A few people have asked me what it means to be a “problogger,” and if I really make money from my blog. I do make money from my blog (of course, I do prefer to have other sources of income to subsidize that!) and the term “problogger” basically means that my blog has been built enough that I either can make enough side income, or if I wanted, to make an entire living off my blog if I were to scale it.
The next set of questions from other bloggers is the “how.” How do I make money blogging? What’s the right way to monetize the blog? If I make money, will I be “selling out?” and how can I earn some side hustle income without looking fake? There are a ton of ways to monetize your blog (A.K.A. make them dollas!) and today’s post is just the tip of the iceberg, but I hope you enjoy my best tips on how to make money blogging!
I know you were hoping for a quick fix, some plugin that you could install to your blog to make it draw in millions of dollars a month…but sadly, there isn’t a quick fix. Some bloggers choose to make money with traffic based ad networks that pay for the amount of views or clicks the ad gets- like Google Adsense, BlogHer or Burst Media. Other bloggers go the way of having direct sponsors where someone pays them for a sidebar banner each month- no matter how you go for it, you have to bring in the traffic!
There is no quick fix to getting regular readership to your blog- but you have to ask yourself “Why would a reader come back to my blog, what makes them fall in love with my message?” Every blog should post regular content based around their personal story, great tips or advice, gorgeous pictures or fun video- whatever you bring to the table, make sure your posts shine with personality. Even when you tell a personal story, there needs to be a reason for others to read (inspiration, education, entertainment.) Always keep in mind the “so what?” when you post.
It’s a short-lived shortcut to think you can drive traffic to your blog with a quick-fix tactic to make money. Sure, you can take a shortcut and write something controversial, or “link bait” etc. to get one day of big traffic, but it’s not sustainable. To be a problogger or at least make substantial “fun money” each month with your blog, you need traffic to return regularly.
In every post, even if it’s just a “personal post,” know that you must ask yourself the “why,” and what value it offers to readers and possible sponsors to keep them coming back! Having readers that subscribe to your blog via newsletter or RSS, following on Twitter & Facebook & talking about your blog is essential- that only comes from writing good content, no way around it. Building stats authentically is key- if you want to pitch to companies for free stuff later, you need to work on having substantial stats by building a dedicated following.
Why do I go on a rant about what some might say is totally obvious? Most bloggers don’t do it. They take shortcuts like focusing on SEO (not quality content) or they use tricky tactics to drive short term traffic to their blog. If you want to make consistent money, you will prove your value to advertisers and readers (who help you snag more ad revenue & other sponsorships) by being genuine and focusing on the benefit of your readers. Without readers, your blog ain’t nothin’!
If your traffic is low, you may think carefully about signing up and relying on networks like BlogHer or Adsense that only make you money if you get a ton of pageviews and people click the banners. Conversely, if your traffic is really low, you may not be able to reel in big sponsors or charge a lot for banner ad space on your blog- but that’s OK. Know you will start small, and if you continue to focus on point #1, your ad revenue will grow along with your readership.
You can start out with an ad network just to see how well it converts with your audience (believe it or not, some bloggers find people love to click their ads, I never had that experience so it never made me a ton of money!) and then start to reach out to other bloggers for ad swaps or to businesses you’d like to get direct ads with.
My biggest piece of advice with ad networks is this- be careful you don’t get stuck in a year long contract! If you change your mind about making money on your blog (or how you do it) some ad networks like BlogHer and Burst Media do require a year long contract. Decide before you commit if this is right for you!
When I first started out, I did use Adsense and BlogHer. BlogHer does have a year long contract, but I did appreciate that ads were usually really well done and they also had other opportunities like book reviews & paid media campaigns that I could sign up for that weren’t so hard to snag as a new blogger. BlogHer can be a great resource when you first start out, but remember it’s a year long contract and they have strict regulations on the location and placement of your ads!
This is my favorite tactic- it doesn’t matter how big or small your blog is, as long as you’ve done a good job to make sure your blog is full of personality and the site looks good, brands will want to work with you. Of course, you may get a few rejections in the beginning when you email companies to see if they’d like to sponsor your blog or send you free review product, but keep on going!
When I first started blogging, I began to email companies to see if they’d send me a little something (usually clothing or something I needed for school) and I would feature it on my blog or tweet about it. Of course- doing so requires that you be upfront with your readers that free product was provided (either put at the end of the post, or by adding a disclosure page to your blog with a link to it in the post itself.)
To get started, simply find a brand you want to work with, and write them an email- it’s really that simple. Of course, there is a science and art to writing an effective pitch email (expect more on this in an upcoming post) that will be more beneficial to you if done properly, but don’t underestimate the power of “The Ask.” By simply letting a brand know you exist via email, they may want to work with you!
I loved getting free product for reviews and giveaways, sure, at first it didn’t bring in direct ad money, but it helped me get things I couldn’t afford otherwise. As a grad student, I was broke- so being able to get clothes, school supplies or books to further my learning was such a help- it felt awesome to know my blog would help me work with brands to score freebies I loved and needed!
Seriously, it’s awesome to send an email to ask for free stuff and get it, but even better is when they find YOU and are knockin’ at your door to send freebies (yes, it does happen!) There are simple things you can do in an afternoon that will prime your blog to get free stuff and make more money:
-Set up a YouTube Channel and add some videos. (Video is huge for Google search now, plus, both advertisers and readers alike appreciate video more than word-only blogs!)
-Set up an “Auto Tweet” feature so all of your posts are automatically posted via Twitter & Facebook, especially if you feel that you’re not very active on social media. People use Hootsuite & Dlvr.it to set up tweets & Facebook posts in advance both to update followers on new content but to make sure they have some activity when they’re busy- remember, it’s about consistency.
-Make sure your “About” page includes tons of personality and a picture of you. If potential readers, and thus, advertisers feel your blog isn’t human enough, they’ll move on. They want to get to know a real person- not a robot! Put pictures of your family or big life events up (even without names and locations) so people trust you and what you have to say.
Watch out for scams!! Sadly, as you start to really rock your blog and provide value to your readers with great content & a gorgeous lookin’ site, you will attract both good attention and bad. As my site began to grow, I started to get emails from “freelance journalists” and “quality websites” that wanted to do some really shady things- watch out for anyone that offers you something without compensation!
Scammy “offers” include: Link exchanges with sites you’ve never been to, Awards that you’ve never heard of, “Free” guest posts from freelance authors and “helpful” widgets. Whoever is contacting you is getting paid to score free links on blogger’s sites- and often these links are to sites that could cause you to lose your Google Page Rank! Many times these free link exchanges or free guest posts do not help your blog- but it will help the site who gets you to put a link up, it’s not just undermining your blog and the value you provide, it can have real repercussions to your traffic and readership.
I’ve had people outright lie to me and say that they weren’t getting paid to score a guest post on my blog- but where the catch lies is that they aren’t getting paid for the article, they are getting paid for the links within the article! Only take guest posts or from reputable bloggers you know, otherwise, do some research and ask for compensation! Many bloggers choose not to take paid guest posts on their blog- that’s ok, other bloggers, like myself donate blog profits to charity- it’s a personal choice.
The point being though, whether or not you even take ads or sponsorship on your blog, know your value and ask for compensation. You’ve done a lot of work to build not only credibility with your readers, but also with Google (who you depend upon for new people to find you) so don’t ruin that credibility by letting predatory link stuffers sabotage for your blog- any time you post ANYTHING on your blog, make sure it’s trustworthy and that you’re getting paid if someone approaches you for ads or links.
Real estate on your blog is valuable. It doesn’t matter what you charge as long as you don’t get taken advantage of by liars and cheats who randomly email you!
Do you want to learn more ways to earn money with your blog and how to craft the perfect pitch to advertisers for free stuff, travel sponsorships & make more money with your blog?
Rockstar Blogging is my complete guide to building a winning blog that will help you live like a rockstar which launches October 31st.
Sign up for the V.I.P. Rockstar Blogging List to snag your Backstage Pass with exclusive extras, insider info & tips to help you make money blogging!
This is a great post! So many people ask me about this and you worded it perfectly.
Great post with some great tips. I’ve been moving away from the smaller niche sites with little content and moving to just a few blog sites that I maintain regularly, best way to get traffic and keep it! Regular updates and good content!
I’m looking forward to the next post! I’ve been trying to reach out to companies per your advice, but without much luck. Afraid my pitch may have something to do with it!
I have always wondered if bloggers took the initiative by asking companies to work with them. It’s great to know and I will definitely being trying this! Thanks so much!
These tips are great! I’m always considering starting a blog, but then I worry I won’t know how to manage it appropriately. Thanks for the help! (bg)
Great ideas. Thanks! (bg)
I love love the final step, Never work for Free! Although there is always someone willing to work for cheaper, there is also always someone who doesn’t know about that person 🙂
This was a great post, I enjoyed reading it. SUPER informational and a great guideline for new starters.
I eventually deleted my blog because it frustrated me. I wish I would have taken some time to learn how to make it work before I ditched the whole thing! Very good advice.
Know your value! That’s another great part of this post that I love. Sometimes people think that they won’t be able to sell something so they end up under pricing their products.
Believe in yourself and don’t sell your self short!
I could read this post a million times 😉
I love that you included a tip about ignoring those scammers who offer you “free guest posts.” When I started blogging 18 months ago, I had no idea that such a scam existed, and when I began getting emails from people who wanted to offer so-called “quality content,” I wasted a ton of time thinking that these were genuine readers who were asking for help (and treating them accordingly).