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How Do Bloggers Make Money [3 Beginning Blogger Income Streams]

The best blogging income sources for new bloggers

How do bloggers make money? What’s the secret that one-in-five bloggers know that makes them over $5,000 a month while others struggle to make over $500 each month?

In this video, I’ll break the myth of blog traffic and detail the blogging income sources that WILL MAKE YOU MORE MONEY.

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Can You Still Make Money Blogging?

My last year as an economist for the State of Iowa, I was making $52,000 a year. That’s about $25 an hour and after five years working through raises and two promotions.

I started building my online assets in 2014, creating four blogs and this YouTube channel. I’ve since made over $222,000 and am now making ten grand a month in 2019. That’s five years of blogging and growing my online businesses to a six-figure payday.

You can make money blogging but you need to know the income sources and how to use them.

That’s what I’m going to do in this video. I’ll share the results of our blogger survey, with responses from 150 bloggers on their favorite income streams. I’ll be busting the myth that you need lots of blog traffic to make money and then I’m going to reveal three income streams that absolutely must be a part of your blog.

How Much Do Bloggers Make?

Now that survey of bloggers found the average blog got about 13,000 visitors a month. The average blogger reported spending about 8 hours a week and made $1,476 a month. That’s about $42 an hour which isn’t bad, but you can make much, much more.

how much do bloggers make each month

In fact, 23% of the bloggers or just over two-in-ten, reported making over $5,000 a month. Another 27% made between fifteen hundred to five grand a month which is still pretty awesome for something you can do from home and set your own hours.

Let’s look at how bloggers make money, the income streams they use and how you can turn a blog into a money-making machine.

At it’s most basic, bloggers make money on the traffic they get every month, the people that visit their blog. The problem here is that most blogs get very little traffic. We see here that 42% or about four-in-ten blogs get less than 5,000 visitors a month.

what is average blog traffic

Beyond the money aspect of all this, that’s something spectacular in itself, that even smaller blogs can reach 5,000 people a month.

On the other end, we have nearly two-in-ten blogs seeing more than ten times that or 50,000 plus visitors a month. But this doesn’t happen overnight. I used the blogger survey to graph age of the blogs by monthly visitors so this dotted line shows the average blog traffic by age of the blog. You see that even blogs that have been growing for two years only get about 20,000 visitors a month and the average doesn’t break 50,000 visitors until about five years of blogging.

blogging traffic by blog age

A lot of new bloggers look at this and get discouraged. They see that slow growth but aren’t making the money they expected and give up in frustration. In fact, according to web researcher Technorati, more than nine-in-ten blogs on the web aren’t updated after six months’ from starting. That’s 90% of bloggers that give up within a year.

The fact is though that it’s not really your traffic that matters. This is something we’ll cover in those individual income sources but we see it in another graphic from the survey. This one shows how much bloggers are making per visitor to their blog and the total monthly income.

how much money do blogs make per visitor

This shows two things that are going to be important to your success making money online. First is that you can make money on a small blog. While a lot of bloggers are averaging between $0.05 to $0.15 per visitor, there are also bloggers making double that and more on each visitor. Average just $0.40 a visitor and you’re up to two grand a month on a small blog of 5,000 visitors.

The other thing this shows is that to make that top tier of bloggers, the ones making $10,000 plus on their blogs, you have to make more per visitor. That’s going to mean using multiple income sources and the most profitable ones to increase your income.

Best Income Sources for New Blogs

So let’s look at some of those income sources we talked about in the prior video but go deeper into the details of how to get started and how bloggers make money.

We see this graph of the income sources used by bloggers, by percentage that are using each income stream. So for example, most bloggers about seven-in-ten use affiliate marketing to make money. A little under six-in-ten bloggers use sponsored posts with about half using pay-per-click ads like Google or other PPC networks. Some of the less common blogger income streams here include courses, books and membership sites.

how do bloggers make money sources

We also saw in that previous video though that not all income sources are created equal. While membership sites, courses and books are only used by a small percentage of bloggers, the ones using them are making bank. For example, less than 10% of bloggers about one-in-twenty are making money on a membership site, but the ones that are using the income source make about two-thirds of their total income from it.

Most Profitable Blogging Income Sources

Some of these income streams are more profitable and you need them in your toolbox. That’s what I want to do for the rest of the video, look at some of these highly profitable blogging income ideas.

There are two we won’t cover, courses and affiliate marketing. These are some of the best income streams you can create but I’ve already published detailed video series on each.

Instead, with this video, I want to cover membership sites, printables and sponsored posts in more detail.

how do bloggers make money online

How to Make Money Blogging with Printables

The first income source I want to talk about, and this is one of the fastest and easiest you can set up, is printables.

So printables are just one- to 10-page downloads you create to sell, things like checklists, planners or step-by-step guides. They don’t have to be long or complicated. I know a blogger that sells a simple three-page home buying checklist for $4.99 and sells over 200 a month. That’s a grand a month from one single product.

I’ll first show you how to figure out what kind of printable to create and then walk you through the process of making one.

The best way to sell a printable is to find traffic you already have, so a ready-made marketing source. For most bloggers, you’re going to have a few articles on your blog that amount to the majority of traffic. It’s the 80/20 rule that you hear about so often, 20% of your posts bring in 80% of the visitors.

For example, here we see the seven top posts on my Work from Home blog, each one bringing in tens of thousands of visitors from Google every month. This top one, Can You Still Make Money on YouTube, is nearly twenty thousand visitors a month.

I know these people are explicitly interested in making money on YouTube. Now readers are going to come away with some good information but there’s still a lot I could talk about when it comes to making money.

That’s where a printable offer comes in. I can write up a step-by-step into a specific income source like using affiliate marketing on your channel or I could do a checklist on everything you need to do to build subscribers and grow your channel. Both of these would be hugely important and can be detailed in a few pages.

Selling the printables is the easy part. You write up a short paragraph talking about the printable and insert it maybe a third the way down the article and then again towards the bottom. Within each of these paragraphs, you insert a link that goes to a sales page for the printable and automatically downloads on payment.

So what’s great about this idea is that you can make a separate printable for each of your most popular posts. Since the printable is going to be highly targeted to that post, you know people interested in the post are the exact audience you want for the printable. It’s a perfect match.

Most printables sell for between $4.99 to $9.99 but I’ve seen a few selling for $15 and $20 if they’re really detailed. Even at that $5 price point, you make five printables and sell just 150 of each and you’ve got nearly $4,000 income each month.

Making a printable is just like writing up another post for your blog. You’ll want to detail it and deliver on what you promise but it’s only a few pages of material. You write it up in a Word document and then go to Save As. Where you see the format box, where it will say Word Document or whatever format you’re using, you click here and look in the drop down to PDF format. This will save it as a shareable document that can’t be changed and that you can offer as your download.

There are quite a few ways to sell your downloadable printable on a blog. You can do it through a course platform like Teachable if you’ve also got courses. You could set up your own payment button with PayPal or connect it to a Shopify account. Each of these can be set up within five minutes and your readers will be able to buy with the click of a button.

Getting Sponsored Posts for a Blog

One of the most frequently used blog income sources that we haven’t talked about on the channel is sponsored posts. This is where someone pays you to create an article about their product, about a related topic or just to include a link to their website in an existing post.

These are deceptively simple so I want to highlight how to use the source correctly. Done right, these sponsored posts can be a thousand a month even on a small blog. Done incorrectly though and they can destroy your blog traffic and alienate your visitors.

A sponsored post can be a review of the product or a more indirect approach, talking about a common problem and then how the product makes for a good solution. Sponsored posts include at least one link back to the sponsor’s website where the reader can make a purchase or other targeted action.

This kind of marketing is just much more effective for advertisers compared to display advertising. Display adds might get a click-through-rate of 0.2% which means just one person clicks on an ad for every 500 people that see it. Sponsored posts can see click through rates as high as 2% to 5% depending on the product’s fit with the audience and the quality of the post.

Of course, advertisers pay much more for sponsored posts and it is generally a flat-fee versus the per-click model on display advertising. While an advertiser may offer to pay $1 per click on display advertising, rates for sponsored posts can reach $500 per post or more.

There are two things you need to remember about using sponsored posts on your blog. First is only publish sponsored posts for companies or products you’ve tried and can recommend to visitors. It’s the same thing we’ve seen with affiliate marketing. You don’t want to turn off your readers to make a few hundred dollars.

You also want to set a schedule for sponsored posts, only publishing maybe one per week or even less. Some of these posts can look like any other article but others will come out looking like a commercial. You don’t want to bury your blog with lots of these sponsored posts so limit how many you publish.

How Much to Charge for Sponsored Posts

As a new blogger, you’ll get emails almost immediately asking to sponsor a post on your blog but it’ll be for ridiculously low rates like $25 or $50 for a post. You’ll never make any money at these rates and most will be spammy sponsors you don’t want on your site anyway.

Check out other blogs in your topic to see where they’re linking to and what might be sponsored posts from legit companies. You can reach out to these and I’d recommend going no lower than $100 minimum for a sponsored post.

How to Create a Membership Site

Sponsored posts are a good source of income but they’re one-off, you have to keep reaching out to new sponsors and resigning old sponsors. The best sources for blog income are recurring streams and there’s no better than running a membership site.

A membership site is just like a blog except people will pay you monthly for access to the content, forums and exclusive downloads. With so much free online, I know this one sounds hard to believe but I have friends that make thousands a month by charging for access to their website. In fact, I make just under a thousand a month on a small self-publishing site that costs $49 for membership.

The trick here isn’t that your information is any better than what’s already available. You’ve obviously got to provide some quality information through articles, checklists and tutorials but I’ve yet to see a membership site that had information that was truly unavailable anywhere else.

No, the value in a membership site is the personalized support and the idea of making it a social platform. People will join your site if they feel like it’s a customized experience for their needs and they’ll stay for months or even years if they feel a connection with the other members.

So let’s look first at how you set up a membership site and some ways to get members, then I’ll show you how to make it special so people will want to sign up.

Setting up your site is actually the easy part. You’ll have your main blog or website, and this is something we talked about in that build-a-blog series, but then you’ll get a plugin like MemberPress or MemberMouse that will add membership site features. So your blog will still be available to the public but then you’ll have a password-protected part that will only be available to members.

Within your members’ area, you’ll have a forum where everyone can talk and exchange information. You can post premium articles for people to read and downloadable content like handouts or checklists. Another great addition is a weekly or bi-weekly mastermind call where everyone meets virtually on Google Hangouts to exchange ideas.

Through your free blog is where you’ll get a lot of your members because people visiting your site will be able to see that there’s a restricted area. You can create a page advertising your membership site that you send these people when they click on one of the restricted areas of your member site.

Another way to get members is through an affiliate program, so the other side of the affiliate marketing strategies we’ve been talking about. Here you would sign up other bloggers or influencers to promote your membership site and they’d get a commission for every new member they send. You set this up easy through any of the member site plugins and you only pay when you get a new paying member to your website.

Like we talked about, getting people to join your membership site and stay is a matter of making it feel customized and social. This means creating as much interaction as possible in the member areas. So you’ve got the forum where members can ask and answer questions.

Another great idea is to have a mentor program where you and some of the senior members can guide new people. You can offer mentor members a discount for incentive on this. You can also add videos to your member area to give that face-to-face feel. It’s all to the point of making this a personal and social experience for members that will keep them coming back.

Most membership sites I’ve seen charge between $15 to $99 a month. For example, I charge $49 on my membership site but I’ve seen a few that get as much as $300 a month. The more expensive sites tend to have higher turnover, so people come and go more frequently, but then again you only need a couple of months at $99 to make more than you did all year at $15 a month.

One option is to have different pricing levels or start with a lower monthly fee but then offer add-ons like the bi-weekly mastermind call. This is a great way to bring in members at a lower price but still make more money with the add-ons.

The great part about this member site model is that the income is recurring. You’ll have some turnover of members but you’ll get into that groove where you’re picking up new members every month to make up for the ones that leave. That means consistent income every single month that can easily be in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

Any one of these income sources can make even a new blog thousands a month but combining them will put you into that top tier of bloggers making $10,000+ every month. Check out those free video series or the Complete Five-Day Build-a-Blog Tutorial here on the website.

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