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The Constant Battle of Monetizing a Blog

monetize your blogA blog is a great medium to make money online and that is why many of us start it in the first place, but as time goes on, we realize the importance of building trust by giving away free information and how this is very critical to succeeding as a blogger, we go on to give this free information, get side-tracked, and later find it difficult to monetize our blog.

I know there are a lot of arguments on this and not everybody will agree with me but I’m writing this post from my experience of building a successful blog.

My blog doesn’t make me much money (sorry if you believe otherwise) and I know many people with less traffic than I have making several thousands of dollars every month. The reason for this is not because of any other thing but my approach – my approach to blogging and making money online.

This battle is a real battle and I’m sorry to say, many people will die in the midst of it and only a select few will be able to survive – those who will survive will only survive because of two things, either because they got things right or because of their strong passion for their blog.

The truth is, it is not too late, changes can still be made, and that blog of yours bringing in nothing can be putting food on your table, consistently. But the solution doesn’t lie in writing or building more traffic but in realizing your mistakes and working on fixing it.

I’m a victim of this situation myself and I’m a soldier in this battle, I so much love my blog but I got tired of trying to monetize it so I decided to compile a list of some of the best ways to monetize a blog while weighing their pros and cons, from this I was able to discover the approach I want to be using and I’d like to share it with you too.

1. Product Creation

This is probably the best way to monetize a blog and many people have turned internet millionaires by using this approach, however, it’s important for you to realize that no matter how powerful, there is nothing that has advantages without disadvantages.

Pros

You are in control – you make the sale, you determine what you want people to see, you determine how you want people to see it, you determine if you want affiliates and you determine how you want them to be paid.

Little Production Cost – I’d like you to know that the production cost depends on the type of product you create. You’ll have to spend more if you create a physical book rather than an ebook. However, if you decide to go the digital route, it only takes creating your product, setting up your website and payment system, and boom, you’re already making money online. Creating your own product is often cost-free, it mostly requires you sacrificing your time (or a little money if you don’t have much skills).

Opportunity for Recurring Income – Depending on the type of product you create, another advantage of creating your own product is that you have an opportunity to earn recurring income from your efforts. For example, you can easily create a paid forum, a membership site or a continuity program that requires the user to keep on paying on a monthly basis.

Lifetime Income Opportunity – You own your own product so you can determine when to stop. It’s easy for a marketer to discontinue affiliates promoting a product or take the product off the market and this can have a great effect on affiliates promoting the product, it is also possible for sponsors to stop sponsoring you but you’re the only one who can determine whether you want to stop your own product or not.

Cons

It Takes Time – If you’re planning to give your best, creating a product takes time. Creating a great, value-packed ebook can take months and creating a solid membership site can take years (depending one who you are).

Dealing With Changes – Creating your own product also exposes you to dealing with various types of changes in relation to your product. Most products that are relevant last year are no longer relevant and it is the duty of the creator to make sure the program is updated.

Handling Customer Support – I plan to launch my first product when I’m at least 10 times bigger than I am now. I get bored with dealing with emails nowadays and if not for the high number of guest posts I write I’d stop using email (I’m so sorry to say that). Take a look at this, how do you think everything will be when I launch my own product with support from so many powerful affiliates, this will require a large percentage of my time to deal with customer requests and can take the whole of my day, if care is not taken.

Promoting Your Product – Everyone can create a product but not everyone can make money creating products. It’s one thing to create a product and it’s another thing to promote it and make sure it gets the best attention. Getting traffic to the free info on your blog can be quite a task, let alone getting traffic to a product people have to pay for.

Seeing that this approach takes a lot of effort I’m certain it’s not the way for me to go now.

2. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is another great way to make money online and it also has its pros and cons. Many people see affiliate marketing as too easy while many people see it as too complex, if you ask me what it is I’ll tell you it depends solely on your knowledge of the subject. I’ll also like you to know that making money online from affiliate marketing is not about the traffic you have but your knowledge and application of the subject.

Pros

It Can be a Huge Time-saver (Very Good for Lazy People – Like Me 🙂 ) – A major benefit of affiliate marketing is that it is a huge time-saver. Creating your own product requires you to spend time and money but affiliate marketing doesn’t require that, it only requires you to drive traffic to your affiliate link and begin to make sales.

No Worries about Customer Support – Another great advantage of monetizing your blog via affiliate marketing is that it eliminates all your worries about offering customer support. You don’t need to bother about people asking you for help on the product purchased, all you need to do is gain their trust and recommend the product, every other thing has to do with the product creator.

100% Risk Free – When talking about creating your own product there’s very little probability of you selling it and in cases like this your investment can be wasted. As far as affiliate marketing is concerned there won’t be any waste since there is often no investment.

Opportunity for Passive Income – Affiliate marketing is one of the best income sources that provides the opportunity for passive income. Offering services on your blog has no opportunity for passive income and often brings about inconvenience on your part, affiliate marketing doesn’t.

More Income Potential – Unlike in creating your own product, the person who created the product you’re marketing would have done the market research necessary and most often would have spent enough on building a brand for their product thereby making it easier for you to earn more money.

Cons

You need traffic – The number one major concern of an affiliate marketer is traffic. Traffic sells and if you don’t have it you can’t make sales, but if you have abundant of it you won’t find it difficult making sales.

It is Complex in Most Cases – Yeah! That’s one major disadvantage of affiliate marketing because it requires you building trust with your readers. Your readers will hardly buy from you if they don’t trust you so building trust as an affiliate marketer is very important.

It’s Easy to Lose Sales – Unlike creating your own product in which every sales will come directly to you you’re more likely to lose sales as an affiliate marketer depending on the number of people recommending the product so it is important to make sure your readers buy from you by improving your affiliate copy.

3. Banner Advertisement

This is the old and most used way of monetizing a blog, however it has its own advantages and disadvantages.

It is A Quick Way to Make Some Bucks – I’ve turned down countless opportunities to display advertisement on this blog and I still get emails from advertisers. If you have an audience, displaying banner ads on your blog is one of the easiest and sure-fire way to monetize your blog.

Little Effort From Your Part – Many people won’t agree with me but from experience I don’t see any reason in monetizing your blog with banner ads when you don’t have an audience. If you get some significant traffic you should already be getting emails from advertisers, and in most cases, the only thing you need to do is display the ads on your blog.

Cons

No worthwhile income – Especially if you’re a small blogger, it’s very difficult to make any worthwhile income from displaying ads so it is very important to spend more time on other income sources.

Some Readers Don’t Like It – I know you might yell at those readers and tell them to go to hell, but believe me, many people don’t like it. Take a look at Wikipedia and you would see people paying millions just to make it ad-free. As long as you’re providing value people are always ready to buy from you, patronize your service etc.

4. Joint Ventures

Another great way to make money online is by utilizing joint ventures, you’ll be able to partner with another person to create a product and both of you will use your collective influence to make it a success.

Pros

Very Effective and Quality Product – We’re talking about making money and monetizing a blog, why should you care about a product’s quality? This is because the better a product is, the more sales you’ll make and the less refunds you will get thereby leading to more income. Since two heads are better than one and you’re combining your knowledge with another person’s to develop a product (e.g. a software developer and an internet marketer), it will be easier to release the best to the market.

More Income Potential – Since you will promote the product using your collective influence, network, audience etc. it is easier to get more sales and traction for your product.

Cons

Difficult in Most Cases – Except you’re living together or you’re brothers it’s often difficult to get along with a complete stranger and build your life on your collective effort. If you partner with someone who can’t be trusted it can cost you several thousands of dollars.

You Have to Share The Income – In most cases the amount you see is not what you’ll get. You can be happy that you made a million dollars in sales but at the end not all the money will belong to you.

No Certain Future – You should have read about partners having to split. Another great disadvantage of partnering with someone is that your views about the product can change and this can lead to conflict and eventually having to split.

5. Paid Reviews

Another way to make money from your site is by charging people for paid reviews.

Attractive Income – Depending on your audience the income you get from writing paid reviews can be very attractive. You can make anything ranging from $50-$1000+ for reviewing a product. You can also collect physical products or lifetime access to a particular service.

Very Easy to Do – In most cases the company will give you what to write and if they don’t it is very easy for you to write the review so this takes a very little percentage of your time.

Cons

It is Easy to Lose Trust – Another thing about writing paid reviews is that it is very easy for you to lose your trust with your readers if they see what you reviewed to be of low quality so it’s very important to be careful with what you review.

You Need Traffic – Another thing with writing paid reviews is that you’ll need traffic to get great and paying offers.

6. Getting Sponsorship

This particular model is being used by most of the top blogs online such as, Lifehacker, Business Insider and ReadWriteWeb. There are several advantages of using this model and they’re listed below.

Can Be Very Effective – One great advantage of monetizing your blog by getting sponsorships is that it can be very effective because your sponsors will take care of all your expenses thereby making sure you have enough funds.

Cons

It is Often Difficult to Get Sponsors – In most cases it is very difficult to get sponsors so this particular model is beyond reach for everybody.

You Must Be Recognized – If you take a look at Lifehacker or ReadWriteWeb you’ll notice that those blogs are recognized for their great brand and the quality they provide and they have tons of traffic, subscribers and followers so it is very easy for them to get sponsors.

Sponsor Instability – Another problem with this model is that sponsors can be unstable if they’ve gotten what they want or they see that your blog is not providing what they need thereby leaving you to look for other ways to monetize your blog.

7. Offer Services

Another great way to monetize your blog is by offering services. This model is used by some of the top blogs and can be very effective compared to other models.

Pros

Easy to Get Clients – You don’t need a gazillion visitors to be able to make money by offering services on your blog and you’ll notice big blogs like Problogger and Copyblogger are not doing this because they get more than enough clients. You only need a small audience that trust you to succeed with this model.

Great Income Potential – If you’re planning to offer services like consulting, marketing advice and the likes it’s easy for you to make great income from your blog because these services cost hundreds of dollars so you’ll only need a few clients to make serious money.

Recurring Service Potential – If you do this well and your readers love what they get there’s every probability they’ll use your services in the future and recommend it to their friends.

Cons

You Need Traffic – A major disadvantage of this model is that you can’t setup a blog today and expect people to use your services, you need traffic to make money offering services.

You Need Trust – When trying to make money by offering services you need to build trust with your readers before they can use your services – they won’t give their hard-earned cash to someone they don’t trust.

Income is Not Passive – Another disadvantage of this model is that there’s no passive income opportunity – once you stop working, you stop earning.

It Takes Time – Offering services on your blog requires your time and this sometimes leads to inconvenience on your part. There are different time zones in the world so you and your clients have to agree. You also have to dedicate hours of your day to satisfy your clients.

Over to You

Have you ever tried monetizing your blog? How do you go about it? What do you think about this post? Feel free to share your views below. I’ll also appreciate you sharing this post on your favorite social media sites.

Image by: Shutterstock

27 Comments on "The Constant Battle of Monetizing a Blog"

  1. Excellent way of summing up the various ways to monetize, and I agree that “selling” something via affiliate or your own product is the way to make the most money in the end.

    Services is a tough sell for people who blog part time as it requires time and investment that many part time bloggers don’t have, most people who need support need it during M-F business hours when you are doing your day job. This is why I rarely give consulting/support but I do on occasion and do my work on weekends or nights only when I do.

    Passive income can be good but it all depends on traffic of the site and how much you consider “good income” I recently ran into a site that gets over $1,000 per month in AdSense (for real not a scam) and they were looking at selling banner ads to clients too. They don’t ever plan on selling a product directly or affiliate promotion.

    I particularly am not a huge fan of the affiliate marketing and was considering learning PHP so I can make a WordPress plugin or something that was worth selling for a small amount. Yet so many plugins are free, it is hard to justify selling a plugin.

    • Onibalusi says:

      Exactly Justin,

      Offering services can be a great source of income but is one of the most difficult models, it involves you sacrificing a large percentage of your time.

      Concerning selling a plugin, I think it depends on how your plugin works. It won’t be effective to create a plugin that has already saturated the market but you will easily make more money if you create something unique and totally different.

      Thanks so much for the unique and insightful comment,
      -Onibalusi

  2. Lye Kuek Hin says:

    Hi Oni,

    There are plenty of ways to monetize your site/blog. Which is the best way really depends, as you have mentioned, traffic, trust, and credibility all play a part. Therefore, we need to judge according to the standing we are now to decide which monetization method should we start working on.

    All the methods you listed above are the most popular monetization people used to make money. Regardless of any methods we use, it’s “we” who can make it succeed or fail.

    Thanks for sharing this great post.

    Lye

  3. William Veasley says:

    Hey Oni,

    Awesome, awesome, awesome article dude! The only way I have any experience in monetizing a blog is through google adsense. I barely made any money cause I didn’t build a steady flow of traffic. Wish I could help more!

    I’m sure to keep a eye on this post so I won’t miss all the great advice!

    Thanks for the post bro!

    God bless,
    William Veasley

  4. Richard says:

    Hi Oni,
    I like this list and the way you analyze the different ways of monetizing a blog. You’ve basically hit on the broad categories of how to do it. Probably either affiliate marketing or creating your own product have the best potential when you balance the pros and cons.

  5. A very detailed overview on the most widely used monetization methods. You have covered some really interesting points there Oni. Even though creating your own product and selling it might be the most profitable of them all, considering the time and nerves that it takes, I would prefer going with something simpler less time consuming. In my opinion affiliate marketing is just the thing to choose. Not much is required there, except for good traffic figures as you mentioned. I plan on implementing that one in the near future. Seeing other sites’ stats makes me think that you can make far more money that with advertisement services such as AdSense.

  6. Rahul @Mazakaro says:

    oni, nice blog title! yes, it’s really a battle to earn money from writing, blogging etc. you’ve explained vastly and clearly. any readers can understand it all and get the best benefit. among all paid review seems very attractive income source. and thanks for all the information you’ve given us here.

  7. Samuel says:

    Awesome post bro. Before monetizing your blog, you need to think on the best monetization strategies you are going to use. I love the idea of services, all you need to do is to make sure you do a great job for your clients. Great post once again. Thanks for sharing. Have fun.

    • Hi Samuel

      Services can bring in good income, but remember you are exchanging time for money, unless you outsourcing the work. It depends on what you are looking for. Services tend to tie you down.

  8. Patricia says:

    Hi Oni

    Yet again a real quality post. I like the way you list the pros and cons of all the different ways to monetize and get an income from different sources.

    Writing for others if you enjoy writing can be a good source of income too. For me long term I would like to do an ebook as I have had visitors to my site ask about that one. Also I have begun selling sourced products through an Etsy store as well as locally off-line.

    I took awhile to source the products as they had to fit with my ethos and my small niche blog. Now I have found them I am starting to see sales. Will take awhile to get the word out as I am not doing hard sell. Just product reviews and blog posts.

    Selling offline has been easier and those sales are steady. Got lots of ideas for getting the word out locally and hopefully combined with my online store will see reasonable sales of my sourced products. Thanks for sharing Oni.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    Patricia Perth Australi

  9. Amudhan says:

    Simply superb. For beginners in blogging like me it is a marvellous guidance. I have copied the post on my desktop. I will read it everyday. Choosing the right type of monetization is really a critical job.

  10. Hi Oni,
    In a nutshell, you’ve laid out why so many folks new to online marketing struggle to make any money. Like anything else, building a successful blog takes time, knowledge, effort and little good fortune. Trial and error plus persistence pays off in the end. Thank you for a great post!
    cheers

  11. Eleazar says:

    I think, testing monetization strategy is not a short-term business, it is a continuous process of finding what is best. And all of these model are great for newbies to learn. But whatever model I will use, I need to have a trusted and authority resource site first before money comes in.

  12. harvestwages says:

    Hello Oni,
    I’ve been waiting for this post.
    Monetizing a blog isn’t easy as most people think. When i just started as an internet marketer, i thought once i have a blog the money gets in. I was shocked on the result i got after 5 months of work. The results weren’t encouraging, but i couldn’t give up too soon. My Google adsense reports were poor; i didn’t make up to $20.What motivated me the more was when a company contacted me for sponsorship. they wanted to display an advert on my blogroll for a year. That’s what triggered my hope in internet business.

    I believe the best way of earning with blogs is through sponsorship. The only difficulty is in having a sponsor; yet it’s easy when we have quality content and natural traffic.
    I encourage all blogging newbies to start from geniune content and natural traffic, then the internet will do the rest.

    Question for you: which monetizing technique works best on your blog?

  13. Okoji says:

    This is great Onibalusi, I used to have a lot of google ads on my blog before now, and the other day I read similar article somewhere online.

    I move many of them and I thing it is better now.

    Thank you,
    Okoji

  14. Lisa says:

    Thanks for all the great information, I’m new to SEO and blogging and can use all the help I can get.

  15. Hey Oni!

    Great overview of the monetization strategies available to internet entrepreneurs!

    Just some quick info – about Ads, Affiliate Marketing and Banners. I think that if you’re going to use any of these strategies to monetize, whether they are your ads or sponsored, you should make sure that the ads, banners, etc are relevant to your target audience.

    I’ve seen many blogs out there that are SEO and Internet Marketing niche blogs that have ads and banners promoting things that are completely off topic, such as fitness equipment.

    I am not saying that is completely the wrong thing to do (it works for some people,I’m sure) but it definitely confuses your readers and lowers any possible conversions.

  16. Kalen says:

    Thanks Onibalusi. I am glad you didn’t mention Adsense. This is far less effective than anything else but I guess it is still a supplementary income source. One other thing with affiliates is that you have to be careful which ones you work with. If you promote a product from an unethical company you will probably get a bad reputation yourself.

  17. Dear Oni

    I enjoy your articles, very informative, simple, and clear.

    One of the key things I’ve learnt with regards to monetizing a blog is this CTPM – Content, Traffic, Pre sell, and then Monetize.

    Create good content
    Build your traffic
    Write good articles that presell to your vistors
    then monetize…

    There are some good tools on the market that help you do that see http://www.davida-yemi-akanle.com/best-web-site-builder.html

    Its good to be a bit more strategic in selecting a monetization strategy, as some one mentioned earlier you really need to know your niche market, be able to target them and test the strategy on a small scale, before rolling it out big time.

    Can’t wait to read your next post.

    Bless

    Davida

  18. Alison Jones says:

    Hi Oni

    This is another great post and a succinct and detailed explanation of the best ways to make money from a blog. All these ways will help you to make money from a blog abd the thing that will make more money is to get more traffic. I’m forwarding this post to all my friends so you’ll get more traffic today.

    Steve

  19. Iroko@Cheap Laptops Deals says:

    This really the sum total of how to make money from your online presence, though I have found some really difficult to achieve, there was even a time I remove banner ads from my blog, I think I should just make use of this tips, thanks!

  20. Tej Kohli says:

    Yeah Oni you are right , here are few points you had mentioned can improve your earning with your blogs , But I had seen much of the banner and adverting on many Blogs . In my suggestion choosing the right Banner Advertising and less and changing it frequently can make sense , what you think

  21. Fabrizio Van Marciano says:

    Great post very insightful thank for posting. With the majority of these you ultimately need traffic, nicely put.

  22. Amudhan says:

    I have read many articles regarding “internet money making opportunities”, but the author of this post has given a clear and concise explanation of various internet money making opportunities. Regarding providing free information, I think we can better tie it up with some purchase like, buy one tool and get one free tutorial or an e Book. My heartfelt thanks to the author for this excellentpost

  23. Well explained.Right now I only monetize my blog through PPC which is not so good. I need to diversify my income sources.

  24. Amudhan says:

    I have read many articles regarding “internet money making opportunities”, but the author of this post has given a clear and concise explanation of various internet money making opportunities. Regarding providing free information, I think we can better tie it up with some purchase like, buy one tool and get one free tutorial or an e Book. My heartfelt thanks to the author for this excellentpost

  25. Jym @ Blog Traffic says:

    You covered those options very well Oni! I’m really interested in this area since I’m at the stage of wanting to monetize my blog effectively.

    Nothing to add to any of those strategies, but another one to consider is adding a network Marketing opportunity on the back end of your blog.

    Especially if you’re in some kind of IM niche, this can be a very natural progression and opens up the potential for some serious long term residual income…

Onibalusi

Welcome! I'm Bamidele Onibalusi, a young writer and blogger. I believe writers are unique and highly talented individuals that should be given the respect they deserve. This blog offers practical advice to help you become truly in charge of your writing career.

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