How to Monetize a Blog Without Sacrificing Your Audience

How to Monetize a Blog Without Sacrificing Your Audience


Let's start with an obvious question: what does it mean to monetize a blog?

It means turning your blog into a source of income. There are many ways to do this. For example, you can feature ads on your blog, sell products or services through your blog, connect with brands for paid sponsorship opportunities, offer coaching or freelance writing services, and more. You might be surprised by how easily you can turn your website into a profitable business! (We'll talk more about specific monetization tactics later.)

The big benefit of monetizing is that you'll no longer have to wonder, "How can I make money blogging?" Instead of being at the mercy of the whims of advertisers and relying on the kindness of strangers in your comments section, you'll have direct control over how much income you generate from your blog posts.

Make your blog self-sustaining with affiliate links.

Affiliate links are one of the most effective ways to monetize your website without sacrificing its integrity. Affiliate marketing is all about promoting products and services that your readers would be interested in anyway — you just get a commission when they purchase through your links. Here's how to use affiliate links on your site:

  • Choose the right affiliate programs for your audience

  • Don't overdo it with banner ads and affiliate links

  • Add affiliate links subtly into relevant blog posts

Add advertising to your site.

The most common and the most straightforward path to monetization is adding advertising to your site.

  • Display ads. These are ads that are displayed on your website, either as a banner or an image.

  • Audio ads. This is an ad that plays automatically when a user visits a page on your site.

  • Video ads. Like display ads, these are videos that play automatically on your site, though they must be approved by Google AdSense first—so make sure they’re good ones!

  • In-text ads. With this type of ad, certain words or phrases on your blog will be hyperlinked with an advertiser's link when someone clicks them with their mouse cursor.

  • Pop-up ads. These are the annoying advertisements that pop up in front of a person's screen and block the content being viewed until he closes them out (or buys something).

  • Pop-under ads. These show up underneath what’s currently being viewed rather than blocking it from view like pop-ups do; then they pop over once the page has been closed out by clicking anywhere else onscreen (they're almost as annoying as pop-ups).

Create a product to sell on your site

The best way for bloggers to make money is by offering a product or service that their audience wants. This is because you're creating something that's directly related to your blog and will be appreciated by the people who read it.

Here are some examples of products you can offer:

  • Tutorials

  • Resources

  • Template

  • Software

  • Worksheets

  • A book

  • An eBook

  • A video course

  • A membership site

  • A webinar

  • An app

  • A physical product (e.g., a monthly subscription to an online magazine)

Sell services on your blog.

Self-promotion can be a tricky thing when you're looking to monetize your blog without sacrificing your audience, but if you're good at what you do, this might be an excellent way to do so. While bloggers who offer services in the fields of web design and marketing are particularly well-positioned for this type of tactic, freelancers of all kinds might consider offering paid packages on their blogs. If you're a freelance writer with a client base that keeps growing bigger and bigger, consider packaging some of your time as a service that your readers can purchase, such as ebooks or courses for aspiring writers.

Whatever services you offer on your blog, it's important to remain cognizant of the level of quality that you've established with your work. If someone is subscribing to your email list or reading one article after another on your blog, they'll likely have high expectations for any services they choose to pay for as well. If they get something mediocre in return—or worse yet, something that doesn't meet the promised standard—they may not feel inclined to read any more articles from you or recommend your blog to their friends and coworkers.

Publish sponsored posts on your blog.

These are posts where you write about a company or its products, in exchange for monetary compensation. These can be written either by you, or by the company themselves and then published on your blog.

They are an effective way to monetize a site because they allow you to leverage your audience's trust in order to promote certain products. On one hand, this is great because it gives your readers an opportunity to learn about new products that will benefit their lives (thus fulfilling the promise of providing useful content). On the other hand, if not done correctly, sponsored posts can harm your credibility with your audience and make it seem like you're just selling out for money.

Sell Physical Products to Your Audience

If you sell products, one of the best ways to do it is to create your own product and then market it on your blog. Your customers will feel more connected to their purchase because they’ve had some level of interaction with you and your brand. They know that the product is created by a person (you), not a faceless corporation.

One word of caution about creating your own products: make sure that you have a plan for how you are going to store and ship them. There are many bloggers who have run into trouble with this aspect of their business down the line, so make sure that you’re prepared for all aspects of selling physical products on your site.

What if you don’t have a product? You can still sell physical products on your site. In fact, if you don’t have one already it might be easier than trying to create something right off the bat - especially if there is already demand for something in particular on your blog or social media sites. A great way to keep control over what kind of product gets sold on your blog is through affiliate marketing programs such as Amazon Associates or CJ Affiliate by Conversant (formerly Commission Junction).

Offer Your Service

We've been blogging since 2012, providing tips on how to make money blogging, how to get more traffic without spending more time managing it, and the like. We've always had the same content management system, but the number of hits our site gets has been steadily dropping over the past year or so.

We realized that our audience was not just people looking for advice—we were also a place where people could come for help with their blogs. But we didn't have a service to provide this kind of support for them. We figure that offering an e-mail newsletter service might be something that would solve both problems: keep our site alive and give us a new way to monetize it.

Offer Online Courses

One of the best ways to monetize your blog without sacrificing your audience is by offering online courses.

There are a number of course platforms you can use, including Kajabi, Teachable and Thinkific. You can then use your blog to build an audience for your courses and direct them there once you’re ready to launch!

If that doesn’t sound like a fit for you or if you already have another course platform you love, then make sure to use your blog not only to build an audience but also as a way to direct traffic to those courses.

You can do this by sharing snippets from the courses in your posts and providing links so readers can learn more about them!

Monetize with Merch

Creating a product like an ebook, a course, or an app can be very profitable. But if you don't have a great idea, you can consider selling something else. Here are some other ideas:

  • T-shirts and/or Mugs with your logo or funny saying

  • A membership that provides monthly content for your audience for a recurring fee

  • An online video service (like Netflix) with your videos on it

  • A physical product sold in eCommerce stores like Amazon

Consider a paywall.

While paywalls may not be as widespread as advertising, they're a great way for blogs to make money. A paywall is simply a feature that limits what content users can access on your website until they subscribe for a monthly fee. Many of the most popular publications in the world have some form of paywall: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Forbes all use them, to name just a few.

Not sure you want to commit to an all-or-nothing model? Consider a hybrid approach: sites like the Financial Times and The Economist offer free access to articles each month before asking readers to sign up for full access.

Connect with brands through influencer marketing platforms or directly via email or social media.

If you're looking to work with brands, there are a few different ways that you can connect with them.

One option is connecting with brands through influencer marketing platforms like TapInfluence, BrandBacker and Appsfluence. You can search for open campaigns that are relevant to your blog or even get personalized recommendations based on your content. As an added bonus, many of these platforms have the ability to help you track performance metrics so that it's easy to see how well your sponsored posts are doing.

Another great option is reaching out to companies directly via email or social media (which makes more sense for smaller businesses). If you go this route, make sure that the companies align with your values and will be perceived as positive endorsements by your readers. A great way to convince brand representatives of the value that working with you could bring their business is by sharing data such as how many page views and social media followers you receive each month or showing any examples of past sponsored posts that received high levels of engagement from your audience.

Think of creative ways to use your audience to promote something—your own product, someone else’s product, or even a non-profit organization.

If you have a product that you’d like to promote, make sure it’s something your audience would be interested in. For example, I know a lot of people who are really into health and wellness. If I had a product or service related to health and wellness, then my audience would be the perfect place to promote it.

That being said, be careful about how you promote it! Make sure you’re not overdoing it by only promoting this product or service with no other relevant information (or fun information!) going out on your blog. This will ultimately damage your credibility with your readers.

Rather than focusing on one specific product or service to promote, think of creative ways to use your audience to promote something—your own product, someone else’s product, or even a non-profit organization.

For example, instead of writing an email newsletter promoting one thing only once a month, send three emails out each week with two relevant articles (or fun articles) and one promotion/offer/announcement at the end of each email that goes along with what the content is about in that email.

There are many ways you can make money from your blog, but you should choose wisely so as not to lose followers.

When it comes to monetizing your blog, there are many avenues you can explore. But before you do anything, think about why you started a blog in the first place and don't lose sight of that. Also, be sure not to pick methods that’ll force you to change the subject matter of your blog—otherwise you risk alienating your loyal followers who’ve been with you since the beginning.

There are many methods for making money from a blog, but we'll look at just three here: affiliate marketing, sponsored posts and building an email list.

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