There are several ways to make money online; one of them is a blog. There are several ways to monetize a blog. Simple, easy steps to make some passive income without compromising your values. Whether it's simple advertising or a membership site. The amount of time and effort you add in will determine how much you can make.
Are you monetizing your blog? How much money are you making? and How can I make MORE? How come everybody else is making so much but I am NOT!!! What am I doing wrong?
This is by far the most common question and concern among bloggers. Making money on your blog is possible; anyone can do it. Today, I want to share with you my honest opinion, practices, and challenges of monetizing a blog.
So why do some blogs make so much money that they can quit their jobs while some are barely paying their blog expenses?
I have to be honest. I hated ads so when I started my blogs I refused to have any advertising on my blogs. All my blog expenses came from my own pocket. Yep!! I was a professional cake decorator, which is almost like a full-time job.
As time went by blog expenses started going up. Hosting, themes, plugins, security, backups, web developers, etc.
Those of you that already own a blog will understand when I say, your blog is close to your heart, so you want to make sure it looks great. You wanna dress it up? Just like we dress our home, it's a reflection of us.
For those of you that do not have a blog, I have a step-by-step post on How to start a food blog/create a cake website. If you've been on any of my blogs long enough you know you can count on me if you have any questions.
Now I could just give you loads of links to access so you can get started. But; I think there is more to how to monetize a blog than just links.
90% is You
10 % is the Link
The key to making money online is YOU!!
I'd say 90% is you and 10% is the link. It's about how you sell these links that make money. How much do people who visit your blog trust you? How much do people value your recommendations?
TRUST!!! Your blog content is what people come to your blog for. When they like your content, they share your views they connect with you. This connection is what creates that trust. If they trust you they use your recommendations. When they click on your recommendations they use your links.
I believe there is, a right way and a wrong way to monetize a blog. And, the wrong way can peeve people off.
- The right way is that you
- genuinely want to help people succeed,
- share the resources you use with the right intention,
- and really like the products so you want to recommend them.
- If you haven't tried it, you honestly tell visitors you haven't tried it.
- You place the referral links naturally in your relevant content.
- The wrong way is that you have
- never tried the product yet you speak very highly about it so people can use your links and you can make money.
- just sharing the links so that you can make money means violating your fan's trust.
- spam all your post with referral links even when they are not relevant.
- spam people's mailbox and social media feed with plenty of referral links via emails.
I'm sure there are over a thousand different ways that you can monetize a food blog and if you read a few more posts on the internet you will be amazed at how much money you can make.
Some blogs share a monthly income report too. But I'm not going to do that. I think this blog post is not about comparing numbers. But I will share with you my first ah...ahhh moment that was a game changer for me.
My first ah ah moment
I started my blog in 2010. I was a new self-taught cake decorator with a blog on blogger (a free website).
Loved sharing my work on my blog and sometimes I'd take a few progress pictures of my work. Formed connections with some of my visitors who would write and reply to every post. I would look forward to those comments and connections.
One of the ladies wanted to make a princess cake for her daughter in six months and requested I make a tutorial. Coincidentally I had an order for a princess cake. I decided I'd make her a video instead of just taking pictures.
Unlike today when everybody is eager to make a YouTube video to earn money; back then not many actually shared so freely.
My princess cake ended up being the first princess cake tutorial on YouTube. In a year it had over a million views but guess what? It wasn't monetized!! So my YouTube channel had almost 2 million views with 8 videos in the first year and none monetized. Yup!! I had no clue about making money. Nothing at all!!
Anyway, someone suggested I at least monetize my videos and add Adsense to my blog so I can pay for hosting. I did!!
My first youtube cheque for one year with just 8 videos was USD 3,500.00 and I stood there with my mouth open!!! Shocked!
What? How did that happen? My so unprofessional videos made money? I will be honest US 3500 was a game changer for me.
Since then I have come a long way... trying hard to figure out what works, testing different strategies, and finding the best methods that work for me.
10 Simple and easy ways - how to monetize a food blog
Like I said above there are 100s of ways to make money; I find these worked best for me. I am an affiliate with some of them; but not all. The rest are just links that I feel confident will help you.
1. Advertising - a great way to start monetizing a blog
(Pay-per-click advertising) - This is the simplest and easiest way for new blogs that do not have a lot of traffic to start making money on their blogs. It's super easy! All you do is create an account with Google Adsense. They have tons of resources and step by step on how to get started.
While this is a great start, and you probably will be able to pay for your blog hosting but don't expect to make a living with Google Adsense.
As your blog traffic increases you will need to think of moving on to other or more profitable Ad networks such as Gourmet Ads, Mediavine, Sovrn, Infolinks, and SocialSpark. Some of these take care of the ads for you so you don't have to worry about codes and HTML.
This blog is taken care of by Mediavine. I think it's a minimum of 30,000 per month before they approve you. You have to email or fill in a form; in some cases, you are better off using a reference so feel free to say you got to know them thru me or my blog.
Private ads or display ads
Another great way to monetize a blog is by selling ad space. This can be easy or extremely difficult. This usually is based on your niche. It is very important to know who your target audience is so you can attract the relevant brands. If you attract a decent number of people to your blog from a specific group then this is easy to achieve.
For example on my cake blog, I attract cake decorating schools and product companies to advertise on my blog. Let's say you do more healthy cooking recipes which is a great way to attract healthy-related products.
Another easy way to monetize a blog is to make recipe videos. In truth, this is actually very simple and easy to accomplish even with just a phone. However; making good quality videos with professional equipment and editing software can make a huge difference to your views.
Create videos of what you do best. Teach your talent and earn advertising on YouTube.
YouTube advertising is like Adsense; unless you have huge traffic you will barely make money to pay your blog expenses. But it does have huge potential.
This can be a fun or frustrating project depending on your technical skills. Personally, I started with simple unprofessional videos five years ago but over time I realized I needed to start working on my video editing skills.
I tried a few programs over the years but the one that worked best and was easy to use; for a not-so-technical person like me was Cyberlink; Power Director 14. I aim to upload at least one video every week on my YouTube Channel. I don't have a huge following, less than 50K subscribers but those that are there do seem to like what I share.
2. Sell your own digital products
Another great way to answer the question of how to monetize a blog is to sell recipe books. You keep 100% of the profit.
eBooks - This is the most common and successful method to start earning money on your blog. Sell your own PDFs and eBooks.
A friend highly recommended this course on how to write, publish and sell your eBook in seven days - I have not used it but she used it when she started her first eBook.
Why does this work best?
Once you build a reputation for yourself; people will pay for your knowledge and recipes. If you look in my online shop you will see I have over 30 calculated recipe eBooks that target a small niche - cake decorators. I have created a reputation for my cake recipes and tutorials that people use in their businesses. This is one of my sources of income but not my main source as the niche here is a very small group of cake decorators.
3. Sponsored posts and articles
This usually is dependent on your blog or brand popularity as well as on what you are ready to recommend to your fans. I have a love-hate relationship with sponsored posts. Mostly, because I am very picky, very choosy, and not very comfortable recommending things I have. If you have a high number of page views on your blog.
If you have a good following then companies want you to review them, recommend them, and write about them. This is good money because you can charge based on the value you provide.
4. Affiliate marketing
This is the one that works great for me. Affiliate marketing is the one that works best for most people. The rewards are dependent on how much effort you put into it.
An important point to take note when doing affiliate marketing is that; you are required by law to add a disclosure on your blog that declares the use of affiliate links so that your visitors are aware. An affiliate link does not affect the price of the final purchase but it is still considered good etiquette to make sure you are open about it. You will find a disclosure on both my blogs as well.
What is the best way to make affiliate links work?
By adding value to your customer. TRUE!!
For example - On this blog, my post on How to start a Blog brings me good affiliate sales. Why? because I'm not just sharing the Bluehost links. I'm sharing a step-by-step guide on how you can start your own blog. This step-by-step adds value to my visitor and in return sales to me. My step-by-step tutorial can empower you to make your own site and save you money from hiring someone to create your site for you.
Where do you find affiliate links - Affiliate marketing networks
Well; they are everywhere. No matter what industry you are in; you will find that there are companies in your niche that you can get started with.
An easy way to start with affiliate marketing is to join Affiliate Marketing networks. These are super easy to use. All you do is apply for an account. Once you are approved. You look for merchants/companies that suit your niche. The network has a dashboard that lets you see which of your links and referrals are doing well. The best part is; you can be an affiliate for several different companies under one umbrella. Saves you the hassle of keeping track of multiple dashboards, usernames, and passwords.
Here are a few affiliate marketing networks that you can start with - I am on ShareASale and Commission Junction and Sovrn, but there are plenty to choose from.
ShareASale- For example, I am a professional cake decorator so I am an affiliate of a couple of cake decorating schools via ShareASale. One of them is Craftsy, which is huge and has plenty of divisions from food, DIY and a lot more. I believe Craftsy does need someone to recommend you - if so please feel free to mention my name or my blog.
Some other affiliate marketing networks are Commission Junction, SocialSpark, Sovrn, Chitika, and Click bank. Start by creating an account and getting accepted first.
Some companies run their own affiliate marking programs such as
This is by far the most commonly used. This wasn't easy to set up. It does have a lot of work involved in getting started. Once you set it up you will be able to share Amazon products on your blog. When people click on these links and buy something they will earn a commission.
The commission system for Amazon starts small at around 4% but if you do well that does go up over time.
Honestly, this has not been the best for me so far. It uses a lot of blog space but does not give me the same return. I still have it on my blog for the convenience of my visitors who get to see the products I use.
If you choose to use the Amazon affiliate program I suggest you use the plugin Easy Azon Pro. Of the three that I used this is the best; the others drove me nuts. This works great and the customer support is excellent.
Promote/recommend physical books that you love - this can be as simple as applying for an affiliate with Amazon or Book Depository or eBooks. This may not sound like much but believe me, people love books and it does work.
5. Start your own online membership site with lessons or e-Course
This is what I'm currently working on; on my cake blog. A membership site. If your good at something, in particular, go ahead and explore the option. Trust me on this. We all think we are not good enough yet but let people show you that you are wrong. We all have something we can share that is of value to someone else.
This option takes time to set up but if you are serious about it then it can be a profitable way to make good money on your blog.
Let's talk about when and how early should you monetize a blog.
Now; that I told you the how and give you the resources on how to monetize a blog let's discuss when should you monetize a blog. or How early should you monetize a blog?
Truth be told there is nothing stopping you from monetizing your blog from day one. It's better to earn something rather than nothing at all. Right?
I know a few ladies in the Facebook groups that just started their blog a few days ago; maybe a few weeks ago. They barely have two or five recipes on there. Haven't built an audience.
Yet, I notice they exercise all their energy in how to monetize a food blog rather than talk about recipes or SEO. Both blogs have sidebars and all widget areas are filled with ads.
So while the question of how to monetize a food blog is really a very important question. To me, the bigger picture here is - to whom are you going to sell?
Personally, I think one has to create a blog with the right approach. Nothing wrong with creating a blog with the intention of earning some money but let's do it right.
Finally!!! a few tips and words of advice on - how to monetize a blog
- There is no - One Size fit all strategy on how to monetize a blog. So don't look for a blog post that has the right answer. As I said the key to making money is YOU!
- There are plenty of links out there and everybody will share the ones that work best for them. Therefore unless you do some trial and testing you will not know which method works for you.
- Most importantly, don't expect to make money as soon as you start monetizing your blog. These things take time, be patient.
- Monetizing your blog is also known as passive income, but it does not mean that the links will work on their own. You have to work hard to make them work. Grow your blog, and social media platforms, and connect with people.
- Know the difference between making money the right way and the wrong way. The right way is sometimes slow but in the long run, it will earn you some much-needed credibility with your visitors. Trust me it's not easy to fool people all the time, eventually, people will stop using your recommendations.
- Last but not the least, don't give up!! You never know... the end of your struggle is almost here. When something does not work - find another way to make it work. These things take time but they do work. I promise!
Are you a blogger? What industry? and what works best for you? Feel free to share your suggestions, tips, and tricks with us. We'd love to hear what works best for you.
Thank you for sharing this. I really need to start looking into making some money online and this honest post is very helpful
Thank you, Bhagya. So happy you found this article useful. Thanks for coming back to leave this feedback. Have a wonderful week.
Thank you for sharing this. Very honestly and candidly. I have so much to learn.
Thank you, Sonny. So happy you found this article useful. Thanks for coming back to leave this feedback. Have a wonderful week.
Thank you for being so open with this information. Just signed up for Share a Sale. Looking forward to starting my blog soon.
Thank you Rotek. Glad this information is helpful. All the best and Have a wonderful day.
Thank you for this very informative post. I am a new blogger so this information is really helpful.
Thank you Coco. So happy to hear that you found this post useful. Blogging can be stressful when you just start but it gets easier so hang in there.