Blogging is big money, and the industry is only set to grow. Standing out online, building traffic, and eventually monetizing that traffic are all labor-intensive processes, but the payoff can be huge.
Mastering how to monetize a blog takes some trial and error, but it’s a great way to start working for yourself, providing real value to consumers, and turning your passions into a paycheck.
How to Monetize a Blog in 3 Steps
1. Explore and Choose a Niche
2. Build an Engaged Audience
3. Learn How to Monetize a Blog Without Alienating Your Audience
From ad revenue to coaching and consulting online, we’ve got the ultimate resource for anyone looking to make money blogging.
1.Explore what’s out there and choose a niche
Novelist Kurt Vonnegut gave the advice: ‘Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.’
While blogging is a very different process to writing fiction, the heart of this quote absolutely applies. Trying to appeal to everyone often leads to unfocused, cookie-cutter content. Instead, by honing in on a specific audience, you can create powerful, meaningful connections.
Community forums like Reddit and 4Chan can be a great place to start exploring niches, and get a sense of the discussion going on in your area of interest. Keyword research with a tool like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Google Keyword planner helps you to establish what people are searching for.
Explore groups related to your niche on social, but don’t jump right into posting your content in these spaces. Many groups are excited to build up a discussion but will remove users that are obviously only taking part for self-promotion. Instead, it’s important to be an active, engaged user in these arenas. Ask questions and get to know the arena.
Most important: read exhaustively. Dig into the space and what already exists, and map out the areas that you think are lacking. That’s where you have the chance to shine.
2. Build up an engaged audience that comes back again and again
From the very beginning, think about the kind of audience you need to establish for consistent repeat readership. Remember: you will struggle to monetize a blog that connects with users once and never interacts with them again.
Think about how you will stand out and build up a readership passionate about your work.
A lot of that will come from creating content that you personally are excited to make and are knowledgeable about, as well as consistently providing value to your readers. If you haven’t already, start sketching out a web of interconnecting content. For instance, FounderU is a blog for business and ecommerce, and we follow many other great business blogs.
This is helpful in two ways- first, you won’t try to cover too broad a range of information in each individual post if you know you’ll be digging into a similar topic later. Second, you can link back and forth throughout your content, helping readers to dive deep into the topics that they find especially interesting.
Once you’ve built up a base of strong content, you can open up discussion with your audience to tailor your content more closely to their needs.
Consider using social media to connect directly with readers, request feedback, and see what topics rise naturally to the surface.
As you learn how to monetize a blog, meaningful connections with your audience can be an incredibly helpful source of guidance.
3. Learn How to Monetize a Blog Without Alienating Your Audience
While consumers online generally understand the desire to make money blogging and are willing to put up with a certain amount of messaging in that vein, you need to be tactful.
Constant calls to “buy now” and invasive popups are an incredibly effective way of driving away traffic and generally hurt your authority in the eyes of readers. If you want to know how to monetize a blog effectively, these practices are your best bet.
Ad revenue can be a great way to make money blogging early on, but in relation to your overall growth plan, it can be hit or miss.
Think about it this way: ads are often irritating to your readers and are built to convince them to click away from your site to interact with another brand. In the long-term, they may or may not be an efficient method to make money blogging.
As you learn how to monetize a blog, though, ad revenue can be a good start and an opportunity to begin building your business.
In a nutshell, be careful with how much you rely on advertising revenue overall, but feel free to experiment and use it to supplement your income.
Done right, affiliate sales can be a non-invasive way to monetize a blog. Essentially, becoming an affiliate for a company involves promoting their products using a unique “affiliate link”. You get paid a commission for every customer that buys a product using your specific link.
Affiliate marketing requires tact- remember that your authority in your area is the most precious resource you have. Only recommend products that you have tried yourself and are confident your audience will also find valuable.
Avoid cramming your affiliate links into everything you write. Instead, be focused and targeted with your approach. Choose a few products, and feature them in product reviews and comparisons.
Above all, be transparent. It’s not worth compromising your credibility in the eyes of your audience to make a quick buck.
Selling a Product
While it generally takes more work on your end than advertising or affiliate marketing, selling a product can be hugely rewarding and (with the right approach) often brings in more revenue over time.
Ideally, you’ll be building an audience for your product from the very beginning of your blog. If you’re already running a blog, you can take steps to gradually tailor it toward your product.
Research keywords relating to your product and write long-form content optimized around those phrases. When you’re just getting started, it’s generally easier to chase longer-tail phrases with lower search volumes- i.e. “hand-printed t-shirts for sale” will have less competition than “t-shirts”.
How do you choose a product in the first place? Start by checking out our enormous list of 105 side business ideas. Spend some time figuring out the best product for you- think about the up-front costs to you, how you will deliver the product, and what kind of margins you need to make for your business to be successful.
Remember that digital products like ebooks and videos can be big sellers if they are marketed right.
Coaching and Consulting
Depending on the niche you choose for your blog (as well as your own particular skill-set), there are a lot of different ways that this can look.
If you blog on business topics, offering your services as a business consultant can be a great way to capitalize on your knowledge. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to focus on business topics to monetize a blog.
Fitness bloggers can supplement their existing content with one-on-one coaching, while creative writers can offer editing services. The essential difference here is that rather than selling a specific product like an ebook, you are selling services.
Pro Tip: Integrate your monetization plan gradually
Don’t rush into your plan. Instead, think methodically about how to craft your blog into a source of income without alienating your existing audience.
If you choose to sell a product, it’s worth building hype and moving towards a set release date. Affiliate sales, on the other hand, can be a great way to start out selling online because they are so easy to gradually blend into your content.
You will likely end up using a combination of these methods, i.e. offering one-on-one coaching, selling workout plans, and making affiliate sales for your favorite brands.
Regardless, you need to build up a readership and an email list before you can expect much in the way of income.
Consider creating an ebook or other helpful material to use as a lead magnet. “Upcycling” content, or reusing your existing content to create new resources can be a great way to go- just make sure the new product is unique enough to satisfy readers that have some experience with your work already.
In the end, it takes a lot of time, effort, and trial-and-error learning how to monetize a blog. You may end up starting from scratch more than once in your journey. That’s okay. Focus in, create the best content you absolutely can, and build a community you can be proud of in your niche.