The year is 2019. Influencers, bloggers and even racist YouTubers are making money — millions of dollars, in some cases — hand over fist.
Well, not everyone is necessarily making millions, but they can make a lot of money, and you can, too!
Monetization strategies aren’t just advertisements and sponsorships anymore, either. In fact, some aren’t even relying on the website builder software typically associated with the space. Internet personalities have revolutionized and expanded the methods by which they make money on their content.
Establish and audience by sharing your blog on social media
Engage with your readers! This helps build a substantial readership
Make money by advertising – CPC, CPM, CPA, and private ads
Make money by selling products – merchandise, branded goods, eBooks, apps, etc.
Try affiliate marketing – earn commissions promoting other bloggers or companies
Provide services – attend workshops, speak at conventions, offer classes
How to make money blogging
Many internet personalities will use a blend of different monetization methods rather than just relying on one. They opt to cherry-pick options that align best with what they can handle and are best for their brand. This results in a much more robust, diversified income stream that is more resilient to fluctuation.
Big disclaimer here, friends: while it isn’t necessary to have a large following to monetize a blog, having a large fanbase and a thriving professional network will garner more from the monetization solutions discussed here.
However, bloggers who choose some of the options below stand to make more money sooner compared to those that don’t employ any monetization strategies until they have a substantial readership. Bloggers who start early will be more familiar with the tools of the trade and will typically give themselves more time to think of a long-term monetization strategy.
Advertising is the most popular monetization tool used by internet content creators. From YouTubers to bloggers, advertisements lend themselves to easy money from popular content. Since online advertising has become widespread, the process to set up advertisements on most content sites has become streamlined. There are a few different ways to advertise:
CPC, CPM and CPA ads
In this day and age, it’s impossible to go anywhere on the web without seeing an ad. But not all ads are created equal, and understanding their differences as a blogger is important when considering which kinds to host on your site.
CPC (“cost per click”) ads, sometimes called PPC (“pay per click”) services, are typically images in the sidebar or header of a webpage. If the content is written, the ads can also appear between bodies of text. For this type of ad, an amount is paid every time a visitor clicks the ad.
CPM (“cost per mile”) ads work similarly to CPC ads in terms of their appearance on a webpage, and an amount is paid for every 1,000 impressions, or times, people have clicked the ad.
CPA (“cost per action”) ads are among the least popular for content creators because an advertiser must either receive a sales lead or make a sale for the creator to make money on the ad. While this is a better model for the advertiser, it can mean missed ad revenue opportunities for content creators.
In some cases, advertisement-based monetization systems are built into some platforms, notably YouTube and WordPress.com. However, there are extra hoops to jump through for creators themselves to access that income stream, and until they meet certain criteria like paying for an advanced plan, the platform itself will reap the rewards.
Alternatively, content creators can turn to supply side (SSP) platforms to monetize their site for them by selling ad space on their site in real time.
Private ads and sponsorships
Popular content creators will often be directly approached by advertisers if they drive enough traffic. Content creators also have the option to contact advertisers themselves if they feel so inclined. Either way, working directly with advertisers removes the middle man and allows creators to set their own ad rates.
Private ads are particularly popular in videos or podcasts, where hosts can be heard verbally advertising a product or service before they begin their show. However, it’s not uncommon for bloggers or writers to shout out an advertiser in their works. This type of relationship can be thought of as a sponsorship of sorts. Bloggers that advertise products or services sometimes host giveaways of whatever they’re advertising. (Who doesn’t love free stuff?)
As a staple of capitalist society, selling products is an excellent way to make money. Bloggers and influencers are known for advertising products, but many also produce their own products depending on the type of content they’re recognized for. Bloggers with large followings have fanbases interested in buying physical or digital products they create.
With the advent of Patreon and similar fundraising software, it’s easier than ever for internet content creators to host tiered membership systems, with members at each level receiving different products. (If you aren’t familiar with Patreon, it is a membership platform that allows artists to run a subscription content service.)
While it was intended for artists, creators from every corner of the internet have found ways to use Patreon, and with good reason. The intent of the platform was to give artists a viable monthly income in return for things like exclusive digital art, how-to’s and even lessons.
There are examples of each product type below. However, creators should absolutely get creative about their product marketing. Standing out and selling something unique is a great way to generate income and draw more attention to your brand.
Everybody loves merch, and a significant following can make physical products a viable stream of income.
Merchandise — Many internet celebrities will start producing merchandise related to their content, including items like apparel, mugs and posters. Merch can serve a dual purpose, both driving revenue and serving as advertising.
Crafted goods — Many blogs are focused on art or other crafting hobbies. Well-known members in the space can put their goods up for sale on their private websites, e-commerce platforms software, or marketplaces like Etsy.
Books — Plenty of bloggers end up consolidating some of their work and expanding it into a full, published book. Similarly, sometimes artists will create physical magazines or compilations of their work and distribute them both on- and offline.
Branded goods — It’s not uncommon for bloggers and influencers popular in specific spaces like makeup or fashion to start producing their own lines after they’ve become critically successful. While this option usually occurs after some time, it can cement a personality as a more permanent fixture within a space and as an expert.
Bloggers and artists are known for their digital bodies of work. Putting some of it up for sale or offering related digital commodities seems like the perfect segue into monetization.
eBooks — Many published bloggers will offer eBooks in lieu of, or alongside, physical copies of their books. eBooks are easier to offer since the author doesn’t have to worry about producing, distributing or shipping a physical book.
Art — This option is particularly, and not surprisingly, popular among creatives. While many artists will post their work on blogs or online portfolios, they can also take commissions or sell premade works for private use.
Online classes and courses — Online classes, offered either in real time or on demand, can be an excellent option for bloggers who are well-known for being particularly good at their craft.
Apps, plugins or themes — Plenty of content creators are known for their coding or digital design prowess. Those designing themes, for example, will often put a watermark or a link to their website or page in a corner of their theme to continue to draw traffic.
Exclusive podcasts or music — Plenty of podcasters or musicians will sell their works digitally. Others also offer exclusive tracks or podcasts with a paid subscription plan or a one-time payment.
Affiliate marketing is the process of earning commissions for promoting another person or a company’s products. It’s similar to a sponsorship, but instead of being paid for a shout-out in a video or podcast, the content creator is paid for every person referred to the product or service via a special banner, link or promo code. Moreover, it’s an easy way to advertise products or services that one has personal experience with and can therefore safely vouch for their quality.
Popular content creators become leaders in a space, and as a result, can be asked to host a variety of services to supplement the monetization options tied directly to their website or work.
Public speaking and meetups — Content creators are frequently asked to speak at conventions and seminars. Often these presentations or talks are recorded; posting them online can serve as a great reference to their work and drive more awareness of it.
Workshops and classes — While some bloggers will turn to offering online courses, some prefer hosting them in person. The chance to meet a famous blogger and learn from them is a lot more enticing than just viewing a recorded online seminar.
How long does it take to make money blogging?
That’s a hard one, sport.
A blogger, artist or internet personality will need a substantial and/or devoted following to reliably make money this way. It’s unrealistic to expect that you’ll be able to quit your day job after a few months of blogging. Some bloggers say that you should expect to wait a year or two before making a healthy full-time income — provided you’ve done a good job monetizing your blog.
The time between starting your blog and making decent money with it isn’t easy. Making a living off blogging or creating content requires patience, creativity and a lot of effort.
Jazmine is a senior market research analyst focusing primarily on all the facets of collaboration software. She’s built her expertise and knowledge of the market from the ground up. By leveraging inside vendor knowledge with in-house analysis of G2’s review data and surveys, she’s created a holistic understanding of the otherwise complex collaboration and content management markets. When she's not at G2, she's playing video games or watching Lord of the Rings for the hundredth time. Her coverage areas include: collaboration & productivity, and content management.