How to Make Money Blogging: 5 Ways to Use Your Blog as a Springboard to Earn Additional Income (Part 2)

Two weeks ago, we talked about teaching an online class and writing an ebook as two ways to earn money indirectly through blogging. Here are three additional ideas:

3) Accept Speaking Engagements

If you love public speaking (or want to grow to love it!), you can make a fairly good side income through accepting public speaking engagements. If you don’t have people beating a path to your door offering to fly you to their event and pay you to speak, never fear, you just need to work on getting your name out there and building up a reputation as a highly sought-after speaker.

Depending upon your blog’s topic, you could offer to speak at local events for free in order to build your portfolio. Or, you could offer a class through your local community center for a small fee per sign-up. If the class is well received, you could offer it on a regular basis or teach the same class in nearby towns, as well.

If you hope to be asked to do more speaking opportunities, you could set up a page on your blog that outlines details on what speaking engagements you accept, past speaking experience, testimonials, future speaking engagements, and how people can contact you about possibly speaking at their event.

As an added bonus, speaking engagements can put your name and blog name in front of dozens or even hundreds of people who haven’t heard of you or your blog before, helping to grow your blog and widen your audience.

4) Become a Freelance Writer

Blogging has opened up a few doors of opportunity for me to have extra paid writing gigs on occasion. It’s been a great experience, as well as extra cashflow. While it’s been a long time since I’ve sought out such opportunities, I know that there are many available–especially if you are a gifted writer.

If you want to do more freelance writing and are having trouble finding opportunities, contact small local parenting magazines across the nation. Many of these accept articles and pay up to $25 per article. Best of all, since these are local and state publications, they don’t ask for exclusive rights. So, hypothetically, you could spend a few hours on one article and pitch it to 100 different small publications. If even 10 of them run it, you could make $250 off it. That’s certainly nothing to sneeze at!

Again, in most publications that you write for, you can include a bio with a link to your site. You might not get a lot of traffic from it, but it will more than likely send at least a few new visitors to your blog.

5) Offer Consulting Services

Many companies are taking notice of bloggers and realizing that we are much more adept at online marketing and social media than they. They want to know how they, too, can grow their business through blogging and social media. As a result, there are numerous companies who are more than willing to pay bloggers to give them tips and pointers–or even to take over their social media presence for them.

Consulting jobs pay well–often upwards of $50 or more per hour–but they are more difficult to get. Usually they are the result of networking and pre-established relationships.

My biggest tip is that you don’t sell yourself short or work for free. Sometimes companies expect bloggers to offer consulting services for free, just because, well, you’re a blogger. If a company comes to you and asks for advice on something that’s going to require more than 15 minutes of your time to help with, write back and let them know you are more than glad to consider helping them and your fees are $XX per hour (charge at least $20 to $25 per hour, if not more, to make it worth your time).

Your time is valuable and, unless it’s a ministry or nonprofit or some other company that you have strong ties to, don’t give them free handouts. This only hurts all bloggers when companies have the idea that they can get hours of consulting services from bloggers without paying. They wouldn’t expect to hire a consulting firm without paying them, so they also shouldn’t expect the same or similar services from bloggers without paying.

Bonus: Write a Book

As I’ve dipped my toe into the world of book publishing this year, I’ve learned many lessons. One of which is that getting your book published is not as hard as many may think. If you’ve built up a strong blog audience, have a social media presence, are passionate about your subject, and are a decent writer, you can likely get a book deal.

However, don’t do what I did and just accept whatever book deal a publisher offers you. I learned that the hard way. While my publisher has been excellent to work with, I wish I would have gotten my agent first before signing the book deal. There were a lot of little things I knew nothing about and having an agent to help me chart these never-before-navigated waters would have been invaluable, as well as saving me some headaches and hassles later. But oh well, live and learn right?

My advice? Come up with some winning book ideas and then get a great agent. You’ll not only have an advocate and a go-between for pitching your book idea to publishers, but you’ll have someone to hold your hand and cheer you on through the process.

This is the final format post in this series on How to Make Money Blogging. If there are lingering questions you still have or topics you’d like for me to delve into deeper or explain further, leave a comment or email me. If there are enough questions asked, I’ll do a follow-up post next Wednesday.

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How to Make Money Blogging: 5 Ways to Use Your Blog as a Springboard to Earn Additional Income (Part 1)

Not only are there many ways to earn income directly from blogging, but blogging also opens up a host of other ways to earn money indirectly. Here are five ways I’ve used my blog as a springboard to earn additional income:

1) Teach an Online Class

I taught my first online course back in 2006–way back when I was just learning about online marketing and blogging and really didn’t have much of a clue what I was doing. That first class was successful, so I taught another and another and another. Not only did I learn so much through teaching (and hopefully imparted some helpful information to my students!), but it was a great source of side income to supplement our family during a lean season.

With just a few simple tools, you can teach video or audio courses online. Or, you can put together a package with video and/or audio plus a course handbook like Carrie’s Grocery University.

Consider what are your areas of expertise and what questions you are asked most as a blogger and then see if there’s a way you can turn these ideas into a marketable online class. Offer the class very inexpensively the first time around as you learn the ropes, ask other bloggers to promote the class for you (you could write a guest post for a few blogs on a relevant topic and then link to your class in your bio), and make sure to include testimonials from those who have gone through the class on your sales page.

2) Write an Ebook

Writing and selling ebooks is one market that is untapped by many, many bloggers–and there’s tremendous potential to earn a few hundred (or even a few thousand dollars!) each year by selling ebooks.

In the early days of blogging, selling ebooks was the bread and butter of our business. As our business has grown and our income has increased, I’ve moved away from selling ebooks, but I’d still highly recommend this to other bloggers–especially if you don’t mind dealing with the occasional difficult customer service issue.

There are a few things you must know about successfully selling ebooks, though:

::You need to write on a relevant, practical topic. The best-selling ebooks are those that tell you how to make money, save money, lose weight, cook better, get organized, or somehow practically improve your life. Unfortunately, an ebook comprised of poems is probably not going to sell well.

::Your cover and salespage are everything. You can write a killer ebook, but if your cover is cheesy and your salespage is pathetic, it probably won’t sell. Hire a designer to do your cover (it’s worth the expense, I promise!), and make sure that your salespage has a clear-cut call to action, includes specific details on why someone should buy your book, and has testimonies to back up your claims.

::You must exhaust every marketing possibility. People need to see things again and again and again in order to consider buying. Write guest posts, get every blogger possible to review your ebook, run ebook giveaways on dozens of blogs, and find every other creative free way to get your ebook out there.

If you are planning to write an ebook, I heartily recommend Sarah Mae’s ebook, How to Market and Sell Your Ebook. It’s packed with helpful information and advice and is worth every penny. Also, be sure to read her article on how to sell $20,000 worth of your next ebook.

To be continued next week…

How have you used your blog as a springboard for earning additional income? Tell us in the comments!

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How to Make Money Blogging: The Pros and Cons of Joining an Ad Network

We’ve talked about affiliate marketing and private advertising as ways to make money blogging. Another income stream to add to your blog is to join an ad network.

Ad networks are basically advertising brokers. You offer the advertising space on your blog and they try to sell the space for you. If they sell the space, they take a cut of the sale (usually 40-50%).

Some people love using an ad network. Others haven’t had such great experiences. Here are a few of my thoughts on the pros and cons of joining an ad network:

::Pros::

Ad Networks Require Little Effort

Instead of private advertising where you have to do all the legwork of selling the ad and setting up the ad, when you join an ad network, you do nothing but sign a contract, put some HTML code on your sidebar, and then get checks.

Ad Networks Usually Earn You More Than Private Advertising or Affiliate Ads Do

How much you make with an advertising network will vary widely. I’ve heard of people making as low as $1-$2 CPM (per thousand pageviews) or as much as $15 to $20 per CPM.

However, remember how I said last week that you could charge $0.50 to $1 per CPM for selling private advertising? Well, that’s very much on the low end for ad networks. From what I’ve researched, most people make $2-$4 CPM on average with most ad networks. If you’re just starting out selling private advertising and haven’t had enough demand to warrant raising the price, you will very likely make more with an ad network than you will with private ads.

Ad Networks Often Sell More Than Just Ads

While the revenue from sidebar advertising can be good, the revenue from other advertising opportunities is usually much better. I don’t accept sponsored posts, but I have done a few underwritten post series (such as my Christmas Gift Guide & Giveaways series).

My Christmas series paid very well and I never would have gotten that opportunity had my ad network not made the phone calls and coordinated the details to close that deal. Since they are working with multiple bloggers, they are able to attract advertisers with big advertising budgets–something I’m not usually able to do on my own.

::Cons::

Ad Networks Give You Less Control

I shied away from joining an ad network for a number of years because I wanted to have control over what ads showed on my sidebar. Every single ad network I talked to was unwilling to let me have control over what ads showed on my sidebar.

I finally discovered that Federated Media would give me a say and joined their ad network early last year. While some unapproved ads have slipped through the cracks on occasion (due to hiccups with their ad placement system), they have been exceptional about removing any campaigns immediately if I request it. From what I’ve heard, most ad networks are not always so compliant.

Ad Networks Can Be Difficult to Get In With

It took me a number of months and persistence, plus a kind friend giving me a shoe-in, before I was able to get in with Federated Media. The best ad networks often have a long waiting list and few openings.

Things to Consider Before Joining An Ad Network:

::Will they offer you a guaranteed CPM rate? Most ad networks that are actively “courting” bloggers are new or struggling. They’ll make you all sorts of great-sounding promises, but very few are willing to back those up with a guarantee in writing. If an ad network will only guarantee you pay of around $2 or less per CPM on average, you will probably do better to just stick with using Google Adsense on your sidebar.

::What are the terms of the contract? Is it an exclusive agreement that would bar you from being able to run private ads or affiliate ads? If so, don’t agree to it. How do you get out of the contract? Have these details in writing ahead of time so you don’t get stuck in some bad situation.

::Will you have control over the ads they run? If you run a blog on healthful eating, you probably don’t want McDonald’s Big Mac ads running on your sidebar. Sending mixed messages to your readership is a quick way to lose your integrity. Make sure that the ad network promises in writing to remove ads you deem to be inappropriate for your blog.

::What do other bloggers in the network think of it? One of the best ways to determine whether or not a network is right for you is to go find other bloggers who are a part of the network and ask them how it is working out for them. You might find that what the ad network reps promised you on the phone is entirely the opposite of what bloggers in their network are actually experiencing. Firsthand knowledge is priceless and could save you a huge headache.

Are you a part of an ad network? If so, I’d love to hear your experiences–both good and bad!

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How to Make Money Blogging: 5 Tips for Selling More Sidebar Ads

Last week, we talked about how to maximize your affiliate earnings. Today, we’re delving into a another way to make money blogging — by selling sidebar ads.

While selling sidebar ads yourself does require more work and effort, it can really pay off in the long run. Plus, it’s a great option for blogs in every genre. And if you don’t want to use an advertising network because you don’t have as much control over the ads they run (we’ll talk more about advertising networks soon), selling sidebar ads yourself allows you to have complete control over what is running on your blog at all times.

Here are five tips to help you sell more sidebar ads:

1) Make It Obvious

You know the number one reason most people don’t sell as many sidebar ads as they’d like to sell? Because they aren’t making it very obvious and conspicuous that they even offer advertising in the first place!

Most people aren’t going to take the time to dig through your site and try to figure out how to advertise on it. In fact, some people will never even realize there’s an option to advertise unless you clearly let them know you have advertising spots for sale.

Put an advertise tab in your header that links to your advertising page. This page should include details on your traffic (advertisers typically want to know pageviews and unique visitors), your demographics, a few details on your site, advertising options, advertising prices, and testimonials from former (or current) advertisers. You could do an elaborate downloadable media kit like Michael Hyatt has, or just stick with a simple page like Life as MOM has.

Whatever you do, make a compelling case for why someone should advertise on your site. Don’t be bashful; a potential advertiser needs to know clearly why advertising on your site is going to be a great thing for their business.

2) Run a Half-Priced Special

If you’re just getting started offering sidebar ads, get things off with a bang by offering a half-priced special on your sidebar advertising. Write up a post highlighting this special pricing and approach companies you’ve worked with to run giveaways in the past letting them know you are offering a limited-time advertising special.

With some effort and enthusiasm, you should be able to get at least a few advertisers to bite. And once you have a few signed up to advertise, you’ll find it’s usually easier to find more advertisers — especially if you make it obvious that you offer advertising (see point 1).

3) Offer Discount Packages

It’s great to start out with selling simple sidebar ads, but people will be much more interested in all-inclusive discounted advertising packages. For instance, instead of just selling a sidebar ad for $25 per month, offer a three-month package that includes a sidebar ad, a post write-up about the company, a giveaway from the company, and a text link in your email feed — all for the discounted price of $150 total.

If you want to take this idea a step further, put together three different package levels at three different pricing points. A potential advertiser might not want to pay for your top-tier advertising package that’s $500, but they will be more apt to go for the $150 package versus just paying $25 for a simple sidebar ad.

You can also offer discounts for advertisers who purchase three months’ or six months’ of advertising at a time. Not only will the discount appeal to them, it will save you time and effort in having to go out and secure another advertiser for that slot every month!

4) Throw in Some Extras

You know how fast food restaurants always try to upsell you? Well, you can do the same thing with your sidebar advertising — only you can do it for free! Think of other options you could throw in to seal the deal such as: a free mention of the company on Facebook, a free mention on Twitter, and/or a free mention in a blog post when they purchase a sidebar ad.

5) Keep Your Advertising Spots Filled — Even If They Aren’t Sold

Want to know one of my biggest sidebar advertising pet peeves? When people have a big blank box on the sidebar that, instead of being an ad, says “Advertise Here”.

This screams, “My advertising space isn’t valuable enough for people to want to buy so I instead have this big blank box!” That’s not the message you probably want to convey to potential advertisers.

Put the advertise tab in your header that links to your advertising information page and link to this in a small text link underneath your advertising spots, but don’t have a big blank box. If you don’t fill all your advertising spots every month, either replace the empty spots with an affiliate ad or give a free ad to a friend.

How Much Should You Charge?

How you price your advertising will depend upon many factors — your blog’s traffic, your blogging niche, where the ad will be placed, how many ad spots you are selling, and the demand. I always encourage people to start out with lowball prices and gradually move up from there.

Advertising is usually priced per thousand pageviews (CPM), so I suggest starting with $0.50 – $1 per thousand pageviews and working up from there. This means that if your blog currently gets 10,000 pageviews per month, you could start out charging something like $10 per month for a small 250×250 sidebar ad that is located near the middle of your sidebar or higher. As your traffic increases and the demand for sidebar advertising increases, you can slowly raise this price.

I’d suggest selling no more than six to eight sidebar ads maximum. If you have too many ads running, their value decreases. It’s easier for you and better for the advertiser if you have a few higher-paying, larger ads on the sidebar than a bunch of small ads all over the place.

If you’ve sold advertising on your blog, I’d love to hear what has and hasn’t worked for you.

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How to Make Money Blogging: 5 Tips for Maximizing Your Earnings with Affiliate Advertising

As I’ve been writing this series on How to Make Money Blogging, I know that many of you have been scratching your head wondering if I was ever going to get around to talking about how to actually make money blogging! :) All the other posts I’ve shared will help significantly increase your blogging income, but they won’t make you a penny unless you set up streams of revenue on your blog.

And now that we’ve laid a good foundation for successful blogging, we’re ready to dive into those income-earning streams. The first — and easiest — is affiliate marketing.

For those who may have never heard the term of affiliate marketing before, it’s basically when you are paid to promote another person’s product, coupon, deal, or website. It’s typically CPA advertising — which means that you only get paid per action. In other words, a reader must take some form of action (purchase something, click through your link and sign up for something, download a coupon or ebook, etc.)

You sign up for an affiliate program (I’ll share some of my favorites in a little bit), you promote your unique affiliate link that the company gives you, and then you are paid if your readers buy the item or sign up for the item.

For instance, I promoted Amy’s Tell Your Time ebook earlier today. She has an affiliate program that offers 50% of the sales to the affiliate. Since the ebook is on sale for $2, I earn $1 for every person who clicks through my affiliate link and makes a purchase. So, if 100 people buy the ebook, I’ll make $100 in affiliate earnings.

In many cases, people have to make a purchase in order for you to earn money as an affiliate. However, there are also hundreds of other options that require no purchase. To give you an example, I’m affiliate for Coupons.com, RedPlum, SmartSource, and Coupon Network. If I post a great coupon that is on any of these sites, I earn anywhere from $0.02 to $0.80 per coupon printed (I have different agreements with each network and some pay per coupon printed, others pay a flat fee per print session per user per day).

As you can imagine, since one of the key focuses of MoneySavingMom.com happens to be using coupons, the affiliate money earned from coupons printed is one of the highest revenue earners. However, it is a win-win situation, because I’m sharing a great deal with you, it’s hopefully helping you save money and get a great deal, and then we both benefit from it.

With that background in place, here are my top five tips for maximizing affiliate advertising:

1. Don’t Compromise Your Values for a Quick Buck

Affiliate marketing can be an incredible income stream for bloggers, but there are some definite pitfalls to be wary of. You want to be very careful that you don’t just give something a great review or post about something because you’re earning something for promoting it.

I always stop and ask myself before posting something that includes an affiliate link, “Would I post about this if I were not earning a referral fee from it?”

2. Promote Affiliate Links In Your Posts Instead of Your Sidebar

I’ve found that it’s much more effective to weave affiliate links into your posts, rather than to just put affiliate links on the sidebar. If you’re already going to be writing about a site or product, check to see if they have an affiliate program so you can use your referral link.

3. Experiment, Experiment, Experiment

It takes awhile to learn what works when it comes to affiliate links. Don’t give up if you try it a few times and it doesn’t work or result in any sales or click-thrus. Keep testing things out, tweaking your approaches, and learning what works for your audience.

4. Be Upfront and Honest

In the last few months, I started denoting all posts that contain an affiliate link with a simple note at the bottom letting you know that the post contains an affiliate link. This way, you know exactly what you’re getting here and when I’m getting something in return. Not only have I received a lot of positive feedback from you all about this change, it also helps to keep me accountable in what I post to make sure I truly am following my policy to have your best interests in mind.

5. Remember That Less is More

A few strategically placed affiliate links are almost always going to be more effective than hundreds of affiliate links all over the place. It’s better to wait and only promote affiliate links that really fit within your blog’s mission and purpose than to post every other affiliate deal and opportunity that arises.

Your readers trust your endorsement more if it’s not something you give as often. If you don’t feel comfortable with something, don’t promote it.

My Current Top-Earning Affiliates (listed in order of their average earnings from the past few months):

Amy has a great list of many different affiliate programs here, if you’re interested.

If you use affiliate marketing, I’d love to hear what programs have worked well for you, as well as some your best tips for maximizing your earnings with affiliate advertising.

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(Note: Some of the links in this post are my referral links. Read our disclosure policy here.)

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How to Make Money Blogging: Offer Giveaways

How to Make Money Blogging: Learn How To Start Offering Giveaways On Your BlogA question I have heard over and over during the past few years is: “How do I start offering giveaways on my blog?” I get the impression that many new bloggers think you must have a big blog or super secret sources in order to host giveaways on your blog.

Well, guess what? There is no super secret society one must be admitted to in order to run giveaways. Nor do you need to have substantial traffic.

No matter the size of your blog, there are thousands of companies who would love to offer a giveaway to your readers. Seriously. And once you get started with giveaways, you’ll likely quickly find that there are many more opportunities than you have time and space for!

Here are four simple ways to get started offering blog giveaways:

1) Give something of your own away.

When I was very new to blogging and didn’t know any better, I often paid for my own giveaways. In fact, I often gave away products that I personally owned and no longer needed.

While this is not the ideal, it is an excellent way to “get your feet wet” when it comes to giveaways. When you approach a company regarding running a giveaway (see next point), you’ll likely have better success in procuring a giveaway if you can show them that you’ve successfully run giveaways in the past.

If you use Swagbucks (and if you don’t, what are you waiting for?!), you might consider giving away a gift card you’ve earned through them. That way, it doesn’t cost you actual money out of pocket. And readers love gift card giveaways.

2) Approach companies and ask if they’ll run a giveaway.

If you don’t have companies beating your door down to request that you do a giveaway with them, start getting proactive! Have a product or website that you love, write and ask them if they’d consider running a giveaway on your blog. It’s that easy!

Be professional, be concise, and make sure to clearly explain how running a giveaway on your blog would be a win for their company. I’d recommend that you share your blog stats with them, link to a recent giveaway you’ve run, and share why you feel their product or website is well-suited to your blog’s audience. In addition, I’d state upfront two ideas you have for a giveaway but also convey that you’re open to other ideas they might have.

3) Ask for a contact from another blogger who has run a giveaway.

Has one of your blogging friends run a giveaway with a company that you think would also be a great fit for your blog? Ask them if they’d be willing to pass along their contact at that company to you.

Now, please don’t abuse this idea! Most bloggers are happy to share their contacts with you, but don’t expect or demand that they must share all their contacts with you as most bloggers work hard to establish relationships with PR and Advertising companies. But if they are willing to share, this can be a great way to get a direct contact for a person at a company or PR Agency which is likely interested in running giveaways on blogs.

4) Respond to a press release with a giveaway pitch.

Once you’ve been blogging for a little while, you’ll often begin to receive press releases about new products from companies and PR Agencies. If you’re interested in the product and think it would be a great fit for your blog’s audience, consider writing back and pitching a giveaway. Companies are sending out a press release to garner buzz for their product, so they’ll often bite on a giveaway pitch.

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