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As a blogger, you’ve probably put a lot of time and effort — and maybe even the occasional tear or two — into your craft. And if you’ve been blogging for a while, you might have thought to yourself, “Hey, it would be nice to get paid for all of my hard work!”
Well, did you know that it’s possible to monetize your blog if you have a WordPress.com Premium or Business plan? While you may not earn enough to quit your day job (unless you attract significant traffic), at the very least you could potentially bring in enough to fuel your half-caff mocha latte addiction.
There are several ways to earn money through your WordPress.com blog, including paid advertising through WordAds, sponsored blog posts, and affiliate links. So let’s dive deeper into these three options, and also take a look at the best practices for monetizing your blog.
WordAds, the official advertising program for WordPress.com, creates advertisements for national campaigns that display on your site. It’s automatically available to both Premium and Business plan sites, but free or Personal plan users must apply to use the program. In those cases, the websites must meet the program’s traffic and content requirements.
The ads will automatically appear — meaning no extra work for you — once you use WordAds to set up advertising on your site. How much you earn depends on several factors, including how much traffic comes to your blog, where your blog readers are located, and whether they use ad blockers.
You have some control over the content of the advertising on your site with WordAds, but you cannot choose a specific advertiser — and this might not work for everyone. For instance, if you’re a blogger writing about sustainability and running an eco-friendly household, you may not want an advertisement for disposable diapers showing up on your blog. However, WordPress.com works to maintain the highest standards for the ads it displays.
A sponsored blog post is when a company pays you to write a post that promotes its product or service. Ideally, this product or service should be something that fits in with the overall theme of your blog — and it should naturally weave into your post in a way that feels authentic. It can also be a fun way to use your creative muscles as you monetize your blog.
There are many ways that you can create a sponsored blog post, including sharing a recipe, crafting a do-it-yourself project, writing a review, or telling a story featuring the product or service. Let’s say you blog about photography, and you are writing a sponsored blog post about a new photo-editing app for your phone. You might write a blog post with tips on how to take photos of children, including a special focus on how to edit those photos using the new app.
So how do you find sponsored opportunities? There are networks that connect bloggers and companies for the purpose of writing sponsored blog posts. You must apply to be included in these networks — and once you are in, you often need to apply for acceptance to specific sponsored blog campaigns.
Another option is to reach out directly to companies that you love and want to promote. Start by connecting with the companies on social media — engage with their posts on Facebook and Twitter through liking, commenting, and retweeting. Once you build a rapport, find out who is in charge of marketing and send them an email. Be sure to pitch them a few post ideas that will really wow them.
An affiliate link is a special URL that earns you money when someone clicks on it and purchases a product or service. In some cases, you can even earn money when a visitor creates a new account using this URL. Many big companies like Amazon, Target, and Hobby Lobby offer affiliate programs that are either maintained independently or are managed through an affiliate network. In most cases, you have to apply for acceptance to these programs. Once you’re accepted, each program has specific directions for how to create the affiliate links.
Let’s say you write book reviews on your blog. For each book that you review, you could include an Amazon affiliate link to the book. If someone clicks on that link and purchases the book — or something else from Amazon’s website — you will earn a small commission. An affiliate link would be a natural fit, since you would have probably included the link to the book anyway.
To effectively advertise on your blog — without turning off your readers — promote things that fit within the overall theme of your website, and avoid products and services you would never actually use. If you are a wedding planner, for example, it would probably feel inauthentic (and more than a little strange) if you wrote about bowling shoes just so you can earn a few bucks.
It’s important to note that in the US, the Federal Trade Commission requires disclosure of paid advertising, promotion, or affiliate links. So remember to add a sentence to the top of your post that explains your relationship to the product or service, such as “The following article contains affiliate links,” or “This post was sponsored by Company X. All opinions are my own.” If you link to the company’s website, make it a “nofollow” link, which signals to Google that you were paid — and prevents your link from influencing search results. No matter what method you choose to monetize your blog, always make sure that you align with WordPress.com’s Terms of Service.
It might be easy to get wrapped up in the idea that you need to monetize your blog, but don’t lose sight of why you started in the first place. Put your best writing forward, and create content that connects with your audience. Then, earning a little cash will be a great reward for all of your hard work.
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