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The blogging behemoth is one we all want to tame. Taking your blog from an entertaining hobby to a money-making machine isn’t easy, and you can’t turn a profit if you don’t even know where to start. Here’s the thing: there’s not just one way to make money with your blog. In order to make a substantial income, you have to employ multiple methods and be diligent in your content production every single day. Blogging is a business, and you have to treat it as such if you want it to make money.
Before you do anything, you need to know what generates income in the blogging world. There are several different things you can do on your blog that will pay you, but for the best financial results you’ll need to strike a balance between all or most of them.
Let’s break it down: Affiliate marketing basically means you promote a product or service on your own blog, include a special link to that product or service, and each time a reader uses that link to purchase the item you make a commission. Affiliate marketing is incredibly popular among bloggers — especially fashion bloggers. If done correctly, it can turn a large profit because it’s not a once-off like other methods of blog income.
Sponsored content is content you’re paid to write and publish on your blog to discuss something, like a product. The company selling the product typically sends you the product to try out and pays you a fee for the promotion.
This method of income provides you with the most control. You can set your fee and are in charge of the content on your blog. The key here is to keep both your goals and the goals of the company you’re working with in mind so everyone is pleased with the outcome.
Ads tend to be a necessary evil when you’re trying to make a living with your blog. Readers don’t always love them, but when done right, you can make a good chunk of money from hosting ads.
If you have a strong enough following, you might be asked to write for other websites. You’ll be paid a one-time fee for your contribution, which will be posted on their website (and their social media outlets, if you’re lucky). If you enjoy working with that company and the post does well, you can form a recurring working relationship.
If you’re just getting started and don’t quite have that following yet, one of the best ways to cultivate it is to seek out freelancing opportunities. Start out by submitting to your favorite websites. Sure, rejection is scary, but if you never ask, the answer will always be “no.”
If you have some great insider advice you know your readers would be willing to pay for, then you should consider offering a membership to your site. With a membership, you charge readers a fee (it can be a one-time or recurring charge) for access to locked away information, community features, and even special product offers if you sell a product. Memberships are particularly popular among fitness bloggers who will offer exclusive workouts, meal plans, and health tips.
How to Make it Last:
Only Work With Brands You Love
Your readers can tell when you’re only half-interested in a brand you’re promoting, and they don’t appreciate it. They return to your blog time after time because they expect the same high-quality, genuine content that resonates with them. So even though you’re making money from working with brands you don’t LOVE, you’re turning away readers, which is a much more serious problem than passing on a brand.
Remember that your blog is your business. Businesses don’t take every opportunity that knocks on the door because it’s much more important to protect the brand than it is to grow revenue for the sake of revenue. You can — and should — say no to any collaborations you don’t feel right about. That paycheck won’t seem like such a blessing if you lose the respect of your readers.
Audience, Audience, Audience
Who is your audience? What do they want to see from you? If the work you’re doing with another company or blogger doesn’t fit with the expectations of your audience, you need to rethink the project. You can have a ton of affiliate marketing, ads, and do sponsored posts every time you turn around, but if it’s all random and doesn’t make sense with your brand and your mission, it’s not going to make you money for long.
You want to keep around the loyal, quality followers who enjoy the content you produce. They won’t continue loving what you do if you only choose collaborations and income opportunity based on the bottom dollar. You have to strike a balance between pleasing your readers and padding your pocket book.
Be 100% Authentic
Readers can become irritated when their favorite bloggers aren’t transparent with their content — particularly when it comes to which posts you’re being paid to write and which you aren’t. Many bloggers will include a statement explaining a blog post includes affiliate links, was sponsored by someone, or brought by a specific company. It prevents readers from being pissed off that you’re making money from your blog.
In addition to being honest with readers, you have to stay true to yourself and your brand in all of the content you throw out there. Being fully authentic benefits everyone. You, your readers, and anyone you work with will be better served knowing exactly what kind of content you want to put out and what your guiding principles are. The clearer you are here, the better chance you have of attracting the types of companies and people you want to work with.
Self-promotion can be awkward and painful if you’re uncomfortable with talking about yourself or asking people to check out your work. It’s essential to get the most out of your blogging income though. The more you promote your blog and your posts, the higher your viewership, which means more people clicking on your affiliate links and better numbers for you to show to the companies you work with.
A larger audience means you have more ammunition to use when discussing your fees. Being able to bargain for the pay you deserve and need is never a bad thing. As a blogger, you need to be comfortable with this anyway. A successful blogging career is heavily dependent on self-promotion. The market is so saturated, you can’t wait around for someone else to promote you — it all depends on how much you put yourself out there.
Learn to Sell Yourself
This goes along with self-promotion, but it also means you don’t need to be afraid of approaching the people you want to work with. Learn how to pitch yourself so you can send cold emails, request meetings, and discuss your brand and your goals in detail. Your elevator pitch is important. Master the art of pitching so you can approach the brands you want to work with, and start making money through those partnerships. Your paychecks will be even more satisfying when they come from a company or brand you’re proud to have worked with.
There’s no clear roadmap to a blogging income. It will take a lot of time, trial, and error for you to discover exactly which combination of income works best for you. Do your research about the various methods and spend a lot of time searching for the exact brands you want to work with (even if it seems like a long shot). It doesn’t hurt to see how other bloggers are making all of these income methods work to find inspiration as well.