Blogging is one of the most popular ways of making money online. The top blogs globally make thousands of dollars or more every month. It’s not uncommon to see big name blogs with great monetization strategies making six figures monthly, though it’s not an easy feat. The absolute biggest names in blogging can be making millions annually.
It’s not a dream, but neither is it an easy feat. There’s no secret trick, like the folks over at Black Hat World love to claim. There aren’t tricks you can use, rules you can break, to get ahead of everyone else. Trust me; if there’s a trick, people are using it. If there’s a rule, people are breaking it. Here’s one thing you never see: a black hat blog making millions.
I’m going to start this off with a miniature lecture against black hat blogging techniques, because it’s a constant source of amusement and frustration in equal measure. See, black hat marketers love to think they’ve found loopholes and secret tricks to get themselves ahead. Most of the time, what they find are techniques that the various web authorities – usually Google, but also Amazon and various ad networks – already know about. More importantly, they penalize those techniques.
The black hats think that since they’re penalized, The Man is keeping them down. They feel that by exploiting those techniques, they’re pulling a fast one, doing something they’re not supposed to be doing and profiting from it. What they’re really doing is wasting a lot of time.
Now think of those numbers as dollars, and each sequential number is a month. Both start at 0 in January – a brand new site. The top progression, a white hat site, builds slowly and steadily. It takes them five months to hit $50, but by the end of the year they’re making $120 a month. By contrast, the black hats exploit techniques in February to make $50 that month. Then in March, the search engines catch on and penalize them so they make virtually nothing. They restart and grow a bit, reaching $55, but the cycle continues.
At the end of the year, the white hats have made a grand total of $780. The black hats have made a mere $450. Yet they think they’re coming ahead, because they see those occasional paydays, and in February they compare their results to the white hat site and feel vastly superior.
The moral of the story is this: black hat techniques work, for a short period of time. White hats grow and compound their value month after month with no theoretical cap, so long as they can keep broadening their audience and growing their profits.
I tell you all of this in case you wonder why I don’t list a bunch of black and gray hat techniques throughout the rest of the post. Staying on the side of “good” works out in the long run, but it also illustrates another point. Virtually no blog starts off making thousands or tens of thousands a month. You can reach that point, but it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of time. If you treat it as a hobby, you’ll make enough money to maybe support a hobby. If you treat it as a career, you’ll be able to make career-level money… eventually. Don’t quite your day job and expect blogging to support you immediately.
Every way of making money from a blog has one thing in common: the blog. Blogs, if they’re going to be successful, need to have a great design. On top of that, they need to have great content. Get used to producing – or paying for – excellent content, because without it, your blog is nothing. I don’t care what niche you’re in, if you don’t have a constant stream of excellent content, you’re not going to get anywhere. Only once you have a lot of great content and an audience that wants to read it, will you have the ability to sell things to that audience.
So, what do you sell, once you’ve reached that point? Here are 30 ideas for you to pick through. Ideally, one of them will give you an idea of your own.
The easiest type of product to get into selling is the product with no physical requirements. You don’t need to deal with inventory, shipping and handling, or manufacturing. You make it, you sell it, you profit.
Site Templates. If you can develop a site for yourself, you can develop a template version of it for others. Templates for WordPress and various storefronts tend to sell pretty well, though they don’t have high price tags unless they’re truly unique.
Music and Audio. Production of audio is a tricky skill that not everyone has. If you can create stock sounds and music, you can license it out for use in videos and apps.
Software. There are millions of pieces of software out there and more being produced every day. It’s a limitless pie, and you can get a slice of your own.
Stock Photography. There’s always a place for stock photos of all sorts, from landscapes to portraits, pets to food, even bizarre scenarios you would never expect to sell.
Games. Boredom is eternal, and anything that alleviates it for people, even in a passing diversion, can make absolute bank. Remember Flappy Bird?
Mobile Apps. Apps of all sorts are growing in prominence as more and more people get smartphones. Everything from maps to Uber to Pokemon Go can inspire you to a unique app of your own.
They say that those who can’t do, teach. In our case, teaching is doing. When you know enough to succeed, you know enough to help others succeed. Why not sell your services teaching them how?
Niche Coaching. Once you’ve proven you know how to grow an audience in your niche, you can take it upon yourself to teach others how to do the same. Start with researching a niche, building content, and go from there.
Individual Courses. There are things within your niche you can teach as well. Gamers can teach strategy within their games. Chefs can teach intermediate techniques and recipes. Programmers can teach code. There’s always something novices can learn.
Training Ebooks. Ebooks are a great digital product, and nothing sells quite as well as tutorials that promise a shortcut to success. Sure, you may be taking a bit of advantage of those black hats, but if they’re intent on their shortcuts, why not do so?
Webinars. Limited-seat webinars are like classrooms you can gather from around the world, and the prevalence of digital video sharing makes it easy to make it personable even when it’s not one on one.
Open Seminars. Where a webinar leans towards smaller class sizes and more interaction, seminars are more akin to broad lectures you deliver to teach your skills to as many people at once as you can.
Individual Consulting. Sometimes a one on one session is really where you excel as a teacher. Where coaching works in broad terms, consulting lets you dig into details and develop specific plans.
Physical goods are harder to manage and fulfill than digital goods, but they have the unique potential to scale almost indefinitely. For many products, the sky is the limit in terms of fame and success. Of course, investing too heavily in stock before interest can destroy a budget and a business.
Artwork. Art is a tough field to break into, but once you get a style and a following, you can be set for as long as you’re capable of producing. Art also segues into deals for book covers, album covers, and all sorts of other uses.
Modified Electronics. Modifying consoles, controllers, remotes, drones, and all sorts of other electronics can be lucrative, though it’s also limited to how much shipping you can handle.
Clothing. With the prevalence of print on demand sites, you can upload designs and make a living selling clothing you never have to see. If you’re more ambitious, you can sew custom work and sell it for a premium.
Books. Print on demand books aren’t necessarily highly sought, but nothing prevents you from writing and hooking up with a publisher based on your existing audience on your site.
Food. Preserved food and food-like goods are also great for sales, and open up the door for a local storefront, selling at farmers markets, and even getting placement in retail stores.
Handmade Goods. Etsy was practically founded on the potential of handmade goods, and there are sellers there that sell hundreds of thousands of items.
If you’re good at doing something but you’re not great at explaining how you do it, or you don’t want to teach others and would rather get paid for your skills, you can sell them online. These days, you can sell just about any service online.
Financial Planning. Finances are a realm that all too many people simply don’t know how to grasp these days. If you specialize in taxes, you can charge even more, up to a percentage of their return even.
Programming. Doing some freelance code is always an option. People want tasks automated, and you can provide the app to do it. Just make sure to be reasonable and don’t take on major projects that aren’t worth the time.
Site or App Design. Coding goes beyond creating scripts or programs; coding up a site doesn’t have to take long, but people will pay a premium not to have to set it up themselves.
Copywriting or Editing. Once you’ve proven you can write a great blog, you can spend your time selling your writing services to others who want blogs but don’t have the skill or the time to write for themselves.
Marketing. Marketing is the core of any good business, and if you can grow your own, you can grow someone else’s.
Social Media Management. Social media is a tricky realm for some people, but it’s growing more and more necessary by the year. Run it for them and charge them for the privilege.
When all else fails, there’s always the traditional web moneymaking fallbacks. They work, but they take a lot longer to scale to the level where you’re making a career out of them. That’s why they’re at the end; not because they’re not viable, but because they’re small scale for 90% of the people using them.
Drop Shipping. Want to sell a product with a storefront, but don’t want to deal with having to stock, pack, and ship the items yourself? Drop shipping sounds perfect.
Affiliate Marketing. Everything on Amazon can be sold via an affiliate link, so anything you can think of to recommend and review can be sold and you get a chunk of the profits.
Display Advertising. When your site is popular, you have a lot of eyes on your site and a lot of clicks on your links. Why not get paid for those while you’re at it?
Text Links. Infolinks, Amazon Affiliates, and similar display ads work the same way, but are a lot less obtrusive. They’re just links, like any other link, but you get paid when people click them. Avoid selling backlinks for SEO purposes; that will just get you in trouble with Google.
Sponsored Reviews. Plenty of domestic bloggers make a living by getting paid to review products they would use in their every day lives. It might not pay much, but saving on products you would buy saves you a lot of cash over time.
Site Flipping. If all else fails, build a site, build an audience, and sell the site to someone who has a better idea of monetizing it. Site flipping is perfectly viable.
There are an almost endless variety of alternatives to the 30 listed above, so feel free to explore as and find the niche that works for you.