Monetize Your Blog

6 Simple Steps To Monetizing Your Blog

In Blogging, Make Money With Your Blog, Starting a Blog by Craig Smith22 Comments

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclaimer for more info.

There are so many courses on how to build a blog, how to make money with your blog, affiliate marketing etc., it’s a little overwhelming to a newbie. I get it, I’ve been there.

My intention here is to supplement (not replace) some of the great resources out there with my own tutorial geared towards the beginner blogger, or more specifically.. someone who has never attempted to monetize their website or blog before.

Facebook Groups

I’ve spent a lot of time lately in Facebook groups that serve as a platform for promoting and increasing my blogs traffic. Some groups are good and some have some really annoying, goofy rules that make it almost impossible to participate for a new blogger.

If you’re lucky enough to stumble upon some good groups, it can be a valuable windfall of help and information. I have to give a shout out to the most helpful and friendly group I’m a part of: A Self Guru – Biz Blogging Community.

Everyone there is so nice and helpful without the stifling rules of a lot of other groups.

After about a month or so of actively participating in about 10 different groups I noticed two things:

  • There are a lot of courses on Affiliate Marketing and building blogs.. yet they all seem to leave out some really fundamental steps for beginners.
  • I’m spending more time some days helping new bloggers than I am promoting my own blog!

I guess the latter is not necessarily a bad thing. It planted the seed for this article you’re reading right now.

Just this morning I saw a girl an Affiliate Marketing group ask: “What’s an affiliate link?” Yikes!

It wasn’t the question that alarmed me, it was the group she asked it in. A group of experienced affiliate marketers who had paid a lot of money for a particular course. I immediately wanted to help her.. and that’s why I started writing this article.

 She had skipped over some very basic (and important) steps which I hope to address here. In another group someone asked: “I’ve setup an account with Amazon Affiliates. How do I get the ads to show up on my blog?”

Hey, if you’re a webmaster or have experience in HTML this stuff might seem easy to you. For the Mommy Bloggers, Musicians, Lawyers and Travel Enthusiasts…. It’s akin to learning a foreign language.

If you’re slightly more advanced, you may find these other articles helpful:

 

I recently went through Michelle Schroeder-Gardner’s excellent course: Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
I learned a lot about the process, but even this comprehensive course left out some basics for the Noobs. 

For the rest of you, read on! I’m going to share some basic tips on exactly what to do to get you up and running with some ads in no time!

I – Affiliate Programs: Adsense and Amazon

Before you start applying to a bunch of Affiliate Programs, get your Legal Pages including Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions and Disclaimer in place.

Google Adsense will NOT approve your website without this stuff. In fact, if your website is fairly new or only has a few blog posts they’re going to flat out turn you down anyways.

If you think you’re ready and want get approved you’ll need to get Google’s Adsense Tracking code into your HTML <HEAD>.

There are a few ways to do this depending on your theme’s options. Most good paid themes will have a place to paste in your Adsense code. Check your theme’s support or FAQ page to find out where to put yours.

If your using a free theme you can simply add it easily yourself from the WordPress Dashboard.

Manually Adding Your Adsense Tracking Code:

  • From your Google Adsense Account, copy your code.
  • Login to the Worpress Dashboard
  • Click on Appearance/Editor
  • Locate the header.php file.
  • Paste your Adsense code right under the <HEAD> tag.
  • It should look something like this:


<script async src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js"></script>
<script>
(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({
google_ad_client: "ca-pub-99999999999",
enable_page_level_ads: true
});
</script>

Save the file and that’s it!

Check your Adsense account in a few days to see if you were approved. They won’t email you if you were declined, so keep checking. If you were declined, it’s probably due to one of the following reasons:

  • Your Legal Pages were not visible or setup properly.
  • Your website is simply too new or doesn’t have sufficient content yet.

No worries, you can always apply again later!

Amazon Affiliate Program

Bookmark this article then apply here: http://affiliate-program.amazon.com

This is really the Affiliate Program you want to start with if you’re a new Blogger or Webmaster. It’s next to impossible to be turned down, and there are no requirements for sessions or pageviews. You can be on Day 1 of your blogging journey and get started right away.

Amazon also doesn’t care if you’re serving ads from other programs like Google, Shareasale.com etc. 

The reason I listed Amazon second is because Google does care. If you want to be approved by Google Adsense, don’t put any visible Amazon banners on your website yet.

Amazon’s program is really a no-brainer though. It’s just so well laid out and easy to use. It offers a wide variety of banners and links to fit anyone’s website layout.

Amazon also does not require you to put any weird tracking code on your site anywhere. Simply signup and your tracking ID is embedded automatically into each link or banner you add to your website.

Once you’re approved, go ahead and continue to the next step -Preparing your website and creating your First Ad-Ready Blog Post.

II – Write Your First Affiliate Blog Post

Writing in Scrivener

I realize everyone has their own style of writing and workflow. For me everything revolves around the amazing Scrivener Writing App. It is available for Mac, Windows and iOS (I’m writing this article on my iPad with the ZAGG Bluetooth Keyboard).

In my article: Blogging –  The First 30 Days – Tools, Tips & Tricks, I wrote a lot about my experiences with Scrivener.

Regardless of what you use to write, DO NOT write “live” in WordPress. Use an offline program like Scrivener that also serves as a backup of all your hard work.

Imagine finishing up a monster 4000 word article with banners and cleverly placed affiliate links… then you hit publish and didn’t realize your internet went out for a minute. Yeah. It happens. You just lost 3 hours worth of work!

WordPress

Once you’ve finished your new masterpiece and it is hopefully saved somewhere offline, login to your WordPress Dashboard. 

  • Click on Posts/Add New
  • Copy/paste your new article and hit Save Draft in the right side bar.

Keywords

Once I get a nice draft uploaded in Worpress I like to do a little keyword reconnaissance throughout my blog posts for affiliate links.

You probably noticed earlier I mentioned I was using my iPad and the ZAGG Bluetooth Keyboard.<<<Right there are 2 opportunities to put in some Amazon Affiliate links.

Adding in simple text links using Amazon.com:

  • Go to amazon.com.
  • Search for the product you’d like to link to.
  • If you’re an affiliate now, you’ll see a little tool bar at the top of every page.
  • Click “Text Link” and copy the short URL.
  • In the WordPress post editor (in Visual mode), highlight the text and make it a link.
  • Paste and hit ENTER.

BOOM! You just made your first money making affiliate link!

iPad amazon

NOTE: You may notice you also have the option to use an Image, Text+Image or Custom link type. Go ahead and try it! The process is exactly the same.

REL=”NOFOLLOW” Links

If you don’t know what this means but have seen the term thrown around on the interwebs, it’s worth a quick paragraph or two.

When you link to anything on the web you’re essentially sending some good juju to the search engines telling them your link is relevant to the destination URL. For reasons that far exceed the scope of this tutorial.. you do not want your affiliate links “followed” by the search engines.

Now with most affiliate links you could use a free plugin like Pretty Links to “cloak” or hide your long ugly links and make them automatically set to “NoFollow” each time you add them to a post. Google hates this, but everyone does it.

Amazon does not allow cloaking of their links, so DO NOT DO THAT with the Amazon text links. You can easily just add the little rel=”nofollow” to the end of your links (which is allowed) manually in the text editor, or grab one of the many free NoFollow Worpress Plugins. Just don’t cloak them!

If you wanna do it manually it will look something like this:

<a href="https://amzn.to/27696969n" rel="nofollow">iPad</a>

III – Inserting Graphical Ads & Banners

Using Amazon Associates

When you first login you may be a bit overwhelmed with all of the options and varieties of ads to choose from. Let’s start with a simple banner ad.

  • From the top menu choose PRODUCT LINKING/BANNERS. Then click on “Easy Links”.
  • There are a ton of cool options for Amazon banners and ads, but for now we’ll start with an easy one. Just scroll down and find a 468×60 banner that you think looks good and will fit nicely into your blog post, sidebar, footer or wherever you decide to put it.

amazon banners
Simply copy ALL of the HTML snippet in the highlight box.

Back to WordPress

In your WordPress Post Editor click the “TEXT” tab at the top. We always want to paste HTML code using the plain text editor, otherwise the ugly code will be visible in your blog post.

Go back to the “Visual” tab in the editor and you should see your banner or a little code block where the banner will appear. Click “Save Draft” and view a preview of your post.

If you did the above steps correctly, it should show up something like this:

Hey! Our first affiliate banner! Can you smell the money rolling in? Time to quit that day job! Ha, just kidding.. it will take some time, but you’re now well on your way to earning some affiliate income and commissions on your blog.

More Tips:

Ad Inserter

Lets say you’d like to add a banner to the end of every blog post without going to Amazon and looking for new banners every time. It’s easy!

  • In the WordPress Dashboard goto Settings/Ad Inserter
  • You’ll see a black box with numbered tabs at the top.
  • Click a tab and paste in your banner code like this:

ad inserter

  • Choose the AFTER POST option from the drop-down menu.
  • Save the changes.
  • Now you’ll have that banner appear automatically on every blog post page! It’s like MAGIC. 

Widgets in Sidebar

Adding a vertical banner (or anything else) to your sidebar is just as simple.

From the WordPress Dashboard:

  • Find a nice vertical banner from your Amazon Associates Account and grab the code.
  • In WordPress click Appearance/Widgets
  • Drag a “Custom HTML” block over to your Sidebar.
  • Open it and paste in your banner code or anything else you like. (Below is my email signup form code).
  • Save it and thats it!

wordpress widget

Don’t worry about all the colored text. The HTML Widget does this on its own.

IV – Creating Featured and Pinterest Graphics

Once you’re done with the text, formatting, affiliate links and banners it’s time to make some graphics and finalize your new masterpiece blog post.

Adobe Spark Post

I use Adobe Spark Post for all of my Graphics. It’s super easy to use and offers the amazing Adobe Stock Image library.

If someone told you to use Canva for graphics, well.. it’s good too. The paid version is $4 more though and Canva does NOT have an affiliate program. Adobe does!

For $4 LESS, Adobe includes Lightroom CC and 20GB of Adobe Creative Cloud Space shared between your computers and mobile devices. Choose the Photography Plan to get all that stuff. ..and did I mention they have an affiliate program open to anyone?

So… yeah Adobe Spark is better than Canva for quite a few legitimate reasons. 

Another affiliate link for you to add to your posts and a great product by a well known U.S. company you can feel good endorsing!

I also like that I can make 2 different sized graphics at one time. For example, I want my blog featured image and Facebook shares to be horizontal. Unfortunately, that looks like crap on Pinterest… so I make another one Pinterest sized.

Adobe Spark makes it easy to pick those specific sizes and then resize accordingly:

adobe spark post

I just grab a cool looking template and pick my Social Media size from the bottom toolbar and save it! Ideally you’d use your own pics or stock images, but for this tutorial I just grabbed a cool looking one.

pintrest graphic example

Click Resize, adjust to the Pinterest setting and save this second copy.

Now I have a suitable, vertical Pinterest graphic like this:

Monetize Your Blog in 6 Easy Steps!

Monetize Your Blog in 6 Easy Steps!

Tip: Don’t be afraid to make it BIG. 683×1024 looks huge in WordPress, but it’s exactly what you want to Pin on Pinterest.

PS – Ya know what? I don’t care if it has surfboards in it, I’m using it. It looks awesome right?

V – Backing Up WordPress

Once your new post is published and live, do a quick wordpress backup. I never understand why NOBODY ever talks about this in those expensive courses! It is so important.

You just spent potentially several hours on that blog post, so you do not want to lose it!
Backing up your website (and restoring it) is super simple.

My basic philosophy on backing up goes something like this:

I Always Backup WordPress:

  • After posting a new article.
  • Before doing ANY updates.
  • Before installing ANY Plugins.
  • Before switching themes.
  • In general, after doing any significant amount of work that could be lost.

Just use the All-In-1-WP-Migration Plugin. Click Export, Save as a File on your computer and you’re done! Importing a backup is just as easy. Just import the save file.

VI – Promoting your Affiliate Post

Once your new post is live and loaded with money making affiliate links, you must promote.

Social Pug Plugin

There are a million of these Social Media plugins, but this is the one I use. It’s free and hasn’t given me a bit of trouble. All it does is put those cute little Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter buttons at the top and bottom of my posts.

There’s nothing more annoying when doing a cross-promote thread in a Facebook group and someone doesn’t have one of these buttons in place to share their posts! A Must have if you want to gain more traffic.

Pinning Manually

The first thing I do after creating my posts is to manually Pin it on Pinterest into a topic appropriate board (or group board).

After that, share it on Facebook, Twitter or whatever else you’re using.. but Pinterest is the real traffic getter.

Tailwind Pinterest Scheduling

If you’re not using Tailwind, you should be. Once you get a few articles posted you’re going to absolutely despise manually pinning them all the time… and you need to keep pinning them ….ALL Of THE TIME.

If you’re already using Tailwind, Pin that new post to your Tailwind Tribes too! Always make sure to follow your Tailwind Tribes rules and share other members posts.

Tailwind Screenshot

Tailwind Screenshot

Setting up scheduling in Tailwind is a breeze. They also offer a nice affiliate program. If you use my affiliate link here:
Get $15/Free Month of Tailwind Here

You’ll get a FREE month and guess what….so will I. 🙂

Rinse and Repeat!

That’s it! I bet it took you longer to read this article than actually doing all of those steps combined. Now get to it, make that masterpiece and make some affiliate bucks!

More Resources for Affiliate & Blog Noobs:

Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course.

Once you get your blog up and understand some of the basics outlined above, you owe it to yourself to invest in your blog and take it to the next level.

Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing

Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing

Michelle’ Course is the absolute best investment you can make in your new online business.

Amira Law – Legal Bundle

Get your blog or website GDPR compliant and cover your legal bases with this quick and painless Legal Pack.

Amira Law

Amira Law

You can also get the pages individually here:

Privacy Policy

Disclaimer

Terms and Conditions

Amira is a fellow blogger and Lawyer (practicing over 8 years). She knows her stuff and this Legal Pack is a great value for new Bloggers and Webmasters.

About the Author

Craig Smith

Craig Smith is a Professional Guitarist, Writer and Blogger in Sanford, Florida. After teaching and performing for over 25 years he started www.Lifein12Keys.com as an online outlet for his writing passion. An Educator at heart, Craig loves to teach people how to play Guitar and Blog. When he’s not playing Guitar, Skateboarding or arguing with you about why Vinyl Records sound better than CDs, you may find him by the pool with his wife Celeste, 4 Chihuahuas and a drink.

Comments

  1. This was an awesome post! I am starting to market my blog in a way that I will hopefully start monetizing soon so these times came in handy. I totally encourage you to make a blog post about Facebook groups that you would recommend joining! I would love to read a post as such. (:

    1. Author

      Thank you so much Wendy! I’m glad you liked it. I’d have to say honestly.. I’m not in many FB groups yet. I’m not a big fan of rules.. and I find there are too many dumb rules in most of them. Sometimes just ridiculous. So.. maybe if I can find a few more good ones I’ll do a post about them.

  2. This is great! I am still struggling with some of the things you have discussed here. So I will keep this bookmarked to reference later. Being new while everyone is saying how they are making money and you do not, suck. Thanks for helping noobs.

    1. Author

      Thanks Jane. I’m glad it helped you! I’m going through the same thing.. I’m still kinda new and haven’t made a lot yet either. Let’s just stick with it ok?

  3. Thanks so much. I am new to all this. You are right, a lot of articles skip the basics for us noobs. Pinning for later!

    1. Author

      Thank you so much Keina. I’m working on another tutorial for some girls in one of my FB groups geared even more towards beginners that should work as a preface to this one. Look for it in the next week or sooner.

    1. Author

      Thanks Ali, Happy to help! Glad you liked it. I’m working on some video tutorials geared for beginners, so check back soon. 🙂

  4. Thank you for the tips. This is actually really informative. I’ve been wanting to monetize my blog but I’ve be wanting to wait until I was blogging for a good 6 months so I would at least have a following and getting a decent amount of views.

    1. Author

      Why wait? I’ve never had a single friend or user comment saying they didn’t like the ads or links in my articles. I think it’s just a part of todays internet.
      Glad you liked the article though thanks! If I can help, just let me know.

  5. This is one of the best post I have so far on monetizing your blog.
    Affiliate marketing is one of my best ways to monetize a blog
    But…
    You only mentioned Amazon associates whics is one of the worst affiliate programs out there…
    Because they have the lowest cookie duration in the industry of just 24 hours.
    And there commission rates are just too low.
    You won’t make any substantial income promoting products on Amazon except you are in a niche with relative high priced products.
    There are lots of affiliate programs out there. Let me name a few:
    Clickbank
    Commission junction
    Shareasale
    JVZoo
    Just to name a few.
    Clickbank has lots of products in almost every niche with relatively high commissions rates and cookie durations.
    Hit me up on my website if you are searching for more affiliate programs with high pay outs and recurring commissions 😉

    1. Author

      Hi Valentine,
      You are so right! I was kinda gearing this more toward the absolute beginner since Amazon is so easy to use.. but I’m def going to start using (and creating tutorials) for some of the other programs you mentioned. BTW.. your website is great!

  6. Thank you for these tips. I never knew that I could edit sidebar widgets that way and I immediately added a few changes. Previously I had been trying the WordPress customize mode.

    1. Author

      Thanks John. Your blog looks great btw. Glad You got something out of the post!

  7. Great post Wendy! As a new blogger there nm is a lot to learn and this post does a great job breaking it down. I’ll definitely be delving into the details you provided. Thanks!!

  8. This is such a great post! I’ve pinned it again but just wanted to take a moment to let you know it was very helpful especially the Adsense part because I still don’t have ads on my website yet. Is there a plugin you recommend to insert the adsense html code on your site? By the way, you are absolutely correct about having the legal pages on your website before applying for Adsense!

    Thanks,
    Amira at ASelfGuru

  9. Does your website have a contact page? I’m having
    problems locating it but, I’d like to shoot you an email.
    I’ve got some creative ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing.
    Either way, great blog and I look forward to seeing it
    improve over time.

    1. Author

      There’s a big ABOUT button in the menu with a contact page. 🙂 Or…Shoot me an email at Craig AT lifein12keys

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