At this very moment, if you looked up “How to make money with a blog” in Google, there are 3 reoccurring methods you will read about in the top 10 results:
- Affiliate marketing.
- Selling ad space.
- Selling an ebook.
But are those the only ways you can earn money from your blog..?
There is a ton of ways that you can use your blog to generate income and build your brand. Some methods might be less lucrative than others, but they’ll make you money nonetheless.
We didn’t want to cheapen this post by listing 3, or 5 methods for earning money with a blog.
We really dug deep and tried to come up with just about every method possible for making money through your blog — thus the words “Definitive Guide” in the title.
In no particular order, and without further ado, here is the ultimate guide to building a blog that will make you money.
13 ways to turn your blog into an epic income generating machine
#1 – Choose a profitable niche
This one isn’t strictly a monetization idea per se, but it’s definitely a good idea for more than one reason.
Your blog is the base that you’ll be building your online business upon. So picking a profitable one just makes sense.
What defines a profitable niche, exactly?
Well, that kind of depends on what you plan to do with your blog.
Folks like Tung from Cloud Living have built blogs on low competition keywords so that they can rank high in Google and sell products via affiliate marketing.
Others, like myself, use blogs to promote premium services like web design or copywriting services — both of which are in high demand (i.e. a profitable niche).
A lot of determining what will be profitable or not will depend on your marketing and the keywords you’re targeting, but it’s all a bit relative.
Here are a couple posts to help you get started on the right foot:
- How To Find The Perfect Niche For Your Blog by WP Superstars
- How to Blog: How to Choose a Blog Niche [6 Tips] by ProBlogger
- How To Pick A Profitable Niche & Blog For A Living: 56 Experts Share Their Secrets by Niche Hacks
#2 – Affiliate marketing
This is one of the most popular avenues that many people take under their belt when they want to make money with their blog.
And even though you probably shouldn’t use this as your only monetizing strategy, you likely shouldn’t ignore the option either.
Mainstream blogs like Blogging Wizard, ProBlogger, Pat Flynn’s blog Smart Passive Income, and many more, maximize their earning potential using affiliate links.
Pat Flynn regularly makes $70,000+ a month from his BlueHost affiliate link alone — and that’s not even his main income stream.
While some bloggers like Pat, and Melyssa Griffin lightly season their personal blogs with affiliate links, others like Spencer Haws, Matthew Allen, and Tung Tran spice it up a bit by focusing on specific keywords and building sites that can get organic SEO reach and high affiliate payouts.
All three of those links above are great sites to learn more about affiliate marketing and keyword research as a whole, so if this is a method you’ve considered exploring try perusing those blogs to get some help along the way.
The best way to get started with affiliate marketing
If you’ve never tackled affiliate marketing before, all the information you consume on how to use it to make a profit can leave your head spinning.
Thankfully, getting your toes wet really isn’t too difficult.
One of the best ways to get started is to take a look at all the tools and products you use to run your business:
- Social Media Management Tools
- Emails Tools
- Smartphone apps
- Photo Editing Software
- Host Providers
The list can go on and on.
Make a list of the things you use and products you love, and then check to see if they have an affiliate program.
Sign up for all the ones that have a program and then use those affiliate links on your blog whenever you talk about that product.
Also, ALWAYS be transparent about affiliate links.
If you use a link that will generate commission for you when someone purchases it, then disclose that somewhere readily apparent on your blog.
Not only is it a good practice, but not doing that can get you locked out of certain affiliate programs… yikes!
#3 – Selling a service
Now here’s a fun one you might want to try out.
Selling a service might not be up the alley of passive income that you were hoping for, but you might be surprised at how much you can make and what constitutes as a service.
Freelancers like myself are in the business of selling services.
For example, I offer Content Creation and Email Autoresponder Copy as a service through my blog.
My friend, Gina Horkey, offers Coaching services for new freelance writers.
The list of services to be offered are unending, but I think you catch my drift.
However, these type of services are not the only things you can offer.
You can offer a premium job board as a service on your blog:
Darren Rowse of ProBlogger launched Jobs.Problogger.com where people in need of writers could pay to place an ad in exchange for having writers apply for their position.
Tom Ewer launched a premium freelance job board called Paid To Blog where writers pay to have access to a non-junk job board.
Check out our collection of WordPress Job Board Themes to see just how easy it is to get started.
#4 – Sell your time (consulting, coaching, mentoring)
To go along with the thought of selling a service, another service based option you might want to try is consulting.
If you love teaching and helping others succeed, then consulting and coaching could become one of your favorite money makers. And if you get really good at it, it could be your more lucrative venture yet.
Depending on your personality, what you’re good at, and what you know, what you can offer for coaching or consulting can vary.
My gal pal, Camilla with No More Hamster Wheel, coaches people who want someone to push them towards their full potential — be that in business endeavors of all types, life, or whatever fits the bill.
Linda Formichelli with The Renegade Write mentors a select few who want to become successful writers but aren’t sure how to take things to the next level.
Michael Hyatt offers one-on-one coaching for a hefty sum, but (I expect) he’s worth every penny.
Even if you’re not sure anyone will take you up on it, offering your time to help mentor others or consult can be largely lucrative.
It’s not for everyone, but so many people love it because it feels good to help others achieve their full potential (not to mention the money to be made).
#5 – Sell a physical product
Selling a physical product might sound like a feat, but that really just depends on your niche.
Many in the arts and craft niche sell their own handmade products. But other blogs like Tumbleweed Houses sell physical products in the form of tiny house blueprints, DVDs, and even tiny houses that they will build and ship to your desired location.
Selling a physical product isn’t the best approach for every blog, but if you haven’t considered the option before, then why not take some time to visit the idea? You might be surprised by what you could come up with to sell.
Neville Medhora with the Kopywriting Kourse put together what he called The NevBox — a 3-day copywriting course that gets sent to in the mail along with Swipe Files and a Cheat Sheet.
He sells it for a cool $97. Not bad considering most this stuff was just sitting in a file on his computer.
And Coffee Shop Freelancers sell laptop decals to help freelancers market themselves when they’re working away from home.
And still others like ManageWP and even WordPress sell products like t-shirts, coffee mugs, and iPhone cases. (And yes, I own many WordPress tees… #girlgeek)
Basically, do a bit of brainstorming and see if you can sell a deliverable product that your audience would want. If you think the ROI (return on investment) is there, then jump on the chance and market like crazy!
#6 – Sell a digital product
Nowadays, digital products are where it’s at.
Just about every online entrepreneur is trying their hand and creating and packaging a digital product to sell.
The great thing about creating a digital product is that you can create and sell.
Neville from the Kopywriting Kourse also sells a video course series — aptly named The Kopywriting Kourse.
Steve Scott writes and sells his own e-books on Kindle and makes a killing.
Devesh Sharma with WP Kube sells a theme on Themeforest, MyBlog a responsive blog magazine theme and has a plugin he’ll be launching soon.
The great thing about creating a digital product is that once you’ve created it, it is something you always have and can use to generate a somewhat passive income.
#7 – Sell ad Space
Generally speaking, selling ad space isn’t the most lucrative way to monetize your site. But that can vary on a case to case basis.
Depending on the amount of traffic your site receives or even your specific niche, there is money to be made and it can make you a nice chunk of change.
There are basically two ways to do this:
- Use a third-party service like BuySellAds
- Or sell ad space on your own (aka Private Ad Space)
Using a third-party service is easier since they act as a middle-man, save you time and can connect you with bigger brand names, but it can cost you a portion of the amount you make when you sell ads through them.
Selling ad space on your own can help you keep the full amount you charge, but there tends to be a lot of back and forth and you’ll be the one handling the emails, transactions and ad placement/upkeep.
Selling your own ad space also means that you probably need to spend some time crafting a Media Kit and Price Card that you can send to prospects.
WPBeginner uses BuySellAds for their blog and have had a great experience with them (and they have a nice tutorial on how to get you started in doing the same).
You can even mix it up and do a bit of both. You can even sell ad space on your email newsletter to give your prospects an even better reach — and for you to make a bit more.
So really, the choice is up to you as far as what you want to do.
Selling ads isn’t for everyone and it might not be the best move for your blog depending on what it’s about.
If your goal is conversion — then ix-nay the ad space because ads are a distraction that can take away from your own goals.
But if you have other goals or think that selling ads might be a great area to monetize, then give it a go. You can always say no to an advertiser, but at least your not shutting the door on a way to make money.
#8 – Add a premium membership to your site
This is probably one of the best ways to make some serious moolah.
Premium Memberships means recurring revenue on a monthly or yearly basis and can help you to generate a decent amount of passive income.
There are tons of examples of people and businesses who do this.
Copyblogger offer a free membership in return for access to some pretty awesome (free) e-books. But if you want more epicness and access to their full Authority benefits, then you have to pay $399 per year.
Jon Morrow has a few premium membership sites including GuestBlogging.com where you pay a fee to give you access to a training program that can help you land content on huge networds like Huffington Post, Fast Company and more.
Carol Tice runs a membership site for freelance writers looking to break into their own.
The list can go on and on, but the point is that this monetization method is feasible. It will take time, effort, and dedication for sure, but the payoff has proved worth it for more than one person.
#9 – Accept paid promotional blog posts
Here’s a nice little money maker that you can easily tack onto your blog today:
Paid Promotional or Sponsored Blog Posts.
It’s not anything new, but the idea might be new to you.
If you run a magazine type blog or a review based one, then depending on your niche, there are likely quite a few advertisers who will want get in front of your audience.
Offering sponsored posts at a reasonable flat fee isn’t too hard to set up.
The girls at Gold Dipped Chaos simply added an “Advertise with Us” page on their blog that lets advertisers know that they’re open to working with them.
This keeps the door wide open for promotional posts and other advertising opportunities.
Just make sure that when a post is promotional that you’re clear in stating that. You can place a brief mention somewhere in your post (like the one above by WPKube) to let your audience know that the post is sponsored.
#10 – Accept promotion posts for your blog’s social media channels
You may not have even thought about it, but all those hundreds or perhaps thousands of social media followers could make a nice chunk of change.
Much like promotional blog posts, there are advertisers who could see your social media following as just as valuable to them and you might be able to charge a lot more than you think.
If you have a couple thousand followers in a certain niche on a platform like Instagram, you could easily charge $50 for a post to your account. If an advertiser want to run a contest through that channel, you could could even more like $200.
This is just an example, and pricing is more up to you since there’s no real cut and dry price for this sort of thing.
Not only can you create a page on your site that mentions that you accept these types of promotional posts but you can also sign up for services like SponsoredTweets.com where you can connect your social media accounts and let advertisers come to you or you can bid on projects.
#11 – Start a podcast
Podcasting is all the rage these days. Not only can it be faster and easier to record a podcast than write a 2,000 word article on the same topic, but it can also be a great way to build your brand while making some money.
Granted that amount of money has a lot to do with the popularity of his podcast, but the point is that there is money to be made here.
If you’re someone who is great at talking and get can keep things interesting while doing so, then exploring the idea of launching a podcast could be that next big step for you.
#12 – Start a YouTube channel for your blog
This is an area I’ve personally be want to explore a little bit.
There are quite a few bloggers who have found success use YouTube to make some money and give their business a bit of a boost.
Spencer Forman at 1WD.tv has a YouTube Channel that teaches people how to become a web designer and other useful WordPress tricks. Spencer hasn’t published any new videos in a long time but they still provide a great resource.
There are three main ways you can use YouTube to make you money:
- When you post videos, you can create teasers to your products or talk about products on your videos.
- The second way is by turning on the monetization feature on your video to help earn some extra cash from YouTube Advertising.
- Promote your blog/products by creating an ad that YouTube will advertise.
Plus, the SEO benefits from this can pay off quite a bit too. Overall, this method seems like a great and well-rounded marketing strategy.
Not to mention that you could also sell sponsored parts to your videos that could also make you a bit of cash.
Note: YouTube recently announced that they would be removing ads from ‘none-advertiser friendly’ videos. Learn more about this change here.
#13 – Premium communities
Communities take a few different forms in the online world. However, the one that tends to be the most lucrative is private and premium mastermind groups
These premium communities are often add-ons (which cost a bit extra) to an existing product, but some people offer them as separate product altogether.
John Dumas also does this well by offering a premium mastermind ground through his site called Fire Nation Elite.
Paying for this membership type of community gives you access to John, all his insights, and connects you with others on the same track as you, as well as a whole bunch of other exclusive content.
Chris Ducker takes a slightly different approach to the way he does his mastermind groups.
Chris takes his mastermind groups on the road with him and schedules a 1-day bootcamp for a small group of ten people. (I am soooo envious of those select few *gah!*)
With these type of groups, your experience is worth its weight in gold — pun intended.
Even if you’re not funneling in the cash as a blogger, if you managed to make any type of breakthroughs or success in your online endeavors, then there are likely people who will pay to pick your brain.
If you like this idea but have no idea how to do it, then your best way of learning what makes a great mastermind group is to join one. (I’m a part of one and I’d love to join a couple more to help up my online game.)
Wrapping it up
That’s a lot of ways to make money with your blog, right?
I think your biggest takeaway from this post should be this:
Don’t focus on passive income. Focus on progressive and actionable ways to make money.
Affiliate marketing, selling ad space, and things like that can be great ways to make a somewhat passive amount of money, but your blog shouldn’t take the lazy course.
Be passionate about what you do.
Be passionate about your blog, and don’t rely on only on one method for monetizing it. If you want you blog to make you money then treat it like a business have a plan to make it succeed.
Trust me. Building a consistent income with a blog is a lot of hard work, but the payoff is worth it.