Update: I’ve written a much longer and more detailed version of this post here!
It’s the question everyone has after they’ve settled into blogging: how do I make money from this thing? A lot of bloggers don’t start with the intention of earning anything, but once you see other bloggers post income reports totaling thousands of dollars, it’s hard to resist the urge to monetize. Of course, making money takes time and effort, and as a college blogger, I know I don’t have much of either to spare! I can’t really relate to posts about making blogging my full-time job, or even making it a big portion of my income. So, this post is to the bloggers who could use some extra money, don’t want a big time commitment, and just love blogging for the fun of it.
1. Join An Ad Network/Influencer Community
Ad networks work with bloggers and companies to connect them and create campaigns/sponsored opportunities. These campaigns usually require the blogger to write a post (like this one!) involving the company’s product and promote it through social media. In return, they’ll give the blogger money, free products, or if you’re lucky, both! These networks take care of the hard work of contacting companies yourself, scheduling everything out, and ensuring payment, so all you have to do is blog. To become a member, you usually need a certain amount of pageviews or social media followers, although some networks are open to new bloggers! I’ve listed some popular ones below, and have had a great experience as a member of the first two!
There are also influencer communities built around connecting similar bloggers to each other, which attracts brands looking for a particular style of blogger to write about their product. I’m a member of the InfluenceHer Collective, a community for college girls that has helped me find tons of bloggers like me, grow my social media following, and connect with some great brands! These communities are usually pretty big, so it can be hard to stand out, but they can be extremely helpful if you make good use of them!
Of all the methods I’ll be listing, ad networks have made me the most money by far. This year, I’ve made around $1500 through ad networks alone, which was more than I’d ever expected. The only issue I’ve come across is that there aren’t always campaigns that fit my style/niche, and I prefer not to blog about something I don’t believe in or care about! It can also be hard to find campaigns you’re eligible to participate in, so joining a network geared towards your age/blogging style will help out a ton!
2. Sell Ad Spots
This is usually the first strategy bloggers go for when trying to make money. Generally, a blogger will display a picture in their sidebar that links to another blogger’s page, as well as promote that blogger’s posts, and in return receive a set amount of money. This can range anywhere from $1-$150 depending on your blog’s pageviews/following, but it seems like the average cost for an ad spot is $10. Ad spots are usually sold on a monthly basis, so if you sell 3 ad spots a month at that rate, you’ll have made $360 by the end of the year!
I don’t offer spots on my blog anymore, but for a few months I ran my sponsorship program through Passionfruit Ads and had a great experience! I only ever had one issue come up, and they fixed it within minutes of emailing them. Basically, you set up the type of ads you want to offer through their website, and they create a convenient shop for you to place within your blog. They handle all of the transactions, and once you install their code on your blog, they even update the ad spots for you when a new blogger buys a spot!
3. ShopStyle Links
Shopstyle is an online shopping search engine that compiles great products and brands in one convenient website. Once you make an account, you can start favoriting products you love, and they’ll be collected in lists based on categories you create. Here’s where the money comes in: from those lists, you can create widgets and get affiliate links for your favorite items through the ShopStyle Collective, and whenever someone clicks on them, you’ll get paid! This is a great way for fashion bloggers to earn extra money, although lifestyle bloggers can earn from this as well! For example, I absolutely love online shopping, so I occasionally post my own wishlists, along with a ShopStyle widget like the one below:
They’re beautifully designed, convenient, and easy to set up. One caveat is that you have to make $100 before cashing out, so depending on your audience size, that could come once a month or once a year. I tend to hit it about every three months, but I know fashion bloggers who hit it multiple times a month! Strategic implementation is the key to this program, and I made a whole tutorial sharing my strategies!
4. Monetize Your Social Media
If your blog doesn’t have a ton of pageviews yet, don’t worry; you can earn money through social media too! Companies want their products seen, so if you have a decent social media following and can craft a great post, they might be willing to pay you to devote some of your feed to their brand. Instagram is probably the most popular platform for this type of sponsorship, which is why I created a separate account for my blog. If monetizing your social media is something you’re interested, I would start putting a big focus on taking professional photos, connecting with followers, and growing your own following. You don’t need huge numbers to get sponsored opportunities (I only had 650 when I got my first one!), but more is always better!
Do you make extra money from your blog? What’s your favorite monetization strategy? Let me know in the comments!