Guest post by Skyler Bird of skylerbird.com
Monetizing your content can be one of the biggest challenges a blogger faces. After all, we all have things that we want to say. Getting those things out there isn’t very challenging; getting people to read them can be. Once you do have traffic coming in, making money from your blog is still daunting for many of us.
There is no definitive way to do it. Only one of the ideas I’m going to outline may work in your situation, or there may be a combination that suits you. By the end of this article, you should leave knowing which of these will work for you. At the least, you’ll have a few ideas to start with!
How To Monetize Your Blog
We’re going to cover four monetization options: sponsors, affiliate links, on-page advertisements, and marketing your own services and/or products. Each one has its own pros and cons, so make sure to do your research before embarking on the monetization method(s) that you choose. Ready? Here we go!
Monetizing Your Blog through Sponsorships
There has never been a better time to advertise to small, niche communities. The costs are lower, the returns are higher, and these communities are growing more every day. Advertisers know this too. Since they can do this for a much lower cost than traditional advertising avenues, many brands would love to be in front of your audience.
If you’re considered an expert in a topic and have a following, then you’ve built rapport with people that companies want to reach.
There are a lot of benefits to monetizing through sponsorships:
- Higher pay than other monetization methods
- Easier to use than ads
- Opportunities to build relationships with lucrative brands
- More predictable income
But, there are a few things I would watch out for:
- Sponsorship can build distrust in your audience (“Is this really them or the brand talking?”)
- Negotiating price can be tricky, especially if you don’t have experience
- Dishonest sponsors can not only hurt your audience but you as well
Be careful choosing a sponsor. You want a brand that your audience would approve of. Even then, some audiences won’t like sponsorship at all. Be transparent and take their feedback into consideration.
Also, don’t do anything for a sponsor without a contract. Usually, the company you’re writing for will provide this, but if they don’t, always have the terms set in writing first.
If you have a brand in mind that you would like to collaborate with, I would contact a representative on LinkedIn or the Facebook page for the brand. I would phrase it like this:
“Hi [first name].
I noticed that you sell [product] and my audience loves things like that. I get around [number] readers per month and would love to write about your [product].
Here’s a link to my blog if you’re curious: [link]
Let me know what you think!
Monetizing Your Blog through Affiliate Links
If sponsors aren’t a good fit for your blog, I would recommend looking at affiliate links. These are less difficult to qualify for: in most cases, you just sign up and they immediately give you a link to share. They’re also harder to notice, so if you have a pickier audience, this could be a good fit for you. (Note that you will need to have a small disclaimer on every page, however. You can do this on a per-post basis, or you could have it in your sidebar, like Jenn does here on Unit 25.)
I find affiliate links to be the cleanest method of advertising. They don’t take up much space or distract from the content. Since most affiliate programs are easily accessible, you can link to most products or services that you want. This allows you to mention things you were going to mention anyway and make money from sales that you cause.
Affiliate links are my preferred method because:
- They don’t cut into your site design
- They’re easy to use
- What you say about the brand is up to you
- Posts can generate income as long as they’re being read, instead of for a set period of time only
There are drawbacks though:
- More astute readers may notice and accuse you of “selling out”
- Some affiliate programs are abusive to your audience
- They can detract from your content if used improperly
Using them in moderation and where relevant should remove those problems. Too many links can be overwhelming to read and out-of-place keywords are obvious. If your audience doesn’t like affiliate links, I would suggest offering a non-affiliate link also.
I personally use Impact Radius and Amazon Affiliates for my affiliate networks. Both are easy to set up and give a lot of freedom for my content. I would advise staying away from abusive link providers like AdFly and LinkShrink. They may pay you more, but the experience for your audience is not worth it.
Monetizing Your Blog through On-Page Advertisements
If adding more moving parts to your posts isn’t worth the effort to you, I would suggest on-page advertisements. With a plugin or quick code dropped into your blog, you can monetize all your posts with ads. This way, you’re not worried about contracts or slipping affiliate links into your posts. The ads are always there!
Bloggers that don’t like sponsorships or affiliate links often prefer ads because they provide the most creative freedom. You don’t have to worry about writing something to generate sales. This is great if your content isn’t considered ‘marketable.’
Ads are nice because:
- You only have to set them up once
- They don’t dictate your content
- There’s no barrier to entry, anyone can use them
I personally don’t use ads because:
- They take away from the site design
- The payout is usually lower than the previously mentioned methods
- Ad blockers can hide them
- They can get abusive
Although there are few ways to get around ad blockers, use your best judgment when choosing ad providers. Read reviews to make sure that they don’t link to harmful content. Also, make sure that they have modern designers so that the ads don’t take away much from your blog.
I’m a fan of BuySellAds and Google Adsense. Simply make your account, install the plugin for your platform, and you’re done.
Note from Jenn: You can also do a hybrid of sponsorships and on-page advertisements by doing private ad sponsorships. It’s a little bit more work, but provides a higher return, more control over the content displayed, lets you customize the appearance of the ads to mesh with your site design, and still gives you more consistent revenue.
Monetize Your Blog by Marketing Your Product or Service
Okay, but what if you don’t want your audience leaving your site, you ask? Well, why do you think that sponsors, affiliate programs, and ads can afford to pay you? Because there’s more money in selling a product or service than there is in paying for those things. Why do you think that they want to go through you? Because you have an audience that reads your content and trusts you. Then why not receive all the benefits?
Your audience comes to you because you solve a problem for them, even if it’s only a laugh or sense of community. These people want a solution and can find it in something you can offer. This keeps your content relevant and focused on what you believe is the best option. It can also generate more revenue by cutting out the middle man and sending sales directly to you.
I create products and services by finding a problem that my audience is having and offering a few solutions to the problem on my blog. This attracts anyone having that problem, and I can close on an offer to handle it for them. My audience receives the help they came for, and I’m generating sales for myself.
If you’re ready to monetize your blog, the best time to start is now! Don’t wait for the perfect time, because it will never come. If you’re worried that your audience will react negatively to monetization, involve them in the process and make sure they understand why it’s important for you to monetize in order to be able to continue providing them with top-notch content. Whether you choose sponsorships, affiliate links, on-page ads, or marketing your products or services, make sure that you are still providing as much value as possible to your audience.
Share your favorite method to monetize your blog in the comments! If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask, too – we’d love to answer them.
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