‘Time is money.’
That old adage remains true—but in the digital age, if time is money, then attention is gold.
Millions turn their attention to the web daily in search of stimulation, information, and education (and COVID-19 has only made that even more true.)
If you can keep the attention of your audience, you can also get paid for it, whether you run a fishing blog or a YouTube channel for makeup tutorials.
Ways to Monetize your Blog
Getting ads to show on your site, negotiating which ads go where and how much you get paid, sounds like a nightmare. Instead, it’s incredibly simple, thanks to a service from a little-known tech company: Google.
Enabling Google Adsense on your website will allow Google to display ads to visitors without you having to manage them. To get started, you’ll just need to add a little code to your site, provided to you by Google once you sign up. Once that’s done, advertisers will start to bid in the background to try to get their ad to show up on your site for every visitor.
(If you’re worried about unsavory ads appearing on your site without your knowledge, there are a number of settings you can tweak to control what format and categories of ads can show up, where they can be placed, and even a color scheme the ads should compliment.)
Once you’re set up and you’ve got your settings to your liking, you’re good to go. With Adsense enabled, you’ll receive payment monthly based on the number of ads that users clicked on from your website. Simple!
How much you can make varies on your region, industry, and some other unique factors that make exact numbers hard to provide. You can use this revenue calculator from Google to get a sense of what you might be able to earn. According to that calculator, a blog about beauty in North America getting 50,000 page views in a month could make around $6,000 a year. On the higher end, if that blog started getting a million page views each month (which is an extremely lofty goal) it could earn around $110,000 over the year.
Just don’t fill your site with ads to make more money. It’ll put users off and do more damage than good.
Use Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing in a nutshell: you tell someone to buy something, they buy it, and you get a commission. In the digital age, that takes the form of getting someone to buy something online after clicking on a special ‘affiliate link.’
Amazon has taken a huge share of the affiliate marketing space and made it very easy for budding affiliate marketers to get started. You can make a significant amount of money purely through the Amazon Associates program, and all you need to sign up is to pass a short approval test and sell at least three products within 180 days.
Signing up for the program is free, and makes the process of getting the special links you need to earn a commission very easy: install a plugin for your browser and visit the Amazon page of the product you want to get a commission on, and the tool will grab your affiliate link.
All you need to do now is get someone to click on it, but how you go about doing that is up to you. One popular method is through reviews. By writing (or filming) reviews of specific products, you can get the attention of people already looking to buy something similar to what you’re selling, give them an (honest) review, and then give them the link to purchase it, if they choose to. Whatever you do sell through that review, you can get up to 10% commission on.
Package your Expertise for Passive Income: Sell Courses, Webinars, or eBooks
Content comes in a variety of forms, but ultimately, it’s either informative, entertaining, or both. If you have expertise in a subject people always want to know more about—whether programming, dancing, public speaking, or fishing—there are many things you can do to maximize your passive revenue streams.
Give your audience a bevy of free content, but at the same time, consider putting together a collection of your best content, or do a huge deep dive on one important aspect of your knowledge. This could come in the form of an eBook which, essentially, would be a long PDF that users can download. When you know what your audience is hungry for, add to your menu so your audience looks forward to what you’ll feed them next.
Charging a fee for users to download something might sound a little complicated, but there are a number of tools that can streamline the process. If your site is on WordPress, you could use a plugin called Easy Digital Downloads. Here’s an in-depth guide to what that is and getting it set up.
It doesn’t have to be an eBook: through the same method described above, your passive revenue stream can be in whatever format you want. If you can put together a webinar, you can sell it; if you can put together a full educational course, complete with qualifications, you can sell it; if you can commit to coaching someone in-person or over video calls across multiple weeks as a coaching program, you can sell it. How you should package yours really comes down to your niche and your preference.
Monetize your YouTube Channel
Before you can earn money on YouTube, you’ll need to have a decently-sized audience. To qualify for the program, you’ll need at least a thousand subscribers, as well as a total of 4,000 ‘public watch hours.’ Translation: a lot of people need to have watched your videos, for a long time.
(You’ll also need to sign up for a Google Adsense account—hope you did that earlier!)
Once you meet the requirements, you can sign up for the YouTube Partner Program. It’ll take a while to get approved—around a month—but once you are, you can start allowing ads on your videos.
There are some other ways of making money with YouTube, like becoming a Premium partner or selling ‘Super Chats,’ but these options are only really viable once you gain hundreds of thousands of followers.
Want to know how much you can make? One view is worth around $0.02… so, at first, not much. In fact, YouTube has stated that practically no-one on the platform made more than $100 in their first year. With a little patience, those fifth-cents will add up greatly. Here are some tips for making more!
- Videos over 10 minutes can have two ads in them, meaning you can earn double the revenue of a 9-minute video.
- You can combine affiliate marketing with your YouTube ad revenue! Just add affiliate links to the products you display or mention in your videos to the video description.
- Be careful not to violate YouTube’s Partner guidelines. Offending videos will be demonetized with extreme prejudice, meaning they’ll no longer generate ad revenue for you.
Some of the above options can make you feel like you’re sacrificing some of your integrity to make the most of them. Enabling ads on your site, for example, does come with a trade-off to user experience: ads work, but people generally don’t like them. Playing by YouTube’s rules to make money might make you feel like you’re prioritizing revenue over the quality of your content.
There’s one fascinating way of making your content profitable that doesn’t have to make you feel like a salesman—enter Patreon.
Patreon is essentially a third-party platform that lets your fans and followers support you financially, through monthly memberships. You can set up membership tiers with special rewards, to make sure the process still feels fun and exclusive, and never like you’re selling too hard.
Patreon will generally work best for creative or entertaining content creators, but it could work just as well for your fishing blog or your YouTube channel about video games.
The potential for revenue through Patreon is surprisingly huge—the biggest creators on the platform are estimated to be making some six-figures of revenue per month—but as a newbie to the platform, it might be more realistic to aim for $1,000 per month. It’s not easy to reach this milestone by any means, and you’ll have to inspire passion in your audience to get them to willingly give you money for nothing in return, but you might be surprised how willing they are if you simply ask.
There’s No Hard Limit
Making money from content is very much still an emerging concept. Patreon, for example, didn’t even exist as an idea until around five years ago, and we’re still seeing original takes on how the platform can be used. You could set up an easy way for visitors to ‘tip’ you, charge an access fee for signing up to your newsletter, or even start a paid monthly membership for your more premium content.
Whatever you choose to do, remember the golden rule: the first consideration for success is making excellent content. If the quality of your content starts to come second to how much money you can make from it, you’re going to lose the attention of your audience—and if you don’t have their attention, you won’t be making any money from it.