Maybe you just started blogging… or maybe you've been blogging for a few years and are finally ready to monetize your blog. Either way, this post is for you!
Many bloggers don't know exactly where to start when it comes to making money online. I know I sure didn't when I started! Now, I've made a six-figure income doing this part-time. No, it didn't come easy and, yes, I wasted lots of time on bad tactics in the beginning. As someone who's been in the blogging world for almost ten years, I've seen bloggers spend months (and even years) chasing their tail, only to not even make enough money to cover blogging costs.
If you aren't making money from your blog yet, don't give up! You CAN turn it around. But first, you've got to stop doing tactics that DON'T work and start tactics that do. Here's your guide:
Focusing on Ad Income
If you're starting out with little traffic or just starting to monetize, ad income isn't the way to go. You'll be lucky to make PENNIES with Google AdSense, and selling your own ads is a logistical nightmare. You'll spend so much time trying to find people to advertise on your site, when you really should be working on your content.
Commenting on other blogs as part of your traffic-building strategy.
More traffic doesn't always equal more income. If part of your daily to-do list includes something like “Comment on 10 people's blog,” STAHHHP. Just stop.
Blogging is WAAAYYYY different than it was even a few years ago. Comments and conversations just don't live on blogs like they used to.
Most bloggers aren't going to visit your blog because you left a comment on their blog. And it's definitely not getting you closer to an income. If you genuinely want to leave a comment, go for it. But otherwise, commenting on blogs won't increase traffic or make you known.
Trying to be on all the social media platforms at full force.
To put it simply: you can't do this if you're a one-person show. And you shouldn't have to! If you try to master all the platforms, you're setting yourself up for frustration. Instead, many influencers are strong in ONE main platform. When you grow one main platform, you can command higher rates because often brands are looking for influencers for a specific platform. At my day job, we primarily hire influencers for Instagram posts. Others look for strong Facebook, YouTube, or Snapchat followings.
In my Content Brew course, I actually show you how to pick which platforms to focus on based on your goals… and how many you should still keep on your radar. If you need help narrowing it down, you might want to check it out. Regardless, stay focused on one platform, then expand from there.
Expecting the money-making to happen quickly.
It might feel like certain people come out of nowhere and suddenly they're posting things like “How I Made $50,000 My First Six Months.”
It. Takes. Time. Sure, there are loads of people who will tell you they did it in six months or less. But do you have 40+ hours to work on your blog? I sure don't.
That being said, it CAN be done. Just don't bank on it.
Trying to be perfect at everything.
As a former perfectionist, I can tell you that PERFECTION DOESN'T MATTER. I used to take so dang long writing blog posts, creating graphics, making printables, putting together emails, and so on… because I wanted everything perfect. I'd start trying to do one thing “really fast” and I'd throw myself down a rabbit hole thinking “well if I do that, I should do that.” Next thing I knew, my quick thing turned into my 2-3 hour thing.
Ya feel me on this?
You probably have high standards as to what's considered perfect. I can assure you most people aren't noticing these things as much as you are. That doesn't give you a pass on being sloppy. It DOES give you a pass on spending three hours searching for the perfect font though. That's NOT getting you closer to earning an income. Cut yourself a little slack and focus on the aspects of your blog that will push you towards more income.
Okay, now you know the things you should stop doing if you want to make money blogging. What about the things you should START doing?
Building affiliate income streams
Affiliate marketing is when you earn money promoting other people's products or services. This can be for brands you know like Wayfair.com and Gymboree to a wide variety of products on Amazon.com
For example, I'm an Amazon affiliate. Not only can I earn commission by sharing links to products I love, they also offer bounties (like flat-rate bonuses). If you were to click this link and sign up for a 30-Day free trial of Amazon Prime, I get $3. Bounty, FTW!
In addition to more mainstream companies, if there's a course or e-book you really like, ask if they have an affiliate program where you can promote it to your audience.
To get started, you can join ShareASale (affiliate link) to find loads of affiliates that you can promote (Wayfair.com and Gymboree are two among hundreds). Or try Amazon affiliates (just be aware that a handful of states don't allow it).
Joining Influencer Networks for Sponsored Content
Most of the influencers I know make their money either through digital products or sponsored content. Let's talk sponsored content first. Sponsored content is when a brand (or company that represents a brand) pays you to post about them. Sponsored content could be a video, blog post, Instagram post, tweet, or even a snap. While pitching a brand directly is often a worth-while option, it's easiest to start with influencer networks who handle contracts, negotiations, and other things for you.
Here are a few to check out:
Creating a digital product
What's a digital product? It can be a workshop, online course, e-book, membership site, or digital download like a printable. And no, digital products aren't just for people who are trying to help others grow their online businesses. Some examples:
30-Day Program: How to Jump into Paleo Eating
Printables/Resources: Lesson Plans for Teachers
Online course: Beginner's Guide to Manual Mode for Photographers
E-book: Instant Pot Recipes
I could probably name dozens of other digital products, selling for a few bucks to hundreds. While they can be a time commitment to create, they can be very profitable.
This site earns between $7k – $25k a month from mostly digital products and some affiliate income. I work on it 10 hours a week or less. I work for Burt's Bees as the Social Media Strategist as my “day job,” so that's really about all the time I can commit right now. If you work a full-time or part-time job or are a busy stay-at-home mom, just know that making a sizeable income CAN BE DONE with digital products! Without spending 40 hours a week on it.
Building Your Email List
Even if you have nothing to sell yet, build a list and talk to them once a week if you can swing it. Yes, people still sign up for emails and it's the MOST profitable way to sell digital products. I use ConvertKit (affiliate link) instead of something like Mailchimp because of how subscribers are counted and how easily I can grow my list.
In Mailchimp, a person is counted multiple times if they're in more than one List. That means if I have someone who is on my main email list and is also on the student list for two of my courses, they count THREE times. In ConvertKit, they're still one person (as they should be).
Plus, with ConvertKit, you can create multiple freebies to get people to opt into your list and then tag them based on their interest. For example, when people download my Media Kit Creation Checklist, they are tagged as interested in media kits, then I can send them both helpful tips about media kits AND information about my course. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
Are You Making Money from Your Blog Yet?
If so, how do YOU earn an income?
If you're getting started, which ones do you want to stop and start doing to help boost your online income?
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Hey- I'm Melissa! I'm a mom, side hustler, online course instructor, and brand marketer. I run a 6-figure blog helping online biz owners find their a-ha moments with can-do tips, tutorials, and online courses. I also work at Burt's Bees as the assistant manager of Brand Engagement (yep, it's as cool as it sounds). Jump start your biz productivity with my free worksheet!