Some people blog for hobby. Others, for business. This post is for those that dream of monetizing their website by one form or another because if you’re not in it as a hobby, let’s face it… We all wanna make some money!
What I propose below are some tried-and-true ways to monetize your site. I don’t talk about selling ads or using Google Adsense because frankly, I’ve never successfully tried either. I once sold a 300×300 ad for $300 per month for two months, but I don’t think I’d ever do that again. As for Google Adsense, it’s just not a model I want to pursue.
I’ve personally implemented several of the below referenced models with some success. The only model that I haven’t implemented is #2 – selling a digital product such as an ebook. And next month, I’m relaunching Real Estate Blog Topics which puts me at having fulfilled #7.
7 Ways To Make Money From Your Blog:
1. Join an affiliate program (or several).
If you don’t have your own digital products to sell, affiliate products are the next best thing. You’re essentially selling someone else’s product, and getting paid a commission in exchange for promoting their product.
In January 2012, Pat Flynn, author of the Smart Passive Income blog reports $38,000+ in affiliate earnings. Needless to say, that’s pretty impressive. Right?
Now you probably won’t earn that much right out of the gate, but there are tons of affiliate programs out there that offer a generous commission (40 – 50%). For example:
- The Problogger Affiliate Program – offers a 40% commission on each sale made for any one of their workbooks.
- The Ultimate Blog Post Promotion Guide – offers a 40% commission on each sale made.
- Unconventional Guides – offers 51% commission on each sale made.
There are literally dozens of others, those are just a few.
Currently, I’m an affiliate for and promote StudioPress, Scribe SEO, and Premise 2.0. Ultimately, the key to selling affiliate products successfully is that they have to be relevant to your subject and your audience because if they aren’t relevant, well, people aren’t going to buy.
Really, just treat it as if you were selling your own product.
Recommended reading: Smart Affiliate Marketing Strategies Series from Pat Flynn.
2. Sell an ebook.
Brett Kelly wrote Evernote Essentials in 2010. Fast forward a few years later, and he’s hit 10,000 sales and counting. But not only that, he scored a full-time job with Evernote. You can learn more about how it all came together in this interview with Brett Kelly by David Garland from The Rise To The Top.
Darren Rowse’s business model on ProBlogger is centered around several successful ebook launches.
It’s really a successful model if you write about a topic that’s in high demand. Be weary of writing a guide on technology however (like Evernote Essentials). Brett Kelly shares that he constantly has to update his ebook (at no additional cost to customers who already purchased it) every time Evernote releases a major update. I’m not saying that writing a tech guide is necessarily a bad thing, but rather cautioning that you’ll have to update your work to accommodate for changes/updates.
Recommended reading: How To Design an E-Book That Gets Downloaded, Read, and Shared.
3. Sell speaking services. (This is a model that I’ve used successfully in the past).
I like how Michael Hyatt promotes his services as a Keynote Speaker on the header of his website:
The badge on the header of his site not only hi-lights his most recent upcoming speaking engagement, it links you to his full speaker bio page that contains a video introduction, an outline of speaking topics, client testimonials, demo clips, and a Call To Action to hire him.
It’s really very well executed. And it works well for him having booked engagements months in advance. But it involves more than just plopping up a page and saying, “Hire me to speak!”
You have to be recognized as a thought-leader in your space. Michael has done that. Having written extensively on his topic, he’s established himself as a subject matter expert within his industry.
If you’ve done the same, and your knowledge is in demand, why not offer your knowledge for the stage?
I’m not currently taking any speaking engagements, but here’s how I marketed my services when I did: RicardoBueno.info (feel free to steal some ideas for your own site).
4. Offer a premium service.
You could offer consulting at an hourly rate or offer your skill-sets like custom design work.
The ever-so talented wordsmith’s at Men With Pens come to mind here. They’ve guest blogged their way to 40,000+ subscribers but they do more than just write killer content, they have a killer design portfolio too.
They’ve gained fame and notoriety for their copywriting skills and have developed a track record for high quality design that puts them in high demand and allows them to command a high premium price for their design work.
Are you well regarded within you industry? If so, could you perhaps offer your talents at an hourly rate or perform freelance work for select clients?
5. Sell writing services.
Two people come to mind here: Bamidele Onibalusi (from YoungPrePro) and Kristi Hines (from Kikolani). They both write for some of the highest profile internet marketing blogs out there and that gives them the opportunity to sell their services as freelance writers at a premium.
You can’t command a premium as a freelance writer without demonstrating your skills first. Kristi Hines has done this by writing killer content for some very high profile blogs in her industry and she showcases her best work via a portfolio page that she set up on her domain: kristihines.com. People are less likely to hire you if they don’t have a solid list of references or previous work to base your skills off of.
Think you have the skills to offer premium copywriting services to small businesses? Then make guest blogging a part of your marketing strategy to get on people’s radar, then create and market your writing portfolio and ask for the business.
Recommended reading: How To Create An Online Writing Portfolio with Contently.
6. Sell a subscription.
Unless you’re a media company (Gigaom Pro for example), I really don’t see regular bloggers pulling this off successfully. You need to have really high level premium content that piques people’s interest enough to want to buy it. That’s what Thom Chambers did with In Treehouses.
In Treehouses started off as a free, digital magazine. 10 editions delivered via a beautifully designed PDF magazine featuring experienced interviewees and in-depth articles. That’s 10 editions packed with some 30+ pages of content delivered over the course of the year and in it’s current form, reaches 2,000 subscribers and growing.
Thom Chambers amassed a pretty good following and spawned off a paid subscription service costing $20/month titled How To Make a Living With Words. I subscribed for a few months until it was discontinued and re-branded as The Micropublisher. Ultimately, I paid for this subscription because Thom Chambers delivered high level content and offered a unique perspective that I found value in.
Other examples of bloggers who are running a paid subscription:
- Valeria Maltoni writes The Conversation Agent Premium Newsletter (priced at $8.99 per month)
- Colin Wright, author of Exile Lifestyle writes exil.es (priced at $5 per month or $36 per year)
- Adam King writes The Humanity Blueprint
And lastly, I monetized this site by offering Real Estate Blog Topics, a subscription service that started as a simple landing page on this site. I’ll be relaunching soon as a full membership site (more on what’s coming next here).
7. Start a membership program.
This, in my opinion, is the best business model to have.
It’s scalable and thereby profitable.
With consulting services, you’re selling a service on a one-to-one basis. With a membership site, that model shifts to one-to-many. And you have the benefit of recurring income.
But again, as with the subscription model mentioned above, you need to offer high level content on a subject that your audience is dying to learn more about.
Mixergy does this by interviewing top CEO’s and entrepreneurs, then offering paid master courses and access to a paid library of content which includes dozens of other interviews and master classes. Mixergy offers three levels of membership: Quarterly Membership ($65/quarter), Monthly Membership ($25/month), and Yearly Membership ($199/month).
Blogger David Risley, host of the Monetization Track at Blogworld & New Media Expo offers his Inner Circle membership priced generously at $29.95 and it includes Q&A forums, a private members-only blog, and 1-on-1 calls with David along with weekly live-streamed coaching sessions.
Launching a membership site isn’t all that difficult.
All you need is high level content (knowledge that people are willing to pay for), and the technology. Assuming you have the first item in place, building your site is really just a matter of outlining and preparing your content. Think of it like starting a blog, only in this case, you’ll be making your site password protected and offering access at a recurring monthly premium.
- Will you deliver lessons via text, video or both?
- Will your site have a forum for member Q&A’s?
- Will you host weekly/monthly calls? If so, how? Audio only or full live-stream?
Once you have your content, the rest is a matter of getting the framework in place but tools like Premise for WordPress make that real easy. It’s a premium WordPress plugin that allows you to:
- Build custom landing pages using the copywriting templates provided within Premise.
- Create professionally designed check-out and pricing pages using Premise’s gallery of 1,100+ custom graphics.
- Build a rock-solid membership site using Premise’s secure log-in protected member gateways. Premise allows you to create sign-up pages and access to your membership site can either be free, a one-time fee, or a recurring payment charge.
Not bad for a tool that comes as a one-time payment of $95. (Click here to learn more and/or purchase Premise 2.0).
Sure, I’ve given you the big picture view, and it’s easier said than done. But really, building a membership site isn’t all that difficult if the content is there.
How Will You Monetize Your Site?
Have you monetized your site already? If so, how? Which model has worked best for you?
If you haven’t monetized your website already, are there any ideas here that you think you can turn around and implement?
[Photo Credit: Hugh MacLeod, GapingVoid.com]
Rosemary jayne says
I currently do number one and I’m working on most of the rest ;). I really like the idea of using Premise – it looks like it makes things so much easier, however I’ve not got to that stage of proceedings yet. It’s on my list of things to look at more closely when I start working on a membership type site. I’m curious to know if it works with Buddypress as I like the forums and profiles that come with that.
I really like the idea of monetizing your blog through a combination of your content and the services others provide – even more so when the products/services from others are something you couldn’t or have no wish to offer.
Ricardo Bueno says
The great thing about Premise is that it makes it incredibly simple to create landing pages (for sales pages, opt-in pages, tutorial pages, et cetera). I use it for my membership site, but it’s neat that I could also use it for my tutorial pages or to create an opt-in page.
So, you don’t have to use it until you’re ready to purchase a membership site, it works quite well and creating very effective landing pages. That’s what I like it for anyway.
I’m not sure if it works with Buddypress, though I don’t see why it wouldn’t. Right now, from what I can tell is that it integrates with vBulletin.
Alan Jones says
Really nice article, great points… I would share it if you didn’t drop the f bomb in the opening image. Pity because the cartoon adds nothing to the content except a level of offense.
Ricardo Bueno says
Hey Alan, I’m sorry about that. I didn’t write the graphic. The artist Hugh MacLeod did and I’m a big fan of his art.
Is his style abrasive at times? Sure. But I’m still a fan of his work. It was browsing through his art that spawned the idea for this post so I only thought it well to open with it.
So if it offended, I apologize, that wasn’t the intent.
Alan Jones says
Richard Hartian says
Right there with you Alan…
How about “Sell Designing Services” I’m doing it via my blog – RealTimeTricks (Computing Tips & Tricks) but haven’t seen anyone coming to me using that page though i’m having few good projects in hand through various forums.
Well i like the suggestion – Sell Writing Services. This can be on various aspect and right now i’m on few coming steps.
Ricardo Bueno says
I like it, and the page is well done. It’s just a tad bit obscure. Or put another way, I think you can display it more prominently to drive more traffic there. It doesn’t sound like the landing page for your services is a problem, but rather, you need more visitors there. So maybe you can link to it from your sidebar and from the footer of your posts? In a similar format with what I do here to promote StudioPress for example.
Hope that gives you some ideas!
Danny Brown says
Nice list, sir, and a good mix of tried and tested formulas with newer ones to try. From your own persepective, where do you see the biggest bang for your buck? I’ve had some success with premium ebooks, but looking to the next stage in blog monetization without pissing readers off. 🙂
Ricardo Bueno says
Honestly, speaking and design services where my biggest revenue generators in prior years. I did well booking events, and in turn, those generated clients for a previous company that I worked for (we offered custom WordPress designs).
I’ve never sold a digital good such as an ebook, though I’ve wanted to. I just never moved passed the outline phase.
When I started Real Estate Blog Topics, I started it as a paid subscription here on the site. I set up a landing/sales page for it and next thing you know, it really took off! So I build a site for it and am turning it into a membership site.
So to answer your question, my bet is on the continuity program. It’s fairly simple to set up as long as the content is there. And as opposed to the other methods, it’s scalable!
Danny Brown says
Perfect – cheers mate!
todd Gray says
Great insight Ricardo! I was looking for some innovative ideas for monetizing my blog in creative ways which are not only beneficial to my readers, but which also increase profits. A reference for your blog post popped up on my Twitter account as a re-tweet from a friend! Love it! Bookmarked this page because I know I’m going to want to refer to it again and again! Thank you for this!
Ricardo Bueno says
Well then, my job here is done. But seriously, thanks Todd. Glad you found your way here via the Twittersphere and happy to inspire some ideas for you 🙂
Mitch Mitchell says
Now this is impressive. I have to admit that I came over here from Kristi’s blog expecting to see the same kind of recommendations and useless stuff that’s pervasive online but you actually gave some great studies here, even if I knew some of the ideas already. That’s what great blogging is all about; very nice job.
I have to admit that I’ve always wanted to have a membership site but I have no real idea what I could put there or should put there, so I’ve yet to go that route. Maybe one of these days.
some of these ideas are really good, i have seen in past e-books you need to have alot of skill and contacts to be successful in this area
writing services is a must for a novice, easy and sometimes good money also
Though its pretty obvious but I am saying it again, just to remind myself that, to sell anything from your blog / website, you need to build a reputation first. Either have an authority site or a niche site. Build reputation and opportunities will come knocking down your inbox.
Maxwell Ivey says
Hello; with the exception of offering a subscription these are suggestions that I would haven’t thought of on my own. With the advent of kindell a blog subscription can be as low as 99 cents which is working well for a friend of mine who operates a blog about roller coasters and the people who love them. I’m not sure if any of your suggestions will work for my site, but I appreciate the time you put into this article and it will definitely give me some things to consider. thanks, max
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paket umroh april says
the great tips. i will practice it one by one. thanks for share.
Christina Fletcher says
Great post RICARDO. I was wondering how could a blog turn out to be of good profit. This post made it very clear and simple for me. Thanks a lot.
Thank you for this interesting article. I hope you will like this also Must-Have Soft Skills to Find A Perfect Job- Human Resource India.