I went ahead and joined the Amazon affiliate program, but even though I get numerous clicks, there haven’t been any conversions, yet. Because of this, I might get dropped, but you can always re-apply later. I just don’t have enough traffic, yet. If I had to do it all over again, I would not have signed up for a program with time limits so soon. It feels like artificial pressure. I have three other affiliates; all of them relate to my blog content.
Premium content can mean any type of content you charge for - an ebook, whitepaper, downloadable guide, etc. But what I'm referring to here is pay-gated content. Basically you just put some awesome content up behind a paywall, which means visitors pay to access it. You can get your own paywall set up in 10 minutes or less using a plugin like MemberPress or Paid Memberships Pro.
Use a contextual ad service. Once your blog contains high quality content and has begun to attract an audience, you can make money using Google Adsense, WordAds, or any other contextual ad service. These automatically generate ads in the amount, size, and placement you specify, matching the ads chosen to the topics you write about. The more readers who click on the ads shown on your site, the more money the advertisers will pay you.
This year’s BlogHer event, held in New York City, featured successful bloggers including celebs such as Gwyneth Paltrow (founder of the popular Goop.com), workshops on branding, social media and monetization and a whole lot of networking. BlogHer puts on one heck of a show and if you’re serious about learning more about blogging, I highly recommend you check out some of its upcoming conferences.
Understand the difference between total revenue and net income. Most income reports tout total revenue. Net income or profit (what really matters) is often buried in the post. I came across an income report recently with a super impressive number in the title (and Pinterest image). It was total revenue. Not until I read the whole post did I learn this blogger spent well over half their total revenue on Facebook Ads alone. On top of that, they had an extensive list of expenses. By the end of the post I realized I had netted more than they did the previous month.
Make sure it’s easy to share your content – I love sharing posts on social media, but it gets frustrating when some blogs make it more difficult than it needs to be. You should always make sure it’s easy for readers to share your content. This might mean making your social media icons easy to find, having all of the info input that is needed for sharing (title, link, and your username), and so on. Also, you should make sure that when someone clicks on one of your sharing icons the title isn’t in CAPS (I’ve seen this too many times). No one wants to share a blog post when it sounds like you’re screaming at them.
One example is this: since our blog is a sub-domain for my wife and I’s boutique beach resort, nobody seems to want to touch me as a guest blogger. I get the same response every time “you’re commercial and so you’ve got to pay for a sponsored post”…and while yes, we are commercial and not a private blog per se, we’re a tiny family run business and 95% of private blogs are striving to be commercial, whether they’re associated with a company name or not.
NOTE: I’ll get into this in the section on Helping Other Bloggers, but be sincere in your help. If you only seek out to get something out of someone else, you won’t form a relationship with that person. I’ve liked Stephanie’s blog and content since I first saw it. She has an amazing story of being broke in New York City, and she’s built this amazing personal finance business in just a couple years. I help Stephanie because I like Stephanie, not because I want or expect to get anything out of the relationship.
Create a schedule for one month full of topics and the dates they will be published. I like to make sure I have a good variety of topics covered each week on Making Sense of Cents. For example, I don't usually like to have a week full of making money ideas. Instead, I like my posts to vary between making money, saving money, life improvement, and so on.
Warning: : When I say be sincere, I mean it. People can smell an insincere pitch a mile away. I was guilty of this when I first started blogging. If you start out becoming friends with other bloggers first, sometime in the future they will help you with your eBook launch, promoting your blog, your course, giving you an introduction to someone – whatever – because you’re friends.
Great article Jamie! I’ve only ever used affiliate links on my blog but recently I’ve been getting a lot of text-link offers. A typical email will ask a link to be put into one of my articles (relating to the content or website they want to link back to) and they offer anywhere between $50-$150 per link. Given the nature of your article, I just wanted to check your thoughts on such offers. Are they legitimate or should I have red flags go up as I’d hate to think they increase spam or worse yet affect google ranking or break basic rules of website T&Cs. Again, I’m not familiar in monetizing via such offers and googling about it didn’t give me much info. Thanking you in advance.
Perhaps the most popular network for placing these types of ads is Google AdSense. With this program, you do not need to be in direct contact with advertisers; you simply place the banner on your site, Google chooses ads relevant to your content, and your viewers click on the ads. There are countless similar programs available if you find that AdSense doesn’t work for you, such as Chitika, Infolinks, and Media.net.
Awesome post so far, Jon. I’ll have to read the full post in the morning since it’s nigh time at where I live. I just have one question. Is it profitable for a freestyle blogger to affiliate marketing? If I’m correct, affiliate marketing is more suitable for niche-based sites, right? Are freestyle blogs even profitable? I’m just starting out, so can you recommend me something?
I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this one. I was blown away that you don’t have ads on your site. I have ads on my site and I’m reading along thinking your advice is to forget the ads and sell products. As a food blogger, my mind goes to e-cookbooks, actual hold-in-your-hand cookbooks, books on how to start a food blog and how to do food photography. But according to this post, those I should sell later…the cheaper products. I can’t think of what “services” I could offer, other than offering to come over and cook for them (not happening) and I’m not quite an expert at offering services of personally coaching someone’s food blog. Maybe I’m just too green for that 🙂 Am I missing the point?
My main concerns why I’m asking this is that I think 12 published blog posts might not be enough content for the person that lands on my page to stay on my page for too long, therefore it might be more beneficial to guest post a few months from now. Also, I’m thinking maybe it is better to invest that time in things like learning affiliate marketing rather than trying to get somebody to collaborate.
One of my biggest struggles lately has just been mental – I am having trouble getting myself to actually create content or really do anything with my blog. It could be so many things – overwhelm, too many ideas or goals, lack of results which feels discouraging, not making any money, even a feeling that maybe I’m not doing the right thing / have the wrong goals. It’s tough but I am sure many beginners go through these challenges.
Have in-depth knowledge in your niche? Package it up into an ebook and sell it on your blog. I'd generally advise against selling it (at least exclusively) on Amazon or Kobo, as you'll probably be able to charge much less. If you've already built up a solid audience, you can probably change anywhere from $5 for a very short one, all the way up to $39+.