Blogging

How Easy Is It to Monetize a Blog?

stacks of coins growing

How easy is it to monetize a blog?  Hint: It’s not.  Not in the slightest.

Many of us spend a great deal of time blogging.  Some of us (like me) may not have much in the way of income, so monetization seems like a reasonable step to try.  But anyone who tells you that it’s easy to monetize a blog has either had exceptionally good luck, or they’re lying.

In August I upgraded to the WordPress business plan with the hopes of bringing in a little bit of extra money to supplement my small income from work.  I wasn’t expecting much, which was definitely a good thing.

Ads

Ads don’t bring much money.  I’ve set up ads through Google Adsense on my site.  The ads that Google serves up are a mix of cost per click (i.e. I get paid when someone clicks an ad) or cost per thousand impressions (i.e. I get paid based on how many times the ad is viewed).  It’s Google that makes the decisions about what kind of ads it’s going to serve up and when.  I’ve made $7 and change since I started doing ads about 2 1/2 months ago.  Impressive, isn’t it?

With ads that pay based on impressions, by showing more ads you can make a little more money.  I decided right from the beginning that I didn’t want ads taking over my site and I was not willing to have any ads appearing mid-blog post.  That decreases my earning potential, but I’m totally okay with that.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing involves using special links for a merchant site (e.g. Amazon) so that if people make a purchase after clicking on your link then you get a small commission.  It’s nice in that it doesn’t end up costing the reader anything extra, as the merchant has already figured that into their regular pricing.

I’m an Amazon affiliate, which I thought made sense for my site because I link to Amazon anyway when I do my weekly book reviews.  Book-related affiliate links was the only thing that seemed to naturally fit in with what I was doing on the blog, and I want to stick with what’s a natural fit.

I’m set up with the U.S. Amazon site, since that’s where most of my blog visitors are from.  Amazon U.S. doesn’t do direct deposit to Canadian bank accounts, so I have to get paid by cheque.  The minimum amount to cut a cheque is $100, so it’ll be years before I get any money from them.

Sponsored posts

This is something I haven’t done yet.  I’m signed up on a few websites that connect brands and “influencers”, and I take a peek at them every so often to see if there’s anything that would be a good fit.  I’m very picky about what I’d be willing to do, and so far I haven’t come across any opportunities that interested me.  I think the mental health niche isn’t as good a fit for brand partnerships as some other niches.

Having a blog shop

On the MH@H Store I take payments using Stripe and Paypal, which each take a cut, but it still works out to be cheaper than selling items through another site.  What you can make this way obviously depends on what you’re selling and your marketing strategy, but regardless it’s not going to be easy money.

Using a blog to promote ebooks or other products

This isn’t directly about monetizing your blog, but it can help you get some income.  I’ve got three books on Amazon, and in my case, it’s the ad campaigns I’m running on Amazon rather than my blog that are generating the majority of my book sales.  My books do better in paperback than ebook version, but the paperback doesn’t make me anywhere near as much money.  My second book hasn’t sold many copies, and while my first book has done well, I’m not making much in terms of take-home on each sale.

There are plenty of stories online about people bringing in a lot of income through their blogs.  I suspect that for most people, the reality is much more like what I’ve experienced – trying to monetize a blog will end up bringing in little bits here and there, and that’s about the extent of it.

Earning potential is probably affected by how a blogger chooses to fit monetization into their overall strategy.  Is your primary purpose to stay true to your blogging roots and continue to interact with your readers in the same type of way?  Or is your primary purpose shifting from blogging to business?  If business is the primary purpose, then running more ads, working harder at affiliate marketing, and doing more sponsored posts may be good choices.  For me, blogging is my primary purpose, and that factors a lot into what I’m prepared to do business-wise.

Have you tried or thought about trying to monetize your blog?

For tips on blogging basics, check out the New Blogger’s Guide to WordPress.

The Up Your Blogging Game page has more advanced info to take your blogging to the next level.

Thinking about upgrading your WordPress plan?  Check out the free inside look at the WordPress.com business plan, which includes plenty of screenshots so you can see what it would actually look like.  It’s available on the MH@H Store.

41 thoughts on “How Easy Is It to Monetize a Blog?”

  1. Yep… I keep hearing similar stories of minuscule amounts of money made from ads and such. Merely breaking even from the price of the plan in many cases. I bought a plan to get RID of ads when I saw a few disgusting ones after I logged out to view my site as the public. I simply didn’t want my posts ruined by a photo of a diseased intestine or whatever. Blech!

    Btw, I doubt I’ll ever see a deposit from ACX (audible). I’m around $10 in profits and they won’t pay until you hit $25. Lol!

    1. I’m definitely not impressed with the WordPress ads. The nice thing about Google ads is that if I take the time (which I don’t do as often as I intend to) it’s possible to go through all of the ads that are getting shown on your site and reject the ones (like the diseased intestines) that you don’t want showing up.

      1. I agree, I run a blog where I promote services from various sources. They send me banners or “ads” to place on my site, and I simply don’t use them. What I often do is describe the product in a few words and place a simple picture, or more commonly a logo instead and find these get way more clicks then anything that resembles an ad.

        I think everyone is way to desensitized to ads online, most people just subconsciously ignore them completely.

  2. I have had pretty much the same experience. I have had ads turned on for a couple years I think and have made around $77, but of course, we pay more than that each year for the upgraded account. At least I am getting closer to that $100 mark and may actually get a payment lol. I wish WordPress paid as well as YouTube for instance. I’ve gotten many payments from YouTube and they have the same $100 policy. I have done a few promotions with companies, but like you, am extremely picky. Those do pay well when you do them though. Often a simple link can bring in $25-$30 each. Honestly, I wonder if I would have more luck monetizing my social media than my blog (my Instagram for instance, as I actually have more followers there than here).

    1. From what I’ve seen on brand partnership sites it’s Instagram posts that seem to be the most sought after. I’m pretty new on Insta and haven’t put much effort into it, but it does seem like that’s where the money is.

    1. I don’t have any recommendations because I haven’t done more than browse arounnd, but I’ve looked at
      activate.social
      izea.com
      perlu.com
      tomoson.com
      influence.co
      tapinfluence.com

  3. Wow, I have vaguely thought about monetizing before, but I never put in the effort to actually do it. I appreciate you outlining how difficult this is to actually do! Gives me a new appreciation for how hard you (and other successful/popular WP bloggers) are working!

  4. I think it’s great that you choose blog integrity over money. I’ve tried Amazon before and it was a bust. If you give up, they do send a check for what you made though (even if you don’t meet the threshold). The only way I monetize now is by being on medium. So after the monthly fee, I usually profit $4-6!

  5. With me, it’s been easy to monetize my blog. I just type, “Help! I spent time with Mother today. Send money,” and the payments roll in. 😀

    Seriously, I like the idea of linking a page of my blog to book sales! Great idea!

  6. I spend a lot of time looking at ways to earn money blogging. I have tried affiliate marketing for one company. People clicked it but didn’t use the service. I got nothing there but what to use the link again. I did research and it is a good company that uses strategies I believe in and use.

    I have read different things about ads. I have read that people live off of their ad income by using it on multiple blogs. Others make little money from it.

    I agree what you blog about has a lot to do with it. I don’t see myself changing my blog because I am passionate about what I write about

    1. Yeah I think staying true to yourself is what’s going to resonate most with your readers.

      I think it makes sense to be patient stick with affiliate programs that are a good fit for you and your blog, even if it’s not something you always make money off of.

  7. Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge on monetizing your blog. I’ve read a few charlatans blowing hyperbole on how to earn money blogging. You deserve better financial fate. Unfortunately, fluff sells.

  8. Never thought to monetize my blog. 🤷🏼‍♀️ Writing is an exercise in cathartic release of overwhelming emotion. 😶 And most people have no idea how to approach me. Nor I them.. obviously 🙄 i am clueless as they get. I support a few bloggers via Patreon.

    I also find it harder to interact with readers lately. I get tangled up in this follow me/follow you muck. That, combined with my empath personality, the social media world becomes a beast to me.

    Good luck 🍀 Ashley. I enjoy your blog immensely!

  9. I’ve had similar experiences 😑 made about $3-$4 on Amazon last year – total!(woohoo) then got kicked out for poor performance. I’m starting up again now with very low expectations. It’s exhausting but I enjoy writing and creating graphics so I just think of it as a hobby that *might* make a few dollars here and there. Good luck to you! 😊

  10. Is it worth investing in premium? Before reading your article, I was wondering if I should monetize my blog get some money (I know it won’t be a lot), while be able to have my site be at its FULL potential by adding videos, reissuing previous posts, adding surveys, having optimal creative control of my site and of course, FINALLY having an ACTUAL web address for my blog. I’m still getting on my feet financially so I’m always torn about getting the $8 plan. But…I always enjoy blogging and cry at the fact I can’t do much with the basic. What should I do?

    1. The personal plan would be a good place to start, which would give you your own domain. Then if you wanted more you could upgrade to premium and what you’ve already paid for the personal plan would be credited towards the premium plan.

      If you want to do surveys, Google Forms is a free way to set up a survey that can be embedded in a blog post.

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