To become the kind of blogger that makes more money in one month than your parents did in an entire year, it takes more than just quality content.
It takes building trust with your readers so they believe you and follow your advice when you recommend a new product or service to buy.
The old sales adage is nobody likes to be sold, but everyone likes to buy.
70% of the customers in one particular case study stated that they are more likely to buy something when they see content about a product or service shared by a friend.
Because there is a sense of trust there and you feel more inclined to try something you may not have otherwise because someone you believe in has vouched for the product.
The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Small Business
Here’s how you can build trust with your audience
- Be well informed, well read, and honest. Don’t insult their intelligence.
- Don’t write an article on a topic you are uncertain of
- Instead, write articles based on your own experience and knowledge
- And in that article, include your own data/results
Once that trust is established, anything goes. Successful bloggers have been known to promote affiliate software products, create and sell their own products, and even offer themselves as coaches for a fee.
And guess what? People buy these products because they trust the name behind them. Just look at Pat Flynn’s page above that sells web hosting, he even uses the word ‘trust’ in his copy.
We are going to take a look at 4 successful bloggers who started a blog that makes $124,074 per month.
They’ve been able to do this by gaining the trust of their audience and using that trust to move some merchandise :)
In addition to showing you how much they make, we’re also going to break down the exact strategies they used to make this money, so you can replicate them on your own site.
Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome makes over $100k per month
No list of successful bloggers is ever complete without Pat Flynn. He’s a pioneer of sorts when it comes to this topic, especially because he is actually one of the first to ever begin posting a monthly income report to his blog.
Before we go any further, I need to tell you that his margins are extremely impressive. Pat himself says on his website that he did not get to where he is overnight. You need to keep this in mind when you begin the transition from “hobby” to “lucrative career path”. You most likely will not wake up tomorrow having earned $10,000 in your sleep.
Pat is proof, however, that hard work and determination do pay off. His website has consistently earned him over $100,000 per month since January of 2015.
To fully understand where these numbers come from, we should take a look at his April 2016 income report.
Strategy 1: $58,575/month through affiliation with BlueHost
BlueHost is an inexpensive and easy domain and web hosting company. It is especially great for beginners, which makes it a potentially lucrative opportunity for more experienced bloggers to make some money.
Their affiliate marketing program is one of the best, too. They offer $65 per sale to their affiliates!
Affiliate marketing is not a new idea. As a matter of fact, referrals just like this one was ranked 3rd in the top US marketing for the shopping industry, affecting 23.26% of sales in 2014 alone. People trust people, and if a figure in “authority” backs a product, that may be all it takes for a person to take the plunge and make a purchase.
In Pat’s case, as he has already proven himself to be a trustworthy and successful blogger, his BlueHost affiliation has really taken off, earning him over $58,000 in April of 2016 alone.
The best part? It’s all passive income.
After signing up for the affiliate program with BlueHost (you can do so for yourself right here), Pat placed his BlueHost affiliate links strategically around his blog.
He made a 4-minute YouTube video that teaches people how to install WordPress and set up a domain and hosting account. To date, the video has been viewed over 200,000 times. He has also included the link in various other how-to’s and tutorial pages on his website.
In July of 2011, Pat even shared with his audience the list of places he included his affiliation links and how many referrals in one month alone he had received from each link.
After initially writing out these posts and posting them to his site, Pat continues to receive a steady stream of income every time someone views it and joins BlueHost from his link. It’s that simple.
If you are interested in getting started with affiliate marketing and are looking for some of the best offers, feel free to check out this post on the best web hosting affiliate programs out there right now.
Free PDF Checklist: Download a free checklist that lists the top ways $100k bloggers are making money and how you can sign up for them. Here’s a link where you can download the PDF
Strategy 2: $12,675/month through podcast sponsorships
Pat’s SPI podcast, which came to fruition in July of 2010, started at a time when podcasts weren’t all that popular. Sponsorships were all but unheard of for a number of reasons.
For starters, podcasts weren’t a proven concept and lacked a loyal audience. Furthermore, it was expensive and difficult to set them up, which meant that they were a rarity in the blogging medium.
Fast forward six years, however, and podcasts are all the rage. One may even argue that they are now just beginning to reach the height of their popularity, which means that advertisers have a unique advantage to promote their products.
This is where sponsorships come in. 67% of podcast listeners say they don’t mind the occasional promotional message during their podcast.
Pat noticed this and took advantage. As of April 2016, his podcast sponsorships made up over $12,000 of his monthly income.
Currently, the AskPat podcast has 3 “regular” sponsors — ZipRecruiter, Fresh Books, and MileIQ.
If starting a podcast sounds like something you would like to do, but you are uncertain of where to begin or how to monetize on it, I highly suggest that you take a look at Pat’s step-by-step guide on how to start your own podcast.
Taking in what he has to say gives you a unique advantage for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most important one is that he has a proven concept. He does it, and he does it well. If you are going to learn from anyone, you may as well learn from someone who you know for a fact actually knows what they are talking about, right?
Strategy 3: $12,405/month by licensing a custom podcast player
Just when you start to think Pat Flynn can’t possibly have enough hours in the day, he proves you wrong by building and licensing his own custom podcast player.
If you are especially computer savvy, creating your own software can actually be a great way to make extra money.
People won’t just pour their money into anything, though. First, you must find a problem and have your software solve that problem. That’s exactly what Pat Flynn did with his Smart Podcast Player.
He noticed that his blog was directly receiving over 3 million podcast plays. He also noticed that the large number of plays were negatively impacting front-end experience for his audience. He saw a problem and set out to solve it.
After building a custom player for his podcast, Pat began to receive hundreds upon hundreds of requests from other podcast creators, all of whom wanted to use his product for their own podcasts.
The beta product launched in June of 2014 before being released to the public in January of 2015.
Just shy of a year later, the product still manages to give Pat over $12,000 per month through licensing deals!
If you see a problem, know how to solve it, and want to feed into the demand of your audience, software development may be the natural step for you. I do suggest, however, that you take a good look at a blog post that Pat Flynn wrote about his experiences developing this software, and the 7 lessons he learned from it.
Abby Lawson of JustAGirlAndHerBlog makes over $36k per month
With just about 3 years of blogging experience under her belt, Abby has managed to successfully monetize on her passion of DIY products and home decor. As with most bloggers, hers started as little more than a part-time hobby to get her ideas out there.
She even shares her story of going from passion project blog to full time business in a popular post on her website, entitled “My Blogging Story”.
Now, her blog is a wildly successful full time job for not only her, but her husband as well. In her About page, she explains just how “wrong” her website name, Just A Girl And Her Blog, is… Because her entire family works hard to keep the business running strong.
Taking a look at her income reports since February of 2014, it is astounding to see the gradual growth and how far Abby and her blog have come since conception.
Now, with over $35,000 per month in profit, Abby is considered a top blogger in the business, and has proven that her business model works.
Let’s take a look at her March 2016 income report and discuss two of her top money-earning techniques.
Strategy 4: $10,668/month by selling e-books
Yes, Abby is a blogger. Yes, bloggers write. But even the high level of quality and content on Abby’s blog can’t compare to that of a full length book.
Currently, Abby offers her customers several options on her website.
She has written 3 e-books, each of which offer a unique insight into various niches. The first deals with building a successful blog. The second deals with organizing your life through Evernote. The third is a “resource” that contains 35 printables to help organize your life.
Each individual e-book sells for between $10 and $20. However, Abby also very smartly includes “packages”, so her loyal audience can get a deal in purchasing more than one item – Incentive to spend more, I say!
Abby is living proof that you can indeed make a living from selling e-books.
The difference between a new blogger and someone like Abby is the loyal audience she has established. She was fortunate enough to receive a book deal because of her proven following. People will buy her book simply because her name is attached to it and they trust her.
How does someone who doesn’t have the same proven authority as Abby write a book with any chance for success?
The answer may seem like an obvious one: Kindle.
Self-publishing and selling your e-book on Kindle may not be your first choice, but it is very doable. Just ask Mike Shreeve, who sold over $746,000 in fiction via Kindle, Kobo, and others.
If you are interested in getting started with self-publishing, I highly recommend that you check out this guide to help you out.
Strategy 5: $5,070/month selling a PDF life planner on Amazon
Not all products have to have an infinite shelf life. Abby managed to make some quick money over the 2015 holiday season by selling a PDF life planner.
She announced the product in November of 2015 as a way to help her audience gain control of their lives and stay organized and productive throughout the new year.
With a relatively low price point (it was priced at just $10), the response to the product was overall positive. She made over $5,000 by selling this planner in the month of November, another $2,100 in December, and still continued to sell $2,240 of the product through January of 2016. Not bad, right?
You don’t have to sell a life planner, either. Any product that will add some value to your customer’s life will do. In a sense, people are buying into your brand – not necessarily the product.
Just ask John Lee Dumas, who managed to make the 6th most funded Kickstarter publishing campaign of all time when he launched a Kickstarter project to help launch “The Freedom Journal” – a resource to help his audience reach their goal in just 100 days.
The journal’s “packs”, which ranged in price from $35 to nearly $300, raised over $453,000 in Kickstarter funds in just 33 days.
There is a demand for these kinds of products, so why not get involved with them?
Johnny Jen of JohnnyFD makes over $17k per month
Johnny is a bit different than our other bloggers. He went from a corporate job to a scuba diving instructor to a Muay Thai kickboxer, to eventually an extremely successful blogger.
One look at the “Media” page on his website will tell just about anyone that he is a fascinating person. He’s been featured on media outlets like Business Insider and Entrepreneur as the face of the blogging success story.
He earned that title with good reason, too. In April of 2016, he earned $17,579!
Not all of that comes from one source, either. Johnny has his hand in several different money making endeavors, and we will take a look at 4 of them a bit more in depth.
Strategy 6: $175/45 minutes with one-on-one phone coaching
Just take a look at those margins and let it sink in. For one 45 minute phone conversation with Johnny, a person is shelling out $175. Now say it with me: “Yowza!”
That’s just one of the packages that Johnny offers in his one-on-one phone coaching. He offers four separate ways for people to get in contact with him, so you can actually spend up to $800 on his services if you have the money.
These may seem a bit steep in price, and I wouldn’t necessarily blame you for wondering if anyone would shell out this kind of money for a phone call with you, but I want to take a look at the advantages of these phone conversations from a customer’s point of view before we continue any further.
Mentoring is important for a lot of reasons. It can shorten the learning curve for a newbie, it can help you get some insight from a “professional” that you otherwise wouldn’t have had, and it can help you if you have a problem that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to solve.
Although these mentoring sessions aren’t included in his most recent income reports, it is still worth noting that this could potentially be a great service to offer your audience.
You may not be able to charge the price that Johnny, an already established and trusted blogger, does, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t offer the service at all. Even charging a portion of Johnny’s price (maybe starting out at $99 per hour) means you will probably get a few bites. From there, you can build your credibility, and even possibly gain some repeat customers.
For some help in how to get started in phone coaching, and perhaps even how to get your first few paying clients, I suggest checking out Ramit Sethi’s blog post on the subject.
Strategy 7: $264/month by selling an e-book in Spanish
We’ve already discussed the importance of having an established following when it comes to selling e-books and getting a book deal. But once you have that deal, how can you monetize further?
Johnny came up with quite an interesting idea when he decided to re-write and sell his book, ‘Life Changes Quick’, in Spanish.
He capitalized on the importance of gaining a lot of momentum very fast. Instead of letting his book fizzle, he repackaged and resold it in another language in order to gain more of an audience, and perhaps even connect with people he wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
Let’s be honest: this is not his biggest money maker, nor is it enough to sustain his lifestyle. It is, however, an important lesson to note.
If you are interested in writing a book and need some help, Tim Ferris compiled an extensive resource on how to write a bestseller that you should definitely take a look at.
Strategy 8: $184/month from Udemy courses.
Information sells. Just like we saw with the power of the e-book, people will pay a premium to receive information from a trusted source.
No one out there right now does it quite as uniquely as Udemy. What sets this online course website apart from the others on the market is its business model. It’s something of an online course marketplace, if you will, which pools students and instructors alike under one platform.
The site has over 11 million registered students, which means that you are virtually guaranteed to find someone willing to pay money for your course. The best part? It’s all passive income.
After you make your course and put it on the site, all you have to do is sit back and wait for someone to bite. Every single time someone pays for your course, you receive 70% of the revenue forever.
There is no shelf life of these courses, and they can sit in the system for all of eternity, while you do nothing but collect the money that piles in from it.
Unfortunately, as with everything in life, there is a downside to this business model. Johnny’s most recent income report detailed his struggles with Udemy, as the site has changed its pricing plan drastically.
Although it will take some adjustment, Johnny expects his Udemy income to rise again in the coming months.
The majority of Johnny’s Udemy profits come from his ‘Jump Start Success’ course, though it is nearly evenly split with his ‘How To Work Effectively’ course. Even if this isn’t his primary source of income and is only used as some passive income on the side, it is very possible to turn Udemy profits into a full time job.
Just ask David Vu, who has the #1 business course on Udemy. Even with the pricing model change, he continues to make a steady income of around $7,000 per month from this course alone.
If Udemy sounds like something you would like to try out, but you are unsure of how to get started, feel free to check out John Colley’s detailed 23 minute YouTube video on how to make a great online course for the site.
Strategy 9: $4,659/month from dropshipping stores
Dropshipping is what Johnny considers to be “semi-passive” income. Why, you ask? Because although the majority of his earnings happen while he is away from his computer and having absolutely nothing having to do with them, he does spend “a few hours a week” working on the store and handling customer service inquiries.
He has been working on these stores since 2013, and now successfully runs 2 dropshipping stores with high profit margins.
Johnny himself suggests that newbies do a bit of research before diving in. He even recommends this course (yes, he is an affiliate!) if you need some extra help. Additionally, Johnny wrote a beginner’s article on the subject that you can read right here.
The coolest thing about dropshipping stores is just how valuable they become once you get profitable. How valuable, you ask? Try upwards of six figures.
Just ask Andrew Youderian, who told Spencer Haws on his podcast that he was able to sell his dropshipping website for a whopping $170,000!
Regina Anaejionu of ByRegina makes over $16k per month
Regina is a freelance writer with an impressive resume who has dedicated herself to helping other freelancers and coaches profit from their knowledge.
She calls herself a “sidekick to infopreneurs”, and I would actually say that’s about right.
She hasn’t posted an income report in well over a year, but what we can see from her January 2015 report is that she is wildly successful. I would even be willing to bet that she’s become more of a success in the past year and four months than she was before, as a matter of fact.
By looking at her January 2015 income report, we can see that she uses various approaches to monetize her blog, and we will take a look at 3 of them.
Strategy 10: $5,475/month by selling an online class
Yet again, we are faced with the fact that information sells. 50 Workdays – Zero to Blog, the self-guided class that Regina founded, is one of her biggest money makers.
Although she no longer posts income reports, it is safe to say that this class in particular has been a success for her — she relaunched it earlier this year under the name Epic Blog Crew.
The thought of starting your own online class and having a bunch of people learn from you can be pretty daunting. You probably don’t have a teaching degree, and who’s to say that you are the right person to learn from? Well, the people buying your class would beg to differ!
In order to sell a class that people want to buy, you must validate your worth. Be someone who they want to learn from, and people will pay to hear what you have to say. Here’s the foolproof method: create a blog on a niche that you are knowledgeable and passionate about, write some unique, interesting, thought provoking material (no pressure, right?), garner some email subscribers, and build a loyal following.
It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t always be easy. It will, however, be satisfying when you finally manage to get that first 1,000 subscribers. After you have managed to gain a loyal following, all you have to do is look at the analytical side of it – what does your audience want to know?
To truly understand the answer to that question, you can look no further than your most viewed posts. Whatever posts have become the most popular on your blog should probably be the basis of your online course. It’s a proven method that works and you already know that it has the potential to earn money, as people are searching for it.
Strategy 11: $3,224/month by selling an editorial planner
Similar to what Abby did with her life planner, Regina went out and sold a physical editorial planner. The difference between the two products, however, is that Regina’s planner is a year-round business venture.
At a price point of $18.50, and sold both on her website and on Amazon, the planner is wholly affordable to people who buy into her brand and products. It was largely successful on Amazon and boasted a 81% 5 star customer review.
Selling these kinds of items also helps you to build a brand outside of the internet — Blogging is great, but it is important to establish yourself in other mediums as well. You’re no one trick pony, after all.
Regina proves this by selling multiple products in the same wheelhouse. She offers a number of workbooks and guides, ranging from just $5 to $30 in price.
Strategy 12: $237/month by selling products via Amazon Affiliate Program
I realize that $237 a month isn’t an astounding amount of money and that no single person could sustain their lifestyle on that revenue. But Regina’s monthly Amazon income is NOT representative of the majority.
The program pays up to 8.5% commission on all sales, which makes it especially valuable to niche bloggers who want to make some extra cash. How does it work, you ask? It’s simple.
The most important thing to remember when you are selling products via Amazon Affiliates is that you should a) only promote products you truly believe in, and b) never be pushy.
Always integrate your links into a how-to article of some kind and never, ever outwardly tell your readers to buy something so you can earn a little extra cash.
If you are a DIY blogger and you are posting a how-to on mason jar candles, for example, you may want to include an Amazon Affiliates link to the specific glue gun tools you used throughout the process. That’s it.
Trust that your audience will believe in your brand enough to make the purchase without you insulting their intelligence and blatantly shoving it down their throats.
To get started for yourself, check out this tutorial on setting up an Amazon Affiliate website on WordPress. Once you’ve established yourself, Spencer Haws shares strategies that can help you increase your earnings in this post.
Next steps to implement these strategies
If you’re looking to monetize your own site, we put together a list of the top affiliate programs bloggers are using to make $100k from their articles.
Guest Author: Andrew Wise is a serial entrepreneur whose sites generate $1+ million in revenue and receive 2.6+ million uniques per year. On his blog, Wise Startup Blog, he shares actionable advice on how you can build massive, passive income streams, designed for everyone from the complete newbie to master marketers. Follow him on Twitter @WiseStartupBlog. Download his free PDF checklist that lists the top affiliate programs $100k bloggers use to generate all their income.