Blogging to make money for your small business sounds like a great idea: Write on something related to the product or service you offer (or hire someone to do it for you), throw your words into cyberspace, and then wait for new customers or clients to roll in. Suddenly, your little writing venture becomes a major revenue stream for your company.
It’s possible to make money online through your blog, but there are a few things to consider to make the most of your efforts. Being strategic about the niche or market you’re serving, building up your audience, and leveraging your goodwill in smart ways are among the things you must do if you want to monetize a blog.
Knowing when and how to make money blogging is as much a science as an art. Read on for tried-and-true ways to turn your efforts into cash.
Blog monetization starts with strategy
At the front end, we should point out that although an existing or new blog can generate revenue almost directly, there are also sound business reasons to produce one. Successful blogs are the centerpieces of many online marketing strategies for businesses. Long-form content (e.g., blog posts, white papers, and case studies) can give people the information they want and lead them down sales funnels.
Just as you need to be strategic in how you make blogging work in a content strategy, you must be equally strategic if you want to monetize your blog (and be prepared to put in a lot of hard work). First, you have to pick a niche where there is a demand for information.
As with any marketing or monetization strategy, you need to know what makes your potential readership tick so you can decide the best ways to reach them. Produce quality content they respond to and build yourself into a friend and authority who can eventually convert their interest to paying customers.
And once you have your blog content, you need to make sure you outline an effective SEO strategy to go along with it. Successful bloggers know keyword research and on-page content optimization are essential in pulling the right traffic to their sites.
When to monetize your blog
To grow your venture into a success, you need to have a focus and produce valuable content that creates engagement with your target audience. As you become a known authority who attracts an increasing amount of traffic, you might ask if now is the right time to monetize your blog and how to do it.
To monetize your blog, you need to have a certain amount of traffic. There’s no magic number, but common sense needs to prevail. Traffic should, at the least, be steady. If you’re seeing frequent visitors, consider this an opportune time to start monetizing your blog.
6 ways to monetize your blog in 2023
You may have started your blog with vague ideas of turning it into a source of revenue for your business, but you really don’t have a clear plan for its long-term viability. The good news is that there are a growing number of ways to start monetizing company blogs.
Below, we offer six ways to start monetizing your blog in hopes of generating a consistent revenue stream. Keep in mind that you’re unlikely to generate income overnight; it’s going to take continuous effort to reach that point.
1. Provide subscription-based content
Subscription-based content and services are increasingly popular ways to charge customers—think video streaming services such as Netflix and updated software available for a monthly fee.
When you start a blog, you might offer free content at first, such as articles, infographics, and guides. If the quality of your blog and free content is high, you might be able to drive up your traffic numbers so you can institute a paywall. This will give premium members exclusive access to great content, expert advice, special forums, videos, and other perks that come with paid subscriptions to a membership site. You might charge a one-time fee for access or require monthly payments from subscribers.
2. Launch an affiliate marketing program
One common way to generate income with blogs is by launching affiliate programs. For example, if you have a design blog, you might sell digital and physical products related to the business. These might include prints from photographers and illustrators you work with and templates provided by other designers so people can create their own newsletters or business cards. You might get a small commission for every artist’s print you sell, which could add up with enough site traffic.
A business using an affiliate marketing program would pay a commission to any affiliate who promoted or sold their products, using tracking links to follow sales and calculating how much commission is owed. For example, you could be a beauty supply business who pays fashion-forward style influencers to promote and sell your products as part of an affiliate program. Earning this kind of “passive” income has turned affiliate marketing into a global industry worth more than $12 billion.
Those interested in marketing other business’s products could work through an existing affiliate network, such as Amazon Associates, which gives content creators access to millions of products they can potentially use to monetize their blog traffic. Once the program is set up for the affiliate products, you can earn passive income. You may also be able to connect with individual companies looking for affiliates to promote their brand or products.
3. Create and sell an online course
If you’ve worked hard on your blog and have established yourself as an authority in a certain field, you could leverage the goodwill you have to run a related online course, webinar, or workshop (promoted through your social media channels), with people paying to attend. If you’re a popular financial planner or financial small business, for instance, you might run courses on preparing for tax season or saving for retirement. Or you could be an online marketer or marketing agency who offers to teach the basics of search engine optimization (SEO).
It takes quite a bit of work to put together a useful course, but you might be able to run it multiple times with only slight adjustments, making it a wise investment of your time.
Related to this, bloggers with authority can also sell their coaching services and tutorials.
4. Sell ad space on your site
While online ads aren’t universally loved, they work—and that’s why they’re still around. One of the most common ways to get online advertising revenue is through Google AdSense, used by more than 2 million people worldwide. The service allows you to block ads you don’t like, choose where they appear on your webpage, and choose what types of ads suit your site best.
If you aren’t thrilled about getting paid for each click on a Google-supplied ad, you also have the option of going after advertisers directly and charging a flat rate for running ads. To do this, you might have an “Advertise Here” link on your blog, contact the companies themselves, or use an ad network, such as BuySellAds.
Note that these solutions require you to have enough visitors to earn clicks or the interest of potential advertisers.
5. Offer sponsored posts
As a small business, you might consider paying a well-followed or micro influencer to write a blog post or review about your product or service if they have enough credibility in their field.
For example, if you are an adventure travel company, you could ask a travel blogger to take one of your packages (with the cost picked up by you) to go whale watching by kayak in the Arctic, recording their experiences in a clearly marked sponsored post.
The post will only have credibility—and the power to influence the buying behavior of other adventure travelers—if the blogger is sincere in their recommendation for your travel services.
Your company and the blogger will also need to be clear about the fact that the blog post is sponsored. You could get in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) if you try to pass off content created for sponsorships as organic. You could also be penalized by Google if the content is duplicated, sinking the blog post’s position on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
6. Make ebooks available to visitors
One way to provide extra value to the readers and potential customers is to go deeper than your blog allows and produce specialized, comprehensive content in the form of an ebook. Depending on your marketing plan, the ebook can be a giveaway or command a fee, recognizing the effort that went into its production. In either case, the ebook should establish your credentials in the subject matter related to your business and serve as a vital part of your sales funnel.
For example, if you are the adventure travel company referenced above, you might have found there is a lot of interest in ecotravel and technology-free vacations among site visitors. So, you could create an authoritative “Guide to Sustainable Travel” ebook. Travel methods and travel companies with the gentlest carbon footprint, travel experiences that get visitors immersed in nature but cause little ecological damage, remote vacation experiences with all communications technologies turned off, and so on would be part of this detailed guide.
Not only would this ebook help establish you as an authority in the adventure travel field, but it will also likely drum up new business as readers turn to you to create similar travel experiences for them.
Creating compelling content that people want to read and that prompts them to act as part of your sales funnel isn’t easy for either experienced or new bloggers. If you don’t have the time, interest, or skills to write your own blog, the good news is that there is a huge number of freelance writers out there who can address almost any subject matter convincingly.
One of the best ways to find an independent writer is to search through Upwork. We also offer article writing services where you can work with someone to help scale your blogging efforts.
Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this section. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.