This post may contain affiliate links. Click here for my affiliate disclosure. If you purchase items through my affiliate links, I receive a small commission but your price doesn't change.
While this post is yet another in my Blogging Success Series and is geared towards bloggers, I’m sure there are many curious people out there who would like to know how a blogger can make money blogging. Actually, maybe I should start at square one and let you know that yes, a blogger actually can make money blogging. Blogging can actually be a profession! Just ask Bjork and Lindsey Ostrom over at Pinch of Yum. They’ve been publishing monthly income reports for 4 years now (click here to see their latest one) as a helpful tool for bloggers trying to receive some compensation for their efforts.
Let me start off with this little piece of information: blogging is the furthest thing imaginable from a get-rich-quick scheme. Don’t start blogging for the purpose of making money. You will most probably fail. While a blogger can build up a decent income over time, generating a steady, reliable income from a blog only occurs after lots of hard work, time, and patience. Blog about something you love and keep it a hobby first and foremost. If you get paid – hey, that’s just gravy!
That being said…
It really is possible to make a living blogging! At least a part-time living. I started blogging a little less than 2 years ago as a hobby, and now my blog is my part-time job. Which is a huge blessing and totally cool because blogging is still my hobby, I can do it at home on my own time schedule, I’m my own boss, and I get paid!
I don’t get paid every time I write a post.
I own my own website and I’m not working for any company. I create and own all my own content. Unless I accept the offer to do a sponsored post for a company, which I’d be open to doing but haven’t done yet, I don’t get paid when I write a new blog post.
How do bloggers get paid?
I get paid mostly through a) running ads on my website and b) being an affiliate for several companies who give me a small commission every time someone buys one of their products through one of my referral links. The advertisements pay per thousand pageviews that my blog gets, so the income I receive from them is based on how many people visit and click around on my site.
Ad Networks I’ve Used
I run all my ads through one ad network that takes care of contracting ads from different companies. This means minimal hassle for me. I make sure the ads get installed on my site (right now I’m using The Blogger Network as my ad network, and they were kind enough to install everything for me, free of charge!), and from there I really don’t have to do anything except get people to visit my site. Pretty nifty. Here are some profiles of ad networks I’ve used:
Google Adsense – I started out with Google Adsense, and it was a great fit for me at the beginning of my blogging career. It’s very easy to set up, and you don’t have to have a certain number of pageviews per month in order to qualify for the program. One of the downsides to Google Adsense is that you don’t get hands-on tech support and are responsible to install your own ads on your site (which is simply a matter of copy and paste, so no worries). Another con is that Adsense pays per click, not per thousand pageviews, which is often not as lucrative for bloggers. Overall, it’s a great ad program to start out with, but it doesn’t pay very well.
BlogHer – I never actually ran ads from BlogHer, but I did apply to their program and was accepted. BlogHer is a very popular blog network and is known for having pretty good returns, but they require you to sign a contract and are kind of picky about ad placement. When I was accepted to their program, I found out that they were making some changes in their company and was advised by an older, wiser blogger to wait on signing a contract until BlogHer got itself straightened out. I’m sure BlogHer is a great ad network, but it wasn’t a good fit for me at the time. BlogHer does have a minimum pageview threshold.
Gourmet Ads – I did a very small stint with this ad company. Very small being several days. While it paid decently, the ads slowed down my site. When I asked for tech help, I was given some ideas of what I could do to fix the problem, but I, being the un-techy person that I am, was completely lost. Getting help from Gourmet Ads’s tech support was going to cost me money, so I ditched them.
The Blogger Network (TBN) – this is the ad company that I am currently working with. TBN does have a minimum pageview requirement if you want to get into their free program (I think it’s 80K/month?), but if you’re over that, it is a wonderful network to work with. I’ve had great tech support for any question I’ve ever had, and TBN is willing to do most of the tech work for me free of charge, which is awesome! Although I don’t have a lot of experience to compare it with, I think TBN pays decently well.
Update: I switched from TBN to AdThrive late in 2017, and I am so pleased! TBN’s ads were starting to look kind of junky and slowed my site down somewhat. AdThrive ads are much better quality, and the customer support is even better than TBN’s. I haven’t run any numbers, but I believe I’m making more with AdThrive than I did with TBN as well.
Pageviews (traffic) are where it’s at.
Advertising is where a majority of my blogging income comes from, and it’s all calculated based on how much traffic I get. The key to traffic is consistently posting good material. As I said earlier, blogging is not a get-rich-quick scheme.
Affiliate Links – what are they, and how do I get started?
Affiliate links are great tools for bloggers. Basically, look for a company that has products you are interested in (preferably products that you use already). Check to see if that company has an affiliate program. If it does, sign up as an affiliate. Once you have your affiliate account, you’ll be given affiliate links for products (the process for this varies by company). Use these links on your site and in your posts in an attractive manner. Hopefully people will click on them and buy things. When they do, the company you are affiliated with will give you a small commission from the sale. Commissions will vary from company to company.
Please note that if you use affiliate links, you must disclose that you are using them. When I put affiliate links in my sidebar, they are all under the heading “Affiliate Links” (go figure). In every post, I have an automatic affiliate link disclosure at the bottom of the post (courtesy of the Bottom of Every Post plug-in). I also have an official affiliate link disclosure on my site.
Where and How to Place Affiliate Links
Place your affiliate links in easy-to-spot locations, like your sidebar. Make nice graphics for your affiliate buttons, or use banners or widgets provided by the company (you can see examples of both in my sidebar towards the bottom). You can also use affiliate links in the general flow of your post. When you talk about a product, create an affiliate link to that product in the blog post. I always put affiliate links to corresponding products below every recipe as well, especially if the recipe takes products or equipment that are usually purchased online.
There is an awesome plug-in called Thirsty Affiliates that helps you create pretty affiliate links (it turns the long, unwieldy things into something simple and clean cut) and use them over and over again easily. I highly suggest that you check it out. The developer is very helpful.
Let People Know What Affiliate Links Are!
Some people don’t know what affiliate links are! Explain once in awhile so people understand that purchasing items through your affiliate links is a great way to support you with no extra cost to themselves. If you know of a sale going on at a company you’re affiliated with, share that sale with your readers and encourage them to order through your affiliate link (be sure to thank them in advance!). Your Facebook page can be a great place to promote this once in awhile (don’t get obnoxious with it).
Create a “Favorite Products” Page
Bjork and Lindsey Ostrom over at Pinch of Yum release monthly income reports, as I mentioned earlier, and one of their highest sources of income is affiliate sales from their resource page on how to start a blog. Resource pages – pages that talk about products you like, and why – can be great places to use affiliate links and get a little extra compensation. Mine is a “Starting THM” page that gives a little synopsis of what THM is about and provides a list of some of my favorite ingredients and equipment to use in making healthy recipes. Yep, those are all affiliate links!
Other Ways to Make Money
There are many ways for bloggers to make money, and here are a few more on top of what we’ve discussed already:
- create a product to sell. Right now I have a “12 Cozy Soups” ebook available for sale. I have several other ebook ideas, and I’m starting work on a cookbook.
- accept private advertising
- accept sponsored posts
I hope this post has been helpful for you, letting you know how you as a blogger can actually receive some compensation for all the hard work you put into creating free content for the world. Remember my advice at the beginning: start your blog as a hobby and continue as a hobby…everything else is just gravy! It really is a blessing to receive compensation, and I have my faithful readers to thank for helping me continue on in creating new content. Without their support and encouragement – the sharing of links, the purchasing through my affiliate links, and especially the kind notes and comments – I don’t know if I’d still be doing this, hobby or not. It’s a LOT of WORK, but I have been richly blessed to be able to turn a hobby into a part-time job.
Thanks for following along! Next week is the wrap-up post with some odds and ends. There will be one more post after that, but it’s a little different. If you have anything you want me to cover next week as I wrap up, comment below!