12 months ago
How to Make Money Blogging
It seems that no one really understands how blogging works. I get it – it’s confusing. I am sharing this with the hope that I’ll be able to provide some clarity. It’s sharing the real stuff, helpful tips, and making women feel less alone that makes me feel inspired. That’s why I do what I do. And if today’s post can give you the much-needed motivation to stick with it, or to try something new and uncertain, it will be worth it. But how to bloggers make money? Let’s talk about it.
How to Make Money Blogging
New bloggers may find themselves completely overwhelmed. It can be hard for someone who’s been at it for a decade! How do we make money? Do I reach out to brands? What’s the #1 source of income? Is my income steady? How does it work? How do you start a blog? These are just some of the questions I’ve been asked over the last few years.
As you know, I cofounded and grew two websites that grew to have millions of followers, all while (sort of) maintaining my blog. I went full-time on my blog last year and last year, my annual page views went up 73% from 2020 to 2021. To be even more direct, I went from over 1 million views in 2020 to 1.77 million in 2021. Successful bloggers write content that ranks and they keep their readers coming back by blogging regularly. They also diversify revenue streams – we’ll talk more about that in a minute.
I had decent traffic before I left my old company because I never fully quit running my own blog, and started as a full-time blogger (in early 2021) with over 50,000 Instagram followers. The thing to remember is that it takes time. I’ve been at this for 15 years. You won’t make much money to start, but if you stick with it, it will come. I’ve been at this a long time and I’m not saying it will take 15 years, but it wasn’t overnight. It can be discouraging when you’ve been at it for a few years and aren’t seeing a lot of growth, or a paycheck.
Last year, I made more than my salary at my old company and it was significantly less stressful.
It’s only April, but this year, I’ve made more than half my old salary this year. Yes, it took a lot of hard work, but it’s less stressful than running a team. This is my first year blogging full-time, but again, I started with a following and hundreds of blog posts. I’m sharing this because frankly, I did not think that was possible.
My point? You can do this and there are so many different ways to make money blogging. From a sponsored post to display ads, I’m going to share what’s worked for me. It’s going to take some time, but you can do it.
My main sources of income
Keep in mind that I have only been doing this full time for a little over a year now, and things changed a lot over the last year. When I officially stepped down from my old website(s) I decided to really go for it and see what I could do. When it comes to making money, using an affiliate network and brand partnerships have been the most successful.
Last year, affiliate marketing made up 61.94% of revenue, brand partnerships made up 28.72% or revenue, and ad revenue made up 9.35%. If you want to get started with LTK (affiliate links), you need at least 4 months of consistent content. I’ll get into brand partnerships in a bit.
How to make money blogging with affiliate links
Affiliate is a great way to start making money blogging. I’m very familiar with both sides of affiliate programs since Anecdote is on LTK, so here’s how it works. Brands pay to belong to the affiliate (in this case, LTK). When you use an affiliate link, the “influencer” gets a % (usually around 10%) of the total purchase, at no cost to you. As you can imagine, there are a lot of inexpensive items that bring in as little as $1 in affiliate, but if that item is purchased a bunch of times, it can still bring some money in. On average, about 1-2% of clicks convert to a sale.
If you can find success with affiliate, it’s the best way to make money on your own terms. Brand partnerships can be great, but they are a lot of work. I like doing a mix of both.
How Ads work
I signed up with Mediavine in 2018, and it’s been great. The ads on my site (which I’ll admit, aren’t my favorite thing) bring in some great extra cash. You can choose the types of ads you want or do not want, which I appreciate. If you grow your traffic significantly, you can make an insane amount of money. For the record, I am not making an “insane” amount of money on ads 😂. But it covers the cost of our health insurance, so that’s something. You can fill out an application here, but please note that you do need to have traffic to your site first.
Right now, my focus has been on SEO (search engine optimization) with the hopes that I’ll increase my traffic and make more money via ads. I do plan on writing more about that soon, but really want to see some results before I do. Ads are the easiest way to make money, so it’s where I’d like to see growth.
You’ll want to grow your traffic
I have focused on SEO over the last year, and growing my blog and focusing on blog content has helped me make more money. When people use search engines and you write for SEO, you may begin to rank (being on the first page is ideal). This increases your organic traffic, new users, and will make you more money via ad networks.
How brand partnerships work
Ah, sponsored content. It can be so tricky, and I’ve learned a lot. It’s hard when you’re first starting out because you feel like you have to say yes, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s to only say yes when it’s something that is a natural fit. You have to stay true to yourself and want (need!) your readers to trust you.
It has been years and years since I’ve pitched myself to a brand, but it’s definitely something you can do. I do not do that because it’s my goal to take on as far partnerships as possible. Someone (sometimes from a marketing agency, or someone at the brand) will reach out and ask about my interest in partnering. I’ve found that if a brand is coming to you, it’s because they want to work with you, so it’s easier. But, if there’s a brand you love, it’s worth reaching out.
If you were to pitch yourself, I’d try to find a contact at the brand. Look for someone in PR or marketing, or ask for a connection to the appropriate person via email or IG. Most of the time, reaching out would result in a for-trade partnership, which isn’t always the worst thing. Sometimes, you need to get your foot in the door.
Ideally, you’ll blog consistently for a few months before reaching out, or ask about a for trade partnership. You could also get a potential partnership by tagging a brand, but I’d say that’s not very common, or it’s not for me.
Discussing budget, rates, and deliverables to make money blogging
I would create a media kit (in PDF format) outlining your stats, a little about you, and your rates. I send my media kit to brands after they reach out. If they have a budget, we discuss rates and move forward. If it’s a brand I’m not familiar with, I’ll ask to try the product before signing a contract. I will always ask for time with a product (at least a few weeks) before signing a contract. Then we’ll talk about a date to have deliverables to the brand. They will get back to me within a few days or a week after I submit everything. Most of the time, very minor edits are required, and we set a go-live date.
Other forms of income
Consider other ways you might make money blogging. Try to focus on passive income. Online courses, downloadable PDFs, google adsense, youtube video social media, digital products, and an email list to name a few. Keep your revenue streams diverse and focus on what you can control. Instagram can be great, but we don’t really have control over what happens there. But your blog and newsletter are yours. Building up an engaged following and creating regular content is the way to go. And the great thing about blogging is that you can always try something new when something else doesn’t work.
Advice from a full-time blogger
First, don’t do it for the money. I ran my blog from 2007-2015 before I started making money. And it wasn’t full time for another 4-5 years. Yes, you can make a lot of money (a full-time salary!) blogging by writing great content on a regular basis. Even if you don’t have much traffic, keep it up and look at Ubersuggest and RankIQ to grow your SEO. Build that mailing list. These are people who are invested in you. Use any post/opportunity to plug your newsletter to your readers, and offer something there that they can’t get anywhere else.
Know your target audience and the type of content they are interested in – it’s always a good idea to know who your readers are. See what content is doing well and try to create more content like that. But don’t forget to try new and different things, because you really never know what will resonate. Product reviews can be so successful! Who knew? Engage with them on social media.
It’s more than creating content.
There are deadlines and drafts and editing content, getting approvals – it is truthfully not always my favorite thing. But – I’ve been fortunate to work with some really amazing brands who have been so wonderful and understanding. They trust me to do my thing and believe in me. A brand recently asked if I’d do something and I wrote back saying I didn’t think it would convert, and they were fine scrapping their idea.