DISCLAIMER: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you click a link and choose to purchase, I get a small commission at no additional cost to you (sometimes even saving you money!). This helps me keep this blog afloat. I only promote products that I know and love, or that I think you'd love!
I get a lot of emails from readers who want to find out more about how to earn money with a blog – many of them are fellow cruisers or travel bloggers who are understandably looking for ways to make money doing something they are already doing anyway – blogging about their travels.
The truth is, I don’t make a lot of money directly from blogging per se, but I definitely make extra money as an indirect result of my blogging. I’ve gotten a few writing gigs and web design gigs from people who have come across my blog, which is awesome because it supports my wine habit.
No doubt there are many bloggers who are making a full time income from their blogs, but don’t let anyone try to tell you that it’s easy. It’s not.
I would not recommend starting a blog just as a means to try to make money. Blogging takes a lot of work, time and effort to do it effectively, and although making extra money with your blog is an added bonus, to be a successful blogger, in my opinion, you must write sincerely for your audience, building trust while also building a network of readers. The more readers you have, the more potential to make money with your blog.
That being said, here are 5 ways you can make money with a blog or website.
This is perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when you think about making money using your website. How it works is you create an Adsense account, and once your account is set up, you simply create a new ad unit. You can select between many variables such as ad size, ad type (text or image), and you can even set up channels that allow you to target certain keywords or advertisers.
I’ve had some luck with Adsense personally, but not a huge amount, as you can see in my past side income posts. I may try to switch some things around in order to maximize my earning potential, but I think a big reason for the lackluster earnings is that people have become blind to Adsense ads because they are everywhere.F
Either way, as long as it’s done properly, there is still potential for making money using Adsense, especially if you get a lot of traffic.
Affiliate income is one way that you can earn money with a blog or website. Your success depends on a lot of things, including what your website or blog is about. Affiliate income comes when you link to a product and if someone purchases that product via your link, you get a commission on the sale.
There are many ways this can be done, but the basic concept is that when you sign up as an affiliate for a company or product, they give you a url with a certain code that is unique to you. When you use link to a product using that url, that’s how the advertiser know if the purchase was made through you.
Some advertisers don’t require that the user purchase that specific product, either. For example, if you’re an Amazon affiliate, and let’s say you link to a particular book that you enjoyed and want to share with your audience. The user clicks on the link and doesn’t particularly want to buy that book, but Amazon is chock full of other awesome products and let’s say they buy something else. You still get commission on the sale, because Amazon recognizes that the reason they likely made the sale in the first place was because you directed someone to their site. It’s kind of a “referral fee” if you will.
Some sites even take it a step further, and have a cookie that will run for 7 days or even 30 days. If someone goes to their website via your link but is kind of on the fence and doesn’t buy anything, but a couple of weeks later decides that yes, they do want to make a purchase after all, you still get commission, even if they went to the site directly the next time and not via your url, because the advertiser still sees that cookie with your unique code on there.
It’s always good to read the fine print to see what the terms are as an affiliate, but like I said above, there’s a lot of potential to earn money with this method. More to come on this in a future post.
Sell Ad Space
Your blog or website may be a prime candidate for advertisers, and who says you have to go through Adsense to reach them? Lots of bloggers I know have a few slots on their sidebar that they rent directly to advertisers, usually on a monthly basis.
I once purchased ad space from a real popular blogger at a really affordable rate of $13/month for a 300 x 300 ad that I created myself. It helped me reach a lot of potential customers that I wouldn’t have otherwise reached, and it definitely made me more than I paid for the space.
Let’s say you have a blog on travel – you may want to reach out to companies who create products made for vacationers. Have a really favorite carry-on bag that packs a lot but still fits under an airline seat? Call or email the company and see if they’d like to invest in ad space with you!
Be prepared to show them your numbers – this is typically something you don’t really want to pursue until you have a good bit of traffic, but you can set your ad slots at a really affordable rate that advertisers may not be able to say no to.
You also want to know your demographic. If you go this route, it’s imperative that you have your Google Analytics data, complete with specific demographic info to present to your advertisers. If you show them that you run your blog or website as a business, they will take you more seriously and be more inclined to advertise with you.
And remember – be sure that when pitching these potential advertisers, be sure to let them know what value you can provide them by their advertising on your site. These advertisers don’t care about your blog – they just want to know that you can offer them something – in other words, that you can help them make money, so target your potential advertisers wisely.
Some bloggers also get sponsors for their blogs, just like a sports team! If you have really high quality material with good traffic, it might be worth it to pursue sponsorship opportunities with companies that you really believe in.
I once contacted my favorite beachwear company and asked if they would like to sponsor our first year of sailing. They declined a monetary sponsorship, but they did agree to send me 8 new swimsuits from their yet-to-be-released swimwear line if I agreed to include some pics in some of my posts.
They didn’t even require that I actively promote them – simply post a few shots with a caption saying “Swimsuit by such and such company”. It was great!
One popular way that bloggers earn money is to do a paid review. It’s pretty simple. You contact a company and ask them if they would be interested in sending you a product to review on your blog. In return, you get to keep the product (in most cases), and in some cases, the company will pay you a small amount for the review as well.
I had a friend who was a popular mommy blogger who didn’t even have to pursue companies. They came to her begging her to review their products. This was great, because she actually got to be selective and choose only the products that she really felt she would like (or already did like). This gave her credibility with her readers because they trusted her judgement.
This is definitely something that you do want to be selective about. You don’t want to write rave reviews for a crappy product just for a few bucks. After awhile, your readers will catch on and they won’t value anything you say, and your website income as well as your readership will go down. One blogger I know does paid reviews, but if she doesn’t like a product, she won’t do a review at all. Rather than bash it online, she sends the product back to the company and lets them know why she opted not to review it and what she didn’t like about the product.
Keep it real.
Donations (Bonus Method)
Bonus way to earn money with a blog here. You don’t see this too often with many blogs, but I do see it quite a bit in sailing and travel blogs. In this case, you simply display a PayPal donation button somewhere on your blog (usually in the sidebar) and if someone likes what you write and appreciates the time that goes into it, they can donate whatever they want.
Chances are, it won’t be much, and you likely won’t be supporting yourself on donations, but a few bucks here and there can buy dinner or a box of wine to reward yourself for all the hard work!
In conclusion, it is possible to earn money with a blog – it can take time, and it may not be much at first, but once you know your options, you can start dialing them in and seeing what works best for you. Then you can target your traffic appropriately and work on your search engine optimization (SEO) to grow your blog traffic.
More Traffic = More $$$!