Can you really make money online?
As a creator, you’ve most likely been posed this question by a relative over Sunday dinner or a skeptical acquaintance at a party.
They don’t understand how to monetize a blog or even start a blog for that matter. And even though it’s quite possible they’ve signed up for a newsletter and later bought a product after reading all the benefits and case studies through that newsletter, they still don’t understand your world of product launches and marketing funnels.
But what gets even more raised eyebrows is when you bring passive income into the conversation.
Is it just a myth? Can you really earn money if you’re not nose to the ground and stuck at a computer day in and day out?
Of course it’s real and it’s absolutely attainable.
Passive income is all the rage right now. And for creators who are looking to grow their business–and scale as they go– passive income is actually a must.
When most creators think about passive income, it comes in the form of products. Whether digital or physical, these creators build automations and processes around those products that do the daily work.
Through things like email marketing, shipping fulfillment centers, and growing their team, these creators can take a step back from the day to day tasks and do what they love– creating new products for their audience.
And while we’re huge fans of creating and selling your own digital products, like downloadable eBooks or actionable online courses, we can’t ignore the benefits of passively selling other products to increase your blog income potential.
That’s what we’re talking about today– monetizing your blog with ads, sponsorships, and affiliate marketing.
It’s often referred to as an influencer marketing this days, and it’s growing like crazy. In fact, 59% of marketers intend to increase their influencer marketing budget in the next year.
Adding multiple income streams to your business model to reach maximum sustainability. A small time investment now can give you long-term growth potential.
How to monetize a blog with ads, sponsorships, and affiliate marketing?
When you focus on building a business through affiliate marketing, brand sponsorships, and advertisements, you have the ability to create more income from the free content you offer.
I know this topic can seem advanced, but really, starting a monetized blog is easier thank you might think. There are many different ways to go about this, but first you need to figure out which income stream(s) will be the right fit for your blog.
Benefits of affiliate marketing
Did you know most of your favorite bloggers are probably using affiliate marketing? Through affiliate marketing, content creators add affiliate links to their blog content in order to earn a portion of every product sale.
If you write in-depth listicles or create high-value tutorials, affiliate marketing could be a great fit for your blog. It could also be a fit if you enjoy making gift guides for birthdays and holidays, or if you frequently share your favorite outfits and home decor.
The possibilities of affiliate marketing are endless, but what’s in it for you? Rather than having to create several products from scratch, you can point your readers in the direction of a retailer who already handles product creation and fulfillment. If someone buys through your link, you’ll automatically receive a commission.
Who doesn’t love the sound of that? There are incentives for both the content creator and the retailer, making it a great income source for all involved.
Pro tip: The key to making this continually work for you and your audience is to be 100% behind the products you affiliate market. Don’t decide to promote something on whim or something you’ve never actually tried and believe.
As an online creator you have a responsibility to your audience to only put the best in front of them. They trust you and your judgement, so don’t let them down by promoting just anything to make a dollar.
Benefits of advertisements
While you may not see as many advertisements now as you did in the early days of blogging, advertisements could still be a good source of income for your blog. Whether you place advertisements in your blog sidebar or on a static page of your website, it’s important to think about what the ad placement is worth to you and the company it highlights.
You can choose to sell ads privately or you can partner with an ad network to help. The higher your traffic, the better opportunities you’ll have for advertisements.
Pro tip: Keep in mind that advertisements drive traffic away from your blog, so you’ll want to determine if this extra stream of income is worth traffic leaving your website.
Benefits of brand sponsorships
For bloggers interested in becoming online influencers, brand sponsorships can be a great source of income. The more influence you have, the higher quality brands you’ll be able to work with.
When you collaborate with a brand, you’re able to create visual and written content that highlights their service or product. The specific deliverables of the content creation sponsorship are usually set between the brand and influencer, or they can be outlined on behalf of an agency or influencer network.
For most brand sponsorship opportunities, it’s important to have a media kit that fully outlines your website and social media analytics, audience demographics, and brands you’ve worked with in the past.
Brand sponsorships can introduce you to new audiences while giving you the opportunity to create unique, creative content around a brand you already love.
Pro tip: Of course, the first step is to start with brands you know and love. But the second step in finding a brand to sponsor your content is to look for ones that are offering new products. They are most likely already on the hunt for influencers like you to help them promote their new product.
How to get started with pitching brands
For all three income streams listed above, you will need to learn the art of pitching. While it may seem scary to send a cold pitch to a new brand or ad network, it becomes easier with practice.
Pitching can either start with an email or a phone call. If you feel more comfortable with email, make sure you find the right email address to contact. Many brands have this listed on their Contact page or elsewhere on their website, so do some research before reaching out.
- When writing your email, we recommend including:
A brief introduction of yourself and your blog. Feel free to include additional details about your audience and your intention for reaching out.
- If possible, add a personal detail about a recent piece of content! This will help you stand out from the rest of pitches in their inbox.
- Explain in a separate paragraph why you love the brand’s products. Be authentic in your explanation!
- Introduce the specific kind of collaboration you’d be interested in and what you can do for them. It’s all about offering as much value as you can rather than focusing on why it’s a great opportunity for you.
- Ask if they would be interested in exploring the opportunity more. Then thank them for their time and consideration.
Not sure of what to offer brands? Here are a few content types you can create in collaboration with your favorite brands:
- Sponsored blog posts: This is one of the most common brand sponsorship types. Whether the brand has you write a blog post for their own website or on your blog, you’ll likely do this as a part of a marketing campaign.
- Social media takeovers: We see this collaboration type most often on Instagram or Snapchat with their Stories feature, but it can happen on virtually any platform. During a takeover, you’ll create engaging content for a brand under their own handle.
- Sponsored videos: Do you have a large audience on YouTube, Periscope, or Facebook Live? If so, sponsored videos could be a great avenue for you.
Pro tip: Like you’ll see later on in this issue, you can bundle services like these and others when you make your pitch to a brand. And while the more you create does directly relate to more income, don’t go overboard.
Try to stick to one social media platform per campaign you contribute to. For example, don’t try to do a Instagram story takeover as well Facebook Live video.
Create your pitch with the right audience in mind for that specific brand. That way you can focus all your creative energy into the perfect content.
Ready to start monetizing your blog with influencer marketing?
Hopefully this has your wheels turning as to how to monetize a blog with advertisements, affiliate marketing, or sponsorships into your brand. You’ll find even more information and inspiration throughout the rest of this Tradecraft issues.
Ready to dig in?