Complete Guide: 8 Strategies to Monetize your Blog

A recent study conducted by Growth Badger revealed that making money was the most common reason for starting a blog. As many as two-thirds of bloggers surveyed said monetization was their primary motivation for blogging. 

Then, when you also consider that:

…It’s clear that blogging, when done well, could be a fruitful money-maker. In light of that, we’re shedding light on how to monetize a blog. 

How to Monetize a Blog: When to Start

Perhaps your blog just started out as a passion project, and now you’re wondering whether you can start making money from it? Maybe your small business or startup already has a blog, and you want to transform it into a steady revenue stream? Or, perhaps you’re looking for a new side hustle, and you’re considering starting your own blog from scratch?

Whatever your reasons, it’s always a good time to monetize your blog. There’s nothing to wait for; there isn’t a set milestone, time, or set number of page views you need to achieve before you get monetizing. 

That said, you’ll find it much easier when you start generating a steady flow of traffic. You don’t need hundreds and thousands of visitors each month, but 1,000 should be enough to work with. 

The same goes for having an email list (even a small one), so if you haven’t started capturing your visitor’s names and email addresses, now’s the time to start. Interestingly, those generating over $50,000 a year from their blogs are more than doubly likely to focus on growing their email subscribers (in comparison to lower-income bloggers). So, take the lead from the pros and turn your attention to email marketing. 

How to Monetize a Blog: Best Practices

If you’re new to content marketing, and this is your first time launching a blog, bear these best practices in mind:

Pick a Niche

Pick a niche for your new blog and adhere to it. Almost three-quarters of pro bloggers tailor their content to meet a particular group of people’s needs and interests. By portraying yourself as a ‘specialist’ rather than a ‘generalist,’ you make it much easier to establish yourself as an authority.

To build enough trust for people to purchase from you, it’s imperative to demonstrate valuable expertise in your field. This means establishing credibility by showing you know what you’re talking about.

As you go about picking your niche, be aware that some are more lucrative than others. If your blog’s sole purpose is to generate a full-time income, then selecting a niche that pays well goes without saying. For instance, it’s unlikely to be lots of money in writing about obscure music genres. Whereas a blog about business practices could be far more profitable. 

Conduct Market Research

Before committing to a niche, do some market research to assess its profitability. Head to Google Trends and plug in niche-related keywords. 

So, let’s say you’re interested in photography. You could type in things like ‘photography,’ ‘how to take better photos,’ ‘the best cameras to buy,’ and so on. The graphs generated by Google Trends will give a more accurate feel for how many people are interested in the subject matter. You’ll also see at a glance whether the topic is rising, declining, or plateauing in popularity. 

Needless to say, you’ll want to avoid topics dropping in interest. See whether over the last five years the niche has shown a steady increase or plateaus with a constant stream of interest. These topics tend to be the most stable niches to opt for. 

You’ll also want to see whether other businesses are purchasing ad space for keywords pertaining to your niche. You can check this by logging into your Google Ads account and using Google’s keyword planner. This is a surefire indicator that the sector you’re considering is a profitable one. 

We caveat everything above by saying: although it’s essential to pick a profitable niche, it’s equally important to select a niche you’re interested in. Part of the beauty of kickstarting a blog is that it’s an enjoyable process. However, over the long haul, the excitement only continues if you’re interested in what you’re writing about. 

Add Value

Every blog post you publish must provide value. This means writing and/or shooting high-quality, authoritative, and engaging content for your readership to consume. 

Educating your audience is the most effective way of adding value. The internet is a vast pool of information and high-quality content for you to take inspiration from. Use this to fuel your own work to create content that actually helps people. Always go back to your draft and assess whether your target audience has all the info they need to apply whatever you’re talking about to their own situation. If the answer’s yes, there’s a good chance you’re providing value.  

Whether it’s a step by step tutorial, a live Q&A which you later post on your blog, or an entertaining video, there are tons of ways to provide valuable content.

How to Monetize a Blog: Understanding Monetization Strategies

On a broader level, there are two blog monetization strategies you could adopt. Which you use and whether you apply a mixture of the both comes down to your brand image and niche. 

They are:

  1. Selling high volumes of low-value products 
  2. Selling low volumes of high-value products/service – for example, one-on-one tuition

Whatever you opt for, it’s imperative you know your worth. Do some research into the market rates for the kinds of products and/or services you’re selling, and make sure you match the going rates.

If you’re predominantly selling a service, research the hourly / per-word / per-project basis experts in your niche are charging. Then, follow suit.

How to Monetize a Blog: Generating Revenue

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a look at some of the specific revenue-generating strategies you can adopt:

Start Selling Your Own Physical Products

Almost half of successful bloggers sell their own products or services (compared to just 8% of lower-income bloggers). So, do you make and sell your own physical products? Whether it’s baking cakes, knitting sweaters, or handmade greetings cards, whatever you’re creating – a blog is the perfect starting point for marketing and selling your merchandise. 

If you haven’t already, over time, you’ll build a loyal following and develop a narrative about how you make your products. This works wonders for generating a closer connection with your audience and scoring more sales.

With the WordPress.com Pro plan, you can directly sell anything (both physical and digital products) through your website using its built-in eCommerce store or the WooCommerce plugin. This add-on handles everything from taxes to shipping, making it an excellent plugin for online selling. 

Pro Tip: It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling physical, digital, or affiliate products; always round off your blog posts with a strong call to action, directing customers to where they can purchase your products or find out more information.

eBooks

Perhaps you don’t have your own physical products to sell? If so, why not write an eBook on a topic relating to your blog’s niche? 

You could easily leverage existing blog subscribers and your email list to promote your eBook. You could even get your readership involved by reaching out to them and asking which topics they’d like you to write about. This is great for building a stronger rapport with your audience. Plus, you’ll know from the get-go that there’s a market for your eBook – win-win!  

One of the best things about writing eBooks is that they’re relatively easy to create. You just launch a Word Doc, write your content, convert it into a PDF, and create an attractive book cover using free graphic design software like Canva. It honestly couldn’t be simpler.

Plus, eBooks are usually sold as low-ticket items, making them affordable enough for most visitors to purchase. This makes them the perfect gateway product for building trust. They’re a low-risk option for customers who are on the fence about your higher ticket items. If they like what they get, there’s a better chance they’ll invest in more expensive products/services later down the line. 

Take David Oudiette as an example. He has lots of experience building high-quality landing pages. He condensed his know-how into a 252-page ebook, which he sold for $39. More impressively, he wasn’t driving lots of blog traffic because, at the time, that wasn’t his main focus. However, he was still able to generate over $13,000 in revenue! 

That said, if the thought of writing your own eBook is too daunting, consider hiring a professional blogger from a freelancing platform like Upwork to ghostwrite it for you. 

Pro Tip: While growing your new blog, you should also start building your social media presence – Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, etc. This is another excellent avenue for driving laser targeted traffic to your site, increasing the likelihood of sales. 

Start Selling Online Courses

Or, you could ramp things up a level by creating and selling online courses. E-learning has never been so popular; in fact, the sector’s predicted to reach approximately $325 billion by 2025. So, now’s the right time to capitalize on this growing market. 

Take Ramit Sethi of IWT, for example. He makes millions selling online courses in the personal finance niche. Interestingly, he isn’t even a certified financial planner. However, he possesses the knowledge and skills to present his know-how in a way that identifies with his audience’s problems. Then, he provides them an actionable solution. 

If you’re unsure what topic to base your online course on, identify your audience’s needs. You can do this either indirectly (competitor research) or directly (just ask your audience!)

Pro Tip: To enhance the sense of community surrounding your course, create a private Facebook group where students can network, ask questions, and share important milestones as they make their way through your course content.

Coaching

Alternatively, if you know your niche inside out and back to front, you could launch a coaching/consultancy service. This requires you to provide tailored and actionable advice focused on individual client needs. As this takes a lot of time and involves offering customized advice, you can charge far more for one-on-one consultancy (in comparison to selling online courses and eBooks).

This is definitely a route worth considering if you’re operating in a niche where people often want more in-depth and personalized advice. Take Brennan Dunn as an example; he’s pretty well known among marketers for coaching entrepreneurs on boosting sales using marketing automation, charging near-on $9,000 per consultation! 

The bottom line: If you’re an industry expert and know how to market and package your consultancy services effectively, there’s lots of money to be made from online coaching!

Pro Tip: Most bloggers start with launching an eBook or online course and graduate by offering one-on-one consultancy. So, if coaching seems like a daunting prospect, never fear, start small and work your way up. 

Membership Sites

Launching a membership site involves creating and publishing high-quality content that only paid-for subscribers can access. Typically customers pay subscription fees on a rolling monthly or annual basis.

You can launch a membership site for near-on any niche. There are online membership products and services for virtually everything from fishing tips to advice on becoming a full-time freelance writer. Take Netflix, Spotify, and Birchbox, for example. These are all examples of well-known membership/subscription products and services. 

If you can produce and market content, your audience is willing to pay for, creating a membership site is certainly worth considering. To get the ball rolling, here are a few ideas for the types of content you could offer subscribers:

  • Great articles
  • Podcasts
  • Live Q&A sessions
  • Actionable advice, checklists, how-tos
  • Infographics
  • Products
  • Videos
  • Reports
  • Webinars
  • Forums
  • In-person meetups
  • ‘Behind-the-scenes’ content 

You also provide customers the added benefit of enjoying a sense of community that comes with connecting with other like-minded people. It’s human nature to want to be something bigger than ourselves, and that’s precisely what online memberships achieve. 

For example, Ryan Levesque, founder of ‘Orchids Made Easy’, took his love of Orchids and ran with it. Here subscribers unlock exclusive content as well as a place to network with other Orchid-lovers. Members pay $9.95 a month, and at the time of writing, he boasts around 1,800 members, which equates to an impressive $18k a month!

Pro Tip: Designing and selling online subscriptions and memberships is made easy with WordPress.com’s Payment and Premium Content blocks.

Internet Advertising

Internet ads get a bad reputation, but they’re the fastest way to make money blogging. You can begin generating a surprisingly significant stream of passive income in relatively little time. 

This is a great sideline to have on top of your other blog monetization methods. Publishing high-quality internet ads are made easy with ad networks like WordAds, the official WordPress.com advertising program for site owners. WordAds’ client list boasts many household names, including Google AdSense & Adx, AppNexus, Amazon A9 – to name a few. They bid against each other to display ads in WordAds spots, which helps ensure the ads shown on your site generate the highest possible revenue.

Alborz Fallah of Car Advice is an excellent example of someone who started reaping online ads’ benefits. He soon began earning $200 a day. Over time, he grew his blog and started scoring sponsorship deals worth as much as $30,000!

Affiliate Marketing

If you don’t have the time or the inclination to sell your own products and services, then you can sell someone else’s and earn a commission on every sale you make. This is called affiliate marketing, and it accounts for as much as 15% of the digital media industry’s revenue

Have a think about the kinds of products and services your audience could benefit from. Books? Clothes? Gadgets? Whatever it is, there are plenty of high-quality affiliate programs out there. You just sign up, generate an affiliate link, and insert it into your blog content. When customers follow the link and make a purchase, you’re credited with the sale. 

If you’re already using products and services related to your niche, contact their providers and see whether they have an affiliate program up and running. Alternatively, there are plenty of affiliate products and services you can promote using affiliate networks like:

  • Rakuten Marketing
  • Amazon Associates 
  • ShareASale
  • eBay Partner Network
  • Clickbank affiliate

Pro Tip: Always SEO optimize blog posts for keywords boasting plenty of monthly searches and little competition. This is the easiest way to rank quickly on search engines like Google and Bing.

Sponsored Posts 

As your blog grows, you can start charging companies for writing about their products/services on your blog. This is a specific form of influencer marketing. As such, unless you’re already driving vast volumes of traffic, this isn’t a suitable monetization strategy for new bloggers just getting started. However, it’s certainly worth bearing in mind for the future. 

When we think of influencer marketing, we usually conjure images of our favorite Instagrammers and Youtubers. However, influencer marketing in the blogosphere is huge. Over 63% of businesses already using this marketing method plan to increase spending this year. Take Cake and Lace Blog, for example:

On a similar note, if you’re producing great content that showcases your writing chops, you may start scoring freelance writing gigs. For influencers and full-time freelancers alike, these opportunities can be incredibly lucrative, with some freelancers charging as much as $200 per 500 words!

How to Monetize a Blog: Tools to Help You Monetize Your Site

With WordPress.com’s Pro plan, you’ll have everything you need to create a professional-looking blog and start monetizing it. Most notably, you’ll get access to a wealth of custom plugins and themes/templates, 50GB worth of storage, and 24/7 live chat. 

On your WordPress.com site, you can add a Pay with PayPal button to start accepting customer credit and debit card payments. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling physical or digital products or collecting donations; Pay with PayPal enables you to start processing online payments in a flash. 

WordPress.com also comes with a specific ‘Payments’ block, which makes collecting recurring revenue either monthly or annually easy. This comes in handy for charging customers membership dues, subscription fees, ongoing donations, etc. 

On top of that, you can also create subscriber-specific content with WordPress.com’s Premium Content Block inside its editor. This can be whatever kind of content you want: text, images, videos, etc. What makes it different from a standard content blog is that only your subscribers can access this content. Using the Premium Content Block, you can even offer customers different subscription tiers and customize what content is available at each payment plan.

Are You Ready to Start Monetizing Your Blog?

We hope that having read this blog post, you’re now better positioned to answer the question: How to monetize a blog? There are tons of options available to beginner bloggers, but to recap, here are your main options:

  • Selling your own physical and/or digital products
  • Promoting a membership site 
  • Publishing banner ads
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Sponsored posts

Perhaps pick a couple of these, to begin with, and expand as you continue to grow and scale your blog. With some hard work, perseverance, and a solid content plan in place, you’ll inevitably start to make money online and enjoy the fruits of a successful blog.

If we’ve fueled you with inspiration and you’re looking for a blogging platform that makes monetization easy, look no further than WordPress.com. You can try it for free to get a feel for its core features and editor before upgrading to one of its paid-for pricing plans. There’s nothing to risk and everything to gain by giving WordPress.com a try. Good luck!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The WordPress.com Team

At WordPress.com, our mission is to democratize publishing one website at a time. Create a free website or build a blog with ease on WordPress.com. Dozens of free, customizable, mobile-ready designs and themes.

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