Do you love to blog and want to make some extra cash? Blogging is a low-cost business idea with the potential to make thousands of dollars per month. This guide shares how you can make money blogging, with 11 revenue streams used by professional bloggers who earn a full-time income through their website.
Build your blogging business 💰
How to make money blogging
- Choose a profitable niche
- Build an email list
- Write sponsored product reviews
- Sell advertising placements
- Join an affiliate marketing program
- Offer services
- Sell digital products
- Sell physical products
- Create a membership community
- Monetize YouTube videos
- Produce a podcast and get a sponsor
How much money can bloggers earn?
The potential for blogging is virtually unlimited. Well-established bloggers like Ryan Robinson—who runs a blog about blogging—can make upward of $30,000 per month. Adam Enfroy, who started blogging about the business of blogging in 2019 as a side hustle, generated $1.5 million from his blog just two years later.
It’s not just monthly revenue that bloggers can cash in on. Marketplaces like Flippa list blogs for sale, many of which come with hefty six-figure price tags. Bloggers cash in when their creativity project is acquired.
Unfortunately, not every blogger can make millions through their website. The income potential of your blog depends on two factors:
- Your niche. Do people spend large sums of money on products in your industry? The software industry, for example, can be lucrative, since many companies pay recurring commission. Bloggers can earn small amounts each month, long after the customer made the purchase. (More on this later.)
- Your monetization strategies. Some blog monetization methods are off the table for new bloggers who want to stick to their core values—like not being paid to post content you don’t agree with. This can impact earning potential in the short term.
How long does it take to make money blogging?
Blogging is typically a side hustle people take up with the hopes that, one day, they’ll be able to quit their day jobs. Yet the length of time it takes to generate substantial income varies from blogger to blogger.
Some with an entrepreneurial mindset make their first $100 online within a few months—like Brittany Berger, founder of Work Brighter, who started earning money almost instantly. Berger created a simple, $20 digital download, which she promoted in her weekly newsletter and her newsletter signup page. “By starting that early on in the blog’s lifetime, I was able to convert a huge portion of the audience,” she says.
“I think waiting to launch something until you have a bigger audience can end up creating more pressure for yourself, so I’m glad I experimented with a small product when my audience was small.”
Mushfiq Sarkar is another blogger who started blogging on the side of his full-time job back in 2008. Though Mushfiq had no prior marketing experience, he says, “I left my job in April 2021 to focus on The Website Flip because it was growing significantly and I was more passionate about growing this website and blogging.”
Now, the blog makes significant revenue despite only being a few years old: “I launched at the peak of the pandemic in April 2020. A lot of people knew me by name, but not that I was an active blogger or someone who covered the industry. I started earning money fairly quickly—within a month or two.”
11 Ideas to make money blogging
Looking for a creative side hustle that will generate extra income? Whether you’re starting a new blog or growing an existing one, here are 11 ways to make money blogging.
1. Choose a profitable niche
A niche is a specific topic within a broad topic, such as vegan recipes. By choosing one for your blog, readers build an association with your site. They know exactly what they’ll get when visiting, improving your chances of being their first port of call when looking for advice.
“Before monetization, it’s all about quality and expertise if you want to stand out," says Mushfiq, founder of The Website Flip. "First, figure out what your niche is and why you should be writing about that, and make a persona for yourself to be who you are in that topic. Once that happens, you’ll build a following over time. Monetization follows later."
You’ll find bloggers making money in a wide variety of niches, from business software to pet accessories. Though not all niches are good ones.
A profitable blog niche meets three criteria:
- It’s something you’re skilled at and/or interested in. Blogs need a lot of consistently high-quality content to build an audience and become monetized. Not only will it be more enjoyable to blog about something you have a genuine interest in, but you’ll increase the likelihood of generating money. It’s easier to stick with a hobby we enjoy.
- Low in competition. Popular blogs, brands, or forums in your niche indicate others are making money in it. Similarly, do a Google search to assess keyword ranking difficulty. It’ll be harder to drive organic traffic if big-name brands (with even bigger marketing budgets) are dominating the first page of search results.
- Monetization potential. Look at monetization opportunities for each niche on your shortlist. Do companies in that niche pay to advertise their products on other blogs? Are there many affiliate programs that sell products in that industry? Both are telltale signs of a profitable blog niche.
2. Build an email list
To make money from your blog, you need loyal readers who value your recommendations.
One of the best ways to do this is by building an email list for your own blog. When someone opts in to hear from your blog, you’re given permission to reach readers in one place more sacred than all others: their inbox.
“Email marketing is by far the most lucrative sales channel for me. I don’t even really try to sell directly from other channels anymore, instead directing people from social media, collaborations, and SEO to my email list," says Brittany Berger, founder of WorkBrighter
Encourage blog visitors to sign up to your mailing list using a pop-up box. The goal is to make anyone visiting for the first time opt into to hearing from you using an incentive, such as:
- Free checklists
- Lists of resources or recommended products
- Blog content packaged in a PDF (such as printable recipes)
Once they’ve signed up, continue nurturing that relationship with educational or entertaining content. You’ll build an audience ready to buy products off your recommendations.
Take it from Lily Ugbaja, who initially started her blog FindingBalance.Mom “because I wanted to stay home with my son, do something I love, and still make money.”
It took Lily two weeks to make money from the blog: “I used emails to promote my products and relevant affiliate products with tripwires and Facebook groups. You add lead magnets to your site so that people sign up after reading your article. Instead of a success page, you share a one-time offer—a low-end product at a super discounted rate, $7 in my case.
Despite the blog seeing less than 1,000 monthly page views, Lily says her first month ended with over $100 and, soon after, $100 became "a few thousand" each month.
"Think of your blog as a means to an end rather than the end itself," says Lily. "Most successful bloggers monetize with products and affiliates and those streams don’t convert without serious planning. Build funnels, build backwards. Start with a product you want to sell then create blog content that supports the sales of that product."
3. Write sponsored product reviews
All businesses want social proof to show their customers that their products are worth buying. One way for them to collect that is by paying bloggers to publish reviews.
Reach out to your favorite brands and ask if they’re interested in sponsoring a review on your blog. If you use the product outside of the purpose of the review, this tactic essentially costs nothing. You’re simply getting paid to share your opinion of a product you already own.
However, this monetization strategy gets a little murky. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently fined Fashion Nova $4.2 million for suppressing negative reviews, even though—supposedly—a third-party service solicited them.
The FTC has a whole new set of guidelines that will affect ecommerce merchants and, ultimately, the bloggers they’re paying to write sponsored reviews.
Avoid landing your blog in hot water by:
- Disclosing whether you’re incentivized to write the review. If you’re being paid to publish a review, for example, include the following disclaimer in the introduction of your article: “I’ve been paid to write this review and may make a commission if you purchase this product.”
- Being honest. Share the good and the bad to help readers make an informed decision about whether they should purchase the item you’re reviewing.
4. Sell advertising placements
Companies are willing to pay bloggers for advertising placements on their websites. Lend them otherwise unused space in exchange for a fee.
There are two routes to building this income stream for your blog:
- Negotiate with companies individually. Find companies in your niche and ask if they’d be interested in advertising on your site. It’s the more time-consuming approach and you’ll need strong negotiating skills, but done well, it can net the most amount of money.
- Use an advertising network. Prefer the hands-off approach? Platforms like Google AdSense, Mediavine, and AdThrive claim space on your blog and handle the billing of advertisers. Simply embed their code on your site and get paid to show ads.
For Emily Brookes, a blogger at Emily May, display ads are the most lucrative sales channel for my blog. "Some 60% of my blog’s revenue comes from display ads," she says. "Ads make me money consistently each month, even when I haven't published any new content.”
To make advertising a substantial revenue stream for your blog, driving website traffic should be a priority.
Ad networks like Google AdSense pay per 1,000 impressions (CPM), with the average CPM for display ads falling around the $1.25 mark. The more people exposed to the adverts on your blog, the more money you’ll make.
Both Mediavine and AdThrive also require bloggers to meet minimum page-view requirements before applying to join the network. It’s an investment that’ll pay dividends in the long run. Monica Lent, founder of Not a Nomad Blog, generates the highest share of revenue through this type of blog advertising.
Afoma Umesi runs her book blog, Reading Middle Grade, on the side. “I had no experience and started blogging as a hobby before seriously deciding to monetize the site,” she says.
“I needed something passive, so I chose ads and affiliate links. I don't want to make or sell digital products or services right now and I'm not a huge fan of sponsored posts, so ads were the perfect fit. All I need is traffic.
Reading Middle Grade currently earns between $800 and $1,000 per month—three-quarters of which comes from this type of advertising. Afoma says, “Don't be afraid or ashamed to use ads. They're inconvenient for some users, but if you provide value and use them reasonably, most users barely notice the ads.”
5. Join an affiliate marketing program
Affiliate marketing is the process of recommending products to your blog’s audience. You’ll receive commission when they purchase the product using your custom link.
It’s a great revenue opportunity for bloggers, since the content you share will already be influencing their purchase decisions. Make your blog a hub for educational content and you’ll build the know, like, and trust factors needed to make a sale.
The beauty of affiliate marketing is that you don’t need to create your own products. Plug into an existing ecommerce business and become a virtual salesperson for them. There’s no need to worry about producing marketing materials, shipping products, or dealing with customer service.
To make money blogging using this method, join an affiliate marketing network like ShareASale, AWIN, or ClickBank. Browse available programs in your industry, apply to join them, build custom links, and track affiliate revenue through the dashboard.
You can also search for high-ticket affiliate programs from merchants selling expensive products, such as electronics, jewelry, or software. Bloggers earn sizable checks when recommending those items to readers. Shopify affiliates, for example, earn 100% commission on the first two payments of any subscription plan.
6. Offer services
A natural byproduct of building your audience means more people associate your name with the blog topics you write about. That’s a great way to build authority—something people look for when hiring people to complete a service.
“If you’re in the B2B space like me, consulting is a big revenue generator. If you have some expertise and people are genuinely reading your content, what kind of consulting can you do for them? It’s a high revenue, low commitment way to make money blogging," says Mushfiq, founder of The Website Flip
While running a service-based business is time consuming, it can be a quick way to make money online. Demand a higher hourly rate, and find high-paying clients, by using your blog content as a way to demonstrate your expertise.
Examples of services you can sell alongside your blog include:
- Consulting services
- Graphic design
- Freelance writing
- Virtual assistance
- Classes or workshops
Save time scheduling appointments and taking payments with apps like Acuity and Calendly. Promote your service through the blog—be that a standalone landing page or display ad in your sidebar—and start booking new clients.
Related: 12 Things to Sell on Shopify (Other than Physical Products)
7. Sell digital products
Digital products are a more scalable way to make money by selling things alongside your blog. Unlike service-based businesses, you don’t exchange time for money. And, unlike selling physical products, there’s no shipping or manufacturing costs.
You can create digital products once and sell an infinite number of them via your blog—hence the phrase “build once, sell twice.”
- “I decided to add printables—and soon other digital products—to diversify my income and put more control in my own hands. So far, I let readers decide how much they’d like to pay for my printables, which is why revenue numbers haven’t been crazy. However, I have clocked over 800 downloads, so I’m quite proud of that.” —Dylan Houlihan, founder of Swift Salary
Figure out what digital products your audience would buy using a reader survey with the question, “What problem do you need help with that the blog isn’t already solving for you?” Answers can unveil ideas you can package and sell as:
- Online courses
Benjamin Houy has been running the blog French Together full time for eight years. Part of the blog’s monetization strategy includes digital products—particularly the French course, which drives 90% of the blog’s revenue.
“Ads and affiliate links can be great monetization strategies depending on the niche, but creating a product is both easier and more profitable than most bloggers think,” Benjamin says. “Your product doesn't have to be the absolute best product ever when you launch it, it just has to be something your audience will find genuinely useful and will be happy to pay for.
“Selling your own product is amazing because you get to improve it based on people's feedback and you don't have to worry about affiliate programs being discontinued or more and more people using ad blockers.”
8. Sell physical products
Does your blog have a cult following? Loyal readers of a blog quickly become raving fans, eager to support their favorite influencer. Help them do that—while also generating income for your blog—by selling physical products.
The print-on-demand model works well for small blogging businesses since you only pay manufacturing costs when a reader purchases a product. There’s no excess inventory, storage fees, or high upfront costs when bulk manufacturing products.
Use a service like Printful or Printify to create custom merchandise, such as:
- Tote bags
- Phone cases
Looking for inspiration? Her First $100K sells merchandise with messaging its target reader supports. You’ll see phrases the blog is known for, like “Smash the Patriarchy” and “Financial Feminist,” on branded tote bags and t-shirts.
Prefer something more hands-on? Start your first online store and treat your blog’s audience as your initial customer base.
One of the world’s most infamous beauty brands came to life thanks to the founder’s blog. Emily Weiss shared beauty tips on her blog, Into The Gloss, and built an audience of loyal fans. She later developed a skin care line that served the blog’s readership. That was the starting point for Glossier—a beauty brand now valued at over $1 billion.
Richard Belton is another entrepreneur who took this approach. He’s been blogging about maple syrup on his blog, Kaito Ridge, for almost eight years, using the site as a way to generate income through Amazon affiliate commission.
However, Richard recently switched his blog monetization strategy—and took control of the site’s income potential—by starting his first Shopify store. “I’m in the process of directing my articles, blog posts, and informational posts to link to my own Shopify store and reduce reliance on Amazon,” he says.
Read more: How You Can Make Passive Income in 2022
9. Create a membership community
Give your most engaged readers a VIP experience—one they have to pay a small fee in exchange for.
This type of community is an important part of social connection—something especially important in a world becoming increasingly online-first. Not only have communities shown to improve mental health, but 52% of shoppers will spend more on brands (or blogs) with shared values.
Take it from Michael Keenan, who runs a membership community alongside the Peak Freelance blog: “If you want a consistent revenue stream for your blogging efforts, create a membership program. You can offer exclusive content like handbooks and courses, special offers—even a Slack channel like the one we offer for Peak Freelance members.
“Set up your membership fees on a monthly or yearly basis. Provide a small discount for those who pay yearly. This gives you a nice cash injection you can use to develop new content and products for members.”
10. Monetize YouTube videos
Have you joined an affiliate program in an attempt to monetize your blog? Expand your reach—and subsequently, your income streams—by diversifying the content you create. Let's dive into the different ways to make money on Youtube as an expansion of your blog content.
Add video marketing to your list to maximize affiliate commission. Some 88% of people have been convinced to buy something after watching a branded video. Make that your tutorial, review, or haul and you’ll get rewarded when a viewer purchases off the back of your recommendation.
Increase the dollars you earn through your blog by treating each piece of content like the foundation of a video script. Record yourself talking about the same topic, then edit the video and upload it to YouTube.
The bloggers behind A Beautiful Mess, for example, published a YouTube video that demonstrates how to create built-in shelves. The video description directs people to the blog write-up, which contains affiliate links to the products used in the tutorial.
This strategy works for several reasons. First, not everyone enjoys reading online content. Some people prefer to watch videos. You’re potentially alienating thousands of people by only producing written text.
Secondly, Google and YouTube are the two most popular search engines in the world. Sharing content to both platforms increases the likelihood of your target reader finding it—and therefore, purchasing products you’re an affiliate of.
For some queries, Google’s algorithm pulls YouTube videos in the search engine results page (SERP). The first thing you’ll see on the SERP for “how to groom your dog at home,” for example, is a YouTube video on the topic.
The best part? An active YouTube channel expands your revenue opportunities.
The platform comes with its own set of monetization features, including the YouTube Partner program, which is available to vloggers with more than 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours. Once enrolled, YouTube will display advertisements before your video loads. You’ll get paid every time a viewer watches it—a nice way to supplement your blog income.
Read more: YouTube Affiliate Marketing: 7 Pro Tips to Earn Extra Income
11. Produce a podcast and get a sponsor
Speaking of alternative formats, podcasts are more popular than ever. More than half of US consumers have listened to a podcast—up from 33% in 2015.
But episodes don’t just fill time on morning commutes. Studies show that 53% of listeners will search online for more information after hearing about a product through podcast sponsorships. Another 35% will spark a conversation with a friend about the item in question. Both points make them attractive propositions for brands looking to expand their reach.
Capitalize on your audience’s attention by producing your own podcast. Record yourself talking about a topic in your niche and syndicate each episode to a streaming platform like Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
Reach out to brands in your niche with sponsorship opportunities. Sell ad space and give companies a shortcut to reach their target audience in exchange for a sponsorship fee.
This podcast revenue calculator shows a blogger with:
- 10,000 episode downloads
- Four new episodes each month
- Two adverts (one pre-roll)
…can add upward of $16,000 per year in revenue.
The downside to this podcast approach is that it can be costly—both in terms of time and money. It takes time to build a relationship with a new audience. You’ll also need equipment, such as a high-quality microphone and editing software, to produce the podcast itself.
But get it right and there’s the potential to add another lucrative revenue stream to your blogging business.
Turn your blog into a money maker
Building a blogging business isn’t a linear process. The best revenue generator depends on your niche, relationship with your audience, and content formats you’re producing. Focus first on building great content and a loyal readership, and then experiment with these monetization tactics.