How-to Monetize Your Blog

monetize-blogDo you have a hobby blog or two and wondering how you can start making money by blogging? Here are a few tips from freelance writer Lynn Smythe, the founder of The Creative Cottage.

How Can I Make Money From My Blog?

I’ll tell you right from the beginning, I never started blogging to make money. All of my blogs started out as hobby blogs. But, during the past few years, I’ve started to research ways to make a few dollars while blogging on a part-time basis. And 2014 is the first year I’ve actually decided to dedicate a certain amount of time each week to try to monetize my blogs, the goal is to eventually make a pretty decent living by the time I’m ready to retire.

If you had the time to blog on a full-time basis and blogged about one of the more popular niche topics, such as search engine optimization, computer software or electronic gear, you could probably make a killing blogging. But again, I blog as a way to share my enthusiasm for a variety of hobbies, so any money I happen to make is just bonus points.

The Life Hacker website has a really great article on this very topic: “Can I Really Make a Living by Blogging?” Here’s my #1 take-away from that article – Don’t let this discourage you, but just know it could take months, if not years, to start making a living with your blog. So blogging is NOT a get rich quick scheme.

Lynn Smythe’s Blogs

I started Bike Diva in 2006, making it the oldest of my seven blogs. Beauty Diva is the newest blog and I started it for the sole purpose of writing reviews related to beauty products, makeup and clothing. So that’s the only one of my blogs that was specifically started to try to make money and not for the purpose of writing about my latest hobby.

NOTE: Since I originally wrote this article for my Lynn Smythe Creations blog, I have decided keeping up-to-date with seven different blogs is too much work. I started the Creative Cottage website, in February 2015, as a way to consolidate the diva themed blogs into one central location. The diva theme blogs will cease to exist at some point in time, so don’t be surprised if these links no longer work:

  1. Backyard Diva – www.backyard-diva.com
  2. Beauty Diva – www.beauty-diva.net
  3. Bike Diva – www.bikediva.net
  4. Craft Diva – www.craftdiva.net
  5. Cuisine Diva – www.cuisinediva.net
  6. Run Diva – www.rundiva.net
  7. Lynn Smythe Creations – www.lynnsmythecreations.com

How to Make Money Blogging

I’m going to mention this again because I mainly blog for fun, on a part-time basis, I am not trying to make a full-time living blogging. You can follow bloggers, such as Darren Rowse on the Pro Blogger site, if you want to pursue blogging as a full-time career. This blog post is for the hobby blogger trying to make a few extra dollars that AREN’T figured into your monthly budget.

You can use the money for FUN stuff –  make enough money to support your Starbucks habit, go out to dinner a few times each month, see your favorite band in concert or take a trip to Disney World. I would love to make enough money from blogging this year to use towards the purchase of a newer car. But I won’t be holding my breath.

There are many more ways to make money blogging, than I mention here, but these are the top methods I’m using at the present time. It is beyond the scope of this blog article to go into the details on how to set each of these methods up – that is up to each blogger, and all depends on which blogging platform you use. I’ve used a lot of blogging platforms over the years; Blogger, Typepad, WordPress, Tumblr, Medium and Medium just to name a few. In fact, I will be writing about the different blogging platforms in a future article. So depending on what blog site you use, you’ll need to do a bit of research and/or click the help button on each site for tips on how to set up these programs on your own blog.

Amazon product links
Make money adding Amazon links to your favorite products.

Amazon Affiliate Links

Amazon lets you add a link to your blog to any of the products they sell at Amazon.com. Amazon will provide you with a piece of html code for each product, you just copy the code and add it to your blog. If anyone clicks on the link and places an order you receive 4% to 6% of the order total. And the order DOES NOT have to be for the item in the link. If someone clicks on a link for a $5 bead book but ends up ordering the book and a $25 bead loom, or just the bead loom, you still get 4 % to 6% of the order total!

How do you add an Amazon Affiliate Link to your blog? The Lynn Smythe Creation blog runs on the Typepad blogging platform. There are two boxes at the top of each blog post – one that says rich text and the other that says HTML. Click on HTML box and copy the Amazon product code where you want it to appear in your blog post. WordPress has a similar method for adding html code, again, this is very easy to do. I am NOT a computer programmer so if I can figure this stuff out anyone can!

What does an Amazon Affiliate Link look like? Go to the bottom of this blog article and you will see four links to books I found on Amazon related to blogging as a business. I went into my Amazon affiliate account, searched “blogging” and picked the top 4 books that looked interesting to me. Then I copied the HTML code and pasted the code into the bottom of this article.

While my Amazon Affiliate Link income is very small, my earrings for the second quarter of 2014 were double my Q1 earrings. So it just goes to show, if you actually dedicate time to monetize your blog, you will eventually see results. Amazon doesn’t pay out until you have a least $10 in affiliate income. I have my account set up for a direct deposit to my bank account, but you can request payment as an Amazon gift card. I used to do that because I order a TON of stuff from Amazon, so pick whichever payment method you prefer.

And FYI: there are many sites that offer affiliate link programs besides Amazon. I used to run Hammer Nutrition affiliate links on the Bike Diva blog when I was racing and using a lot of their sports nutrition products. I don’t think I ever got actual $, but rather a credit in my Hammer account to use anytime I ordered  products from them. If you really want to get into affiliate links, do a bit of research and pick the ones that look the most promising.

Google AdSense
Use Google AdSense to monetize your blogs.

Google AdSense

I’m sure most of you have heard of Google AdWords? That’s when you pay Google to place ads for your company based on how much you bid for certain keywords, well that’s the Reader’s Digest Condensed version of Google AdWords. Or maybe you don’t know what I’m talking about, which means I’ve really turned into a Uber Geek – COOL!

Anyways, Google AdSense is a way to make a bit of money for placing Google AdWords ads on your blog. Anyone can apply to the Google AdSense program. You put a certain html code on your blog and if anyone clicks on the ads, Google gives you a teeny bit of $. Don’t click on your own blog ads or ask your friends and family to click on the ads. Google will figure out what you are doing and boot you out of the Google AdSense program before you see a single dime.

You need a Gmail email address to sign up for Google AdSense. Once you’ve got your AdSense account set up you decide what size and type of ad you want. Google shows you a snippet of HTML code and you copy it and paste it into your blog. If you don’t know how to add html code to  your blog, ask around and see if any of your friends can help you. If I can figure it out, anyone can figure it out.

Google AdSense has a $100 cap minimum. That means you have to make at least $100 in Google AdSense income before they pay out. So I’m only getting a check from Google about twice a year right now, well actually I have it set up for direct deposit to my bank account. I’ve heard of bloggers that are making TONS of $ in Google AdSense earnings but they have a single blog getting something ridiculous like 45,000 viewers per month. My hobby blogs probably only get that many viewers per year, for all the blogs added together. So although I’m not making a ton of money using this method, every penny counts!

What does a Google AdSense ad look like? I have a rectangle ad running across the bottom right footer section of this blog, and a square ad running on the top right column of each page. On some of my other blogs, I run a banner ad across the top of my blog and a rectangular ad on the right side. Don’t place too many ads on your blog or it will look too busy and turn people off from reading it. I also believe Google has a limit as to how many ads you can place on each of your blogs – I think it’s three, but check to make sure.

Review Products on Your Blog

I used to work with Tomoson to find products to test and review on my blogs. A bonus of working with Tomoson and leaving over 30 product reviews on Amazon, now I have company’s contacting me directly asking if I want to work with them. Some just want to send me free product to review but others actually pay me a bit of money.

One new client emailed to see if I was interested in reviewing their clients’ products. I’ve only written one review for them so far, but I was paid $25 via Paypal just a few minutes after I emailed them the link to the Amazon review. I guess they were happy with the review I left and have approved me to review another product, again FREE product plus $25 for the Amazon review.

The first product came from China and took three weeks to arrive in my mail box. The person I was working with said Amazon will let you add a review anytime after you order a product. I DO NOT leave reviews for products I haven’t had a chance to look at, try out, test! How do you know if the product isn’t going to be crap? My reputation is on the line. Just because you send me free product and offer to pay me a couple of dollars doesn’t mean I’m going to leave you a five star Amazon review.

Amazon aStore
Make money recommending books sold on Amazon.com.

Other Ways I Monetize My Blogs

This article is getting a bit long, but here are some other ways to make money from blogging. I will talk about some of these methods in detail in future article to the Creative Cottage blog.

Sponsored Guest Posts – a company pays you in product and/or cash to test their product and write a review for publication on your website.

Other Ads – Google Adsense isn’t the only company you can work with to place ads on your website. I’ve used both Chitika and the Foodie Blogroll advertising network, but there are MANY companies you can work with if you want to place advertisements on your blog.

Digital Downloads. I used to write how-to articles and design bead patterns for craft and jewelry magazines. I eventually hope to offer a few of my original beading patterns, as a digital download, on the Creative Cottage website.

Amazon aStore – I actually just set this up on The Creative Cottage. Click on Bookstore on the top menu and it will take you to an online store of books I recommend to my readers. The program works just like the Amazon product links I wrote about, you get a percentage of any sales.

Ecommerce – start your own online store. I’ve never had much luck trying to sell my craft and jewelry supplies on sites like ArtFire and Etsy. While, I’ve bought supplies from vendors I’ve found online, these online malls don’t offer a lot in the way of customization. So I’ve decided to start my own ecommerce site on the Creative Cottage. I just started adding a few bead assortments to my online store, so it’s too soon to tell if I’m going to make any $ from this method of blog optimization. I’m using the WooCommerce plugin, which I will write about in a future blog post, once I’ve had a chance to test it out.

Uncle Sam wants his money, if you make money blogging, don't forget to report it to the IRS.
Uncle Sam wants his money, if you make money blogging, don’t forget to report it to the IRS.

Pay Your Taxes Please

One final note. If you use any of these methods to monetize your blog, and you make $600 or more from a single source, you are required to report the income to the IRS and pay taxes on that income. Don’t think you can’t report your hobby income, Big Brother (the IRS) is watching you! Big corporations, like Amazon and Google, will send the IRS one of those 1099 forms if you make more than $600 per year. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Are you making money from your blogs? Add a comment to this blog post, or contact the Creative Cottage info@thecreativecottage.net, and share your blog monetization success stories with us!

Take care,
Lynn Smythe of The Creative Cottage

© 2015, The Creative Cottage. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.