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How to Monetize a Blog: 9 Profitable Strategies for 2021 and Beyond

Blog Monetization Feature

If you’ve started reading this post, you’re probably in one of two situations: you either already have a blog up and running or plan to start writing one soon.

Either way, you want to find out how to convert the traffic on your blog into revenue. 

Well, we’ve got some good news for you. Through this guide, we’ll introduce you to some of the most cutting-edge, sustainable, and profitable ways to monetize your blog

As you read through the content below, bear two things in mind. 

Firstly, not every monetization technique is right for every blog. You need to be selective about finding the approach that works for your audience and your blogging style. 

Secondly, remember that you can always combine two or more monetization techniques into an overall strategy. In fact, layering different revenue streams is a common tactic used by bloggers looking to establish sustainable income. 

Before you monetizing your blog you need targeted traffic

This might sound like an obvious thing to say, but the value of a blog isn’t actually it’s content, but its visitors. 

The people who read your blog will either pay you directly or have advertisers clamoring to get attention. 

This means that, before you start thinking about anything in terms of monetization, you must make sure that you’re attracting high volumes of good quality traffic. 

And quality really is important here. Anyone can buy online traffic, but you need visitors who are invested enough in your topic so that there’s potential value in their visit. 

Good quality, targeted traffic attracted to your content quality content will pay off in the long run as it will:

  • Increase the likelihood of making sales
  • Create an overall higher conversion rate
  • Make your traffic more easily marketable to advertisers
  • Help brand your blog as an authority on your topic
  • Increase the likelihood that other websites will link to yours

Tip 💁 – Check out our posts on Blogging Tips for Beginners to learn how to get traffic to your blog

The right platform for success

Developing traffic all starts with building your blog on a reliable platform. Of course, we recommend Zyro, where you can launch a blog quickly, easily, and affordably. 

Besides professional blogging tools that allow you to upload, edit, and publish blog content in attractively formatted ways, Zyro gives you access to tons of other features to help drive traffic to your blog.

Zyro helps make sure your blog is optimized for search from the moment you launch, gives you insights into your users’ behavior to help improve performance, and helps you run targeted ad campaigns to reach new audiences. 

It’ll even help monetize your blog with the easy addition of an online store. 

How to get traffic 

While you’re always encouraged to try something a little out of the box, the most common ways to get traffic also tend to be the most reliable. 

These include approaches such as:

  • Getting free traffic through SEO. If your content is keyword optimized and answers specific user queries, search engines will trust your site more and send more traffic your way. 
  • Engaging visitors on social media. Since billions of users hang out on social media platforms, they’re a great place to engage with users interested in topics related to your blog. 
  • Growing an email list. Newsletters might sound like the tool of yesterday, but email lists remain one of the most effective drivers of traffic on the internet. They’re targeted, relevant, and precise. 
  • Content marketing beyond your blog. Why stop at a blog? You can also develop a devoted following if you create your own YouTube channel or podcasting. 
  • Guest blogging. Where are you guaranteed to find engaged, blog reading users? On other people’s blogs, of course. Produce free content for other bloggers and reap the reward to audience sharing. 

How to monetize a blog: 9 leading strategies 

1. Make money blogging with ads on your blog

As someone who has used the internet in the last 30 years, you will be familiar with display ads. 

Display, or banner, ads are the bread and butter of blog monetization. They allow third party businesses to rent advertising space on your blog for a fee. 

How ads on your blog work 

Adding ads to monetize a blog is simple: you simply identify some space on key pages where you can fit a banner inviting users to click and interact with the ad. 

When users click on an ad displayed on your website, you will get paid for the traffic. 

There are then two main ways that you can find ads for your blog. If you a seasoned expert, you might choose to source advertisers directly and sell ad space directly to companies who want to advertise. 

Far easier and more common, however, is to use the services of an ad network to automatically serve ads to your blog. 

Ad networks, of which Google Adsense is the most popular, take the space available on your website, and use it to display ads from various advertisers dynamically. 

Pros and cons of display ads

The big benefits of using display ads to monetize your blog are that:

  • They are easy to apply to your blog. Initial setup is as easy as selecting your preferences and adding some code to your blog. 
  • You can mostly forget about them and get on with blogging. Once they’re set up, ads mostly take care of themselves.  
  • The network you use will optimize your ads. Your chosen ad network will automatically serve up ads which are most relevant to your audience. 

Some of the drawbacks include:

  • Low engagement. Even the most well-designed ads tend to have low engagement, mostly thanks to the fact that users are in the practice of simply ignoring them. 
  • Lack of control. While you can always set your preferences with ad networks, at a certain point there’s limited control that you have over which ads get published on your website. 
  • Possible unwanted associations. You have relatively limited control over the ads that appear on your blog. 

Example of a blog using display ads

For a blog that demonstrates how to monetize a blog with display ads, we recommend that you check out Smashing Magazine, a design blog that is monetized through display ads. 

2. Make money promoting affiliate marketing offers

Affiliate marketing is big business in all kinds of verticals. Everything from protein shakes to website builders use affiliate marketing to get the word out about their products or services. 

Similarly to display ads, affiliate marketing involves third party businesses paying for your users’ attention. However, in this case, links to affiliate websites are placed manually, you recommend the brand explicitly, and you leverage more of your authority. 

How affiliate marketing works on your blog  

Man on laptop doing affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing involves you, as the publisher, sharing links on your blog to third party advertisers’ websites. 

An affiliate program will usually be selling products or services closely related to the topic of your blog, and your sharing links will act as your recommendation of the product. 

Many blogs will review the products or services of the affiliates they recommend. 

Payment models for each affiliate program differ. You may get a fixed fee for a lead or conversion, or else be offered a share of the revenue from sales made. 

As with display ads, there are two main options when it comes to deciding which affiliate links to share on your website. 

You could take the option of exploring your own network or contacting companies directly which you think value advertising on your website. 

Alternatively, you may decide to work with an affiliate network, which will contact advertisers on your behalf and suggest companies you may like to work with. 

Pros and cons of affiliate marketing

The key benefits of affiliate marketing include:

  • Highly relevant. The affiliates that you advertise in your blog posts will likely be closely related to the content you’re already creating. 
  • High earning potential. Given the specificity of your leads, affiliate marketing tends to have more engagement and higher returns than display ads. 
  • Ongoing income. If you work on a revenue share model, there’s the potential to have ongoing income from a single customer. 

Some of the drawbacks of affiliate marketing are that:

  • Reliant on advertisers. In the more common CPA or revenue share models, you need the advertisers to put the work into optimizing conversions. 
  • Only getting a percentage. Even if you’re successful promoting affiliate products, you’ll only ever share a small percentage of the revenue. 
  • Constant work. While most affiliate programs promise ‘passive income’, affiliate blogging usually requires a lot of attention to ensure you’re getting a good deal. 

Example of a blog using affiliate marketing

For a blog that demonstrates how to monetize a blog with affiliate marketing, we recommend that you check out The Points Guy, a travel blog that makes money directing readers to book holidays. 

Tip 💁 – Check out our post What is Affiliate Marketing for more insights

3. Offer a paid subscription with access to premium content

With any luck, you’re the kind of writer who can keep your audience always coming back for more. 

If you have a readership of engaged people looking for more of the kind of content you offer, a great way to monetize your blog is to offer premium content. 

This monetization method is applicable to pretty much any niche a blogger might choose to write about, and involves readers paying you directly for access to more content on your site. 

How paid subscriptions on your blog work 

Online card transaction

If you’re exploring how to monetize a blog as a writer, then subscriptions are a simple way to get started. 

While some of your content is available for free to anyone visiting your site, other blog posts are hidden behind a paywall. Readers must by a subscription from you in order to access the premium content. 

Generally, when working on a subscription model, bloggers make their most useful and popular content premium, perhaps making a blog post paid if it is their most accessed piece. 

Basically, subscriptions allow you to create and sell content directly to your subscribers. 

Pros and cons of subscriptions to premium content

The key benefits of selling subscriptions include:

  • Ongoing income. If you sell subscriptions to your blog, you’ll have consistent income which you can rely on per month. 
  • Stay within your niche. If creating content is what you’re good at, then subscriptions allow you to focus on that. It’s the simplest way to monetize a blog post. 
  • Super simple. If you want to monetize your blog with subscriptions, you’ll find it one of a straightforward way to make money online, relying only on your own work and site. 

Some of the drawbacks of selling subscriptions are that:

  • Make extra content. Don’t forget that you’ll need to put extra work into making both free and premium content for your blog. 
  • Unreliable. It can be tricky to convince people to pay for an ongoing subscription. 
  • High quality required. To justify asking your readers to pay for a subscription, bloggers who choose to start a blog on a subscription need to make really high quality content. 

Example of blogs selling subscriptions to premium content 

For a blog that demonstrates how to monetize a blog with premium content, we recommend that you check out Envato Tuts+, a tutorial blog that gives readers access to premium content behind a paywall. 

4. Build a name blogging and sell online courses on established platforms

Once you get started blogging and start getting a decent amount of blog traffic, you might wonder if there’s some way to monetize your popularity among your audience. There is. 

Consider putting together an online course to sell to people engaged in what you do. 

Obviously, to sell online courses, you need to cover a niche which suits that kind of content. If your blog is a guide to anything from beauty and crafts to management or gaming, there’s a good chance you can make money with online courses. 

How selling online courses works 

Guitarist giving music lessons online

Generally speaking, online courses are pre-recorded online seminars that readers of your blog can pay for, download or access online, and watch at their convenience. 

The idea of online courses is to offer people a deep dive into topics related to your blog that they’re interested in and want to learn more about. 

If you plan to start making money from your blog with courses, you need to make sure that you have the right expertise, can professionally guide people through your course, and can add value to their knowledge.  

Popular platforms for hosting these kinds of courses include SkillShare, Udemy, and MasterClass. You should do your research to discover which platform is right for your niche.  

While most online courses come pre-packaged for purchase at any time, you might also charge extra for live courses, or run virtual summits to make money from a whole program of courses. 

Pros and cons of selling online courses

The key benefits of selling online courses include:

  • Passive income. Successful courses may offer full-time income for minimum ongoing work per month once you’ve put the online course materials together. 
  • High profile. If you’re hoping to become an online persona, an online course is a good way to get your face out there. 
  • Low investment. Apart from your own time, it’s usually relatively cheap to invest in creating an online course. 

Some of the drawbacks of selling online courses are that:

  • Reliant on platforms. Unless you host it on your own site, hosting courses makes you reliant on the platform you use. 
  • High level of knowledge. People buying your courses will expect you to have a lot to offer as an expert guide to your topic. 
  • Limited audience. Even if you become a successful freelance blogger, you may be disappointed by how few people are interested in your courses. 

Example of blogs selling online courses 

For a blog that demonstrates how to monetize a blog with online courses, we recommend that you check out Venu Sanz, a vegan chef who started publishing recipes and now runs popular online courses. 

5. Offer expert coaching and consulting services

Online courses are just one way you can share your expertise and knowledge to make money online. 

There is a huge market for successful bloggers to coach or consult people on all kinds of topics related to their niche. 

How coaching and consulting works 

woman-with-open-laptop

As with running a course off the back of your site, offering coaching or consulting services to a person, group, or company is all about sharing your knowledge and insights to help others improve in a certain area. 

Unlike with courses, which are usually pre-recorded and replayed at a viewer’s leisure, coaching is done in real-time and on a one-on-one basis. 

Also unlike just offering an online course, taking on coaching and consulting service allows you to offer real-time feedback to your clients, and offer rapid answers if someone should have a question. 

Pros and cons of coaching and consulting

The key benefits of selling coaching services include:

  • Helping people. If you’re looking for a rewarding way to make money from blogging, helping people achieve their goals is certainly one of the best ways. 
  • High revenue. Once you’ve got the profile to start coaching, chances are you can charge a good amount of money for your services. 
  • Broadly applicable. Whether you’re a management superstar, are great at pottery, or understand the best uses of an SEO tool, there are loads of topics you can coach people on.  

Some of the drawbacks of selling coaching services are that:

  • Difficult to scale. If you’re working one on one with coaching clients, it’s hard to grow your business much bigger. 
  • Ongoing work. Coaching is not passive income like some bloggers are looking for, but requires ongoing work and input. 
  • High level of knowledge required. As with an online course, pivoting from blogger to coach will set high expectations for your abilities. 

Example of blogs using selling coaching and consulting services

For a blog that demonstrates how to monetize a blog with coaching or consulting services, we recommend that you check out Biz Mavens, who coaches aspiring bloggers. 

6. Add an online store to sell directly on your blog

Pretty much any kind of blog and niche is set up to allow you to sell physical products through an online store. 

Whether you make products yourself, get branded merchandise made for your blog, or simply sell products related to your niche, an online store is a great way to get revenue directly from visitors to your site. 

How opening an online store works 

Build an online store with Zyro on a tablet

Once you’ve got traffic coming in, the question of how to make money from a blog with an online store becomes simple. 

You simply need to identify the kinds of products that your visitors will be interested in buying. Since you should have a decent amount of information about who your readers are and what they’re interested in, that shouldn’t be a problem. 

If you run a food blog, consider selling recipe books or condiments. If you run a fashion blog, consider selling clothing or accessories. 

Adding an online store is simple if you’re using a website builder like Zyro. You can simply add a store page, add a link to your main menu, and direct your readers to check out your products. 

Pros and cons of launching an online store

The key benefits of opening an online store include:

  • Relevant to all niches. It’s easy to tailor your offering to exactly what your site visitors are interested in buying. 
  • Direct revenue. A store on your website gets money directly to you without third parties. 
  • Scalable. As interest in your blog grows, your store should see increasing revenue. 

Some of the drawbacks of opening an online store are that:

  • Extra work. Unless you operate on a dropshipping system, managing an online store can take up an awful lot of your time. You might shift from being a blogger to an online seller. 
  • Costly. There are a lot of costs associated with running an online store, including purchasing inventory, paying sales taxes, and managing shipping. 
  • Unreliable. Got a bunch of merch specially printed but no one’s buying? It just goes to show how online stores can disappoint. 

Example of blogs running stores

For a blog that demonstrates how to monetize a blog with an online store, we recommend that you check out Jinx, a gaming and nerd culture blog with an epic online store. 

7. Sell digital downloads

As well as selling physical products through an online store, it’s possible to use your blogging platform to sell digital downloads. 

When it comes to how to monetize a blog, digital downloads represent a simple way to enjoy revenue directly from visitors. 

If you’re not just a blogger, but produce other kinds of content as well, selling digital products might make real sense for your business. 

How selling digital downloads works 

Person reading an eBook on a tablet

Selling digital content is pretty much the same as running an online store for physical products, but instead of giving users a menu for selecting delivery options, you allow them to download the products directly from you. 

Digital products you might sell to monetize your blog include:

  • eBooks 
  • Software
  • Music and audio
  • Graphics and digital art 
  • Photographs 
  • PDFs 

Pros and cons of digital downloads

The key benefits of selling digital downloads include:

  • No inventory. Digital products are arguably more suited to a freelance blogger, as they don’t require you to manage inventory or shipping. 
  • Passive income. Once you’ve created a digital product, it can continue to be downloaded without much effort from you at all. 
  • Massively scalable. Owing to you not having to produce individual units, you can make a huge number of sales off the back of just a few products. 

Some of the drawbacks of selling digital downloads are that:

  • Competition. There’s probably more competition comparative to the market size in the digital downloads market than in any other on this list. 
  • Copies. It’s unfortunately common that great digital download ideas are stolen, and it’s very hard to guard against this. 
  • Niche. For lots of types of downloadable products, the audience is not very large. 

Example of blogs selling digital downloads

For a blog that demonstrates how to monetize a blog with digital downloads, we recommend that you check out Your Landing Page Sucks, which offers The Landing Page Cookbook digital download to help readers improve their marketing game. 

8. Get funded on Patreon

Patreon is a platform which allows creative, like bloggers, podcasters, and musicians, to get donations directly from their followers. 

Often, the idea is that readers, listeners, or fans will simply donate a certain amount of money per month towards the creator’s Patreon account. 

How funding through Patreon works 

Recording Podcast

Patreon works on a monthly donation basis. Those spending money, known as patrons, can choose how much they want to donate on an ongoing basis. 

Patreon allows your fans and followers the opportunity to show their appreciation through a cash gift, without having to make a purchase. 

There is the option for a blogger using Patreon to offer premium content or merchandise to patrons who donate over a certain amount of money, although this is not a requirement. This is helpful if you want to offer premium content but don’t want to have to do it on your own site. 

Pros and cons of using Patreon

The key benefits of Patreon include:

  • Ongoing donations. Since patrons sign up for monthly donations, by and large it’s income you can rely on. 
  • No purchase necessary. Since people aren’t buying something from you, you don’t need to worry about shipping out goods or managing a store. 
  • Based on kindness. The platform is perfect for creators who have a strong connection with their followers. 

Some of the drawbacks of Patreon are that:

  • Unreliable. Unless you’re using the platform to offer premium content, you’re relying on the goodwill of your audience for making money online.’
  • Obligation. Some people in your audience might feel an obligation to pay your company, even when they can’t afford to. 
  • Reliant. If you choose to monetize your blog through Patreon, you’ll become reliant on a third-party platform for your income. 

Example of blogs getting funding through Patreon

For a blog that demonstrates how to monetize a blog with funding through Patreon, we recommend that you check out Wait But Why, a successful blog that ‘exists with Patreon’.

9. Get paid for posting sponsored articles and reviews

If you’ve got a lot of visitors to your website and are highly regarded within your industry or niche, then there’s a good chance that third-party companies will want you to write sponsored content or reviews for them. 

Similarly to affiliate marketing, sponsored content and reviews are all about using your influence as an established blogger to promote the products or services of others. 

While it certainly takes some time for you to get the kind of following that will allow you to charge for posting sponsored content, 

How sponsored articles work 

Girl writing on a laptop with white background

The idea is simple: instead of paying for ads to be run on your website, advertisers pay to have content that promotes, mentions, or reviews their companies to be published on your blog. 

Usually, you’ll write the content yourself, but sometimes advertisers will have their marketing team help create content, so it’s always worth asking. 

Whether it’s text or video, sponsored content usually involves you explaining the positives of an advertiser and its product, and inviting your followers to visit their site and make a purchase. 

As with affiliate marketing, in most cases, sponsors will provide you with a tracking link to make sure that any traffic and sales can be attributed to you. 

If your blog is big enough to have a high profile within your industry, there’s a decent chance that people who want to advertise with you through sponsored content and reviews will contact you directly. 

However, if you’re still relatively small or new, you’ll probably have to conduct outreach of your own and contact parties who might be interested in working with you. This can become quite a lot of extra work. 

Pros and cons of posting sponsored content

The key benefits of posting sponsored content include:

  • Keep doing what you’re good at. Since you’re already writing blog posts, it’s not straying too far from what you already do to write up some sponsored content. 
  • Free content. It’s often the case that advertisers will provide free content for you to publish, making your workload lighter. 
  • User-friendly. Sponsored content is so effective because it serves up advertising in a way that users are happy to consume. While lots of internet users are blind to ads, they’ll pay attention to sponsored content. 

Some of the drawbacks of posting sponsored content are that:

  • Questions of authenticity. If you publish too much content that is obviously sponsored, your readership may decide that they will no longer visit your blog. 
  • Close associations. More so than most other forms of marketing, sponsored content is a real endorsement of advertisers, meaning your public image is tied to theirs. 
  • Indirect income. Sponsored content can prove unreliable revenue since the income is so indirect from your own work, and relies on third-party advertisers. 

Example of blogs publishing sponsored posts 

For a blog that demonstrates how to monetize a blog with sponsored content, we recommend that you check out Manly Wellness, which publishes sponsored content for advertisers like this review of BetterHelp

FAQ about making money blogging

Got a question about how making money from a blog works? Chances are we’ve got the answer. Check out these frequently asked questions to find out more. 

How do bloggers get paid?

Depending on the kind of content they offer, the size and demographics of their audience, and the amount of time and resources they want to spend on monetizing their blogs, bloggers have loads of options to choose from for monetizing a blog. 

Some answers to how bloggers make money include:

  • Adding affiliate links to existing content 
  • Writing reviews and special content especially for affiliate programs
  • Running ads through tools like Google AdSense
  • Offering readers premium content 
  • Selling products and services through a store
  • Running online courses
  • Offering coaching services 
  • Publishing sponsored posts on their blog
  • Offering digital products for download

Can you monetize a free blog?

Yes, absolutely. 

While you may find success developing revenue streams through subscriptions and freemium content, there are plenty of ways to monetize a blog while still making the content free to access and read for everyone. 

If you don’t want to charge your readers for access to your content, consider ways to make money from your blog such as affiliate marketing or display ads.

While some of your readers may ultimately make a purchase, none will be barred from your content if they don’t pay. 

What types of blogs make the most money?

Before we list off the kind of blogs that are best to make money online, we would warn you that the very best way to make money from a blog is to write about what you know best. 

The audience reading your blog posts will be able to tell whether the writer knows what they’re talking about and are passionate about their subject, or are just posing in the hopes that they’ll make money from a popular niche. 

Our advice: start a blog focusing on a topic you find genuinely interesting. Only think about monetizing your blog after you’ve cornered your niche and have a good audience of engaged people to make money from. 

That all said, some of the best topics for how to make money blogging include:

  • Health. A broad target audience is the benefit of this niche. 
  • Lifestyle. A great way to merge popular social media content with your own blog posts. 
  • Tech. Aimed right, this niche promised a target audience willing to pay for big-ticket items. 
  • Gaming. If you’re a gamer anyway, a gaming blog is a great way to get started and monetize a blog. 
  • Home decor. With changing seasons and styles, there’s always new ways to monetize a blog focused on homewares. 
  • Parenting. New and expectant parents are always looking for effective products and advice to coach them through parenting. 
  • Faith. There’s no question that there’s money to be made from people who want to learn more about religion and belief. 

Are blogs still profitable in 2021?

While it is true that the blogging industry has become far more competitive in the last decade, making monetization a little more challenging, it’s still perfectly possible to generate a full-time income with money from a blog. 

Keep in mind that bloggers who make money with a blog tend to focus on a tight niche that keeps their target audience-specific. If the people reading your blog have clear shared interests, it’s easier to know which products and services they might be interested in. 

The secret to how to make money with a blog is to understand what your blog traffic want and to give it to them. 

Written by

Author avatar

Duncan

Duncan is obsessed with making website building and eCommerce accessible to everyone. He explains the best tools and the latest digital marketing trends in ways that are clear and engaging. His focus is on supporting the sustainable growth of small to medium-sized enterprises. When not writing, he enjoys deep sea fishing and endurance cycling.

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