THE BLOG
06/09/2016 10:49 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

3 Ways to Start Making Money by Blogging

By Zac Johnson

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Having been in the online marketing industry for over 20 years and an active blogger since 2007, one of the most common questions I get asked is how I make money with my blog. It's a loaded question and one that's much easier to answer if you know the focus of your blog, who your audience is and how you are providing value to them.

This, however, is something many first-time bloggers struggle with and won't figure out until after the launch of their first website or blog. No matter if you have a general audience site or a highly targeted niche review site, the end goal is still the same: provide your audience with something they are interested in, yet still monetizable. Keep in mind that your audience is coming to your site for one of three reasons: to be entertained, find information, or to buy something.

When it comes to making money with a blog, you need to have a good idea why people are at your site in the first place. This is why it's so important to build a solid foundation for your blog before going live. Too many people rush this process and end up with a blog they don't know what to do with, after working on it for several weeks or months.

A great way to get started with a blog is by starting a review site. A review site can be on any specific product or service, and the end goal for the site would be to help your audience in the buyer decision process, ultimately leading them to where they can make their purchase online. A good example of this would be if you were to create a review site around a vacuum cleaner you recently purchased. It's very likely that other people are going online to find information, reviews and compare prices on this same vacuum cleaner, so by creating a review site around it, you would be providing a quality service to this audience. Here are three ways to start making money with that in mind.

Google Adsense

One of the easiest ways to make money with a website or blog is to simply join the Google Adsense affiliate program. Google has millions of advertisers who pay to rank in the search results. Google Adsense is this same type of advertising, but it's focused on serving such advertising on their partner sites. As an Adsense partner, all you need to do is place a line of code on your site. Google will start to display relevant advertisers so that, the site owner, you earn a commission every time viewers click on these ads.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is the concept of getting paid a commission for referring a new sale or lead to a business. There are thousands of affiliate programs you can join. Nearly every big brand name has one associated with their websites as well. Amazon, eBay, The Home Depot, Lowes, ToysRUs, Sephora and GameStop all have affiliate programs of their own, just to name a few.

The best part of affiliate marketing is that you don't need to hold any inventory, communicate with customers or even process any orders. Everything is tracked and managed through the affiliate network and brand partner. Affiliates just need to cater high-quality content to their audience and redirect users to different websites, where they will then earn a commission on each referred lead or sale.

Shareasale, Commission Junction and PepperJam Network are three of the largest affiliate networks in the world. They site owners and online marketers instant access to thousands of well-known brands and products.

Sell Your Own Products

Google Adsense and affiliate marketing are two great ways to make money online, but each of them only offers a small percentage of earnings in comparison to having your own products for sale. When thinking about selling products through your site, don't limit yourself to physical products. Billions of dollars are generated every year on digital-based products such as online courses and e-books, which have huge profit margins for the individuals and sites creating them.

No matter what type of focus you currently have for your site, there is always going to be something of value that you can offer to your audience. Your job is to find out the best way to monetize the process while keeping the user engagement and experience high at all times.

Zac Johnson has 20 years of experience in the online marketing and business space. You can learn more about Zac at http://zacjohnson.com and through his latest online learning course and community at http://blogging.org.