4 Ways To Make Your Blog Pay Real Money

blog for moneyWriting a popular blog, getting famous, and then living off the Internet from a desert island beach are faily common dreams for many aspiring bloggers. With the advent of content management systems such as WordPress which make it incredibly easy to get a professional looking websites up and running in no time - full of sophisticated features –  the only thing really holding you back is your talent. “It’s too difficult to set up a website” really isn’t an excuse anymore. For your consideration then, here are 4 of the most popular ways to make your blogging pay.
This is a preview of my upcoming free MakeUseOf guide, a full manual of everything you need to know about blog monetization, due for release in a few months time (just as soon as I get around to actually finishing it!).

Banner Advertising

The most common form of website monetization today, online ads have never had a particular good public perception: from malicious Javascript injection to autoplaying videos, content-blocking popups and user activity tracking – many users are turning to Adblock plugins to declutter their web experience. Large ad networks such as Google Adsense are very easy to implement, and produce a pretty reliable income proportional to the number of visitors. If you’d like more control over your ads though – ensuring only relevant content is shown to your readers – the BuySellAds network is perfect for bloggers.
As well as being able to approve every ad before it’s displayed, and set your own pricing strategies (a fixed monthly cost, or traditional pay-per-click), you will also have the benefit of being listed in the directory from which advertisers can choose appropriate sites. The end result – content appropriate ads that users won’t feel the need to block.
blog for money

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing refers to the practice of linking to products or services in exchange for a small kickback when users purchase or sign up, through you. Typically it involves using a trackable customised link, and some programs such as Amazon will even place a cookie on the user’s browser for a certain number of days, so that you will be paid even if the purchase isn’t immediate or the user goes on to purchase additional items than the one you specifically linked to.
While this sounds like easy money, the truth is that affiliate marketing is very difficult
blog make money online

Donations & Flattr

Flattr is an easy way to accept micropayment type donations without having to ask for users payment details. The Flattr button is placed in a similar way to a Facebook Like or Tweet button; subscribers to the Flattr service contribute a self determined amount to their Flattr account each month. As they go about their Internet travels, they click the Flattr button for sites or articles they have appreciated; then at the end of the month their funds are divided up equally to all the sites they “flattered”.
Given that the number of Flattr users is still quite small and the amount given from a single Flattr is likely to be less than a dollar anyway, you shouldn’t expect to make a huge amount with this. Still, if you’re the type of blogger producing content that users are vocal about thanking you for, it can’t hurt to add just another button to your social icons at the bottom of every post, and it may at least pay for your hosting. It also has the added advantage of being non-intrusive, and AdBlock users may actually seek out Flattr buttons to reward sites they enjoy.
blog make money online

Sponsored Blogging

Entry requirements are strict, but sponsored blogging platforms such as SocialSpark allow influential bloggers to receive free gadgets and goods in exchange for positive reviews, as well as the basic paid blog post. You have to actually write the review of course, typically contain a certain number of keywords and links, but the advertisers pay reliably and you can expect anywhere from $5-$50 per post. Blogs with a higher PageRank and greater traffic garner the best offers, naturally.
Angela wrote about a number of other sponsored blog opportunities back in 2010, most of which are still operational.
blog make money online
Of course, this may not be something that your readership appreciates, and some users user will be quite offended by the idea of advertising disguised as content. Be sure to only accept offers from services relevant to your readers, and try to differentiate it from regular articles with a standout paragraph or note.

Traffic Should Be Your Priority

Before you jump onto any of the methods outlined, be warned that nothing will actually generate revenue unless you have a good flow of traffic already visiting your site. In fact, it may even be harmful to start monetizing your blog too early, as many forms of online advertising will put off visitors, driving them to the back button faster than you can say CPC.
If you’re hitting less than 1,000 page-views a day, I’d say it’s simply not worth bothering yet. If you have no idea how much traffic you’re getting, be sure to read through Ryan’s quick guide on using the new Google Analytics features.
blog for money

No worries if your site isn’t quite up to scratch yet though – now would be a great time to read though my 8 proven tips to make your blog popular. By the time you’re done implementing them, my full monetization guide will have been released!
Do you have any other great monetization ideas? I’d really love to hear about them in the comments (no affiliate links please). What is your experience with the methods I outlined here – have you found one in particular to be more effective?