Would you like to become a “professional blogger?” Would you just like to earn enough income to support your blog — pay for hosting and a domain name for example? If you’re like a lot of people who want to make money blogging, you’ve probably thought about tossing ads up on your site to do it. But did you know that there are other, often better, ways to make money blogging?
Let’s talk about why ads aren’t always the best option when you want to make money with your blog and mention a few alternative ways you can make money blogging, no ads required.
Why You Might Not Want to Rely on Ads for Blog Monetization
There are different types of ads you might think about using to monetize a blog. For example there are ad networks (like Google’s Adsense), affiliate ads (like those through Commission Junction or Clickbank), and private ad sales where you set your ad prices and directly sell space to advertisers. Each has positive and negative aspects, but one common drawback is that they all perform better for sites with a lot of traffic (more people to click the ads). That’s fine if you already have a popular blog, but it makes ad income little more than a pipe dream for a lot of new bloggers, or even experienced bloggers who are simply launching new blogs.
When you use ad networks there’s also the issue of relying on third parties. You don’t get to control how much you charge for ad space on your own blog, and they can cut you off at any time or close down their program. An awful lot is out of your control. Depending on your niche or type of blog, ads might even be a big deterrent for readers. In certain industries it’s frowned on to put ads on your professional blog for example (as opposed to running a niche blog where it’s more expected). Or if you were a doctor giving health advice on a blog, readers might be majorly turned off by ads promoting specific products because it damages your credibility.
Sometimes ads just aren’t the best option when you want your blog to bring in income. But here are some other options you might want to consider.
5 Additional Ways You Can Make Money Blogging
I’ve been a professional blogger for a couple of years now. While some in similar shoes do rely heavily on ads to make money blogging, I don’t. I do use ads, but I’ve turned them into a small part of a much broader overall strategy — just like I suggest to other freelance writers that they diversify income streams, I diversify my blog income. Here are some of my favorite ideas for making money blogging without ads, including some I’ve already implemented and other ideas I have in the works for various blogs I own.
1: Sell services through your blog. I’m a freelance business writer and blogger. I also happen to blog about freelance writing. Clients often find me through that blog and others, and I make sure they have a way to contact me if they want to request my services. I’ve found this is one of the best ways to make money blogging — use your blog as a marketing tool or platform piece to attract other paying opportunities. You could do the same with any type of service from being a freelance designer to running a Web hosting company.
2: Sell e-books or other digital products of your own. Rather than advertising others’ products, create and sell your own! Blogs are excellent tools that keep your target market coming back for more, meaning you have a built-in, growing audience interested in hearing more about what you have to say. If you have something of value to offer, turn it into an e-book. Or create and sell a software program or other digital product through your blog if it’s a better fit for your readers (or at least the readers you’re working to attract).
3: Offer e-courses or webinars. If you have something to teach your readers — something they would be willing to pay for — why not turn it into a webinar or e-course? You could charge for access and use the blog to promote it. Basically your e-courses would be more advanced expansions on what you talk about on your blog anyway.
4: Consider premium content (even if just partially). Similar to running e-courses, premium content is about getting readers to pay for more advanced material. You can still be generous with free content, but if you have knowledge or expertise people are willing to pay for, consider adding a premium section to your blog that goes above and beyond your free content. This is another model that won’t work for everyone, and you have to know your target market first before assuming they’ll be willing to pay.
5: Tie your blog to another site model. A blog doesn’t have to be just a blog. It can be tied to another type of site that brings in your direct income, while the blog works to attract visitors. This site is a good example of that. DirJournal.com brings in income through directory submissions, but the site also features a whole network of blogs. The blogs provide content of interest to readers — the very visitors website owners want to ultimately reach with their submissions. The blogs are a value-added service. You can tie them to other types of sites as well — your business / service site, a product sale site, social network / forum, directories, or just about any type of site you can think of.
Don’t forget about donations. While there can be complications to accepting donations — no certain income, potential nonprofit registration issues depending on where you live, etc., they’re still an option used by many bloggers. It allows visitors to directly compensate you based on how valuable they find your material.
If you want to make money blogging but you would rather not set up your own blog, there’s always the option of blogging for clients. I actually combine the two — I blog for clients (such as right now) but I also run nearly a dozen different blogs of my own. They can both be very lucrative options. There are many businesses out there today that want to get into blogging, but they aren’t sure how. Don’t be afraid to pitch them your ideas and help them get the ball rolling.
Do you have any other ideas for ways people can make money blogging without relying on ad networks, affiliate programs, and private ad sales? Feel free to leave a comment and share your experiences with the suggestions I made, or to add to the list.