You’ve learned how to start a blog. You’ve produced some link-worthy content, now it’s time to make your first million dollars, right?

Not exactly.

If you’re creating a blog for the sole purpose of making money then you’re probably not that into blogging. In my opinion, this is the biggest blogging mistake you can make.

But that’s not the point of this post.

The appeal of internet business is flexibility. There are multiple ways of monetizing your blog, there’s almost limitless income potential, and the return on investment is usually huge as it requires very little investment upfront.

The only limiting factor is your ability to generate traffic.

So how do you monetize your blog?

1. Contextual ads

Contextual advertisement is probably one of the easiest ways of making money online. You’ve definitely seen them as they’re used on most media websites. Here’s an example of contextual ads on 9GAG.

Contextual ads example on 9gag.
Contextual ads on 9gag.com

The way such advertisements work is you sign up to an ad network, they provide you a code that you then place on your website wherever you see fit. Some networks pay more than others.

However, high paying networks are usually more strict with their review process. So before you apply to any of them make sure you have at least 10,000 monthly page views. Otherwise, you may get rejected.

The most popular network is Google Adsense. However, it doesn’t pay well in every niche so you’re probably better off joining a more niche specific network with higher pay.

How it works

The way contextual ads work is the code you’re provided analyzes the content of your page and serves relevant ads based around that content.

In addition, corporations like Google use information they already know about you to serve ads tailored specifically for you. That’s why you often notice an ad for that thing you’ve Googled a week ago chasing you all over the internet.

When someone clicks on an ad on your page you’ll get paid. This is called cost per click, or CPC in online advertising.

Generally, the amount is somewhere between $0.01 and $0.05. So in order to make any decent money you need a website with a large amount of traffic.

Another way ad networks pay is per thousand impressions. This is called cost per mille, or CPM.

Why contextual ads suck

There are multiple reasons contextual ads are a bad idea for monetizing your blog:

  • You need high amount of traffic to make decent income.
  • Your website turns into an ad fest. Ads are annoying for everyone.
  • Many use ad block both on desktop and mobile, so chances are the ads will be blocked anyway.
  • To make more money out of your current traffic you’ll have to split your content among few pages to create more ad impressions.

In other words, your blog might become infuriating to read if you go over the top with contextual ads for generating revenue.

List of contextual ad networks

If you want to check out how contextual ad networks work and test them on your blog here’s a small list of networks to get you started:

2. Selling ad space directly

Your ad here banner.

Similar thing to contextual ads you can do is directly sell advertising space.

For this way of advertisement to work you need to create an advertising page with relevant information for potential advertisers such as your monthly page views, demographics and prices.

This way you can cut out the middle man and potentially make more money. However, the downside is you have to manage everything yourself.

This can be quite daunting as bloggers generally have a lot of other things to worry about. It just might be another headache to deal with especially if you’re inexperienced.

In addition, your blog should already be somewhat popular to actually be attractive to potential advertisers.

Selling ad space directly is not recommended for beginners. However, if you’re interesting in making money this way then I recommend using a plugin such as AdSanity to help you manage ads.

3. Sponsored posts

A popular way of making  money from your blog are via sponsored posts. A lot of companies have new products they want to promote and the most cost effective way of doing this is through bloggers.

Basically, they give you a product and ask you to write your opinion about it. Or they might even provide you with content that you just need to copy and paste.

Small businesses who don’t have a large marketing budget might compensate you by offering a monthly supply of the product. Companies with a larger budget offer monetary compensation.

The problem with this method is you have to be extremely ethical in order for you not to piss off your audience. What do I mean?

First, you need to make sure that product is actually good and might benefit your readers. Just writing a review for the purpose of making money does not work long term as people can see through it.

Second, most of the time they will ask you to link back to their homepage. Their goal is to build brand awareness, while doing SEO at the same time.

This is where you need to be as ethical as possible, because it is against Google’s webmaster guidelines to buy links that pass PageRank. So you must use the nofollow attribute on all links you get compensated for.

Otherwise you may be penalized.

4. Consulting

If you’re blog is related to your previous job, or you’ve been blogging long enough to understand all the basics you can try making money by offering consulting services.

This is fairly easy to implement and you can safely charge at least $50 an hour, provided you have the time to focus on consulting. Consulting is the main income of some of the top bloggers all around the world.

5. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is probably one of the best ways to monetize your blog early one.

In a nutshell, affiliate marketing comes down to recommending a product you personally enjoy using to your readers. If someone purchases that product via your referral link you get a commission.

It’s very similar to sponsored posts, but you’re the one choosing a product, and no one is compensating you directly.

As with contextual advertising you need to join an affiliate network, which is responsible for tracking, payments and providing marketing materials.

The most important element of affiliate marketing is your referral link, which is used to track sales made using your link.

Why it works so well

There are many reasons why affiliate marketing works so well for bloggers:

  • You don’t need a lot of traffic to make decent money.
  • Your blog won’t be cluttered with ads as affiliate links are mostly located within content.
  • Ad block is not a problem.
  • You’re not forcing anything onto your readers, rather sharing your own experience.
  • Easy to get started.

List of affiliate networks

If you’re interested in affiliate marketing then here’s a few large networks you should check out:

Now you don’t actually need to join every one of them. I’m just providing you a list so you can familiarize yourself with how they work.

Most of the time you’re already using something such as a web host, or a domain registrar. Ninety percent of the time they will either have an affiliate program of their own, or a referral program.

And since you already have experience with them it’s good idea to start there. The general rule of ethical affiliate marketing is only recommend products you would recommend to your actual friends.

Otherwise, don’t bother with it.

6. Selling your own products

The best way to make money online is by creating and selling your own products. Thankfully, today creating digital products is not an impossible feat.

Many successful bloggers eventually move from affiliate marketing to selling their own products because it is more profitable. This is when your blogging career turns into an actual business, rather than a hobby which just brings money.

Having your own digital product brings you true freedom, where you don’t depend on anyone. In addition, you can setup your own affiliate program, offer generous commissions, and let others promote your product.

The beauty of digital products is that you don’t really have any production costs after creating the product. This allows you to offer 50%+ commissions for each sale, which can motivate a lot of your readers to promote your product.

A digital product can be anything – a course, an ebook, a plugin, a theme, a webinar. You name it.

In my opinion, this is by far the best way of making money online as it turns a hobby into a full-time business. And the best part you can build a truly great product based on feedback from your readers.

7. Accept donations

Patreon screenshot.

If you’re in a niche where monetizing is difficult, or maybe you just don’t want to sell anything then putting a simple PayPal donation button is the way to go.

While you’re not going to break any records in terms of income, still you’ll be able to appreciate the support of your fans.

Another way of accepting donations is by using Patreon.

Lately, Patreon has become one of the most popular ways of supporting YouTube creators as there are many channels getting wrongfully de-monetized. So they’re shifting their income stream from Adsense (main ad platform on YouTube) to Patreon.

Basically, you can setup Patreon to accept monthly donations, where your readers can subscribe and provide a healthy stream of long-term income to motivate you keep producing quality content.

8. Sell your blog

Flippa.com screenshot.

While this is the last resort tactic of making money off your blog. But if you’re in urgent need of money, or just don’t feel like writing about the niche you’re in you can sell your blog for a hefty sum of money.

Of course, the amount depends on how much traffic you have and how much monthly revenue your blog brings. But still it’s a possibility.

One of the best marketplaces for websites is called Flippa. Believe it or not it’s also a type of online business as there are many websites being sold for large sums of money every day.

Many online entrepreneurs make most of their money by flipping websites, which might sound easy on paper, but requires a lot of  effort to create a truly valuable asset.

Conclusion

As you can see making money online is not a difficult task. The most difficult part is figuring out how to drive traffic. Making money is just filling out the rest of the puzzle of your blogging journey.

There are plenty ways of monetizing your blog to earn full-time income ranging from simply accepting donations to participating in affiliate marketing.

However, the best way is to create your own product and sell it online as it brings the most profit. The downside is that it requires the most amount of work.

Have I missed something? Are you successfully monetizing your blog using a strategy not mentioned here? Share with me below!