Guest blog by Shaun of thatsister.com
How do you make any meaningful money from your blog? This is the question many new or even experienced bloggers ask at some point.
When you first hear about the Amazon Associates or other similar affiliate programs, it’s easy to think it’s your path to riches. Just recommend a few products you use anyway and make money from doing so? Sounds like a dream come true!
But after doing this for any amount of time, it soon becomes apparent that this may not be the best monetisation method.
In this article I’m going to look at why Associates and advertising isn’t the best way to make money from your personal blog. After that we’ll look at other options that might be better for you, so you can get started making a real income from your website over time.
So, let’s get into it.
Why Should You Listen To Me?
Firstly, let me give you a quick overview of who I am, so you know why it’s worth listening to me. Side note: I wouldn’t generally advise learning from anyone who hasn’t already done what they’re trying to teach you.
My name’s Shaun and I’m the owner of ThatSister.com. I don’t write for the site mind you, but I
manage the articles and the women who do. I also run and own other profitable online businesses in various niches.
I’ve been working online since early 2010, and making a full-time income since late 2012. It was
December 2012 when I quit my day job to do this full-time. Since then I’ve never looked back.
I’ve tried various monetisation methods throughout the years, some with more success than others. It’s because of this that I have a good understanding of which works best in certain situations.
With that in mind, let’s look at why I don’t recommend advertising or Amazon product
recommendations as the main way to make money from your personal blog.
Why Advertising Isn’t The Best Monetization Method For Personal Blogs
Before I go any further I want to make one thing clear. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with Amazon Associates or advertising on a website. In fact, I use both to good effect on That Sister.
That said, to make a full-time income from these programs, you will need a high traffic website and most personal blogs aren’t high traffic.
To demonstrate the amount of people you’ll need to visit your website to make a worthwhile
income, let’s look at rough (but realistic) numbers you’ll need to make £2000 per month from
Assuming you make £2 per thousand page views from AdSense, you will need one million page views per month to make £2000.
While you can make more money than this per page view on Amazon Associates and similar
programs, the key issue is that you need a lot of traffic to go to these pages specifically to make any money. A well-placed affiliate link on a product review article for example may convert at between 10% and 15% if you’ve done well. That said, only say 10% of the people who read that article will click on the link. So when all is said and done, you will need 100 people to visit that page to make one or two sales.
Furthermore, let’s assume the product you’re promoting is £20 to buy. As an affiliate for this product through Amazon, chances are you’re getting around 5% of the retail price as your commission. And 5% of £20 is £1.
They may buy something else at the same time through your link for another £20, so let’s assume you make £2 in commission. For every hundred people that visit that page. Not your website, but that page specifically.
In this case you will need 100,000 people to visit that page on your website (or similar affiliate pages on your website) every month to make £2000. While it’s an improvement over AdSense, that is still a lot of traffic.
If you can get this kind of traffic, the above monetization methods are an easy and generally hands-free way of making money from your website. But if you’re getting nowhere near that traffic and you still want the chance at earning a full-time income, what can you do instead?
What You Should Do Instead
For low traffic websites, one of the best ways you can make money is creating your own product. This can be a digital or physical product, but if you don’t have much money to invest in your online business initially, you will likely want to go digital. This is because it is cheaper to produce, and once you have created it you can keep selling it over and over again.
Your only ongoing cost will likely be advertising if you want to increase sales, and any software which is needed to deliver the product. Even then that later cost is normally minimal compared to what you can make.
One of the common misconceptions about product creation is you need to be an expert to make them. This isn’t always the case. Yes, you do need to credibly know about the subject you’re sharing in your product. But you don’t need to know everything about the topic, only teach the areas you’ve experience with.
The main thing you will need to create your own product is the ability to benefit someone’s life through your teachings or entertainment. If you can do this and convince people that your product will benefit them, you will get customers.
This is an oversimplification of things, but it is also the basis of how all selling works. Have something that will benefit someone’s life. Convince them you can do so. Take the payment and benefit them as promised. Everyone wins. :)
So what are some examples of products you can make? Well if you’re in the beauty niche, why not sell tutorials on how to get certain looks? Yes there are free tutorials you can find on YouTube, but if you can create high quality ones in an easy to follow step-by-step manner, you will find some people simply pay for the convenience. That, and because they can relate to your brand.
Or what if you are in the cooking niche. Why not do a course on how to excel at certain type of food. Avalon from Avalon Cakes School is one such person who does this, and I know she is making a huge full-time income from her site on a recurring basis.
A good idea is to look around for online courses and ebooks in your niche, and see what others are doing for ideas. You can also check Udemy for further ideas.
Now I’m not going to lie to you, the digital products thing isn’t going to work in every single niche. There are some niches where it’s harder to sell products then it is in others. That said, most people would do well to have something they own and can sell.
Another option as mentioned is to create and sell physical products. This has become popular in recent years due to Amazon FBA (look it up). What this allows you to do, is if you’ve sourced your own product, you can get it on Amazon.co.uk and .com and sell it to their audience. As Amazon have a built-in audience this is a huge head start over selling it exclusively on your own website.
Creating and selling your own physical product requires some start-up capital though, so if you want to do something cheaper you may think about selling your own service. Got a fashion related website? If you’ve got a small but passionate audience who love your style tips, why not offer a service where you help them pick clothes on their next shopping trip?
Or if you have a website on saving money, why not offer a service where you can help someone cut down on their monthly budget?
While there are other ways to also monetise your personal blog, such as running events, the above are a couple of the ones which I have found work best.
Unless you have a high traffic website, product recommendations from Amazon or advertising won’t get you anywhere near having a profitable and sustainable blog. It’s because of this that I recommend creating your own products, or running your own service as a secondary option.
So, do you have any ideas of products you can offer? Time to get thinking. :)