Getting paid to blog can be a pretty cool gig provided you can maintain balance and stick with it through the learning curve. It is not fast or easy money, but it can be extremely rewarding. If you have been blogging for free while building a fan base, you may be ready to start slowly (yes, slowly) incorporating a few income generators.
Here are several ways that you can make money blogging and companies that will pay you to post their links or ads. This is in no way an all-inclusive list, it only includes those companies I am aware of or have done business with.
Remember: If you are taking compensation for a post, link or ad, you need to add the nofollow attribute to be Google compliant. So, how can you get paid to blog?
Join an Ad Network
Ads are often big money-makers for bloggers with enough traffic. Research the blogging ad networks that are popular in your niche, and sign up with at least one of them. Google Adsense is a common advertising network to join, especially in the beginning. Amazon CPM Ads are also receiving a lot of praises lately. It’ll take a little bit of time and traffic to start receiving much money from your ads, but it’s best to join up early if this is going to be one of your income streams.
- Amazon CPM Ads
Refer Your Friends
I love getting paid for referring my friends and blog readers to great companies. You may get paid in cash or store credit. Some pay when someone signs up. Others pay when they make a purchase.
One-time cash payment on qualifying action
One-time store credit on qualifying action
- Stitch Fix
- Trunk Club
Promote Other People’s Products
If you are writing stellar reviews and tutorials on your blog, there is no reason to not incorporate affiliate marketing. Your readers are making those purchases anyway based on your recommendations. The company is offering you a percentage of that sale. Why aren’t you taking it?
What to Look for When Choosing an Affiliate Program
The program fits your site. There is an affiliate program for almost everything these days, from beauty products to vacation rentals. Just because a program is available doesn’t mean you should sign up. Push the boundaries of your content too far just for profit and you’ll lose your credibility. Stick with the offers that are a natural fit for your blog. (i.e. Merchants and products you are already blogging about.)
The company’s customer service is good. One reason you don’t want to sign up for every program under the sun is that some merchants stink. If they have bad customer service and poor reviews, that will impact your bottom line. We’re not only talking about your reputation but also your wallet. If your readers are returning purchases, those sales will likely be reversed by the affiliate manager. Reversed sale equals no commission to you. Why waste valuable links?
Commission rate. Some affiliate programs can be found in more than one network. If a program is available in Commission Junction and LinkShare, I’m going to promote the one with the higher commission if they are different. And sometimes a product can be found on more than one retailer site. If there is a significant difference in commission rates, that can add up.
What’s the average order size? Some programs will provide this information – ShareASale – others will not. This can give you a little insight into the program and there is money in the upsell a merchant offers. A lot of online retailers offer free shipping with minimum orders or a free bonus. This definitely works to your advantage. If I’m ordering a $27 product and I can pay $8 in shipping for a total of $35 or add an additional $8 in product to my cart to receive free shipping with a $35 order, I’m getting $35 in product. That’s a $35 sale to you as opposed to $27.
Do they pay on time? Many networks will not give you this information, some will. ShareASale and Impact Radius will both let you know if merchants are not paying their bills on time. If a merchant is repeatedly being taken offline, you may want to move to another program.
Cookie length. When a reader clicks through your affiliate link it sets a “cookie.” Even if they do not make a purchase at that time, if they come back while the cookie is still valid you will be credited with the sale. Some people get really hung up on cookie length. I’m not one of them. In most cases, Amazon cookies are only good for 24 hours. Does that mean I don’t make any sales on Amazon? No. Do I make less money on Amazon than I do with 90-day cookie merchants? Not necessarily. It’s all in where your reader is at in the buying cycle.
What is the coupon policy? You have got to pay attention to your merchants’ coupon policies. Some will only allow you to post coupon codes they provide you. That means if you see a code online somewhere that wasn’t provided specifically to affiliates and you pass it along to your readers, they can reverse those sales. In some cases they will decline your affiliate application for doing so. Always read the terms. This goes for sharing your affiliate links directly on social media as well. It may be prohibited.
Payment threshold. One big advantage of joining an affiliate network as opposed to individual programs is that your earnings from all merchants collect in one pot to meet the payment minimum. Would you rather promote 10 individual programs with a $100 minimum each or 10 programs within a network that has a $100 payment minimum? If you are a small publisher you’d probably prefer the latter.
Those are a few things to look for when applying to affiliate programs. How about a few recommendations? You likely noticed I mentioned ShareASale a few times within this article. They are one of my favorite networks. Here are a few of my favorite beauty and fashion blog affiliate programs within their network.
Here are some of my favorite affiliate programs for women bloggers. Every blog and every niche are different when it comes to earning, but there is an affiliate program out there for everyone.
This isn’t a huge earner for me, but I’ll take it. The ease of use and variety of products are what makes this program a no-brainer. They have almost everything. And the more you sell the more you earn. AND, they have a very low threshold for entry making them a great program for beginners.
I like to cut as much “time fat” as possible in blogging, and that’s especially true when it comes to creating links. You’ve probably noticed quite a few cool Amazon product boxes here on The Work at Home Wife over the years. I use a plugin called EasyAzon which makes inserting Amazon product links and images into your posts a snap.
Oh, how I love ShareASale. This affiliate network has a little of everything when it comes to merchants. You can find everything from StudioPress to Craftsy to Stella & Dot in there. They also pay on a $50 minimum. I know that’s important when you are just starting out. Here are a few of my favorite programs to promote from within SAS.
- Stella & Dot (jewelry and home business opp)
- Blurb (photo books)
- Craftsy (crafting supplies and courses)
- Gazelle (cash for old cellphones)
- WP Engine (hosting)
- Warby Parker (sunglasses)
LinkShare as programs in just about every category. One thing to note about this network is that each site you have has to apply individually, both to the network and to individual programs. That can be a little cumbersome and you have to remember to have the right site pulled up when grabbing your links. In here you will find merchants like Groupon and Udemy which will work in several woman-centric industries.
4. eBay Enterprise (formerly Pepperjam)
I has highly involved with this network when I had a beauty blog. The things I promoted from here are primarily fashion-related though they do have a diverse merchant catalog. The payment minimum is only $25!
I have been promoting offers from Escalate Media since way back when in 2011. This network offers family-friendly things like coupon prints, free stuff and surveys. Legit stuff! Some CPA networks can be cesspools for scams, but this is not one them. They pay by PayPal monthly and usually early.
I’m choosing Ebates based on their ability to fit into a wide variety of blog niches. It’s good for those with readers who like to shop and those who like to save money. Their blogger bonus program is also phenomenal which is why I prefer the referral program available as an app user as opposed to the links available in CPA networks. They pay quarterly by check. I’m usually able to earn $2,000 to $3,000 per quarter in bonuses. Get signed up here.
7. Commission Junction
CJ is another network I have been involved with since almost day one. Their merchant list runs the gamut and there is a little something for everyone. They pay once per month with a $50 minimum. They also have a CJ Content Certified program for top-notch bloggers. You will need a minimum of 10,000 page views per month to apply. This program will open you up to premium advertisers, flat fee placements and exclusive offers. If you are generating over $10,000 in commissions, you may also qualify for the CJ Performer program. You can use referral code 2891324.
8. Impact Radius
Impact Radius has a lot more to offer than they used to. You’ll find merchants ranging from Swagbucks to Target.
Ibotta is another referral program that you may get a lot of mileage out of depending on your niche. If your readers are fans of saving money, introduce them to this app and you could earn $5 for each active referral. During the month of July 2017, you could also earn bonuses of $100+. The more you refer the more you earn. You will also get a $10 welcome bonus when you sign up and redeem your first rebate within 10 days. Don’t miss out on that $10! Sign up here.
10. Ultimate Bundles
If you haven’t hear of Ultimate Bundles yet, you need to. This company puts together niche-specific eProduct collections that are available for five days only. In many cases, these bundles are valued at $4,000 or more and available up to 98% off. These are always top notch products you will feel good about promoting. As an affiliate you will earn 40% as an affiliate and 70% commission on personal sales if you contribute one of your own products. Payments are sent to every author and affiliate via PayPal on the 11th of the second month after the sale date.
Ultimate Bundles also offers awesome training resources to their affiliates. These tips and techniques can be used when promoting other products as well. Sign up here.
- You sign up as an affiliate.
- You receive unique links to send out your audience.
- Someone clicks on your link to grab a free ticket for the Work-At-Home Summit.
- They decide to enroll in Work-At-Home School (aka, they buy a bundle).
- You receive a 40% share of the profits made from the sale.
Finding More Digital Products to Promote
Digital products like eBooks and eCourses often have the highest commission rates around. As these are passive income opportunities that require little, if any, ongoing work, many authors and creators are more than happy to give their affiliates a 30-50% cut of any sales they elicit. And that can add up fast!
If you are new to promoting digital products as an affiliate, here are some great places to find a few treasures.
There was a time I stayed away from ClickBank. They have a funky “Customer Distribution Requirement” in place that can make it difficult to get to that first payment threshold – you have to have five sales from at least two different payment methods. They also take money from your balance if you are dormant for a specified period of time. It can be a bummer for new affiliate marketers.
That being said, rarely a week goes by these days that I don’t generate at least one sale over there. And the product selection is amazing. Almost every niche under the sun is covered. Do a search in the marketplace and you can see at a glance the commission, average commission per sale and how many people are promoting the product.
- Gravity – Number of people who have made a sale promoting the product
- Avg%/Sale – Average commission per sale
- Avg Rebill – Programs that offer recurring commissions
e-junkie.com is kind of like ClickBank except the sellers are the ones who will be paying you instead of e-junkie so there usually are no payment thresholds or funky qualifiers to meet. Simply do a search in the marketplace for things that cover your topics of interest and see if they have an affiliate program available, some probably won’t. If there is an affiliate program available, you will see it mentioned at the bottom of the product description. Because you will be paid directly by the seller, I highly recommend sticking to those people in your industry you “know” and trust.
JVZoo is very similar to the two mentioned above. To promote most of the products on this platform, you will need to be approved by the seller first. Here again, you are paid directly by the vendor who can wait up to 90 days to issue payments.
There is a lot of cool stuff on Gumroad these days. Locating affiliate programs to go with these cool products isn’t so easy. If you find something you want to promote, you will need to contact the seller directly to ask if they have an affiliate program in place – or want to. You will then be paid any commissions generated by Gumroad.
Your Fellow Bloggers
Almost every blogger has an e-product available these days. Think back to products you have purchased, or things you would like to purchase. Check out the blogger’s website for a link or Google their name/blog name + affiliate program.
I highly recommend purchasing the things you plan to promote. Make sure it’s up to par and meets your standards before recommending it to others. Not everything sold online is – trust me. Nothing blows your reputation faster than asking people to invest in something that isn’t worth their time and money. And if you are earning 50% commission, that’s only two sales to recoup your investment.
And don’t forget, less is often more when it comes to promoting digital products. If you are pushing five similar products in the same price category, your reader is likely going to head elsewhere to find out which one really is the best buy for their money. They may end up clicking through another blogger’s affiliate link. Be specific and strategic with what you are promoting. Choose the best product for that topic, or one high-end and one inexpensive option.
Sponsored posts and social media campaigns can pay big if you have a large, engaged audience. You will find a list of Review Networks and opportunities in this post on How to Make Money Blogging. Bloggers & Brands is an awesome course on pitching for the opportunities you want. Shannon includes her templates which I always find helpful. You will find a few more tips here.
Sell Direct Advertising
Selling blog advertising can be a lucrative way to generate an online income from your website. However, many bloggers find it a challenge. Let's break down how to make your ad space a hot commodity in your industry.
1. Make the First Move
In our recent post on finding products to review I advised you to not be afraid to reach out to potential sponsors on occasion. The same goes for advertisers. Visit your competitors’ blogs and see who is sitting in their advertising space. Find the contact information for those companies and send an email pitch. Sure you will get rejections. But you may get some commitments as well.
2. Offer More Value
Just as you looked at the existing marketplace to see what you could do better before starting your blog, do the same when you start offering advertising. What can you offer that others don’t? As an example, on one of my blogs I give new sponsors a shout-out on Facebook and a mention in my weekly newsletter when they sign up. These things are inexhaustible and therefore cost me no money. But, it is something my advertisers always look forward to.
3. Offer Less Ads
You may be thinking that to make the most money you need to offer an endless supply of ad opportunities. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s why.
- Scarcity sells. If you have only three spots available, interested advertisers are going to feel compelled to act quickly if they want a spot.
- Look more desirable. If you have one “Advertise Here” spot available it conjures up those feelings of exclusivity. If you have ten “Advertise Here” spots available it makes it appear as though no one is interested in what you have to offer.
- Too many options to choose from can actually turn advertisers away. It makes us as consumers indecisive.
- Your content comes first. It’s a total turnoff to readers when there are more ads on a page than useful content for their consumption. If they have to dig through ads to find what they came for they are leaving and never coming back. Less traffic equals less money.
- More ads equals less clicks equals less advertisers. Once a person clicks on an advertiser’s link they are gone from your site. Don’t dilute the click pool. When an advertiser is receiving a steady stream of traffic they are more apt to keep renewing their spot. That’s less selling you have to do long-term.
4. Offer Unique Opportunities
While sponsored posts and banner ads are the standard, there are so many other opportunities you can offer to make your blog stand out from the others. A few examples:
- Old Posts – You don’t always have to sponsor new posts, old content may be perfect for partnering with an advertiser as well. Dig through your stats. Uncover those posts that are popular month after month. Is there a brand that would match perfectly with that post – provided the post wasn’t previously sponsored, of course? Maybe you are bringing in a lot of search traffic for a specific term. Contact potential sponsors to offer these placements.
- Event Coverage – Holly Hanna from The Work at Home Woman offers social media updates during direct sales events.
- Twitter Parties – These are an incredible amount of work. If you know what you are doing however, they can provide great value to your advertisers and income to you.
5. Offer Discounts
I’m not talking about 50% off sales every few months. Those can get you in trouble and actually make your space less desirable. Think about it. If a store in your area regularly holds clearance sales do you go in to shop regular price or wait for the next big sale? The last thing you want to do is attract only bargain bin advertisers. If you want to offer a site-wide discount, do so only once per year and push your best placements and packages.
The discounts I do like are for long-term commitments (ex. 10% off a 6- or 12-month ad) and bundles (ex. purchase a 12-month banner spot and receive 25% off a sponsored post). Everyone loves a good upsell. Consider what you can offer without hurting your bottom line.
6. Spiff Up Your PR Page
Always have a PR page readily available. It should include your Media Kit and traffic stats. You should also have some great sales copy explaining what you have to offer advertisers and why your site is a good choice. Not confident making your own media kit? Here are some great ones on Etsy.
7. Make the Process Automated
The longer a negotiation takes, the higher the chance an advertiser will change his or her mind. Automating your sales process can greatly increase sales. And you can be making those sales anytime, anywhere.
- BuySellAds is a site I have long used for selling the ad space on one of my sites. They do have rather high standards and take 25% of ad sales (no monthly fee).
- OIO Publisher is available as WordPress plugin or standalone platform that automates the ad sales process. I have used it for years. It allows you to set up subscriptions, automatically sends stats and renewal emails and allows for several ad options including custom spots. The cost is a one-time fee of $47. You'll make that back in no time.
Great Ways to Earn Your First $100 as a Blogger
In case you haven’t noticed, I love blogging as a way to work from home. Blogging is something you can do with very little overhead, technical know-how, or special degrees or experience. The more training you get, the better off you’ll be, but you can still get a successful blog off the ground without any major investment.
The foundation of a successful blog is great content, so you need to put most of your focus into the content of your blog when you’re just getting started. But while you get the ball rolling with your blog full of valuable content, there are a few other plates you can spin to start generating income relatively quickly. Some of these are things you’ll do with your blog and your brand, and other things are simply ways you can put your skills and experience to work for you. Here are 10 ways to make your first $100 as a blogger:
1. Include Affiliate Links in Your Content
Look for affiliate programs for products and services that will be relevant for your audience. The best place to look for these is the companies you’re already using, so you can offer a genuine and knowledgeable recommendation. Possible places to look for an affiliate program include things like your website hosting company, your financial institutions (like a checking account or credit card), training programs, and things like that. Just be sure to disclose any and all affiliate links clearly and up front to comply with FTC regulations!
The great benefit to affiliate products is that you receive a commission when anyone buys or enrolls using your link. Affiliate marketing is a great way to start making money with your blog. The key when you’re just starting out is to make sure that the products you choose to promote are incredibly relevant to your audience and fit naturally within your content.
2. Sell an Affiliate Product to Your Email List
One of the things you need to do immediately when you start your blog is build your email list. This post isn’t about list building, but the long and short of it is that you need a way to collect email addresses, and you need to give people a reason to subscribe to your list (namely, a freebie for opting in). Email your list regularly, by whatever schedule you choose. Once you’ve built up a list — even a small list of 100 or so — you can begin to offer affiliate products in your emails. Again, be sure to disclose your affiliate relationship in the emails.
3. Offer a Downloadable Worksheet, Printable, or Ebook for Sale
If you’ve got valuable knowledge about something your target audience will love, package it up as a downloadable product of some sort and offer it for sale on your blog. Think about “quick-hit” things your readers would love to use, like a meal planning worksheet with a weekly calendar, a guide to using a specific social media platform, or a collection of 30 post-workout smoothie recipes.
You can also decide to put together a more robust product or course to sell online. If you’re already an expert in something, this is a great way to start making money immediately. I’ve already shared some of the best places to sell your digital products and courses here.
4. Sell Your Book on Amazon
One of the great things about Amazon is that you can sell digital and physical copies of your book. If you can get a nicely designed cover and a manuscript that’s formatted well, you can self-publish anything you want and, with the right description copy and some promotion, you’ll start making money from book sales in no time!
5. Teach or Coach
Offer a one-time in-person event (like a workshop) where you teach a broad-strokes review of your blog topic — or even teach a workshop on how to start a blog. You can often rent rooms at the local library for a small fee, and charge for admission to generate income. Or, if you have a highly specialized niche, you can put up a page on your blog offering one-on-one coaching. Just one workshop or two coaching sessions could lead to your first $100!
6. Look for Paid Guest Post Opportunities
Check out some of the big websites in your niche and see if any of them accept paid guest posts. You can also look for big websites that are related to your niche, or are also of interest to your audience even if they aren’t directly related to your blog topic. Guest posts aren’t always paid, but you can certainly find good opportunities with a little bit of digging. Here is a list of sites that pay $50 or more for accepted guest contributions.
7. Be a Blogger for Hire
Blogging for hire is one type of freelance writing. While you’re getting your own blog established and growing your name recognition, you can start offering your writing services to other businesses and websites that hire freelance writers. These can be within your blogging niche or not — it all depends on what you want. The main difference between guest posts and blogging for hire is how your post will be “positioned” to the audience. A guest post might have a guest introduction, for example, whereas a post you’ll write for a blogging client will simply be another post on the website.
Another opportunity for “blogging for hire” is to be a ghost blogger — writing blog posts for a blogger who’s already really well established and is ready to outsource their actual content production. These opportunities aren’t often advertised, so the best way to find them is to tap your network and see if anyone you know is looking for a ghostwriter.
8. Be a VA for a Bigger Blogger
When you’re just starting out as a blogger, one of the best things you can do is work for another blogger who’s already fairly established. By being a virtual assistant, you’ll pick up valuable skills and learn how a professional blogger runs his or her business, all while getting paid to help out.
9. Develop a Membership Program
A great way to make money with your blog at any time, including the beginning, is to develop a membership program of some sort to sell. You can have the membership renew for whatever time period you set (usually it’s monthly or yearly). The key to maintaining this program is to make the membership extremely valuable to your members. Possible membership sites might include tutoring, training, a ___-of-the-month club, or a mastermind group.
There’s no limit to the types of income streams you can set up for your blog. The key is to get started as quickly as you can, instead of waiting until you’ve got everything “perfect.” If you wait until you’re totally ready, you’ll never get started.
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