A humble blog or newsletter might just be one of the best businesses a solo entrepreneur or side hustler can run.
Depending on whom you ask, a professional blogger working in 2023 can earn anywhere from $45,000 annually to well over $1 million a year. That is a massive range, and the difference between the top earner and an average performer will almost certainly depend on the blogger's audience and his or her ability to generate revenue from the relationship with that audience.
In this article, we are going to share eight ways to earn money with a blog or newsletter.
No. 1: Selling Products
Let's pretend for a moment that we are not talking about how to make money blogging, but instead, this section of the article is about how an ecommerce business can attract shoppers to its website.
We would suggest things like search engine optimization (SEO), paid advertising, and —here it comes— content marketing. But what is content marketing, you ask? Well, in practice, it looks an awful lot like blogging.
Take, for example, Mr. Porter, which sells high-end men's clothing. The site has an excellent blog called The Journal. While the marketing folk at Mr. Porter might have many reasons for producing blog content, one of those reasons is almost certainly to attract shoppers, i.e., to sell products.
Now back to blog monetization. One of the best ways to earn money blogging is by selling products. The types of products you can sell are essentially endless and largely depend on the nature of your blog.
The items you sell could be physical products such as books, apparel, or merchandise related to your blog's theme. Or your products could be digital, like printables or software. If you run a travel blog, you might sell digital city guides or packing checklists. A blog about flying could sell downloadable FAA charts for kneeboards (how is that for a niche?).
No. 2: Online Courses/Workshops
A close cousin to selling products on your blog is the concept of selling knowledge in the form of online courses or workshops.
Imagine you run an amateur filmmaking blog. You share tips and tricks about various aspects of filmmaking and review movies occasionally, focusing on the craft of making the film as much as the movie itself.
Over time, you've built a solid reader base of aspiring cinematographers.
So you create an online course that covers movie-making basics or a particular cinematography style in detail—perhaps Wes Anderson films 101.
Your audience, who already values your advice, may be interested in purchasing this course.
One advantage of creating online courses or workshops is that once you've created the content, it can become a source of passive income, meaning it can keep paying you after the initial work.
No. 3: Advertising
Advertising on your blog and newsletter can take various forms, from banner and video ads to native advertising or directly sold sponsorships.
The most common way to get started with advertising is through services like Google AdSense, MediaVine, AdThrive, and ConvertKit for newsletters. These services automate the process of displaying ads relevant to your content and your readers' interests.
Essentially, you provide a space on your blog or newsletter for ads, and one of these services will populate that space with ads relevant to your content or your audience.
You then earn money every time a visitor interacts with these ads, either by viewing them (CPM, Cost per Thousand Impressions) or clicking on them (CPC, Cost per Click).
While the amount you earn per interaction might seem small, it can add up to a substantial amount with enough traffic. We know food bloggers, for example, that make well into the six figures with website ads.
However, it's important to strike a balance when it comes to advertising. Too many ads can make your blog look cluttered and detract from the user experience. Worse, it might make your blog less trustworthy to new visitors.
You should also remember that advertising revenue can be unpredictable and might fluctuate from month to month. While it can provide a significant income stream for popular blogs, you may want to combine it with other monetization methods to diversify your income.
Advertising can be a great way to earn passive income from your blog, especially as your audience grows. With careful consideration and a balanced approach, you can make advertising a lucrative part of your blog monetization strategy.
No. 4: Memberships/Subscriptions
If you're providing consistent value to your audience and have fostered a strong, engaged community around your blog or newsletter, offering a membership or subscription-based model can be a highly effective way to monetize.
This method provides you with a reliable, recurring income and strengthens the relationship with your readers by offering them exclusive content or experiences.
Let's use an example. Suppose you run a popular finance blog where you share insightful articles on personal finance and investment strategies. You've built a loyal following who appreciates your expertise and finds value in your content. Consider launching a premium subscription plan that offers early access to your posts, in-depth market analysis, exclusive investment tips, or even one-on-one finance consultations.
Similarly, for newsletters, tools like ConcertKit or Substack make it easier than ever to offer paid subscriptions or memberships. These can be particularly useful if you're writing in-depth content that readers can't get anywhere else, or if your newsletter is specialized enough to appeal to a particular group of professionals or enthusiasts.
When implementing a membership or subscription model, you must ensure that what you're offering is valuable and exclusive. If your readers can get similar information elsewhere for free, they're less likely to pay for a subscription. So, strive to create high-quality, unique content that justifies the price.
Another key consideration is pricing. It's essential to strike a balance between charging enough to make a profit and setting a price your readers are willing to pay. Understanding your audience, their needs, and their financial capabilities is crucial in setting a price that works for both parties.
Offering memberships or subscriptions allows you to generate a steady, recurring income while deepening your relationship with your readers. It can also create a community around your blog or newsletter, as members often interact more frequently and meaningfully with the content and each other.
Remember, a successful membership model requires consistently delivering value to your audience. But, if done right, it can be a potent and sustainable monetization strategy.
No. 5: Affiliate Marketing
With affiliate marketing, you promote a product or service and earn a commission every time someone purchases through your unique referral link.
Think about a photography blog where you regularly review cameras and photography equipment. You can include affiliate links in your content by joining affiliate programs of relevant companies or marketplaces (like Amazon's Associate program or Impact). When a reader clicks on the link and purchases, you earn a percentage of the sale.
One of the reasons why affiliate marketing is a favorite method for blog monetization is its scalability. The potential income from affiliate marketing is directly proportional to your audience size, making it an excellent choice as your readership grows.
Moreover, affiliate marketing can be pretty passive. Once you've included the affiliate links in your posts, they can continue to generate income over time without much additional effort.
However, to succeed in affiliate marketing, it's essential to maintain trust and transparency with your audience. Always disclose your affiliate relationships and prioritize your audience's interests over earning commissions.
Promote products or services you genuinely believe in and that align with your content and audience. Misleading your readers for the sake of commissions can lead to a loss of trust and a decline in readership.
In terms of implementation, many affiliate programs offer ready-to-use banners and links, making the process relatively straightforward. Be sure to track your affiliate links' performance to understand what works best for your audience and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Remember, while it can take some time to see significant income from affiliate marketing, it's a strategy that can pay off in the long term, particularly if you're producing high-quality content that attracts a large audience.
With careful planning, affiliate marketing can provide a significant and sustainable income stream from your blog or newsletter.
No. 6: Sponsored Content
Sponsored content is another prevalent monetization strategy for blogs and newsletters. Selling sponsored content involves collaborating with brands and businesses to create content that promotes their products or services.
Sponsored content can come in many forms. It could be a blog post reviewing a product, a newsletter edition highlighting a service, an Instagram post featuring a product, a mention in a podcast episode, or even a full-blown series of articles or videos on a specific topic sponsored by a company.
For example, we know a food blogger who is being paid to include a specific tequila brand in a popular cocktail recipe on her site.
Sponsored posts differ from affiliate marketing in that you get paid a flat fee rather than relying on some performance metric.
Let's take an example. Suppose you run a fitness blog. A sportswear company might approach you to write a review of their new running shoes or a post about your favorite workout gear, mentioning their products. They pay you for this content and the exposure to your audience.
The key to successful sponsored content is to keep it relevant and genuine. The products or services you're promoting should fit naturally within your content and be something you believe your audience will genuinely benefit from or enjoy. Readers can tell when a blogger is disingenuously promoting a product, and it can damage your credibility and rapport with your audience.
Sponsored content can be lucrative, particularly for blogs or newsletters with a significant following. However, it's crucial to strike a balance. Too much sponsored content can turn off readers.
Make sure to disclose the sponsorship to your audience. It's not only a matter of transparency and ethics, but, in many regions, it's also legally required.
In terms of finding sponsors, you can either reach out to brands directly or use platforms that connect bloggers and sponsors, like TapInfluence or IZEA. Remember, it's essential to negotiate a fair rate for your work. Consider factors like the time and effort involved in creating the content and the exposure the sponsor will gain from your platform.
Sponsored content, when done right, can be a great way to monetize your blog or newsletter. It offers a way to leverage your influence, audience, and creative skills while introducing your readers to products or services that might interest them.
No. 7: Donations
Believe it or not, donations are one of the simplest ways to monetize your blog or newsletter.
This method involves asking your readers to support your work voluntarily. While it might not be the most predictable or substantial source of income, it can be a valuable addition to your monetization strategy, especially if you have a dedicated and engaged audience.
Donations are a common monetization method for bloggers and newsletter creators who provide high-value content free of charge and prefer not to clutter their sites with ads or sponsored content. It's a way for readers to express their appreciation and support for your work.
There are various ways to set up donations. You can use services like PayPal, ConvertKit, or Patreon, where your readers can make one-time donations or set up regular contributions. Patreon also allows creators to provide exclusive content or perks to their patrons, adding an extra incentive for readers to donate. ConvertKit has a tip jar that is easy to implement.
Remember to express gratitude to your supporters. A simple thank you can go a long way in fostering goodwill and encouraging continued support.
To sum up, donations can be a respectful and non-intrusive way to monetize your blog or newsletter. They allow your readers to support your work directly, fostering a sense of community and mutual appreciation.
No. 8: Blog Flipping
We know a blogger, let's call him Jack, who is really good at starting projects. Unfortunately, Jack gets bored. After a few months, he would rather move on to a new topic and a new blog.
Well, Jack can still make money flipping blogs.
Blog flipping, or website flipping, is a process much like flipping real estate. You create a blog, nurture it until it has a good amount of traffic and possibly some income, and then sell it to someone else who wants a ready-made blog.
Back to Jack. Once he builds a blog, adds quality content, optimizes for SEO, and attracts a substantial following, he can then sell his blog on platforms like Flippa, Empire Flippers, or FE International. He's turning his blog into a valuable digital property ready to be taken over by someone who prefers to skip the building phase and jump directly into managing and monetizing a functioning blog.
It's worth noting that the price of a blog depends on various factors. These include the blog's age, its content quality, the domain authority, the amount and consistency of traffic, the income it generates, and its growth potential.
A successful blog flip requires careful planning and execution. You'll need to choose a profitable niche, create engaging content, effectively drive traffic, and prove that the blog can generate income. It's a lot of work upfront, but it can pay off handsomely if you're patient and diligent.
Blog flipping isn't for everyone, though. It requires a wide range of skills, from web design and SEO to content creation and marketing. However, for someone like Jack, who loves starting new projects but loses interest over time, it could be a great way to monetize his skill set.