Home Side HustleBlog How to Make Money Blogging (and Untold Truths) in 2021

How to Make Money Blogging (and Untold Truths) in 2021

by Andrew Shih
How to Make Money Blogging

Last Updated on December 30, 2020 by Andrew Shih

Want to make money blogging?

There are many ways to make money by blogging.  You probably have seen income reports on the internet from people who make tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from blogging.  Yes, it can be done, but it’s not going to be easy.  Most people tend to focus on the success but overlook the effort and persistence behind the scene required to make it happen. Let’s explore the ins and outs of making money with blogging before you jump ahead.

Here are the 12 ways how you can make money blogging and the catches you need to know.

1. Set up Google Adsense

The easiest way to start making money by blogging is to integrate your website with Google Adsense. You have to set up your Google Adsense account, and put the Google generated code on your website.  Once the integration is complete, Google will do the magic and show ads at spots you designate, or Google can choose to display the ads at optimum spots

You can also control the categories of ads to show to your audience so the ads can be more relevant.  According to Google, your Adsense earning will depend on many factors, such as how much traffic, type of content, user location, ads location, etc.

Google Adsense earnings calculator by category
Google Adsense revenue estimate by category

What’s the catch?

  • You will need a lot of traffic to make real money with Google Adsense.  Curious how much traffic you need for your niche for you to make a living out of Google Ad? Get an estimate using the Google Adsense calculator.
  • You cannot click on links hosted on your website for obvious reasons. If you do, Google will ban your Google Adsense account.
  • Integrate your website with Google Adsense will slow down your website performance and will negatively impact your SEO and ranking.

2. Become an Amazon affiliate

If there are books, tools, equipment, or products relevant to your niche, you should consider becoming an Amazon affiliate and promote the product on your website.  If the user purchases on Amazon through your link, you will earn the commission for all purchases through the same session. 

For example: Let’s say the consumer bought the book recommended by you, and also happened to buy a luxury hot tub as a surprise anniversary gift for the spouse. You will get commissions for all the purchases.  Yes, Really!  That’s a very compelling reason why Amazon is so successful. 

What’s the catch?

  • If you don’t make 3 successful sales within the first 180 days, your Amazon associate account will be closed, but you can reapply again as soon as the account is closed.
  • If you have a global customer base, you will need to apply additional local Amazon affiliate accounts.  In countries such as India and China, you will need to have a local bank account. Otherwise, you cannot earn any commission with sales from customers in those countries.
  • Amazon has a rigorous affiliate agreement, such as no Amazon promotional link in an email.  Also, make sure you do not click your own Amazon links to purchase on Amazon.

3. Promote Affiliate Links

Promoting affiliate links is how most affiliates earn passive income.  First, you will need to apply and join the merchant’s affiliate program.  Once you are approved, you are an affiliate.  As an affiliate, you will be given unique links with your ID for promoting the merchant’s product or service.  If your referral results in a sale, you earn the commission.

An affiliate will typically join several affiliate programs, and each affiliate program becomes an additional income stream.  The majority of merchants will pay a one-time commission for the referred sales, but a few will pay recurring monthly commission as long as the client you referred continues to the make payment. 

If you can successfully promote affiliate products and services, you can do well and potentially make a full-time living being an affiliate.  Your affiliate income can continue to grow over time as you refer more clients. 

If you are looking to become an affiliate, I will encourage you to read about how to get started and promote affiliate products ethically.

What’s the catch?

  • Merchants, big or small, can change or even drop the affiliate agreement at will.  For example, Amazon dropped the commission rate in April 2020 for a few categories, such as furniture, home improvement, and grocery. 
  • Most merchants have an affiliate approval process and minimum requirements.  If your website has not attracted enough traffic, the merchants may reject your affiliate application.
  • Lastly, even when you get approved, it is very competitive to appear on the first page of Google search results.  If your page does not appear on the first page of Google, you are not likely to do well with affiliate marketing.  You can read more about the hard truth and how to resolve affiliate marketing challenges.

4. Create a resource page

The resource page will contain a complete collection of recommended products and services for your niche.  The page typically includes a mix of affiliate and non-affiliate links. 

The resource page adds value to the audience by providing all the necessary resources in one easy to reference page.  The resource page also provides easy access to the affiliate links; it’s a win-win for the affiliate and the consumer.  The resource page is typically one of the highest revenue-generating pages for a blog site.

What’s the catch?

  • It’s straight forward.  How much the affiliate can earn depends on how well the affiliate can drive traffic to the resource page. 

5. Ask for donation

There is no shame in asking donations, especially when you are providing valuable content to your audience for free.  Your website could help the audience save money, avoid mistakes, offer opportunities, or provide educational value.  It’s easy to create a PayPal donation button and embed it as one of the sidebar widgets in WordPress. 

You can setup a donation button easily with PayPal like this. You can make donation too if you like 🙂

While you probably will not receive much from donations, nevertheless, it is an income stream that is easy to set up for free with PayPal.  Hey, if people can get a million dollars just joking and asking for beer money donation over social media, why not give people the option for donating to your coffee fund when you offer help and valuable content?

What’s the catch?

  • Don’t expect to earn much from donations, but you never know.  If you are slick and have a unique message, you may get more than anticipated.

6. Provide consulting / freelance / coaching service

As you create valuable content, engage the audience, and offer assistance via public comments, you will gradually be known as the expert in the space.  More and more people will approach you for help as your web traffic increase through referrals or word of mouth. 

It may be time to consider charging a consulting fee for the service.  If you are not comfortable charging a fee, you can ask people to donate to your coffee fund.  As you become an expert in the niche, it’s possible to turn blogging as a hobby into a consulting or coaching business, depending on your niche.  It can be satisfying to be your own boss.

What’s the catch?

  • Being a consultant or coach is not a passive income strategy, and you will need steady clients to make a business profitable.  This income stream can be unstable initially but can grow over time as you have more paying clients and able to demand a higher rate.
self-publishing an eBook

7. Sell an eBook

Publishing books has become much easier and cost-effective with electronic books.  Putting quality aside, anyone can create an eBook in PDF.  Some eBooks are not much more than a collection of blogs put together and less than 50 pages. 

You can create an eBook in your niche, promote, and sell the eBook on your website, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), or other platforms.  With KDP, you will have access to millions of readers on Amazon, and there is no inventory cost with print on demand.

What’s the catch?

  • You will need to be able to promote your book successfully.  If you do not have traffic to your website and loyal followers, it will be a difficult sell. 
  • It’s also possible that there are competitors that offer similar eBooks for free to grow the email list.

8. Sell digital training course

If you have expertise in the niche, clearly understand your audiences’ challenges, and willing to put in all the hard work upfront, you may create online training courses to provide solutions and help your audience overcome the obstacles. 

It is not unusual a course can cost hundreds or even over a thousand dollars.  It is undoubtedly one of the most lucrative passive income streams with small upkeeping costs to host the course with one of the online course providers such as Teachable or Udemy.

What’s the catch?

  • It takes considerable effort to create an online course.  You also need to engage enough users to clearly understand the pain points before you structure and develop the courses. 
  • The course isn’t going to be suitable for everyone, so you will need to be specific about who is your target audience.  You will need to have a sufficiently large pool of potential customers who shares the same challenges to make the course profitable.

9. Sell premium membership

A website can set up multiple access levels for your content, product, and services.  The basic level will likely have free access to limited content and services.  Whereas the premium version will allow access to unlimited content and services but will require paying a monthly or annual subscription fee.

The site will be a membership site and possibly closed community forum or discussion group so you can take better care of your paid clients.  The subscription fee is an excellent steady passive income stream.  A regular monthly income stream is much more stable than collecting a one-time commission.

What’s the catch?

  • It’s is critical to keep pumping out fresh content and keep users engaged.  There must be a good reason why users need to keep paying the subscription fee.  It’s a commitment that you must upkeep. 

10.    Create a job board

Most of the niches have job opportunities.  If so, you can apply and join affiliate programs with search engine sites such as Indeed or ZipRecruiter.  Both platforms offer powerful API, and you can pre-filter and display the jobs directly from your website. 

If getting a job is part of your customer’s journey on your website, adding a job board to your website can be a win-win for you, the company, and your audience.

What’s the catch?

  • Getting a job may not be part of your customer’s journey.  For example, if you have a website about the lawn.  Your audience is probably looking for a DIY solution for a beautiful lawn and does not necessarily want to get a job as a gardener. 
  • Most likely, your website will need to have sufficient traffic before those job engine sites consider your affiliate request.

11.    Sell Private Ads

If your website has enough traffic, there may be merchants that are willing to pay a fixed monthly fee for ad space on the site.  You only have to display the ad at the agreed location for the period.  If you can further grow the traffic to your website and drive additional business for the merchant, you can negotiate higher fee for ad placement.

What’s the catch?

  • Obviously, for this to work, the affiliate’s website must have traffic and share similar audiences who will be interested in the merchant’s product or service for this agreement to be successful in the long run.

12.    Promote sponsors to your email list or social media followers.

I am sure we all have seen influencers on social media, YouTube, and other platforms promoting and mentioning sponsors.  If you have a massive email list, subscribers, and followers, those are precious assets, and some sponsors are willing to pay a fee to get in front of your audience.

What’s the catch?

  • You will need to be an influencer in your niche with a sizable email list and followers to be noticed by sponsors and command a sizable compensation.  Don’t expect to have sponsors when you are just starting to blog.

Are you ready to start a blog?

Before you can make money blogging, you will need to have valuable content that will drive traffic to your website.  Focus on creating value first, and traffic will eventually follow.  Once you have traffic, you will have much more success in implementing the money-making methods discussed in this blog.

Having learned all the ways a blogger makes money, are you ready to start a blog?

There are plenty of success stories, and it can be yours too if you are willing to put in the effort.

Is there another money-making idea for bloggers that we missed?  Please share your comment below.

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