When I started blogging, and told people about it, I heard a lot of, “Yeah, but how do you actually make money with a blog?”
At the time, I will admit, I had no idea. But I knew it was possible, so I kept going.
Even a couple years later when I was featured in a CNBC article on people making 5 figures through their side hustles, my dad called me up, completely befuddled. “You make $10,000 from that blog of yours?” he asked. When I told him it was actually more than that, I’m pretty sure I heard him fall off his chair.
Over the years I’ve heard the same thing over and over. Most people know that bloggers make money, but very few know how.
In truth, bloggers can make money in a number of different ways. That’s one of the things that make it such an amazing side hustle. There’s something for everyone. And you can mix and match, which is where the magic really happens.
They say the average millionaire has a minimum of 7 streams of income. That means their money is coming from at least 7 different sources, so they’re not completely dependent on any single one.
Blogging allows for 5 basic streams of income, and you can even create separate streams within the streams… it’s pretty awesome.
So, let’s dig in to the 5 primary ways bloggers make money.
You probably saw this one coming, right? We’ve all been to blogs that have ads on them, and we’ve all realized that they’re not just putting ads on their blog out of the goodness of their hearts.
While ads might not be the most lucrative income stream, especially at the beginning, it’s a start and it’s passive. That means you don’t have to do anything beyond putting some code on your site, sitting back, and collecting the checks.
There are 3 methods of using ads to earn:
Public Ad Networks like Google AdSense or Media.net are open to just about anyone with a website. They have the lowest payout, but you can get started right away. (This is how I made my first $2.11.)
Private Ad Networks like MediaVine, AdThrive, or Monumetric are available to more established bloggers. They have minimum standards for page views, sessions, etc. before you can apply, but once accepted, they pay much better than public networks. (Before I sold my blog, I was making $500-1,500 a month through ads with MediaVine.)
Direct Ad Sales includes any ads that you sell yourself. For example, a local mom blogger may sell ad space to a local indoor play space for $X and X days. This is the least passive way to run ads, but it can pay off big time.
Sponsored content is using the blog posts you write to promote a specific product or service. For example, a food blogger creates a recipe with a specific ingredient, or a person who writes about car maintenance shares their weekly cleaning routine in which they use a particular product.
In both cases, the blogger would be compensated by the featured product’s company.
When considering sponsored content you can join a program like Tap Influence or Izea to find businesses that are looking to partner with influencers (that’s you!). Or you can reach out to the brands you want to work with directly and pitch them your idea.
Sponsored posts can pay anywhere from $50 to thousands of dollars, depending on your experience and blog reach. Another pay booster could be if you’ve cornered a highly niched market, like Canadian fly fishermen.
Of course, I would be remiss if I failed to mention 3 quick things:
- Always, ALWAYS disclose that a post is sponsored. It’s federal law.
- Limit your sponsored posts to about 20-25% of your content so your blog doesn’t become one giant advertorial.
- The number one rule of blogging still applies to sponsored posts: Value first.
Before you have products or services of your own to sell (and after, too), there’s affiliate marketing. If you’ve ever recommended a product or service to a friend, you understand the basics of affiliate marketing. The difference is that with affiliate marketing, you not only recommend products and services you love and trust, but you also get a commission when someone buys via your referral.
Links to products or services you recommend can be peppered throughout your content, across social media, and in the emails you send your list.
Alternatively, you can create a full-scale marketing campaign for someone else’s product or service, complete with a blog post, email sequence, social media posts, and unique-to-you bonuses that people get if they purchase through your link.
An example of this would be a DIY blogger sharing a how-to blog post with links inside to specific tools or materials she used.
Another would be a homesteading blogger partnering with a cheesemaking blogger to promote each other’s courses. They would coordinate launches, agree to a specific number of blog posts, emails, etc. and share each other’s courses as if they were their own.
As with sponsored posts, you must disclose affiliate links, and follow the number one rule, value first.
Your blog is also a terrific way to sell products of your own, both digital and physical. I won’t go into the full list of things you can sell, but here are the most popular 4 categories:
Digital Products are anything that can be sold, delivered, and used completely on the computer. This category includes things like e-books, printables, and courses.
Direct Sales Products are one of the most popular ways to sell products through a blog. These are products provided by a third-party company, like Mary Kay or Pampered Chef, but credited to you.
White Label Products are items produced in bulk (usually in China) that you can customize with your branding and sell under your own label. This is also sometimes called dropshipping and is typically managed through a third-party site like Amazon.
Print-on Demand Products are products that you design digitally, but they aren’t actually made until someone orders them. It includes branded merchandise, t-shirts, mugs, journals, paperback books, etc. This is managed through a third-party company like Printful and/or Amazon.
You are not required to disclose anything about items you’re selling for yourself, but like all other methods of selling, don’t go overboard promoting your products and remember value first.
Selling Your Services
A service is anything you do for your clients. It could be an in-person service, like a handyman, or online, like a virtual assistant.
Services are quite possibly the easiest way to start making money through your blog because you don’t have to do anything up front. Just include a note with each post that says, “Hey I offer this service. Click here to sign up.”
You can offer services that match your skill set and your personality. For example, some services require a lot of face-to-face interaction (in person or online), while others can be completely on your own with little to no interaction with people.
So if you’re killer with a spreadsheet and a hard-core introvert, you can offer bookkeeping services with quarterly update meetings. If you’re great at organizing, you can serve as an online business manager (OBM) who’s the point person for a business owner’s contractors.
The fact is that there’s essentially no limit to how you can make money as a blogger. Be creative!
Similarly, there’s virtually no limit to how much you could make if you use multiple methods of earning. Of course there needs to be a balance between providing value without making any offers and selling, but it’s completely feasible to use all of these income streams on a single blog.
So next time someone questions why you’d want to start a blog to make money… you’ve got 5 great answers.
In Teacher Blog Academy we go into more depth on each of these income streams in Module 4: Earn. If you want to build a profitable blog in less time, with less frustration, Teacher Blog Academy is opening in just 4 days! Learn more and get on the waitlist at teacherblogacademy.com.