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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.