Blogging is one of the very best methods of growing website traffic and boosting SEO for your small business website! Most of my WordPress web design clients are just that—small business owners whom I coerce into starting a blog so they can improve their website’s performance and ultimately grow income for their products and services.😉

But, I also occasionally work with people doing this the other way around: bloggers who have already published lots of free blog content and are now looking for a way to monetize their blog and turn it into a business.

So, if you have an existing blog and are looking for ways to turn it into a business and earn income from it, this post’s for you!

5 WAYS TO MONETIZE YOUR WORDPRESS BLOG

There are a few common ways to monetize your WordPress blog, and we’ll chat through how to determine which is the best fit for your particular blog, and instructions for getting started with each of them.

1. Affiliate income

I’ve talked about affiliate income before, as a form of passive income that’s useful for online business owners. It’s also a great option for blogs!

Affiliate income is commission-based income you earn from referring people to product or service you recommend.

Many companies now offer affiliate programs—from mega retailers like Amazon, to small start-ups looking to grow a following, to LTK, an app that collects affiliate links for many different companies.

Affiliate payouts vary, but usually offer 10-30% on a one-time basis (per referral), or recurring basis (monthly, as long as your referral stays subscribed to the company’s service).

When to use affiliate income in your business

Incorporating affiliate income into your business is a great option if you meet two key conditions:

  • you have a reasonably large audience to refer to, whether via your website traffic, email list or social media following
  • you are already recommending the service or product to your audience because it offers benefit to them

In other words, affiliate income is only a viable and authentic option for your business if you have enough traffic to make meaningful income from it, and you’re maintaining integrity by only referring to products or services you would have referred to otherwise (without making any cash from doing so).

Some influencers earn hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from sharing affiliate links. But the reality is, many small business owners are not generating enough traffic to make substantial income from affiliate programs.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t join relevant affiliate programs and get them set up for a future point down the road when you are generating more traffic—it’s just a heads up that this is not an immediate $$$ earner for most people.

If you’re interested in incorporating affiliate income in your business but aren’t sure you have the website traffic to support that, here are five strategic ways to grow your website traffic.

Also: It’s important to comply with FTC guidelines by properly disclosing any use of affiliate links. You’ll see my affiliate disclosure on any blog posts in which I recommend a product or service I’m an affiliate of.

2. Paid ads with Google AdSense

Another common way to monetize a blog is to host paid advertisements. You’re probably quite familiar with seeing these on blogs—they may appear in a blog sidebar, footer, or within a blog post itself.

WordPress does have a native advertising option, so paid advertisements on a WordPress blog must be set up through a third-party advertising platform, like Google

AdSense (one of the largest and most common).

How Google AdSense works

Google AdSense uses its fancy algorithms to display relevant ads on your website. (So, you’re not exactly seeking which advertisements will display—it’s up to Google AdSense to determine what’s placed there.)

They also do your bidding for you in that they match your website with paid content from their advertisers, and then pass through your income to you.

To install Google AdSense you’ll need to sign up for a Google AdSense account and then install some code on your Squarespace website to connect AdSense to your site.

1. Register for a Google AdSense account

To integrate AdSense with WordPress, you’ll first need to sign up for an AdSense account.

To get an account with Google AdSense:

  1. Go to the signup page and click Get Started, then follow the instructions to create your account with AdSense.
  2. After submitting your site information, you’ll see a page with some code.
  3. After placing Google’s code, return to your AdSense account, check the I’ve pasted the code onto my site box, and click Done.
  4. Google will review your application and respond within two weeks.

Pros & cons of using Google AdSense

The benefit of hosting paid ads on your website is that it’s pretty simple income—you monetize your existing blog traffic, without much effort other than installing and setting up your AdSense account.

Google AdSense also conveniently re-sizes ads for display on mobile, so you can be sure all ads are mobile-friendly as well.

There are, however, some drawbacks to incorporating third-party paid ads on your blog:

  • You need a lot of website traffic. Again, you’ll need a significant amount of website traffic (like 50,000+ monthly pageviews) to earn meaningful income from paid ads. So, if you already have a well-trafficked blog, this might be a viable source of income for you. But if you don’t yet have significant website traffic, it’s not likely to be a big earner off the bat.
  • Ads can be annoying. In some cases, ads from third-party services like Google AdSense can reduce the user experience on your website. A good example of this is food blogs—how often have you found a recipe online, only to struggle to actually find and read the recipe with the gazillion ads that attempt to load before you can do that? If you’re not earning significant income from ads (and retaining your traffic while doing so), they might not be worth the hinderance to user experience.
  • Ads slow down your website loading. Part of your blog’s user experience (and SEO!) is how quickly your webpages load, especially on mobile. Installing code for third-party advertisers like Google AdSense can slow down your page loading speed. Not only does this hurt user experience, but slow page loading is also a detriment to your overall SEO.

This isn’t to say that paid ads can’t be done well—it’s certainly possible that they could be properly placed and sized on your website to avoid disruption to user experience, while still bringing in income… but, of course, that would require significant website traffic.

You may have noticed that I do not use paid advertisements on this website. The reason I don’t is that I preach using effective web design to create good user experience and grow an interested audience for your business. And though I’d love to love them, paid ads do create some clutter and reduce speed, and since I have other monetization in place, I don’t feel the trade-off is worth it for my business and blog.

So, paid ads via a third-party advertising tool like Google AdSense is a popular monetization option for high-traffic Squarespace blogs, though just requires some consideration of how that may impact your user experience and page loading speed.

3. Sponsored blog content

Another way to earn income for your blog is to work with relevant brands in your industry to create sponsored content.

Sponsored content is an agreement with a brand to share about and endorse their product or service on your blog, in return for a specific fee.

There are lots more details specific to the contract you’d enter into with the brand you’re working with, but generally, sponsored post contracts include a specific word count, number of photos, photo guidelines, number of brand and product mentions, links, etc. that are required for your paid post.

And, of course, it’s important to follow FTC guidelines and disclose whenever you publish a sponsored post on your blog.

Sponsored content can be some of the best revenue-generating options for bloggers, but the catch is: you also need a pretty large, established audience to bring in the big bucks from brands who want access to your established audience. And, it can take some time before your traffic and influence is large enough to gain contracts from the brands you’d like to work with.

4. Create an online membership program

Online membership programs are one of my favorite options for monetizing your existing blog traffic.

The advertising and sponsored content examples above rely on other companies for your income, and are very dependent on your website traffic numbers. So, they’re often not a reasonable fit for smaller audiences.

However, online membership programs are something you can implement at any point in your blogging growth, and you have complete control over your content and income potential.

Online membership programs include things like resource libraries, video archives, online trainings and courses, members-only discussion forums, group directories and more!

As you may know, I’m a really big fan of online membership programs in general, and highly recommend them for online business owners, or anyone looking to scale your business (and grow your income potential!).

But online courses, resource libraries and other membership groups are an especially useful way to monetize your blog because they’re a natural “upgrade” to your blog content.

Here are some of the specific ways you can build an online membership program to support your blog audience:

Online training

If you have a specific area of expertise, you can develop an online training to teach your audience your tips and tricks on that specific topic area.

Online trainings can be designed as a video training, a written how-to guide, a PowerPoint presentation with a voiceover, or really any format (or combination of formats) that makes sense for your purposes.

They’re generally sold for a one-time fee, and are priced as more of a starter resource.

Online course

An online course is similar to the online training, but a bit larger and more comprehensive. It might have multiple modules and multiple formats of content—for example, video trainings with accompanying downloadable worksheets.

Check out our How to become a Digital Nomad – (saltwatermoon.com) is an example of an online training.

Whereas an online training, like the SEO Basics for Business Owners example, covers one specific topic (quick steps to improve SEO on your wordpress website), the Get started here online course groups together a wider range of sequential, related topics—strategic planning for your membership program, creating and structuring your program content, setting up the technology for hosting your membership program, marketing your program, communicating with your members via email marketing integrations, etc.

Online courses can span the range from “intro” (and affordably priced) to “premium” options (really specific and valuable).

Online membership community

Online membership communities could also contain other elements of the membership offerings above—for example, access to a resource library, or online trainings.

But the key element of value here is the community aspect—for example, providing access to a members-only forum, or a directory in which members can search for each other and interact.

The online membership community is interactive, and a two-way street between you and your members.

So! Whether your expertise can be packaged into a single digital download, a resource library, an online training or course, or a membership community, membership programs are a great way to monetize your expertise for your existing blog audience.

5. Consulting & coaching services

And, finally: Translating your blog content into coaching or consulting services is a little less common, but can be a great option if your blog covers a specific topic area you’re an expert on, and you’re growing an audience of readers who could use more custom coaching from you on that specific topic.

Sharing your expertise via paid coaching or consulting packages allows you to offer a higher-value, premium product to readers who would like to learn more from you, in that more detailed and customized format.

Again, this is best suited for bloggers who have a specific topic area you’re recognized as an expert in, and that topic area is something your readers would like 1:1 assistance with.

Due to the typically larger investment of personalized coaching or consulting services, it’s often a good idea to offer a more introductory resource first, like one of the membership program offerings mentioned above, through which very engaged customers/clients could continue on to your premium coaching or consulting product.