10 years ago I was wondering the same thing:

How do all these bloggers and websites actually make money online?

Well I discovered the secret, I’ve tested it out many times, and I’m about to reveal it to you!

Once you understand this concept, you’ll be on the right path to making money from your “blog.”

Watch or read on:

Exclusive Bonus: Download the list of 287 profitable niches to spark some ideas for your next business. This list contains some great topics for your next affiliate marketing venture. Grab your copy here.

Read This: You Don’t Want to Create a Blog, You Want to Create a Business!

I make a full time income online from what might appear to be “blogging”, but I don’t consider myself a “blogger”.

I consider myself a business owner, and I’ll explain why that’s important for you as well.

At the end of the post, I discuss the steps to help you actually get started, but what I really want to focus on, are the real ways that blogs make money.

And full disclosure, these are the ways I personally use to make money online, and they’re the exact same things that you can do as well.

But before we get to all that, we need to take 1 really quick minute and cover a few things first.

If you want to make money blogging, you don’t want to create a blog, you want to create a business. So you need to tweak your mindset a little bit.

Now, I know this might sound like fluff, but trust me it’s important.

You’re NOT a Blogger. That’s not how you should think of yourself as. Yes a blog might be the tool you’re going to use to start your online business journey, but you need to think bigger than that.

You want to move away from the “Blogging” mindset, over to the “Business Building” mindset. More specifically, you need to change your focus from just blogging, to also incorporate content marketing.

You’re NOT an Influencer

What you don’t want to do is create a blog where you’re just writing about random stuff.

This works for famous people who already have an audience, but you and I don’t have an audience online.

All this means is that we need to supply content that people are actually searching for, rather than creating content that we want to discuss, or that we think people want.

If someone famous talks about some new weight loss product they’re using, and they promote it on their blog or social media platforms, many of their followers are going to buy it just because of the influence this person has.

That’s not the approach we can use. We need to do a bit of research, and find out exactly what our potential audience is searching for, instead of just making product suggestions that we like, or publishing articles we think are interesting.

And trust me this concept will make more sense as we go along.

Blogging vs. Content Marketing

Here’s what this comes down to:

You need to focus on "Content Marketing", instead of "Blogging".

As a definition:

Blogging is the act of regularly updating a website with articles designed to inform and engage an audience.

I always think of a company’s blog page or news page when I think of blogging. They’re updating their audience with press releases, news updates, product launches, community stories and so on.

Now here’s a definition of content marketing that I got from the Content Marketing Institute:

Content Marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience, and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

So the main distinction here that you need to take action on is research.

Content marketers do a lot of research before writing articles or creating other forms of content online. You need to do this research too.

One of the most important types of research is keyword research. I actually have a full tutorial called How to Do Keyword Research for Beginners if you want more information.

Bottom line, content marketers will research the topics of their blog posts by finding out exactly what their audience is searching for before publishing anything.

The content is optimized which means it’s going to target a specific person in your market, or target the most profitable topics in your niche.

Content marketing focuses on content that is well thought-out, valuable to your audience, and valuable to you as a publisher.

Think about it:

Why would you write about topics that your audience is not searching for, and won’t be profitable for your business?

Believe it or not, if you don’t do the proper research, you will actually end up wasting a lot of your time and hard work. What you think your audience wants is not always what they’re looking for. Remember you’re not an influencer, and that’s totally OK.

But what that means is that you must produce content that your audience is already searching for, in order for them to find you and your blog.

So there’s a huge difference between content marketing and just “blogging” about random topics.

You can still consider yourself a “blogger”, but to make money, you need to be a professional blogger. Someone who researches topics before writing about them.

3 Popular Ways Blogs Actually Make Money

Ok so let’s talk about how your blog will make money.

If you’re looking for a list of 25 random ways to monetize your blog, many of which you probably will never actually do, then this information is not for you.

There are certainly more than 3 ways to monetize your blog, but many of them are topic specific ideas, or suggestions for more advanced marketers.

Here I want to just focus on a few recommendations, and one specific method that I personally use, and which I think is the best for the most amount of people, especially beginners.

3. Sell Your Own Products and Skills

  • Online courses
  • Books / eBooks
  • Sponsored content
  • Consulting / Coaching
  • Freelance work

Number 3 on our list is to sell your own products or skills from your website.

Certain bloggers make a lot of money doing this, and many people like to recommend this as a top method for making money from your blog.

But you might be thinking:

I can’t start a course, I can’t write a book, I can’t coach anyone, and don’t have skills or knowledge for freelancing.

Guess what, you don’t actually need to do any of this stuff, especially not when you’re just starting out. This is why these methods are in the 3rd spot on our list.

Sure these income streams can work very well for certain people, but they don’t generally work for beginners.

It’s great if you have some background skill you can combine with a website and use your blog to promote yourself and sell your services or products, but you absolutely don’t need any of this when you’re just starting out.

At the time of writing this, none of these make any kind of significant contributions to my current income.

But, these things can be very profitable, and if you see a possibility with one of these then great, make a note of it and consider it for the future. And obviously if you already have an established blog right now, you might be able to incorporate some of your own products right away.

Selling your own course has been a really popular topic lately.

A lot of marketers are also recommending this as a good way to make money online, and some are even creating courses on how to make and sell a course.

I believe that for most people who are looking to make money blogging, this is probably not going to be the best option to go after right away. But again, it could be a good option to look at once your blog is up and established.

As a beginner, you’re far better off focusing on my #1 suggestion which I’m about to reveal, because it works with so many different blog topics, and it’s super easy to get started with.

If you’ve been thinking about “becoming a blogger”, I can assure you that the topics you may want to start a blog about will do very well with the #1 pick on our list. So let’s move on.

2. Sell Advertising Space on Your Website

In the number 2 spot we have the method of selling advertising space on your website.

Selling ads is one of the most popular ways you can make money blogging, and it’s actually one of the easiest ways as well.

The most basic form of this is display ads, and one of the most popular programs for this is Google Adsense.

All you need to do is sign up for an account, and copy and paste some code into your website where you want to display an advertisement. When people come to your website and see the ad, or when they click on the ad, you will earn money.

Behind the scenes Google does all the work in terms of finding advertisers, creating the advertising banners, and making payments to you. So it’s extremely easy to set up and the most work you will do is track your earnings and maybe make adjustments to where you’re displaying the ads on your blog.

Personally, I have never used display ads as my only monetization method for a particular website. The reason is that display ads are not what is driving my content creation.

What I mean is that my businesses revolve around topics where I can earn more by recommending specific products to my visitors, as opposed to just showing them display ads. So I do use them sometimes, but not as my main monetization method, and I think a lot of bloggers have this same approach.

A good example of a business that uses display ads as their number 1 revenue stream would be a news website. They don't have an underlying product to sell necessarily, so display ads are their go to revenue source.

This also applies to places like forums, websites with free tools, and many food and recipe sites.

If you look up a recipe tonight on Google, you’ll probably find a bunch of food blogs that have an annoying amount of display ads.

This apple pie recipe post has 3 display ads and a video ad.

A common question is how much money can you make from display ads?

It’s really hard to give an accurate answer to this question. A more accurate statement would be that to make good money from blogging with just display ads, your blog needs to get a lot of traffic.

A very general estimate would be that you can earn $1000 a month when you consistently receive 1000 website visitors per day. Or another way to say this with a popular money milestone would be to earn $100 per day from display ads, you would need around 3000 daily website visitors.

Now, this estimate can absolutely go up or down, and it really depends on the topic of your website.

For example, a blog in the insurance niche might make you more than $100 per day from 3000 daily website visitors, however if your website is in the entertainment niche, then you might not get anywhere close to these earnings.

Some blog owners who share their earnings have stated they receive a Click Through Rate of 1% on their ads, so out of 100 people that see their ads, 1 person clicks, and they receive 0.25 per click on average. So that’s the cost per click.

In this case, your blog would need 40,000 page views a day to earn $100 per day. Assuming the average person views 2 pages per visit, that would require 20,000 visitors per day, for $100 in earnings per day, which isn’t great.

On the flip side, some blog owners report a much higher CTR of say 5%, and an average cost per click of 50 cents. So this blog would only need 2000 daily visitors to earn the same $100 per day. These numbers are much much better.

This showcases the fact that bloggers can literally make 10 times more than others based on the topic that their blog is about.

This is why choosing a niche is so important, and why I would recommend you check out my tutorial on How to Choose a Niche for more information.

So the point is, you need a lot of website traffic, which usually correlates to a lot of blog posts, to make good money from display ads.

Estimates aside, display ads are super easy to set up, and are often the first revenue stream for many bloggers. What’s also great is that they are rarely your only revenue source. As I mentioned earlier, many bloggers combine display ads with other types of monetization methods, and this leads us to the #1 way to make money blogging...

1. Affiliate Marketing

The best way to make money blogging is through affiliate marketing.

This is my personal opinion, but if you do a few Google searches of your own, you’ll see that most expert bloggers recommend affiliate marketing, and they do it themselves, it’s a primary revenue stream for them.

Now, it’s not as easy as just copying and pasting some Google Adsense on to your website, but it’s pretty darn close. And for certain website topics, affiliate marketing has way more earning potential.

But what exactly is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing is a business model which allows you to recommend someone else’s product or service on your blog, and earn a commission when it’s sold.

what is affiliate marketing diagram

So you’re just the middle man.

You don’t ship anything or collect any payments, you simply send your website visitors to a vendor’s website where they can purchase the product.

As the blogger, your job is to pre sell customers about a product or a service, by creating useful content, and then connect them to where they can buy it. This is usually done through an affiliate link on your website.

If they purchase and you are shown to be the referrer, then you will earn a commission. This can be tracked through your unique affiliate link, or a code the customer uses to purchase the product.

The affiliate programs you work with will do all the tracking and payments for you.

In the video part of this tutorial which is found at the top of the page, I show you a bunch of blogs that are doing affiliate marketing successfully.

There are 3.5 Billion Searches on Google Every Single Day

Blogging is still a great way to make money online, and here's why:

People are searching for all types of information, all day every day. And more and more people are coming online all the time.

As a blog owner, you want to create content about topics that your audience is searching for on Google and other search engines. When they find your great content, they are open to your product recommendations.

For example, if you’re a lifestyle blogger and you recommend a Vitamix blender for making smoothies, some of your readers will make the purchase through your affiliate link and you will earn commissions.

If you have a blog about finance and you recommend certain credit cards, or online brokerages, you can earn affiliate commissions if your readers sign up through your affiliate links.

If you have a blog about creating websites and you recommend your readers sign up with BlueHost as a web hosting company, you earn commissions.

If you love the guitar and create a blog all about guitars and recommend your readers shop at Amazon, you will receive commissions when they make purchases.

There are millions and millions of products that you can promote as an affiliate marketer.

It’s one of the best monetization methods for blogging in my opinion.

So How Do You Actually Start?

This is when people will tell you to go and set up your website and buy a hosting package from “BlueHost”.

But you’re actually skipping some really important steps.

You need to first really understand what affiliate marketing is, how it works when a blog is your main platform, and envision yourself being successful with it.

And in order to do that, you need to choose a niche, a topic for your blog, and actually do some initial research, and come up with a content plan. You need to do all this important stuff first, before registering a website and choosing your blog name.

A lot of tutorials on this topic will just send you to their “guide” on starting a blog, and encourage you to sign up to a hosting company they’re affiliated with, and just leave you to figure out the rest.

This isn’t helpful for most people.


Don’t create your blog yet.

Don’t sign up for a web hosting account yet.

Don’t go choose a theme and design for your website yet.

Before you do that, you need to do some planning and researching, and fully understand how you can be successful with affiliate marketing.

So here's my best advice for getting started with affiliate marketing and creating a blog that actually makes a lot of money.

I would recommend you download my 5 Step Blueprint which reveals exactly how I do affiliate marketing and how I personally make money from my websites.

It comes with a 5 part video series that gets you on the right path to starting a successful blog and earning money with affiliate marketing.

And the best part is, all this information is completely free. So grab your copy now.

download the 5 step blueprint

Tyler Stokes
Tyler Stokes

Hey I'm Tyler Stokes and I'm the creator of Affiliate Marketing That WORKS. I have been doing affiliate marketing for well over 10 years and have built several online businesses. These days my passion is helping others get started through this blog and my YouTube channel. The best way to contact me is on Twitter.