How to Monetize Your Blog without Selling Your Soul

I didn’t start blogging to make money from it. The thought never occurred to me. When someone suggested I start accepting advertising, I resisted. I thought some how it would compromise my integrity.

Cash Coming Out of a Computer - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/JoKMedia, Image #13923134

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/JoKMedia

Then I realized that all professional creatives charge for their work. In fact, this is what separates the professionals from the amateurs. For example:

  • Authors receive royalties.
  • Musicians sell tickets.
  • Artists sell paintings.
  • Speakers are paid fees.

If you want to blog as a hobby, fine. But art and money aren’t enemies. In fact, in most cases the former isn’t possible without the latter.

You really can monetize your art without selling your soul. I make several thousand dollars a month using a combination of these three methods:

  1. Sell advertising. You can start small with any number of WordPress plugins (one major reason to use self-hosted WordPress). I started with WP125 and started selling small 125 x 125 pixel ads. It generated enough income to cover my hosting costs and a little “fun money.”

    As I developed momentum, I created a full-blown Advertising Kit for potential advertisers. I used Google Analytics to gather the key metrics and then conducted a Reader Survey to collect demographic and psychographic information.

    When my traffic got to about 40,000 pageviews a month, I applied to the Beacon Ad Network. It is an online service that manages your ad sales. You can charge whatever you want per ad, but they take a 30% commission. They specialize in the Christian marketplace. Their sister-company, BuySellAds.com, handles the general market.

    By the way, I have never used Google AdSense. I just hate the way it looks. However, it may have changed since I last evaluated it. If you are interested, John Saddington at TentBlogger.com has a terrific set of posts about AdSense.

  2. Promote affiliates. Here again, I started small. I signed up as an Amazon Associate and started using my affiliate code in my links to books and other products. (I disclose this at the bottom of each post.) I now consistently make $600–700 a month from these links.

    Later, I graduated to other products. For example, I promote Brett Kelly’s Evernote Essentials: Second Edition whenever I write about Evernote. I do this with complete integrity, believing it is the single best place to start if you want to get up and running quickly.

    I am also an affiliate for various other products like: StandardTheme, Nozbe, and ScribeSEO. The key is to find products you actually use and you believe will be beneficial to your readers. My own rule is that if I don’t use it, I don’t promote it.

    If there is a product you are crazy about—especially an information product—it is worth checking to see if the publisher or manufacturer has an affiliate program available. You might also check Amazon. They sell way more than books.

  3. Sell products. A few years ago, I wrote an ebook called Writing a Winning Non-Fiction Book Proposal. I decided to turn it into a PDF file and sell it on my blog. (Here’s how you can Create an eBook in Seven Steps.) It has sold consistently, month after month. In fact, I have yet to see a sales decline.

    Last year, I decided to write a fiction edition called Writing a Winning Fiction Book Proposal. It only sells about 50% of what the non-fiction one does, but it was still well-worth the effort. I also sell both books as a bundle.

    The best thing about selling products like these—especially digital ones—is that they work while you sleep. The whole system is turn-key. Customers buy the books, the system provides a download link, and then deposits the money in your PayPal account.

    Ultimately, I believe most of my revenue will come from product sales. I have several more ebooks in the works, based primarily on blog series I have written.

These methods are just the direct methods you can use to monetize your blog. You can also use your blog to generate leads for speaking, coaching, or consulting services—something I also do.

They key to monetizing your art without selling your soul is to offer ads, products, and services that are congruent with your brand and will add value to your readers.

Question: What do you need to do next to monetize your blog—or take it to the next level? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Want to launch your own blog or upgrade to self-hosted WordPress? Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started.

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  • 振忠 呂

    how do you get a blog suggestion for blog beginners – See more at: http://ectheme.blogspot.hk/2013/03/how-do-you-get-blog-suggestion-for-blog.html

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  • http://josuemolina.com/ Josue Molina

    Michael, You think its ok to put affiliate ads on the sidebar on a fairly new blog with very little traffic?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I think the earlier the better, because then you get your audience acclimated to them. Thanks.

  • http://www.goodblogs.com.au/ Alice Cornelios

    I am trying my luck on earning money using free blog platform? Is it possible to this with the said platform? Thanks much

    Alice from http://www.goodblogs.com.au/

  • http://www.easytocookmeal.com/ Shobelyn Dayrit

    I just started my blog and I want to earn money from it in the future. But I kinda settle in the fact that maybe it happens or maybe not.But for now, I will jist hope for the best.

  • Emily

    I’m curious if you think it’s appropriate to monetize a non-profit ministry’s blog. We mostly run off donations, and while we do have a handful of affiliate links, we’ve never sold ad space.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I think it depends. You would have to have advertisers with whom your audience has a high level of affinity.

  • Jeff

    Michael, since this initial post occurred a while back do you feel directions are still relevant? I have two sites with one doing about 4-5,000 pages a month with little to no activity ( as I have been working on second) which is getting between 18-22,000 a month and I would like to begin capitalizing on this process.
    I love the idea of going to the ad broker since this is not something I do not have background in and would be ok giving away 30% for their expertise.
    Thank you for the insight and time.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yep, still relevant. Thanks.

  • http://www.GreaterImpact.org/ Nina Roesner

    Question – do you use the visitors or the views per month? I have about 9,000 visitors and 20,000 views, so if I doubled that, I could potentially sign up for the Beacon Ad, but I don’t know if I have to double or quadruple readership! :) Hope that makes sense.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Page views are typically what you are selling to advertisers. You are definitely in the range.

      • http://www.GreaterImpact.org/ Nina Roesner

        Awesomesauce. Thank you! :) #MadeMyDay

  • http://ochanix.com/ Ocha Nix

    Affiliate links and Adsense are two that I tend to focus on more. I agree that Adsense is sometimes a bit ugly, but if it makes a few bucks, I’m okay with it. A couple good links you posted I’ll read more about too.

  • http://www.treasurepen.com/ TreasurePen

    Hi Michael, what do you think of the idea of selling backlinks on your Blog as an additional way to monetize it? If you’ve got a good Page Rank I assume a backlink is of value to other Bloggers (for SEO purposes) and hence may be prepared to pay for it.
    Regards,
    Lisa.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Unless it creates values for your readers, it’s a bad idea. Thanks.