A reader recently e-mailed me with a question that I get a lot. How does one make money blogging? Here’s the e-mail:
“How do I make money from blogging? And where does my payment come from? Do I have to sell my articles to a magazine? I am confused at how this actually works and where the money comes from.”
Because it wasn’t that long ago that I knew nothing about blogging, let alone making money blogging, I can relate to this question. So in this article, we will take a look in detail at 50 ways bloggers make money. But first, let me try to talk you out of starting a money making blog.
Profitable Blogging is Simple, But Not Easy
I wrote an article last year arguing that attaining financial freedom is simple, but not easy. It’s simple in that all one needs is to earn a reasonable income, live below their means, and intelligently invest the difference. But it ain’t easy. It’s difficult to deny ourselves “stuff” when we have the money or credit to buy it. Profitable blogging is similar.
Fifteen months ago I knew nothing about blogging. Since then I’ve built a reasonably successful blog that will generate about $2,500 in revenue this month. Some months are better, others a little less. I suspect by year end I will have earned $20,000 to $25,000, and I expect next year to be even better–all in my spare time. And the top bloggers make much more. But here’s the catch.
I get up ever morning at 5 am to work on the blog. I write articles on the subway to and from work every day. Most work days I spend my lunch hour writing articles (when I’m not playing speed chess in the park). And here I am on a sunny Saturday afternoon writing this article.
On top of the time commitment, you must be a problem solver. I knew nothing about WordPress, html, php, Adsense, or affiliate products when I started – I had to teach myself. For me, that was part of the fun. I can remember spending literally five hours trying to figure out how to flow text around the right side of an image I had inserted into a post. What’s the best way to market a blog? How should I balance content with ads? How do I get an ad to show up only on certain articles? How can I change the background color of a menu item when it’s selected? And the list goes on.
An article written more than two years ago by Steve Pavlina makes this same point – profitable blogging is simple, but not easy.
If I haven’t scared you away, then keep reading.
Traffic, Traffic, Traffic
One more thing before I get to some concrete ways to generate blogging income. It all hinges on traffic. You can’t make meaningful money blogging with 20 visitors a day. I started earning hundreds of dollars a month when I started getting hundreds of visitors a day. That took me about 6 months. While there are plenty of examples of bloggers who hit instant success on the launch of their blog, for must of us it takes time. It takes time to generate content; it takes time to get noticed by Google; it takes time to build relationships with other bloggers. I almost gave up many times. I’m glad I didn’t.
This article is not about building traffic. There are many ways to generate traffic beyond SEO, but I’ll save that for another article.
50 Ways to Make Money Blogging
Pay Per Click (PPC)
- PPC ads pay out when a reader clicks on the ad. The payouts typically vary based on a number of factors including the type of ad, the value of the keywords that generated the ad, the click through rate (CTR) for the blog, and the age of the blog. Google’s Adsense is the most widely recognized and used PPC program, but there are other options.
- Google’s Adsense program is perhaps the single biggest reason for the explosive growth of blogs. A blogger can insert Adsense code into a post or sidebar and begin earning money immediately.
- Yahoo! Publisher is similar to Google’s Adsense, but not as widely used. The only bloggers I know using Yahoo! Publisher are those that are banned from Google’s Adsense for violating its Terms of Service.
- BidVertiser is another alternative to Adsense. Unlike Adsense which only pays out once a blogger has earned $100 (which took me 5 to 6 months), BidVertiser pays out at $10.
- Clicksor offers several different types of ads, including text banner ads similar to Adsense and inline text ads.
Shopping networks is my designation for affiliate programs that offer you the ability to advertise a wide variety of products on your sites. Most of these programs pay out a percentage of sales generated from your site, although Chitika is a pay per click program.
- Amazon is well known for books, but you can buy just about anything from Amazon. As an affiliate program, it pays bloggers a percentage of sales, beginning at 4% but quickly increasing to 6% and more depending on the number of items sold each month. You can insert text links into posts or banner ads to promote just about anything.
- Chitika offers PPC ads based on the subject of the post or blog in which they appear. Here’s an example of what a Chitika ad would look like in an article about investing:
- WidgetBucks is very similar to Chitika except that its ads tend to take more advantage of images.
- Shopping.com is a PPC program that pays bloggers per click to drive traffic to various merchants.
- Overstock.com pays up to 7% commission on sales generated through your site. Similar to Amazon, you can promote merchandise sold at Overstock on your blog or website.
- Shopzilla is similar to Amazon and Overstock.
- eBay offers two ways to generate income. First, you earn a commission if somebody registers for eBay through a link on your site. Second, you earn 50% of the commission eBay receives when the winner bidder for an item clicked through to eBay from your site. You can insert both text and banner ads to promote products for sale on eBay.
Like Amazon, affiliate offers provide an opportunity to promote products or services on your site. As an affiliate, you typically earn a percentage of the revenue generated or a fixed fee per sale. In addition to the shopping networks listed above, there are affiliate companies you can join that offer dozens if not hundreds of different affiliate programs. The benefit is that you get access to hundreds of products and services through each affiliate that you join. Here are the major players to consider:
- Commission Junction is arguably the best known online advertising company. Through CJ, you can promote everything from credit cards to Apple products to clothing.
- FlexOffers is one of my favorite affiliate programs. It allows you to promote credit cards and provides a wealth of information about each card offer. Payouts are good and the folks at Flex Offers are very helpful. As with every affiliate program I’ve ever used, it’s free to join.
- CommissionSoup is similar to CJ, but it focuses on financial products, which are ideal of personal finance and investing blogs.
- PepperJam gets an A+ for the coolest user interface. It offers a number of great affiliates. For a limited time, it is offering a $10 bonus for those that join PepperJam and $10 for every post those bloggers who have joined the program write about PepperJam. I don’t write paid reviews (and no, I didn’t get $10 from PepperJam to write this), but if you want to write paid posts, PepperJam is a great place to start. And quite apart from this incentive, it offers some very good affiliate programs to promote.
- LinkShare offers a variety of products and services you can promote. I joined LinkShare initially because of the ShareBuilder affiliate program.
- AzoogleAds gets high marks from a lot of super affiliates. Some of the more prominent affiliate programs it offers are Vonage, GE, and Blockbuster.
- ClickBank is just another option with many affiliate programs to promote.
- Never Blue Ads is one I signed up for but have never really used. Like ClickBank, it tends to promote affiliates that are outside of the mainstream. Depending on the content of your blog, though, it may be a great choice.
There are many other companies that publishers can sign up with and gain access to dozens of affiliate programs, but the list above represents some of the more popular programs.
Inline Contextual Ads
You can add code to your blog that will automatically search each article and create text links on keywords to promote products. You then get paid when a user clicks on one of the links. Amazon has a similar tool where your payment is based on a percentage of sales. Apart from Amazon, here are two of the big names with this type of advertising.
- Intellitxt by Vibrant Media “reads web pages and double-underlines words and word-phrases dynamically and in real time. The code is installed by publishers into their sites and does not require any additional code, adware or spyware to be downloaded or uploaded by a user.” One thing to note about Vibrant Media is that your blog or website must receive 500,000 page views a month to qualify. If you site isn’t there yet, check out the next option.
- Kontera does the same thing as Intellitxt, but you don’t need 500,000 page views to qualify.
Text link ads are similar to inline contextual ads, except they often are listed in the sidebar or footer of your site, not within the articles themselves. I should warn you here that Google will penalize your site for text link ads. It’s an odd thing that Google seems to have gone after those selling text link placement and not those buying them. Search on terms like “credit cards” or “payday loans,” and I guarantee you the first page results are websites spending tons of money on text links. While Google seems to have closed its corporate eyes on the buyers, it will hammer some small site trying to earn a few bucks if it detects a paid link. That said, here are some sites to consider if you want to earn money with paid text links.
You can also sell your own text links directly with the websites looking to buy them. Just put contact information on your blog, and eventually you will start getting e-mail inquires. Although I do not sell text links on The Dough Roller, direct sales with the advertiser are the most profitable way to make money with text links because you do not have to split the revenue with a text link broker such as LinkWorth or Text Link Ads.
Pay Per Post
Companies will pay you a per post fee to write reviews about their products or services. This is not something I’ve done, but I know a number of bloggers who have. My only suggestion here is to make clear in the article that it is a paid review.
Ad Networks are companies that offer a variety of advertisers for your site and usually pay on a per impression basis. You may see the designation eCPM, which refers to earnings per 1,000 page impressions, although most networks offer a variety of ways to monetize a site. These networks also typically offer a variety of ad formats. Some of the major players in this space include the following:
As the name suggests, pop-up ads appear on a users screen when they visit your site. The user can either click on the ad or close it to continue to your site. If you want to ad pop-ups to your site, there are several options to consider. As with many advertising options, those listed below offer a variety of ad formats, not just pop-up ads.
Other Ways to Make Money Blogging
- Pheedo enables you to place advertisements in your site’s feed, including a Feedburner feed. Until recently, there were few options to monetize a Feedburner feed, and none was all that terrific. Google has just started permitting publishers to ad Adsense to feeds. Pheedo places banner ads in feeds.
- ScratchBack has a unique way for bloggers to make money. Using their code, you add a widget to your blog that allows others to tip you through paypal, and in exchange, they get a link within the widget on your site. This is not a traditional text link ad, but you are being tipped in exchange for a text link.
Now at this point you are probably feeling cheated because I promised 50 ways to make money blogging, but have only listed 48. Well, the rest is up to you. If you know of another way to generate income from blogging, leave a comment or send me an email. If you are a blogger and I add your idea to the article, I’ll include a link back to your site.