How Bloggers Make Money: Sell Products and Services

Post Synopsis: Nothing feels more entrepreneurial than creating and selling your own products and services, such as eCourses, workbooks, freelance writing, etc. This post explores the fundamentals of creating and making money from your own products and services.


What’s your greatest joy when it comes to being a blogger? I bet sharing your knowledge with others is one of the top answers. But you also want to make money out of it, right?

As part of the How Bloggers Make Money series, I have already discussed three ways to monetize your website:

But there’s only so much you can earn from the aforementioned methods.

Consider this: some bloggers claim to be making a full-time income from these methods, especially affiliate marketing. They promote really high-ticket targeted items and they really know how to keep their subscribers engaged. But such bloggers are few and far between.

Coming to advertisements banners, you MUST have very high traffic on your blog. And even then, there are only limited spaces on your website where you can display the banners. The returns are not even worth the effort. It’s a way to earn side income at best.

As for creating sponsored content, you are constantly pitching to brands and not always writing about things you truly love. Every post brings in a one-time payment yet you also run the risk of being considered a sellout by your readers. This affects building a loyal following.

Not great earning potential.

Enter the fourth method: creating and selling your own products or services.

In this scenario, your blog becomes a component of your website and not the website itself. In addition, you add an e-commerce + payment component to your website for showcasing your offerings and making sales.

This method casts a wide net and it’s completely up to you to make a success out of it.

 

Perhaps you have already recognized your calling and your blog is the medium to spread your message and showcase your products and/or services.

Perhaps you have some idea but largely undecided on what product or service you will sell to potential customers. You want to use your blog as a testing and validation platform.

Or, perhaps you have no idea at all if you even want to create and sell something on your website.

It doesn’t matter.

In this post, I will help you explore whether creating and selling your own products and services is the right fit for you.

How Bloggers Make Money: Sell Products and Services

Nothing feels more entrepreneurial than creating and selling your own products and services, such as eCourses, workbooks, freelance writing, etc. This post explores the fundamentals of creating and making money from your own products and services.

First things first, do you know your audience?

Whether you want to go the product route or the service route, you have to know who your target audience is.

Ask yourself questions, such as:

  • Who are you trying to bring to your website?
  • What is their pain point?
  • What do you know that they don’t?
  • What can you do to solve their problem?

Answering these self-analyzing questions will help you decide the kind of content you will create for your website.

For example, let’s say, you want to offer your services as a copywriter in the long-run. Your content should reflect the type of copies you can deliver to potential clients. What value-adds can you offer with your service? You will craft your content to showcase your mastery and pitch your services.

Or, if you want to sell a physical product, create content about that product and how it’s going to satisfy the needs of your target audience. You will build your authority in your specific niche and craft your content such that your readers don’t hesitate to buy from you.

Either way, your content targeting a specific niche will weed out people who anyway won’t purchase your products and services.

Your audience decides your content.

Product or service–which is better?

Creating and selling a product–say, an eCourse–is a very attractive aspiration. It may even seem easy to do…just think of an idea, put some content together, pitch it to your audience, and sit back and enjoy the money pouring in.

But you couldn’t be farther from the truth.

As an instructional designer, I have created close to 500 hours of training modules for big corporations. I know the ins and outs of what goes into creating a solid and effective course. And the bloggers who are successful course creators more or less follow the same process as I have done in the last 15 years. Trust me, it’s a LOT of work.

Also, there is no guarantee that your course will take off unless you have built a loyal group of subscribers who will buy everything you offer. Plus you have to come up with a plan for marketing it constantly and pricing it competitively.

Now, look around…

There are very few “pure product” offerings these days. Most courses now come with an associated mastermind group or a coaching session or a boot camp or a website audit…something in which the creator gets directly involved and coaches the student.

Here’s the reason: services can be priced higher because of the personal touch.

But the bigger reason is this: because of our traditional education system and mental conditioning, humans learn better when in presence of other humans. We need to exchange ideas and express our thoughts. We need to see something happening live in action for us to soak in the learning. And we need feedback on our performance.

Think about it–classrooms in schools, group study programs, workshops and training programs in offices, etc. Even homeschooling and distance learning programs have human teachers thrown into the mix. None of these settings will be successful without a “teacher-student” interaction.

All this is to say: don’t shy away from offering services. Whether services will be your primary revenue stream or secondary or tertiary–that’s up to you to decide.

As an introvert, I know how difficult it can be to be in the presence of other people for the majority of the day. If such is the case, consider selling a product as your primary offering and build in a once-a-month (or weekly) group coaching sessions as a secondary service. The group coaching aspect will allow you to price your course higher and you don’t have to spend a ton of time talking to your students. Win-win.

On the other hand, if you want to offer only services, pitch retainer packages instead of one-off sessions. This way, you won’t have to constantly look for clients and maintain a steady flow of income.

But, selling services means trading time for dollars…

Not true!

Good project management and setting the right expectations from the beginning will ensure you don’t have to work until midnight forever.

Come to think of it, product creation and launch periods are equally busy plus you don’t even get paid for that time.

Big mistake!

Remember to account for all this time in your product price 😉 Don’t offer a $37 course just because you think more people will buy it. In the long-run, you might be undercutting your time.

The same holds true for selling services.

Don’t charge $0.01 per word because you want to win every copywriting bid you come across. You will work yourself to death and won’t even earn enough to buy a coffin. Morbid much?!

Know your worth. Do market research. Be shameless and ask competitors. Find every income report you can find on Google for your niche. Do whatever but don’t undersell yourself.

Screw services! I want to make money selling online courses!

Fair enough!

Most successful bloggers offer at least one course to their followers. You can too.

Start at the beginning–know your audience and their needs (scroll up if you have already forgotten we discussed this just minutes ago).

Now, let’s assume you have a good grasp of your audience and their pain points.

And you have a fantastic course idea that will address their problems. But is it guaranteed to earn you big bucks? Probably not.

I have heard from some bloggers how they surveyed their audience on email and FB to ascertain if they would be willing to purchase a unique online course that would solve their XYZ problem (well done!).

The audience replied with a resounding “YES.”

The bloggers spent several hours getting the course ready.

And then nothing!

The prospective students disappeared. And so did their YES!

Now, there could be a flaw in the bloggers’ marketing strategies and I will leave it to a marketing expert on how to improve on it.

But for now, no matter how excited you are by this unique idea, don’t reinvent the wheel. Build on what’s already out there. Identify the gaps in the existing programs and fill those gaps instead of trying to disrupt the market with your first course.

Okay, I have a course idea. What next?

Good! You are willing to step off the reinvention wheel before it throws you off and makes you land on your head.

But just having a course idea isn’t enough. Here’s what you also need to do.

Step 1: Identify your top 10 blog posts.

Step 2: Identify the specific questions or pain points that your Top 10 blog posts address.

Step 3: Shortlist 1-3 problem areas and come up with a course idea.

Step 4: Research the market for similar courses. Validate your course idea.

Step 4a: Know your competition. Research if they are offering a similar product.

Step 4b: Expand the research net and look for similar courses in marketplaces such as Skillshare, Udemy, etc.

Step 4c: Find out how well the course is doing. Are people buying it? Look for social proof of the course’s success. Go with the bestsellers.

Step 5: Create a simple sales funnel.

Step 5a: Step up your SEO and social media game to bring in traffic to your website.

Step 5b: Create an amazing opt-in offer (lead magnet) to bring potential buyers into the fold. Make sure the lead magnet gets them inside the threshold, i.e. it’s related to the pain point you will help address.

Step 5c: Create 3-4 blog posts and emails that agitate the identified problems. Help your audience identify and acknowledge that they have a problem that you can solve.

Step 6: Start creating your course material. This step runs parallel to Step 5 and onward.

Step 7: Market your course via Facebook Ads, Webinars, etc.

Step 8: Create a super-effective sales page that focuses on the target audience, their problems, and the benefits of your course. (I will write a post on how to create a sales page in a few weeks).

Step 9: Launch your course for a limited period.

Step 10: Nudge your subscribers towards making a purchase.

So yeah, all of that. And a marketing expert would probably tell you there are more steps. But these are the basic minimum.

In the near future, I will go into the details of these steps.

For now, what’s your plan? Are you more inclined to sell your own products or services? Share with me in the comments below.

Pin for later.

Nothing feels more entrepreneurial than creating and selling your own products and services, such as eCourses, workbooks, freelance writing, etc. This post explores the fundamentals of creating and making money from your own products and services.

How Bloggers Make Money: Affiliate Marketing for Beginners

Post Synopsis: Do you want to make money online by joining affiliate marketing programs? Do you want to know which are the top paying affiliate programs? Do you wish you were also earning a full-time income just like that famous blogger you admire? This post explores how you can start making money from top affiliate marketing programs.


Have you ever come across bloggers or YouTubers talking about an awesome product they have tried and want you to purchase it too using their link? It could be a book, a course, a camera–anything really. Sometimes, the creator will even throw in a discount code for you to at the time of checkout. That’s affiliate marketing.

A majority of people (not brands) start blogs because it’s one of the cheapest businesses to start and run. A successful blog, in return, has the potential to earn you a great living. Among others, becoming an affiliate marketer is one of the cheapest ways of making money from your blog.

How Bloggers Make Money: Affiliate Marketing for Beginners

Do you want to make money online by joining affiliate marketing programs? Do you want to know which are the top paying affiliate programs? Do you wish you were also earning a full-time income just like that famous blogger you admire? This post explores how you can start making money from top affiliate marketing programs.

As someone who is considering becoming an affiliate marketer, you must be having a lot of questions in your head. How does an online affiliate program work? How do affiliate marketers make money? Can I make a full-time income with affiliate marketing?

Let’s begin by understanding what is affiliate marketing and how does it work.

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.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a very popular method of making money online.

Bloggers (or any website owner, for that matter) can earn through affiliate marketing by promoting third-party products and/or services to their followers. For every sale, the bloggers then earn a fixed percentage as commission.

So in essence, you–the blogger–are a marketing and sales channel for the owners of the products and/or services you endorse.

Why should I become an affiliate marketer?

As you continue reading the post, you will understand why becoming an online affiliate marketer is a great way to earn moolah. But, if you don’t have the patience to read the entire post, here are some reasons you should:

You don’t need to spend anything: 
Affiliate marketing requires zero to minimal investment from you (and some of your time) but has the potential to earn you several hundred dollars every month. 

You don’t need to spend on manufacturing, storing, shipping, hiring a team–nothing. All you need to do is find a great product or service you believe in and talk about it positively to your followers.

You don’t need to worry about product/service delivery: As an affiliate marketer, your job ends once you have promoted a product or service. Appropriate delivery and post-sale customer service is the creator/owner’s responsibility. That said, it is important to only market products and services that you know are valuable to your followers, has a strong foundation and a responsible owner/creator.

You don’t have to provide customer support: Similar to product delivery, providing customer support is the responsibility of the product owner. You are simply a sales outlet who is bridging the gap between the owner and potential customers.

You may earn passive income from it: Over a period of time, if you are promoting the right product or service AND optimizing the promotion page properly, you may continue to make sales and earn a passive income without spending any additional time or effort.

How do I become an affiliate marketer?

Becoming an affiliate marketer is actually quite simple. What is difficult is knowing which programs will work for you.

Identify one or more product or service that you’d like to get behind and promote. Find out if there is an affiliate marketing program associated with the product or service.

And sign up. That’s it.

Typically you would find the sign-up information on the brand’s website.

If it’s a course, then look for an appendix at the end of the course that mentions whether the course is open to affiliate marketing.

If you don’t know or can’t find the information, email the brand PR or the product creator (such as a blogger selling a course) to find out.

Direct affiliate program vs. affiliate network

Most often, especially as far as blogging courses and software go, brands have their individual affiliate marketing programs. However, there are some–especially software–that tie up with affiliate marketing networks and offer their programs via those networks.

For example: *my preferred hosting partner–SiteGround–has their own affiliate program. They offer very reasonable hosting packages and gold-class customer service.

To sign up, you need to be their existing customer and apply for the program through their website. Once approved, you will promote their services on your blog and every sale you make earns you a certain commission.

If you are looking to switch your current host, consider signing up for *SiteGround’s amazing hosting plans. As their affiliate, here’s what you stand to earn:

My preferred hosting partner--SiteGround--has their own affiliate program. They offer very reasonable hosting packages and gold-class customer service.

*Another affiliate program I have signed up for is Suzi Whitford’s series of courses. Her courses are fantastic learning material for bloggers who are just starting out or are ready to step up their beginners’ game.

To sign up for Suzi’s affiliate program, you have to be an existing student (i.e. purchase one of her courses). In the course material, you will find the instructions to join her affiliate program that will earn you a 40% commission per sale.

*Just started a blog and need direction? Want to step up your email game? Want to create awesome lead magnets? Suzi’s courses have got you covered.

ust started a blog and need direction? Want to step up your email game? Want to create awesome lead magnets? Want to write an eBook? Want to do it all? Suzi’s courses have got you covered.

Most brands offering direct affiliate marketing programs will also provide you with marketing material to make your job even easier.

On the other hand, some brands choose to offer their affiliate programs via a network. *For example, Pinterest and Instagram scheduler–Tailwind–hosts their affiliate marketing program via ShareASale.

To sign up for *Tailwind’s affiliate marketing program, you need to first sign up on the ShareASale website.

At the time of signing up, ShareASale requires you to submit your website details. They will then review your application and you can expect to receive a response in 2-4 days. Once approved, you can browse their merchant listing and apply for each individual brand’s affiliate program.

*ShareASale lists thousands of brands–Tailwind is just one of the merchants listed on their Website.

Sometimes, brands listed on ShareASale may contact you to become their affiliate on the ShareASale website.

How does affiliate marketing pay?

As mentioned earlier, affiliate marketing programs pay you a fixed percentage per sale as commission. That’s the most typical payment model brands follow.

However, there are also other models in the market.

For example, some brands–though in minority–also allow you to become an affiliate without first purchasing the product or service in question.

You heard it! Some brands will pay you commission without you spending a penny.

For example, Amazon.

Amazon is a marketplace. They will pay you for helping them sell products that are listed on their website. All you need is an existing account and an active website.

With Amazon though, there are a lot of terms and conditions you need to follow–I will get to those in a couple of minutes.

As with display advertisements, affiliate marketing is also based on various payment models:

Pay per sale: In this payment model, you promote an affiliate product or service. Once a visitor clicks on the affiliate link and completes a purchase, you earn your commission.

Pay per click: In this payment model, your lead simply has to click on an affiliate link and get redirected to the affiliate brand’s website. That’s it! You’ve earned your commission.

Pay per lead/action: In this payment model, your website visitor has to click on an affiliate link, get redirected to the affiliate brand’s website, and complete an action.

These actions are varied and could range from entering their Name and Email ID to more details such as phone numbers and zip codes.

Or, perhaps they would need to complete a survey, watch a video, or download a software. Once the visitors complete the required action, you earn your commission.

There might also be other models out there that I am unaware of.

I have personally only come across and signed up for the pay per sale model.

Which affiliate marketing program is the best for me?

If you are convinced that affiliate marketing could work for you, the next string of questions in your mind will most likely be: “Which is the best affiliate program to make money?”

Well, the real answer is: there is no sure-shot way to know which programs will work for you and which won’t.

It depends on trial and error.

As long as you are mindful of the products and services you are choosing to market, you will start noticing which products or services are selling more than the others. Start focusing on those.

Most eCourses or eBooks you have purchased from bloggers have an affiliate program attached to them. Find out about these programs and apply to become an affiliate marketer for them. Again, choose only the ones you believe in.

With that out of the way, here’s a list of most popular affiliate marketing programs and networks you can sign up for:

The options are aplenty. Just Google.

At the cost of sounding repetitive, choose only those programs that you truly believe in and/or have used successfully.

You owe this to your readers and yourself.

Enough yapping, just tell me about Amazon affiliate marketing already!

Sigh! Okay.

Amazon affiliate is popular because it’s the largest online marketplace you know of. Anyone can sign up to be their affiliate.

But their affiliate marketing program is shit!

There, I said it. And that’s all there is to say.

Don’t waste your time on Amazon!

For one, their cookie length is 24 hours! This means unless your reader is an impulse buyer, you are unlikely to earn anything out of it.

Two, even though Amazon lists high-ticket items too, people usually are wary of buying expensive physical products online. So, there goes your chance of earning a decent commission.

Three, Amazon’s commission rate ranges from 1-10%. So, even if someone purchases a $700 phone from your affiliate link, you will earn a 4% commission, i.e., $28.

Four, they don’t pay commissions for purchases made by your friends and family. I don’t know how they track it but they do.

Five, if you don’t make at least three sales in your first six months as an affiliate marketer, Amazon will terminate your affiliate account.

Six, you cannot cloak your links or send affiliate links on emails, Pinterest, etc.

There are many more convoluted terms and conditions for Amazon affiliates. If you have time to kill or want a way to fall asleep quickly, read them here.

Told you, Amazon’s affiliate program is shit!

How many affiliate programs should I sign up for?

There is no limit to how many affiliate programs you can sign up for. But that doesn’t mean you should sign up for every program you come across.

Choose quality over quantity.

Select products and services that belong to your chosen niche and deliver to your audience’s interest.

Though not mandatory, it’s also wise to market only those products or services that you have personally used AND benefited from. In fact, *Suzi Whitford from Start a Mom Blog suggests that you post pictures of you using an affiliate product or service as it builds trust.

My personal recommendation would be to limit the number of affiliate programs to 10 or less.

Remember you need to justify the products you market. This means you need to write a good copy for the promotion. In my opinion, 10 is a good number to work with. Any more and you may be scrambling for time and ignoring your own products/services.

Best practices to earn from online affiliate marketing programs

Affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick-scheme. It may not make you thousands of dollars every month in your first year. However, following some best practices can help you ensure consistent income:

Invest in quality products: Blogging as a business needs investment, whether it’s to buy technology or knowledge. When it’s time to invest, purchase the best you can afford.

Most good quality products and services, especially blogging courses and software services offer a high percentage of commission.

Consequently, you can earn back your investment in a short amount of time.

In addition, because of the high value of the product, you are likely to squeeze the last drop of use of out of it.

Choose affiliate programs that pay at least 30% commission: When you are just starting out, it’s easy to sign up for several affiliate marketing programs without much consideration for the commission percentage.

However, it’s in your interest to scout for products or services that pay a minimum percentage of 30%.

Typically, high-ticket items do offer high commissions.

Another reason you should consider the previous point I made about purchasing the best you can afford.

Sign up for recurring payment vs. one-time payout model: It’s a 50-50 split when it comes to payout models. Some programs continue to pay you every month that your referred customer stays with the brand.

ConvertKit is a prime example of such a payment model. For every person who signs up for their services via your affiliate link, you earn a sweet 30% commission for every completed month your lead stays with ConvertKit.

On the other hand, most other programs use a one-time payout model in which you earn a fixed one-time commission when your lead signs up for a service.

Check the program’s link cloaking terms: Typical affiliate links contain a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. They don’t make for the prettiest of links. So, bloggers often use cloak plugins that enable them to customize the affiliate links as per their own liking.

For example, an original link https://www.xyz.com/[email protected]#jkhIheoo can be customized to https://www.xyz.com/yourname using a link cloak.

However, some programs, such as the Amazon affiliate program, do not allow any type of cloaking. You have to use the original link generated by the Amazon affiliate software.

Similarly, if you want to use affiliate links on Pinterest, you may need to fulfill certain conditions. So, all this is to say read the terms and conditions of each program carefully.

Select programs that offer cookie length of 30 days or more: Cookie length refers to the amount of time you are entitled to earn a commission from a purchase.

Each online affiliate marketing program offers different cookie lengths ranging from 24 hours to 365 days.

Suppose one of your readers clicks your affiliate link, she has between 24 hours and a year (depending on the program) to make her purchase. Any purchase made outside this window will not earn you anything.

But human minds are fickle. They take long to deliberate and decide, especially when it comes to certain purchases. It is, therefore, in your favor to promote programs that come with at least 30 days…but the longer the window, the better.

Disclose all affiliate links: As with sponsored posts, you need to disclose that fact that you stand to earn from your affiliate links.

Whenever you are including an affiliate link–even one–include a blanket statement that the post contains affiliate links. Same is true for including affiliate links in emails and social networking platforms.

Mark all affiliate links as Nofollow: Any link or content that may result in generating an income for you should be marked as a nofollow link. This applies to affiliate links too.

Follow the rules: Read the terms and conditions of each program carefully. While some programs do not put any restrictions on you, others may have certain terms that you need to abide by.

For example, you cannot include Amazon affiliate links in your emails or any social media platform.Don’t know if becoming an affiliate marketer is the best choice for you? Take this quiz.

Okay, I signed up for my favorite affiliate program. What next?

It’s time to promote.

Traditionally, writing a product or service review blog post is the most common way of promoting your favorite products.

But there’s only so much you can write about the features of a product or service. Plus, there are 100 other bloggers who are also writing a review post listing the same features.

What can you do differently?

Let me tell you the secret of copywriting–weave your story around the benefits of a product.

Too often, bloggers list the features of a product or service in their blog post, sprinkle the affiliate link in the post, and think their job is done.

Features don’t tell potential customers what they stand to gain from purchasing the said product or service. What pain point is the product or service resolving?

Focus on the benefits of a product or service. Illustrate how using the product or service of your choice has changed your life? Tell your personal story and show why the potential customer should invest their money in your favorite product?

You may choose to talk about all the benefits of a product or service in one epic post or create a series out of it.

If you are feeling super creative, you may even think of a more innovative way to promote the product or service on your blog.

Other common ways of including affiliate marketing links on a blog are:

Write an in-depth tutorial. Illustrate how to use a product.

List your favorite products and services: Create a Resources page on your website and list all of your favorite tools and products. Here’s an example from ProBlogger.

Create a roundup of products and services your peers use but include your own affiliate links. For example, write a post “10 Successful Bloggers Share Their Favorite Productivity Tool” and include links to 10 different productivity tools.

Create a day-in-the-life YouTube video or blog post and show yourself using a product or service.

Embrace the “in your face” technique. Instead of displaying third-party advertisement, use the space to display affiliate banners. Very often, the brand will provide you premade banners for this purpose.

There are bloggers who are earning a full-time income just from affiliate marketing. The most popular name that comes to mind is Michelle Schroeder-Gardner. Her personal finance + travel blog, Making Sense of Cents, earns her a handsome $100K+ per month. Most of that income is a result of affiliate marketing. If you are looking to take up affiliate marketing as your #1 method of blog income, check out her course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

As for me, I started including affiliate links in my posts a couple of months ago but it’s sporadic. It is not my aim to earn a full-time income from affiliate marketing. I am working on it to generate a “passive” revenue stream while I focus on my main income offering–my own product and service.

That’s right! I am working on creating an epic course on creating effective content. That, after all, is my expertise and my bread-and-butter. If you don’t know, I am an Instructional Designer with over 15 years of experience. I create web copies and online + offline course material for Fortune 500 companies.

And that is exactly what I will talk about in my next and final post in this “How Bloggers Make Money” series–creating and selling your own products and services.

Do you have any experience with affiliate marketing? How was your experience? What advice would you share with new bloggers? Share with me in the comments below.

Postscript & a confession

Of late, I have been feeling disconnected writing about blog-related stuff and ignoring the “content creation” category.

But then again, I get so many comments and emails from new bloggers telling me how they are benefitting from these “blogging” posts.

So I am really torn. I love sharing lessons from my own blogging journey but it’s not the niche I am passionate about.

After next week’s post, I am going to switch back to content writing. Posts on blogging may take a backseat for some time or maybe I will split it 50-50. I am yet to work out the distribution of posts, but I will keep you updated.

Thank you for your support.

Pin for later.

Do you want to make money online by joining affiliate marketing programs? Do you want to know which are the top paying affiliate programs? Do you wish you were also earning a full-time income just like that famous blogger you admire? This post explores how you can start making money from top affiliate marketing programs.

How Bloggers Make Money: Sponsored Content

Post synopsis: Are you a blogger who wants to make money online? Creating sponsored content is a great way of earning an income from your website. This post explores the ins and outs of finding sponsored blogging opportunities and creating sponsored content. 


You know how I got addicted to YouTube? By watching beauty videos!

That was some 8-9 years ago and online influencers and niche gurus were becoming a real thing. Beauty channels were especially huge on both YouTube and Google. Lifestyle blogs were making an appearance but all they posted really were “What’s my makeup routine?” “What’s in my bag?” “What’s my evening skincare routine?” etc.

How many of you have watched Michelle Phan and Elle Fowler videos–the numero-uno beauty gurus of their time? You would know why it was addictive, yes?

The production value wasn’t great during the first couple of years. I suspect most videos were shot on a computer webcam.

And then something changed.

In just a couple of years, drab backgrounds were replaced by sterile-white backgrounds with a bunch of flowers adding a pop of color. Photos and videos were whitewashed with super-high exposure but they were HD-quality and posed.

I would watch those beautifully-shot backdrops and the awesome, expensive makeup and skincare stuff and sigh. At some point, I may have even considered starting some beauty or skin care channel of my own–but you know, but the thought of even 10 strangers watching me made me quit even before I gave it a chance #introvertproblems

And along with all these changes, a lot of videos/posts started showing the “Sponsored” FTC disclaimer.

And thus began the second-oldest form of blog/video monetization–creating and posting sponsored content for public consumption.

Many “successful” online influencers today–both YouTubers and bloggers–grew their personal platform to a business by posting sponsored content.

So, yes, it’s true that sponsorship is one of the most profitable–not passive–ways of earning online.

But here’s the other truth: finding sponsored opportunities is not a walk in the park. It takes a lot of hard work and time before big brands will even consider hiring you to endorse them.

So, if you started a blog and want to monetize it by posting sponsored content, this post is for you.

How Bloggers Make Money: Sponsored Content

How to find sponsored blogging opportunities.

What is a sponsored content?

Sponsored content comes in many forms–be it a blog post, an Instagram photo, or a YouTube video. Basically, any product- or service-related content for public consumption that is created and posted in exchange for compensation by the endorsed brand is considered sponsored content.

For the purpose of this post, I will cover the aspect of sponsored content on blogs only.

How do I make money from sponsored content?

The compensation is usually decided by the brand but if you are a good negotiator and stand firm on your rates, many brands will agree to your terms.

Monetary compensation involves getting paid in cash. Plain and simple.

Non-monetary compensation could be in the form of free products or services, publicity, discount, etc.

Be aware that compensation by way of free products can be tricky. Not only are you required to disclose to your followers that you are being compensated but it may also affect your tax numbers.

Check with a qualified accountant whether such transactions are considered taxable in your country.

What kind of brands can I work with?

That’s completely up to you. You get to decide which brands you want to work with.

You may be someone who only wants to work with big brand names or you could be someone who is open to working with startups.

Irrespective of the brand you choose, it’s always a good idea to remain within your niche and choose products or services that your readers can truly benefit from.

Remember, even when you are writing sponsored content, it’s all about your audience.

For example, if you are a lifestyle blogger with the niche audience of women between 25-40, then marketing a mid-range skincare line might be a good idea. However, if you post content about the new programming software, it won’t interest them.

Can I write a sponsored post for my specific niche?

At a broad level, almost all niches can bring you opportunities to write sponsored posts. However, the more you niche down, opportunities are fewer but high-quality.

That said, brands in some niches are more open to hiring online influencers for their marketing efforts. A lifestyle brand is more likely to reach out to a lifestyle blogger than a scientific calculator brand reaching out to a calculator-enthusiast 🙂

Even within a broad niche, certain bloggers are more likely to receive opportunities than others.

For example, a beauty blogger is likely to receive more opportunities than a stationery products blogger. Both are considered Lifestyle bloggers.

Historically, the following niches have proved to be most profitable:

  • Make money online/online business/blogging
  • Lifestyle, especially beauty and style
  • Personal finance
  • Health and fitness
  • Food
  • Self-help/personal development

I know you have heard a lot about choosing a very specific niche but if you want sponsored posts or ad banners to be your mode of monetization, choose one of the aforementioned niches.

How to find sponsored blog post opportunities?

As with display ad banners, there are two ways of finding opportunities–contacting brands directly or via ad/media networks.

For a small- to mid-sized blog, working with a media network is a more realistic option compared to direct pitching. All you need to do is sign up them, share your social reach details, and depending on your stats, they will find suitable opportunities for you.

It’s completely up to you whether you want to accept or reject an offer.

Your social reach aside, many of these networks now require you have either a YouTuber following or an Instagram following. There might also be a sign-up fee.

Additionally, most cater to the Lifestyle niche. In their defense, Lifestyle is the most popular niche. It is also a very broad niche encompassing Beauty, Style, Gardening, Home Decor, Food, Parenting, etc.

Here’s a list of some media networks that can help you get sponsored deals.

Want more? Here’s a comprehensive list of companies that bridge the gap between brands and influencers.

What about direct pitching?

Working directly with a brand enables you to make more money simply because there is no middleman fee (network) to be paid.

Bloggers who have monthly page views of at least 1,00,000 can pitch their ideas directly to brands.

You can find the contact details of a brand’s PR person on the brand’s website or on their LinkedIn or Twitter accounts. That’s the person you need to pitch to.

Often, a brand may contact you directly. So make sure, you have your contact details posted on your website and social media accounts.

It is important, though, that you choose a product or service that is closely related to your niche and audience’s needs.

How to pitch to brands?

Once you have gathered the contact details of brands you want to work with, it’s time to pitch your idea to them.

The brand knows nothing about you. It’s probably the first time they will even hear your name. This is your chance to stand out from the hundreds of other bloggers who might be pitching their ideas to your preferred brand too.

Illustrate how you can give exposure to the brand and/or their product(s)/service(s).

But, the days of simply talking about a brand in your blog post or YouTube video are fast becoming a thing of the past.

Brands now want influencers to showcase their chosen product or service as part of their daily lives so that their audience can see how they can also benefit by purchasing the said product or service.

In short, what’s your story as far as the product or service goes?

This is where it becomes important that you are truly a fan or consumer of the product or service.

So, give some thought to your pitch–what does the product or service mean to you, how does it help you and your audience, how is it aligned with your values, why you and your audience will love it, etc.

Once you have a solid idea, put it in an email in the following format:

Hello {PR/Marketing person’s name},

{1 sentence to compliment the brand and why/how their message speaks to you}

{2-3 sentences – Include a short synopsis of your own brand. What type of blog you own–include URL, and how it is related to the brand’s message}

{2-3 short sentences – Why do you want to work with the brand? How the brand and your audience– a good place to include your social reach numbers–can benefit from this collaboration?}

{2-3 sentences – Pitch your idea–a working headline/title and a synopsis of the idea.

{1 sentence – Close the email with positive words}

Best,

{Your Name}

{Your Blog name and URL}

{Your contact details, including social media}

As far as possible, send the email from a professional ID, such as [email protected]or[email protected]etc.

Once you have sent the email, give the brand a week to respond. At the end of the week, follow up with them by sending them another short email.

Bigger the brand, the more follow-up emails you may need to send. Don’t be disheartened. Following up 4-5 is normal.

What else can I do?

Be intentional about the brand you choose to endorse. Please don’t send an email to every brand in your niche.

It helps if the brand recognizes you even before you send your email. Here are a couple of ideas how you can do this:

  • Follow and engage with the brand on their social media accounts, especially Facebook and Twitter.
  • Recommend the brand to your followers on social media and tag the brand.
  • If you already use their product or service (as you should!), give sneak peeks of you using it.
  • Write a short, unpaid blog post or Instagram post (or a platform of your choice) that includes the said brand/product/service on your Wish List, Shopping List, etc.

Here’s a fantastic post by The Sway (previously known as The SITS Girls) on how they select bloggers to work with.

How to create a media kit?

Irrespective of whether you need to work with a brand directly or via a media network, you need to create a portfolio to showcase. A summary of your portfolio is called a media kit.

Often a one-pager, your media kit showcases a synopsis of you as an online influencer. At a bare minimum, it includes your:

  • Short bio
  • Blog Name and URL
  • Niche/target audience
  • Social reach, including your blog numbers
  • Cost

You may also choose to include your success stories, testimonials, how you can help as an influencer etc.

In short, your media kit is your blog resume.

Give it as much love, care, and thought as you would to a traditional resume when applying for a job.

Tiffany from Beautiful Dawn Designs has an entire post on creating a media kit and offers a free template if you sign up.

How to write a sponsored blog post?

It depends on your negotiation with the brand. They may or may not have specific ideas about how they want you to showcase their product or service.

This discussion will take place once the brand has seen your pitch and chosen to contact you. Be ready with a couple of different ideas.

Perhaps you want to include the product or service in a personal story; perhaps you want to showcase the product in use via a DIY YouTube video, or perhaps you want to write a simple text review.

No matter what approach you take, ensure that your post is an honest post.

  • Don’t rave about something you don’t believe in. It will damage the trust your audience has in you.
  • Don’t showcase a product that your audience has nothing to do with. It will tarnish your reputation and project you as a “sell out.”
  • Don’t talk about a service that your audience cannot afford. It’s a lost cause.

Other than the aforementioned guidelines, treat sponsored posts like any other post you would write with your heart and soul.

Do justice to both the brand and your audience.

That’s it. Plain and simple.

And now comes possibly the most important question for most of us:

How much can I expect to earn from sponsored content?

First and foremost, know your worth.

Just because brands can buy blog posts for $5 on Fiverr doesn’t mean you also charge $5 or less. There is something to be said about quality over quantity.

Let’s consider some of the components of cost calculations:

  • What type of post are you creating? A simple text review post will typically require less time and effort than a YouTube video or even a DIY activity post. Determine how much of your time and energy is going to be spent in creating this post.
  • Do you need to spend anything from your own pocket for this opportunity? Suppose you are promoting a hobby product by creating a DIY activity post. Include the cost of products you will spend in creating this post.
  • What is the perceived value of your brand? An established content creator will naturally charge more than a small blogger who is not as well-known. Dive into your social reach and analytics to determine the perceived value of your brand.
  • Do you have past success stories? If you have already worked with brands before, how successful were those campaigns? Do you have testimonials you can showcase?
  • What is the going rate for sponsored posts in your niche? Some niches are more profitable than others and it reflects on your rates. Try researching on Google about the going rate for sponsored posts. A typical freelancer charges about $250-$500 for writing paid blogs. Let that be your guiding factor too.

In fact, ask for more than you wish to be paid and then be open to negotiations.

Another important thing to remember is that if you are accepting free products instead of monetary compensation, you may be liable to pay tax on it. I would recommend avoiding these type of exchanges.

In conclusion, there are plenty of opportunities available to earn money from sponsored content. You just need to be patient and honest.

Do you have any experience with creating sponsored content? How was your experience? What advice would you share with new bloggers? Share with me in the comment box below.

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Are you a blogger who wants to make money online? Creating sponsored content is a great way of earning an income from your website. This post explores the ins and outs of finding sponsored blogging opportunities and creating sponsored content.

All About Advertising Banners and Advertisement Networks

Until a few years ago, displaying advertisement banners on blogs or websites was the primary source of income for most mommy bloggers. Banners would be found pasted across the header, footer, sidebar, within the post…basically, they would take up all the available white space on a website. What made them even more jarring to the eyes was that the advertisements were of poor design (color, font, etc.).

Even today most websites (both personal and business) show advertisement banners that are either static and unobtrusive (such as text ad on the sidebar) or dynamic and intrusive (such as pop-ups, exit intents, etc.). Visit any online news website and you will know.

But advertisement banners have come a long way. Not only have the aesthetics improved but the content is more targeted and often contextual. Bloggers now have the option to work directly with brands or join ad networks that offer you banners that best fit your website’s niche and audience.

How Bloggers Make Money: Advertising Banners

Displaying advertisement banners on your website or blog is a very popular method of monetizing websites. But is it the right choice for your website?

Let’s begin by understanding the display advertisement options available to you as a website owner.

Basically, you have two ways of doing this–work directly with brands or work with an ad network.

Working directly with brands

In such scenarios, a brand contacts you or you contact a brand to rent ad space on your website. The said ad could be in the form of a text, image, text+image, or even an animation or a video.

Don’t be surprised if many of the brands that contact you have nothing to do with your niche. Often, the brands send out scores of inquiries without filtering for a niche.

Related Post: The Truth About Earning a Passive Income Online From Your Blog

On the other hand, if it’s you who is going to reach out to brands, pitch to them why advertising on your website can be beneficial for them. Draw on your social proof.

Needless to say, if you are serious about building a blogging business or becoming an online influencer, you have to be very selective about the brands that you work with.

Now, assuming a good brand related closely to your niche pitches you an opportunity to display their banner on your website. It is common practice to quote a monthly rent amount such as this: your monthly unique visitors divided by 10.

Suppose you get 10K unique visitors on your website every month. You can pitch 10,000/10 = $1,000 per month.

Bigger influencers can charge even higher rates and some even invite bids.

As you can see, working with brands directly is much more profitable as far as display advertising is concerned.

Working with ad networks

For a mom blogger who is still in the early stages of blogging and without much social proof, working with advertisement networks is a more realistic option.

Don’t worry, mama! There are tons of ad networks that you can join beside the ubiquitous Google Adsense.

The reason Google Adsense is so popular is that it does not require a minimum number of page views to approve an account.

It’s true.

But the competition is tough.

According to some estimates, there are more than 440 million blogs in the world. A large number of these blogs today belong to stay at home moms who start a mom blog to either share their knowledge or to keep a diary of their mommy life.

Related Post: How to Monetize Your Blog

If ad networks were to approve even half of all the mom bloggers, they would be bankrupt within a few weeks. Therefore, many ad networks require a minimum number of monthly page views and may even apply geographic restrictions.

Google doesn’t stipulate these conditions but in return, it pays you just a few cents for every 1,000 views. When you have low traffic, mama, your monthly earning would be just a few dollars, if that. 

Here’s a list of five popular advertisement networks for small publishers. Review the terms and conditions to determine if you can apply to be on their network.

  • AdThrive: Major requirements:
    • Google Analytics installed and running and a minimum of 100,000 monthly pageviews
    • The primary traffic should be U.S. based
    • No previous advertising infringements and are not blacklisted by Google or other major providers
    • Content is unique, original, amazing for audiences and advertisers
  • Mediavine: Requires:
    • At least 25k sessions per month (not page views, but sessions)
    • A mobile-friendly site
    • You take down all other existing ads on both desktop and mobile
  • Adsense: The grand-dad of all ad networks, Google Adsense doesn’t stipulate any minimum requirements at the time of sign up.
  • Media.net: Part of the Yahoo-Bing brand, they don’t have any minimum requirements (just like Google Adsense).
  • AdClerks: No minimum requirements at the time of sign up.
  • Sovrn: No minimum requirements at the time of sign up.

Please note that even though these websites list no minimum requirements at sign up, they will still review your application and website before approving your account. Make sure you have an active website/blog with some basic pages–such as About, Blog, Contact–published publicly.

Also, please note that except Google Adsense, I have not used any of the other aforementioned networks. I used Google Adsense during my first month and earned a grand total of $0.49 – Yay! Then I removed all the ads.

How do you earn from display banners?

Display ad banners are programmed to bring in the bucks in several different ways. CPM, CTR, CPA, and CPC are some common ways of measuring performance and calculating earnings.

CPM: Short for cost per mille, CPM refers to the cost per thousand page impressions. So, if a thousand people visit your website and view an ad, you will earn a certain amount. For example, if the CPM rate for an ad is $1, you will need 1,000 of your website visitors to view that ad before you will earn the dollar.

CTR: Short for click-through rate, CTR is a way of measuring an ad performance that takes into account the number of times visitors click on an ad divided by the total number of visitors who saw the ad. For example, if 100 out of 1000 people click on an ad, your CTR will be 0.1 and you will be paid as per the CTR slab determined by the advertiser.

CPA: Short for cost per acquisition, this method pays only when a certain condition, such as sign up or sale is completed. For example, if 10 people sign up for the advertiser’s newsletter or make a purchase, you earn an amount for each of those people.

CPC: Short for cost per click, CPC registers the number of clicks on a particular ad banner. So, if 100 website visitors click on a CPC ad valued at $0.01, you will earn one dollar at the end of it.

Direct advertisers or online ad networks–who should you work with?

As you can see, almost all measurement methods put the publisher (such as you) at a disadvantage.

Ad networks keep a percentage of advertising money they receive from the brand and pass on the rest to publishers such as bloggers. Because there are so many mouths to feed, the earnings from ad networks are very little for a new mom blogger. For a big blogger whose traffic runs into hundred-thousands or even millions, of course, the amount could be something to write about.

Related Post: How to Promote Your Content (and Not Just on Social Media)

On the other hand, working with brands directly earns you more money because you get to pocket the entire fee. However, such opportunities are difficult to find for new bloggers. You cannot expect to start a new mommy blog today and earn hundreds of dollars from private brands. They will want to see a high amount of traffic on your blog in addition to proven social engagement. I am sure you are working on that.

Should you display ad banners on your website?

I have nothing against display ad banners, but personally, I don’t use them. If I ever reach a stage where I have 100K monthly traffic, I may give this a second thought but as of now, I am good.

But what about you, mama?

Here are some reasons why I am staying away from display ad banners (for now):

  • They pay peanuts: Listen, the only reason you would consider including banners on your website is that you want to earn from them, right?

But for an average blogger whose traffic numbers are not in the high thousands, most banners don’t bring enough money to pay monthly bills.

  • They compete for reader attention: Assuming you want to show ads on your website, I would recommend you choose ads that are customizable (to match your website aesthetics) and contextual (to match your content).

    Just the other day, I was reading a blog post on writing skills, and the website header was displaying a banner from a local grocery store with photos of potato, tomato, and eggplant. Often I also find ads from online clothing stores on a business website. Ugh!

If you want to show me an ad, at least make it relevant to what I am looking for at that moment.

  • They take up space from your brand: All the places where you can display ads are places where you can also promote your own products or services.

For example, let’s say you put up an add in the header or footer, you could utilize that space to show an awesome lead magnet of your own or promote a new course or service you are offering.

In the early days, ad banners used to be shown on the sidebar. But today, most websites are doing away with the sidebar because apparently, readers have learned to ignore the sidebar. So, you will notice that most established bloggers use the header area or the body of a blog post to display ads.

These are highly-coveted areas of your website. You should use this space to either display your own products and services or you should display high-quality ads. Please don’t spoil the aesthetics (and thus credibility) of your blog by display Adsense banners in the middle of your post or in the header.

That, however, is my opinion. You need to make your choice, mama.

Who can earn from display banners?

Let’s say you decide in favor of displaying ad banners.

To earn a decent amount solely from these banners, you need to have high traffic numbers on your website. The numbers, however, vary between third-party ad networks and private brands.

Most ad networks will require you to have a minimum number of page views of unique visitors.

Related Post: How to Rank Higher on Google and Explode Your Pageviews

However, the earning potential is much higher when you do business with a private brand directly.

Suppose you have consistent 10K monthly views, maybe you can charge the private brand 50 cents on a CPM basis. That means for every 1,000 views, you earn 50 cents. That’s about 1,000 dollars in your kitty per month.

Depending on your domain authority and traffic numbers, your CPM cost could be much higher.

How to get approved by ad networks?

Each ad network comes with its own set of terms and conditions for accepting new publishers.

It is essential that you find out what those terms and conditions are and ensure that your website complies accordingly.

At a very high level, following are some of the most common requirements to get accepted into ad networks.

  • Primary language: Most ad networks require that the primary language of your website be English. So, if you want to run a blog in, say German, you may want to build your website in English and provide translation tools.
  • Geographic restrictions: Many networks also stipulate that your primary traffic is from a particular geographic region, such as North America or the European Union. Typically, users from these locations earn higher ad rates than audiences based in Asia and Africa.
  • Minimum traffic numbers: Increasingly, ad networks require you to have a minimum amount of traffic flow. This can range from pageviews to sessions to unique visitors. It could also require you to prove that the number is stable or increasing over a predetermined period of time, such as 30 days or 90 days.
  • Website currency: Ad networks require that your website is an active one. For this, they require that you have 3-5 blog posts as well as basic pages, such as About, Contact, and Privacy published.
  • Exclusivity: Many ad networks require that you host only their banners. For example, if you sign up with Mediavine, they require that you not show ads from any other network or brands.

When working with a private brand, they may even ask you to place the ad “above the fold.”

This means it should be displayed in the landing area of your blog, i.e. the area that users can see without having to scroll down.

How to place banners on your website?

Once approved, brands and ad networks will provide you with a code that you need to publish on your website.

Ads can be published on your website in the following two ways:

  • Using plugins or widgets
  • Manually

In WordPress, you can install the sidebar widgets, such as Custom HTML, and then paste the code into that widget. When published the ad will show in the sidebar.

If you want to display the ad in the header or footer area, you can use a plugin such Insert Headers and Footers to paste the code in.

If you want to display the ad in the body of your blog post, switch over to the Text tab of your WordPress Authorware and paste the code where you want the banner to show up.

Where to place banners on your website?

The short answer is any white space on your website can host a banner.

Typically, you will find website owners display ads in the following areas:

  • Header
  • Footer
  • Sidebar
  • Within the post

Among these, the most effective places are the header area and within the post.

Most ad networks will provide pre-designed placeholders to display your ads. For example, header banners (also known as leaderboard) will typically be 728 x 90.

Head here to see Google Adsense dimensions.

Make sure your website theme supports the prescribed sizes.

So, those were all the tips I have for you this week.

What about you–do you earn from display banners? Which brands or ad networks have you found the most success with? Share with me in the comments.

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Displaying advertisement banners on your website or blog is a very popular method of monetizing websites. But is it the right choice for your website?

The Truth About Earning a Passive Income Online From Your Blog

If you’ve started a self-hosted blog, chances are you want to earn from it. There are two types of income you can make from a self-hosted blog–active and passive. Yet somehow, the idea of earning a passive income online enchants new bloggers more than the idea of earning an active income.

Active income refers to the earning that requires you to provide a service in real-time and continuously, such as from a membership site, coaching services, copywriting, etc.   

Passive income refers to the earning that does not require you to market a product or provide a service in real-time or continuously, such as displaying third-party advertisement on your website. All you need to do is embed the code–a 5-minute job–and hope people will view/click the advertisement.

Then, what about the other types of blog income–income from selling your own courses, worksheets, sponsored posts, affiliate income, etc? Are they not sources of earning passive income online?

Yes and No.

Truth is no income can be considered passive income from the beginning. You have to put in the effort at some point to get a system in place–a system that will reduce, if not eliminate, your efforts in generating the income.

The Myth About Earning a Passive Income Online From Your Blog

Is earning a passive income online from your blog just a myth? No matter how you monetize your blog--sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, Google Adsense, or selling your own eCourses or eBooks--you have to work actively toward generating a consistent income from it.

Let’s consider the four most common type of monetization strategies that have gained the title of “passive income earner” in the blogging world.

Third-party advertisement

Let’s consider the work that goes into earning “passively” from third-party advertisement.

You need to sign up with an advertising network, embed the code on your website, etc. But, for you to earn a reasonable income from third-party advertisement, you need to have a high amount of traffic.

For this, you have to constantly work on your SEO skills and create blog posts and pages that are optimized to show up on search engine result pages. Because, you know, that’s where the traffic is going to come from.

Writing blog posts every week, optimizing them for search engines, researching keywords that are popular, creating attractive graphics, promoting on social media…all that goes into earning a passive income online via third-party advertising.

Not exactly passive income, in my opinion.

Sponsored content

Another popular way to earn an income from your blog is to publish sponsored content.

Brands in your chosen niche (sometimes outside of your niche) will contact you to perhaps review one of their products or services on your blog, or post a photo of you using it on Instagram, or simply just mentioning them on your Twitter handle. There are various ways you can do a sponsored posts. In return, you get paid a certain amount–your sponsorship.

Needless to say, you should be extremely selective about the brands you choose to endorse. You are working hard to build your own following and earn the trust of your followers. Endorsing brands you don’t truly believe in is a surefire way to the bottom of popularity chart.

Be responsible when making your choice.

With that out of way, now consider the three scenarios I mentioned above.

  • Writing a sponsored blog post: Some brands provide the text and images you need to publish on your website, others don’t. If you are writing the review in your own words, it will obviously earn you more whereas prescribed content will earn you less.
  • Nonetheless, you still have to put together a blog post and then publicize it to your readers and across various social media channel.

With time, the post will fade into the oblivion and you will no longer earn from that post unless you choose to revive the endorsement.

Not exactly passive income, in my opinion.

  • Endorsing on Instagram or other visual mediums: Numerous posts have been published about the reality behind the glitzy Instagram influencers (here’s one).

That one glamorous photo you saw on your Instagram feed this morning…it was probably just one of the many shots the influencer tried or hired a photographer for. It isn’t easy to get a perfectly-composed photo that catches attention and converts to a sale.

There is a lot of hard work that the influencers have to put in before they can quote a high price for posting a brand photo on their account. Don’t forget the many hours of brainstorming that goes behind how best to compose and then promote the product, such that it earns them a commission.

Not exactly passive income, in my opinion.

  • Mentioning a brand on your Twitter account: Everything I mentioned for the Instagram point applies here too.

You have to have a long and genuine list of followers before an established brand will even approach you. And that’s where the money lies. Can you imagine the time and energy you have to spend in nurturing and engaging your followers on a daily basis?

Not exactly passive income, in my opinion.

Affiliate marketing

This is a very popular way of earning an income for bloggers. This strategy requires you to promote a product or service that they truly believe in. The product or service could belong to a name brand or a fellow blogger.

What is important though is that you really believe that the product or service you are choosing to market on behalf of someone else is worth its weight in gold. You are introducing your audience to another brand’s offerings. If your audience chooses to invest in that offering, it’s because they trust you. You have earned that trust.

It’s easy to get carried away and become an affiliate for 30 different products or services and hope that some of those will convert.

Let’s take the example of Amazon affiliation.

Almost anyone can apply to be an Amazon affiliate. Once approved, you can pretty much promote any of their listed products. But honestly, unless you are promoting high-ticket items, the earnings won’t be high.

Again, you have to spend your time and energy to find the right products and then promote the posts consistently so it remains in your audience’s field of vision.

Not exactly passive income, in my opinion.

Creating and selling your own products or services

Of all the revenue streams I have listed so far, this is the hardest one for obvious reasons.

It requires a lot…A LOT…of time and work on your part to turn your products or services into revenue-earning sources.

Let’s consider a digital product-based business.

Creating a course or an eBook or even a printable planner requires a lot of research and hard work. A typical well-researched eCourse can take at least a month to create, given you are not working on anything else.

You have to come up with the content outline, determine the medium of delivery, write the content, record the videos, edit the videos, sync the audio, set up the course on your teaching platform…and so on.

And then again, the marketing–the webinars, the Facebook ads, training the affiliates, the email sequences…you get the picture.

What also matters is to keep the information current. In today’s age, technology is advancing at light speed. That means you have to regularly update your products so they remain relevant to your customers.

The same is true for a service-based business. Maybe you are a coach or a copywriter, in which case you are trading your time for money. You will be working against deadlines and trying to find new or repeat clients to keep up the income.

Not exactly passive income, in my opinion.

So then, is passive income just a myth?

Well, yes and no.

The way “passive income” is promoted on the internet is not right.

Come about it yourself: there is no passive income. If you want to earn money, you have to actively work for it. In some cases, the efforts needed to market your product or service may reduce over time but it never truly goes away.

When a successful course creator puts up a post on Facebook about how she earned $7,000 from her course just last night, that’s her marketing her product. Don’t even think otherwise.

Overnight success happens only to a handful of special bloggers. But what we don’t see is the sleep they have sacrificed and the frustration they cast aside before their blog became big. Success doesn’t come easily to anyone…not a single person.

For us mortals though, we have to work even harder than the ones who have succeeded.

Are you monetizing your blog the right way? Take this quiz to find out.

Over the next few weeks, I will add more posts about each of these monetization strategies and how your hard work and dedication will help you earn “active” income, not “passive” income.

See you then.

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Is earning a passive income online from your blog just a myth? No matter how you monetize your blog--sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, Google Adsense, or selling your own eCourses or eBooks--you have to work actively toward generating a consistent income from it.

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?