Four Ways to Monetize Your Creative Blog. In this lesson, I’ll talk to you about the “$300 Money Mindset” that changed everything + exact revenue streams that add up to a six-figure income.
This is Lesson Ten of my Free Blogging as a Creative Business Course
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Four Ways to Monetize Your Creative Blog
The lesson you’ve been waiting for! How to get paid to blog. Four main income streams contribute to blogging for income, and we’ll discuss them all in this lesson.
The $300 Money Mindset
The $300 Money Mindset is what pushed me into the six-figure blogging game. My blog BFF, Kimber (of The Pinning Mama and Easy Family Recipes) was at a conference and texting me tidbits and nuggets of wisdom. This is the one that changed everything for me.
Don’t focus on growing a six-figure per year business. That’s incredibly daunting and overwhelming.
The tip Kimber shared with me: “All it takes to create a six-figure business is to find a way to make $300 per day.”
Let that sink in.
Doesn’t figuring out how to make $300 per day seem so much more doable than figuring out how to make $100,000+ per year? It sure did to me!
Now, let’s that $300 and work backward. We need to break down exactly where that $300 a day is going to come from.
Here’s an example daily income breakdown:
$100 per day from shop sales
$100 per day from ad income
$50 per day from client/sponsored work
$50 per day from affiliate income
Can you see how embracing that mindset gives you small and achievable goals to work toward?
Now that we’ve shifted our mindset let’s chat about four ways to monetize your creative blog.
My Four Income Streams
- Ad income
- Affiliate income
- Sponsored Work
- Product/Service income
For quarter one of 2018, here is a breakdown by percentage of where my income comes from:
Note: The are approximately 1,891,213 ways to do everything. In the interest of keeping this lesson relevant to monetization streams that I’m adept at, I’m sharing the methods I use to generate income. If you feel another income stream would work better for your business style, goals, and personality, by all means, go for it!
Income Stream One: Ad Income
I put this first because it’s one of the easiest and most widely used ways to monetize your blog.
If you’re new to blogging, most people (myself included), start with Google AdSense. Check out this post for How to Properly Add Google AdSense to your WordPress Site.
Once my pageviews increased, I moved to an ad network to monetize my main blog. (Note: I don’t currently use Ad Income as a revenue stream on this blog. The “ads” you see in my sidebar on this blog fall under affiliate income. )
Once you hit 100,000 monthly pageviews, you can apply to AdThrive, the ad network I use. Here’s why I love AdThrive:
- It was started by bloggers.
- They’re a Google-Certified Publishing Partner.
- Their customer service rocks.
No one loves ads, but they are the cost of providing free content to your readers. I’ve surveyed my readers to ask which they prefer:
- I get rid of ads but charge for a lot more of my resources.
- I keep ads and keep the bulk of my content free.
Most people choose that things stay free. They understand that ads are a part of the deal.
As you can see in the pie chart, ad network income is over 1/3 of my revenue. That’s no small piece of the pie. But, I love how clean a website looks without ads! Not to mention ads mean I’m growing someone else’s brand along with my own. Ideally, the sole focus will shift to my brand. So, my goal by this time next year is to increase my product income to the point I can get rid of ad network ads on my main site. And still, offer a ton of free content on my site.
If your pageviews are over 1 million per month, ad revenue can make you some serious bank.
I’m talking tens of thousands a month so that you can see the benefit for sure.
If you do not have a product, ad income is an especially excellent way to monetize your blog.
Income Stream Two: Affiliate Income
Affiliate Income isn’t a huge percentage of my income, but it is a few thousand dollars each month. And it’s a passive income stream (read: easy money). However, just because it’s easy money doesn’t mean it’s easy to grow the Affiliate Income slice of the pie.
Here are my primary sources of affiliate income:
- Amazon Associates Program. Amazon accounts for 50%+ of my monthly affiliate income. It can take a while to grow but pretty much everyone shops on Amazon, so it’s worth your while as far as generating affiliate income goes. If I only joined one affiliate program, this would be it.
- Skillshare. I work with Skillshare via Sponsored Work and their Affiliate Program. I think it does so well because promoting their creative classes is authentic since I pay for, take, and love their classes myself. On top of that, it’s squarely in my niche.
- ShareASale. You can work with multiple brands and companies via ShareASale. My top earning affiliate income via ShareASale, by far, is Brit + Co. Again, I think it does so well because promoting their creative classes is authentic since I pay for, take and love their classes. And again, it fits seamlessly into my niche.
- Individual Blogger’s Programs. These aren’t as reliable but definitely, pay the best! For example, I joined Every-Tuesday’s affiliate program, and when I help promote one of her font, lettering, or design classes, I make a few thousand dollars each time.
I’ll talk more about how I grow and use affiliate income in future blog posts, because it’s a lot more complicated than just throwing an ad in your sidebar, and it deserves a full post of its own to discuss properly.
Income Stream Three: Sponsored Work
Working with Sponsors
There are two main ways to work with brands. One is via a Media Group, and the other is going it alone. Early in my blogging career, I did sponsored work via Media Groups. Two of the best to work with are Pollinate Media and TapInfluence.
There are two reasons I’ve been working directly with brands the last few years. The first is that when you work via a Media Group, the pay is substantially lower. The second is that media groups didn’t lend well to my niche once I narrowed my blogging to solely Art and Lettering.
I created the DND Partner Program to work directly with brands. When I first launched it, I reached out to the five brands I’ve worked with most. Two of them became regular clients, and one is working to fit me into their budget.
How to charge for sponsored work
Figuring out what to charge isn’t easy. I base all my pricing using the Social Blue Book tool. It’s like Kelley Blue Book for bloggers. I find Social Blue Book to be so helpful; I invested a little money in it when it went public.
Using a contract
I purchased this Sponsored Contract template, and I use it every time I do sponsored work on my blog and social media. Doing paid work without a contract is inadvisable primarily because it’s hard to get paid if you don’t and the brand flakes. With proper paperwork, it’s much easier to ensure you get paid for your work.
WP Drafts for friends
I nearly always submit a draft of my blog post a week to ten days before the day the blog post will go live. The WP Drafts for Friends plugin is super handy for creating a link to share with the brand so they can review the blog post.
Create a Media Kit you can easily share with brands. A media kit is essentially a resume for bloggers. Mine is formatted as a PDF, but I’m currently working on creating a landing page media kit on my site. I’ll add a link here once it’s complete.
Income Stream Four: Product/Service Income
For many years, I sold my products via Etsy. My Etsy shop did well on account traffic from my blog. Pinterest was my second biggest source of traffic. Etsy was a great place to start out. It is reputable and easy to use. I stayed on Etsy’s platform for six years before moving to my own shop.
Your Own Shop
About six months ago, I moved to my own shop. My shop is self-branded (shop.bydawnnicole.com) and is powered by Shopify. The main reasons I moved to my own shop were for branding reasons and also because you keep more of the profits with your own shop.
I left my Etsy shop up but changed all my links and “ads” on my site to link to my Shopify shop. Traffic and profits immediately shifted to my new shop, which goes to show what a powerful tool your blog can be!
I hope this lesson Four Ways to Monetize Your Creative blog gets your business wheels turning. Your income streams and their slices of the pie chart will likely change as your business grows and your goals change. Not every income stream or product launch will be a home run. That’s ok.
I love the phrase “Fail better.” I think it perfectly describes the life of a small business owner. Look at every “failure” as an opportunity to learn, grow, and do better the next time around!
Be sure you’re Blogging Legally when you’re Blogging for Income.
Affiliate Programs tend to have a lot of terms you need to comply with to stay legal and not get booted from the program.
Brush up on the Legalese lesson from the e-course below:
Up Next: Work Smarter, Not Harder!
Work Smarter, Not Harder. No one wants to live their life behind a laptop. Over the years, I’ve learned to use some excellent resources that save me a ton of time and help me put various aspects of my business on autopilot.