Beginner’s Guide to Making Money
Of all the questions we get asked at blogl, this one has to be top of the list. Everyone wants to make more money – especially if it is doing something they love. We are planning on writing a series of posts about how you can start to monetise your site – and other ways to make some money from blogging, so keep reading!
- The good news is that there are plenty of ways you can generate a revenue stream through blogging
- The bad news – most of them need a serious time commitment if you want to make more than just a little pin money.
For me, these are the top three options to consider first. If you have enough time and energy you can, of course, do all three – and more.
1. Write Sponsored Posts
Sponsored posts can be a great way to generate a revenue stream on your blog. You provide content and (sometimes) images about a brand or service or even about something which can demonstrate the benefit of that brand or service. You provide a link to your sponsor’s site and you get paid.
It has the extra benefit of providing you with more content.
And, you may get sent a sample to review as part of the deal (it tends to depend on the product or service).
My blog, London-Unattached is a lifestyle blog with a focus on food and travel and I’ve written sponsored posts for food brands, for credit card companies and for tourist boards. Quite often I can choose the subject and I can always write in my own voice.
How much should you charge for a blog post? The answer isn’t straightforward and depends on both the amount of effort involved and on your own blog and social media reach. Those of you who develop and write recipes, for example, may be able to charge more. It takes time to develop a recipe properly and it obviously costs money for ingredients. If you are receiving an item to review you may be willing to write a post for a lower fee or free of charge.
When you are first starting out, you will probably charge less – your value to the brand or PR is partly dependent on your reach (both blog and on social media). Try not to sell yourself short, though, particularly if a brand or PR has approached you. I advise a minimum of £100 per post – more if you have a lot of traffic or a strong social media following, or even if there’s a strong match between the Brand who has approached you and your niche.
In the UK all sponsored posts need to be disclosed – if the PR or Brand tells you otherwise, in the UK you can refer them to CAP guidelines.
It is up to you whether you are willing to accept ‘follow’ links on your blog. Google advises that they may penalise any website which attempts to manipulate search results by accepting payment for following links. It does happen and you may find that you get a google penalty if you write sponsored posts with follow links. But, unlike disclosure, which is a legal requirement, disclosure is entirely voluntary. If the majority of your traffic doesn’t come from natural search you may not be worried about the possibility of a penalty. You can find more about Google’s approach to paid links here.
There’s no simple way to get offers of sponsored posts. But, being registered with blogl is a good start and a way that PRs and Brands may find your blog.
2. Work with an advertising network.
Advertising networks manage the online advertising for a portfolio of brands. You can sign up and they will serve advertising on your site. The fee you are paid generally depends on the number of impressions generated, so it’s related to the amount of traffic coming to your site.
Contextual advertising – like Google Adwords – works in a slightly different way. The ads which appear on each page of your site are related to the content of that page. If you write a post about gardening then, in theory, you should find the ads being served will be about gardening – maybe plants for sale or gardening equipment or maybe gardens to visit. The Google Adwords programme for publishers is called Adsense and they do have quite strict guidelines on who can take part. If you are working with a free blogger or WordPress site, you can’t currently run AdWords for example. With Google Adwords, you are paid by the number of clickthroughs rather than by impressions. Don’t ever be tempted to cheat and try to generate clickthroughs via your friends and family, Google seems to have a way to spot everyone who does that and will ban you for life if they spot any traffic they think may not be totally legitimate.
3. Set up an affiliate marketing programme
Affiliate marketing programmes differ from working with an advertising network because they give you control over what you choose to promote and where you run that promotion. There are lots and lots of ways to run an affiliate marketing programme and plenty of people who make a good income by doing so.
Perhaps the best-known affiliate marketing programme used by bloggers is Amazon. You can sign up to be an Amazon affiliate very easily. Once you are registered, you have the choice of running your own selected banner ads and buttons for your posts and sidebar or letting Amazon set them up on a contextual basis, using the content of each post. You can also include text links. If your blog includes book reviews or similar, Amazon can work extremely well.
There are other brands who offer their own affiliate schemes too – you’ll usually find details on their website. But, for convenience, you may prefer to work with an affiliate network.
These organisations each have hundreds of brands on their books. Once you’ve been approved you can apply for any one of the programmes – you’ll find everything from travel companies to shops and dating sites. Sometimes you’ll need approval for each merchant too. They will provide banners, buttons and text links you can use on your own blog – and sometimes special discounts for your customers. What you get paid for will vary depending on the merchant. Some will offer a small payment for a free registration while others pay based on sales only. Apart from the obvious benefit of being able to find a lot of brands to work with quickly, an affiliate network also means that you are pooling all your affiliate sales. While that may not sound important, it does help with getting your money. Most affiliate schemes operate a minimum sale threshold – so, if you choose to select a lot of independent schemes, you could find your money gets ‘stuck’ in the system for months while you earn enough to hit the threshold.
There’s plenty of other options for making money by blogging. Over the next few months we’ll be sharing some more ideas with you. But in the meanwhile, here are a few useful links if you are based in the UK.
More Resources for UK Bloggers
- For more about running Google Adwords on your blog
- An introduction to the Amazon Affiliate programme
- Three Affiliate Networks to consider
- Two Advertising Networks to consider