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While it’s easy enough to start a hobby blog, it’s harder to learn how to make money blogging. But you need to think about how to monetize your blog from the beginning, even if you’re a total newbie.
By learning monetization strategies at the outset, you can start your online blogging business off on the right foot. You won’t have to implement these practices later only to realize you missed out on prospective customers.
Before we jump into the best ways to make money blogging, allow me to share a bit about my blogging background. I’ve worked as an online content marketer (fancy term for blogger) for six years for several six-figure online businesses.
I helped one blog grow its readership from a few thousand readers per month to over four million (and explode its revenue in the process). And I helped another blogging startup 10x its monthly traffic and ultimately get sold for $60 million.
I’ve seen firsthand exactly what works for blogging businesses (and, admittedly, learned plenty of what doesn’t from my own experiments over the years). Now I’m excited to share the secrets to profitable blogging with future money-making bloggers like you.
So without further ado…
How to make money blogging: 13 effective ways + examples
All of the following are effective ways to make money blogging, but some require more traffic or expertise than others. The strategies at the top of the list can work for bloggers at pretty much any level, while the approaches get more advanced as the list goes on.
- Use affiliate marketing
- Become an Amazon associate
- Promote Ultimate Bundles
- Sell ebooks, cheatsheets, and other digital products
- Create and sell online courses
- Provide freelancing services
- Become a coach
- Do B2B consulting
- Sell sponsored posts
- Create a membership site
- Earn ad revenue
- Get a book publishing deal
- Sell your blog
Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular and effective ways to make money blogging. What is affiliate marketing, exactly?
It involves partnering with brands to recommend products or services. If a customer clicks on your personal affiliate link to make a purchase, you’ll make a commission. The customer won’t have to pay anything extra, but you’ll make money.
Why do companies offer affiliate programs? Well, their affiliates (bloggers like you) help promote and sell their products. They get their product in front of a new audience, you get paid for your work, and your readers get a recommendation for a cool product from a blogger they trust.
Tons of small-time bloggers and big companies use affiliate marketing to make money. For example, blogger and creative entrepreneur Kate Kordsmeier shared on her blog’s income report for February 2020 that she made over $9,600 in one month in affiliate commissions:
Big online publications also make money from affiliate commissions, such as Wirecutter, which is owned by the New York Times. If you purchase anything from their list of “The Best Gifts for People Who Work From Home,” for instance, Wirecutter will earn a commission.
Chances are, you’ve helped an affiliate make money by purchasing an item from a review list just like this one. As a blogger, you can create lists like this and make money when other people make a purchase.
Getting started with affiliate marketing
Before you can use affiliate marketing, you need to get approved as an affiliate. Some companies have their own affiliate programs.
Alternatively, you can join affiliate marketplaces, such as,
Through these marketplaces, you can apply to become an affiliate for lots of brands.
Note that some require that you have a certain number of monthly visitors before approving you. So take a look at the criteria before applying to make sure it’s a good fit.
By the way, you’ll have more success as an affiliate marketer if your readers trust your recommendations. You don’t want to throw a bunch of random affiliate links to products you don’t actually believe in.
Make sure you’re only recommending products you can get behind, so you don’t lose your readers’ trust.
The Amazon Associates program is a form of affiliate marketing, but I thought it deserved its own category on this list of ways to make money blogging.
This popular marketplace lets you generate your own special affiliate link for just about any product sold on Amazon.
As any Amazon user knows, the options here are endless. Whether you review clothing, tech, home goods, or anything else to your audience, chances are there are products on Amazon you can recommend.
To give an example, we use our Amazon Associate links when recommending awesome standing desks for your home office:
To become an Amazon associate, simply sign up at affiliate-program.amazon.com. The program requires that you make at least three sales in the first 180 days or your account will be deactivated. Once you start making money, Amazon will pay you via direct deposit, check, or Amazon gift card 60 days after the month during which you made the money.
Pro tip: Note that “best of” lists and product reviews are great ways to earn income as an Amazon associate or affiliate marketer, since someone reading that type of article is looking to get a recommendation and likely to make a purchase.
Another potentially lucrative opportunity for you as a blogger is promoting Ultimate Bundles. Ultimate Bundles collects some of the best digital ebooks, worksheets, and other digital resources into educational bundles.
It runs promotions every few months, allowing customers to buy hundreds’ or even thousands’ of dollars worth of online resources for a drastically reduced price.
If you become an affiliate of Ultimate Bundles, you could promote these bundles to your audience. You can often find bundles in popular blogging niches, such as personal finance, work from home, online business, home gardening, and more.
The site also has helpful free resources that teach you the best ways to market a bundle, such as creating an email series to your audience where you educate them about what’s in the bundle and answer frequently asked questions.
Since the bundles are only on sale for a limited time, you can also create a sense of urgency among your audience, which can encourage people to buy. If you’re interested in becoming an Ultimate Bundles affiliate, you can learn more and sign up for free here.
When you use affiliate marketing, you’re promoting someone else’s products or services on your site. But when it comes to how to make money blogging, you could also consider creating and selling your own products.
If you’re a blogger, you’re probably not selling physical goods. Instead, you’re selling information and education to your audience, which you could do in the form of ebooks, cheatsheets, Pinterest templates, or any other digital products.
Even if you have a lot of the same information for free on your blog, it’s probably spread across lots of different articles. By gathering everything together in one easy-to-understand and intentionally sequenced resource, such as an ebook, you can provide even more value to your audience.
And you can get paid for your hard work by selling your digital products. Here’s an example of a digital weight loss program that co-founders Alex Nerney and Lauren McManus sell on their site, Avocadu.
To give another example, blogging expert Adam Enfroy sells resources to bloggers that teach them about affiliate marketing and how to build backlinks to their site.
When you’re working on your blog, consider ways to turn your expertise into an ebook or other digital resource. Perhaps you can create a marketplace page on which you sell your digital products.
You might also become a seller on Ultimate Bundles, rather than just an affiliate, and get a commission every time another blogger sells a bundle that contains one of your resources.
Creating and selling an online course is another highly effective way to monetize your blog. The e-learning industry is exploding, and economists predict that it will be worth $325 billion by 2025.
To get in on the action, you could turn your expertise into a profitable online course. This business model is great for bloggers, since it allows you to share your expertise with readers in a really effective way.
And the sky’s the limit when it comes to potential income — once you’ve created your course once, you can sell it hundreds or even thousands of times.
You can find online courses in any number of subjects, such as Pixie Faire‘s courses on sewing:
Or Make Fabulous Cakes‘s courses on frosting and cake-making:
Or The Thrifty Homesteader‘s courses on raising healthy goats:
There are even (highly profitable) online courses on how to design a profitable online course, such as Melyssa Griffin’s The Profitable Creator:
Designing a course can take a lot of time and energy, which is why a lot of course creators recommend pre-selling your course before you make the whole thing.
You probably will have the most luck if you do some research on what goes into an effective course, including,
- How to effectively structure and sequence your course
- How to provide a transformation for your students to get them from where they are now to where they want to be
- And how to market your course with an effective sales launch, email funnel, and/or webinar or video series
All of this can sound overwhelming when you’re starting from square one, but it’s absolutely possible to learn all these steps and create a profitable course if you’re committed to doing so.
And as you saw from the examples above, you can sell a course in nearly any niche, as long as you get it in front of the right audience.
Lots of bloggers provide freelancing services, whether in the form of writing, editing, marketing, or another area of expertise.
As a freelancer, you can set your rates and determine what projects you take on and when. Although you might have to deal with a fluctuating income, you also get a great deal of control of your work and schedule.
And if you’re interested in becoming a freelance writer, learn how to get started here.
As a blogger, your primary goal might be creating streams of passive income so you can make money while you sleep.
But if you’re open to working with people one-on-one, you could offer coaching to make money, at least until your passive income streams take off.
Whether your niche is personal development, personal finance, business, or anything else for which someone might need guidance, you could sell your coaching services.
You might work one-on-one with clients or create a group coaching program, perhaps with monthly Zoom calls and a private Facebook group to promote conversation between participants.
Blogger, course creator, and coach Natalie Bacon, for instance, offers one-on-one coaching as one of her offerings on her blog:
Besides working one-on-one with individual clients, you could also offer consulting to businesses (B2B = business to business).
Blogging whiz Adam Enfroy is a big proponent of high-end B2B consulting for new bloggers, as he says it’s a great way to make money from your blog right off the bat.
Depending on your niche, you could charge thousands of dollars for consulting clients on business strategy, blogging, or any other problems for which they’re searching for solutions.
If you want to go this route, you’ll need to choose a blogging niche for which there is B2B market demand.
As a blogger, you can provide major value to brands in the form of advertising and promotion. Companies and brands (or the public relations firms that work with them) might pay you to review their products or post one of their articles on your site.
Often, clients are looking for one or more backlinks to their site within their post. Backlinks are important for SEO, and some companies are willing to pay to get a link on a site with a high domain authority.
Not sure what your site’s domain authority (DA) is? Find out with Moz’s free tool here! The DA ranking goes from 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest ranking you can get.
Once you’ve got traffic and a decent domain authority, companies might reach out to your requesting to post on your site. You could also create a media kit for potential sponsored post partners where you outline the cost of a sponsored post and what you’ll provide in return.
Check out this media kit from The Savvy Couple as an example:
Before accepting a sponsored post, you should also communicate what your writing guidelines are, including any tone or style rules you have for your blog.
And it’s worthwhile to find out what backlinks a client wants in advance, so you can make sure you’re comfortable having them on your site. If a client wants to link to a sketchy site, you might decide to reject the collaboration.
Once you’ve built a community of readers, you could launch a subscription-based membership site to monetize your blog.
Orchids Made Easy, for example, is a blog all about orchid care. Along with selling paid programs and a book, the site has a membership option for $4.95.
Besides offering a membership site, you could also create a special network and charge a fee to join. Work-from-home job board Remotive.io for example, has a private Slack community for remote professionals. It charges a yearly fee of $49 or a one-time fee of $75 for lifetime access (prices vary depending on whether they’re running a promotion).
As with anything you sell online, you probably can’t expect people to join your site without marketing it to them first. You’ll have more success selling your membership site or network with a sales funnel, which we’ll discuss in greater detail below.
When thinking about how to make money blogging, your first thought might be ads. So why did I put ad revenue so far down on this list?
Well, it’s really hard to earn much money through ad revenue unless you’ve got a ton of blog visitors. For instance, you’re probably not going to make much through Google AdSense unless you’ve got hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors.
It can be easier to make more money with the full-service ad management company MediaVine, but MediaVine requires that you have 50,000 monthly sessions before approving you.
While ads can be a good way to make money blogging once you have a steady stream of traffic, there is one potential con to consider, which is that allowing ads means you’ll have less control over the visual design of your site.
If you’re already making a decent income through affiliate marketing or selling your own digital products, you might prefer not to use ads so you can keep your site design clean and focus your efforts on your own promotions.
But if you have a lot of traffic and don’t mind hosting ads on your site, they can be a great way to earn passive income.
Bloggers who have attracted a large and highly engaged audience may land a book deal from a major publishing company.
You might have heard of the Julie / Julia Project, the blogger Julie Powell’s attempt to cook all the recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The blogger ultimately landed a book deal with Little, Brown and Company, and that book later became a major motion picture with Meryl Streep.
While publishing a book might feel like a far-off dream, it certainly could be possible if you stay committed to your blogging journey for the long haul.
A final way to make money blogging is to sell your blog. I know, I know, many of you probably have absolutely no intention of selling your blogging baby.
But I thought it was worth mentioning that this is a possibility once you’ve created a blog that generates revenue.
Blogging marketplace Flippa.com, for example, connects blog sellers with blog buyers.
As I mentioned, I worked for an online personal finance website that ultimately sold to a much larger finance company for $60 million.
If you build a blog that makes money, you could eventually sell it for a profit.
How to make money blogging when you’re just starting out: A step-by-step guide
If your goal is to launch a money-making blog, it’s important to take the right steps when you’re starting out. Here’s a framework that will help you lay the foundation for turning a profit.
- Be intentional about your blogging niche
- Master the art of content writing and SEO
- Turn visitors into email subscribers
- Develop your sales funnel
- Keep improving your sales equation (aka, increase traffic + boost conversions)
Why are you interested in starting a blog? Is it to share your passion with the world?
Well, passion is great, but it doesn’t necessarily equal profit. While you want to choose a blogging niche that you’re interested in (otherwise you might run out of steam after a post or two), the harsh reality is that not every niche is profitable.
This is especially true if you’ll be monetizing your blog with affiliate marketing. For example, maybe you love to recommend children’s books. But becoming an affiliate marketer for books is probably only going to earn you a few pennies per sale. While you might end up helping parents and teachers, you probably won’t make much money for all your blogging efforts.
Alternatively, someone who recommends personal finance products could make hundreds of dollars for each sale. That said, the personal finance space can be competitive, so it can be tough to stand out. For most new bloggers, the goal is to find a space that’s not insanely competitive but also has the potential to make good money.
If you sell courses, your niche could be more flexible
If you’re more into selling online courses than affiliate marketing, you might not have to be quite so careful about choosing a market-tested niche. As you saw above, bloggers have made money selling online courses on any number of topics, from how to style curly hair to how to raise healthy goats.
While there aren’t a ton of affiliate products to promote in either niche, they turned out to be profitable for online course creators. So it could be helpful to consider how you would like to make money blogging, and use that strategy to determine how you choose your blogging niche.
Whatever approach you take, it’s useful to choose a specific niche and stick with it. That way, you can establish yourself as an expert in a specific field. If you blog about journaling one day, gardening the next, and your favorite Netflix shows after that, your readers won’t know what to expect and you’ll have trouble nailing down a monetization strategy that works.
It’s easy to get intimidated when you first start blogging. It seems like everyone has already written about everything, and there’s no space for you.
But if you write high-quality content, Google will always make space on its virtual shelves. Have you heard the phrase “Content Is King”? It’s still extremely true today.
If you create kickass content, it will rank on Google. And ranking on Google means that you’ll get a steady stream of organic traffic.
Of course, you need to follow a certain framework for Google to be impressed by your content. For one, it’s helpful to target a specific keyword or phrase that people are looking for.
When you’re starting out, try to target “longtail keywords” (these tend to be specific searches of 4 words or more) that don’t have a ton of competition.
To find these, you could use a free tool such as UberSuggest or a paid tool such as Ahrefs or SemRush.
Try to use your primary keyword at least three times in your article, as well as at least once in a header. By the way, using headers is great in blog posts, since it helps organize your ideas and make your content more readable.
And make sure your article answers a reader’s questions completely. You want them to spend time on your blog, not click away and go searching for their answer on someone’s else’s website.
Finally, it’s useful to gather backlinks from other websites. Maybe you can submit a guest post on someone’s site or contribute a quote to a journalist through the website HARO (it’s free!).
With these valuable backlinks, Google will start to see you as an authority in your niche and reward your website with higher rankings.
Most visitors that go to your website check it out once and never come back. If you want to turn them into loyal readers and eventually, paying customers, you want a way to continue the relationship.
To do this, it’s a great idea to get their email before they leave your site. As you’ve probably seen, a lot of blogs accomplish this by offering a free “gift” in exchange for an email.
For instance, a pop-up might offer to send you a free cheatsheet, ebook, email mini-course, or video workshop in exchange for your email (or name and email). Once you enter your email, you get this free gift, as well as a series of emails that eventually ask you to purchase a product.
Email marketing is a great way to stay in touch with people who have shown interest in your site and what you have to offer. That’s why I recommend collecting emails from Day 1, even if you don’t have a product yet.
It’s never too early to start collecting emails and nurturing your list by sending them valuable content for free.
Recommendations for email marketing services
So how can you get started with email marketing?
Well, you can use a free email marketing service such as Sumo. Or you can try the service that I prefer, ConvertKit, to create your free gift (this is usually called an opt-in or a lead magnet) and send emails to your subscribers.
ConvertKit is super user-friendly and makes it easy to nurture your audience with emails. You can set up email sequences that send out automatically or create one-time broadcasts whenever you have a message or new piece of content to share.
It costs $29 per month, but is well worth the fee once you start making sales. Plus, it hosts free webinars to teach you more about email marketing (and even sends you a free T-shirt after you sign up). You can check out ConvertKit here.
Once you have a product to sell, whether as an affiliate or your own product, it’s time to create a sales funnel.
There’s a lot to learn about sales funnels, and I don’t want to overwhelm you at this stage. But to give you a brief introduction, check out this sales funnel graphic from the master of content marketing, Hubspot:
The sales funnel is all about capturing leads, aka potential customers, and nurturing them until they buy your product.
As I mentioned, it’s useful to start collecting emails as soon as possible, as these people are leads.
Then, you can provide even more free value so you build trust and a relationship with them before pitching your product.
Over a series of days or weeks, you can build excitement around the product and answer any frequently asked questions.
You can also address the common doubts that a person has before making a purchase, as well as present your product (or your partner’s product) as a solution to their problem.
If you can offer a special, limited-time discount, you can create a sense of urgency and help your customer get off the fence and purchase the item.
All of this may sound like a lot of work, but it gets easier the more you practice. Plus, once you create your sales funnel once, you can automate it and use it again and again.
Basically, you’ll do a lot of work upfront in order to make money on autopilot for a long time to come.
It takes time and dedicated effort to learn how to make money blogging. As you can see, there are many pieces of the puzzle, from writing great content to collecting emails to setting up an effective sales funnel.
But once you’ve done all this, you can once again focus on the part you love most about blogging: creating great content.
This, in turn, will grow your audience, which is crucial, since the reality of making money blogging is that only a small fraction of your audience will actually buy from you.
That’s why you want to grow your traffic as much as possible to increase your sales. You can do this by writing awesome blog articles and boosting your SEO with keyword research and backlinks. You might also use Pinterest (a visual search engine), social media, or YouTube to grow your audience.
Besides increasing your traffic, the other sides of the sales goal is boosting conversions. Basically, you can keep honing your sales funnel, improving your email opt-in, and making any other tweaks to convert more readers into customers.
If you can both grow your traffic and boost conversions, then boom — that’s when you can start pulling in six figures as a blogger.
How to make money blogging FAQ
Before we wrap up, let’s address some of the most frequently asked questions about blogging and making money.
- Is blogging dead?
- How much money can bloggers actually make?
- How do bloggers make money?
- What do I need to do to start a blog?
- What hosting platform should I use for my blog?
- Do I need WordPress, or is another platform fine?
- Do I really need to learn SEO?
Absolutely not! As you saw from the examples throughout this guide, there are plenty of bloggers making a ton of money from their blogs. And there are lots of bloggers who pull in a decent side income from their blogs, at least enough to pay their rent.
I attended a digital marketing conference a couple years ago, and something a presenter said stuck with me. I don’t remember who they were; otherwise I’d love to get them credit. What they said was:
“You don’t have to be the Beyonce of blogging to make money.”
You’ve probably seen those big bloggers with their income reports making $200k per month, but there are plenty of less-known bloggers who make a decent income from their blogs. But you have to focus on monetizing your blog, and not just writing about fun topics.
Otherwise, you might gain a bunch of traffic with no way to monetize it. As mentioned, it’s also useful to choose a specific niche so your readers see you as an expert, rather than trying to be a jack of all trades.
Some bloggers make millions of dollars per year. Some make nothing. Others make a few thousand every month.
It all depends on the niche you choose, your approach, and your work ethic.
But one thing’s for sure. If you give up, you’re guaranteed not to make money blogging.
But if you keep learning about blogging and online marketing, dedicating yourself to your craft, and treating your blog as a business rather than a hobby? Well, you might just join those superstar bloggers who make millions from their online blogging businesses.
Hopefully you know the answer to this now, but let’s go over the main strategies for how to make money blogging. In a nutshell, bloggers make money with,
- Affiliate marketing, aka promoting other people’s products and getting a commission in return
- Selling their own digital products, such as ebooks or online courses
- Coaching or consulting
- Selling freelance services
These are the primary ways that bloggers make money, but head back up to this guide’s first table of contents for even more strategies.
Great question. Although monetizing a blog takes time, starting a blog is pretty easy.
You’ll need to purchase hosting, install the WordPress platform, and purchase a domain name. (Most hosting platforms include one domain name for free.)
It’s also a good idea to spend some time designing your site and writing five to 10 initial posts before launching.
For a complete rundown of the step-by-step process, head to this guide on how to start a blog.
Both are great, user-friendly hosting platforms with excellent customer service.
Check them out and go with the one that feels more user-friendly to you. You can also see if either is running a promotion and go with the more affordable option to keep costs down.
(If you’re unfamiliar, your hosting platform is where your blog lives. It’s basically renting out a space for your blog on the internet.)
If you’re serious about starting a blogging business, I recommend using WordPress.
Note that you should use WordPress.org, a content platform, and not WordPress.com, a hosting platform.
WordPress.org is free, and you can easily connect it to your domain and hosting service once you’ve purchased your plan.
Learning SEO is a must for any serious blogger. By learning the basics of SEO, you can write posts that have a better chance of ranking on Google.
Once you have some posts that rank, you can get a steady stream of organic traffic. Plus, you’ll have readers that want to read what you have to say, since they searched for the information you can provide in the first place.
For instance, you probably found this article by searching for “how to make money blogging.” And since I’m writing all about how to make money blogging, we’re a perfect match!
By the way, Google isn’t the only search engine that uses SEO. You can also learn SEO for Pinterest, since people also search for specific queries there.
If you make pins for your articles, make sure to include keywords in your title and descriptions. It can be useful to include hashtags in your pins as well so users can find them more easily.
Learning how to make money blogging can take time, but it’s so worth it
As you can see, there are lots of different strategies for monetizing a blog, and all can be effective ways to make money blogging.
But you’re not going to accomplish all of this overnight; rather, successful blogging takes time and dedicated effort.
If you want to speed up the process, and you have some money to invest in your blog, you could consider outsourcing some of these tasks.
For instance, you could hire a ghostwriter (or writer to whom you give author credit) on a freelancing marketplace like Upwork to write your articles.
You can even hire professionals to create your sales funnels or take courses that lead you through each of these steps.
Blogging can be a lonely business, so it can certainly help to connect with other bloggers, take courses, or take any other steps to motivate yourself and find community.
Because after all, you didn’t just start blogging to make money; you also want to exercise your creativity and contribute something awesome to the world.
So while I can’t promise there won’t be challenges along the way, the entire process can be so worth it for the growth and knowledge you gain along the way.
And if you focus on treating your blog like a business and not just a hobby, it can eventually turn a profit that may even let you quit your day job and transform your financial reality.