As an affiliate marketer, you promote someone else’s product or service to your readers. You link to that product or service using your unique affiliate link. When, someone clicks through that link and makes a purchase (or completes a desired action set by the company), you earn a commission. There are thousands of affiliate programs to join. Some I participate in:

For example, Erica Tannen, a former retail executive and founder of The-e-list.com, describes her site as “an excruciatingly opinionated guide to the Connecticut shoreline and best Connecticut shopping.” The hyper-local blog, which now has over 16,000 free e-newsletter subscribers (the money comes from ad revenues) and 74,000 monthly page views, includes reviews of restaurants, shops and tourist attractions, as well as notifications about sales and events.
Selling private ads can come in the form of banners, buttons, or links. You can even make money writing sponsored posts where you write about or give a review of an advertiser’s product or service. Another option is to write an underwritten post or series, which is where you can write about any topic, but the advertiser pays for a “Brought to you by” mention in the content.

Hi, of course a freestyle blog can be profitable, you have to research the market that your audience is interested in. So what topic(s) (read: niches) do you write about. Do some research in Google and see if any ads pop up. If none, that topic is probably not a very good one. The key is to write great posts, provide great content, build an email list and research what your list is interested in (hint: use polls to check that out, let’s say if you are considering to become an affiliate for amazon and you want to promote cooking books, just an example, you could ask your subscribers to go to a poll you created about what books they love to read, and add cooking books as one of the options, plus several others, to make it more attractive, promise that they can win a reward or so, a free product or free service or even $25 will take them to your 1 minute poll). Also: learn about doing keyword research in Google keywords tool. And learn a bit about SEO done the proper way. Now don’t think you learn this in a week. It can take many years to master this art, but at least a year, if you study like crazy. Make sure your content is great, over deliver in great content, so people LOVE to subscribe to your list, offer a freebie that they will LOVE, and to find out what they would Love you can do a poll in your blog post(s) to research various interests your readers have. Then see if there are affiliate programs for that. Before my reply becomes longer then Jon’s article, I think I leave now, but you get the point…. go do your homework kid 😉 Good luck with your booming business! Believe you can do it, because you can, but you need to work hard, and learn the art of building trust and offering what your readers and subscribers Love…. Woohoo, go do your research now!

As usual a top knotch post full of excellent advice, very easy to understand and follow. Just studying your posts is an object lesson in how these things are done. I, like many aspiring bloggers, am very familiar with the glazed look that passes over people’s faces when I attempt to explain what my plans are! I think the primary problem is that we have been brought up to do business in a particular way. You make something therefore you get paid for it. Most business people feel there is something inherently wrong about a system where you provide huge amounts of valuable content free of charge and without obligation. The peception is that the model cannot be susstainable.

And so, I guess my question here would simply be–would a person who follows your blog about TV shows be interested in paying for a TV-related webinar you created? Would a person who follows your blog about vinyl record collecting want to buy an online course from you? Would a person who follows a travel blog you created want to call you up for coaching lessons?
PS: my answer to this question is always… “the better question is… how can my blog help me build a profitable business?” Most of the profits from blogging are not made on your blog, but that’s okay. I don’t believe blogging about making money per se, but about branding yourself and positioning yourself within your niche market as an authority and leader. Once that is established, there are so many ways to move people into your money making enterprises. Email marketing, as you pointed out, is one of the best ways to do this. Sending people to your membership sites, services, info products and coaching programs are all great things to route people into as well.
If you want to be famous or reach a wide audience, you will have to choose something slightly broader and work hard to make the best content for that topic. A subtopic relating to fitness, finance, or relationship advice is likely to reach the most people. Consider specific but broadly applicable topics such as managing money in college, or a marriage counseling blog.
Thanks for the tips! I just started by blog last month and am deciding the route I want to go for monetizing. I have a few affiliates setup, but I’ve been going back and forth on adsense. I appreciate your opinion against using it, my feelings are similar. I also really like your infographic. Did you create that yourself or pay someone else to? I would be interested in how to go about making something like that. Thanks!!
At the time of this writing, I’ve been blogging for only 1 1/2 years. And most of that time I spent on my podcast and writing my book – not blogging. And yet one day I realized – hey, I can make money blogging! The last time I published my monthly online income, my blog made $40,560.20.  You can find out more reading my income reports. And I don’t say that to brag, but to show you, you can do it.
If you want to be successful and really grow the ways you are making money from a blog, then you may want to look into buying ebooks and/or courses that will teach you exactly what to do, so that you can minimize the amount of blogging mistakes you make and learn how to run a successful blogging business from the very beginning. Plus, there are many blogging secrets that you just can't find by searching the internet. So, by taking a course or reading an ebook, you will learn exactly what you have to work on.
The answer is yes. However, I would caution against it. The reason is, when you use a free service, you don’t have as much control over your blog—the free service does. This can be risky, especially if you will rely on your blog for income. A self-hosted WordPress blog is my recommendation and can be started very inexpensively. See my step-by-step tutorial here.
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.
Thanks for sharing all this useful and relevant information Jon. The most interesting and surprising lesson was the one where you mentioned that spending a lot of time on social media outlets doesn’t really help. I also specifically liked how you set the tone about the fact that you’re not just a blogger and that you’re an expert…etc. This is some confidence needed to be successful in anything.
Jon, this is a great article. Thank you. As usual, you are full of useful information. I am new to blogging (just launched in March) and I initially started with the small e-mail list from my business website, which does not have a blog. I started a completely new website after realizing I was on the wrong platform altogether to grow an audience. I learned this thanks to the information you and other professional bloggers provide. You recommend affiliate marketing to monetize a small new blog, which are my exact thoughts for my blog. Do you have an affiliate program? If so I would love to promote your info on my site. Thanks again!
However for many people who are always prepared everyday carry is about having everything you might need in an emergency or for general use on you at all times. This will often include a light source (torch), a pocket knife, some small tools & rope it’s quite amazing how easy it is to carry all these things with you in your pockets, on your keys or in a small bag.

If your niche doesn’t allow you to promote or build premium products (anything over around $100 per unit) then think about getting a solid mix of offerings and building it up over time. I remember Darren Rowse saying that initially Amazon Associates was a really small source of income but over the years it has really started to add up. Think eBooks, affiliates, consulting, books, etc. and you’re starting to build an income stream.
Disclosure and quick heads up – I started my first blog on Bluehost and have now partnered with them to get you a big discount rate. If you make a purchase through this or any of the links on this post I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I still think a self-hosted WordPress blog is the best way to start a successful blog and build a business!
Great post Jamie! There’s so many posts about how to make a money blog and your one is by far the best. One thing I want to comment on is initially all people who start a new blog don’t know where to start. They just sign up to different affiliate money making programs thinking that they will become rich quickly. You and me both know that this is not the case. What they don’t know and need to understand is that blogging needs hard work and dedication. To keep on going when after 6 months they are still earning zero. Only after that one can think to be successful online.

Narrow down the topics by reflecting on profitability and other goals. In order to make money, you'll need to find a niche that other people haven't filled already, but is still popular enough to attract a significant number of visitors. Also consider other factors, such as money you'd have to spend if your blog focused on reviewing products that you in turn would have to buy.

Don’t get me wrong I have made many mistakes along the way but once I knew what I was doing it became a lot easier and more enjoyable. Many of my friends have emailed me or called me to find out more about “What Jamie Does”, but it can be a little hard to sink in at first as to how you can actually make a real income from running a successful blog(s). Therefore I have decided to create this guide for my friends, family, email subscribers and anyone else who wants to start doing “What Jamie Does”.
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