There is a multitude of ways in which you can generate an income for your blog, and many of those can be very lucrative. In essence, however, most of these boil down to a few basic principles – and here they are:
1. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is the simple, no-nonsense way to be in business online. Someone else has already created the product or service and provides support, and you get paid a commission per sale or per lead generated (CPA marketing). Depending on the price of the item, the commission can be substantial, or it can even be recurring for as long as the customer keeps on paying for the service.
In essence, you are paid a marketing fee, but only upon a successful conversion (from visitor to lead, or from visitor to customer).
2. Selling advertising
This is bigger than you can imagine. Google, Facebook, Twitter and all news websites all exist for the sole purpose of generating revenue from advertising. All of these websites attract massive numbers of users, and make their money by selling advertising space directly.
Many blogs also sell advertising directly – for some people, it beats having to build mailing lists, or figuring out which products to advertise to their audiences.
Even if you don’t want to sell advertising directly, you can still tap into the industry by becoming a publisher for a company that sells advertising – like Google Adsense, for instance. You are paid a portion of the revenue generated in return for the exposure.
Google Adsense works better for some niches than for others – for instance, it doesn’t work well for anything relating to making money online. But that’s another topic altogether.
3. Being a digital product vendor
Although this isn’t for everyone, being able to offer your own product(s) places you in a good position: Firstly, it adds to your credibility – immensely, especially if the product is well received. Secondly, it puts YOU in the position to be able to recruit your own affiliates and JV partners.
If you work at expanding your network, you can eventually have an army of affiliates, as well as a number of strong joint venture partners, which will allow you to launch new products with a big bang every time.
4. Selling a service
This is a wide area with plenty of potential. This can range from directly offering virtual assistance services (writing, social media management) and brokering for outsourcing (like Upwork and Fiverr), right up to selling consultation services at substantial fees. It also includes marketing physical services online – like selling real estate, plumbing services, etc. And of course it also includes online services like hosting, autoresponders, selling traffic, social media scheduling, etc.
5. Selling education
This is a business model that is currently booming. While selling online courses would place you more into the “selling digital goods” category, selling education means you are actually hosting live classes online. Since it is generally proven as having a much higher success rate than just working through an online course, the perceived value is much higher, and online educators charge quite a bit for their courses.
Courses can easily sell for up to $5,000 for a course of six months to a year, depending on the topic and depth of the training. Even though you can only handle a set number of students at a time, the high price tag makes it extremely lucrative. More and more people are now offering education as the “flagship product” on their blogs.
6. Membership sites
Membership sites come in all forms – but they do present unique opportunities. Some membership sites are content-based, with new content added on a regular basis. Some are training-related, containing course materials. Some offer access to specific tools and information. Some carry a once-off cost to join, some carry a monthly cost, and some carry a fixed-term cost (like say, $27 for six months – usually used in conjunction with training).
If you can create a membership site that keeps people coming back on a regular basis, you can (a) charge a monthly fee, and/or (b) advertise at will on the inside. In fact, many people create free membership sites (like forums, for instance), and use it as advertising space for their own products and/or affiliate products.
E-commerce is the selling of physical goods in an online store. It is a big undertaking, and once it grows you may need to enlist some help to process orders – but the potential is good (just look at Amazon.com…)
Most e-commerce websites work on what we call the “dropshipping” model – meaning the owner of the website doesn’t keep any stock. Once you pay for an order, he or she sends payment for the product to the actual vendor, who ships the product directly to you. The vendor makes a profit, you get your product at a reasonable price, and the vendor/manufacturer doesn’t have to worry about marketing.
However, some e-commerce sites are built using affiliate products. Examples include Amazon niche stores, and Ali Express niche stores. WordPress plugins are available to do both. In essence, you can have an e-commerce store without having any of the hassles of finding suppliers, dealing with staff, dealing with customer support, etc.
The potential business models will depend on the niche you choose for your blog, your target customer and (to an extent) your own level of skill. However, do keep in mind that the tech stuff can be outsourced. Heck, everything can be outsourced. There are many vendors on Clickbank that outsource everything – from product creation to support.
But that’s also a conversation for another day.