Earning an Income with Your Blog - Part 1

There are tons of ways to earn an income from your blog, if that is one of your goals. For me, my blog started out as a fun way for me to share all of my tips on getting daily freebies, finding sweet deals, and winning giveaways. But when I lost my job, I decided to focus on the blog as a business, and see if it could help me stay home longer with my new baby girl while still paying the bills.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is when you are compensated by a company for promoting their business. There are tons of different ways that this can work.
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[Image provided courtesy of the Sugarrae affiliate marketing blog.]
  • Direct affiliate relationships with companies: Some companies let you sign up {often through an affiliate management site} to promote their store or site directly, and you earn a percentage of sales on every purchase that someone makes, if they arrive at the site from one of your affiliate links.
  • Finding Partners: A great way to find new affiliate partnerships is to check out some sites for companies that you already love, and look down at the very bottom for something that says Affiliate Sign Up. That will either bring you directly to an application, or most likely, to a management company like Revenue Curve, Commission Junction, Pepperjam Network, or one of the million other sites out there.
  • Not for Newbies: I signed up for a few of these when I was a brand new blogger, but I don't advise doing this until you've had your blog for at least 6 months. After you sign up and are approved for a site like Commission Junction, you get to choose companies to partner with, and you apply for that opportunity. Many of the companies I liked didn't accept me because I was so new. Plus, most of these sites require you to reach $100 in revenue before you can cash out, which is really discouraging when you're brand new. Most of these partnerships only pay you when someone makes a purchase, which is good and bad. Good = You can earn some big profits when you use this type of affiliate relationship effectively. Bad = If you have really low traffic, it's going to take a long time to earn enough to cash out.

Great Options for New Bloggers:

Here are some of the sites that worked really great for me right away, and that I'm still using today to share quality content, deals, and sites, while also earning some income. Amazon pays you a small percent of anything purchased through one of their links, but since they have such great deals and huge selection, it's an easy way to find great things to promote.
The other three affiliate programs work very similar; you choose an offer, post the graphic or link to your site, and earn money either when someone clicks on it, or when they sign up for a cool offer you've shared. Easy peasy!
  • Amazon: Learn more about their easy to use program, and sign up as an affiliate, Amazon Sign Up.
  • MySavings Media: Promote brand name coupons and free product samples on your web site or blog. Great selection of offers and companies to promote. Click Here.
  • Escalate Media: Very user friendly, with amazing service and support. I participated in one of their live webinars/chats, and it was super helpful.  Sign Up here.
  • Logical Media: Get $25 free in your account when joining through this referral link. Click Here.
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Tips for Affiliate Marketing

There are a million places to learn some great tips for maximizing your affiliate earnings; check out some sites like Copyblogger, Savvy Blogging, and Blogelina are some of my favorite resources for blogging tips and great info.
Here are my best tips for getting started with affiliate marketing:
  • Promotion tips: Only promote a service/offer/company that you would use yourself. You want to be promoting things that you already love, and new things that you find that YOU want to use too, and not spreading around a bunch of random offers just to make some cash. If I read a blog, and they start promoting offers that are sorta spammy, or start posting about companies that aren't at all relevant to me, I'll stop following them. You're FIRST focus is sharing quality content. Find affiliates that can help add to that, and you'll make your readers happy! Reading about a hair club for men? Not helpful to me. Reading about a really awesome sale on Diapers from Amazon? Very helpful :)
  • Use 'em yourself: If you use sites like Escalate or MySavings, sign up for the sites that you share with your readers! Example: I only promote survey sites that I personally use, so that I know they're legit. I would NEVER promote something to my readers that I don't know much about. Once in a while I come across something that looks cool, so I share before I fully check it out... Big mistake. I once shared what LOOKED like a cool giveaway, but once I tried to enter it, I realized it was FILLED with spammy offers! Yuck.
  • Always remember... The offers should be providing a benefit to your readers! Ask yourself, "Why am I sharing this link?" Is it a cool brand or product that you think your readers would love learning about? A great sale, or cool freebie site? Make sure you are sharing because your readers will benefit, not because you might make some money. {I mean, obviously earning an income is your goal. Just make sure to do it the right way, you know?}
Ok, so all three of those tips are kind of similar, but good stuff to keep in mind!

Ad Networks:

You can also set up an account with an ad network like Google Adsense, to earn some income on your blog. This can be a pretty easy way to earn, since you usually just set up these ad's in your header, footer, or sidebar, and then earn money per click or action taken by the reader. It's the same idea as affiliate marketing, except that you're not choosing the ads or companies, the ad network chooses for you.
Google Adsense: Get started with an account here- Adsense Sign Up.
BlogHer Ad Network: I haven't used them yet, since they are not accepting blogs in my category right now. But I've heard really great things about them. BlogHer Ads.
Federated Media: I haven't used this yet, but I've heard good things about it. You can sign up here and learn more about how it works.

Sell Your Own Ads!

A lot of bloggers also sell their own ad space, and this is a great option to consider. I plan to start offering paid ad space soon, {I'm in the process of getting a whole blog redesign done by Angie over at Strosgirl Designs, and am waiting until I get the new site launched!}
Selling your own ad space can be a great way to earn some consistent revenue, but has some challenges too. You need to decide how much to charge, what size of ad space to offer, and what the terms will be. This is something that will be TOTALLY different for every blog, and every blogger. The best tip to help you figure it out is... How much value do you think you can provide to the person who buys that ad space? What would YOU pay for that same space on someone elses blog? This will help you determine not how much you can get, but how much is FAIR to charge.
Personally, I plan to offer ad space for $10 per month, and start out offering it to Etsy shop owners only. I'm a huge Etsy fan, and plan to start my own shop in the next few months. I'd love to help support other ladies out there who are trying to earn an income too, but have really limited budgets to spend on advertising. I'll also offer some additional services that will be for my ad space holders only.

Conclusion:

Adding some affiliate marketing or ad space can be a really simple way to start earning revenue from your blog; it can also be a way to earn a real income once you gain some traffic! The options are endless... You can start with a service like Escalate Media that is super user friendly and easy to get started with, or use a site like Commission Junction to partner with some top brands. Every blog is different, and will have different goals, so check out a few places to find the best fit for you!

Time to share!

I'd love to hear what networks you guys use, who you're happy with, who you think could use improvement.... Do you sell your own ad space? What advice do you have to share? Lets get some chat going on in the comments section! I love learning from other bloggers :) And if you know someone else that could benefit from this series, feel free to use the share buttons to add this to facebook or twitter.
Related Content:
Day 2: How to Host a Giveaway. Why a giveaway is important, how it can give your blog a big boost, and how to find partnerships for prize sponsorships.
MySavings Media Super Affiliate Program

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