Chronic illness, whether it’s mental or physical, can make it hard to hold down a full-time job, or even a job at all. Over the last year I haven’t been able to work much, and while luckily I’ve still got a fairly substantial amount of savings, I’ve started looking at alternate ways of potentially bringing in a bit of money (and to give you an idea of what I’m aiming for, by “a bit” I’m thinking a few dollars). I thought I’d share some of my research in case it’s relevant to other people.
Amazon is the most popular, but there are multiple others. Essentially the way these work is if someone clicks through from your blog to Amazon (for example) and buys a product, Amazon (or whoever) will give you a kickback. This is already built into the price of the product on Amazon, so whether someone buys using your link or not, they’re paying the same price. It’s also the basic idea behind rebate sites like Ebates.
I’ll talk a bit about the nuts and bolts of Amazon since it’s the one I’m familiar with. First, you sign up with Amazon’s Associates. It’s a separate sign-up depending on which domain you’re using: .com, .co.uk, .ca, etc. Getting paid can get a bit more difficult if the majority of your readers are in a different country than you are. For example, Amazon.com doesn’t do direct deposit into Canadian bank accounts, and they take a percentage cut as a processing fee if they mail you a cheque. An alternative is to get payment loaded onto an Amazon gift card (although this is also not transferable among different Amazon country sites).
From the Associates Central site you’re able to get unique links for Amazon products that you can use on your site. If you’re browsing around Amazon while logged in with your affiliate account, there will be a bar at the top of the screen that will give you a link for the particular product page you’re looking at. Amazon requires that you explicitly state on your site that you’re using affiliate links.
Amazon also has a “bounty program”, although it’s not available for every country (.com has it, .ca doesn’t). If someone uses your affiliate link and signs up for an Amazon service like Prime, Amazon Music, Audible, or Kindle Unlimited, then Amazon will pay you a set dollar amount (a “bounty”). Depending on the specific bounty offer, they may pay you even if the person just signs up for a free trial.
I decided recently to incorporate Amazon affiliate marketing into my book review posts, since it seemed like a pretty natural fit, and my focus is on bounty programs that relate to books. Will I make a dollar or two? Maybe, maybe not, but the effort involved is pretty low, so I figured it was worth a try.
On some sites, if you are a member and refer someone else who becomes a member (and makes whatever is designated as a qualifying purchase), you get a bonus. Depending on the site the person you refer may get a bonus as well. On the rebate site Ebates, both of you get a bonus, whereas on Groupon, just the person that makes the referral gets a bonus. You can set up referral buttons/links on your blog. As an example, my referral buttons from Ebates are:
With the WordPress premium and business plans there are site monetization options, including advertising or setting up a Paypal button. I have the personal plan, so I don’t actually have experience with this myself, and therefore I can’t give you any details on the logistics. From what I’ve read it sounds like you need pretty high traffic volumes on your site to make much money with on-page ads. An alternative to a Paypal for getting donations is the buy a coffee sites in the next section.
Buy a coffee
Buymeacoffee.com is a way for readers to donate to your blog. The payments go through the Buymeacoffee site, and you get a link/button that you can post on your website. There is the option for people to donate $3, $4, or $5, and there is also an option for people to support you on a monthly basis. Payments go through Stripe, which accepts credit cards. Buymeacoffee takes a 5% cut of any donations you receive, and Stripe takes a small amount as well. There is also the option to create Coffeelinks, and if someone pays the price you’ve set then they will be given a link to whatever sort of premium content that you’ve created.
Ko-fi.com is similar, but with a slightly different payment model. Just like buymeacoffee, you get a link and buttons that you can display on your website. Ko-fi has regular and “gold” memberships. With regular memberships, you can only collect donations via Paypal, and these are set at $3. Ko-fi doesn’t take a cut at all. The gold membership is $6/month, which allows you to take donations via Paypal or Stripe (credit card) and customize the donation amount. Ko-fi doesn’t take a cut from each transaction. The gold membership also allows you to offer premium content with no extra fees. A new feature with the gold plan is that you can list services that people will be able to commission you for.
Buymeacoffee.com and Ko-fi allow you to offer some premium content, but Patreon is a site that’s entirely focused on premium content. People can sign up for a monthly subscription and get whatever content you create for them, whether that by writing, podcasts, videos, or whatever else you can come up with. The payments go through Patreon, and they take a 5% cut. You can set different membership tiers. Alternately, you can charge people only when you create content, but I’m not really sure how that works. I’ve set up an account just to poke around on the site with, but I haven’t created any content or subscribed to anyone’s content on Patreon, so there’s not that much I’m able to say about it.
Sites that pay based on post views
I’ve published a number of posts on different Vocal.media platforms. As long as you meet their standards, they’ll publish your post. They won’t publish posts you’ve already published on your own blog, but you can spruce up old material. I find I don’t get many views besides what I drive there myself via my blog, Pinterest, or Twitter. Their algorithm for determining how much you get paid per view is secret, but it’s fractions of a cent. There is also the opportunity for readers to leave you tips. The amount of money I’m making is minimal. I’ve received 3 tips, 2 of which have been from Vocal Media themselves, presumably as an encouragement to keep creating content. One positive is that articles on their sites seem to do pretty well in Google search result rankings.
I’ve had a little more success with Medium.com‘s partnership program. They will pay you based on how much site members (who pay a $5/month fee) interact with the posts that you designate for the partnership program. If you have a post accepted by a Medium publication, such as Invisible Illness, you can get broader exposure than you otherwise would on your own. It’s still not much money, but it’s something. Medium allows you to repost things that you’ve published already, although specific publications on Medium have different preferences around that. Invisible Illness doesn’t require original content.
There’s no up-front cost to self-publish on Amazon, so you could publish even a few mini-ebooks and make a bit of money that way. You can find out more about self-publishing on my post the bloggers guide to the basics of self-publishing.
So there you have it, this is what I’ve learned with my assorted digging around. Making much money blogging/writing isn’t going to happen any time soon (if ever) for me, but it’s been interesting to find out some of the various ways to make a few dollars.
Are there any other possibilities that you’ve heard about or tried?
Visit the Mental Health @ Home Store to find my books Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis and Psych Meds Made Simple, a mini-ebook collection focused on therapy, and plenty of free downloadable resources.