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When I first started blogging, I believed that you needed a huge blog to make a decent income.
I presumed the main way to make money would be ads and since there were so many people just earning just $10 per 1000 page views (or less,) a full-time income from blogging often felt unobtainable.
But blogging made me happy. Each day when my alarm clock went off, I’d jump up feeling energetic and ready to write on ‘blogging days.’ On ‘day job days’ it was hard to drag myself out of my warm, comfy bed.
I needed to find a way to make this work for me.
My turning point was when someone said to me ‘ there’s no point trying to make money with a blog, it won’t happen, focus on your day job.’ I’m stubborn and I HATE being told what I can or can’t do!
At that point, I started focusing on learning how to monetise my blog. My traffic wasn’t huge and at that point, I was a long way off being accepted into Mediavine ads network but I was determined to find a way to make this a viable career and prove that person (and myself) wrong.
And that’s exactly what I did.
So today, I want to talk to you about some of the ways that YOU too can make money even with a small blog. Just like I did.
Let’s start with some of my favourite tips for maximising results with a small blog…
My top 3 tips for making BIG income with a SMALL blog
Learn to serve the right audience
The single most important things to consider when monetising a small blog is working out who you serve and how you can serve them so well that they keep coming back for more.
I would always prefer to have 100 loyal readers who keep coming back to my site than 1000 visitors who visit just once.
So spend some time to really narrow down your niche. Work out who is your ideal reader.
- What problems do they have?
- What do they enjoy doing?
- Where do they hang out?
- What do they find difficult?
- What budget do they have?
Then you need to ask yourself, how can you help them achieve their goals and solve their problems?
It could be with value-packed articles that keep them coming back time and time again (increasing your ad revenue.) It could be by sharing affiliate products that you know and love that can solve their problems. It could be an E-book you write and sell which speaks right to your ideal reader.
But the most important thing is that it provides a LOT of value and fosters loyalty amongst your readers and followers.
You want people to talk about your blog. The next time their friend has a similar problem, you want your readers to tell their friends how YOU solved that problem.
You want to become known within your niche. Even if your niche is tiny.
Here are a few examples in the travel niche (since that is where I started.)
Say you write about luxury travel in Europe. Wouldn’t it be great if one of your readers recommended your site to their friend who wanted to find the perfect boutique hotel in Paris? Perhaps they’ve stayed in some of the hotels you’ve recommended and always had a great experience and they recall reading in your email newsletter that your latest post was about Paris – maybe their friend should start by looking there?!
Perhaps you write about travelling with a young family and you recommended an online course about travelling with a baby. That course made a families first trip so much easier that they recommend it to all of their friends with new babies, referring them to your review article? How great would it be to become the go-to resources for new Mums who travel?
Once you have found your ‘people’ and you’ve wowed them with your content, you need to find a way to nurture this relationship. Could you encourage them to follow you on social media? Perhaps join your Facebook group or sign up to your email list?
Network, network, network
Some of my highest paying affiliate sales have been as a direct result of networking. The more you get out amongst other bloggers in your niche, the more your name will become recognised. The next time someone gets a question from one of their followers that they can’t answer, they might think of you.
I began to specialise in group adventure travel and I’ve had several other bloggers refer their readers to me because they don’t have any personal experience with these companies and they knew I did.
It’s win-win for everyone involved. The other blogger has earnt trust and loyalty by finding a way to serve their audience even when they don’t have the answers themselves. I’ve earnt an affiliate sale and potentially a new follower. The reader has found the advice they needed from someone with expertise on the subject. They also feel valued by the original blogger.
I personally try to network as much as possible. Not only does it help me grow my presence in a crowded blogosphere but I also benefit so much from the friendships I have formed with other bloggers. We are each other’s cheerleaders, confidentes and advisors. We inspire and support each other.
Embrace your small blog and use it to your advantage
Sometimes, having a small blog with a small audience can actually put you at an advantage as you can provide a more personal experience for your readers.
If they have questions and comment on your blog post, you have the time to reply with a detailed response which may encourage that person to buy something you recommended.
If you had more followers, would you really be able to dedicate this time to each follower and give them the same personal experience?
As a consumer, are you more likely to buy from the smaller blogger who replies to your email with a personal detailed response or the bigger blogger who has to get their virtual assistant to send a generic response to you?
You could even go one step further and use a free tool like Loom to record personalised video messages for your email subscribers, for example, to answer their specific questions or to thank them for attending your webinars if you host them.
Ways to make money blogging in 2020
There are infinite numbers of ways you can make money by blogging – it just requires a little creativity! But today we will take a look at some of the more common ways to make money blogging to give you a few ideas to get started.
Affiliate marketing is my absolute favourite way to make big money with a small blog.
With affiliate marketing, you make a commission when someone purchases a product which you recommend by using a special tracking link.
It’s a risk-free form of marketing as the company only needs to pay you if you succeed in creating new sales. They get exposed to a new audience and you get paid for a product you didn’t have to create. It’s a no brainer for everyone involved.
But affiliate marketing is not as easy as sticking a few links in a blog post. It requires a well thought out strategy.
In order to be successful with affiliate marketing when you have a small blog you will need to ;
- Identify your audience’s problems
- Find a way to reach them when they are ready for a solution
- Convince them why this solution will work for them
- Build trust with your audience
When I hit 40K monthly page views, I started earning around $5000 affiliate revenue every month. Proving that affiliate marketing done right can be extremely lucrative.
I go into some of the methods I used to achieve this in my FREE 5-day affiliate marketing course, which you can nab today.
If you have a small blog, then you are most likely to make a big income if you focus on high ticket products or those with a high commission rate. That way, you don’t need to make a lot of sales to make big money. I’ve made up to $500 in one sale in the past!
Recurring commission products are also a great way to maximise your income if you only have a small blog. For example, online subscription services will often reward you every month for as long as the person you referred stays a subscriber.
If you need some inspiration for programmes to join, I have a useful resource with 99 programmes across 8 niches which you can GET HERE.
Further reading about affiliate marketing
- A complete beginners guide to affiliate marketing
- 4 ways to make money with the Ultimate Bundles Affiliate Programme
- How to make money with the Booking.com affiliate programme
- Thirsty Affiliates Review – the one plugin you need for successful affiliate marketing
You may also wish to join my FREE affiliate marketing course where I go into detail about some of the strategies I’ve used to make up to $6000 a month with a small blog.
If you are looking for an advanced affiliate marketing course which goes into advanced strategies such as using affiliate ads, open-close-cart sales and email marketing then check out Affiliate Marketing Superstars – the most comprehensive affiliate course on the market.
This is one of the most popular ways to start making money with a smaller blog however it is not my favourite.
Companies will pay you to post an article on your site promoting their company or service.
However, often they are not willing to pay much and they usually require a follow-link which goes against Google’s rules and could get you blacklisted. It’s often not worth it in my opinion.
That said, if you have a really engaged audience or a tight blog niche, some companies may be willing to pay more money for exposure to your audience without requiring a follow-link.
Whilst it may feel flattering when a company reaches out to ask to collaborate with you, you need to first make sure it is a really good fit for your blog.
You need to decide what your time is worth if they want you to write the article. If they are providing the article, you need to know that it will be good quality and that it won’t be replicated elsewhere.
I do very occasional sponsored posts but usually, only with companies I love and trust that are very tightly aligned with my niche. And I never allow paid follow-links on my site as for me, it is just not worth the risk. Instead, I prefer to focus on forms of passive income.
However, if you are set on acing sponsored posts (and yes it can be done) then I highly recommend Marta’s course on getting sponsored work, ‘Paid to Create.’ Shes had 5 figure sponsorships and teaches how you can land lucrative sponsorships even with a small following. You can check it out HERE.
Sponsored posts do not always need to centre around your blog, if you have an engaged following, you can also get paid to run sponsored Instagram posts.
Advertisements won’t make you a ton of money with a small blog but they can help. Some companies pay more than others and often getting accepted by an advertisement company will depend on how much traffic you have, how engaged your traffic is and where your audience are based.
- Google Adsense will accept most bloggers but pays poorly. The ads can sometimes seem spammy.
- Ezoic accepts blogs with over 10,000 page views a month and pays reasonable amounts but there are reports that it sometimes slows your website down.
- Mediavine is one of the most popular ad networks (and the one I use personally.) Mediavine requires 50,000 sessions a month now but they pay well and their ads don’t look spammy or slow your site.
Whilst to make a LOT of money with ads, you will need a lot of traffic, there are things you can do to increase your revenue even with smaller blogs. You need to make sure that your articles are optimised to maximise visualisation of the ads. The longer your article is, the more ads you can include without it looking spammy. Here are a few tips to increase your RPM;
- Make sure you have plenty of white space and short paragraphs and lots of subheadings
- Use plenty of photos to increase the length of your article
- Keep your sidebar uncluttered
- Make your text size and line heigh slightly bigger.
- Add videos to your posts which can host ads. I use Lumen 5 for this.
- Write longer articles >1500 words
Sell Digital Products
Creating digital products is a great way to make passive income as once you have created the product, it can continue to make a profit for you with very little intervention. You might want to share it on social media or in your emails occasionally but in general, you will be earning money on auto-pilot.
After affiliate marketing, selling digital products is my favourite way to make passive income via my blog.
I make all my products using Canva, a super easy design tool that anyone can master. I pay extra for Canva pro as it gives me access to 2 million free stock photos, my own fonts and brand colours and it allows me to share templates to sell to my audience. I highly recommend getting it if you want to create digital products for your blog. Click here to get a 30-day free trial!
There are various ways to make big money with a small blog using digital products, here are three of the most popular ways;
Option 1 – Use a tripwire
Create a free product as a content upgrade. Then when people sign up for your content upgrade, they are led to a thank you page with a too-good-to-miss offer as an upsell.
This offer needs to be for a limited time to create urgency. Mine is set for 30minutes and I use the Evergreen Countdown Plugin for this. This is called a Tripwire.
You can even use Tripwires to offset ad costs then promote your opt-in using Facebook or Pinterest ads. This can be very lucrative. However, before you invest money to make money, try it out with your organic traffic and see how well it converts.
If you do decide to try out ads, I would recommend taking a course first as it can be easy to waste money if you don’t know what you are doing. I have taken and recommend the following courses;
- How to grow your blogging income through Facebook ads with Jessie Festa
- Facebook ads for affiliate offers with Beth Anne Schwamberger
- Pin Practical Primer Ebook by Monica Froese
- Pin Practical Ads 3-day email challenge with Monica Froese – FREE!
I love this method of making money because even if you don’t make a sale, you have acquired a new email subscriber. The tripwire also offers incredible value which has the potential to turn your reader into a loyal fan.
Research shows if someone buys from you once, they are MUCH more likely to buy from you in the future should you recommend an affiliate product or be selling another digital product or course.
Option 2 – Promote sales
Whilst you might get the occasional sale from someone browsing your online shop page, you are far more likely to make sales if you create a sense of urgency. Therefore, hosting sales and product launches where you temporarily reduce the price OR you increase the value by adding temporary bonuses can help create that urgency.
Option 3 – Sell on Etsy or Creative Market
You can also choose to sell your digital products on 3rd party sites such as Etsy or Creative Market. They will take a cut but on the other hand, you are reaching an audience you might not reach otherwise. In general, Creative Market prices are a little higher than on Etsy so you will have to take this into consideration when pricing your product.
Psst, speaking of Creative Market, did you know you can get 6 free products (like fancy fonts and stock images) from them every week? It’s worth getting them and storing them in a folder for when you may need them!
If you want to create digital products but don’t know where to start, then you may wish to download my FREE ‘Digital Products Made Easy’ Ebook. I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about how to quickly make professional content upgrades and how to promote and sell them!
Consider starting an affiliate programme to get other bloggers to promote your product for them.
But there’s more to running an affiliate programme than just signing someone up. I suggest reading my guide to starting an affiliate programme.
Create an online course
Do you have a skill which you can teach about? Is there something you find easy that other people find difficult? Most of us have something we can teach.
Creating a course, a little like selling digital products, is a fairly passive form of income and can potentially have BIG financial results. However, it requires a whole new set of skills such as email marketing, sales funnels, webinar presentations etc.
You also need to consider that there will be some time involved in being available to answer your student’s questions and you may wish to run a private Facebook group.
If you are considering going down this route, it would be worth investing some money into learning these entrepreneurial skills. Ultimate Bundles (one of my favourite companies) is having a big sale of business courses coming up very soon – the Grow Your Business Bundle. It offers insane value for new business owners so if you are considering going down this route you should absolutely check it out!
Email marketing is one of the most lucrative forms of marketing as you have an engaged loyal audience. They trust you enough to allow you access into their inboxes and if you nurture your relationship, they will start looking to you for advice.
You can either sell your own products or services or promote affiliate products.
It’s important that you connect regularly with your email list otherwise they will forget who you are and unsubscribe as soon as you send them a sales email out of the blue!
You also need to provide a lot of value to keep them opening your emails. You should never use an email list JUST to sell.
I personally always include a value-packed email between every sales focussed email.
You should also create a welcome nurture sequence to warm up your email list and help them get to know you and what value you can bring to them.
My basic welcome sequence includes 3 emails
- A welcome email. Immediately follows the delivery of my content-upgrade freebie. It tells my story, highlights what the reader can expect, how often they will hear from me and what they should do next. I advise them to whitelist my email address and follow me on social media and then I link to my most popular posts. I also hint at what email is coming next to build anticipation.
- The value-packed email – this one is full of tips and provides a LOT of value to my readers to keep them wanting to hear more.
- The affiliate email. I use my 3rd email as an opportunity to promote my favourite tools. I also offer a few more freebies, again to provide a lot of value.
Why not sign up to my email list so you can see the welcome sequence in action?! Remember to take notes!
This method of making money will be a little more hands-on than some of the passive income methods I have mentioned. Therefore, you may need to charge accordingly.
Think about what services you could offer to your audience.
- Do you write about travel? Could you offer a travel planning service?
- Are you a health blogger? Could you put together tailor-made healthy eating plans for your readers?
- Do you blog about blogging? Maybe you could offer virtual assistance or Pinterest management?
Sell physical products via dropshipping.
You could consider creating physical products and getting a 3rd party to manage the product creation and shipping. A common way to do this is dropshipping.
For example, you could create T-shirts with your logo on. You would submit your logo and create a sales page which directs to a dropshipping company who will make the t-shirts based on demand and sell them on your behalf. You just need to refer your readers to them and they will handle the rest.
You can read more about drop shipping here.
Many bloggers make money from freelancing and use their blogs as a portfolio of their work or a way to showcase their expertise.
Say for example you are a travel writer. You could write some epic travel articles on your own site and use this to land paid writing gigs for bigger publications.
Hopefully, you have acquired some ideas for how to monetise your small blog. Remember, the size of the blog does not dictate your earning potential. Think strategically and offer a LOT of value to foster loyalty.
I suggest you take my 5 days affiliate marketing challenge to start making more money in less than a week. I’ll fess up to some of my best strategies that you can put into practice on your own blogs!
- How I made $4048.12 – November income report
- How I made $5329.96 – December income report
- How I made $5733.53 – January income report
- The Beginners Guide to affiliate marketing
- 4 ways to make money with my favourite affiliate programme
- How to make money with Booking.com affiliate programme
- Thirsty Affiliates review – the one tool all affiliate marketers need
- How to make and sell digital products
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