How to Make Money Blogging in 2021

The Beginner’s Guide with 7 Ways to Monetize Your Blog

Artem Minaev
Updated: January 18th, 2021
14 min read
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How to Make Money Blogging in 2021

In this guide, you will learn how to prepare your blog for monetization. You will master tried-and-true strategies to make money that can work for both new and established blogs.

If one of your driving factors for starting a blog is to make money online, then this guide is for you. For those who work full-time jobs, earning money from your blog is an excellent way to generate side income. For those who plan on making a living by blogging, it’s possible to achieve this, with your blog providing a regular source of revenue.

Can you start monetizing your blog from day one? 

Pro bloggers suggest that you not rush into trying to make money at the beginning.

It’s important that you avoid giving your readers the impression that you are all about advertising and making income. It’s also notable that your options for monetization strategies with a new audience are limited anyway. Better to wait until you have a more established blog readership. However, you shouldn’t spring into monetization mode as soon as you hit a certain number of site visitors either. Finding a middle ground is important.

For example, Tim Ferriss explains in his book “Tools of Titans” that he didn’t start accepting advertisements when he started a podcast until he hit 100,000+ downloads. This example could also be applied to blogging.

Also, keep in mind that every blog is different. You might expect 10,000 visitors in a month or in a day. It really depends on your niche. The important thing is to make a plan and keep your goals in mind.

To summarize, you don’t have to go into monetization mode from the first minute that you launch your blog, but you should have your online business monetization strategy in place from day one.

Now that we’ve debunked a few misconceptions, let’s look at 7 different ways that you can earn some income from blogs. 

7 ways to make money with a blog

If you have a relatively new blog or one that doesn’t receive a lot of traffic, then the following are monetization strategies that you can put into place to start the revenue-generation process.

1. Affiliate marketing (promoting another’s products or services)

Where does the money come from?

While this may sound like a relatively new form of marketing, it is as old as online selling itself. You receive a commission every time a person buys an online product based on your recommendation.

Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s or company’s products.

The mechanics of this process are simple. It starts by finding an interesting product that you like, then making an effort to promote it to other people, and, in the end, earning a piece of the profit (commission) for each successful sale.

A legitimate approach is to be an affiliate for anything that you have paid for and used on your blog. So, if you use a StudioPress WordPress theme, Constant Contact email marketing software, Bluehost hosting, or any other product with an affiliate program, be sure to create a page on your blog with resources aimed at other bloggers in your niche. As your blog grows in popularity, other bloggers will want to follow in your footsteps and may sign up for the same services you use, thus generating some revenue for you.

How to find affiliate deals

There are three main verticals that you can use to search for affiliate opportunities:

  • Direct affiliate programs
  • Affiliate networks
  • Shopping sites affiliate

Direct affiliate programs

Many companies offer direct affiliate programs. In some cases, it’s easier to deal directly with the business that sells the products or services that you are planning to promote. Plus, you could always negotiate a better commission once you start selling more of their products.

To find affiliate programs, go to Google, and perform a simple search. Use the following query “[niche/product] affiliate program.”

For example, if you are running a fitness blog. You would do the following search:
“fitness affiliate program,” and here are the results:

Affiliate Programs

If you have a hard time finding what affiliate products you can promote, check your competitors and popular blogs within your niche. Successful bloggers know which products are reliable and convert the best.

Affiliate networks

Affiliate networks are marketplace sites that connect publishers (bloggers) with merchants who want to have their products promoted online. In some cases, this makes it easier for bloggers who want to promote multiple products to find relevant offers in one place. Each network has its pros and cons, but overall they make life easier for publishers. Here are a few favorite choices:

Clickbank

As a top 100 online retailer with 200 million customers, ClickBank sells digital products worldwide created by entrepreneurs. From advice for getting in shape to healthy cooking recipes and dating advice, ClickBank delivers digital lifestyle products to customers in 190 countries. Rated A+ on BBB.org.

  • Niches: All
  • Product types: Digital and physical
  • Commissions: Varies by the merchant

Shareasale

ShareASale has been in business for 17 years exclusively as an Affiliate Marketing Network. Their technology receives accolades for speed, efficiency, and accuracy, and they have a strong reputation as a fair and honest business. They provide customers with an advanced Affiliate Marketing platform. Rated A+ on BBB.org.

  • Niches: All
  • Product types: Digital and physical
  • Commissions: Varies by the merchant

CJ (Commission Junction)

CJ Affiliate by Conversant (formerly Commission Junction) is the leading global affiliate marketing network, specializing in pay-for-performance programs that drive results for businesses around the world. The CJ Network helps to reach and connect with millions of online consumers every day by facilitating productive partnerships between advertisers and publishers. Drive more sales and expand your reach – experience the Network Effect with CJ. Rated A+ on BBB.org.

  • Niches: All
  • Product types: Digital and physical
  • Commissions: Varies by the merchant

Rakuten marketing

This global affiliate network empowers marketers to engage shoppers across the entire consumer journey. They connect advertisers with publishers to reach new audiences and influence repeat purchases. They were voted as the #1 Affiliate Marketing Network, and in 2016 facilitated more than 100 million orders worldwide. Rated A+ on BBB.org.

  • Niches: All
  • Product types: Digital and physical
  • Commissions: Varies by the merchant

PeerFly

PeerFly was launched in January 2009 by Chad French. PeerFly is unique because while they’ve made tremendous strides and a great impression in the industry, they’re still a very small company. Their team is made up of only 15 people, so their clients don’t have to go through several layers of staff to get the service that they need. Rated A+ on BBB.org.

  • Niches: All
  • Product types: Digital and physical
  • Commissions: Varies by the merchant

Shopping site affiliate

These are marketplaces where people sell physical products. Many bloggers write content about specific technologies or processes where they mention different goods, and it’s logical to include affiliate links. For example, if you have a blog about gardening, then you should apply to affiliate programs for gardening books and tools. Here are a few favorite shopping affiliate programs:

Amazon Associates

The #1 Internet Retailer and among the best global affiliate programs around. The primary benefit is that people like to shop on Amazon and it’s good at converting people.

Participation in the program is easy.

  • Niches: All
  • Product types: Physical goods
  • Commissions: 1%-10% of the product price

eBay Partner Network

eBay has 800 million listings, so you can offer your audience links to the things they love in fashion, electronics, collectibles, home goods, and more. You’ll find amazing brands and sellers on eBay offering a wide array of products.

  • Niches: All
  • Product types: Physical goods
  • Commissions: 50%-70% of auction fee

Target Affiliate

Join the Target Affiliate Program and partner with one of the most recognized brands in the U.S., and one of the fastest-growing retail sites on the Internet. People can select from over 1 million products at low prices, plus shop exciting new promotions every week.

  • Niches: All
  • Product types: Physical goods
  • Commissions: 1%-8% of the product price

The best practices for promoting affiliate products

Write reviews about a product or service and include an affiliate link in your review post. Don’t just repeat information found on the product or service sales page, but write about your experience with it. People can distinguish a thorough, honest review from one that’s done purely to generate revenue.

Create a resource page on your blog of the top products and services that you recommend, including an affiliate link for each, plus a link to your in-depth review, if applicable.

Get banners for the top products and services that you know will appeal to your audience and put them in your blog’s header, sidebar, and at the end of your posts. Affiliate product banners are also great placeholders for future advertising spots that you may want to sell when you start getting a substantial amount of traffic.

Email your mailing list whenever you write a new review or a particular affiliate program has a great special going on that your subscribers would be interested in.

Be prepared to do special promotions on your blog and email list around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s the hottest time to share affiliate product sales and earn some significant income.

Important reminder: Whenever you promote an affiliate product, be sure to include a disclaimer in your review, on your resource page, or in your emails that you are an affiliate of the product. It’s a good way to build trust with your audience, and it’s a requirement in some countries like the United States.

2. Selling products (personal digital and physical products)

Many bloggers start out making money from affiliate promotions. However, many of them also diversify and begin selling their own digital or physical products. For example, Darren Rose shares that his number one source of income comes from selling eBooks and courses. These products take time and work to create, but can be a lucrative channel of revenue.

Digital products

Virtual goods can take many forms like eBooks, courses, software, and reports.

Here are some stats about digital products sold online:

  • eBooks are the fastest growing digital product online with $16 billion in sales in 2016.
    Combined annual growth is projected to be around 16% between 2016 and 2020.
  • The online courses market (including corporate and universities) is massive and expected to grow 5% from 2015-2020.
  • The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) market is estimated at around $78 billion in 2015
    and is projected to grow into a $132 billion dollar industry in 2020 (69%).

There are two approaches that you can take to sell your digital products online:

  • Sell directly on your website.
  • Sell through established marketplaces.

Both of these methods are legitimate but have different pros and cons. Let’s look at each technique in detail.

Sell directly on your website

In some cases this is the preferred method, since you have more control of the sale process and can customize your sales pages. Also, you don’t have to pay a big cut of your profits to another platform helping to sell your product. However, you are on your own when it comes to organizing how everything will look and work on your website.

Sell through established marketplaces

In some cases, this could be the way to go. One benefit is that by placing your product on an existing platform, you tap into visitors and established fans of this marketplace. Thus, you don’t have to spend as much time and energy promoting your products. The downside of this approach is that you would have to pay a certain percentage of your profit to the marketplace.

Here are some platforms that you can check out:

  • Envato is the most popular place to sell website templates, HTML code, marketing themes, PSDs, and plugins.
  • Amazon is the most popular place to sell eBooks, but you can also sell apps and gaming files for download.
  • Udemy is the most popular place to share your knowledge and sell online courses.

There are more marketplaces that you can find online. It all depends on what kind of digital products you are planning to sell. Do your research and find what fits your needs.

Physical products

Along with digital products, you can look into selling real goods through your blog. It’s common for a blogger to sell digital products, but sometimes bloggers also create merchandise such as t-shirts, posters, and hats to sell.

To start selling through your blog, you will have some start-up expenses. You will also need to invest some time. But, selling a product online is easier than ever these days.

Here is an example of how Gary Vaynerchuk created an online store with his swag:

Online store

We are not talking about setting up a full-blown online store. If you want to do that, you would have to consider a different solution, like Bigcommerce.

3. Selling services (consultant or design services)

An attractive approach that many bloggers use to make money is to offer various services to their readers. These services might include personal coaching, consulting, writing, design, training, or other freelance services.

Here is an example of how bloggers sell their services on their blog websites:

No matter how you decide to sell services through your blog, you cannot expect people to immediately come rushing in to check out what you have to offer. You need to design a marketing approach that will help you to spread the word about your services and reach out to potential customers. Only then will you be able to actually sell your services online and generate revenue and ROI (return on investment).

4. Selling advertising (AdSense, direct ads, other)

Another way to make money from a blog is to sell ads. Some people even create blogs with this goal in mind. It’s an entirely viable option and one of the legitimate ways to earn money online.

Some of the essential factors for making your blog advertisable include the amount of site traffic, the blog’s design, and stability. Without these strong points, you cannot expect that a serious advertiser will be interested in your blog.

You will need around 10k unique visitors per month to your blog to get on the radar of potential advertisers.

The web design should be professional, and your blog should have allocated ad spaces. You also need to have constant site traffic so that advertisers will not feel like their money is going to waste.

There are different types of ads that you can run on your blog, and some approaches work better for one case than another. Below are the most popular ad options that you can choose:

Google AdSense

Google AdSense is the most effective way to monetize a blog. It can provide a respectable income once your blog starts getting massive traffic.

Let’s say you are getting 1,000 visits a day. That means that you can easily expect $200 to $300 a month by leveraging your blog traffic. Place your GA ads wisely to get more clicks. After all, it’s all about more clicks = more money!

Adsense is one of the most popular options when it comes to ads. It’s a Google product that lets website owners make money by placing targeted ads on their sites. You, as a website publisher, are paid per click (PPC) when visitors click on (or view, in some cases) the ads. You don’t have to invest any money or work into the process, as the advertiser will put ads on your blog and pay you every time someone clicks on the ad located on your blog.

You will have to create an Adsense campaign that revolves around your blog. It’s important to be careful with which ads you choose to put on your blog because having ads irrelevant to your niche will bring you no results.

It’s in your best interest to do this right and avoid posting ads that are completely unrelated to your blog or your content. If you are running a fashion blog, it would be a good idea to advertise fashion lines, retailers, and fashion brands.

The most frequently asked question and the hardest one to answer is definitely – “How much money can I make from Adsense?”. It’s commonly believed that earnings from 1,000 ad impressions are $1 across the global network. In reality, prices paid on Adsense are dynamic and set by auction.

Many websites generate real revenue through Adsense, but you need to try it to find out what you could earn on your site. Here are some success stories.

It’s also important to spend time optimizing the ads that you are running to increase your earnings potential.

Banner ads

Depending on your niche, you can start selling ad space directly to advertisers once you hit a higher traffic volume. You can choose to sell ads directly or use platforms like BuySellAds.

Direct ads

With this method, you are not relying on third parties to create an advertisement for your blog. Instead, you are reaching out to advertisers on your own and making a direct deal with them.

Here is an example from GaryVee on how to sell ads on your blog.

Using this method, you will be able to earn more from your ads, but you will need to put in some work to find these deals. To get great deals, your blog needs to have good reachability and good traffic. Overwise, advertisers won’t consider placing ads on your website.

BuySellAds or similar platforms

With this service, you can sell and manage ads through their platform. You just put a snippet of code onto your blog where you want particular ad sizes and types to be displayed. It’s also a great platform to use in researching your traffic volume versus how much you can charge for ads.

For example:

Selling ads has the potential to generate continually increasing amounts of revenue based on your ability to drive more traffic to your blog. Be sure to create an advertising page on your blog and update your metrics (traffic, social audience, email list subscribers, etc.) regularly so that you can increase your ad pricing on a monthly basis.

5. Requiring revenue (subscription-based products)

Recurring revenue or continuity income is very popular in the world of blogs because it’s the best way to ensure a stable revenue stream on your blog and have money coming in regularly. It’s an easy thing to pull off if you consistently publish content of high value for your target audience. 

The most common recurring revenue technique you can see online is membership. The membership model is far more beneficial in the long term than selling e-books in terms of growth and income. If you decide to pursue this course of action, your number one concern should be retention. 

Here is an example of a premium membership from Mixergy.

You will need to continually publish quality content to keep members from canceling their membership, while also generating new members.

6. Selling blogs (building/growing blogs for sale)

Selling your blog may be the last thing on your mind at this point. However, if you have a blog that isn’t directly tied to your name, products, or services, and mostly depends on ad revenue, you may want to consider selling your blog later down the road. The more traffic, quality content, and advertising dollars you earn with your blog, the higher the potential selling price.

We are talking about earning six figures for a sale if your blog is reputable and well-established. How do you know that your blog is worth selling? You will start receiving unsolicited offers to sell your blog. When this happens, it’s a definite sign that you should explore the idea of selling your blog to the highest bidder.

Here are a couple of examples of blogs for sale on Flippa.

Don’t let the final prize make you speed up your decision process. Selling your blog is a serious affair from both a business and legal perspective, so make sure to properly assess the value of your blog before making it available on the market.  

7. Other ways (sponsorships, donations, memberships)

Sponsored reviews

In addition to selling ad space, you can also offer sponsored reviews. This is where someone pays you to write about their product or service on your blog. If you choose only the products your audience will most likely be interested in, you can earn money while creating great content—a win-win situation. However, if you pick any product just because someone is paying you, you could lose your hard-earned audience as they will not be interested in the content.

To write a great sponsored review, insist that you want to use the product or service for a trial period to get some insight into it. That way, you can write an honest, compelling review.

Memberships

Another popular category that can bring in a significant stream of income is membership offers. Many bloggers are experimenting with this concept since it is a great potential channel for recurring revenue. With a membership, readers pay a regular amount (usually on a monthly basis) for access to either premium content, a community area, some service, tools, or coaching.

For example, Pencil Kings:

Pencil Kings

Donations

It’s not very common to see the donation button on blogs, but some people use this option to support their blogging efforts. In some cases, it produces just enough money to cover the expenses, and sometimes bloggers even make enough money to make a living from it. Here is an example of a donating widget on the blog for BrainPickings.

BrainPickings

How to prepare your blog for monetization 

While you can start monetizing your blog right off the bat, it’s always better to lay a healthy foundation first for your eventual monetization efforts to succeed. We won’t waste your time emphasizing how important it is to publish regularly and publish high-quality content, because those are basic expectations for a growing blog.

You should start the monetization process by building an email list. Email marketing is a great way to keep your audience in the loop with what’s going on with your blog. It can help you to build long-term relationships with your readers and ensure that they come back regularly to consume your content. This translates into stable traffic, which is an important factor when monetizing a blog. 

Improving the relationship with your readership will strengthen your blogging influence. After all, you expect them to listen to your advice and buy products you endorse or value your opinion on services. To better understand your reader’s wants and needs, engage them directly. You can do so in the comment section of your blog and on social media.

Let’s take a closer look at the revenue reports of over 50 blogs to see how they generate money.

How Bloggers Make Money: Data collected from income reports of 50 blogs

Income Reports of 50 Blogs

Many bloggers invest a lot of money into their blog every month to earn revenue, but some conveniently leave that fact out in their income reports, making it look like they are gaining tons of passive money.

When you craft your blog monetization plan, you’ll need to keep some expenses in mind.

These include your web hosting fees, email marketing software, search and social media tools, mastermind memberships, and online advertising.

Total Expenses vs. Total Income

Total Expenses vs Total Income

Conclusion

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this guide to creating a successful blog—from setup to monetization. There are also many other monetization strategies out there that you can try with your blog. These are just the most popular and well known ones that tend to generate a lot of income for a lot of bloggers!

19 comments on “How to Make Money Blogging in 2021”

  1. Paul

    Hi,
    I really enjoyed reading this blog post, great work! There are certainly many ways how to monetize your blog, but I think that most crucial is to share valuable knowledge with your visitors every single time you write something. If you are able to share value, visitors come, and they come back agian. This post is full of valuable information, thank you!

  2. Nitiz Sharma

    One of the most complete guides I’ve come across. Thanks for sharing it.

  3. Clary Fray

    Great Research. Using the affiliate marketing model is a sure way to make money online.
    Thank you so much!

  4. Matt C

    One of the most complete guides I’ve come across. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Tom Hill

    Hi Anya Skrba,

    Thanks for sharing such a valuable information regarding different ways of monetization, will surely try to implement these and let you know.

  6. Rahul GUPTA

    Thanks for giving such wonderful tips for Affiliate Marketing. These are really helpful in making money. This article is really full of information and knowledge.

  7. Martin

    Affiliate marketing is a great way how to make money. In my opinion, the most important thing is choosing a niche which is not that competitive (especially if you don’t have budget for paid ads).

  8. christian chukwudolue

    Your post is very informative.
    Using the affiliate marketing model is a sure way to make money online.
    Thank you so much!

  9. Manoj

    Affiliate marketing is a proven way to monetize your blog. Recommend products in which you are fully confident and earn commissions from each sale your refers. Selling products and services are other working ways to get a regular income from your site.

  10. surazzShahil

    Hey,
    Congratulations! A very interesting post. I agree with almost everything you say. Only could add, that more beauty shall be required on the internet. Most of the blogs are without design, and maybe it could be the Play for artists.
    thank you for sharing.

  11. Daniel

    Great guide buddy … Keep up the good work

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