How to Monetize a Blog and Become a Profitable Influencer
As someone who runs a blog that is getting a nice amount of traffic, you know that influencers aren’t just models who bathe in waterfalls or adventurers who traverse the Sahara on horseback. Instead, they’re regular folks like you who produce content, grow an audience, and want to go their own way--making money as they go.
Being an influencer is about having a strong base of readers, people who enjoy your work and will make decisions based on your recommendations. If your readers trust you and rely on you for information - guess what? You’re an influencer!
So, how do you do it? How do you make the turn from part-time blogger to full-time influencer?
How do you find out the ways to monetize a blog so that you can rely on your audience to pay your bills (and so you can answer the eternal question, “when can I quit my day job?”).
The answer is easier than you think and learning how to start making money from a blog starts with a simple question: do you qualify as an influencer?
What Is an Influencer?
Most folks might tell you that an influencer is essentially a step below celebrity and that influencers are folks who have millions of followers and devoted fans who follow their every move. That’s not true, though, because influencers come in all shapes and sizes!
If we want to think about it, technically speaking, than an influencer is any person who creates content for an established audience who consistently consumes said content. You don’t need a million, or even 100,000 loyal readers or subscribers, in fact, 5,000 or less might just do the trick.
Start Making Money From a Blog
If you’re ready to start making real money from the work you produce, you need to consider some of these 8 main ways that influencers have figured how to monetize a blog and gain financial freedom today.
1. Influencer Programs
What is an influencer program? Like a step up from an affiliate program, an influencer program is another way to turn your blog into a money-making machine - but there is a key difference between the two that we need to highlight.
An influencer program can be considered a product endorsement, almost like a review on your site. You produce content around the product or service itself, promoting its features and effectively “selling” it to your dedicated audience.
For example, you might run a green living blog and really like the fictitious product "Green Earth Diapers". You could reach out go Green Earth Diapers on their website and tell them you recommend their product since it fits your brand and fulfills a need for your readers. The company may invite you to become an influencer, someone who influences their readers to try their product through positive, word-of-mouth endorsement in their blog. As an influencer, you would get a share of the cut every time one of your readers goes to Green Earth Diapers and makes a purchase.
In fact, Green Earth Diapers might have a portal on their website where you can sign up to be an influencer and get links to share with your readers. (These links will keep track of the traffic you are sending and their sales so that your percentage of the commission can be calculated.)
Similarly, at InboxDollars we have a program for blogger, vlogger, and social influencers. InboxDollars influencers have a large monthly following (typically around 5,000 to 100,000), and help solve a need for their followers by recommending legitimate ways to earn money online.
In exchange for telling their followers to check out InboxDollars (with special influencer links), they earn cash every time one of their followers signs up (cha-ching!), and then 30% of whatever their referrals earn with InboxDollars.
Influencer programs can vary. When you are looking at Influencer programs, consider these questions:
1. Does this product or service make sense for you to promote? Does it relate to your readers? Does it solve a problem?
2. Similarly, are you already promoting this product or service? If you're already hyping up johndoetoys.com, why not reach out to the company and sign up to be an influencer?
3. Will they help you craft content to share with your readers? Or do you have to do all of the research yourself?
4. What sort of reporting or analytics will they share with you?
5. What do others have to say about them? Do they have other influencers and affiliates willing to promote them? Do they have positive user reviews? What about press coverage?
2. Ambassador Programs
As an ambassador, you seamlessly weave the product or service into the content you are already producing. This is where a product may be lining up with your values, mission, or "image", to where the product itself is more seamlessly integrated.
With Lululemon's ambassador program, for example, ambassadors wear Lululemon and promote the "sweatlife", helping members of the community "sweat, grow, and connect". Unlike athletic giants like Nike and Adidas who tap megastar athletes to promote their wears, Lululemon's ambassadors are everyday brand enthusiasts who want to want to live the brand's image.
Ambassadors are growing in popularity because they come off as more authentic and resonate with audiences who don’t want to feel bombarded by “ad” content.
While both have their unique purposes, both an influencer or an ambassador role can generate serious income for your blog - it all depends on how you want to come across and the kinds of brands that you want to work in partnership with. And isn't an either or deal; many bloggers have both influencer deals and ambassador ones as well. Keep in mind that different brands will have different definitions for the term "ambassador". For some, the terms "ambassador" and "influencer" may mean exactly the same thing. You'll need to do your homework and ask questions.
3. Media Kits
The number one thing that all influencers should have is a media kit. This is kind of like your “elevator pitch” for businesses who are interested in working with you. Think of it like your resume, where you can send it to brands and brands can ask it of you.
Just having a media kit on your website is like waving a big floppy that screams "I' m here! I want to make money off of my site! Come do business with me!"
For many bloggers, just having a media kit is enough for them to get pitches to promote products and services so they monetize their blog.
Basically, a media kit is a rundown of your influence and how you can help a brand spread its message with your base of readers or viewers. It should feature a clean design, highlighting the numbers behind your brand, and should provide your contact details.
Some of the main statistics worth mentioning include:
- Monthly Unique Visitors
- Monthly Page Views
- Average Time On-Site
- Bounce Rate
These are all easy enough numbers to find by digging around your site analytics, and they are invaluable to brands who are looking to make the case of working with you. In fact, most brands won’t pony up the cash without some sort of proof that you can reach who they’re targeting.
Think of your media kit as an essential prerequisite of making money off your blog. It can also include testimonials of brands who have worked with you before, your rates, or some of the bits and pieces that make you unique.
4. Competition Research
Why not take a cue from the big dogs? If you want to get to the point where you have a million subscribers or followers, you need to take a good look at what they’re doing and try your best to follow their lead.
One of the best things that you can do is see some of the brands that larger influencers are working with - and how they are working together to promote that content. From there, you can find industry competitors (whether on a larger or smaller scale) and pitch them - with your newly-devised media kit - on a partnership with you.
Google Analytics, Moz, and Buzzsumo are great tools to see what topic and content are working for other bloggers and competitors. If you uncover that Uber Eats is working with Bloggers A, B, and C as brand influencers, you know odds are great they want lots of Influencers and you can get a piece of that pie too.
When spying on the other guys, think about how these larger influencers told a story or worked with that brand to create content that moves audiences. When done right, this kind of content not only promotes a brand but grows your audience and the folks interested in your work.
After all, it can’t hurt to see what the best are doing and learn from their methods. If you feel like you don’t know where to start, just pick one competitor or similar blogger, do your research, and you'll find brands to reach out to on your own.
5. Display Ads
How do you make money from website traffic? Easy, you run display ads. Your blog is prime real estate for advertisers, especially if you are pumping out consistent content for a devoted readership. There’s simply no way to copy the value of someone being on your website, almost every day, and having that webpage saved in their bookmarks or as their homepage.
That’s why display ads are a great offering for companies looking to advertise with influencers. It places their message front and center, and while it’s on your site it gains a tacit endorsement from the person running the site - it’s almost like saying, “check out this product,” without ever having to say it. This is a great way to monetize a blog.
Google AdSense and BuySellAds are just two of many display ad networks you can check out if you want to monetize your site with ads. With lots of Plug-ins for WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, and other blogging sites, Google AdSense is extremely user-friendly and easy to set up.
Display ads as are everywhere. In truth, display advertising was once thought to have suffered from the rise of influencer marketing, but the two go hand in hand. It is an easy way for you to gain passive income from products being advertised on your site (which you have already put all of the work into creating). You’re now profiting based on that notoriety!
6. Sponsored Content
Sometimes, brands want a more personal and authentic touch. In the case of a blog, you can offer to write a “brought to you by…” piece (otherwise known as an underwritten piece). This is where a brand pays you to write about their product or service in the form of a story (and not a review).
At the end of the piece, it says “brought to you by” to make it clear to the reader that this piece was paid for by the brand. This layer of authenticity not only ensures that they don’t feel like they’re being tricked and that your website is able to maintain the same creative freedom while making money along the way.
Making money from a blog starts with creating content that is profitable, so underwritten pieces like these are incredibly valuable in terms of creating consistent content that puts more dollars in your pocket.
7. Affiliate Programs
This is one of the main drivers of revenue for influencers of all stripes. Much like a product endorsement, an affiliate program is one where you promote a product with your own unique voice and content.
One of the most basic ways that we see this is in a referral link. Chances are you’ve encountered one of these before - whether in a video, on a podcast, or simply reading a blog. Every time that this discount code is used, you get a cut. It’s as simple as that!
If your audience feels like your opinion or endorsement carries a lot of weight, which they should, then these pay-per-click or pay-per-sale programs can go a long way in increasing the number of digits in your bank account.
An affiliate program relies on a lead (a member of your audience) actually converting (performing some sort of pre-defined action). This could mean checking out the product you’re promoting or buying it for themselves. Depending on the action they take, your payout will differ accordingly.
The key thing to note here is just how many affiliate programs exist, and how many of them rely on influencers who have built-in audiences that believe in what you are saying (and, ultimately, what you are selling). If you have that, you’ve struck gold and will monetize your blog.
8. Start Content Marketing
Chances are that by now you have a lot of quality content on your site, and you can use that quality content to expand your audience and make money while you’re at it. Let’s consider this: if you were a food blogger, and you had years of recipes on hand, why not craft a cookbook using those recipes and make it available to download on your site (for a small fee).
The content has already been produced, all you have to do is put it together. This is an effective strategy for those who would rather pay for the convenience of having all of this information in one place, rather than rooting through your site to find whatever they need on a given day.
A content piece like a book, a guide, or even an illustration, anything that a user can download, can turn historical content into fresh, new, and profitable pieces of marketing!
Make Money Blogging Today
These are just some of the ways that you can use the audience you have cultivated to monetize your blog - while having fun doing it. Going into partnerships with brands doesn’t mean having to compromise your content or your vision either, you can have fun while making money at the same time.
If you focus on creating authentic and creative content, chances are you can leverage that brand power to grow yours even further. At that point, it won’t just be a side hustle - it’ll be a full-fledged career as a professional influencer!
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