At the beginning of the year, I shared my blogging tools. These tools are the ones I have been using over the past eight-plus years, both free and paid. I think bloggers are always experimenting with what works best for them and it is my intention to keep that post up-to-date and relevant so that it can be a resource for you.
I am fascinated by blogger income reports. I think I read every one that crosses my path. One of the things that it has made me realize is that there are many ways to earn income on a blog. Bloggers are unique, so why shouldn’t their methods of making income on their blog be the same?
Recently, I have received a couple emails asking how I earn my blog income so I thought it would make a great blog post. My new monthly blog goals posts have been very well received so I am going to continue to write more posts on blogging. After all, I’ve been doing it for nearly nine years. I have some experience!
My blog income sources developed over time by unexpected opportunities and trial and error. I’ve never been a full-time blogger, so any income I earned was a bonus. It’s also the reason I’ve never pitched a brand. I’ve been lucky enough to have work come to me. If I was to become a full-time blogger I would definitely have to hustle to get additional work.
But that is not to say that I wouldn’t like to earn more income. Especially since I am currently not working and am on a full-time job search. That’s why I will continue to experiment with various methods for earning revenue.
I have never had any interest in ads or ad networks. I don’t like how they look and I don’t like the content. I like to have control of my brand and ads and ad networks take that control away. Instead, I have made money blogging mainly with storytelling and relationships.
I have broken down my income sources into five categories.
The main way I earn income on the blog is through sponsored content. It’s a good thing too because I love storytelling! I love working with influencer networks, agencies and brands to come up with a creative way to share how a particular product or destination intersects with my life. And hopefully in a way that engages you.
It is so important to ensure that the topic you are writing about works with your blog’s brand. I have turned down projects because they just didn’t work with my life and my blog and it would have been weird or awkward to write about.
I have worked with many networks over the years, however, my favorites have always been those companies that were super organized and had a good backend system with nice dashboards and tracking. I really like the following networks a lot:
Linqia, a click-based network that encourages active reader engagement. I’ve been with their network since they launched. The community managers at Linqia are super responsive and having personally met the CEO and staff, I can tell you this is a good group of people! Here are some of my Linqia stories: Custer State Park in South Dakota (currently running); Falling in Love with Monterey County; and Mountain High Yoghurt. The more engagement you have with your stories, the more earning potential you have for your next project.
Cooperative is another click-based influencer network and all of the projects I’ve worked on have been travel related. I am choosier with the projects I work on because some brands have terrible CPC (cost per click rates) and the amount of effort to achieve the potential earnings is not always worth it to me. But I have had fun on the projects I did complete. Here are some: Puerto Rico; Tupelo, and Gainesville.
Another favorite of mine is Odinn Media (Traveling the World via my Stomach). Hope to work with them more in the future!
In addition to influencer networks, I have worked with many great agencies on sponsored story content. My recent work with Safeway is a good example of that. I’ve also worked with Raincoast Crisps and Godiva.
The important thing to note besides whether the brand, products, and destinations work with your blog, is your rate. Make sure that you price yourself correctly. Consider the size of the audience you’ve built, the engagement of the audience and how long it will take you to write the content, source or edit photos and how long it will take you to promote it on social media – you want to make sure you are earning enough to justify the project.
Social Media Posts
Frankly, I love working with the influencer networks on paid social media posts, it’s an easy way to earn a quick buck (or several)! I would really like to do more, however, they only seem to come in drips and drabs.
I’ve had the most work from Tap Influence doing Facebook and Twitter campaigns. I’ve also worked with Find Your Influence on Twitter campaigns. Both the TapInfluence and Find Your Influence campaigns are easy because the content is generally written for you. Some campaigns allow you to write your own copy, like Obviously Social whom I’ve worked with on Instagram campaigns.
Massive Sway is a network that has a variety of posting options from blog post to individual channels. I recently worked with them on two campaigns that were Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest focused. At its core, this group has original SITS Girls who I love and adore. They work with great brands and have an efficient system.
Last year I worked on an influencer campaign focused on social media with the Wanderful Influencer Network. It was a multi-week campaign mainly on Instagram for Corning Gorilla Glass, I had a blast and was well compensated.
Have you worked with other networks that are focused on paid social media shares?
Brand ambassadorships are very special and I always approach them with great pride. Generally speaking, you build a deeper relationship with the brand based on multiple meetings and by building on experiences over a length of time.
They are also more lucrative! There is a bigger commitment of time and effort and the pay is commensurate with the project.
There is a responsibility that comes with being a brand ambassador. And it goes beyond a single blog post. As someone who has worked on the brand side, I can tell you that their biggest fears are (a) how the blogger will represent the brand and (b) whether that blogger will immediately “hawk” another brand in the same competitive space. As a blogger, you should examine every brand you write about or represent very closely and take your own brand into consideration. Don’t be afraid to walk away if it just doesn’t make sense.
But if you do become a brand ambassador, honor your commitments and be present in the relationship, your writing, story-telling and social media presence will benefit greatly.
Have you worked as a brand ambassador? What was your experience like?
Affiliate marketing has been around for a LONG time. I remember getting my first affiliate commission from ProBlogger in 2009! But now it has hit the mainstream blogging scene and it has exploded!
There are bloggers making serious money focusing only on affiliate marketing. One such blogger is Michelle Schroeder-Gardner who blogs at Making Sense of Cents. I first stumbled upon her site while reading a post about full-time RVing. She has a great voice and honest style about making smart financial decisions based on her own experience paying off incredibly high student loans and living full time on the road.
I liked what I read and subscribed to her blog. A few days later I received an alert for a new post. This one her income report. When I read the title of the email I thought she had written a typo. It wasn’t possible that her monthly income was over $100,000. But sure enough, when I clicked through and read the post, I verified it wasn’t a typo! I was intrigued. I immediately bought her Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course to learn what her secrets were.
I learned a lot. And while I am not much of a salesman, I believe affiliate marketing is a great way to earn passive income. I have started adding affiliate links in posts where I am already talking about products. RV posts like what we had in our kitchen and what did we use for outdoor eating as well as my favorite outdoor gear. I was writing these posts anyway, so I added links. I had already been using Amazon affiliate links for awhile, so this was a natural progression.
Income is coming in slowly, but it’s steady. So it is definitely something I will continue. And why not? If I purchase a product and like it and write about it, why not earn a little blog income as well. I will never promote products I don’t believe in!
Here is what I am currently promoting:
- Amazon products – books, outdoor and kitchen gear.
- REI – outdoor gear.
- Blog Clarity Courses – I’ve taken them all and have been promoting them for years, love them!
- Ivory Mix – inexpensive monthly subscription, a great new source for me for fresh stock photography, you might like it too.
- Tap Influence – this Pinterest management tool has made my life so much easier, I can not emphasize enough how much I LOVE it!
- Pinterested in Growing – in my quest to master Pinterest, I found this course had some good tips.
- How to Make Your First Affiliate Sale in 24 Hours (using Pinterest) – ditto on this one.
- Design Your Own Blog – really insightful blog design advice.
And of course, I am promoting the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course because it opened my eyes and helped me to develop an affiliate strategy – it will be different for everyone and this is a good resource for framing yours.
Are you doing any affiliate marketing? Have you had success with certain programs?
I really love coaching people. I have spent countless hours sharing my knowledge on content marketing, blogging, and social media. I’ve helped bloggers at all stages of their blog life either build a strong foundation, develop a content strategy or help them with a fresh perspective. I am a certified usability analyst too, so I can take a look at your design from a usability perspective as well.
I’ve earned a small amount of income doing this. I’m not aggressive enough to sell my services otherwise I could probably make more!
If you are interested in coaching, check out my Hire Me page.
I feel like I can’t publish the post without a word on sponsored trips. I have been blessed with many sponsored trip opportunities, some of my favorites being my Viking River Cruise in Portugal and multiple trips to Hawaii. I was not compensated for these trips but they were amazing nonetheless.
The tide is changing on how bloggers approach these types of trips. There is a lot of work involved and in the end, you don’t come home with a dime to pay the mortgage. There are now bloggers who charge a day rate to compensate for the writing and promotion that is required. I have yet to travel this way, but then again I haven’t really tried. Except for the trip to Portugal, I took the year off from sponsored trips. We invested serious dollars in the RV and I wanted to make full use of it.
However, I am ready to rock and roll, bring on the sponsored trips!
How about you? Have you been on sponsored trips? Have you been paid?
[I’m a sucker for redheads, isn’t she so cute?! Plus I accidentally paid $29 for her, so I’m using her twice! Ah, the mind of a blogger. I digress…]
So that’s it. This is what has worked for me. How I earn income on the blog.
It’s been an interesting journey and I have really enjoyed the projects I’ve worked on. Each one is an exciting challenge and the earned income allows me to constantly make improvements to further evolve my brand. I don’t know what the next nine years will bring, but I can tell you I am excited to see what the next revenue producing opportunities are!
How about you? Do you earn income on your blog? What is your revenue mix? Do share!
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for your support!
Looking to increase your blogging income? Check out Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing! The step-by-step affiliate marketing strategy course that shows you how Michelle went from $0 in affiliate income to over $50,000 per month.
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