By: Maurine Anderson
Blogging can be an excellent source of income, and it can even be your career if you play your cards right. The downside to monetizing your blog, however, is that is can easily take away from your authentic persona as a blogger. In order to make money with your blog, you might find yourself “selling out” or promoting things that you wouldn’t normally get behind. So what’s a blogger to do? Here are some tips for monetizing your blogging while staying authentic.
Make your goals and values clear.
One way to help you maintain authenticity is to make your goals and values as a blogger clear on your website. This could take the form of a short statement displayed somewhere on the top of your sidebar, or it might be detailed on an About Me page that has a prominent link on your home page. Making your values clear as a blogger helps alert your readers that you are committed to these values—and it can serve as a useful reminder for yourself as you navigate monetizing your blog.
Continue to provide value.
Why did you start your blog? Chances are you felt that you had something valuable to share with your readers. Be sure not to lose this vision as you monetize your blog. Continue to share tips about your favorite hobby, let your readers know about major sales that are going on, share creative party ideas, etc. You can still provide your readers with valuable content—just as long as you collaborate with the right sponsors and tie-in sponsored products appropriately.
Start with affiliate linking.
Affiliate linking is an easy first step towards monetizing your blog, and it gives you significant reign over what you do and don’t get behind. With affiliate linking, you use a special tracking link any time you link from your blog to a product on a certain website. Whenever someone clicks through that link and buys anything on the site, you get a small commission. So, if on your blog you are already recommending products that are available for purchase on a particular site, you might as well become an affiliate partner with that site and use their tracking links. Other examples of affiliate linking programs include Rakuten Affiliate Network (formerly LinkShare), Commission Junction, and ShareASale.
Create your own premium content.
You don’t have to depend on other companies to help you monetize your blog; you can create those opportunities yourself by creating your own content that visitors will pay for. One popular way to do this is to create a professional PDF or eBook that contains exclusive, valuable information on your area of expertise. You could also design some sort of online training or courses. You could even work with an app developer to create an app that ties in well with your blog. The important thing here is to only create and release content that you feel your visitors would happily pay for.
Write sponsored posts.
Sponsored posts are another great way to monetize your blog; the trick here, however, is to aim for collaborating only with companies that you feel you truly support—and that you would get behind regardless of the money involved.
Learn how to say ‘no’.
Once you start gaining more of a following as a blogger, you will likely have various companies start emailing you about potential sponsorship opportunities. Some of these companies may tie-in well with your blog, but chances are many of them are not really companies you would normally be getting behind. This is where it’s important to learn how to say no to sponsorship opportunities. As tempting as it may be to take on sponsored you’re not stoked about, simply for the extra money, keeping your blog authentic is going to require some of those sacrifices. Plus, going with every partnership opportunity is simply going to make for excessive content—something that this article cautions bloggers against.
Disclose, disclose, disclose.
Finally, there is the importance of disclosure. Disclosing sponsorship on your blog helps you maintain integrity, and it is also often a legal obligation. You should be sure to disclose it every time you receive direct compensation or commission for posting certain links, text, or images. Keep in mind that not all forms of disclosure are considered legally sufficient. Tacking the abbreviated hashtag #spon at the end of an Instagram post, for example, is not enough. Or, if you simply link to your blog’s disclosure page without stating explicitly in the blog post that the post is sponsored, this is not sufficient, either. In short, just be as honest as you possibly can be, ensuring that your visitors will know every time something you post is sponsored.