There are many ways to make money with your blog, but they are not equal. Your niche will determine which monetization strategies work best.
What works for one blogger might not work for another.
The most common ways of making money, and the most universal, are display advertising and affiliate marketing. But you are not limited to those two.
And if you're just getting started, expanding your monetization strategies also expands your niche options and directions you take with your content. I'll go over various examples and explain which monetization strategies work best for specific niches.
Here are the best ways to make money with your blog…
1. Affiliate Marketing
If you've been blogging for a while, you probably know what affiliate marketing is and how it works.
However, if you're just starting, you can begin with how I earned my first $1,000 blogging.
Back to affiliate marketing… you first partner with other businesses that pay you a commission when someone purchases a product or service from your blog (website).
But affiliate marketing isn't just adding random affiliate links to your content. People MUST be motivated to purchase something. They don't just click on your links and buy.
Your success will depend on your ability to provide your readers with real value by helping them solve problems and achieve their goals.
Here are some post types that work well for affiliate marketers.
- How-to Posts: serve as valuable guides for people who want to learn new skills or improve existing ones.
- Best of Lists: help users decide what to buy by showing them the most popular items.
- Product Reviews: give people an idea about whether a product is worth buying.
- Versus Posts (product x vs. product y): inform readers by comparing the benefits and drawbacks of one product, place, or thing against another.
2. Display Advertising
Display ads are also a great way to generate income. Google Adsense is an excellent place to start, but as you get more traffic, you will have higher earning potential with ad networks like Ezoic and Mediavine.
Many bloggers despise ads. I did too, but they make up a considerable amount of my my income today.
Here's the thing…
You may not like the look of them on your site, or they may give you a sense of selling out. But the platforms you use to drive traffic to your blog, like Google, Facebook, Pinterest, and even YouTube, exist because of ads.
They are earning ad revenue from your efforts, so why not you?
Of course, it's a personal decision, but a site with decent traffic can earn thousands of dollars in monthly ad revenue alone.
Since ad payouts have improved in recent years, many site owners are now building sites based only on ad revenue because they are generally easier to build and rank in the search engines.
Unlike affiliate marketing, which works best with content that converts to a sale and leads readers to a solution to their problem, ad revenue is passive.
Affiliate marketing relies on high-value commercial keywords, which are generally more competitive. Therefore, instead of choosing a niche with fewer affiliate opportunities like mindfulness or nostalgia, affiliate marketers tend to make the most money in competitive affiliate niches like fitness, finance, and software.
Niches that get overlooked by many successful affiliate marketers would include topics like hand therapy, concrete, and graffiti art because they don't offer as many affiliate products. And because they are overlooked, they are less competitive.
So you can avoid competition and find much easier opportunities when monetizing niche websites with ad revenue. Of course, affiliate marketing opportunities still exist, but you won't rely on them.
Ad revenue also gives you a monetization strategy for informational content that is easier to rank, generate traffic, and monetize with ad revenue.
If you're unfamiliar with how ad revenue works, they pay by the number of impressions, referred to as “revenue per mille” (RPM). Mille stands for 1,000.
Therefore, you get paid per 1,000 impressions.
Depending on your niche, your RPM rate can be as low as $10 or as high as $100 or more.
So a site with an average RPM of $50 and 2000 views per day (across many posts) would earn roughly $100 per day, $3000 per month.
Would an extra $3000 per month make your life a little easier?
The great thing about ad revenue is that it's passive. You don't have to do anything with ads if you maintain traffic by updating old content and producing new content.
You also don't have to sell anything to make money, so your posts don't come across “salesy”. And you can stay away from competitive niches and keywords.
3. Lead Generation (CPA)
Lead generation is exactly as it sounds. You are generating leads for companies, which they'll pay you for.
One way this is done is with CPA marketing.
CPA, in this context, stands for Cost Per Action. Rather than getting paid per sale or impression, you get paid when a potential customer performs a specified action.
It could be as simple as providing an email address or more in-depth, like filling out an application or taking a sales call or visit.
CPA revenues can range anywhere from $1 to $100 or more, depending on your niche. For many sites, like the credit or insurance niches, lead generation is one of their highest-paying monetization strategies.
This is also a great way to make money in a niche with fewer affiliate opportunities.
For example, marriage separation is a good niche for lead gen. There may not be many affiliate products relevant to marriage separation. However, you can still make good money by generating leads for marriage counselors and psychologists.
Sponsorship deals make you money by generating exposure and awareness for niche-relevant brands. Similar to ad revenue sites, these open doors to many more niches, keywords, and content types.
An example of a site where sponsorships would do well is a mixed martial arts (MMA) website. Although you can also monetize with ads, lead generation, and affiliate offers, MMA is also a sport where brand awareness is a big deal.
Therefore, a site that generates decent traffic in that niche would be an important partner for sponsors.
5. Sponsored Posts and Guest Posts
More common for niche websites are sponsored posts and guest posts. When you have a site with solid authority and trust, you will get many requests from other sites and outreach companies to publish these.
If you're unsure what sponsored and guest posts are, they are posts others write and get published on your site.
Sponsored posts are different from sponsorships. Sponsorships are usually to promote brand awareness across your site, while sponsored posts are a one-off, often to obtain a link from your website to theirs.
Sponsorships typically pay recurring revenue for as long as you promote the brand. When you publish a sponsored post, you only get paid once.
And they're not always good posts. In fact, most are terrible. I think I've rewritten every guest pose I've ever accepted (which is why I rarely, if ever, accept them these days).
Having said that, they are a great way to earn some extra income for a blog owner. I've been paid as low as $50 (for posts on newer sites) to $300 per post (on more established sites).
I'm sure there are some bloggers out there who have negotiated significantly more.
In exchange for payment, you will be asked to provide a link in the post to their website (or their client's website).
Someone asking you to publish a sponsored post may also ask you to write it, in which case the pay rate is usually higher.
When your site generates significant traffic, there will be no end to sponsored post requests. In fact, you'll get so many requests that you'll be annoyed.
6. Course Creation and Memberships
Some niches are great for courses and memberships, and they are often the same niches that are great for affiliate marketing.
An example would be digital product niches like online education. You can earn affiliate commissions from other people's courses and membership programs or create and sell your own courses and membership programs.
Not only will you make more money because you keep 100% of the sale, but it can also increase your authority and trust in the niche.
It's also a way to monetize unconventional niches.
For example, your income might be limited if you were promoting affiliate products and earning ad revenue in a niche like Mural Painting or Movie Set Design.
However, if you're competent in a niche like that (or a similar niche), you can create your own Mural Painting course or Set Design membership program.
You can create courses in just about anything, from cooking and music lessons to software and game tutorials.
7. Renting Space on Your Website
Renting out space on your website is another way to make money. This is an excellent strategy for local business-type niches.
Many local businesses in niches like lattice installation, tattoos, home remodeling, automotive dent removal, etc., will rent space on sites that generate local traffic.
For example, if you had a site that ranks (and generates traffic) for the search phrase “portrait tattoos in the Bay Area,” tattoo shops in the bay area would bid for space on your site.
It would be worth thousands of dollars per month.
There is also a rank and rent method where companies rent your entire site rather than a single post.
8. Sell Products and Services
You don't have to recommend other people's products and services. You can also sell your own.
A tradesperson with a website that shows up in a search for terms like “local appliance repairs” is an endless supply of customers.
Sports therapists, personal trainers, beauticians, and so on, can all benefit from a website optimized for local search traffic.
If you sell your products and services locally, on social media, or on platforms like eBay… you can also sell them on your blog.
9. Digital Marketing and SEO Agency
This is an underrated and overlooked way of monetizing your website. It's indirect but very effective. And it's also how many earn their first online business income.
No matter your niche, as you build your online business, you will learn digital marketing and social media marketing strategies. You may also learn search engine optimization (SEO).
These are all extremely valuable skills. Whether building a website, setting up social media accounts, or getting your content to rank, your skills are in-demand.
I can't say that often enough!
They are extremely valuable skills.
Until now you may have been doing these things for yourself and your own business, but you can do them for others. You can start your own digital marketing or SEO agency.
Bloggers and affiliate marketers often get frustrated when it takes longer than they'd like to make money online, but in the process, they've acquired an in-demand set of skills without realizing it.
These are skills that small businesses and professionals will pay you for. And you may not even have to look for clients. I have a few clients who have paid me to build and maintain their websites simply because they know I know how.
The income potential from the other strategies listed above is significant. However, at some point, providing your services to someone else might not be the best use of your time and resources.
When you're a few months into your online journey, though, having acquired these skills (and a website gaining authority and rankings), you can reach out to local businesses and professionals, tradespeople, etc., and offer your digital marketing services.
In many cases, as it was with me (through word-of-mouth), clients will approach you.
They would much rather have someone local or someone they know do this than hire someone they don't know from a freelancing platform like Freelancer or Upwork.
The Best Way to Monetize Your Website
Affiliate marketing is generally the easiest way to monetize your website if your site is new. Because you can start with minimal traffic and no cost (there are no inventory requirements, for example), it's widely considered to be the best. But it's not the best for every niche.
Informational niches are better suited to ad revenue. The challenge is that ad revenue requires more traffic.
That's not necessarily bad, though, because traffic intended for ad revenue is also easier to get.
At the end of the day, it depends on your niche and objectives. Most site owners use a combination of monetization strategies to maximize their earnings.
If you're not making money with your blog, but you've been trying, it could be that the wrong monetization strategies for your niche are being used, and that there is a mismatch between your audience and what you're offering.