network to place ads on their site. Most ad networks use targeted ads. Meaning the ad changes depending on who is view the blog, the content on the blog, and or the content the viewer recently visited.
Popular ad networks bloggers belong to
- Adsense – no monthly minimum to apply
- Adthrive – minimum of 100,000 monthly pageviews
- Mediavine – 25,000 monthly sessions
- Sovrn – no monthly minimum to apply
The two main ways bloggers get paid through ad networks are per impression or per click.
Paid per impression – with these ads, the viewer does not have to click on the ad in order for the blogger to receive an income. They are paid per impression, which is how many times the ad is seen.
Paid per click – every time someone clicks on the ad, blogger receive a small amount of money for that click.
Here’s a recap on how making money with ads works. Sovrn shares the following,
“advertisers pay website owners based on how many people have seen their ads. Every time an ad is seen by a reader, that’s called “an impression.” Because there are billions of ad impressions every day, advertisers pay based on intervals of 1,000 impressions or CPM (cost per mille impressions).”
When you are ready to place ads on your site, your ad network will coach you through where to place the ads. Here are some common areas you will see ads on blogs:
- Sidebar, frequently sticky
- Over images (personal side note: if find these annoying, but lots of bloggers are making good money from it)
- In post after x amount of paragraphs
- Sticky footer on mobile
Who pays the blogger?
In most cases, the ad network a blogger is associated with pays the blogger a monthly income. Occasionally, brands will reach out directly to a blogger to place an ad on the blog. In that case, the brand would negotiate a rate and pay the blogger directly.
When can you start monetizing with ads?
Beginning bloggers often try making their first money with ads and quickly become frustrated when they are making pennies a month.
The reason beginning bloggers can’t make money from ads is because they do not have enough traffic. So, while you can place ads on your site at any time, realistically you won’t make very much money unless you are getting around 25,000 pageviews a month.
You are better off waiting until you hit that 25,000 pageview mark and then adding ads to your site.
I tried going through Google Adsense’s application process for my mock blog. I set up this blog for my beginning bloggers course. It had 4 posts and a fully designed home page. Google did not approve my application for AdSense stating that site was not developed enough. So even with the big G you need to have an established site before you can place their ads on your blog.
Tips for making money with ads:
As mentioned above, if you want to make money with ads you need traffic. Lots of traffic. How do you get more traffic to your site? The first is step is to have quality content that people actually want to read. The next step is to market that content. Pinterest is my favorite way to get traffic to my blog.
If you want to make money with ads focus your efforts on epic content and marketing. When it comes to making money via ads this will be your primary focus before you hit the magical 25,000 pageviews and after.
#2 Bloggers make money with affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is where a blogger establishes a connection with a company and then promotes that company’s products and or service. Each blogger is given a unique URL to the company’s website. When a viewer clicks that unique link and then purchases from the company, the blogger receives a commission.
Commissions are given to the blogger in a percentage of the sale or a fixed amount per sale or lead.
There are a few ways bloggers can become affiliates for companies. You can become an affiliate directly through the company’s affiliate program or by joining affiliate marketing networks and finding affiliate programs to join there.
Find an affiliate program for a specific company
If you have a company or product in mind that you’d like to be an affiliate for go on a quest to find their affiliate program.
First, head to the company’s website and scroll down to the very bottom of their website. Many company’s include a link to their affiliate program in the site footer. Sometimes the affiliate program is not as easy to find. Next, try doing a site search on Google. site:companyurl.com “affiliate program”.
Different companies will use different terms for affiliate programs. Some are referred to as partner programs, rewards program, referrals program. Try a few different variations to see if you can find the affiliate page.
If you are unable to find an affiliate program try reaching out directly to the company and asking. Dig around for an email address, contact box, or try connecting on social media.
Join an affiliate Network
You can also find affiliate programs by signing up for an affiliate marketing network. Here are a few of the most popular ones: (you guessed it, some of these are affiliate links)
Become an affiliate for other bloggers or influencers.
Are there bloggers inside your niche or a complementary niche that have created and are selling their own product, course, or ebook? You can reach and see if they have an affiliate program set up.
Although they might be the “competition” becoming an affiliate for them could be a mutually beneficial relationship.
You can sell their product and talk about it on your blog. This will help you earn and income and help them generate more sells. Often times, when you write your review + affiliate post the blogger will share your post with their audience (because it’s promoting them). This will help you grow your audience as well.
So not only are you making money but you are increasing your reach!
Who pays the blogger?
Most of the time, an affiliate is paid through an affiliate network. Even when I’ve found affiliate programs directly through a company’s website, they have used a network to manage tracking my links and paying me. Payouts are usually made on a monthly basis when the minimum amount of sales are made.
Other times, commissions are payed directly from the company whose products you are marketing.
Keep in mind that the commission percentage is typically higher for digital products than physical products.
When can you start monetizing with affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is one of the easiest ways to start making money on your blog. You can start monetizing with affiliate links at any point in your blogging journey. Obviously, the more eyes on the links and promotions you do for affiliate marketing the more money you will make.
Keep in mind that some affiliate programs, like Amazon, have minimum sale quotas or pageviews. Look into the details before applying for the affiliate program.
Many new bloggers think they can automatically start a blog and use Amazon Affiliates. However, when you sign up to be an Amazon Affiliate, you must make at least 3 sales from your links in 180 days in order to remain in their program. “You are welcome to reapply when you have established your site.”
Still, affiliate marketing is great for beginning bloggers for a few reasons:
- It doesn’t require as many pageviews as ad income to be successful.
- You can sell a product that already has a proven track record for sales, making it easier for you to sale.
- You can practice selling someone else’s product before creating your own.
I fully agree with Pat Flynn when he says,
“Perhaps the best part [about affiliate marketing] is, you don’t have to create your own product, because someone else has already done the hard work. That’s the beauty of affiliate marketing: that you don’t have to invest the time and effort to create something to sell. You can begin making money as an affiliate as soon as you have a platform to sell products.”
Tips for making money with Affiliate Marketing:
If you want to be successful with affiliate marketing, you need to build up and establish your platform (platform = your blog + email list).
This means publishing quality content that resonates with your audience. Oh, and marketing that content is a big deal too. Establishing your platform also means building trust and authority with the people that visit your blog.
You can’t just drop affiliate links and expect to make money. You have to be strategic about your affiliate monetization plan (P.S. spell check keeps telling me that monetization is not a word. So, sorry but I’m using it anyway 😊)
Affiliate marketing is most successful when you are marketing a product that you like and use yourself. Read more on my tips for making money via affiliate marketing.
#3 Bloggers make money with sponsored posts
Sponsored content is where a company pays a blogger to create content about their brand or a specific product. Sponsored content typically looks like any other content the blogger produces with the same tone and feel (disclosed that it is sponsored, of course).
Companies like to work with bloggers and content creators as a way of advertising their product in an editorial format. The company values bloggers’ influence, voice, and authority. That is why the company wants to use your platform (blog and it’s extensions) to advertise.
Sometimes the content you create for sponsored posts will be the entire blog post process (content, pictures, set numbers social shares) and other times companies will pay you for just one aspect of your content creation. Bloggers receive sponsorship for any of the following:
- Styling and staging
- Live videos
- Social media posts
Each campaign will be different for bloggers depending on the needs of the sponsor and the platforms that you excel at. Companies want to use your voice to talk about their product/service to your unique audience.
How do bloggers get sponsored opportunities?
The big bloggers do not have to do much. The sponsors come to them because they see value in their content and audience.
Beginning bloggers and even established be lesser known bloggers need to do a little bit of leg work to get sponsored.
If there’s a brand you know you want to work with, you can directly pitch them with an idea or rates.
The most popular way for bloggers (especially beginning bloggers) to find sponsored opportunities is through sponsored networks. In the marketing world these are referred to as Influencer Networks.
These networks help connect brands and influencers (bloggers and content creators). When you apply and join the network you will have access to see available sponsor jobs and apply for them yourself within the network.
I reached out to my local blogging group to get today’s most popular influencer networks to join.
Find Sponsored Content Opportunities through an Influencer network
Who pays the blogger?
How a blogger is payed from a sponsored post depends on how the connection between the brand and the blogger starts. If the blogger and brand are communicating directly with each other, the company pays the blogger directly.
If the blogger finds a sponsor opportunity through a sponsor network, then the network pays the blogger.
When a blogger works directly with a brand, whether by having the brand come to them or by pitching the brand, the commission rate for the sponsored content is negotiable. My friend Tracie has a great post about sponsored content that discusses how to charge for your content.
When a blogger works through an influencer networks to land a sponsored content gig the pay rate is usually set a head of time.
When can you start monetizing with sponsored posts?
Your blog needs to be established with a good amount of content before you can start working with brands.
Many brands and networks will want to see that you’ve been blogging for at least 6 months and have a significant amount of followers.
Audience size isn’t as crucial as it is with ads, but companies will want to make sure people are visiting your site and interested in your content before they pay you to create content for them.
Tips for making money with Sponsored Content:
If you want to make money via sponsored content my suggestions are to:
- hone in on your unique writing style and ideas
- improve your photography skills
- focus in on a particular audience + make them fall in love with you
- decide ahead of time what type of companies match your blog’s brand and values
- Like many of the above tips, continue working on growing your audience
When you do get the opportunity for sponsored content, remember to still provide extreme value to your readers! This is what will help you continue to get sponsored opportunities and keep your people happy.
I really love this quote from the healthy maven about creating sponsored content,
“I work for my readers and get paid by my brands” That means that whatever sponsored work I do has to be relevant to you. I take this into account with every brand I work with. Is this valuable to my readers? Is this a product I think you’d actually use? Is it a product I would actually use? If it’s the right fit, it’s a win-win for everyone. If it’s not the right fit, you will likely let me know it, which is why I only work with brands that I align with The Healthy Maven.
#4 Bloggers make money creating and selling products
Many people think that bloggers primarily make their income via ads. That is true for many, but some of the most successful bloggers these days sell their own product.
Bloggers sell digital products, educational products, memberships or subscriptions, books, their own physical products, or wholesale purchase a products and retail it on their own blog.
Let’s break those down and talk about the different products bloggers create and sell.
Digital products are very popular products for bloggers to create and sell on their blogs. Some examples are printable planners, invitations, party printable, meal plans, guides, etc.
Digital products have a high earning potential because they usually have little to no costs to create them.
After you create a digital product, you can use a WordPress plugin like Easy Digital Downloads or a tool like Gumroad or even Paypal to sell and deliver the digital goods you create.
Here are some real-life examples of bloggers making money via the digital products they sell:
- Typically Simple sales these printable hidden letters for early learning.
- After publishing a lot of content on garage sales, Rachel created and sale this Garage Sale Handbook.
We live in the age of knowledge. Maybe too much but that is a topic for another day.
As a blogger you probably have expansive knowledge on a particular subject and can share that with others. Today’s bloggers are educating their audience by creating their own ebooks, guides, online courses and workshops.
A large number of bloggers are trying to make money online by packaging their expertise and selling it to their audience so that they too can learn.
First, this is usually content bloggers are already creating on their blog. A lot of people have posts that are educational by nature and so a educational product comes naturally.
Secondly, creating and selling a course has a higher earning potential than some of the other money-making methods. You are in control of the price point and you make the full commission.
Lastly, audience size is not as crucial to start making money as it is with ads and sponsored posts. Obviously, the more followers you have the higher earning potential. But if you have 100 followers and 10 buy your 30-dollar course than that is $300 dollars more than you would have had. On the flip side someone with 100 followers might make fifty cents from ads in a month.
People are looking to learn and grow, by providing them a way to learn you have something of value that they are willing to pay for.
- Beyond Snapshots – a photography course for Moms
- Alison’s Cookie Party – a royal frosting sugar cookie course
- Successfully Growing Succulents – a course all about succulents and keeping them thriving
Memberships and Subscriptions
Memberships or subscriptions are where bloggers create exclusive content for people who sign up (pay) for their membership program. The content is only accessible to paid customers.
- Club Kitchness – recipes, workouts, motivation, and community for busy ladies
- Lia Griffith membership – exclusive tips, tutorial, and printables for crafting
- Pin template Subscription – new Pin templates delivered on a monthly basis
Many people use their blogs to showcase and discuss products they create. The creative entrepreneurs of the world make up a large space in the blogging world. Some have been creating their product for a long time and start their blogs as a way to market their product. Other bloggers create their own product after seeing a need or coming up with an idea they knew their audience would love.
I have been following bohoberry.com for several years now and have loved seeing the products she has created for her blog audience. As she blogged about her own bullet journals she was able to create products to help her readers create theirs.
There are several ways you can sell a physical product alongside your blog. Some bloggers link their site to an Etsy shop and sell their product there. You can sell physical products on your WordPress blog by using the plugin WooCommerce. Other bloggers use Shopify to create their blog and storefront, instead of WordPress.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. For many bloggers, publishing a book make sense because they are already prolific writers and have a good amount of content. Some bloggers self publish and others are contracted through a publishing firm.
Fun little side story about Sally’s books. We own all three and my children and I enjoy baking together. My six year old son says Sally’s cookies are the best in the whole world. He knows she’s a blogger and is fascinated with the whole thing. We saw her books at Costco and he said, “Sally made it into Costco?! She must be really big now!”
I’m actually surprised that the blogging world doesn’t talk about this one more. But, it is a great way to make money online and not have to create your own product.
There two main ways bloggers make money selling a product they purchased from a wholesaler:
- They purchase the product and handle all the shipping and sometimes packaging for that product.
- They work with a wholesaler that drop-ships products. This means the bloggers sells the product on their site but the wholesale company packages and ships the product to the customer.
Example for number one: North Star Balloons is a balloon company that sells balloons to businesses only, not retail. A party blogger or wedding blogger, for example, could become a retailer and create a balloon shop on their blog (StudioDIY has one!). You blog posts will feature these balloons and funnel readers to your very own balloon store.
There are endless options when it comes to creating and selling a product on your blog!
Who pays the blogger?
The customer! There’s no middle man network take part of the commission. No getting only a commission of the sale. As the creator and seller of the product, the blogger gets paid directly from the customer. There are still costs involved for the blogger. There’s a credit card service fee and fees for the tool or app they are using to sell their product.
If you are selling a physical product there the costs associated to creating the product and there are also shipping fees involved.
When can you start monetizing with your own product?
Technically, you could launch your product when you start you blog. But I would advise against that.
Data reports everywhere show that only 2-3% of your email list will buy your product. For that reason, a good goal to set before launching your own product is to have 500-1000 quality subscribers on your email list.
Tips for making money by selling your own product:
First, get to know your audience. What are their pain points, needs, and desires. How can you help them? Establish your authority and credibility first.
Growing an engaged email list should be your top priority if you want to sell your own products. This is the best place to pitch and sale your product.
Don’t feel like you have to go big with your first product. Start out with a small digital product. Meera has a great post on different types of digital products you can create for your blog.
#5 Bloggers make money from services, coaching, and consulting
People need help. Maybe they want to understand something better or maybe they want someone to hold them accountable. Some people just want to hire someone else to do something for them so that they don’t have to. Many bloggers offer services in relation to their niche to offer help and assistance to their audience.
In this money-making method, your blog acts as a platform to prove your expertise on a subject and attract new clientele for the services you offer.
Offering services alongside your blog is also a great way to grow as an authority on your subject.
When my blog was new, I offered blog migrations from Blogger to WordPress. My clients enjoyed working with me and the experience they had moving from Blogger to WordPress. Not only did I move their site over but the package included WordPress coaching to set them up for success. They knew that I understood WordPress and how it would work for them as a blogger. My clients knew that my blog content would continue to help them.
Because of this experience, my clients recommended me and shared my blog with their blogging friends.
Although I am not offering this service at this time, I do accredit it for accelerating the growth of my site.
Services help you build relationships with people and people help you grow. Yay!
Offering coaching or consulting packages can also help you better understand the needs of your target audience. I come up with a plethora of blog topics when I am directly working with my target audience.
Examples: coaching or consulting packages on any topic – fitness, relationships, decluttering, social media management, graphic design services, personal shopping services, etc.
- Finance blog offers financial coaching
- New mom + breastfeeding blog offers breastfeeding consults
- Wedding blog offers mentoring for wedding brands
I didn’t realize I was so enthused about making money on your blog via services until I sat down to write this section. While it might not be your long term monetization plan it is a great way to start making a little cash, build up your authority, and create lasting relationships.
Or, it might be the right long-term business plan for you!
Who pays the blogger?
Again, the customer or client. As the blogger offering a service you will set the rates and arrange for payments. You can use Paypal to send bills to your clients.
When can you start monetizing with services, consulting, or coaching?
Anytime! Find your first few clients and get started when you feel comfortable and ready. It’s always a good idea to have some content under your belt and one strong social presence to keep connected with people.
Tips for making money with services:
Brainstorm the pain points, needs, and desires of your target audience. How can you help them? Is there something you could do for them or a way you could work together? Next reach out to a few people or a small group and offer your service. When you’re starting out set your prices low. But also don’t sell yourself short (I’ve been guilty of that before and it never ends up well).
Group coaching is a great place to start! Put together a month long group coaching package for your niche. Make it super valuable so that the participants love and recommend you and your blog. You can supplement the coaching with your blog posts. This will get them to know you and your content.
Pay close attention to their questions and struggles for future content and product ideas!
When you’re just starting out it is easier to reach out to specific individuals than to try and market your email list or social channels.
Regina has a great post on monetizing your blog with coaching.
Go forth and make money!
Take some time today to sit down and write out a monetization plan. Monetary plan. Money making plan. (Spell check likes those better.)
What value do you have to offer in exchange for money? How do you want to make money blogging? What do you need to do to get to that point?
For those of you that are already making money, leave a comment and tell us all what your #1 type of blogging income is, we’d all love to hear your story!
Final note to beginning bloggers wanting to make money:
Making money is the easy part. It might not seem like it, because from the outside that is what your end goal is and it seems far away at times. But, it really is the easier part.
The hard part? Creating content, marketing it so that you can attract a new audience, and then retaining those people for future posts.
When you have an audience that loves your content and a solid plan in place for how you want to make money, the monetizing part gets easier.
Do not get discouraged my friend. YOU can make money blogging!
Set some goals and work towards them! You got this.