11 Ways to Monetize Your Blog Without Losing Your Readers

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So you’ve built up a blog that’s attracting a good amount of traffic and a loyal group of readers. That’s nice, but what are you going to do next? How are you going to turn your blogging efforts into cold, hard cash?

Blog monetization is always a bit of a tricky subject, especially when you’re looking to monetize an existing blog. You always have to be wary of alienating readers, as some monetization efforts will make them think you’re just trying to make money off of them.

The good news is there are several ways you can start earning money from your blog without scaring off your readers. Keep reading to discover my 11 favorite blog monetization strategies.

  1. Direct ad sales—This is probably the most popular and most effective way to generate income through your blog. You set aside spaces on your blog for paid advertisements. You can determine monthly ad rates based on the amount of traffic you get (cost per 1000 page views is fairly standard). Check out your competitors to get an idea of how much they’re charging. A word of advice: Be choosy with which advertisers you select. In other words, it’s probably best not to promote male enhancement supplements, unless that’s what your blog is about.
  2. eBooks—There are always people who are willing to pay for quality information compiled neatly for them. If you have something to say (and you’re a blogger, so you should), you can create an eBook in which you explore a specific subject deeper than you’re able to on your blog. Just make sure you actually put the time into creating a well-written, detail-rich eBook that’s worth the price tag.
  3. Donations—Many bloggers have donation buttons on their website. They usually have a clever line like, “Enjoy this blog? Donate and buy me a cup of coffee.” While you won’t strike it rich through blog donations, this is a good, non-intrusive way to let your readers give something back to you.
  4. Customized clothing apparel—This works best for blogs that have a devoted, cult-like following. Websites like CafePress allow you to create your own clothing apparel for promoting your blog. You can brand T-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, and more with your blog’s logo, tagline, or whatever else.
  5. Members-only content—Many bloggers have had success offering both free and paid content. The way it usually works is you offer high quality free content to all readers, and then create a premium-level membership program that contains exclusive content (more detailed articles, videos, whitepapers, case studies, Q&A forums, etc.). The key is to make sure your free content is really great, so that readers will trust you enough to pay for a monthly or yearly premium membership.
  6. Webinars—Webinars are basically like conferences and training programs except they’re online. Your readers pay a certain fee to sign up for the webinar where you and possibly some guest speakers will teach them about a particular topic. You can even set up your webinar to be interactive so you can take questions from your audience. Not only do webinars generate income, but they’re a great way to position yourself as an expert.
  7. Affiliate marketing—Affiliate marketing is a blog monetization staple. However, you have to be really careful to pull it off correctly. You can’t just littler your posts with affiliate links and expect readers to respond. Affiliate marketing has to be done in a way that makes sense, and your readers deserve full disclosure when you’re promoting affiliate products.
  8. Write elsewhere—I’ve contributed to dozens of blogs on a wide variety of topics, and the more I blog, the more I get people interested in hiring me to write for their blog. There are also bloggers who use their blog to land writing jobs in magazines, newspapers, trade journals, books, etc. Spread your wings!
  9. Speaking and consulting gigs—Chris Brogan created a bit of controversy when he revealed he charges $22,000 a day for speaking/consulting gigs. Now, you’re probably not popular enough to get away with those rates, but Brogan is a shining example all bloggers can learn from. You need to think outside of your little blog. Look at the bigger picture to find ways you can parlay your blogging efforts into more money in your pockets.
  10. Sell your own products and services—Let’s say you’re a personal trainer who has a blog where you offer exercising and fitness advice. You can use this blog to promote your personal training services and your workout DVDs/books/equipment/etc. The blog allows you to earn the reader’s trust, making them likelier to do business with you.
  11. Flip your blog—If you’ve built up a blog that’s getting a good amount of traffic and revenue, you might consider selling it. Popular blogs often sell for quite a bit. The general rule of thumb seems to be that blogs sell for about 12-24 months’ worth of their advertising revenue, but each case is different.

Now, I realize these aren’t the only 11 ways to monetize a blog. Some will mention writing paid reviews, and others swear by AdSense and other text ads. Personally, I dislike these methods because I feel they take away from the reader experience.

Paid reviews just feel unauthentic and forced. You’re basically getting paid to write a good review (although that’s not explicitly required) for a product, and that’s just a little on the shady side if you ask me. The only exception to this is if you’re writing affiliate or paid reviews for products you truly use and believe in and if you’re fully transparent with your readers about what you stand to gain from the review.

As far as contextual, text ads go, I’ve always found them to be intrusive and a bit spammy. In short, I just don’t think they look professional, but that’s only my humble opinion.

What are your favorite blog monetization techniques?

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