If you’ve been blogging for any time at all, the topic of monetization has likely crossed your mind. Maybe you started blogging as a way to earn some extra income or leave a corporate job to stay home with your kids. Or did you start blogging simply because you love to write and have a passion for sharing a message with others? Maybe you’ve never thought about making money from your blog. Or, maybe you’re considering it now because the costs of running your blog are starting to add up.
No matter how you started, take some time to consider why and how you can monetize your Christian blog. [Note: even though this is focused on Christian blogs, these same strategies can apply for any niche.]
Why Monetize a Christian Blog?
In most blogging circles the question “why monetize” barely receives mention. While most bloggers aren’t in it solely for the money, once they learn they can earn money doing what they love, they go for it. However, in the Christian blogging niche especially, monetizing is often approached with mixed feelings and trepidation. Is it moral and Biblical to try to make money from a Christian blog? Will our audience be willing to pay for what we offer?
I recommend you take the time to get clear on God’s plans for your blog. Spend time in prayer asking how he wants you to grow your blog. How is God providing for you and your family and where does your blog fit into that mix? Has he led you to this as a way to support your family while you do Kingdom work, or is your blog something he’s called you to pour into out of the abundance he’s provided in other areas?
Consider also the type of ministry and message you have. What are your financial needs and goals? What do you want to achieve with your blog?
- Do you need to cover the costs of your blog?
- Are you raising money for a cause?
- Is your blog a source of income to support your family?
- Do you need to earn an income from the blog so you can do this ministry full-time?
How long can you afford to continue your blog if you don’t make any money from it?
If you aren’t tracking your financials already, now is a good time to start. Keep track of every expense on a spreadsheet (or even a piece of paper). Know what it costs to run your blog. Some costs are annual and others monthly, so add up everything you’ll spend over the course of a year and then divide by 12 to get a monthly average.
Which costs are fixed and which will increase as you grow? One of the most variable costs will be your email provider. Take a look at their pricing structure and see how the price increases as your list grows. Most of the email services have comparable costs, but look at a few to see how they stack up and how the pricing models work. The truth is there are very real (and potentially significant) costs to reach more people with your message.
How many more people could you reach or how much more could you step into where God’s calling you if your blog made money?
Top 4 Ways to Monetize a Christian Blog
1) Affiliate sales
One of the easiest ways to get started is affiliate sales. This is simply promoting someone else’s product. If someone purchases that product through your special affiliate link, you receive a percentage of the sale. You can make anywhere from 2% to 50% of the sale, depending on the seller’s program.
Amazon’s Affiliate Program
Amazon is a great place to get started (if it’s available in your state). If Amazon isn’t available, try Target or another big online retailer. As you mention any products in your blog posts, link those to the product page on Amazon (with an affiliate link of course). If someone clicks on your link and makes a purchase, you’ll get a small commission. The commission rates for Amazon are low, so don’t expect this to be a major money-maker unless you’re regularly writing about high-ticket items. However, I do recommend at least getting some Amazon links on your site.
Other Blogger’s Affiliate Programs
The more lucrative affiliate sales are reselling other blogger’s products. These have up to 40-50% commission rates and can be great value-add opportunities for your audience. Choose a small number of these that fit your audience and your blog’s messaging. Some of these will have specific launch windows (a week or two) where the cart is open, while others may be evergreen, allowing you to promote them all year. Just be careful to spread out your promotions through the year, so you don’t overwhelm your audience.
These are ones you’ll want to create specific promotion plans around. I’ll go more in-depth in a future post, but at a high level, you’d want to write a specific blog post and also specifically promote to your email list, likely sending a number of targeted emails to them over the week or two of the promotion.
Getting Started with Affiliate Programs
Find products you love (definitely be a customer first and only promote what you truly love and use) and think your audience will also love. Promote these because you love them and have had a personal impact from the product or service. Share the product with your email list because you want to offer them the same opportunity to experience the same impact.
If you want to learn more about affiliate sales and how to promote during a launch, Rosemarie Groner’s Core Affiliate Strategy is a great resource (not an affiliate link, just a product I’ve used and found valuable).
Ads is another easy way to get started monetizing, but definitely one with pros and cons.
First, you have to decide if the revenue is worth the look of having ads on your site. As a small blogger, don’t expect to make much from this channel. The primary ad networks available to you will be Adsense and Amazon CPM ads. I’ve seen these pay about $1 to $1.50 per thousand pageviews. So, if you’re getting 25,000 pageviews per month, you might make $25-30 from ads. Once you grow to have pageviews in the hundreds of thousands per month, you can apply to higher-paying ad networks. I’ve seen other bloggers talk about making some significant money from these, but it’s all about the traffic.
I’m currently trying out ads, but definitely don’t have them optimized for maximum effectiveness. For example, I’m only running them on the sidebar, not at the top of my page or in the middle of my content, both of which are prime ad locations. I primarily have Amazon CPM running, but if it doesn’t have an ad to serve, then AdSense is the default.
3) Sponsored Posts
I don’t personally do these because it just doesn’t seem to fit with my content areas, but maybe it’s a better fit for you. This can be a great way to bring in some money and doesn’t require you to ‘sell’ anything to your readers. Simply share your experience with a particular product.
To learn more about sponsored posts, check out this post about How to Get Sponsored Posts from a Christian lifestyle and family blogger.
4) Your own products
Creating products is by far my favorite way to monetize and the one you’ll have the most control over. Create something and sell it! What you create will depend on your blog and the needs of your audience. Some ideas: write a book (printed or ebook), create a digital course, design printables, or create physical products (jewelry, craft items, mugs, t-shirts, etc.). The sky is the limit here.
I’ll go more in-depth on how to create products in future posts, so start your research and dreaming now. What can you create and sell that will provide solutions for your readers?
Here are some examples of different ways Christian bloggers are creating products:
- Books and courses @ Arabah Joy
- T-shirts and mugs @ Flourishing Today
- Printables @ Sweet To The Soul Shoppe (she has a blog but hosts her store on Etsy)
- Membership site @ One Thing Alone
- Books – printables – consulting @ Equipping Godly Women
For even more ideas on how to monetize your blog, take a look at this How to Make Money Blogging post at problogger.com (and subscribe to their blog and podcast, which are excellent!)
Know the Rules
Finally, know the rules if you are going to monetize your blog. These are some of the big rules to follow, but not an exhaustive list. Do you research and make sure you’re following the relevant laws and policies.
You always need to disclose your relationship with the product, whether it’s an affiliate link or sponsored post. This disclosure needs to be prominent and come before the link so your reader knows before they click or purchase. Read through the fine print of any agreement to know what you can and can’t do to promote. For example, Amazon will not allow you to include their affiliate links in any email – only on your web page. This may have implications for you depending on how you email your list.
Privacy and Terms
Taxes and Licenses
You may also need to pay sales and use tax in your state, depending on what and how you’re selling products. Do the research and keep everything legal!
How are you monetizing your blog? Share your ideas and what you’re learning in the comments below.