How Do Bloggers Get Paid: 10 Best Monetization Strategies
There is so much content floating around on the web, it begs a question: how do bloggers actually get paid? You can google the most obscure topic and get served at least a couple dozens of blog posts discussing all of its ins and outs.
There is no way all these people are cranking out all of this content for free. Can I legit make a living blogging? If so, sign me up!
If this is what you are thinking, I have some good and bad news for you. Let’s start with the good news: you can most certainly make a living blogging.
When it comes to blogging, the sky’s the limit: you can make dozens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars in monthly income! There are plenty of examples of bloggers who have grown their websites into 6-figure businesses over a few years.
Now, the bad news. Blogging is not for everyone. More specifically, it is not for people who expect immediate gratification from the projects they invest their time and effort into.
Bloggers don’t get paid at the end of the month like ‘normal’ people do. Bloggers make money, but they don’t (strictly speaking) get paid.
How to make a living blogging.
If you want to make a living blogging, you need to be aware of all the revenue streams and blog monetization strategies that can bring in regular, sizable income.
However, the payoff opportunities can be very lucrative, with a possibility to make dozens and even hundreds of dollars, depending on the type of blog, the niche, and the monetization strategies you use.
If you are looking for an in-depth beginner guide on how to make a living blogging, you have come to the right place.
In this post, I will give you an all-round lowdown down on how to monetize your blog, go over the different types of blogs that make money, and explain the nitty-gritty of 10 blog monetization strategies.
Types of blogs that make money.
There are many kinds of blogs that get thrown around. You have probably heard of niche blogs, lifestyle blogs, authority sites, micro niche sites, affiliate sites, news sites, Adsense sites. The list can go on and on.
As an aspiring blogger, it can be easy to get confused and difficult to decide what kind of blog you can make money with given your expertise, interests, and resources.
Of course, you’d want to start a blog that is not only profitable and personally relevant, but that is also feasible to pull off with the time and resources that are available to you.
To put it into perspective, you would need hundreds of thousands in monthly traffic numbers to make a meaningful income from a ‘jack-of-all-trades blog’ such as BuzzFeed or Mashable.
That’s why it is important to carefully research the options available to you and understand what kind of blog would be both profitable and feasible with your resources.
Broadly speaking, most blogs that make money can be categorized into the following three groups:
I don’t have the stats to back it up, but niche sites are probably the most common type of blogs in the online space. Basically, a niche site is a blog-based website that focuses on one particular topic theme or ‘niche’, catering to a small segment of the larger market.
Contrary to a common misconception, a niche site is not necessarily a small blog with laser-specific focus on a very narrow interest (although it can be).
‘Niche’ refers to the segment of the market, not the breath of the topic it covers. There are many niche sites that cover a wide range of topics related to that niche.
Generally speaking, niche sites tend to focus on providing their readers with information that solves their problems.
The most common monetization strategy for a niche site is to attract and nurture its audience with free ‘problem-solving content’ and then offer some type of paid solution such as an e-book, online course, or a coaching programme.
This is how the typical nurturing journey looks like.
A user lands on your blog post either through Google search or a social media link. They are offered some type of a freebie in return for their email address (a ‘lead magnet’). It can be a free ebook, online course, or some sort of template.
For example, Nutritiously, a popular blog targeting people who want to transition to veganism, lures their visitors in with a free vegan transition course.
Over the next few weeks, they get a series of emails with helpful content about the topic in question, culminating in a limited-time offer to purchase some type of paid digital solution.
As they grow in traffic numbers and revenue, many niche sites integrate additional monetization strategies such as e-commerce and brand sponsorships. But the core monetization model of niche sites revolves around information and gated content.
As the name suggests, review sites are sites dedicated to publishing reviews of products, services, venues and whatnot. These reviews may be user-generated or written by employed writers.
The main monetization strategy for review sites or blogs is based on earning affiliate commissions from the referred leads or sales that originated on the site. Here is how it works.
You become an affiliate associate by signing up for affiliate programmes with brands or online marketplaces (e.g. Amazon). Once approved, you can generate ‘affiliate links’ which will direct users to the sales pages of the reviewed items. As an affiliate associate, you are paid a certain percentage commission when an actual sale is made on the merchant’s site.
As is the case with niche sites, review sites may also add other monetization channels (e.g. AdSense and sponsored reviews), but their core monetization engine is fueled by affiliate commissions.
If you are passionate about newsworthy topics (e.g. politics, celebrities, music), you can make some serious cash blogging on a news site. The key to making a news site profitable is to choose a niche and a unique angle.
You should also keep in mind that news sites are a very long-haul game. Even the founders of Berkeleyside, a popular new source for all things Berkeley (California), had to wait 18 months after launching to start paying themselves a small monthly salary.
News sites make the bulk of their revenue with online advertising. Some news publications also offer paid subscription services to their premium content, publish sponsored press releases, and advertise products and events.
Blog Monetization Strategy: 10 ways to monetize your blog.
1. Pay-per-click and pay-per-view ads.
Pay-per-click (also known as PPC) is a common monetization strategy used by all kinds of blogs. With PPC, you make money whenever a user clicks on an ad displayed on your website (hence, pay-per-click). This can be a banner ad, in-text link, pop-up, or a sidebar text link.
The price per click can vary significantly between different companies and can range from 1-2 cents per click to 6-7 cents per click. Some companies do not offer a fixed per-click price, but base your rate on the amount of traffic you get, the type of content you publish, and where your readers are located.
There are also pay-per-view or pay-per-impression ads which reward you whenever the ad page is viewed, but they tend to pay much less compared to PPC (as little as $0.004 to 0.015 per view).
As you can imagine, you need some serious traffic numbers to make significant revenue with pay-per-click or pay-per-impression ads.
As a beginner blogger, you might make 5 to 10 bucks from ad clicks and views in a good month, but I wouldn’t recommend placing ads on your blog until you have accrued at least several thousands in monthly traffic. It just doesn’t make sense to clatter your site and compromise your site’s user experience for a few dollars’ payoff.
2. Affiliate marketing.
If you regularly read online blogs or follow youtube influencers, you have probably heard about affiliate marketing. To put it simply, it is an online sales tactic where the affiliate associate earns a commission by promoting brands’ products or services.
Almost all major brands and marketplaces have an affiliate program these days, but not all of them accept everyone. With some affiliate programs, you would need to do some heavy lifting (build a certain amount of monthly traffic) before they even consider your application.
To beginner bloggers, I would recommend starting with Amazon Associates as they sell all kinds of products; you can find relevant offers for any niche. There is also no minimum traffic requirement to become an affiliate associate with Amazon. All you need is a live website, a youtube channel or a social media account.
3. Sponsored posts.
Unlike affiliate marketing, which can work with new and small blogs, businesses that sponsor blog posts are seeking to buy exposure to a large and relevant audience. When considering blogs for sponsored posts, they are looking for sites that have significant readership numbers, which can be easily checked on a web analytics platform such as Similar Web.
As such, I would categorize sponsored posts as an advanced blog monetization strategy, which can work really well for established sites that have been active in the blogging business for at least 1-2 years.
The higher your traffic numbers, the more you can expect to get paid for a sponsored post or even a sponsored link.
To put it into perspective, this infographic shows how much you can expect to charge for a sponsored post based on your traffic and domain authority (your site’s relevance and quality of content in the eyes of Google).
As you can see, sponsored posts can drive serious business once your blog starts getting serious traction from search engines, with even 15-25 DA sites charging from $75 to $1000+ per single sponsored post!
Infographic source: https://hobowithalaptop.com/blogger-rate-card
4. Selling digital products.
Selling digital products (e.g. ebooks and online courses) is a great low-maintenance way to monetize your blog. You can start selling digital products on your blog from the get-go, but it is unlikely that you would get many sales in your first few months of blogging.
You’d need to build trust with your audience by providing them with valuable and helpful content for free. Once you’ve built up trust, traffic and some authority in your blogging niche, you can start seeing serious payoff from the sale of your digital products.
Here is a real-world example of a blog that is killing it by selling digital products (amongst other things). Avocadu is a popular weight loss blog with mostly female readership. It is run by only two people – a couple Lauren and Alex – who managed to grow their blog to a 6-figure business in the first year of launching.
You might be sceptical that you can make this kind of income from selling ebooks or online courses. I totally get it. You are probably thinking that if it was that easy, everybody would be doing it.
But keep in mind that these guys have been blogging for 4-5 years now, building up pages upon pages of blog content, promoting their site with social media and SEO, and creating new products.
Most people give up after their first few months of blogging, having experienced how much of a hype the whole blogging process is. Not many are ready to put in so much work without a paycheck looming on the horizon. When it comes to making a living blogging, patience and persistence are key.
5. Coaching, mentoring and consulting services.
If you have what it takes to coach or mentor people on something – whether it is starting a business, losing weight, overcoming their psychological problems, or whatnot – you can sell private coaching or consulting packages on your blog.
If people like the sound of what you have to offer, this monetization strategy can start bringing in meaningful income in your very first month of blogging.
You can promote your coaching services with paid ads (Youtube works great for that) in the first few months – while you are working on creating content and driving traffic to your blog. Once you’ve built up some content and traffic, your blog will be bringing potential clientele for free.
Then you can add other monetization strategies such as paid digital products and affiliate marketing to literally make money while you sleep.
6. Premium content.
Once you amass a decent readership by creating and sharing high-quality content that’s specific to your niche, you can start offering premium content that is available only to subscribers who pay a monthly fee.
The key to monetizing your blog with premium content is to provide top-notch, free content that helps and entertains your audience in the first place. When new visitors discover and appreciate your free content, some will be interested to check out your gated content too.
You can also offer different subscription plans (e.g. monthly, quarterly, yearly) and incentivize your readers to sign up for more expensive packages by pricing them cheaper on a per-month basis.
Here is a great real-world example of a single-person blog that is crashing it with the premium content.
Anthony Metiver blogs about various cognitive strategies for training memory, concentration and other mental faculties. He’s got a ton of free informative content on those topics but he doesn’t give away his Magnetic Memory Method for free.
The free content is meant to attract and nurture his visitors by gently nudging them to sign up for his premium content – his Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass retailing for $1000+.
7. Webinars and podcasts.
Podcasts and webinars have exploded in popularity over the last few years. In 2019, there were 700,000 active podcasts in the online space, and this number keeps growing day by day. Here is a breakdown of the popularity of podcasts by country, which is representative of the population with access to the internet.
Podcasts are a great monetization strategy for beginner bloggers because it can help them stand out from all the other blogs who primarily publish written content.
Once you have amassed some solid traffic and a large enough audience, you can start selling sponsorship slots on your podcast to companies seeking to get exposure to your audience.
This is what Mixenergy does by offering companies an opportunity to get exposure to his audience of entrepreneurs through his podcast.
8. Accept donations on your blog.
You can also monetize your blog by making it possible for your readers to make donations on your blog. There are several WordPress plugins that make it easy to accept donations on your blog by asking your readers to buy you something small (e.g. a cup of coffee or a beer) at the end of each post.
It is an interesting concept which works wonders for bloggers who are offering valuable first-hand information or insider secrets of some sort.
You can also accept donations through Patreon, but you would need to have a dedicated following to be able to generate a meaningful amount. Plus, the content must be unique in some way, not a regurgitated version of the information found elsewhere on the net.
For example, Tim Urban spends over 40 hours ideating, researching and creating his blogs posts on waitbutwhy.com. Some of his articles, which he gives away for free, are longer than many ebooks people sell. His readers realize that and support him with Patreon donations, which can range from $1 to $100 per pledge.
9. Paid group membership.
Paid group membership is another popular blog monetization strategy which can work for virtually any niche where people would be interested to engage in discussions or share information.
This is normally done through facebook or some type of gated forum on your website. Your blog content serves as a nurturing device, gently nudging your audience to join your paid group.
One popular example that comes to mind is an accountability group, which works really well in the fitness community. There are also many paid groups for entrepreneurs, marketers, investors, crypto enthusiasts etc, etc, where members can discuss industry trends, share strategies that worked for them, even find business partners. You can really make it anything you like.
10. Build it and sell it.
If you know a thing or two about online marketing and SEO, you can also build a blog, grow the audience, and then sell it. Many online marketers have actually made it their full-time job: building and selling online businesses and blogs, cashing out insane amounts, which can go up to hundreds thousands of dollars.
Don’t believe me? Just go on Flippa and see for yourself how much established blogs are selling for. This strategy can work really well for seasoned bloggers, who have already grown their site and have some first-hand experience and insider knowledge about growing online businesses.
How to choose a blog niche.
If you like the idea of making a living blogging (who doesn’t?) but not sure what to blog about, I will tell you this: don’t choose your blogging niche based SOLELY on your passion. While it’s great to blog about something that you are passionate about, it’s not always profitable.
So, before you dive head-first into the blogging waters, I recommend you do some market research to find out whether your idea is profitable and there is a big enough market for that topic.
Say you are interested in skiing and you want to blog about it, monetizing it with brand sponsorships and affiliate marketing. The next step is to find out whether this topic has a big enough audience to make it worth your while.
To get an idea of the popularity and financial viability of this niche, you can go on Google Trends and type the most salient topic keywords (e.g. skiing in Austria) to see how many people are searching for them on a monthly basis.
You will see a graph which will show you whether the interest in this topic is stable, rising, or declining over time. It is important to analyse the topic over a few years’ time as opposed to quarterly or month-to-month in a single year. Monthly fluctuations are normal in any niche.
As a rule of thumb, avoid topics with declining interest. Think long-term and choose niches with stable or rising interest. This is the foundation for building a blog that will bring revenue for many years to come.
Some evergreen blogging niche examples.
Health and Fitness.
As the saying goes, ‘health is wealth’. The urge to stay fit and healthy over the entire lifespan means that people will always look for information on this topic. Plus, the traffic in this niche is insane and there are many possible avenues to niche-down to serve to a specific market segment.
Money and finance.
Blogging about money is another evergreen niche that is not going anywhere. The key to blogging about finance is to address a very narrowly defined audience. For example, you might target young mums who struggle with family budgeting, starting entrepreneurs trying to raise capital for their venture, and remote money-making opportunities.
Self-help and personal development.
Self-help is a very popular niche amongst beginner bloggers, which is hardly surprising: you don’t need to have expertise on the subject to blog about personal development. Everybody has their insights and experience to share.
The monetization strategy that works very well for self-help blogs is selling coaching and mentoring services. If you provide outstanding content with a unique angle, it can also do well with donations and premium content.
If you travel frequently, you might have entertained the idea of blogging about your experiences, but you are not sure whether it’s worth your while. You might be thinking something along the lines of : there are so many travel blogs out there! How can I stand out in such a saturated niche?
Simple. The key to succeeding as a travel blogger in 2020 is to target a very specific and narrowly defined subset of travellers. There are so many avenues to niche down. For example, you can blog about van life, gypsy living, adventure travel, surf trips, eco travel, backpacking in South East Asia, travelling as a vegan. The options are endless.
Example: Nomadic Matt.
Dating, love and relationships.
The love and relationships niche has been around for a long time and it’s not going anywhere any time soon. The dating industry is valued at $2,5 billion in the US alone, which means that people are willing to spend money on resources that teach them about dating practices and give helpful advice on finding a compatible partner.
This also means that this niche is very competitive, emphasizing the importance of finding a sub-niche in this market. For example, you can blog about dating for single mums, dating for gamers, or LGBTQ dating.
Examples: Dating Advice and My Love Thinks.
Food is a hugely popular blogging niche that is especially popular with female bloggers. There are a myriad ways to niche down in this niche (e.g. raw veganism, keto, blog exclusively about curries) , but it requires some creativity to monetize.
Cookbooks can work, but most people are just looking for free recipe ideas and not interested in buying another generic recipe book. But if you have what it takes to stand out, blogging about food and cooking can bring in thousands in monthly revenues.
Hopefully, you found this post helpful and have some idea about what monetization strategies will work best for your blog. As I mentioned earlier, blogging is a long-haul game; it takes a lot of planning, patience, and persistence to turn it into a profitable venture. Keep at it and you will slowly but surely start seeing sizable returns on all the time and hard work that you put into it!