It seems so elusive how all these bloggers are reviewing, traveling, or cooking their way to the six-figure income. It is certainly a mystery to many of us out there. But, just imagine how nice it would be to wake up and do what you love every day and make lots of money doing it! So how do these blogs make money? Let’s explore.
How Much Money Can You Make From a Blog
Let’s start with our own example. We created a hobby blog about BMWs during the end of 2015 – bmwux.com. It literally started with making nothing for a very long time. Yes, that’s a big fat zero. Many months rolled by as we continued to test, optimize, and improve the website. Then we started seeing a few pennies coming in each day. Today, those pennies continue to steadily accumulate and are growing into dollars.
It’s true that there are quite a few bloggers out there making thousands of dollars per day. It is completely achievable, and you can do it too. The amount of money you make really depends on a few factors:
3 Factors that Determine How to Profit from a Blog
- How well you can connect income sources with your content
- How well you can deliver content to the audience
- How well you can continue to gain and engage your audience
Remember internet fame doesn’t always happen overnight like it did for Grumpy Cat. However, if you are willing to put in the time, hard work, and taking all the right approaches, you will start seeing results and higher revenue as you continue to build and grow your blog over time.
How to Start the Million-Dollar Blog
Of course, you will need to have a blog first before getting into the “make money” part. Follow our complete guide on how to start a blog to get started.
First, if you observe the successful bloggers out there, they all have the following two things in common. These two ingredients are the keys you need to set a solid foundation to start making money with your blog.
2 Essentials on How to Start a Successful Blog
It definitely takes time, effort, and a lot of dedication to accomplish these two above. Yes, it may be a hard and constant grind, but the worst thing to do is to quit before you see results. It is the tradeoff you need to make in order to turn blogging into a real, profitable business. Now, let’s get to the point and find out how money is made from blogging.
5 Common Income Sources of Blogging Websites
- Run advertisements
- Join affiliate programs
- Get sponsorships
- Sell or resell services
- Promote Products
1. Run Advertisements
A common source of income for many bloggers is hosting on-site advertisements. These advertisements can be private ads through contracted sales, ads by advertising marketplaces such as Double Click, or through popular ad networks such as Google AdSense.
Out of the three mentioned above, AdSense is great for starters because no “pre-requisites” (such as minimum traffic requirement) are needed for signing up. This means you can start making money right away.
How Google AdSense Works
The concept is rather simple. Basically, you will make room on your blog template to insert advertisement modules. If you use a CMS (Content Management System) such as WordPress or Joomla, you can find free plugins or extensions through their support communities to help you easily insert ad modules. Both WordPress and Joomla are free to download.
Signing up for Google Adsense is free and only takes 3 steps
- Create an account with Google
- Fill out your website’s information
- Fill out your own personal information
Once you have the ad modules installed on your blog, follow these next four steps.
- Select the ad you want on your website
- You have the option of selecting ads to be in text, display, or both and selecting the sizes which fits your blog
- Copy the unique AdSense code of the ad you chose
- Paste the Adsense code back to the ad module
The ad module will automatically display advertisements on your webpages. AdSense controls what advertisement runs on your blog, however, you can select and filter the ad categories you would like your visitors to see.
When your visitors click on an ad, you will receive a monetary payout. It can range anywhere from a few pennies to a few dollars per one click. The amount of money you get paid for depends on how many pageviews and unique visitors your webpages receive. So ultimately, the more traffic your blog has, the more desirable your ad spaces are to advertisers.
Google AdSense Best Practices
Understand You Won’t Get Rich Overnight
Don’t expect to hit the lottery with AdSense. Earnings are accumulated over time, and it all depends on how much quality traffic your website receives. You are likely to start with making a few cents a day or make nothing on some days, but don’t get discouraged. We all started this way. Just focus on growing your website traffic for the long run and the payout will scale.
Offer Useful and Helpful Information in Your Blog
To get more website traffic, start with making your blog content great. Think about your own experience with web browsing. The worst thing is to click open a bunch of junk links that are just a waste of time. We want information that is useful and helpful in answering a question or solving a problem. Help yourself by helping others and you will see more money coming in as your website performance improves.
Do Not Click on Your Own Ads
Do not try to trick Google and click on your own ads. Don’t try to be smart and ask your friends and families to click on them either. It’s never worth it because Google will find out and you can be blacklisted and banned by AdSense. It’s simply unethical and bad for business. We highly recommend that you read the entire AdSense Policies to avoid getting into trouble.
2. Join Affiliate Programs
Affiliate marketing is the pie that every blogger wants a piece of. Many affiliate programs out there seem so enticing because they promise lucrative payouts. The truth is, yes, you can make some serious money doing affiliate marketing. However, it takes more than a few words and a link to really make it work.
How Affiliate Marketing Works
Many businesses are paying a commission to agents to promote their products or services. In the online marketing world, agents are usually publisher websites or blogs that promote these products or services to the public.
One of the biggest and most popular cross-industry company offering lucrative affiliate opportunities is Amazon. You can literally promote any product from e-books to electronics, to makeup, and get paid for it. A second affiliate option is Commission Junction. They are a market place for advertisers and publishers to join affiliate programs.
When websites join affiliate programs, they receive a dedicated affiliate link to track referrals with. When a customer completes a purchase through that affiliate link, the referring website receives compensation.
Referrals are tracked by cookies. They are data files stored in a user’s web browser to recall specific browsing references and information about that visitor. Customer purchases should not be affected in any way when the transaction is done through a legitimate affiliate link. This means, there should not be any gimmicks, tricks, or unfair surcharges to the customers when companies are offering genuine, straightforward affiliate programs. Webmasters or bloggers should take the responsibility to only make referrals for legitimate businesses.
Affiliate Marketing Best Practices
Focus on Making Quality Content
"Content is King" is a famous saying in the online marketing industry, and there is a good reason for it. Content dictates the success of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) (article#001), which is one of the most important approaches to drive traffic and gain authority for your blog. Having quality and trustworthy content will positively reinforce affiliate marketing effort by telling visitors that your website is, in fact, legitimate. Show your audience that you are sharing a great product or service by providing adequate and authentic information.
Follow Google Affiliate Program Guidelines
While monetary incentives can be enticing, do not forget, you are making a blog for visitors, not for advertisers. If your website is massively promoting affiliates with very little added value, watch out for Google penalties that will negatively affect your website’s SEO and keyword rankings. So abide by the Google’s Affiliate Program Quality Guidelines careful.
Be Selective of Your Affiliates
Choose your affiliate partners carefully because your reputation is on the line. There are numerous affiliate programs out there, and many of them pay attractive commissions. However, one mistake you can easily make is to jump into every affiliate opportunity you see. This can have an adverse effect and jeopardize visitor trust.
Pick affiliates that are applicable to your blog content. You should always understand and test out the product or service before promoting it to anyone. We believe in and abide by sharing businesses only if they benefit our visitors. From our own experience, we do not promote anything we wouldn’t use or haven’t used. It is an ethical responsibility to make only positive contributions through our content to our audience.
3. Get Sponsorships
Sponsorships are the golden opportunities every blogger dreams of. When your website is gaining momentum in its niche and people trust and love your content, you have the potential to get paid by companies to promote certain products and services on your blog.
How Sponsorship Works
Sponsorship usually creates a business relationship between an advertiser (a business) and the publisher (your blog). Advertisers compensate you in exchange for endorsing and getting their products and services out there to your audience.
The endorsement can be a review article, a video demo, or a promotional post on social media. Bigger sponsorships can be online or offline events, conferences, and training. It may take more hustle and bustle to get sponsors to be interested in you. However, the reward is definitely worth the investment.
Depending on your blog’s influence and audience reach, compensation can vary. The amount you get paid really depends on each unique situation of the sponsorship. Of course, there are some star bloggers out there making a cushy income with sponsorships. What you don’t see are years and years of hard work and dedication behind all that glamor.
Sponsorship Best Practices
Strengthen Your Blog’s Unique Proposition
So how can you get businesses to endorse you? Start by highlighting your uniqueness and outshine the competition. Make your blog and content memorable. Sure, there may be many other bloggers out there doing what you do, but you can be different. You can build your own empire and cultivate that distinctive persona. Those are the top qualities sponsors look for.
Build Brand Authority
Your blog is your own brand. Aside from having sustained website traffic and a dedicated audience, the brand authority of your blog plays a substantial role. Sponsors look at how much power of influence you have within a target market. Put yourself out there as an authoritative brand by creating authentic content and positive rapport. When your blog has a positive and trustworthy brand image, you can build more credibility with audience and attract sponsors.
Have a Strong Follower Base
The interaction between your blog and its followers are another big-ticket item for a sponsored relationship. How you stimulate and engage followers potentially spells out how well you will do to promote a product or service.
Many influential bloggers take advantage of social media to interact with their followers. Doesn’t matter if it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube, know the right social media marketing strategies to win over fans and create audience interest in sponsored products.
4. Sell or Resell Services
Selling service is a very popular way for bloggers to make money. These bloggers usually have an exceptional skill or expertise that can help and service others. For example, if you are a makeup artist, a web developer, a photographer, or an expert of any kind, you can promote your services, teach the skill, or mentor others through blogging. Some experts even use blogging to promote services of another company that they are associated with.
How Selling or Reselling a Service Works
There are many potentials with promoting an expert service in a blog. It is the perfect medium for self-advertising, and it gets your name out there to a targeted niche. When you have expertise in a field, sharing your knowledge to help others make better decisions can in turn bring abundant website traffic. It is an effective channel for service providers to connect with potential clients.
A great example would be the online marketing guru Neil Patel. He is the author of online marketing blogs NeilPatel and QuickSprout, as well as the co-founder of the well-known online marketing tools CrazyEgg, HelloBar, and Kissmetrics. He has helped many industry giants such as Amazon and NBC to accelerate revenue growth online. Through each of his website, he blogs extensively and shares his wealth of knowledge about everything online marketing. Today, Neil Patel is a multi-millionaire entrepreneur continuing his path in providing online marketing services to businesses and teaching the public about how to do online marketing.
Selling or Reselling Service Best Practice
Show Your Expertise
When you are coaching others about a certain subject, present yourself as the expert. In addition to show- casing your credentials and works, share your professional opinion and expertise that will really benefit those that come to you for help.
For instance, every time we consult a new client, we get straight into presenting a website evaluation along with an actionable plan to improve their search results right away. We believe in cutting out the junk and fluff because results will speak for itself.
Helping Not Selling
Sales pitches don’t work anymore, and people are smarter than that. Blog articles should not look like a commercial advertisement because that hurts the user experience. Instead, work on building a solid reputation by helping people to solve problems. Make it the top focus of your blog content. When people trust the real solutions you can offer, they will naturally consider your services.
Target the Right Audience
Targeting the right audience means finding the right niche market that will respond to what you have to offer. This is where SEO keyword research comes to play. Keyword research identifies what people are using to actively look up your type of services in search engines like Google. So now you can reserve your resources to target a proactive group of audience who are already interested in what you have to say.
5. Promote Products
There is so much potential with marketing a physical product. Online marketing has become the essential strategy for businesses to expand their market and grow their revenue. If you do have a physical product to sell, then great! Blogging may be the missing piece of your marketing strategy. Even if you do not own a physical product, many bloggers are making a profit from blogging about someone else’s products.
How Promoting Product Works
When selling your own product, you can increase its demand and market exposure by blogging to educate consumers and to target a ready-to-buy audience. Content creation is the foundation of any online marketing effort. By creating quality content through a blog, you are creating opportunities to let the audience get to know your product in many different perspectives.
When you are blogging about someone else’s product, you are essentially the middle person taking a commission by making a sale. So now your blog becomes a marketing channel for other businesses to connect with customers.
There are many ways you can make money blogging about someone else’s product. The most common ways are through affiliate marketing, sponsorships and doing paid product reviews. We’ve talked about the first two methods, so we will be focusing on blogging for product reviews next.
There are many companies out there looking for high traffic blogs to do product reviews. Some bloggers receive the products for free, some get monetary compensation, and some get both. The situation varies according to the particular business, the industry, and how much influence your blog has in the niche.
Product Review Best Practice
Select Products that Benefit Your Audience
Choose products to review carefully. Make sure they are relevant, authentic, and are good for your audience. Taking up everything coming your way may not be such a good idea for your brand image. Although the monetary incentive may be tempting, but you can potentially hurt your reputation and lose traffic if the products you review are not a good fit with your audience or are not up to standard. Weigh your opportunity costs and value long term wins over short-term gains.
Give Truthful and Accurate Product Description
The truth is, not every product is flawless. So your review should reflect both the good and the insufficient according to your own user experience. Give a thorough and honest description of the product. Include images, videos, and measurements or even do a comparison. Don’t just copy and paste a description you find from the company’s website. Remember customers read your reviews because they trust that you can demonstrate the product beyond its commercial photograph.
Provide Product Demo Based on Your Own User Experience
A video that show-and-tells how to use a product is very popular with customers. Many of the YouTube and Vimeo stars were made this way. The video can include anything from package unboxing and product installation, to the actual step-by-step usage demonstration. The key is to show the audience, from your own experience, how to use the product and what’s your honest opinion of it. This is a great way to stimulate audience interaction and engagement.
- Upload, embed, and watch all your videos without costing your own hosting bandwidth
- Get access to real-time analytics to get clear engagements on your videos
- Zero ads within your videos to improve user experience
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Search Optimize Your Way to Blogging Success
Treat your blog like any investment. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket and don’t rely on one single source of blogging income. When you have a good balance going on in your revenue portfolio, you can observe bigger gains. Next, learn how to make your blog performance accelerate with Search Engine Optimization.