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Blog Monetization: How To Earn Enough Money To Maintain Your Blog

Blog Monetization: How To Make Money Blogging

I was recently asked:

How can I earn enough money to maintain my blog or earn enough so it maintains itself?

To answer this question, I didn’t want to just list a set of tactics, although I have included them – there’s more to think about here.

We’re also going to look at scaling your blog on a budget, controlling your costs and a number of other things.

Before we get started, there are two extremely important things to point out.

Success in this area requires that you treat your blog like a business because you’re looking to grow your revenue – it’s difficult for that to happen when you think of as more of a hobby type thing, although it’s definitely possible.

The second thing is – Don’t expect this to happen overnight because this requires patience.

Are you in the right niche?

Choose the perfect niche

It’s an important question to ask.

When deciding on which niche to blog about you need to think about how easy it is going to be to make money (some are more difficult than others) and also how passionate are you about that topic.

You need to take both factors into account.

If you want to go into this in a bit more detail, check out my post on choosing the perfect niche for your blog.

Do you value your time?

Value your time

Earning enough money from your blog so that it can maintain itself or just so you can cover costs is about more than using a set of blog monetization tactics, although you definitely need them.

I’ll be talking about blog monetization tactics further on in the post but this is important.

If we don’t value our time, productivity is usually one of the main things to suffer.

That’s one thing that I noticed; as soon as I put a value on my time I noticed an instant change in my productivity.

This quote probably says it best:

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” – M. Scott Peck

Determining how much your time is worth isn’t always easy but it helps to think of it in terms of value rather than a specific figure that you could earn.

Are you controlling your costs?

Control your costs

When you’re trying to make sure that a blog pays for itself, cost control is incredibly important.

Your blog can’t pay for itself if you’re spending all of the money.

There are a crazy amount of tools on the market, whether that is general blogging tools or content marketing tools. It can get expensive.

You need to be asking yourself:

  • Do I need this?
  • What value will this give me?
  • Will it save time/money?

It ties in well with valuing your time too.

With all these tools on the market it’s easy to think that lower end products/services may save us money.

That’s not always the case though.

For one, you generally get what you pay for and as the saying goes; pay peanuts and get monkeys.

Although there are some exceptions to this rule.

A great example of how this works is web hosting.

Let’s say you choose to host with a budget web host that costs you $5/month and you use WordPress.

And when things go wrong or you have questions for their support – the problem is pushed back on you and general questions are typically left unanswered.

Let’s say you put a value on your time of $25/hour and with all the chasing issues and finding answers to questions your host can’t answer for you take up 3 hours every month.

Every month $75 worth of your time is wasted and $5 hosting brings the total to $80/month.

Ok, $80/month isn’t leaving your bank account but all that chasing can add stress into the mix too, especially if you aren’t technically savvy.

That’s why going for a premium hosting service which offers better service and costs around $20-$30/month can often work out better in the long run.

What tasks can you outsource?

Outsourcing For Bloggers

Sometimes it’s more cost effective to outsource the tasks that take you longer to do or you don’t have the expertise to do.

Although, you will need to ensure that your blog is actually able to cover the costs unless you have another source of funds.

Typical things to outsource:

  • Blog editing
  • Blog post writing
  • Audio editing
  • Video editing
  • Graphic design
  • Web design
  • Web development
  • WordPress setups and tweaks

Here are some outsourcing sites to try:

A new site that could help you out

One of the new projects that I’m working on is a job site just for bloggers and freelancers.

There are bloggers all over the world with incredible skillsets that brands and even other bloggers are in dire need of.

My aim is to connect the people who need help with the right people that can provide just what they need. The site will launch the site with a pool of talented people that are manually approved based on great work ethic and deliver great results.

This includes everything from writing blog posts and copy to hiring someone to help out by setting up WordPress for you or managing your social media.

If you’re a talented person and want to get involved, drop an email to jobs[at]bloggingwizard.com.

If you want to get a heads up on when the site launches, visit the website to register your interest.

What if you want your blog to run completely on autopilot?

I don’t mean auto blogging (that sucks), what I mean is having someone that can ensure your blog continues to tick over even if you’re working on another project.

In those situations you are best looking into getting a freelance editor, part time or full time depending on what stage your blog is at.

That doesn’t mean that you should just leave your blog entirely, you built your blog and it’s only right that you maintain a presence there. Your followers would probably appreciate that.

This means you’ll have more time for other projects or more time developing other aspects of your blog, for example – optimizing the user experience, building traffic and ramping up how much money your blog is earning.

You can use some of the outsourcing sites that I’ve mentioned above, but ultimately sometimes the best editors turn out to be bloggers or copywriters.

Running a successful blog is about more than just ensuring each post is grammatically correct.

Well, it helps, but there’s more to it and usually other bloggers and copywriters understand that.

What about scaling your blog?

Scale Your Blog

There is a strong correlation between how much money your blog earns and how much traffic you get.

But correlation doesn’t equal causation and as Neil Patel rightly puts it: “traffic doesn’t necessarily equate to more revenue, unless you have a loyal blog audience”.

Building a blog audience is a big part of this but there are also some other factors.

You need the right monetization tactics in place that will allow you to generate revenue (more on these later in the post) and you also need to make sure your blog converts!

Don’t let anyone tell you that the primary goal of any website or blog should be traffic. It’s still important but there’s a few things you need to look at first.

Your key goals should be to build your audience and convert traffic. That could mean converting them into buyers, leads, subscribers or something else. And you need to put measures in place to ensure visitors come back.

When you have everything in place, then it’s time to work on your traffic.

There’s also a strong correlation between the number of posts you publish and how much traffic you receive.

Although, it is worth noting that typically longer and more detailed posts can often result in even more traffic.

So the question is how can we get more high quality content for our blog without substantially increasing our outgoings? After all, we’re looking to make sure the blog earns enough to cover its own costs and generate some profit if all goes well.

The answer is reverse guest blogging.

The idea is that instead of approaching people and asking if you can contribute on their blog, you ask them to contribute to your blog.

The benefits of reverse guest blogging (when done right):

  • High quality content
  • The content is free
  • You can personally vet each writer
  • You can reach out to influential writers that will help to boost your own readership

Now the question is, how do we do this?

There are a few ways this can be done, usually it’s going to involve some manual leg work no matter which way you do it. This is one way that can work very well:

  1. Identify the influential blogs within your niche that accept guest contributors
  2. Type the blog URL into BuzzSumo (free tool) and identify the most popular blog content
  3. Check out each of the posts and make a note of the post URL, author name and their website along with anything else relevant (see below to grab my reverse guest blogging tracker template)
    1. Check the quality of any post before adding the author to your list (just a precaution, but if you choose the right sites initially then this shouldn’t be much of an issue)
    2. Contact the blogger and see if they are open to contributing to your blog

I find that focusing on those that have the most successful posts is a great way to increase the likelihood that the bloggers you approach will also have some degree of influence.

When you do contact these bloggers, it’s worth mentioning any potential benefits of writing for you but if your blog is quite new and you don’t have much of a following you may want to leave out specific figures.

Once you start to get responses you will need to ensure you have processes in place to streamline how you manage contributors.

An alternative approach

Alternative approach would be to use software like Authority Spy to pick out the most influential people, although chances are you will get a better conversion rate if you approach bloggers that you can already see contributing to influential blogs in your niche.

Keeping organised

Organisation is important, without it productivity falls and motivation follows.

I’m usually on the receiving end of requests from bloggers and brands who want me to write for them.

There are a number of big problems that people often make and it’s usually because of lack of organisation.

If you get into a mess then chances are the people who you contact won’t want to write for you.

Here are a few examples:

  • Other members of your team contacting the same person
  • Contacting the same person multiple times
  • Contact the same person through their company website after they have agreed to contribute

To help keep you organised I have put together a straight forward template (reverse guest blogging tracker) that you can use.

In order to access the template just click one of the share buttons below:

Note: in order to use the template you will need to go to ‘FILE’ and ‘MAKE A COPY’ in order to save it to your Google Docs account.

What if you need more?

If you work as part of a larger team a spreadsheet in Google Docs may not be quite enough.

In these situations purpose built software may be a more viable solution. For that I’d suggest looking at BuzzStream (affil) or Inkybee.

Blog monetization tactics

Blog Monetization Tactics

This post wouldn’t be complete without including any ideas on how to actually monetize your blog.

Before you use any of these tactics you need to consider whether they work with or against your blogging goals.

For example, if you want to earn money from ad networks like Adsense and build your mailing list, you need to remember that more distractions can often cause lower conversions.

The average lifetime value of a mailing list subscriber is higher than a few $ or even a few cents that you may earn when someone clicks on an ad and leaves your website – a lot higher.

It’s worth thinking about.

Sell services

It doesn’t have to be anything complex like developing some sort of software.

As a blogger you have skills and you can get paid to use those skills.

If you’re a subject matter expert, it’s worth considering consulting or offering training too.

You will need a dedicated page to list your services at the very least, but you’ll get better conversion rates if you have a dedicated landing page for each of your services.

This guide on landing page optimization from Quicksprout will be a good read if you want to do this yourself.

Sell direct ads

Selling ads directly from your blog can be a great way to increase your revenue.

If you’re a WordPress user then there are plenty of advertising plugins to help you automate the process to some extent.

That would rely on your blog or you to get ad sales but you would get 100% of your revenue, or you could use a solution like BuySellAds.com – your site would get listed and put in front of potential advertisers, but it does mean giving up a % of your ad revenue.

Display CPC ads

I’m not a fan of CPC ads but it needs to be mentioned.

With CPC ads you will earn money each time someone clicks on one of the ads.

Typically, to make this worthwhile you will need a significant amount of traffic. The % pay out will depend on how much advertisers are bidding for the ads that are displayed on your site.

In the good old days, plenty of bloggers made serious cash with Google Adsense by working in niches that advertisers were bidding extremely high amounts. It was a great way to make money.

The downside now is that it’s difficult to serve targeted ads thanks to things like remarketing.

The other downside is that visitors will be leaving your site for just a few cents in some cases – not very worthwhile if your blog is new and chances are that it’s not worthwhile even when your blog is established.

If you want to give it a shot, here are a few ad networks to try:

Sell your own products

One of the big things that I’ve picked up from Shane Melaugh in a group interview that I published last year was that the real difference to his success came when he started releasing his own products.

If you can create your own themes, plugins or software then you definitely have a big advantage but it’s not the only way.

Creating an eBook or a training course out of what you know can be just as successful.

Getting started with selling your own products is extremely easy thanks to the technology available.

Here are a few tools to get you started:

Sponsored posts

A lot of brands are looking for exposure and some are willing to pay for it.

Selling sponsored posts can be a good way to generate some additional revenue.

It’s important to ensure that you label any posts as ‘sponsored’ and it’s worth adding the nofollow tag to highlight to search engines that it’s a paid link.

This does mean waiting for marketers/brands to approach you, but you could try using sites like PayPerPost that pay bloggers to review products etc.

Another option would be to check out Triberr influencer marketing campaigns. The idea is that brands will give you a particular set of criteria to hit. This could be a blog post mentioning a product, sharing something and emailing something to your list. You’ll then get a nice pay out once you complete all the requirements.

Paid newsletter with exclusive content

This is another option that you could try, although it’s not as popular as it used to be.

Having said that, despite how much free content there is on the web, some of the best content is kept locked away from public consumption.

One great example is LinkMoses – a private newsletter that discusses link building strategies and alerts to link opportunities from the godfather of link building; Eric Ward.

Create a paid membership site

Membership sites are a great way to generate recurring revenue.

You could offer exclusive content, a paid forum or both.

These typically work best when you continue to add value and give your members a reason to stay with you.

Thanks to the likes of WordPress, there are plenty of solutions available to help you get started. I’ve included some membership plugins in this post for you.

Promote affiliate programs

Affiliate marketing is probably one of the most popular ways to earn money from your blog.

When you sign up for an affiliate program you will get your own special referral link, when someone clicks on the link and makes a purchase you will get a commission.

The best way to do this is to promote products you’ve used, that way you can write detailed reviews.

You may want to promote affiliate programs to your list, but your subscribers will appreciate it if you don’t turn your list into a ‘every single one of my emails is promoting a product’ type list.

It’s worth noting that certain niches will have affiliate programs with very low commission percentages whereas others will be a lot higher.

Plenty of products will have their own affiliate program where you can sign up directly and others will use an affiliate network.

If you’re struggling to find products, try taking a look at these affiliate networks (just be careful about what you promote):

Promote CPA programs

CPA stands for ‘Cost Per Action’ – it’s similar to affiliate marketing because it involves the use of a referral link but it relies on people performing a certain action for you to get a pay-out.

The ‘action’ required can vary. Some may be email submits, others may be software downloads or product purchases.

Some programs will offer you as little as a few cents, whereas others can be in excess of $30.

Typically the higher the pay-out, the less likely someone would be to complete an action.

Getting signed up for a CPA network is usually more of a challenge than getting approved for any old affiliate program.

In fact, to get signed up for a few listed below I had to have telephone interviews and send over various pieces of information. That was a while back, not sure if that’s changed.

Over to you

Making money from your blog isn’t always the easiest thing in the world but if you are doing something you love and you’re in the right niche, if you try hard enough you can make it work.

Do you have any tips to add to the list or any experiences you’d like to share?

I’d love to hear more in the comments below!

About Adam Connell

Adam is the founder of Blogging Wizard. Previously managed a marketing agency. Adam now helps others to become more successful online. Get more from Adam on Google+.

Want more actionable advice to grow your blog? Sign up and get free access to my exclusive blogging toolkit.
  • David Schuller

    Hi Adam
    Great article.I have had my blog a little over a year now. I have had ad sense, Amazon, several affiliate programs. Its been a little frustrating. In the past year I have managed to earn $3.60.
    The blog was already set up through a server company. I have even been wondered if somehow all my links could be directed somewhere else. But I don’t even know how to find that out.
    Anyhow, great article and appreciate all the good stuff you share
    David

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Hi David, glad you’ve found the article useful – I hope it makes a big difference to you.

      As for your blog and the links, I couldn’t say for sure without knowing more about your hosting setup.

      With my blog I use Media Temple to host the blog and then use Namecheap to register my domain.

      That means if something happens to my blog then I will retain my domain without issues and then I also backup by blog so I can use BackupBuddy to restore my blog within 5 minutes on a new host – change DNS and it’s safe.

      What sort of setup are you using?

      Thanks,
      Adam

  • http://sksmith.wordpress.com Sherman Smith

    Wow Adam, you have over done yourself on this! This is the first time I’ve been on your blog and I am quite impressed with the information that you shared. This is definitely a great resource to keep coming back to in the near future. I’ve used some of the suggestions here like Google Adsense which isn’t quite making as much money, but am looking for other ways to monetize my blog! Thanks for all the suggestions here!

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Hey Sherman, thanks for the kind words and checking out the post.

      I’m with you on Google Adsense – it’s a shame because it used to be a great money maker.

      Hope you find them useful.

  • abdul

    That is one big giant resource and also very helpful as well.I have started a blog that is focused on affiliate marketing.i am struggling with the influential approach as it gives a huge boost in traffic and get you links back to your blog.if you can help me on this.

  • http://lorrainemariereguly.wordpress.com/ Lorraine Marie Reguly

    This is a super resource, Adam! :)

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Thanks, Lorraine :)

      • http://lorrainemariereguly.wordpress.com/ Lorraine Marie Reguly

        Adam, I know I asked you this before, but I can’t recall your answer. What social sharing plugin are you using? I’m not entirely happy with the one I chose, and I am thinking of changing it.

        • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

          Hi Lorraine,

          I’m using Shareaholic, you can find it here: http://wordpress.org/plugins/shareaholic/

          I’ve also setup this page that lists most of the plugins that I use: http://www.bloggingwizard.com/resources/

          I’m really liking the Shareaholic plugin so much that I’ve been switching some of my other sites to it.

          They give great support too – I usually drop them questions via Twitter and so far they’ve been very helpful :)

          Thanks,
          Adam

          • http://lorrainemariereguly.wordpress.com/ Lorraine Marie Reguly

            Thanks, Adam. Now can you tell me how to find the code to add to my website’s files? I cannot find it!

          • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

            Hi Lorraine,

            Just checked your site (Wordingwell.com) and looks like you got Shareaholic up and running.

            It looks great!

            Did you still need some help?

          • http://lorrainemariereguly.wordpress.com/ Lorraine Marie Reguly

            It took a while to figure everything out but I was finally successful in customizing it. So, no, I’m good now. Thanks for being so helpful, Adam. Off to share some of your posts to show my gratitude. ;)

          • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

            Glad you got it all sorted, Lorraine and it’s no problem at all – happy to help.

            Thanks for sharing my posts, I really appreciate it!

  • http://www.productivesuperdad.com/ Timo Kiander

    Thanks for the great article!

    And Adam … you are welcome to guest post on my blog anytime :)

    Cheers,
    Timo

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Timo, thanks so much for the comment.

      Sorry it took me so long to get back to you – for some reason my original comment didn’t come through.

      Thanks so much for the invite to contribute – I’ll definitely take you up on that and in the mean time if you have any particular topic you’d like me to cover, feel free to drop me an email :)

      All the best,
      Adam

      • http://www.productivesuperdad.com/ Timo Kiander

        Sure thing Adam!

  • Jaime Pfeffer

    Another superb article, Adam! I am so grateful to have found your site!! I would love to have you guest post on my site! I recently started something called Awesome Women Doing Awesome Things and now Awesome Men Doing Awesome Things; I’d love for you to be my first Awesome Man!

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Hi Jaime, I’m really glad to hear that you enjoyed the post :)

      Thanks for the invite to guest post on your site! Would love to hear more, you can reach me at: adam[at]bloggingwizard.com.