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6 ways to monetize your WordPress blog and make more money online

Morgan Smith's Layout avatar

If you’re ready to become a serious blogger and start making money online, you need to monetize your WordPress site. It may sound like a lot of work, but it’s actually easier than you might think to get started. All you need are the right techniques, some tools you trust, and a little creativity (which as a blogger, you’re great at)!

If you’re ready to monetize your WordPress site and make more money online, start with these six simple steps!

1. Grow your email list

Alright, alright, you caught me – simply having an email list isn’t enough to make you money online. But it does help you get in front of your audience and can drastically improve the results of the next few tips (which is why I’m mentioning it first).

See, when people subscribe to your email list, it’s pretty safe to assume that they like something you’re doing. Whether it’s your content, your branding, or a good ol’ quality freebie, something you did convinced them you’re worth it – and if you can get them to engage with you once, you’ve got a higher chance of doing it again.

monetize-wordpress-blog-email-list

If you’ve already got an email list started, you’re well on your way to leveraging your audience to monetize your site. If you’re not quite there yet, it’s time to strategically place some opt-ins on your site so you can start growing your following. To start, give your blog readers a way to subscribe to your content. These opt-ins can usually be found in the sidebar, in your top navigation, or below your article. There are pros and cons to each location, so where you choose to place your opt-ins will mostly depend on your WordPress site’s layout.

Just remember: You can always experiment with opt-ins and try different styles and placements. As long as they’re somewhere on your site, you’re one step closer to growing your email list and in turn, monetizing your WordPress blog!

2. Skip banner ads

Yep, I’m talking about the oldest trick in the book: banner ads. Good old fashioned advertising, adapted for the web. For most bloggers who decide to monetize their site, this is one of the first ideas they turn to.

Carving out some space on your site for display ads, whether sold directly or through a network like Google’s AdSense, can bring in a modest, but steady source of income for the average site. And if your site traffic is above average, it can be quite lucrative. Sounds great, right?

There are some things to keep in mind about this method, however. The first is that ads are invasive. The time and effort you’ve put into designing and building a beautiful site is important, and carving out ad space not only can take away from your aesthetic value, but allow your site to be invaded by design that isn’t up to your standards. It’s pretty unlikely that banner ads will match your brand (or even come close), so you’ll be sacrificing consistency.

The second reason you should be weary of display ads is that you don’t really have a lot of control over the content they show. If you’re trying to present yourself as a respected industry expert and there are ads for competitors or just crummy products all over your site, your readers are going to lose trust in you.

So while banner ads are technically a viable option for creating a profitable blog, I’d recommend steering clear. Instead…

3. Become an affiliate for your favorite products

That’s right – instead of displaying random banner ads all over your site, why not use that space to promote products that you actually use? Companies you actually trust and recommend?

By becoming an affiliate for your favorite products, you can get a little kickback for recommending their services – something you’re probably already doing organically. This means it’s really no extra work on your part, and you can earn a sweet little bonus anytime one of your readers clicks on your affiliate link and signs up for the service you’re recommending!

Don’t just sign up for any affiliate program, however; make sure you’re recommending products you actually use and love. Your readers will be able to tell the difference between an authentic recommendation and a half-hearted attempt to earn some extra money online. That’s part of the benefit of affiliate programs: when you’re recommending the tools you actually use, both you and your followers win. They get genuine advice and potentially a brand new tool for their business, and you get a nice little paycheck!

As for promoting your affiliate link, keep it natural! It’s great to include it in blog posts or tweets, but don’t force it if there’s not a real connection to the content. It’s all about being authentic and promoting it in a way that’s truly helpful for your readers.

Here’s an example – since we’re on the subject, I’m going to mention Flywheel’s Affiliate Program for anyone interested in sharing it with their audience. (It’s not actually an affiliate link, since this is Flywheel’s blog, but you get the idea.)

If you think Flywheel is the bee’s knees, our Affiliate Program is a great way to earn a little extra money online by signing up your friends!

And that’s it – end pitch. You can write up entire reviews about your affiliate products if you’d like, but you can also include your links in other content, as long as there’s a connection. Easy peasy!

The best thing about affiliate links is that they can’t really hurt (as long as you’re recommending tools you believe in and being honest about them). If no one signs up for a tool based on your recommendation, you’re not out any money. But if a reader does sign up based on your suggestions, you can earn a nice little bonus. So, why not give it a shot with the tools that you love?

If you believe in a product and love what the company is doing, an affiliate program is a great way to monetize your WordPress site while also hooking up your readers with the best tools in the business.

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4. Create premium content

The next step you should take to monetize your WordPress site is to create premium content that readers have to pay for. This can take a variety of forms, and mostly depends on what type of content you like to create. If you’re a true writer at heart, a super detailed ebook might come pretty naturally to you. If you enjoy working with video, perhaps a webinar course is more up your alley. Whatever form this premium piece of content takes, it just needs to be high quality and something your readers will actually pay for!

The most difficult part of this monetization technique is choosing a topic. After all, how do you know for sure what your audience will be willing to spend money on? A good place to start is to look at your existing content and think about the things you know. Ask yourself:

  • What is my most popular piece of content?
  • What is my least popular piece of content? (Hint: Don’t choose this one.)
  • What themes are there throughout my blog?
  • What topics could I teach others about?

Another option: If you don’t think you’re ready to sell a piece of premium content for a price, use it as an opt-in for your email list. It’s won’t directly earn you money, but it will help you build up that potential customer base for when you are ready to put a price tag on something.

5. Allow sponsored content on your site

If you already have a large following, consider selling spaces for sponsored content on your site. Like affiliate links, this is a great way to work with other brands that you love while promoting great services to your readers. It’s advertising, but with a little more control than your typical banner ads. Plus, sponsored content can take a whole bunch of forms to fit your site’s style. A few ideas include:

Sponsored blog posts

Sponsored blog posts are great because you can charge for a full review of a product, course, service, etc. You could also team up with other brands or influencers to swap articles on each other’s blogs. Partnerships like that may not instantly earn you money, but they will allow you to reach a new audience and promote your email list or premium content. (Are you noticing a theme yet?)

Sponsored ads

This method is super similar to allowing banner ads on your site, but gives you a lot more control over what gets displayed. By charging directly for real estate on your site (instead of relying on third-party services), you can approve or deny any requests that come in to make sure the quality of product is up to your standards. And if you don’t want to specifically sell this space, you could always promote some of your affiliate links, too!

No matter where you place it or how you display it, sponsored content is another great way to monetize your WordPress blog and earn extra money with your website.

6. Leverage what you’ve already got

While anyone can monetize a website, the exact process and method will look a little different for each unique blog. My last tip: Take a look at the content you’ve already got and brainstorm ways to upsell it.

With affiliate links, where can you promote them on your site that already feels natural? Can you write blog posts about the products, or include the links in any old posts? Is there room in your sidebar for a graphic? Creating a Resource page that lists out the tools you use is another easy place to include affiliate links.

For any premium content you’re selling (or collecting emails with), do you have a plan for promoting it on your blog? Your articles should drive readers to the content that makes you money, so think about supporting articles that will convince readers to check out the premium goods.

And last, remember that good old email list. No matter how you decide to monetize your blog, you should always market your subscribers. Remember: They’ve already opted in once – you can get them to do it again. Advertise your affiliate partners to them. Promote that premium content. You could even include sponsored links in your newsletters to generate some of that partnership money.

Monetizing a WordPress blog does take a lot of work, but once you get started, it can almost run on auto-pilot so you can consistently earn money online. What have been some of your hurdles trying to monetize your site? If you’re starting to see success, what tricks are working the best for your blog? Share what you’ve learned in the comments, and if you’re interested in Flywheel’s Affiliate Program, learn more about it here.

Comments ( 5 )

  1. StyledThemes

    May 26, 2017

    I get what you mean about invasive banner ads however there are solution that you get quite a bit of control over. What do you think about services like BuySellAds where you can approve an advertiser's banner before it goes live on your site?

  2. Ian Pearson

    May 29, 2017

    In order for you to get into a position to monetize and attract possible partners and clients on your blog, you would need to work you way up the Google rankings. That's where a quality SEO optimization of your site/blog comes in.

  3. Amit

    January 1, 2018

    There are many different ways to earn money we just have to make an effort to do so, this is one of it...

  4. Brisbane SEO GWM

    December 20, 2018

    Awesome article but I would like to point out one thing. When creating a WordPress blog you focus should not be on the money but on the quality of your website and your content. If you start the blog with focusing on money on the very beginning you are gonna be disappointed. That's just my opinion. Good luck :)

  5. Rihankhan

    January 3, 2019

    A blog is not a blog without good content so once you have set your blog up you need to focus your attention upon creating good content.

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