Although I believe that every blog-based business should have its own product or service as an integral part of their income schema, there are other ways that bloggers can make a lucrative income as well.
I believe it is always best to have multiple income sources for your business. You never know if something is going to stop working for you in regards to income, so diversity is key.
Multiple income sources make it easier for you to pivot when one thing breaks down.
So, grab. a piece of paper and take some notes on the various income ideas which you think would work well for your blog-based business.
Do you know what affiliate marketing is?
An affiliate marketing program refers to getting paid a percentage by a company for every sale of their product or service that comes directly from your business.
So, in other words, let’s say you have a blog post on your site about your favorite hotels in Iceland.
You can then sign up for the Booking.com affiliate program and through that program, you provide links on your site to all the hotels you mention in your Iceland blog post.
Every time someone books one of the hotels you mention after clicking from your site, you get a small percentage of the profit.
That is the gist of it, but let’s dig a bit deeper.
Deep Dive into Affiliate Programs
Every affiliate program pays its marketers (you) a different percentage. Sometimes this is based on which type of product the user buys and sometimes it is based upon how many units you sell per month.
When you sign up for a new affiliate program it is best to read all the details about how that specific program calculates its payouts.
Another thing to look into is how long the company stores cookies. In other words, let’s use Amazon as an example.
Let’s say you sign up for the Amazon affiliate program (which I strongly suggest because it is a great income source) and you promote your favorite rain jacket that can be bought on Amazon.
One of your readers clicks the link from your site to the rain jacket, looks at it and saves it for later.
If that reader then purchases this jacket OR anything else from Amazon within 24 hours you will still receive a percentage of all sales.
So, Amazon’s cookie length is 24 hours.
How to Use Affiliate Links
Affiliate links work best when backed up by strong content.
We will stick to the idea of hotels in Iceland as our example.
If you would like to make money promoting links to certain hotels in Iceland it is a good idea to put them in a list type post such as “The 10 Best Hotels in Reykjavik, Iceland” In that post, you can deep dive into each hotel you mention and add images to spice up your selections.
You could also write a post titled “The Coolest Hotel Near the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.” In that post, you can include details about your experience at said hotel, suggestions for nearby activities etc.
Your goal is always to make your affiliate links seem natural. Actually, this should be your goal with all of your income sources.
Spamming your readership is never the way to grow a devoted audience.
Instead, you are always trying to further their journey from Point A to Point D.
Your affiliate links should always further that growth and not just be a way to make money.
Good Affiliate Marketing Programs to Join
The affiliate marketing programs you opt to join will depend on what your blog niche is.
There are a couple that I would suggest for everyone though.
Amazon Associates – This is the easiest affiliate program to start out with. It’s easy to add links to relevant products and services on your site.
Skimlinks – Skimlinks is a unique system that makes it so you don’t have to sign up for other affiliate programs. It works by pasting a code in your site and then it tracks all your links for you and turns them into affiliate links. They pay a bit less than other networks, but the ease of it makes it so so worth it.
Set Up Your Own Affiliate Program
I’ll say it again and again, work smarter not harder. Let’s do it again with affiliate marketing.
There are two ways to set up your own affiliate program.
- Once you create your own products or services that you sell on your site you can create an affiliate program so that your readers can receive a percentage of each sale they send your way. This is an awesome idea because I’m all about getting your readers to do your job for you. They likely know tons of like-minded people that they can send your way.
- The other way to create an affiliate program is to partner directly with companies you love that maybe are too small to have an actual affiliate program and set it up yourself with them.
Tip: This is a good way to get rich.
If either of these ideas interest you, I highly suggest signing up for my Blogger Treasure Map coaching program. I deep dive into both of these ideas and give you the exact framework that has worked for me. It’s transformative fo’ sho!
The idea of sponsored posts is that companies will pay you to write reviews on your blog about their product or service.
Sometimes these sponsored opportunities can come in the form of writing a blog post and sometimes they can come in the form of sharing an image or video of using a product on social media.
It really all depends on what the company is looking for and what you feel best about promoting.
As you build more of a social media following and have a larger blog audience, these types of sponsorships can be extremely lucrative.
However, even as a beginner blogger, you can find great sponsorship opportunities. Don’t let your newness deter you!
Pros of sponsored posts
- These opportunities can be extremely lucrative. Companies know that influencers have a lot of power when it comes to bringing in loyal customers and they are willing to pay a lot of money for promotion.
- You may get the opportunity to work with some of your favorite brands. Sometimes you will find the absolute perfect opportunity for you and your blog. The sponsored post of your dreams.
- Sponsored posts can potentially lead to long term partnerships. If the company feels that you have done a great job promoting them and generating business they may ask you to work together for a continuous period of time.
Cons of sponsored posts
- It can be difficult to write a review on something if it turns out you don’t actually like the product.
Let me give you an example. A lot of travel bloggers try to find sponsored opportunities in the area they are traveling.
For example, sometimes a hotel will offer you a free stay in return for writing a review and promoting their hotel on your blog.
However, what if you take them up on this opportunity and you actually hate the hotel?
You are then left with a tough moral dilemma of being honest about your experience and disappointing the hotel or lying about your experience to your readers.
What do you do?
If your site or social media profile starts coming off as spammy and filled with reviews, your readers will notice. It is best to limit the number of sponsored opportunities you take on within a month and make sure it is well balanced between other content.
- It can be difficult to find opportunities that perfectly align with your brand.
For example, I used to run a blog about moving abroad.
I would often get emails about sponsored post opportunities for travel bloggers. Sometimes they would seem really appealing from a monetary perspective, but they didn’t align exactly with my blog. Close, but not exact. So, I would turn them down.
Great places to find sponsored post opportunities
There are several networks that specialize in matching influencers and bloggers with excellent sponsorship opportunities. Here are a few of my favorites.
Clever– A very reputable and excellent company. Most campaigns seem to be geared towards women. Popular for parenting bloggers, fashion bloggers, beauty bloggers, and lifestyle bloggers.
TapInfluence – A huge network of sponsorship opportunities. You can find something for almost every type of blogger here. Just note, most opportunities seem geared towards women.
Acorn – Acorn works by sending you opportunities that you can then pitch for. If you are selected you will create the necessary content and be compensated accordingly.
Linqia – Huge network with tons of opportunities.
If you are interested in using sponsored posts to build your blog income, it doesn’t hurt to apply to a bunch of different networks and then narrow down your favorites over time.
Pitch Directly to Companies
Also, keep in mind that you can always pitch directly to companies and cut out the middle man of a sponsored post network.
I know, I know, it is a bit nerve wracking to email a company directly, but take that leap of faith. The worst the can say is “no”.
It show major initiative if you email companies directly.
Pay Per Click Ads
Ads are a great way to make some money without having to do almost anything. Ad networks work by positioning ads in highly optimized areas on your blog. These ads are curated towards each reader’s interests and search history. You then receive payment based on clicks or sometimes based entirely on views.
Pros of Pay Per Click Ads
The nice thing about displaying ads on your site is that it requires almost zero work from you. You can set them up and be done with it.
Cons of Pay Per Click Posts
You have to be careful not to overdo it with the ads because it can take away from the user experience. Be careful with positioning and play around with them to find out what converts best on your site without being annoying to your readers.
The other con is that it can be difficult to make a decent income from ads until you have a higher amount of site traffic.
Great Ad Companies
For beginner bloggers, the best ad network is Google Adsense.
However, I will warn you, you are not going to get rich off of Google Adsense anytime soon. The amount you get paid per click is super low.
My favorite ad network is Mediavine. I love love them and I know plenty of bloggers who make a full-time passive income just from Mediavine. The downside is, you need to have an audience of 50,000 site views per month to apply. It might take you a long time to get to that point.
So, what do you think? Which income sources seem like they would be best for you and your blog-based business? Don’t forget to create a drawn-out mind map of your income source ideas. I find it so helpful to visualize everything.
- Affiliate marketing is a great way to make a passive income if done authentically
- Read about the payment scheme before signing up for any affiliate program
- Sponsored posts are a good way to garner professional relationships with brands
- Try to always keep things authentic with sponsored posts