How Do You Make Money Blogging? (Let me count the ways)

If I had a quarter for every time someone asked me 'how do you make money with a blog?' - I could stop blogging!  Blogging professionally, as opposed to being a hobby blogger, is such a new thing that people don't even realize it's a 'thing'.

It's a thing.
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The crazy thing about blogging is not all bloggers make money the same way....but all of us full time bloggers do have one thing in common and that is we have many diverse streams of income - many of them passive residual income streams.

Obviously we're making money with Silhouette School blog if Bob has left his job to work on the business....what's not so obvious, apparently, is how blogs make enough money to support say...a whole family.

The most well-known form of income for bloggers, and one that most start out with, is advertising. Those would be advertisements you see on the sidebar of a blog or banners you see along the top or bottom of the blog. Most bloggers start out with using Google Adsense ads. They're easy to implement and all the work is done for you - you simply ad the adsense HTML code to your site and collect.

I started with Adsense and even though I've moved on to another ad network, I continue to keep one or two high-paying adsense spots on my site. When I say 'high paying' I mean a single ad typically generates between $20-$50 in a single day....of course the amount of money ads generate all depends on how much traffic the blog is getting.

Ad Networks are another way bloggers make money with ads.  The ad networks are experts at ad placement on blogs and most offer other service as well such as ads on mobile sites. Some are now starting to services to monetize videos as well - similar to what YouTube does with ads, but on a much higher rate often as much as $10-$20 CPM (Cost Per Impressions)...basically the rate you get paid on that ad for ever 1000 impressions/views on the blog.

It's not a very common practice in blogging at this point, expect perhaps on very large or very niche blogs, but I also sell ad space privately to brands in my niche.  These are companies that my readers would be seeking out to purchase supplies and accessories from.  On Silhouette School, these also appear on the sidebar and - in one case - as a banner ad.  To manage private blog ad sales, I offer monthly or multi-month or yearly rates and bill my clients accordingly. They provide the graphic and the link to where that ad should direct buyers who click on it.  This is the most labor intense type of advertising for me as I (and soon Bob) manage it all, but it's also the most beneficial to my blog readers and is financially the most rewarding as I have direct control over placement and price.

Aside from ads, people are starting to become more and more familiar with affiliate links and affiliate marketing.  Basically the way affiliate marketing works is the blogger applies to a company's affiliate program. They get a coded link to that company's website so they get a referral fee when someone they refer makes a purchase off that link within the window of the cookie.

Amazon is far and away where I have found the most success with affiliate marketing. Despite the very short cookie (24 hours, I believe) as the referrer, I get a commission on anything and everything the reader buys after they click through from my link.
That 'Amazon' link I shared at the top of the previous paragraph is an affiliate link and because I have it in my blog post I need to disclose to my readers that it's there which is why you'll see the little disclosure on every blog post. 
For example, let's say I am talking about a Silhouette CAMEO machine and I link to the Silhouette CAMEO sale on Amazon. If the reader clicks that link they will be taken to the Silhouette CAMEO machine listing...but then they get distracted and remember they need toilet paper and a birthday gift for their nephew too so they add those things to their cart. If they buy all three (or even just one and it doesn't even have to be the original item they went for) the blogger gets an affiliate commission on all of the items. Usually it's about 6 or 7% of the sale price.  It all adds up...and it can add up to a whole lot.

There is definitely a science to affiliate marketing. I could write a whole book on the subject, but basically weaving affiliate links naturally into blog posts and also sharing on social media (with proper disclosure) has become a considerable income source for us.

Similar to ad networks there are also affiliate networks that provide a database of retailers and brands with affiliate programs.  As the blogger, you apply to each affiliate program you want to join and, if approved, insert the links or banners on your blog, etc.  ShareaSale and Commission Junction are probably the two most well known affiliate networks.

In my experience, using affiliate networks only works if the blogger is super selective about who they are an affiliate for - for me it wouldn't make sense for me to join Cricut's Affiliate program - as they are a competitor of Silhouette. Why would my readers want to buy a Cricut...they wouldn't so they wouldn't click on that affiliate link anyway.  Likewise I would not join Home Depot's affiliate program because while my readers may need to buy wood or tools for some craft projects, it's just not a natural fit and flow in my Silhouette tutorials and blog posts.  Being selective and only joining a few affiliate programs is the best way to convert and form relationships with the brands you are working with.
Ironically and because most people assume I am ... I am not an affiliate or in any type of formal relationship with Silhouette America.  This arrangement actually works best for me as I buy all my own machines and supplies. I feel that as a consumer I can give more honest and authentic reviews on the products without feeling like I need to filter - consciously or unconsciously.

Sponsored posts are yet another way bloggers make money blogging.  This works a few different ways. For bloggers who blog in more general fields, and aren't so niche, - like DIY, Food or Crafting - it's possible to land sponsored content deals through a media company that basically pairs brands and bloggers. In very general terms...the brand sets the budget and pays the media company, the media company vets bloggers laying out terms of the contract (payment, social media requirements, subject matter, due dates, etc), the blogger creates a sponsored blog post, the media company pays the blogger after taking a portion off the top.

Due to how niche my blog is I typically work directly with a handful of very specific brands to create sponsored posts. Typically the brand approaches me and says they'd like to have content on the blog and I respond back with a few questions and information about how we can potentially work together. I then include my rate sheet, based on my readership, social media following and other factors and we go from there. If they decide to move forward with a sponsored blog post I invoice them, set a post date, but don't start writing the blog post until the invoice is paid.

Up until about a year ago I didn't hardly do any sponsored posts. Now I am probably at about 4 or 5 a month with several clients who get sponsored content every month.Just like affiliate links, sponsored content must be disclosed.

Along with sponsored blog posts, I also have sponsored social media posts - this works well for bloggers who have very engaged followers on Facebook and Instagram specifically and also for bloggers who can make these types of posts not look so salesy (of course you do still need to disclose the sponsorship).  Basically the brand will pay for a 'shout out' from the blogger, knowing they have a strong influence with their following. The sponsored social media post usually includes a link to the brand's website or product which directs followers and readers there to purchase.

Pricing on sponsored social media posts is typically based on the number of followers the blogger/influencer has...but it varies widely across the blogging community and industries.

Far and away launching products - ebooks, books, and video courses in my case - has created the largest income stream for my blog.  (At one time we also offered live tutoring services, but have since suspended the program.) Books and video courses are a ton of work up front, but once the products are brought to market they are almost 100% passive residual income.

I say 'almost' because there are always customer service issues that need to be addressed, but the payoff can be phenomenal if you launch effectively and continue to market. I spoke for an hour and a half about marketing and writing ebooks so I won't get into all the details about marketing here, but one effective method is to set up an affiliate program so other bloggers are also promoting your products and making a portion of the sale.

While I sell products directly, I also sell my books through a third party who bundles them with the Silhouette CAMEO bundles and other Silhouette machines and then pays me a royalty on each copy sold.  We are also in the process of setting up for wholesale which will hopefully generate another stream of income.

Speaking engagements can also be a great stream of income...however they're a huge time commitment and labor intensive so the hourly rate is typically on the lower end of the scale. Speaking, however, propels the blogger and the blog to a whole new level of 'authority' in their field.

Bob's aunt said it best to me the other day when we were discussing this - she said you are no longer a blogger...you are an entrepreneur who uses her blog as a vehicle to sell your products and services and along the way you're also making money on the blog.
These are the way main ways I currently monetize my blog, but they're certainly not an extensive list. of how a blog can be monetized. In fact, our goal in all of this with bringing Bob on board is to launch even more products and services over the next 6-12 month to create even more streams of income.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them the price of the item or service remains the same for you, but we get a small percent for the referral! It's how we support the blog...and we thank you for that!