Family, Food & Recipes

How to *authentically* monetize your blog

December 21, 2015
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Monetizing your blog. Chances are if you have a blog, you’ve either thought about ways to make money on your site or you’re currently pursuing ways to make money. From the start I’ve been in favor of making money on my site; writing a blog and producing quality content is time consuming and sometimes expensive (especially when you’re developing recipes of posting photos of outfits, etc.) so it seems sensible to mitigate those expenses when possible.

Just because you make money on your blog doesn’t mean you need to “sell out” and promote services and products you don’t believe in. There are plenty of ways to authentically make money on your site while still staying true to yourself and your audience.

Here are a few of my favorite ways! I’m not a blogging expert, nor do I make a full-time living on my site, so take what I share with a grain of salt. Perhaps you’re further down the blogging road than I am. If so, please share your own tips below. If you’re somewhere in the new to intermediate blogging stages, then these tips are for you!

1. Advertising Networks
This was the first way I started making money on E&C way back in 2010. I joined a now-defunct advertising network and starting hosting ads on my site. My traffic was close to nothing, but over time I started to make enough money to buy a few extra groceries for recipe development and offset some of the hosting costs on my site.

Google Ads is one of the easiest advertising points of entry since they don’t have many prerequisites for putting ads on your site. A couple years ago I applied and started working with BlogHer, which has a little more of an application process for the blogs and sites they accept. Foodie Blogroll is another food-focused advertising network. In recent years banner ads have become less lucrative and don’t pay nearly what they once did. However, many networks that once were exclusive now let you have more than one ad network in rotation, making up for some of the loss in revenue. Generally, ads that are placed higher up on the page generate more revenue than those that are tucked down in the sidebar where fewer people will see them.

If you have more time on your hands and want to carefully curate the companies who host ads on your site you could also pursue your own advertisers. It will take a little more time and energy, but you’ll maintain complete control over the companies that host ads on your site.

2. Amazon Associates
This is my favorite revenue generator because it works naturally into the content I’m already creating. As you know, I like to do a lot of product recommendations and round-ups of products that we’re loving and using. I LOVE when other bloggers do this, too, because I frequently find new baby products from my friend Kelsey’s Blog (go check her out!) and always appreciate the personal recommendations.

Amazon Associates allows you to sign up for an account and post custom links to products on Amazon. So, if I’m going to mention a formula or baby product or hair product that I love and buy on Amazon (we buy a lot of things on Amazon these days #smalltownlife) then I use my custom link. If someone purchases the product from my link, I’ll get a small referral bonus from Amazon. It’s not a lot of money, but little bits add up!

3. Working Directly With Brands
Do you have a brand that you genuinely love? Then reach out directly to the brand about collaborating together! A few years ago I got really into Vega protein powder after finding it at Whole Foods. I was such a big fan that I reached out to the company directly asking if they ever worked with bloggers. The conversation started there and we’ve continued to work together on and off for a couple years now. Many times brands are very receptive to bloggers reaching out. Plus, I find it more authentic when I love a product and initiate the conversation rather than the other way around. If I’m already loving and buying it myself, why not share that with blog readers?

A tip when contacting brands: Keep it concise! Short, sweet and specific are good words to live by. Brands are busy and don’t have a lot of time to read through long e-mails. Have a specific idea of how you want to work together and clearly lay out the benefits to the brand by explaining your blog’s core demographic, pageviews, unique visitors and social reach. Side note: You do not need to have a fancy media kit to do this!

4. Join a Content Marketing Network
In the last year or so, I joined a couple content marketing networks, including Pollinate Media. Other companies include Silkworm Social, Linquia, Federated Media, the list could go on and on. These agencies work with brands who are looking for custom content for campaigns. They usually send out opportunities that you can apply for, meaning you get to pick and choose what campaigns and brands to work with that are a natural fit for your lifestyle and blog. Some of these companies also run Twitter, Facebook and Instagram campaigns.

5. Play to Your Strengths
If you have a specialized skill set, maximize it! I’m a recipe developer by trade, so I’ve worked with brands to develop recipes that are promoted both on my site and on their sites. If you’re a great photographer, reach out to up and coming companies to talk about ways that you can provide high quality photos and promotion on your site in exchange for payment and product. Maybe you’re a home designer by trade. Working with a brand that fits into that niche with custom content on your site is a great way to use your specialized skill set while making money on your blog. There are a lot of voices on the web these days and having some credentials really helps give your voice authenticity when working with companies and brands.

6. Network Marketing
If you find a product or service that you love and you have an established online following, working with a network marketing company is a great way to bring the two together. About a year ago, a friend introduced me to Beautycounter, a line of safe and effective skincare and makeup products that are free of toxic chemicals and unhealthy ingredients. Not only are the products good for you, but they work SO well. Since I was already buying the products myself, I decided to start selling Beautycounter as a consultant. I get a consultant discount on the products I already know and love, and I get to share my love of BC with blog readers and friends. It’s a win-win. I’m guessing I’ll never sell BC full-time, but it’s a great way to make a little extra money each month to put toward savings goals we have as a family.

If you’re interested in Beautycounter or becoming a Beautycounter consultant, let me know! I would love to chat more about the products and company. (madisonjanemayberry@gmail.com) That said, there are a lot of other great companies out there that use the network marketing structure. Finding one that is authentic to you is key to making it both fun for you and authentic for your readers!

Madison

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2 Comments

  • Reply ali grace | cookies and grace December 24, 2015 at 3:32 am

    This is so helpful! I’m definitely in the more beginner/intermediate phase of blogging and haven’t yet dipped my toes into the monetizing side of things — but I’ve definitely been thinking about it. And so glad you’ve stayed true to yourself and kept this blog authentically you. Those are the kind I like to read! Yay you. 🙂

    • Reply Madison Mayberry December 28, 2015 at 7:54 pm

      Ali I’m so happy you found it helpful! I never know when I share tips if they are helpful or not. I always think it’s best to gradually dip your toes in the water and see what works best for you and your blog! 🙂

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