This blog is my hobby. I don't run it as a business, I run it for fun. But I do get work off the back of it, and it adds to my income in a number of ways. Lately I've seen a lot of bloggers looking to monetise their blogs so I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the alternative ways you can do this.
Sponsored posts are an obvious option, but not everybody likes them or wants to have editorial input from anyone other than themselves. Or maybe you have a Wordpress.com blog which means you aren't allowed to, as it's against their terms & conditions.
I don't object to sponsored posts in principal, but they don't tend to make for the most scintillating reading. And as I'm super-fussy, I've only ever carried one sponsored post on this blog. So here are some other ideas to try:
10 ways to make money via blogging
The good thing about ads is that they're physically removed from the editorial content in a way that sponsored posts aren't. You can either sign up with a network or negotiate directly with the advertiser (almost certainly resulting in a better deal). Do your research if you join a network- talk to some of the other blogs on the network to see if they think it's worthwhile.
- Selling books
See the link to my book up there on the left? If you were to buy that, I'd get a few crumbs of royalties. If I'd published it myself then the crumb would be larger. Still a crumb though - the idea is to gather enough crumbs to sustain you. Helps if you like crumbs.
- Affiliate links
And if you were to click through to buy my book, as well as the royalties, I'd get 5% of the cover price, since that's an affiliate link to Amazon, as are most of the Amazon links you'll find on this blog. And that's how affiliate links work - if someone clicks through your link, you'll earn a royalty on anything they buy in that transaction. Obviously it helps if you like the company you're linking to and would genuinely endorse their products. I also recently agreed to be an affiliate for The Leather Satchel Company - anyone who uses the code here gets a fiver off and I get a small commission. But those guys are ace and their satchels are fantastic so I'm happy to do it.
I really enjoy this sort of work - it's interesting, well paid and there are usually biscuits (which makes a change from crumbs). The down side is that these are the sort of jobs that don't get advertised, you have to wait for them to find you. Just be aware that if you have a reasonable sized network via your blog and Twitter, that's an asset. And if a representative of a brand wants to pick your brains, that is a chargeable service. If you get asked to come up with the names of a bunch of other bloggers for a campaign, that is also a chargeable service. Of course sometimes you might want to do this sort of thing for free, because you're nice and you like the person who's asking. Just not always.
- Charge for reviews
I don't do this. I don't really agree with doing this - I think it compromises the objectivity of the review, and turns it into advertorial/sponsored post. But other bloggers definitely are, so I guess if you can find a way to charge for reviews that sits well with you ethically then good luck to you.
- Charge for hosting competitions
I can understand why this is becoming a chargeable service - it takes time and skills to administer a competition, and it's not always fun. At the moment I run competitions for the fun of it - the extra traffic and the warm fuzzy feeling of giving someone a cool prize. But I turn down extra competitions if I already have one running - perhaps it would make more sense to charge for the time instead?
- Sell products
Stitched a cushion? Made a cake? Written a book? Built a time machine? A blog can easily bolt on to an online shop. I was thinking of selling withering looks, because I make those on a daily basis, but the postage costs put me off.
- Sell your services
I'm thinking in particular about public speaking and writing (especially blogging), but really a blog can be used to sell a wide range of professional services. Just don't keep banging on about it. The moment I stopped mentioning my coaching business on here, I started getting a lot more clients who claimed to read my blog. Just make your readers aware of what you do and let them work it out from there.
- Sell a course
Ecourses seem to be pretty popular with many bloggers as you can write the material once and sell it many times. This works well if you have a how to/solving a problem sort of blog.
- Offer paid subscriptions to your blog on Kindle
Why people pay for blog subscriptions on Kindle when they could get them for free on the internet I do not know , but they do. It's a slightly fiddly but reasonably painless process to list your blog on Kindle - this post explains what to do well.
All in all I think that there's a lot of guff spouted about the potential earning power of blogs - the return compared to the time you put in is often very small. I suspect that the people doing best out of blogging right now are further up the food chain - running networks, hosting events etc. Though come to think of it, if there isn't a network or event for your type of blogging, perhaps the smart thing is to focus your efforts there?