So you want to blog for a living? You wouldn’t be the first writer-entrepreneur dying to trade the confines of their nine-to-five for the freedom of the laptop life. The trouble is that many bloggers don’t make it. And that boils down to one major mistake—they see blogging as a hobby rather than a business.
If you want to succeed in making a career out of blogging, you need a solid strategy for monetization (from the outset, where possible). Here you’ll learn how to set up a blog as a profitable venture and how to implement the best monetization strategies. For this purpose, we believe WordPress in combination with Hostinger is the perfect blogging platform to help you monetize. It’s a blank canvas that’s super customizable, giving you a rich bank of opportunities for monetization.
Crazy Egg’s Favorite Tools for Monetizing a Blog
Here are some more top blogging platforms for creating and monetizing a blog:
More Top Tools for Monetizing a Blog
We’ve been in the blogging space for over 15 years. That means we’ve tried and tested all the best solutions on the market today. For more info on the key players outlined above and our further recommendations, take a look at our top picks for blogging. Our in-depth reviews and analysis will help you make the right choice on your journey toward creating a successful, profitable blog.
Step 1 – Get Started with WordPress + Hostinger
We give WordPress and Hostinger the top spot is it’s just so darn customizable, and this helps tremendously when it comes to monetization.
As your blog grows, you get to decide which income streams make sense for your audience. And can add them easily to your site using plugins. For instance, there are plugins for affiliate marketing, learning management systems for online courses, adding a digital storefront to your blog, and many more.
This also means it’s easy to pivot depending on what business opportunities arise and even add multiple income streams to your blog.
To get started, choose the most appropriate Hostinger plan for WordPress for you. You can begin with just one site, the Single WordPress plan, or opt for a plan that allows you to create and manage multiple WordPress sites.
From there, it’s so simple to set up WordPress using Hostinger’s Auto Installer. Fill in the basic details of your website—URL, username, password, email address, website title, and tagline. Then install WordPress with just one click.
Step 2 – Drive Traffic to Your Blog
Organic search remains the biggest driver of traffic at 53%, beating paid (15%) and organic social (5%) methods. So optimizing your blog for the search engines is a big deal.
The foundation of SEO is quality content. Make your blog posts comprehensive, engaging, and useful. Also, demonstrate your trustworthiness and expertise. These elements please both readers and Google. For instance, the search engine giant places a huge emphasis on expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) in its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.
Perform keyword research to find what terms people in your niche search for. Use a tool such as Semrush to find both broad, high-level keywords and more granular, long-tail keywords.
In this case, a high-level term is “vegan food,” and long-tail terms are “vegan soul food” and “high protein vegan foods,” for instance.
To optimize content for these keywords, first, go to the search engine results pages to see what kind of content Google pulls for a term.
This provides a ton of insight as to what will help you rank higher in the search engines. For instance, which questions must you answer to cover the topic comprehensively? Here we see the “people also ask” box for the term “high protein vegan foods”:
Also, you’ll want to consider what content type and format is preferred for this keyword—is it a video, short blog post, listicle, longer guide, etc.? For our example, it seems users are looking for a list of vegan protein sources given the first-page results on Google:
This kind of research helps you gauge the intent behind a search query. In other words, what users hope to achieve when they search and, therefore, what kind of content you should create.
All in all, allow your audience and search engine research to guide the type of content you create in order to gain higher rankings and drive traffic.
Step 3 – Get Email Subscribers
Email subscribers represent your most loyal fanbase, i.e., those that’ll trust your affiliate recommendations and buy what you’re selling.
Get an email marketing tool like Intuit Mailchimp or MailerLite to start building your email list. These tools help you create eye-catching forms, pop-ups, and landing pages to capture email addresses.
An email marketing tool places email addresses into a database for you. You’ll be able to manage these lists and place users into groups with similar interests, buying habits, and so on. That way, you can send different groups the most relevant content and offers.
Also, create automated drip campaigns for your subscribers, encouraging them to take action. For instance, to buy your digital product, register for your online course, etc.
An email sequence may look something like this:
- Email 1: Thank the user for subscribing
- Email 2: Recommend further related content
- Email 3: Provide an exclusive offer for your digital product
As you can see, you draw the subscriber in and build up to the offer, so you’re not being overtly sales-y or spammy.
You’ll also want to use email workflows to filter the emails users receive depending on the actions they take. For instance, if they take the offer in email three, then they’re filtered into the buying sequence. If they don’t bite, they receive further emails to convince them to buy, e.g., a case study.
Step 4 – Start Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing can be highly profitable, with some bloggers reporting $20k+ monthly in affiliate income. Not everybody can expect such a tidy sum, though. The average salary for an affiliate marketer is $53k per year. Either way, it’s clear affiliate marketing has great earning potential.
Not all brands with an affiliate marketing program use such networks. Search your niche + “affiliate program” on Google to find further lucrative opportunities.
How do you choose an affiliate program? If you’re still in the process of determining a profitable niche for your blog, then consider the business angle of the categories you’re interested in. The affiliate programs with the highest commissions tend to be in the B2B space.
There are affiliate opportunities in consumer goods. But remember that you’d have to get a high volume of users to click affiliate links, as commissions are lower.
Seek out affiliate programs with the longest cookie duration. That is the time between a user clicking your link and making a purchase. Once this duration lapses, you no longer get the commission.
Also, try to find affiliate opportunities for subscription services. Often, you’ll receive a monthly payout as long as the user stays subscribed, meaning recurring affiliate income for you.
Step 5 – Create an Ebook
An ebook is a logical choice as a digital product for those that write content for a living. And when you write it for the growing audience you’ve been building in previous steps, an ebook can produce a solid income stream. Pat Flynn of the Smart Passive Income blog made around $100,000 in sales from his book, Will It Fly? Yes, he’s a big name with a very popular blog, but the more you build your audience, the more people will get value from buying your ebook.
The first step is to find the ideal topic for your audience. One method for generating topic ideas is to look at your analytics reports and find your top-performing content.
See if any particular themes or formats run through your most popular blog posts. Let this guide the ideation process as, naturally, people are more likely to buy an ebook on a topic they care about.
Another option is to find your audience’s biggest pain point and frame your book as a solution to that pain point. Survey your email subscribers, run social media polls, and/or use a social listening tool to discover your readers’ main issues.
Once you know what to write about, make sure you dedicate enough time and resources to creating high-quality text, working with a good editor, and designing an eye-catching cover. Prioritizing these steps will make your book much more readable and appealing to your audience.
When you’re ready to publish, create a landing page for your ebook on your WordPress site. Here’s an example from the Good Old Vegan blog:
Direct your subscribers to your landing page with an email drip campaign. Or create blog posts that tie into your ebook. Make it so that purchasing your book would be the next logical step after reading these posts.
Step 6 – Offer an Online Course
Online courses are high-ticket items. Set up an online course when you’ve built a loyal following that’s willing to pay for your specialist expertise.
Given that there’s so much free material on the Internet these days, you’ll need to come up with an amazing idea for your online course. Ideally, you’d find a gap in the market or provide a unique solution/patented technique to a common issue in your industry.
Here’s a unique idea—an online course on growing your own mushrooms at home:
An online course requires a lot of time and effort to create. Thus, you’ll need to test the viability of your idea first. Create a pre-launch landing page. Monitor the traffic and attention it receives. You may wish to ask users to sign up for a waiting list for your course to assess the amount of interest.
To sell an online course on WordPress, you’ll need to install a learning management system plugin such as Masteriyo or LearnDash. Plugins like these enable you to build a course directly on the front end of your website. In other words, not in the admin panel of WordPress.
Use the plugin to format your course and add content. Include media such as tutorial videos and generate learning materials such as quizzes.
Before publishing your course, you’ll simply add payment gateways with popular providers like Stripe or PayPal via WooCommerce, WordPress’s main online commerce solution.
Step 7 – Sell Digital Products
Online courses and ebooks are two of the main digital products you can use to monetize your blog. But there are tons of other digital product ideas you may also want to try.
For example, you could create a paid email newsletter or member community in which users get access to premium content, discussion forums, and other exclusive perks. Here’s an example of a community of bass guitar learners:
Create something similar for your blog using a plugin such as MemberPress.
Digital downloads are a simpler digital product offering, for which there are tons of ideas:
- Design elements
- Website themes
- Crafting and art materials
- Stock media
Generate ideas according to what makes sense for your niche and/or audience.
To sell digital products like these on your site, install WooCommerce or another plugin such as Easy Digital Downloads (EDD).
Listing products with EDD is simple. As with a physical product, you’ll add a product title, image, product description, and price. Organize or group products using tags and categories.
Then upload the digital product to your WordPress media library or a file host such as Dropbox via the plugin. When a customer makes a payment, they’ll be taken to a page with a download link and also receive the link plus a receipt via email.
All in all, selling a digital product with WordPress is very simple when you use a plugin.