4 Bulletproof Strategies for Making Money on Your Blog

You spend insane hours on your blog — don’t you think you ought to make some money from it? Yah — of course! Well, I’m here to tell you that there are many more ways to fund your blogging than just Google Ads. I want to show you the 4 most solid, bulletproof ways you can make money on your blog.

  1. Advertise as an Affiliate

    Many products out there offer some kind of affiliate program — the idea behind becoming an affiliate is that you promote other people’s products and get commission payments for each sale. The thing that’s great about becoming an affiliate is that you can promote products that you actually believe in and use.

    The downside to becoming an Affiliate advertiser is that sometimes these products don’t convert all that well for your audience … Since you don’t get paid unless a sale is made, it can be a bit more risky. However, in my experience, if you promote quality products that your audience is actually interested in, you’ll see decent conversions.

    Signing up for Affiliate Programs is typically pretty easy — you’ll usually find the link to a product’s affiliate program on the footer of its landing page (although that can obviously vary). When I started adding more affiliate links to my site, I found it fairly difficult to manage all of them so I wrote a WordPress plugin called Pretty Link Pro. Many of the top affiliates out there are now using Pretty Link Pro to manage and track the usage of their affiliate links — it simplifies things by allowing you to choose how your affiliate links appear (cloaking) and have some unbiased and centralized tracking.

  2. Sell Ad Space on your Site

    If you have enough traffic coming to your site you can actually sell ad space on your blog. There’s a really good plugin for WordPress called OIO Publisher that will give you the tools you need to get this going today. This approach is great because once you sell advertisers on putting their ads on your site, you’re guaranteed revenue (as opposed to Affiliate ads which can be hit and miss).

    Sometimes though, this strategy can be tricky because you don’t necessarily end up promoting products you know & love — remember, what you promote is kind of an extension to your personal brand. So if you go for this approach, I highly recommend that you use OIO Publisher to screen ads & products before allowing them to show up on your site.

  3. Sell Your Own Products

    You can typically make more money selling your own products than you can through any type of advertising on your site. The drawback to this approach is that you need to research and figure out a good product idea and then you have to actually execute to create a great product. This is actually a massive barrier to entry (which is probably why product creation can be more lucrative) because creating a product and support around that product can really take some planning and long hours to get ready for launch.

    Technically speaking though, its never been easier to actually get a system in place to sell your wares than it is today. I recommend keeping it simple and using something like PayPal + the Shopp Plugin for WordPress or just using Authorize.NET with 1Shoppingcart.

  4. Create and Manage a Membership Site

    I think this is possibly the best way to make money online. As with selling your own product, coming up with an offering for a membership site can be daunting though. You also have to put a system in place to keep people interested and engaged once they’re a member of your site. But once you have a valuable offering that works for your audience, you can start collecting recurring income from these types of sites.

    A great example of a membership site out there that has been at it for a while and is quite successful is the Internet Business Mastery Academy (the first membership I joined). IBMA has all kinds of resources on Internet Marketing and a pretty extensive forum for some really good networking. I think whatever membership site idea you have — you should at least see what these guys have done and try to model your approach after them.

    WordPress is the ultimate platform for membership sites because of all the features you can make available and it makes it so easy to deliver content to your audience. Here are some awesome elements that you can get setup in WordPress with ease:

    • Premium audio and video content can be delivered with the help of the Flash Video Plugin
    • Thow a social network on your site (complete with friend requests, activity feeds and profiles) with the Mingle Plugin for WordPress (here’s the Mingle Community site — you should really go check it out)
    • Add an awesome, simple forum to your site with the Mingle Forum plugin (by cartpauj)
    • These are just a few examples of ways you can provide value to your users but there are literally thousands of additional features you can easily offer to your users with WordPress.

    Once you get your WordPress site setup with the features you want to offer — all you need is a way to protect your premium content and features behind a “Pay Wall.” There are actually 2 good solutions for this, the first (and easiest to setup) is Wishlist Member and the other (which takes a bit more technical moxie to setup) is aMember. Again — with the payment processing, I recommend keeping it simple and just using PayPal or 1shoppingcart with Authorize.Net (these solutions will integrate with either Wishlist or aMember).

Usually, you don’t have to pick just one of these strategies — why not try a few of them? Every audience is different and so one or more of these solutions will work for each one. But whatever strategies you decide on, you can rest assured that any of these here will bring you more money than Google Ads on your site.

Comments

  1. cartpauj says:

    Thanks for the write-up! Good stuff as always…

  2. Good call with the “sell your own product” strategy. In business there are only two types of people: those who sell and those who help those who sell. Now that I’ve read these strategies I’m gonna start working on selling content directly from my wordpress blog instead of just referring people offsite. Excellent tips!!

    • Blair Williams says:

      Yeah — I’ve definitely found that creating your own product (whether it be a one-time purchase or a recurring membership style site) is really the only way to go if you want to make a living at this stuff. The ads and affiliate revenue are kind of like icing on the cake unless your blog is just driving massive traffic.

  3. Post a excert with track back to you here, http://minglecommunities.com/?p=3144

  4. Wonderful!
    Was looking for videoplugin today!
    Thanx for all your help:)

    Petter

    • Blair Williams says:

      I’ve been using that plugin for a while — it’s actually quite good. It makes it easy to use the awesome JW Player within WordPress. Typically you’d want to host video on YouTube or Vimeo or something but when you’re creating a membership site you probably want to host the video yourself and this is a great option for that.

  5. Absolutley True
    Everyone needs money and a lot of people make money online
    But not all of this people know how to make more and more

    • Blair Williams says:

      Yeah — hopefully this gives people some ideas on how they can make more money … it can be tricky and even with these strategies, it can be a lot of work. But what is worthwhile that’s easy? :)

  6. Hi Blair,

    I enjoyed reading your post. You provide an awesome amount of value especially about the membership site idea. I have to say I had not given this much thought till reading your post.

    By the way wrote about you and this post on my blog today and linked back.

    ~Marcus

    • Blair Williams says:

      Yeah — rolling out a membership site has never been easier. Within the next few years you’ll start seeing these niche communities (both premium and free) cropping up everywhere. Many of them will have facebook-like features and really enable people with common interests to self identify and congregate — it’s a really cool concept. Thanks for the link back btw! :)

  7. Great ideas here!

    Thanks for mentioning WishList Member as a membership software solution! :) Much appreciated!

    • Blair Williams says:

      Yeah — it’s no problem … I’m friends with Tracy & Stu over there at Wishlist — you guys have a good product… Thanks for the comment.

    • I love wishlist and I love mingle. Unfortunatly I cant get them to work together? I wish I could figure out what I am doing wrong. Have tried on 3 different sites and everytime the profile of anyone redirects back to the logged in profile. I cant view anyone in directory or friends, or any username. I have tried pretty profiles, permalinks, and much more. Tried uninstalling and reinstalling. Also over 10 different themes. But nothing seems to work. I have heard from others having the same issues.

      I really do not like Buddypress and do not want to have to use it. Would love if anyone has a way to use both plugins together? How to make the profiles work?

      They are both great plugins!!

  8. Blair,
    I can’t seem to get the video off of pretty link. I have created several links, but the video is still there. Any suggestions?
    Thanks!
    Marla

  9. Blair, I am going with #3 – selling my own products. I am planning to have a few WP plugins available soon with a similar model to what you, and a few others :-), are using. Am I right in guessing that by offering the free Pretty Link this has helped you sell more of the Pro version? Do you have some approximate figures on how many sales have come as a result of people really liking the free version and wanting more of what is available in Pro versus direct sales from people who did not have Pretty Link?

    • Actually, Pretty Link has been a great source of traffic to my site and has promoted Pretty Link Pro to some degree. However, I think that in this space the premium model may work a bit better than the “freemium” … Don’t get me wrong, Pretty Link Pro does well — but I’m not going to be retiring to a Tropical Island anytime soon from its revenues alone. I think that the wordpress audience is used to getting things for free and when you put the core functionality of a product into a free version of it, most users will consider the free version to be good enough. There are many factors though — figuring out what goes into the free version and what goes into the premium, marketing choices, educating your users on why they should upgrade, etc. In my case, considering the number of emails I get from people asking me questions about what it is that Pretty Link Pro actually does, I’m sure I could do a better job on the landing page to explain how awesome it is. :) I’m leaning towards a pure premium approach for my future plugins though — this approach should be simpler to roll out technically, less complicated to support and hopefully make more money. Hope that helps.

  10. Great information Blair…

    Thanks. We’ll be sure to make it a point to get by here more often.

    MD

  11. Thanks Blair. It sure does answer my questions, and raises a couple more if you don’t mind.

    I am going through the same struggle at the moment with balancing the feature list between free and premium. I have been selling a simple plugin up till now but have developed it well and truly beyond its current state. So much so that I am thinking of taking the current version and giving it away with an upgrade path to the new one with dozens of new and powerful features.

    The free version would give bloggers a taste of what the full version does but without a lot of the recently added functionality. The difference being that I am thinking of giving all current paid customers a copy of the *new* premium version as a thank-you for being customers and encouraging them to become affiliates and to share in future sales. As they will have the full version for free, for being good customers, they will be better able to see and experience its benefits and do a better job of selling it.

    My only concern is security. I see that Pretty Link Pro has a sign-in panel. Does this prevent the operation of the premium features unless valid customer details are entered?

    Also, in one of the videos you posted last month I heard you say you would share the development version of your back-end engine that takes care of versioning and the security mentioned above. Was that my wishful hearing or did I hear right?

  12. nice strategy you have there,but i just starting blogging a few day ago.So before i can imply that strategy i need to have a lot off traffic first.

  13. thanks for the info, im gonna have a bash at trying to set up a membership programme, ive done all the other steps and they work well if done properly.

  14. I really enjoyed the post and the information good job thanks.

  15. I am wondering about your second point…If you are an affiliate seller shouldn’t you be adding your affiliate links as opposed to selling ad spots? As an affiliate you can probably make more money with your own affiliate ads then selling ad spots…Especially if you were to use a 3rd party service such as buysellads, which takes a HUGE commission.

    I would add a 5th…”Buy Pretty Link Pro” – WooHoo!

  16. Another great article Blair. Been thinking about the idea of selling ad space on various blogs we maintain but wasn’t sure where to head re: selling that space – I’ll check out the OIO Publisher link – thanks!

  17. I’m always interested in learning more about making money with my blog. You provide some serious food for thought.

  18. Another way is to give away a cool freebie in exchange for an email address and build an email list to market to. You need lots of good content though to support both a blog and an email list. They can complement each other nicely though.

  19. Hello Blair,
    Outstanding blog information! After struggling for years with network marketing companies, I decided to go in another direction and started my own WordPress blog. You have a great site for those that are just starting out or have been blogging for awhile. I’m always looking to learn more about blogging and strategies to use to make money blogging and your blog doe’s just that. Thanks for all your help.

    Dan Atkins

  20. Useful tips for monetizing an internet business blog. But I think that we need not discard Google adsense altogether. Any extra income without putting any additional effort is good. There are people who will ignore all other things and click the ads. Why should we loose that income? Moreover it will occupy a small space.
    Online Internet Business

  21. Wow.

    This was the first time that I’ve been to your site and I have to say thank-you. Those plug-in recommendations were solid.

  22. Awesome post Blair,
    I never knew that WordPress had plugins for adding forums and communities. That is cool to know, and there are some other things to think about in this post as well. Good Job

  23. Great information here! Aren’t we all interested in making more money? I’ll be visiting often to see what new ideas you have to offer.

  24. I have long time ago wanted to get a blog. But for the different reasons coldnt did that. And now i am inspired thanks to your post. Really enjoyed while readining. Thank you Blair very much!

  25. Nice Post Blair.

    One of the more recent and profitable ideas is having a membership site. It’s actually one of my goals for the coming year. If you’re a coach or mentor this can be almost fool proof if you can set it up correctly.

    Good info, thanks :-)

  26. This is cool Blair and exactly right. Any suggestions on having graphics done like your @/$ picture and such? I’m no good with photoshop.

  27. Great ideas, and they almost inspire me. Almost, because although I make a great living online with websites, I have never made enough on a blog in a month to pay for dinner. No idea why, but making money with websites is easy (relatively) and blogs just don’t work. I will read on to see if I can find some clues (although I have tried with several blogs now and in several ways).

  28. Just tried wishlist with mingle again on this new site. These 2 plug-ins do not work together.

    I would love to see someone who has found a way to make them work together (the profiles always redirect back to the user). The other options do not work either. Frustrating after spending so much on wishlist that no plug-ins work with it. You may want to try some of the other membership site plug-ins with mingle.

    Just wanted to let people know do not buy wishlist if you are running mingle!!

    • Elizabeth,
      I have helped several people get Mingle and WLM working on their sites. Its really not to difficult at all. If you havent gotten it working yet but want it to, just take WLM off your site (yes you have to remove it completely), install Mingle and completely set it up.
      Make sure that your permalinks are set to %postname%
      Setting up Mingle first allows it to manage the users profile pages, which is usually the biggest problem most see when using these two plugins together.
      Once Mingle is completely set up, reinstall WLM. All of your previous settings will still be there.
      Now they should work perfectly together. I have done this on several sites with great results.

  29. Awesome post, Blair. I love your suggestion of advertising on a blog as an affiliate. This is definitely one of the easiest to set up.

    Thanks for sharing.

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