Let me start this by saying that I am by no means an expert on making money via blogging. I am just learning how to turn a profit myself, and like my other resource pages, this one will remain active and live so that I can switch it up as I get better at this!
Affiliate marketing is a simple concept: you become an affiliate for a certain company and offer advertisements and specials for your readers on your website and each time you generate a sale, you earn a commission. This can range from rather small (a couple of cents or pence) to up to a couple of hundred dollars per item depending on the product or products your reader purchases. Affiliate marketing is rather simple in concept and very easy, but I find it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of the companies you are “working” for as many are hosted independently or via several different affiliate marketing sites.
Although I haven’t yet had much success with affiliate marketing, I attribute that to my not having found my niche within the market and that my traffic isn’t huge. Affiliate marketing is most successful when targeted specifically to your readers and when you have a very large readership. If you have hundreds of thousands of hits, most people will simply click through your ads or affiliate links. But if you’re selling for a program that gives you, say $50 per each product sold and 10 people buy it, you’ve made $500.
When affiliate marketing, it can be tempting to just go for every brand that offers you an opportunity, but as a rule of thumb, I only affiliate myself with brands I would actually endorse. As an affiliate, you have the potential to create a relationship with brands or individual sellers, so it is important you believe in the products you are promoting. Sometimes brands will invite you to test out products in person and receive free products through affiliate programs, which is an awesome perk and a way to get more insight into the brand itself and the products you’re helping them sell.
SOME AFFILIATE NETWORKS TO CONSIDER:
Link share is a typical affiliate program that allows you to place products or brands on your site and earn a commission based on your readers purchasing the items. Linkshare is fairly simple to use and works with large brands like ASOS, Nordstrom, The Bath and Body Shop, Benefit Cosmetics, and Saks Fifth Avenue to name a few. With Linkshare, you typically have to apply for each company’s program individually and may be rejected based on traffic, layout, etc. Each company will either offer a flat fee per sale or a percentage commission.
Similar to Linkshare, this affiliate program allows you to partner with companies such as Melia, Shutterfly and ModCloth.com. Share-a-sale operates very similarly to Linkshare and offers you either a flat fee or a percentage of commission.
Similar to the two listed above. It allows you to work with brands like GoDaddy, Belk, ELF Cosmetics, Yahoo, Zappos, etc.
Bluehost offers a flat fee of $65 per sale.
Etsy offers an affiliate program for all of the products on their site, which can be very useful if your blog deals with décor and DIY.
One of the bigger programs, Amazon Associates allows you to earn a commission on all products on the site that you refer customers to. They also offer a flat fee for special programs like Amazon Prime or other specials they have. Your commission is graduated depending on how many sales you make (the more sales you make, they more you will earn).
If you have any passing interest in fashion, you’ve probably used ShopStyle, which allows you to look at a variety of clothing options across several websites by price point and keyword. You can participate in their ShopSense program that allows you to place items of clothing on your site (via a simple, clean looking widget that is rather easy to browse) and earn per reader that clicks on the items. Although it is only a few pennies, with high traffic, you can earn quite a bit.
I admit, I haven’t quite figured this one out yet, but it allows you to market for smaller businesses and brands.
Many in the lifestyle category offer sponsorship options to blogs and small businesses. These are typically offered in a variety of sizes, with the bigger and more expensive ads offering more perks such as guest posting, a featured post, social media mentions, options for giveaways, etc. Sponsored ads help you build community within the blogosphere in addition to introducing your readers to new content/making connections with bloggers for future collaboration (which benefits you both). However, sponsorship, as with most everything in monetization works best for those with high traffic as there is a bigger chance of the advertisee’s ad or post being seen, therefore they are willing to pay at all for an ad on your site and will be willing to pay more depending on your traffic.
You can choose to offer sponsorship privately or through websites like Passionfruit Ads (which charges you a flat monthly fee of $9 a month in order to charge people to place ads on your site) or Buy Sell Ads. These two sites offer simple copy and paste coding so that you can get the ads up and running fairly easily and quickly and so that you don’t have to keep track of how long someone’s ad is supposed to run (it will automatically remove it when their pay period is over). The $9 a month for Passionfruit is very reasonable if you’re selling a large volume of ads, but too much if you’re not selling any.
Sponsored content is when a company, blogger or brand pays you for posting about their website, company or product. In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you MUST disclose that you received either monetary compensation or free items for your sponsored content. Again, with anything else, you only want to endorse items and products you have tried yourself and give honest reviews. If you love everything ever, it becomes exhausting for your readers and they may find it difficult to build trust in your recommendations. You should also only recommend products your readers might be interested in.
Some places to consider for acquiring sponsored posts:
- BlogHer (a women’s only network that you must be approved for—they also allow you to participate in campaigns for your social media networks that pay per social media mention of a particular brand. The brands are typically well-known and those you likely have tried before.)
- Weave Pollinate
- Passionfruit (offering an option on your menu for users to purchase sponsored mentions or posts)
You can also reach out to brands you love to see if they would be interested in sponsoring you (more often than not, it will be a no unless your blog has a huge readership), but when your blog is small to medium sized, smaller businesses may be interested in sponsoring you for a small fee. Be sure to include a policy for business and PR inquiries on your site as businesses may occasionally contact you as well and you can negotiate a price directly whether it be monetary or with free goods.
Ad networks are typically pay-per-click (or PPC). You simply place your ad somewhere on your blog and earn a fraction of cent for every person that views the ad and a few cents per reader who clicks on it. The amount you earn varies on traffic (higher traffic sites are those advertisers will pay more to have their ads seen on and thus a higher pay-per-click ratio).
I have only ever really used Google Adsense, one of the most popular but there are several ad networks you can use to monetize your content. A few ad networks will allow you to choose the types of ads that are displayed (all will let you customize the size) whilst some will simply show readers products and services they have recently been searching for. Some such are:
- BlogHer (for women only and you must be accepted into the program)
- Google Adsense
eBooks and courses are a great way to monetize your blog if you have an expertise in a certain area. For example, the website Pinch of Yum makes a killing with a self-published eBook on food photography. You can also sign up your courses or eBook with affiliate programs (such as the ones listed above) to allow bloggers to advertise your item for a cut of the price. These affiliate programs, however, only really work if you have full access to your course (i.e. it is not hosted on a website like Udemy or Curious.com where you share a percentage of your earnings with the site) or the book can be sold straight from your site (i.e. not participating in Kindle Direct Publishing or any other program that asks for exclusive digital rights of your book). eBooks and courses work well for subjects like design, photography, history, blogging, YouTubing, etc., but work best for courses that offer your readers a skill that can improve their website or work life and in the long run, earn them more money. However, if your site is say, about history, and is very high traffic, an eBook or course on history may be somewhat successful (going with the idea that if your course is $100 and you have 50,000 visitors with 10 users purchasing, you have made give or take $1000).
Building trust is incredibly important with your readers, so it is important to either seamlessly integrate monetized content onto your blog (such as discussing your make-up routine and including affiliate links to some of the make-up products that you are actually using) or to limit the amount of sponsored content. Readers won’t want to navigate to your site if it simply looks like a giant ad and you want them to respect your opinion and recommendations. If someone likes or seems to recommend everything willy-nilly, why would you trust them?
Along the same vein, it is important to recommend products made by brands you trust or have tried before. Sometimes I will include affiliate links to products I have not tried, but they are always ones I would consider purchasing.
Monetizing your blog, like anything else in the blogging world, takes a fair bit of time and you need to build up your readership in order to really see profit coming in. But with hard work and persistence, you will eventually see the fruits of your labor!