When I tell someone that I write a blog, one of the first questions they usually ask me is “How do bloggers make money, anyway?”
I personally had NO idea how folks made money blogging before I learned through my own blog. And I’ve learned willy-nilly, through trial and error and from folks who share their own experience on their blogs.
I really appreciate bloggers who are transparent about the fact that their blog makes money. I feel like it builds trust with me, their reader. In fact, I feel more apt to support their blogging efforts through my clicks (more on this in a second). Rosemarie Groner, who blogs at The Busy Budgeter, is a great example of someone who shares income reports every month and is totally transparent about how her blog supports her family.
Inspired by Rosemarie and others, I’ve decided to be more transparent about my blog and how it works in the new year. I’m sharing an explanation of the different ways my blog makes money below, as well as my first income report!
My primary motivations for blogging are a having an outlet for creative expression and helping others life a rich life on a tight budget. Making a little money while doing this is a total bonus for me. I currently blog VERY part-time – usually about 5-7 hours per week, though I hope to increase the time I am able to spend on the blog in the new year.
How Bloggers Make Money
Here is an explanation of how bloggers make money, with examples from my tiny baby blog. There are more ways than these, but I’m just sharing my experiences so far.
1) Affiliate Programs
When I share posts about products that I love at a great price on Amazon, the links in these posts are called “affiliate links”. I’m part of an affiliate marketing program on Amazon called Amazon Associates.
The links to Amazon in my posts include my affiliate ID, so Amazon knows that someone is visiting Amazon from my site. If someone clicks a link to Amazon from my site, then buys anything from Amazon in the next 24 hours, I get a commission on the sale. The commission runs from about 4 to 6.5 %. At no additional cost to customers, Amazon gives me a small share of the proceeds from the sale, in exchange for me driving traffic to their site.
Sometimes I earn a commission when someone clicks a link on my site, even if they don’t spend any money. For example, if you order a free Disney Parks Planning DVD through a post such as this one, I earn a few bucks in commission. Also, if you ever click to print a coupon from my site, I earn small commission.
My aim with affiliate programs is to only recommend products that I have used personally and that represent a great value for my readers. I won’t ever share links to companies or products I don’t believe in, even if I would make a commission from them.
And while you don’t have to use my links, I am always very grateful when you do!
2) Ad Revenue
Most blogs have some advertising on their site which generates income. I am part of two ad networks, Google AdSense and Media.net. I get paid based on how many times pages on my site are viewed (aka “pageviews”) and how many folks click on the ads on my site.
I try to put very few ads on my site, and make them as unobtrusive as possible. I am immediately turned off by a site with a gazillion ads, so I never want this blog to be like that! I could be making more from ad revenue, but I don’t want to compromise readers’ experience here at The Frugal South.
3) Offering products or services
The third way bloggers make money is by selling their own products or services through their blog. Many bloggers have eBooks, online courses, printable worksheets, etc. for sale on their blog. This a huge source of income for many bloggers!
This past year I published my first eBook through Amazon Direct Publishing. I’ve decided to sell it there only (for now) because it was so easy to set up. I have another product available, but for now it is free to email subscribers only. I earn a little each month from the sale of my eBook, and it brings me great joy to see my name as the author of a book, even if it is only a little one. 🙂
4) Sponsored Posts
Sometimes companies or brands will pay bloggers for writing a post about their product. These are called “sponsored posts”, and bloggers have to disclose at the top of the post that they received compensation for writing the post to be in compliance with FTC regulations. The post might be a review of a product or website, or a recipe which highlights products from a company.
I have shared a few sponsored posts in the past year, and I’ve had offers for many more. I have to really believe that something is a good fit for my readers’ interest before I agree to share it on the blog. I also always disclose that I was compensated for the post, but that the opinions contained in the post are totally mine… because they are!
5) Referral Credits
The final way I earn money through my blog is through referrals. When I use a site or product that I love, I can sometimes earn a credit for referring folks. Two examples are Schoola and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card.
I buy a bunch of secondhand clothing through Schoola and participate in their referral program. If someone signs up for a Schoola account from my link and makes a purchase, I earn a $10 credit to spend on their site. I have used this site extensively and it has helped me saved hundreds of dollars on clothing, so I have no problem referring others to it!
I also recommend the Southwest Rapid Rewards Card to any of my readers who fly (or want to fly) on Southwest and have a good history of being responsible with credit. I have taken over $4,000 worth of free flights thanks to this family of credit cards, and I have nothing but good things to say about them!
I earn 5,000 Rapid Reward points when someone signs-up for and opens an account through one of my links. I’ve used these points to book a flight for a family member and they paid me what they would have for the flight. It is a win for everyone!
December 2016 Income Report
So here is my very first income report. As I mentioned, I am a very part-time blogger, so this income by no means supports my family! But it is a nice source of additional income that all goes to paying off the debt we incurred with our house remodel last summer.
This report is pretty typical for my site at this point. One nice thing is that a little baby blog like this doesn’t incur many expenses! I pay for hosting the site each month, giveaways, and materials for my continuing education as a blogger, but that’s about it. As blogs grow, they inevitably incur more expenses.
So here’s the breakdown for last month:
Google Adsense – $101.92 (cumulative from past 2-3 months)
Amazon Associates – $108.25
Kindle Direct Publishing – $13.17
Southwest Credit Card Referral Bonuses – $163.87 (10,000 points)
EBA Resources to Grow Your Blog – $7.00
Bluehost Hosting – $14.99
Net Income for December 2016: $365.22
That’s it! Have any questions about how bloggers make money? Interested in starting your own blog? Please leave a comment below!