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 income, so monetization seems like a reasonable option. 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, hoping to bring in a little bit of extra money. I wasn’t expecting much, which was definitely a good thing.
Displaying ads on your blog isn’t going to bring in much income unless you have massive viewers numbers.
I ran ads through Google Adsense on my site from September 2019 to May 2020, and made a whopping $26 Canadian (about $20 USD), which I may never see because the minimum for a payout is $100. Granted, I very deliberately didn’t show multiple ads per page, but still. You have control over how many places on each post where you’ll display ads, and I. really didn’t want my site to be really ad-heavy.
Adsense serves up two different kinds of ads, CPM (cost per thousand views) and CPC (cost per click). CPM is based on how many eyeballs you get ads in front of, and you need a shit ton of views to make much. CPC ads pay quite a bit more, but they only pay if someone actually clicks on the ads. And since Google knows almost everything (probably about as much as Facebook, I’d guess), they’ll know if you click your own ads and they’ll shut you down.
You can also run ads through WordAds, but they give you less control then Google Adsense over what gets served up to viewers.
If you actually do get a shit ton of views, there are ways to make more money with ads. To partner with SHE Media they want you to have 20,000 monthly views, and Mediavine needs you to have the equivalent of about 60,000 page views per month. You can make more money with them, but they’re way too out of my league for me to have the slightest clue how much.
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 since I already link to Amazon in my weekly book reviews. It was important to me to have something that felt like 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. I haven’t bothered to set up Canadian or UK affiliate accounts, because it seems unlikely that I’d earn the minimum required to stay active as an affiliate.
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 consider, 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.
Buymeacoffee.com and Ko-fi.com are the big players here. The basis are similar, although they do have some different features. You can get a link/button to post on your website to direct people to the coffee site, where they can make a donation or pay for content.
With tip jars being so ubiquitous, I’m not sure how much money you’re likely to make. However, if nothing else, you can do short posts on those sites to content on your blog, which serves as a high domain authority backlink.
Buymeacoffee.com and Ko-fi allow you to offer some premium content, as does WordPress. You can find out how to do this on WordPress here.
Patreon is focused on premium content. People can sign up to be monthly patrons 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.
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 my Amazon ad campaigns 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.
Let’s get real
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?