Hey boos! Today I’m going to be answering one of the questions I receive the most about blogging:
Where do I begin to monetize my blog? I have 200+ followers on IG and trying to be in the right direction to have a brand that is a business. I see what you do and it’s so inspiring 😩😩❤️🙌🏾
At what stage can one start monetizing one’s blog?
I have a blog (geared towards heartbreak and self love) that I want to grow and honestly try to monetize off of it. Can you offer some advice and guidance?
Though I’m fortunate to be earning a modest full time income in my fourth year running this blog part time, I truly believe that you can monetize your blog at any stage. Below, I’ve broken down a couple different suggestions for how to monetize your blog whether you’re just starting out or have 100,000 followers or monthly readers. Though they’re not the same, I’ve combined Instagram followers with monthly blog readers for simplicity’s sake, so a beginner blogger in this definition is anyone with less than 5,000 Instagram followers OR less than 5,0000 monthly blog views. I’ve also included images from brown girl bloggers at each stage that I absolutely love, so you can have additional inspiration!
Quick caveat before we dive in: monetizing your blog does not necessarily mean you will have additional income to put in your pocket. Blogs cost money: the domain, hosting, graphic design, social media scheduling tools, equipment, photo shoots, taxes, conferences, etc all add up. I suggest using any income you earn from your blog to first cover all your expenses before you start cutting yourself a check. Alright, leggo!
BEGINNER BLOGGER – 0-5,000 Followers/Monthly Views
Yay, you’ve just started blogging. Why not earn some extra cash?
It doesn’t matter if you blog about hair products, music, or LEGOS, you can use Amazon Associates to include product links in your posts. If you’re a fashion blogger, you can buy clothes on Amazon and then link to it in your IG stories. If you blog about relationships, you can link to some relationship books that you’ve come across on Kindle. The best part is that you earn on the total purchase, not just what someone clicks on from your link. So if someone buys a book you recommended on your blog, but also has paper towels, a pair of shoes, and bluetooth speakers in their cart, you’ll earn a percentage on all those items!
BLOGGER BOO – 5,000-20,000 Followers/Monthly Views
Do you boo boo, you’re getting the hang of this blogging thing! Now it’s time to reap the rewards of your hard work.
In addition to earning revenue through Amazon, there are several other affiliate revenue platforms that aggregate affiliate programs for various brands. You can sign up for most of these at any time, but unlike Amazon, some of them have minimum payout thresholds, so it might take you a long while to see a check if you haven’t yet grown your following. ShareASale works by partnering with hundreds of companies who offer text links and banners that you can put anywhere on your site. I currently link to QRedew (hair steamer), Minted (stationary & art), StudioPress (blog themes), and Restored 316 (current blog theme) through ShareASale. If there are companies that you already use and patronize, check ShareASale to see if they are merchants – I quickly checked and saw Spanx, Wayfair, and FreshDirect, so there’s something for everyone. If you’re a beauty or fashion blogger, you can also apply to RewardStyle or ShopStyle Collective, which provide links for beauty products, clothing, and accessories. They’re very similar but I’ve earned more income with RewardStyle than with ShopStyle, but it’s easier to get into RewardStyle with a referral, so if you need one, let me know!
Some companies have their own separate affiliate program that you can join at any time. If there is a product you like to use or are blogging about, just search xyz affiliate, and a program might come up! I personally make more income from company specific affiliate programs than from larger websites.
You might be surprised that I didn’t include advertising revenue, or income made from placing ads on your website, on the beginner tier, because you can install ads on your site via Google Adsense at any time. However, unless you have substantial web traffic, ad revenue is literally pennies and detracts from an aesthetically pleasing blog design. I think a mistake that new bloggers make is cluttering their blogs with ads before anyone is even reading, which makes people not want to read, and hinders your growth! Once you’ve got a good rhythm going and an established readership, feel free to add in ads.
Gifted Sponsored Campaigns
At this level, you can definitely begin securing collaborations with brands for either paid or gifted campaigns. Gifted campaigns are where you only get the product, and no additional compensation, and is more feasible with this following and reach. But don’t feel like a product-only post isn’t monetized! If you would have bought something anyway, and you are able to get it for free, you are monetizing by saving! There are a billion and one networks now that connect bloggers with brands looking for promotion in exchange for product, so join a couple and see where it goes.
You can also reach out directly to brands who you want to collaborate with, and this has been incredibly successful for me in terms of getting free things. All my honeymoon swimsuits were gifted in exchange for a blog post. All I did was find the press contact for the brands I wanted to work with, told them a little bit about myself, my blog, and my audience (major key!), which product I wanted and why it would be a good fit, what I was willing to do in exchange for it, and waited for a response! The worst that can happen is that you get a no. If you need pitching advice, I’m in a Facebook group called That Pitch Life that is often helpful, and even purchased some pitch templates.
You can definitely secure paid campaigns in this level as well, you’ll just have to work a bit harder! SocialFabric is a great place to start for bloggers who are open to covering food and consumer products, because they work specifically with retailers sold in grocery stores.
BLOGGER BABE – 20,000-75,000 Followers/Monthly Views
Yass queen!!! You take blogging seriously and are committed to growing your blog as a business.
With a more substantial following, you can definitely start bringing in income through affiliates. Be intentional about your promotions, but don’t get carried away with pushing products on your followers and readers.
There are plenty of ad networks besides Google Adsense, so you can supplement Adsense earnings with ads that better fit your design, niche, and offers reasonable CPMs. Play around with in text ads in addition to sidebar ads – I’ve found that I personally don’t mind in text ads as much if I’m reading a well established blog with solid content. I had a traumatic experience with ads on my site after Mode Media randomly shut down last year and didn’t pay me for 5 months worth of ad revenue, but I’m finally healed and will be adding ads back onto my site soon.
Paid Sponsored Campaigns
Eh henh, what you’ve been waiting for. For me this year, paid sponsored campaigns have been the bread and butter of monetizing my blog. The majority of my paid Instagram and blog campaigns come from influencer marketing networks like Fohr Card, Tapinfluence, Clever, Popular Pays, and Revfluence. Some of these you can actually join anytime, but whether or not you receive paid or gifted only campaigns may vary. There are tons more networks so do some research to find ones that best fit your niche.
I also negotiate paid campaigns when brands reach out to me about promotion, especially if they have specific requirements about when and how to post, want guaranteed coverage, or want multiple posts. Negotiating is an art but if you’re in this level, I would do tons of research to figure out how much you should be charging for various kinds of posts, create a rate kit, and get ready to say no to a lot of opportunities. I’m not saying that you should never do things for free – I definitely do a lot of gifted work – but I firmly believe that brands requesting a specific promotional outcome should pay you for your time, influence, and content creation services.
BLOGGER BOSS – 75,000+ Followers/Monthly Views
Honey chile, you are all around popping and are ready to go full-time! Although I’m not at this stage (yet!), here’s what I’ve observed from other bloggers.
Paid Sponsored Campaigns
At this stage, bloggers typically graduate from one-time campaigns to long-term ambassadorships with brands, which garner more money, like five figures per campaign kind of money.
You can do events at any stage, and be paid to do so (heck I’ve been paid to do quite a number of events), but I think once you reach this level you can definitely get paid for event hosting and speaker gigs, which are great if you want to expand to other media gigs like TV.
This is the REAL breadwinner right here. Once you can create and sell products and services (a clothing line, a makeup kit, an app, etc) that people buy because of your brand, you are golden. You are literally making money off of yourself, and not off of another person’s product. You won’t have to split profits with anyone else, your income is completely independent. This is the goal, for me at least.