Welcome back to The Ultimate Guide to Book Blogging! If you’ve never been here before you can catch up on previous posts in the series here.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
You probably invest a lot of time and effort in your blog and it’s perfectly reasonable to want a return on that investment. Hobby bloggers are turning professional at an ever-increasing rate, and though the book blogging niche is definitely one of the most difficult to monetize, there’s no reason you can’t make at least a little extra cash from your blog.
In this final installation of The Ultimate Guide to Book Blogging I’m going to tell you about five methods you can use to make money from your blog, but first…
How to Prepare Your Blog for Monetization
You can’t just create a blog and then start monetizing it. Well, you can’t just create a blog and then successfully monetize it. You must do some prep work first. Here are three things you should do before you begin a successful monetization campaign:
1. Have a Professional-Looking Blog.
If you want to go pro with your blog, it must look the part. A professional-looking blog must have its own domain name, a tidy and attractive design, and great content. For tips on how to make your blog stand out from the crowd, check out these posts from The Ultimate Guide to Book Blogging series:
- How to Choose a Great Domain Name for Your Blog
- How to Pick a Web Host & Blog Platform
- How to Design Your Dream Blog
- 12 Essential WordPress Plugins for Book Bloggers
- How to Find Your Voice & Create Amazing Blog Content
- How to Organize Your Blog’s Pages, Categories, & Tags
- How to Make Your Blog Stand Out with Photos & Graphics
2. Craft a Compelling Media Kit.
Every blogger who wants to work with advertisers and brands should have a media kit. A media kit provides relevant information to interested parties about your blog such as traffic statistics, social media followers, and audience demographics. It may also detail pricing for advertising and other types of sponsorship, all in a tidy PDF file.
I highly recommend using a premade Photoshop template to create your media kit. This will make the process so much easier and the end result is guaranteed to be beautiful and professional.
3. Create an “Advertise” or “Hire Me” Page.
If you want to let advertisers and brands know that you’re open for business, it’s a good idea to create a page that outlines the basics of what sponsorship opportunities you’re offering. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Mine is a very brief set of bullet points and an invitation to contact me for my media kit and more information. You can be more detailed if you want and you can even upload your media kit right to the page and make it available for anyone to see. Just make sure that potential sponsors visiting your blog know that you’re interested in their business.
Now that your blog is in tip-top shape, it’s time to start making money…
5 Ways to Monetize Your Blog
Traditional banner ads are one of the oldest and most popular methods of blog monetization. There are two ways you can go about monetizing your blog with banner ads: You can sell ads directly or you can join an ad network.
An ad network is a company that acts as the intermediary between advertisers and publishers (that’s you). A potential publisher applies to join the network, and if accepted, displays the network’s ads in the sidebar or header of her blog. The advantage to joining an ad network is that you won’t have to find advertisers yourself, something that can be difficult or impossible if you’re a small blogger. The downside is that you’ll only receive a percentage of the advertising fees.
I am a big believer that ads should enhance the reader’s experience, not hinder it with intrusive, unsightly ads. That’s why I quit Google ads a long time ago. The compensation was also rubbish, which didn’t help.
More recently I experimented with the The Riot Ad Network, which is more geared toward book bloggers, but decided to call it quits when I discovered that most of the ads displayed in my sidebar were fillers from other networks. The pay wasn’t great and it certainly didn’t enhance the reading experience of my followers.
A couple of months ago I signed up for Litbreaker, an ad network designed specifically for book bloggers, and finally found my bliss. With Litbreaker, publishers are paid 65% of ad revenue (5% more than The Riot Ad Network) and virtually all of the ads are beautifully designed and directly related to the book blogging niche. I’ve also found that the CPM (cost per impression) is higher than any other ad network I’ve worked with, which is great for my wallet. Needless to say, I am smitten with Litbreaker and I can’t recommend them highly enough.
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Direct Ad Sales
Selling ad space directly to advertisers is usually very difficult for smaller bloggers and particularly for book bloggers. I don’t recommend actively trying to sell your own advertising space until you have a fairly substantial readership. Even then, I recommend using an intermediary like Blogads (which has a “hive” specifically for book bloggers) or Beacon Ads (for Christian bloggers). Still, it doesn’t hurt to set up an “advertise” or “hire me” page on your blog like I mentioned above.
If you want to start advertising directly and you need help setting your prices, check out this post over at Entrepreneur’s Journey.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing involves promoting a product or service through an affiliate program. Every time someone purchases a product or service through your unique affiliate link, you receive a commission.
Most major online booksellers including Amazon (which also covers Audible), Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository, and IndieBound have affiliate programs. I personally participate in the Amazon affiliate program because it yields the most profits. Like it or not, people are far more likely to purchase books from Amazon than any other online vendor (unless you’re catering to a more international audience, in which case The Book Depository is probably your best bet).
Keep an eye out for other affiliate programs that are relevant to your content. For my post on blog design I signed up for the StudioPress affiliate program to promote the Genesis Framework and Foodie Pro theme, both of which I use and love.
3. Product Sales
Use your blog as a launch pad for your own service or product. Perhaps you’re a crafty person and you want to design bookish jewelry, or maybe you love graphic design and you want to sell literary t-shirts, mugs, or posters. Your blog is the perfect place to promote your business.
A great example of a book blogger who used her blog as a launch pad for a business is Jamie at Books and Beverages. Her Shoppe features bookmarks, notecards, art prints, and other products for the literarily inclined. She even has a planner just for book bloggers!
Another couple of enterprising book bloggers are Trish of Hey Lady! Whatcha readin’? and Lisa of Books on the Brain. They started TLC Book Tours, a virtual book tour company which partners with some of the biggest authors and publishing houses in the world!
I’ve seen other book bloggers market editorial services, start Etsy shops, and find other creative ways to market their products and services through their blogs.
4. Sponsored Posts
This is where being a book blogger can be a little tricky. In my opening paragraph I mentioned that book blogs are among the most difficult to successfully monetize. Sponsored posts are a perfectly legitimate way for bloggers to earn income and it’s common for brands to compensate lifestyle, food, and fashion bloggers for product reviews and other types of coverage. Unfortunately, the politics and economics of the book blogging community have made it impossible for book bloggers to charge for our time in the same way bloggers in more commerce-friendly niches do.
Ashley wrote a great post about this issue and I think it’s time I pitched in my two cents. There is no reason why a book blogger should not be compensated for the time it takes to write a book review. And FYI, a free book, as lovely as it is, does not qualify as compensation.
Unfortunately, as long as bloggers continue to eagerly review books without adequate compensation, publishers will continue to not pay us for our time. Nevertheless, keep an eye out for opportunities to create other types of sponsored content and don’t be afraid to ask for compensation.
If you want to incorporate sponsored content into your monetization plan, check out this post over at Babble for help figuring out what to charge.
5. Freelance Writing
Blogging is a gateway drug to the world of freelance writing and online content creation. As I mentioned in my post on networking, guest posting at other blogs is a great way to expand your audience, but it’s also a great opportunity to bring in some extra cash.
Three years ago I started writing for Book Riot and it’s now the primary source of my blogging income. There are lots of other sites that pay for articles, and creating web content can be the first step to writing for traditional publications. Some bloggers even secure book deals as a direct result of their blog.
Keep you eyes peeled for guest posting opportunities and feel free to email me for a list of websites and blogs that are open to guest posts.
Book blogging is not an easy niche to monetize. If you want to earn a full-time income from your blog alone, you probably need to expand the scope beyond books. Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy (a book + lifestyle blogger), Ashley of Nose Graze (a book + blogging blogger), and Becky of Diamonds in the Library (a book + jewelry blogger) have all been successful because they combine their love of books with some other passion. Still, it’s entirely possible to earn extra cash and maybe even a part-time income just by blogging about what you love most–books!
Questions? Leave them in the comments below!
I’m so thrilled you could join me on this twenty-week journey to building a better book blog! Be sure to share this series on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest!