If you’re passionate about something, it will show in your content. Readers will be able to see your genuineness and will be attracted to that. This is probably the most important thing you will learn about blogging. You can try everything in the world and use every tool known to man to be successful, but if you’re not genuine, people will see right through it.
This is the strategy that most bloggers start with when looking to monetize their blog. However, keep in mind you're not limited to selling banner ad spots (which is generally an ineffective strategy these days). Consider other areas you could rent out: space on your pop-up box, social media headers, the "P.S." on your email newsletters...think outside the box (quite literally).
I know many personal finance writers with blogs that track the financial mess they got themselves into. They don't have financial degrees, but they are doing very well for themselves and help many people with their experiences. Many times, readers just want to hear from you, follow a real person's journey, read about how a real person made it through a problem, and so on. This is a great example of why degrees are not always needed.
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.
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+.
This article has gotten my mind churning and working in so many new and exciting ways. Thank you for sharing your insights! You deserve all the success you’ve been having on your blog. I can’t wait to start putting these tips into REAL practice (not the “wow-I-feel-so-inspired-for-20-minutes-and-do-nothing kind of practice I so often fall victim to).
I would much rather go back to cleaning a gym than offering some crappy dieting product that doesn’t work. I know a lot of people reading this need to make a bit of extra income quickly, but it’s very important to not ruin your blog’s long term brand and image over a few quick dollars. Even if you have to work a basic entry job offline for a while it’s a much better option.
If you’ve spent a lot of time writing that week and just need a break from working on a post, it may be a productive way to spend an hour or two but I personally think your time could be better spent elsewhere. (This isn’t to say that you can’t find success utilizing this method, I just don’t see many/any people doing it and reporting back that it’s really helped them).
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.
To all the bloggers out there…STOP sucking up to the very small, elite and narcissistic group of self-proclaimed influencers out there. If you all stop treating them like they’re special, they will not longer by special and therefore some of us who aren’t in there secret society will be seen as knowing what we’re talking about too! This isn’t High School, grow up and read someone else’s blog already!