You’ve heard that you can make money blogging. And it’s true. You can. But only about 5% of bloggers earn a full-time income from their blogs.
You would think that number would be a lot bigger considering the income reports going around right?
But just think about the small percentage of bloggers who actually post their income reports and make money compared to the thousands of blogs online. What you see is a very small fraction.
So how do you make money blogging?
And what are the ways to earn money online?
Let’s dig into this and I’ll show you some easy ways to make money online or on your blog that goes beyond sponsored posts and ad sales.
The Surveys – How Many Bloggers Make Money Blogging
To give you some perspective, I’m going to reference 3 surveys on this topic.
iBlog Magazine Blogging Income Survey
The most recent one is from iBlogMagazine, for their 2015 Women’s Blogging Industry & Business Annual Report. It found that most bloggers make less than $2,500 an entire year from their blogs.
62% still haven’t made $500/mth on a consecutive basis.
Problogger Blogging Income Survey
The next survey was conducted by Problogger in 2012. It surveyed 1500 readers and found that more than 50% were earning less than $100 from their blogs.
Blogging.org Blogging Earnings Report
The next most recent survey is from Blogging.org, done in 2012. After quizzing 1,000 U.S. bloggers about their earnings, it found that “81% of bloggers never made even $100 from blogging” and only about “8% made enough to support a family”.
These surveys put the percentage of bloggers who earn a full-time income at about 5-8%. As with most surveys, you need to take these numbers with a pinch of salt.
And it goes without saying that to ‘earn a full-time income’ is a subjective statement. A full-time income for one person may not be the same amount as another person. Arguments aside, these numbers give us a peek into the reality of the situation.
I’m going to pull this quote from a Lifehacker article that grounds this discussion:
The truth is, it’s not as easy to carve out your space on the web and make a name for yourself as a blogger today, as it was back when blogging was brand new. And it takes a lot of time to build your audience to the point where it’s successful. (The most successful, multi-million dollar blogs today were started around 2005 or earlier.) Source: Can I Really Make a Living by Blogging?
As bleak as these sound, does that mean you shouldn’t even bother?
Of course not.
What this means is that
1. all of us need patience
2. we need to think about different ways of making money via our blogs, especially in the beginning.Here's how to be one of the 5% of bloggers who make a living from their blogs Click To Tweet
How To Make Money Blogging
There are lots of ways to make money online. The graphic below highlights some of them and I may have definitely missed a few.
In this post, I’m going to cover 4 of these areas in detail and how you can start to implement them on your own blogs.
If you’re looking for more info on how to advertise with ads, memberships or even kindle books, check out this post from Authority Hacker which outlines the pros and cons of each method.
*This post contains affiliate links
#1 Sell your time – Offer coaching or consulting services
A coach offers tips, specific strategies and a plan of action that you can implement in a specific area.
You don’t want to be a coach for ‘everything’. No one would come to you then.
You can’t expect to help someone get organized, earn a full-time income via freelance writing and meal plan.
Your blog could talk about all these things but what you want to do is position your coaching in one area.
My friend Elna is a successful freelance writer and she offers coaching services to other aspiring freelance writers. Elna has successfully positioned herself as a coach through her blog posts, her writing gigs and by displaying social proof.
You might think, why would anyone want to be coached by you.
It’s hard grappling with self-doubt.
How do you set yourself and your blog up to be able to bring in an income stream via coaching?
A. Make Money Blogging By Positioning yourself in an area.
You might have several areas that you’re an expert in, but positioning yourself in one area makes it easier for someone to pick you over someone else.
It’s easier for someone to connect their problems with your coaching service and say that’s exactly what I need.
B. Your posts need to demonstrate your expertise
You need to have several ‘how to’ posts in that particular area that you’re offering coaching services on. Your potential clients need to be able to take away a lot from your posts before committing to hiring you for a detailed action plan.
C. Show social proof (or work at getting some)
Have you written guest posts in that topic for blogs that are well-established? Have you helped anyone else get results?
If you’re starting from scratch, this can be demotivating when you have nothing to show for.
When I first started, I reviewed and offered feedback to lots of new bloggers and sites for free. I’ve reviewed close to 30 sites since I started blogging 7 months ago. What this does is:
- Gets you testimonials
- Gives you a clarity on the issues that potential clients will face. If you start doing it long enough, you will start to see patterns with what people are struggling with.
- Gives you the confidence that you are able to help people. This is huge because you have to be able to believe in yourself and sell ‘you’ to yourself first before selling to others.
D. Set up a coaching or ‘work with me page’
I haven’t used a landing page for my ‘work with me page’ but you definitely could.
Whether you use a landing page or not, this page needs to be written for your potential client. You need to walk them through their pain points and show them what they are going to get by hiring you.
All that social proof that you worked so hard for – here’s where you display them.
E. Have a way for your potential client to get in touch with you
I use Typeform to ask a couple of basic questions. If there’s a request, I get a notification.
You could also use the plugin Contact Form 7. Both of these tools are free.
#2 Promote affiliate products
Affiliate marketing is huge.
You earn a commission for referring people to a service or product and if they purchase it through your referral link, you get paid a percentage of the sale or a fixed fee.
The possibilities for affiliate marketing extend beyond just ‘coffee money’.
For instance, Michelle of Making Sense of Cents earns $50,000 and more from affiliate income. You can read my interview with her here. More affiliate networks and affiliate programs pay a handsome sum and lots of bloggers are able to earn from their new blogs by using affiliate marketing effectively.
My friend Mckinzie from Moms Make Cents earned about $1000 in affiliate income from her 4-month-old blog.
How do you even start with affiliate marketing? Here are some steps:
A. What products are your audience interested in?
On your website, what topics do your readers like to read about? You should look at your Google Analytics to see what topics bring the most visitors to your website.
B. Find an affiliate product or service to promote that is relevant to your brand and niche. Be picky
What products have you personally used and have seen results? Be picky about what products you promote. You wouldn’t want to promote a new product every week.
C. Sign up and get approved for the product’s affiliate program
There are plenty of affiliate networks. Here are a few:
- Shareasale (which is one of my fave)
- CJ Affiliate
- Amazon Associates
- Click Bank
- Affiliate Window
- Skim Links
Another affiliate programme that you may want to join and that is popular is Ultimate bundles.
You can easily sign up to be an affiliate and they have a few bundles from homemaking, digital photography, healthy living, organization, and blogging. So whatever your niche, you may be able to find a suitable bundle to promote to your audience.
There are also companies that run private affiliate programs. Once you have identified the right products, sign up for their affiliate program.
E. What types of posts can you write to include an affiliate offer?
What tutorials or roundup posts can you create to highlight your affiliate product and be helpful to the reader as well? Once you start thinking from this angle, you’re going to get a whole range of ideas.
Here are 3 that I’ve written:
- Siteground vs Bluehost: The better choice for new bloggers
- Why I invested in Convertkit vs Mailchimp when I was earning $0 on my blog
- 10 top blogging investments to propel your blog in the new year
#3 Make Money Blogging By Offering a service
This is pretty similar t0 #1. You’re selling your time.
While this takes away from the ‘passive income’ dream that you’re always sold to, you’ll be surprised at how much you can actually make freelancing.
I write freelance and that makes up the bulk of my income and keeps me afloat while this blog is still in its early stages.
You can offer several services from:
- VA services (I have mentioned my friend Miranda Nahmia previously on this blog. She made almost 5K in the last month from her VA business)
- Pinterest management (Are you great at Pinterest? There are people who will pay you to give them a Pinterest Makeover or manage their accounts for them)
- Social media management (My blogging buddy Alissia Haggard has several clients whom she manages social media for)
#4 Sell your own digital product
This is where the passive income dream comes in right?
You make one product and keep selling it several times. But if it was that easy, everyone would be earning 6-figures.
There are lots that go into selling a product. In this post, I talk about 11 things you need to consider before launching your first info product.
Before I go into the steps of selling your first info product, it’s best not to get overwhelmed with ‘what to sell’ when you just launched your blog or are in the very early stages of blogging. Stage appropriate goals are what’s going to help your blog grow. It’s good to have a monetization strategy in place but you need to work on nurturing and building your audience first.
With that said, here are some steps that go into selling your first info product:
A. You need to be able to tap into the pulse of your audience and what they need
You need to do several things before creating your product
- Put out a free splintered version to test response
- Run a survey
- Create a freebie that’s tied into the product
B. You need to fill products for every stage of the customer journey
A subscriber might not be at the stage where she needs your product X because she’s several steps before.
You can still turn her into a customer by offering a product for where she’s at. You can see how this will take time.You need to fill products for every stage of the customer journey and this takes timeClick To Tweet
C. You need to deal with selling
Most of us wish that this is how selling goes:
Promote to list > Subscriber sees offer > Subscriber buys
It’s not that simple is it? Here’s how it usually happens.
Promote to list > Subscriber sees offer > Subscriber sees someone else mention it on social media > She sees a link to the product in a blog post > She reads another post that reminds you of the product > She purchases the product
It takes several touch points before someone might finally say ‘yes’ to your product.
D. Deciding on tools that help you deliver your info product
There are a whole bunch of tools but I use these two:
- Sendowl (Fixed monthly fee and they do not take a cut info each product sold. Perfect for eBooks.)
- Teachable (I love the interface and how easy it is to have your course up and running. What I don’t love is the sales page editor but if you have a tool like Thrive landing pages, you can have a snazzy sales page linked directly to Teachable)
- Gumroad (I love the ease of using Gumroad. They even handle affiliate payouts. This is my next choice after Sendowl)
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
There’s isn’t one right way to make money blogging. Although everyone does sell the dream of an info product and you should go for it if that’s what you want….
…you may find that you are great at affiliate marketing or working 1:1 with people. When you’re starting out it’s good to not put all your eggs in one basket. You don’t quite know what will take off for you.
It’s good to experiment and be open to adding a few streams of income.
Which of these methods do you like and what are you planning to implement?