Blog Income Streams

This post is part of our Monetise Your Blog in 5 Minutes series.

Every blogger who is making money from their blog will be doing it in a different way.  There are a huge range of streams that can be used to build a profile of income for your blog.  It make some trial and error to build a portfolio that works for you.  Let’s look at some of the popular sources:

monetise income streams

Affiliate Links

Sites like Amazon offer an affiliate programme that enables you to earn a small percentage when someone clicks a special link from your blog and buys the suggested product.  While there are some big names in this business – Amazon AffiliatesCommission Junction, LinkShare, and ShareASale are all well-known ones.  However, many smaller affiliate schemes exist so it is worth checking out whether a product you use regularly, such as your accounting software, have an affiliate or referral scheme.


  • Easy to set up
  • A very natural way to make money if you are talking about a product anyway.


  • Need to be declared that you are using affiliate links on your blog (more on advertising standards later)
  • Income will mostly be small, unless you are shifting a lot of goods.  With a payout of around 4% on purchase prices, it can take some time to earn a steady income if your blog numbers are low.

Sidebar and Banner Advertising

Small graphic advertisements on the header or sidebar of blogs by brands or indie businesses are a very common way of monetising. It used to be that sidebar adverts were the main source of income for bloggers – with some of the bigger US bloggers earning enough to keep a staff of writers.  However, in recent years markets have shifted, the blogosphere has exploded, people read blogs in feed readers or on mobile devices where sidebars play less of a role, and this form of advertising brings in less money.  This doesn’t mean you should dismiss this form of advertising.  It can be a good way to get an income stream with minimal effort.

There are a number of ways you can go about gathering customers for your sidebar ads.  You can:

  • The DIY Apprach: You will deal with potential customers yourself.  You will need to know your sidebar widths, write up a spec for what size adverts should be, and what your rates are.  You will also need to know how to install a blog button in your sidebar. Pros: You are in complete control. You get to pick the advertisers you use. Cons: can be time consuming to manage the whole process and installing the ads.
  • Use a 3rd Party: Facilities such as Adproval (takes a cut of ad sales) or  Passionfruit Ads (subscription) to help automate your ads. These sites will also promote your blog to potential advertisers. You will then install code into your site just once and then manage the ads from your 3rd party app. Pros: Very easy.  Cons: will cost in the form of either a % of sales or a subscription fee.
  • Use an Ad Agency:  Another option is approaching an ad agency such as Nuffang to allow you access to more corporate advertising.  These sites do tend to have better returns, as they work with big names such as tech companies, department stores and major retailers.  Some people may see that in an of itself as a downside.  You also may need to have a certain number of views per month to get on the books.  However, once you are in, you may have access to review posts, events and brand ambassadorships.

Sponsored Content:

Another popular income stream is that of a brand sponsoring content that goes directly on your blog.  This can be in the form of:

  • A Guest Post – something the brand writes
  • A Sponsored Post – something you write about the brand
  • A Review  – of a product or experience you had courtesy of the brand

Its up to you how you use sponsored content, but do keep in mind that when you put advertising in the content of your blog, you want to make sure it is a good fit and doesn’t detract from why people are there in the first place. You can read our dos and don’t post for reviews here.

Selling Your Own Work:

Blogs can be great platforms for launching businesses and selling digital content online. Selling patterns, ebooks, online workshops and the like are all viable income streams worth exploring.  Your knowledge and experience is what is pulling people to your blog in the first place and its worth exploring these options for monetising.

Pros: Once developed, these income streams will continue to earn.

Cons: Time intensive to set up. Its a crowded marketplace, so you need to explore how you can stand out. Can have implications for VAT MOSS (more next week).