How to Monetize Your Blog

How to start a profitable blog” – I am sure you have seen these words floating around on search engines and social media platforms. And for good reason too! Take a look at this startling statistic: according to HostingFacts.com, “the internet influenced sales to the tune of $2.1 trillion in 2016.”

$2.1 TRILLION!

Being a business owner is not a dream reserved only for a handful of people anymore. Anyone with special skills can create and sell their products or services without even having to invest in a brick and mortar physical storefront.

If you sit to think of at least five industries that aren’t online yet, you will just be wasting your time. Almost every industry in some way or the other has an online presence. And taking advantage of this digitization wave are online business owners. Bloggers are a subsegment of this online business owner community.

Bloggers have grown to be online influencers endorsing products and services they have discovered and loved or hate. Or, it could be their own product or service.

Brands are making a beeline for such influencers in hopes of reaching new audience/potential customers. Also word-of-mouth marketing.

Remember the $2.1 trillion?

If you have started a blog in the last year, you most likely want to monetize your blog and earn an income too. You may want to be one of those online influencers who seal the fate of business they like or dislike. Or, you may want to put your own business online and run a blog as a knowledge service.

But is it sustainable to run a blog without earning any revenue? Perhaps not. After all, there are certain operational expenses–such as, domain, hosting, email service, etc.–that need to be taken care of regularly. And of course, if after paying for all these costs, you earn a profit, that’s just a sweet deal.

How to Monetize Your Blog

Explore the three most common blog monetization strategies and find out if you are monetizing your blog the right way?

The Three Types of Monetization Strategies

How you choose to monetize your business will essentially fall under one or all of the following monetization strategies:

While some niches can leverage all three sources, others may be better suited to leverage one. Before knowing which one is best for your website, let’s explore the pros and cons of each strategy.

Disclaimer: All links prefixed with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. Any purchase you make by clicking these links will earn me a small commission but will not cost you anything extra. For more details, please read my Disclosure Policy.

Income from sponsorship and/or affiliation

Sponsorship and affiliation are not the same.

Sponsorship refers to established or upcoming brands offering a monetary compensation in exchange for a mention or full-fledged review from you.

Typically, you will include links to the brand’s website or offering in your blog post so that your readers can visit them. In exchange, you receive either money or access to the free product and/or service that you are endorsing.

Affiliation refers to recommending products and/or services that you truly believe in. The brand doesn’t pay you in exchange for your mention–unless, of course, you make a sale. Then, you earn a commission–a percentage–of the sale price.

For example, I use and recommend my website host, *SiteGround. If you purchase any of SiteGround’s plan by clicking the link I included above, it will earn me a few dollars.

Similarly, I wholeheartedly endorse *Blog By Number, an eCourse by Suzi Whitford, to anyone who is looking to start or is in the early stages of their blogging journey.

The difference between sponsorship and affiliation is the guaranteed compensation. While sponsorship means you are sure to receive a compensation, affiliate marketing requires you to actively promote the products and/or services without guaranteed compensation unless you make a sale.

In both cases, you must remember to add a disclosure statement (about the guaranteed or potential compensation) and mark all brand links as “nofollow” links. Not doing so can affect your listing in search engine result pages adversely and may even land you in a legal soup.

Additionally, ensure that the brands, products, and/or services that you endorse are not only relevant to your niche but are also in alignment with your values and principles. It helps even more if you have personally used and liked the product or service in question.

I know it may seem profitable to promote as many products and/or services as you can and hope some of those will stick, I would recommend picking and recommending no more than 5-7 brands/products/services on a regular basis.

Once you zero-in on your options, be sure to read the brands’ Terms and Conditions to learn how you can promote their offerings. For example, Amazon neither allows you to modify their affiliate links nor do they allow you to include their affiliate links in emails.

Income from Display Advertisement Banners

Displaying third-party advertisement banners on your website is one of the most popular methods of earning an income. This monetization strategy, in the truest sense, is an example of earning passive income.

You may have heard of Google Adsense or Mediavine–those are examples of third-party advertising networks.

These networks rent predetermined space on your website to display their advertisements. How these translate to income for you depends on the Terms and Conditions of the agreement.

For example, Google Adsense will track each visitor on your website and show them targeted advertisements from third parties in the designated ad space(s). You get paid if a visitor clicks the advertisement (pay per click).

Some networks simply pay you per 1000 views (pay per view).

In both cases (pay per click and pay per view), the amount isn’t the best. So unless your blog traffic is at least in 5 figures, don’t expect too much from this income stream.

Income from Selling Your Own Products and/or Services

My favorite.

If you have a product or service that others can benefit from, put it up for sale.

Except it’s not THAT easy. In fact, it’s the most difficult of the three monetization strategies.

First of all, you NEED to have a product or a service that you can offer. Maybe you already have a product or service, maybe you have an idea but nothing concrete yet, or maybe you haven’t even given this option a thought yet.

So, write down what special skills you have and what kind of products or services you can offer because of those skills. Can you write an eBook that helps new entrepreneurs change their money mind blocks? Can you create an eCourse that helps homeschooling moms teach better? Can you write email sequences for other bloggers? Can you be a fitness coach to people who want to build lean muscles? Can you be someone’s maternity photographer?

The options are unlimited. It can be as common or as uncommon as you make it.

However, make sure you are truly equipped to create that product or service offering.

Be prepared to put in some extra effort right from ideation to after-sale. As you become familiar with the process, things will become easier each time and you won’t be spending as much time modifying or marketing your offerings.

Make the offering so awesome that word-of-mouth becomes your biggest marketing tool.  

Curious to know which monetization strategy is best-suited for your business/niche?

Take this quiz!

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Explore the three most common blog monetization strategies and find out if you are monetizing your blog the right way?

The Ultimate Guide to a High-Converting Lead Magnet

Synopsis: A lead magnet or an optin freebie is a free resource you give away to your readers in exchange for their email IDs. This post explores the frequently asked questions (FAQ) related to lead magnets.


As a business owner, one of your main goals is to find leads and convert them into paying customers. Right? But how do you find those customers? In a brick-and-mortar business, your shop is your proof of concept but you may also mail flyers and possibly drop an advertisement in the local newspaper.

But what are your options in the blog world?

Well, you embrace the most popular medium of communication in the digital world–the email.

I tell you the email is the greatest invention of all times, especially for an introvert like me. I can open it when I want, I can mute it, I can ignore it, I can draft a reply for 1 hour and send then it…and for the most part, there is no “read receipt.”

Email is also a great medium for starting conversations. Recipients feel secure and in control of the situation (see above) while you still get to pitch your thoughts and offers.

But remember, you cannot send an unsolicited email pitching your awesome products or services without expressed and written interest from the recipient. Even thinking of doing so could get you sued!

So, how do you get that precious email ID to build your own email subscribers’ list?

You work for it! You earn it! You provide value.

Enter lead magnets.

The Ultimate Guide to a High-Converting Lead Magnet

A lead magnet or an optin freebie is a free resource you give away to your readers in exchange for their email IDs. This post explores the frequently asked questions (FAQ) related to lead magnets.

What is a lead magnet?

A lead magnet (or opt-in resource, freebie, etc.) is an additional piece of information or a tool that will help your readers accomplish certain goals. Think of it like a job-aid or a ready reckoner that your readers would refer to while completing a specific task or a series of tasks.

In the blogging world, lead magnets are typically either attached to your overall brand or to specific posts. You put the free information or tool behind a sign-up form and interested readers provide their email IDs in exchange for access to the resource. Typically, these resources are absolutely free.

When attached to the overall brand, lead magnets encompass a wider content idea while the ones attached to specific posts (also known as “content upgrade”) are more specific to the post they are attached to. For example, suppose you are a food blogger: your high-level lead magnet could be an eBook about “Meal Planning” or an “Affordable Food Pyramid” whereas your content upgrade could be a printable recipe card for each recipe you post.

Why should I create a lead magnet?

Lead magnets or opt-in freebies are a great way to build your email list. Basically, you barter your knowledge for your readers’ email ID.

Traditionally, opt-ins (or job-aids, as they are called in the Learning & Development circles) were provided to students as a ready reckoner or reference material–something they can print out and stick on their soft board. For example, Math students may want all trigonometry formulas in one place along with mnemonics to help them remember the formulas. Or, call center employees may want to refer to a checklist for every customer call they receive. So, in essence, lead magnets are nothing but tools to aid the user in completing their job.

But in the blogging world, which has now grown to be a mix of teaching + selling, job-aids (or opt-ins, if you will) are being created for the additional purpose of gaining email subscribers.

Related Posts

(Actually, you don’t sell on your blog; you sell on your website of which your blog is a component.)

These resources help your reader gain additional knowledge on a particular topic you teach. Typically, this knowledge is complementary and/or supplementary in nature and builds off of what you have already covered in an existing blog post or series. Remember not to include radically new or unrelated information in your opt-in resources.

Mobile users, click here to sign up. You get 20 lead magnet formats + 35 lead magnet ideas across 7 profitable niches.

How often should I create a free lead magnet?

There is no correct answer to this. You can do this as often or as infrequently as you want. What is important, however, is that your lead magnet is truly representative of your brand. Don’t force yourself to create a free content upgrade for every post. Some niches allow for more opportunities than others.

That said, what I do and recommend is to plan your content calendar in such a way that there is a new sign-up opportunity for visitors every two or three months. Any fewer than this frequency and your readers may lose interest. Any more and basically your lead magnet, even though it is free, will sit in their Downloads folder and never see the light of the day.

Also, I have read a few bloggers who say that your free lead magnet should be easy to create and not time-consuming. But what is left unsaid is that anything and everything you offer your readers must still be “high-quality,” including your free lead magnet. After all, these are your gateways to your readers Inbox. Honor their trust.

How should I deliver lead magnets?

Your choice.

As mentioned before, in the blogosphere, lead magnets are used as a way to gain email IDs. You may choose to include a link to your resource in the Thank You page of your opt-in form or in an actual email.

Another related question that often pops up is “should I host all my lead magnets in a single library, or should I create separate “events” for each lead magnet?”

Again, it’s your personal choice.

However, one massive advantage of creating separate sign-up events for each lead magnet is that you get to segment your email list according to their interests.

For example, if someone signed up to receive my SEO checklist, I know they are interested in learning about SEO. In future, if I ever have something special to share about SEO tools or techniques, I know who would be interested.

On the other hand, if I have a global sign-up button to my “library” or “vault,” there is no way for me to know who downloaded what. I imagine that’s a missed opportunity to know your audience better.

Should you email new freebies to your existing email subscribers?

Your email subscribers should get first dibs on everything you create. Of course, I assume you have already segmented them and know what resources and offers they are truly interested in.

Additionally, it’s highly likely that even though someone signed up to be on your email list, they don’t actively follow your blog. In that case, they will miss out on your awesome lead magnet.

Makes sense? I thought so.  

What are the features of an effective opt-in form and landing page?

Without an effective opt-in form/landing page, your readers won’t be interested in your free resource. And you already know the importance of getting those readers interested.

This is the meat of the matter.

However, the opt-in form, or the landing page depending on how you want to promote your resource, deserves its own post. I will write a separate blog post soon detailing the design of an effective opt-in form and/or landing page. There’s a lot to cover there.

Broadly though, there are some quick tips you should incorporate in your copy:

  • Write a super-inviting headline. Click here to get some ideas on crafting compelling headline in this post I wrote.
  • Highlight the problem that your resource will help solve. What is your reader struggling with? Why have you created this freebie? What can they do better if they download your freebie? Identify your potential client’s pain points and highlight those. Additionally, where possible, outline the features and benefits of your resource–how can your lead magnet help them–without giving away too much information. Typically this is difficult to do in a typical freebie opt-in form versus a full-fledged sales page but do what you can.
  • Ensure the form’s aesthetics are simple and clean. I know there are some forms that are a riot of colors and elements but also remember those designs complement their owners’ personalities. Take a cue from your writing…for example, I write in a casual language but it’s not as carefree as some others. If I blast up my opt-in form with confetti bits, it will absolutely go against the understated aesthetics of my “brand.”
  • Do not ask for more information from the user than necessary. To me, first name and email ID are the only two pieces of information you should need. Some may even be happy with just the email ID. And yet, I came across a form a few weeks ago that asked for my zip code and phone number. That person lost a potential customer even before a sign-up.
  • Pay attention to the Call-to-Action (“Sign Up”) button. According to several studies (here’s one), the use of a contrasting color–especially reds and oranges–in the CTA button increases the chances of a sign-up. Additionally, modifying the default CTA text “Sign Up” also helps increase sign-ups. Change the default CTA text to a first-person action such that the reader feels compelled to take action. For example, instead of “Sign Up,” you can write “Send me the freebie,” Ï am interested,” or something such.

Mobile users, click here to sign up. You get 20 lead magnet formats + 35 lead magnet ideas across 7 profitable niches.

Should I use a Single Opt-in form or a Double Opt-in form?

To begin with, read this article outlining the differences between the single opt-in and the double opt-in processes.

Single opt-in may be easier to sign up with, but it may also leave your Inbox more vulnerable.

A single opt-in form doesn’t require the user to confirm that the email address they have entered is valid. Sometimes, a user may enter an incorrect email ID due to a typing error, or simply because they don’t want to reveal their primary email ID. In both cases, you will be riddled with email IDs that serve you no good because nobody will ever be opening your emails.

You could, however, purge your email list monthly or quarterly and remove the “bad IDs.”

On the other hand, a double opt-in form mandates that the user confirm their email ID by completing an action right from my Inbox. Once they confirm, they can access the free resource on the delivery platform you have chosen (over email, over a blog page, over Dropbox, etc.)

Of course, there is no guarantee that users who signed up via the double opt-in process will open all your emails in the future but at least you can be sure it’s landing in an active Inbox.

My personal choice is a double opt-in.

Getting your emails opened is another story. Here’s a great article to help you get higher open rates.

What are the features of an actual lead magnet?

This is what it all comes down to–the actual resource. The meat of the matter. The final product your readers have traded their email IDs for. Make it worth their while.

  • Deliver the product in a web-friendly and printer-friendly manner: Consider delivering your printable products as a PDF document or a Google document instead of an MS Word or Mac Pages document. The former are web-optimized and easy to print compared to the latter options. PDF file sizes are less than MS Word/Pages too while Google doc resides on the Web.
  • Turn down the colors: There is no denying that colors add a lot of vibrancy. However, please be mindful of your readers’ resources and avoid a “full-color experience.” 20 pages of colored pages will use up their cartridges sooner than they thought. It’s not something most people think about but it’s good to err on the side of caution. Alternatively, you could give your readers the option to choose between a “colorful” and a “pastel,” “minimalist,” or “black-and-white” format.
  • Fulfill the promise: MOST IMPORTANT. Make sure the resource delivers the promise you made. I would be really mad if I saw a “Your Own Social Media Calendar” in the opt-in form and it turns out to be just a stylized, blank calendar.
  • Keep it short: The days of giving away 80-page eBooks are gone. No one has the time to sit and read those many pages. What your lead magnet should do instead is summarise those 80 pages and hand them a 5-pager. That’s what your readers will thank you for. Make things easy for them.
  • Provide instructions and guidance, where needed: Your lead magnet should be an easy tool to use. However, if at all, it needs to be explained, please make sure you include the instructions. For example, an Excel worksheet containing formulas may need some instructions for users who are not Excel savvy.

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A lead magnet or an optin freebie is a free resource you give away to your readers in exchange for their email IDs. This post explores the frequently asked questions (FAQ) related to lead magnets.

TED Talks: 5 More Inspirational Talks You Should Watch

Way back in June 2017, I had posted a list of 5 inspirational TED Talks. That post is still my highest traffic source. I had no idea it would attract so many readers. But then it dawned on me that the post is so popular because it has met its objective–to motivate others.

The scope of that post, of course, was very broad because it could be a motivator for anyone and everyone and not just my niche audience. After all, each one of us needs a dose of inspiration every now and then.

Between our work responsibilities and family responsibilities, most of have very little time left for self-care. I do not mean the self-care that involves long showers and relaxing massages, or just 30 minutes alone time without a child hanging by your shoulders. You absolutely must make time for all of that…and more! You deserve it! But additionally, I want you to make time to stimulate your mind and soul too.

And so, I have decided to put together a TED Talk series for my readers. I will search the TED website and curate a list of 5 most amazing talks I find in there. I will publish this list for public consumption once every quarter.

Let’s get started. 

Feel like you are stuck in a rut? Watch 5 awe-inspiring TED Talks to challenge your status quo.

Disclaimer: All synopses are from the TED website.

TED Talk #1: Free Yourself From Your Filter Bubbles

Duration: 9:18 minutes

Synopsis

Joan Blades and John Gable want you to make friends with people who vote differently than you do. A pair of political opposites, the two longtime pals know the value of engaging in honest conversations with people you don’t immediately agree with. Join them as they explain how to bridge the gaps in understanding between people on opposite sides of the political spectrum — and create opportunities for mutual listening and consideration (and, maybe, lasting friendships).

Direct Link 

 

 

TED Talk #2: What Makes Something Go Viral

Duration: 10:29 minutes

Synopsis

What’s the secret to making content people love? Join BuzzFeed’s Publisher Dao Nguyen for a glimpse at how her team creates their tempting quizzes, lists and videos — and learn more about how they’ve developed a system to understand how people use content to connect and create culture.

Direct Link

 

 

TED Talk #3: Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Duration: 10:54 minutes

Synopsis

Luvvie Ajayi isn’t afraid to speak her mind or to be the one dissenting voice in a crowd, and neither should you. “Your silence serves no one,” says the writer, activist and self-proclaimed professional troublemaker. In this bright, uplifting talk, Ajayi shares three questions to ask yourself if you’re teetering on the edge of speaking up or quieting down — and encourages all of us to get a little more comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Direct Link

 

 

TED Talk #4: The Future of Storytelling

Duration: 21:59 minutes

Synopsis

“We all feel a compelling need to watch stories, to tell stories … to discuss the things that tell each one of us that we are not alone in the world,” says TV titan Shonda Rhimes. A dominant force in television since “Grey’s Anatomy” hit the airwaves, Rhimes discusses the future of media networks, how she’s using her narrative-building skills as a force for good, an intriguing concept known as “Amish summers” and much more, in conversation with Cyndi Stivers, director of the TED Residency.

Direct Link

 

 

TED Talk #5: 12 Truths I Learned From Life and Writing

Duration: 15:55 minutes

Synopsis

A few days before she turned 61, writer Anne Lamott decided to write down everything she knew for sure. She dives into the nuances of being a human who lives in a confusing, beautiful, emotional world, offering her characteristic life-affirming wisdom and humor on family, writing, the meaning of God, death and more.

Direct Link

 

 

That’s it for this quarter. To receive one inspiring TED Talk video in your Inbox every week, please sign up for our mailing list.

I hope this post lifted your spirits as it did for me.

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Feel like you are stuck in a rut? Watch 5 awe-inspiring TED Talks to fuel the fire in your belly.

How to Create a Quiz That Converts

Have you heard of Buzzfeed quizzes? Never mind; scrap that because I know you have. New question: have you tried a Buzzfeed or similar quiz? Come on, no shame! I have taken SO many quizzes it’s embarrassing. Here are some I remember:

  • Which Disney princess are you?
  • Which city should to move to?
  • Which vegetable are you? (Say, what?!)
  • What type of a mom are you? (Panda!)
  • Are you a bad mom? :-O (Okay, this was around the time the movie Bad Moms was showing, but I tell you, mom guilt is real!)

That said, over time, these quizzes faded into the oblivion because I stopped using my personal Facebook profile. It was part of my “simplify life” action plan. That was two years ago. If it weren’t for Momchakra.com and its FB page, I wouldn’t be on Facebook at all.

Disclaimer: All links prefixed with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. Any purchase you make by clicking these links will earn me a small commission but will not cost you anything extra. For more details, please read my Disclosure Policy.

Anyway, back to the quizzes. Recently, I was introduced to *Interact, a quiz builder aimed at lead generation. And I thought “hey that’s a very cool idea!” Online quizzes don’t have to be silly; they can be used for education too. After all, that’s why someone came up with the concept of quizzing. Right?

So then, what if you could use quizzes to help your readers identify their strengths and weakness or find their life or career paths? All the while still growing your brand by generating leads!

That’s exactly what *Interact does.

How to Create a Quiz That Converts

Quizzing your niche audience is a solid way of building engagement. But what if quizzes could also help you build your email list? Introducing Interact, a quiz builder that helps you not only generate brilliant quizzes but also multiple leads.

Why you should create a quiz

Any idea why these quizzes are so popular among users of all age groups? Curiosity, yes but also the element of interaction is a great lure.

As a blogger, you publish a lot of content and your readers lap it all up. But do you know who among all your readers benefit the most from your content? The ones who retain the information. Typically, these are people who write notes or key learning points from your published content. In other words, they interact with your content passively.

Interaction is a very powerful way of drawing your readers into your realm. It gives them the sense of being in control because of active engagement. Engaged readers are absolutely primed for investing in your brand–mentally if not monetarily.

How YOU can use a quiz to generate leads

As a blogger, there is a lot you can do with quizzes. But for the purpose of a lead-generating system, like *Interact, you can create quizzes that help your readers:

  • Identify their strengths and weaknesses
  • Provide a roadmap for growth
  • Select a product or service you offer
  • Provide entertainment (BuzzFeed-ish)

Consequently, as a businessperson, these quizzes will help you:

  • Gain insights into your niche audience
  • Segregate your audience into relevant email sequences and sales funnels
  • Build engagement
  • Break monotony

Ready to start creating your own quizzes?

Download your free list of engaging quiz ideas!

Features of an effective quiz (and how you can create one)

  • Choose a relevant topic: Before anything else, make sure the quiz is relevant to your readers. Make it fun (or silly–your choice!) or seriously educational, but it should ultimately be about the information your readers are looking for. For example, if the goal of your quiz is to collect emails, create it for people who would be willing to trade their email IDs for your content. Make the quiz very targeted, just as you do for your content.
  • Use informal language: Write in the second person, as if talking to your audience. And make it personal. Earn your reader’s trust. Highly formal language acts as a hindrance to building relationships. It will deter your audience from investing their time and energy in your quiz.
  • Write a compelling headline: Spend some time coming up with a headline that will piqué your readers’ curiosity. This will be your audience’s first impression of your quiz. Write a headline that is engaging, relevant, and clear. If you need help coming up with compelling headlines, read this post I wrote earlier.
  • Add a descriptive subheading: Sometimes–not always–you may need to write a subheading that describes the goal of the quiz in a more descriptive way. This will usually happen when your headline elicits curiosity but is vague. For example, Which Disney Princess Are You? Is a great headline but which characteristics of a princess personality are the quiz focussing on is unclear–is it their wistfulness, leadership, beauty, and so on. Alternatively, you could also use the subheading to deliver the benefit of participating in the quiz. How will the reader benefit by attempting your quiz?
  • Ask relevant questions: Once you have decided the headlines and style, it’s time to draft the question stem. Unless you are an entertainment channel, you should write useful, realistic questions. Your readers will go to BuzzFeed if they want to binge-participate in whimsical quizzes. They come to you for information. Make it worth their while. For example, if you quiz title is “What is your blogging personality?” you should avoid questions that ask them who their favorite US President of all time is! It’s just not relevant.
  • Present plausible options: As with the question stem, write options that are plausible. For example: If you quiz is “How much money will you make this week from your side hustle?” it’s highly unlikely it would be “1 million US dollars.” Don’t offer what you cannot provide.
  • Write positive results: Your readers have invested their time and energy in your quiz for this–the result. In a lead-generating quiz, you will collect the readers’ email IDs right before the results and instead of displaying the result on the current page, you will email the results to them. Now, here comes the important part: when they open your “result” email, they are curious and hopeful. They want to see a result that is relevant but also inspiring, positive, and uplifting. Nobody wants to be told they are losers and there is no hope for them. Craft your results in a way that is sensitive and personal. You will also earn brownie points if the result includes action items for the readers–what can they do to improve the status quo?

I would recommend spending the most time writing your results page followed by the headline. If you are creating a personality quiz, come up with the personality types (results) first and then work backward to create the quiz content.

And there you have it–the secret to creating an awesome quiz. If you want to create your own quiz, *Interact makes it really easy for you to do that. You simply populate some text fields, select the HTML code generated by the *Interact system, and paste it into your website’s content window. Their interface is easy-to-use and comes with a great set of user manuals.

As if that wasn’t enough, I have put together a list of ideas you can use to create your quizzes. It’s all yours for free. 

Pin for later. Quizzing your niche audience is a solid way of building engagement. But what if quizzes could also help you build your email list? Introducing Interact, a quiz builder that helps you not only generate brilliant quizzes but also multiple leads.