Some of my favorite articles and blog posts to read on my own time are those about the “business” of blogging. I love when people are candid with tips and techniques that worked for them– no matter what stage you’re at, it’s incredibly helpful to learn from those who are successful! I thought I would share some of the things that I wish I had known before I got started. Today’s post focuses on how to start making money blogging.
You’ve probably seen bloggers’ income reports floating around, and if you’re like me, then you’ve probably clicked through out of curiosity. Many of these high-profile bloggers make tens of thousands of dollars a month! While it’s definitely inspiring, it can also be intimidating for a beginner.
Blogging is first and foremost a passion, but there is definitely potential to make an income with your blog. However, you’re not going to go from zero dollars to ten thousand dollars right away. The experienced bloggers have lots of amazing tips to offer, though they might not be realistic or practical for someone who’s just getting started and doesn’t have a million views a month.
I wanted to share techniques for monetizing your blog, from the perspective of someone who was also a “beginning blogger” not too long ago. I started my blog just over a year and a half ago, but I now earn enough to call this a full time income…actually I earn double my salary from my previous career! (UPDATED 7/2016)
1. Set yourself up to make money
If you’re still on a free hosting platform (example: WordPress .com) then it’s time to make the switch to self-hosting! Many free blog services have restrictions on monetization, so if you’re serious about blogging as a business, you’ll need to move over to your own domain name and pick a host.
I use BlueHost — so far their support has been amazing! (I have had a few instances where I was super grateful for this, like when I crashed my website.) Their starter plans are VERY affordable (if you sign up through my link you’ll get exclusive pricing as low as $2.95 a month AND a free domain name)!
Bluehost also has reasonable upgrade options for an easy transition when your traffic increases. Click here for more info about their plans and to get started.
2. Join Affiliate or Referral Programs
When you “go pro” as a blogger, you’ll get plenty of offers to become an affiliate for various companies — some big, some small. Be selective! You don’t want the entire focus of your blog to be pushing readers to buy products that you don’t even use, and keep in mind that your audience is looking for helpful tips, not sales pitches. However, you CAN share things that you use and love, and maybe even make some money doing it!
I joined Amazon Affiliates because you can find almost anything on Amazon, so it’s easy to find links for the super-cool stuff you want to tell the world about. Plus, you can get bounties (flat fees) when readers sign up for services like Amazon Prime. Amazon is a large and reputable company, so your audience will likely already be familiar with them and feel safe purchasing through them.
I also LOVE to refer people to the Ibotta Rebate App! I personally use it every time I go to the grocery store to get additional savings on lots of items that I buy (and don’t always have coupons for, like fruits and veggies). Since it’s something that’s been really helpful to me in my daily life, it’s easy to be enthusiastic when telling others about it.
3. Get Paid to Post to your Social Media
Sign up for a service like IZEA (formerly known as Sponsored Tweets), which connects you with brands who will pay you to post to social media for them. This was one of the easiest ways I found to make money right away! Since it’s based on your social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) it doesn’t matter what your blog traffic is (though you can get sponsored post opportunities this way too.) So, if you have a Twitter account with tons of followers, but are still working on getting more people to your actual website, you can still start making money with your social media.
4. Ad programs
Just about any website or blog you visit these days has ads. As a viewer, they can be annoying, but we’re all used to them by now so your guests will generally expect and accept them. One of the most popular platforms is Google AdSense, because it is more accessible to smaller bloggers. (Once you get bigger there are other ad networks you can apply for, but they generally have traffic requirements).
One tip: If your traffic hasn’t gotten to the 10,000 page views per month range, I wouldn’t worry about ads yet because you won’t likely make a substantial amount with them. More traffic = more click opportunities, so if you’re not getting a lot of traffic you probably won’t get much revenue. If you’re close to the 10k views mark, you might go ahead and apply for Adsense and get some ads set up on your site so viewers will be used to them — just remember not to be disappointed if you’re not rolling in the dough right away. (But hey, every bit counts!)
5. Reviews, Giveaways, Sponsored Posts
Even if you’re not one of the power bloggers yet, there are still companies and brands of all sizes that are looking to partner with bloggers big and small! Many times they will contact you (make sure it’s easy for them to get in touch with you — your contact page and business email should be prominently displayed!)
At first you might just get offers to review products (as opposed to cash for sponsored posts), but this is still considered income and you can get some really neat stuff this way! As with all paid opportunities, be selective and stick to products that are actually relevant to your audience.
You can also reach out to companies with products you love and see if they would be interested in a working relationship. This is how I set up my very first product review and my very first giveaway. I simply explained how much I loved their product and that I wanted to share it with my readers because it was so helpful to me! The worst that could happen is they will ignore your email, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask! Just remember to be respectful, and don’t get too bummed if you don’t hear back — it’s not personal — they probably get TONS of emails and every brand has a different marketing policy.
One more thing…
(And it’s super important!!)
If you plan to monetize your blog (and you totally CAN!) OR you’ve spent any money to get your blog started (web hosting is just one example), you’re going to need to be filing taxes! Don’t wait until it’s “tax season” to try to figure it all out!
The Unofficial Tax Handbook for Bloggers is an awesome resource for the DIY approach, or just making sure you’re knowledgeable about all the tax terms and requirements for this non-traditional career. It’s written by a two of my favorite bloggers that are each making 5-figures a MONTH, along with one of their husbands (also a blogger) who has a background in finance for a large corporation…so they know their stuff! Click here to check it out and grab your copy!
So there you have it, my top five tips to start making money blogging! It might not be much at first, but it’s a start, and if you keep working and keep creating amazing content to bring in more readers, your income will grow too.
I’m always amazed that I can make ANY money at all doing something I love so much — it seems too good to be true! But then I remember all the hours I spend writing, photographing, creating, networking, and even just thinking about blogging and I know that it IS work — it just happens to be work that I love!
Are you excited yet?! CLICK HERE to read more about the very FIRST step in starting your blog!
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