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How to Monetize Your Blog: 8 of the Best Ways

Kate Swanson wrote her first novel at 15, created her first blog in 2006 and has been writing for profit, and creating websites ever since.

Discover some methods for making money off your blog, from selling products to featuring tailored ads.

Discover some methods for making money off your blog, from selling products to featuring tailored ads.

"Monetizing" a blog means using various methods to earn money from your blog. Once upon a time, the answer was simple—you signed up with an advertising network like Adsense or Chitika, and you collected a few cents every time someone clicked on one of their ads.

All that has changed, for several reasons.

  1. One, advertisers are paying less; their advertising budget is now spent on Facebook and other social media. T
  2. wo, Google will penalise your blog for having too many ads (ironic, since they're often Google Adsense ads!).
  3. But the third reason is by far the biggest: ad blockers! Millions of people have installed ad-blocking software, meaning that about half your readers won't even see your carefully placed ads!

As a result, bloggers everywhere are reporting a collapse in earnings from Adsense on blogs.

If Adsense is dead, what do you do instead?

Sell!

Selling direct to your readers is the new way to earn income from a blog. That doesn't mean you have to become a retailer with a garage-load of stock, mailing products out to customers. There are many options that don't require you to handle stock.

Virtual Products

The easiest products to sell are virtual products—an ebook, a game, or an app. If you are going to create your own, the easy way to sell this type of product is to make it downloadable from eJunkie, because it takes care of the whole process of downloading and payment. For ebooks, Smashwords or Booktango are good options—don't limit yourself to Amazon.

Short ebooks offering further advice related to your blog topic can sell well. If you can manage a series, so much the better.

Local Products

If your blog has a local flavour (for instance, a travel guide to your hometown), don't assume you need a vast readership to attract advertisers. Some local businesses will pay a small fee to be reviewed or featured on your blog, even in its early stages.

Services

If your blog is on a topic where you have expertise, you could offer related consultancy services—tarot readings, website design, interior design, etc. Or you could gather a panel of experts and charge them a referral fee for every client you introduce through the blog.

Arts and Crafts

If you're good with your hands, you can sell products you make yourself. Artworks, pottery, clothing—handmade items are in demand. You don't have to make a lot of stock. Provided you have enticing images on your blog, customers will be willing to wait for you to make goods to order.

Drop Shipping

Drop shipping means that you behave like a retailer—advertising products for sale, accepting payment and dealing with the customer—but you don't hold stock. Instead, you send the order details to the wholesaler, who sends the product directly to the customer. Commissions are high, but of course there is a lot more work and responsibility involved and life can get complicated (e.g. when a customer wants to make a return).

There are networks for drop shipping, but most of them charge fees to join. Do your research first. Another option is to approach a merchant direct. For instance, on my pointe shoe blog, I did a deal with a dance physiotherapist whereby I earned a 30% commission drop-shipping her books.

Advertising and Affiliate Networks

As I've already said, Adsense and affiliate banners don't make much money these days. In the long run, you will get a much better return by selling ad space direct to merchants. However, if your blog is new, you'll have to wait until you have evidence of good readership before merchants will even look at you - so in the meantime, the networks are better than nothing!

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Tailored Ads, Not Banners

Many new bloggers make a fundamental mistake: they put ads in their sidebars, and a banner or two at the top and bottom of their blog, and think that's enough. It isn't. Readers come to your blog to read the content. If they're on a mobile, they may not ever see your sidebar! You need to use affiliate or advertising links within your blog posts or on dedicated "shopping" pages, if you want to make real income.

Tip: Never put an ad banner above the text on your blog. Google will hate it.

Ads in a Blog Post

This used to be the best method of selling affiliate products, but there's increasing evidence Google doesn't like them. If you can find a product which is directly relevant to the subject and which they're likely to want to buy after reading your post - do it. Otherwise, don't.

Google wants authoritative blogs that provide solid information, and advertising within posts may be one signal they use to decide, is this person being genuinely helpful or are they just trying to sell something? Because of that, I'm much more cautious about selling products within posts now, and am more likely to make separate shopping pages.

Ads on a Shopping Page

You may have noticed that although Google doesn't like blogs that have too much advertising, it has no problem with shops! Capitalise on that by creating dedicated shopping pages. Here you can showcase multiple products on each page, perhaps providing brief explanations of which product is best for which type of customer or which application.

My own blogs follow this pattern. I am always astonished that people will keep coming back to my blog to buy something when they could just as easily go straight to Amazon or eBay. The key is that they find my "shop" easier to navigate, because they don't have to wade through lots of irrelevant products.

For instance, say they're looking for a belly dance costume. If they search on Amazon or eBay, the search results will be full of silly Halloween costumes, cheap hip scarves, saucy lingerie, tablets to remove belly fat—and somewhere in there, maybe, a few belly dance costumes. Whereas when they come to my shopping pages, I've already found them and they're displayed for them to choose from.

A banner from the Affiliate Summit.

A banner from the Affiliate Summit.

Where to Find Products

There are many stores which offer affiliate programs. Amazon and eBay are perhaps the most famous—but you will usually get much higher commissions from specialist retailers. A good start is to Google "affiliate [your blog topic]".

Often, when you sign up as a merchant affiliate, you'll notice you're not signing up directly with the merchant—you're signing up with an affiliate network. These companies are in the business of managing affiliate programs for a large number of suppliers. The problem is that you'll have to reach a minimum threshold to get a payout, often $50 to $100.

That's why I recommend using a service like Skimlinks instead.

If the choice of affiliate networks is bewildering, and you're not comfortable with coding, there is one easy option: Skimlinks. With Skimlinks, you get instant access to all the big affiliate networks and thousands of merchants, instead of having to apply to each one individually for approval. You can read more about how that works in this article.

Skimlinks is a free service, so it costs nothing to give it a test drive. You can sign up here.

Monetizing a Blog Is Hard But Rewarding

Monetizing your blog or website is hard work today. It's no longer a case of sticking a few ads in the sidebar and forgetting about them. It's a big learning curve, but there are rewards, too. Good luck!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2010 Kate Swanson

Comments

kelvin on June 03, 2019:

Hello

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Fin from Barstow on August 19, 2018:

Will keep this stuff in mind. Some good tips....

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on June 26, 2017:

I'm glad I came to this page. I got new information I can use as I move on from Adsense.

JourneyHolm on February 22, 2017:

Your "How To" blogs about blogging are very informative. I've only just begun hubpages, but like it as an avenue for growth and potential earnings. Thanks for the information. Keep up the good work!

Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on December 23, 2016:

I would strongly, strongly, strongly suggest NOT to start multiple blogs. Even three is too much. Work out what your specialist subject is and focus on ONE blog. If you're not sure which subject to pick, try out your ideas by writing Hubs on HubPages, not by starting blogs, because you'll need to maintain them all for at least a year before you can know which one works.

Rafini from Somewhere I can't get away from on December 23, 2016:

Marisa, thank you so much for sharing your expertise. After reading through the comments I've decided I need to start all over with my blogs. I was planning on multiple blogs (3 right now, but was planning on an increase to as many subjects as I could think of) but now realize that was a bad idea, especially when I can see how some of them would have been related.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on November 17, 2016:

By clinking on