Your blog is your breadwinner.
However, just having a blog with some articles in it, using Google AdSense, and expecting paychecks to fly in while you’re asleep, isn’t quite how it works.
Blog monetization is a bit like sculpting.
You chip away useless endeavors and shape your blog by utilizing your strengths.
You sculpt it just right, and you’ve got a customer-attracting business model on your hands.
But you’ve encountered so many blog monetization tips, tricks, and hacks. How do you know which one to choose? What’s best for you?
You’ve come to the right post to know how to monetize a blog. Here are seven case studies to make blog monetization a breeze.
1. Affiliate marketing
This is where you get sales for your affiliates products, and receive a share of sales as commission.
Here’s an interesting take on affiliate partnerships – affiliating with online shopping portals, like Amazon, Ebay, Firebox, etc.
Their website features uncommon items, tech candy, food, beverages and more. What makes them special, is that only unconventional, interesting, atypical products are recommended.
Products from the RSS feeds of various retailers are curated, based upon whether they were unique and/or memorable.
They’ve hit every note – bold branding, a reserve of affiliate programs to mine recommendations from, and a clever user experience.
Affiliate marketing can be your means to a better living too.
If you want to earn your living solely by affiliate sales, then it makes sense to take up many affiliate programs within your niche – like TIWIB has.
However, if you simply want to supplement your current income, take up just a few. You can then promote your affiliate products to your own established contacts, subscribers and the like.
2. Sell your own products
If you’ve ever wondered how to monetize a blog in the most rewarding way possible – here’s what to do. Create your own products, promote, and sell them.
He’s launched MTGParadise, Australia’s largest card game trading site and sold it for a huge profit. He did the same with BetterEdit, a proofreading business.
He’s held several product launch campaigns that were wildly successful.
The point is – find something you can make that you can make a high quality, result-delivering product out of. In Yaro’s case, one of his products is his coaching sessions.
In your case, it could be eBook, plugins, themes, etc. Once you know what your strengths are, package your skills into a clearly defined product.
Selling your own product can be risky. You have large competition from the very start. How many writers, speakers, books, and plugins have you come across on an average?
But the ones who do make it big, make it big.
It’s all about delivering results. If your product does that – and does it well – to your blog audience, you’ve got a keeper.
Of the blog monetization methods mentioned here, this is said to be the most distracting. Tarnishing the reliability of your blog. Diluting user experience.
However, it needn’t be that way.
Just look at Labnol. Amit Agarwal features news, updates, how-to’s, reviews, etc. of all things technology related. His posts are deeply insightful and practical, and he posts often.
The reason Labnol does advertising so well is because there are carefully selected places where ads are shown, they are pleasing to the eye, and most importantly – they’re highly relevant to his audience.
This relevance makes the ads valuable (and therefore, clickable) to his readers. How does he achieve this?
Google Adsense suggests ads based on a number of factors. Like whether your posts have accurate keywords, content that is clear and specific to the topic, appropriate external links, the placement of your ads, etc.
And that’s what Amit ensures is done, meticulously and carefully.
To display relevant ads on your website, ensure the same. That way, advertising is a clean, easy way to monetize your blog.
Or, you could be minimalist, and sell ad space to very few, quality sponsors who you personally support and believe in.
4. Online courses
Offering online courses can be just as lucrative, and just as rewarding – just ask the internet’s IncomeBully – Nathan.
His website deals primarily with SEO hacks, techniques, and tricks, along with other startup-related posts.
Nathan, who has a lot of experience working with web agencies, has a relatively new blog. But he still manages to earn about $3k per month from it. And that’s largely in thanks to an online course he’s created.
The course is about running an offline web agency, made available on WarriorForum.
Thing is, his website doesn’t have huge traffic. Social shares and referrals make up most of his traffic. Nor does Nathan sell ad space on his blog.
But he’s given his readers so much value through his online course, that the sales from it are the main part of the income he makes from his blog.
That is only to emphasize – an online course ought to legitimately answer, help, and guide a reader. If it doesn’t, no amount of clever marketing or build-up can emulate such results, when it’s out on the market.
Want to apply this for yourself?
Think about what you are an expert at – even if it is highly narrow, it’ll work, as long as it is highly thorough. And create an online course about that.
Or go about it the other way – find out what your audience or your subscribers are pining to know about, or solve. And then learn everything you can about helping them out with it.
His website entrepreneurship website EntrepreneurOnFire brought him a net profit of $2.9M, over the first three years of launching it.
Among the things he’s evidently doing right, he’s acquired sponsors. Sponsors for hosting interviews on a medium he’s famous for using – podcasts.
The phenomenon has arguably been popularized by him, among the business community. It’s no wonder that sponsors came along – he’s pretty much a pioneer.
He’s made podcasts popular within a specific community. And the sponsors remember that pioneers have loyal fans.
Getting sponsors needn’t be done the same way – you needn’t be a pioneer, single-handedly popularizing a new medium to your audience. Your own blog is all you need.
Another thing to be learned from him – if you want other people (sponsors) to be interested in supporting your work, you’ve got to strongly brand yourself.
His website features pictures of him. There’s visual harmony in the colors and elements used in it: primarily black and orange. These contrast well with each other.
Altogether, the website creates a bold impression – and that’s one of the many reasons he’s able to acquire the kind of sponsors he’s acquired.
You have to be an expert on something.
If you run a blog, it likely means you certainly are an expert, to whatever degree, in some field. And that’s what your blog is all about.
So, to monetize your blog, how about converting your expertise into a service? A consulting service, to help other bloggers who don’t know as much as you do, and are willing to spend money to learn blogging.
Henneke Duistermaat started out just like that. Her blog, Enchanting Marketing – though she says she is an irreverent marketer – is an online writer’s shrine, where they go to be inspired to write better web content.
She built her consulting service clientele by guest posting on popular blogs. That additionally helped her build her email list, network effectively, and establish her ‘irreverent’ brand.
Henneke is a master of her craft. And that’s why she’s able to make a sought-after consulting program out of it.
Find out what you’re a master at, create an outrageously helpful coaching service, and the audience will find you.
It also helps that it’s one of the quickest ways to monetize your blog.
7. Paid Membership
If you’ve got top-notch, impeccably resourceful content on your blog, you’re sitting on a gold mine. And are probably unaware of it.
What if you pick the creme-de-la-creme of your content, to be restricted only to subscribers who are willing to pay for it?
Michael Dunlop’s IncomeDiary has shown bloggers how to go about creating, and running, a paid membership site – mostly by being one.
The blog offers premium content for people running online businesses – their readership is in millions.
Having a paid membership section has helped their customers have better access to content they paid for. Incidentally, it also provides greater security for your content.
They’re massively successful because they listen to what their readers want, price their memberships reasonably, and then take care of their members by providing them actionable content employing many forms of media.
Their regular blog posts are still uncompromisingly thorough. And that’s what attracts readers to become members.
This idea is best for bloggers who have a treasure trove of unbeatable content. It’s almost a no-brainer step towards monetizing your blog.
The Truth About Blog Monetization
The truth about blog monetization is this: it is not just about adopting one or the other income-generating method.
It is about creating an audience. And then a streamlined funnel involving consistent, quality content delivery and relationship building. Generating leads by tapping into their interests.
Keep in mind: you may often find yourself asking “how do I monetize my blog?”
The answer, is often yet another question – “how can I give more value to my audience?
UPDATE: Removed Yaro Starak's old program “Elite Entrepreneur” and added his current programs under “Sell your own products.”
Syed Naimath is Co-founder and Growth Hacker at Plugmatter, a WordPress plugin development startup passionate about creating products like Optin Feature Box, Document Importer and Pricing Table to help WordPress community.