Between outdated information and just the huge amount of articles out there, it can be really hard to know where to start or know what really works when it comes to monetizing your blog. There are some general things I hear over and over again, that really just aren’t true. Let’s take a deeper dive into these 3 big myths about how to make money blogging.
*This post contains some affiliate links. Please see my Policies page for more information.
Myth #1 / The only way of making money is through display advertising
In the early days of blogging, selling display ad space on your site was often all you needed to do in order to make some decent dough. Bloggers could just throw the ads up there, focus solely on content, and call it a day. Sadly nowadays though, display advertising doesn’t pay much. Even if you test out all kinds of different spots on your blog and put up a zillion ads, you still aren’t going to make an income you can live off of, unless you have crazy high traffic (we’re talking hundreds of thousands of page views a month, or into the millions ++).
So, it’s all about getting smart and diversifying. I started out just with display advertising and still use it a bit (even if it doesn’t make much – it’s still so nice and passive!), but I have focused over the last year on creating other revenue streams that are strong. And now I’m making an income that actually pays our bills.
You need to tap into affiliate marketing that is done in a way that is actually going to convert into sales. If you want to work with brands, you need to know how to pitch them successfully and charge a fair fee. You need to think bigger picture and come up with a strategy to develop a product or service that you can sell through your blog. Rather than your blog being the be-all-and-end-all, you need to think about it as a marketing tool for your larger brand.
Myth #2 / You can only make money as a blogger if you have huge traffic.
Obviously having a higher readership is going to be good for your revenue streams as a blogger. There is no doubt. But you know what? It really isn’t ALL about traffic. If you are using outdated monetization strategies and relying solely on display advertising, then yeah, traffic is going to be the only way to increase your income. But if you are diversifying your revenue streams, working with brands that are paying you fairly, using affiliate marketing in an effective way, and using your blog as a marketing vehicle to sell products and/or services, then you don’t need huge numbers to make a good income.
When I started working with brands I had no idea how to pitch and what to charge, and was doing work for waaaaay too little. Even if your traffic isn’t huge, if you have cultivated an engaged and targeted audience and produce beautiful content, that is going to be super valuable to brands. Head over to this post about how to pitch brands sponsored posts.
If you are smart about how to use affiliate marketing in a way that doesn’t feel sales-y and are able to integrate it into a lot of your blog and social media content (particularly blog posts that are going to be popular and evergreen), then you can convert that into sales even if your numbers aren’t high. Some of my favourite affiliate programs are: Affiliate Window (they have Etsy!), Share-a-Sale (they have Joss & Main, Land of Nod, One King’s Lane, Shutterfly, etc), Amazon, and RewardStyle (this one can be harder to get into – but they have sooo many brands, including Target).
I was able to introduce a small product line of art prints when my readership was still under 50K page views a month and market it in a way that meant I was making about $1K a month (net profit) just from that stream. It depends on the product of course, but Etsy is a great spot to start an online shop.
If you want to introduce a service, sometimes all you need is to book out 1-2 clients a month in order to meet your revenue goals. You don’t need huge numbers for that.
Honestly, it’s not ALL about traffic. If you are smart about your monetization strategies from the beginning, you can make money. And then as you also work on growing your blog and see your traffic grow, inevitably your overall revenue will too!
[Side note – The game changer for me that totally helped grow my traffic in a huge way? Taking Melyssa’s Pinfinite Growth course. Definitely an investment, but SO WORTH IT. Seriously can’t recommend it enough.]
Myth #3 / It takes a lot of time and money to create a product line or service
I know that creating a product or coming up with a service to sell seems overwhelming and like a huge amount of work. And I’m not going to pretend that it isn’t – you do need to hustle and work damn hard to turn your blog into a thriving biz. But here’s the thing. It is also totally do-able. I promise.
I bet that you are spending oodles of time creating amazing content for your blog, doing outreach on social media, and sharing your work all over the place right now, right? But with smart systems in place to do those tasks more efficiently (hello, social media scheduling and batch-working!), cutting out the things that don’t provide a return on investment, and re-focusing some of that time toward product creation or providing a service, you might be surprised at how much you can actually get done. You need to have a business plan, set goals, and be strategic about how to get there.
And as for the monetary investment? There are so many product ideas and services you can come up with that cost either nothing or very little to get started (see this post for a big ol’ list of ideas!). From third party fulfillment products, digital products, and online services, there are lots of avenues you can explore. The best thing is to start small and test the waters, then scale up as required (you need to have a plan for scale-ability!).
I started my Etsy shop with a $20 investment and slowly figured out what did and didn’t sell. I went through a few different product ideas before finally landing on something that sold. It took some time and trial and error, but I now have a product line that sells both on Etsy and wholesale to boutique shops across Canada and the U.S. without requiring a crazy amount of time by me.
Does monetizing your blog feel more attainable? I hope so.
Let me know below what you’re still struggling with. Have a blog monetization question you want answered? Hit me with it!
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