Let’s talk about monetisation – the big elephant in the room when you become a creative. Despite what people might think, there are so many ways to make money from your blog/social media channels! So let me help you find new ways to monetise your blog and diversify your revenue streams.
Why diversify? Because it ensures that you have sustainable income and that you're not overly dependant on one income stream. This is especially relevant for creatives who may depend on external platforms and algorithms to make money. Also, did you know that billionaires have on average 7 revenue streams? Just some food for thought 😉
1. Brand deals
Working with brands that you like is one of the best ways to make money as a creative. Especially when you have been an advocate for this specific brand for a long time!
I’m talking about either working directly with a brand or through an agency to promote their products or messaging. The kinds of products/companies you work with will obviously depend on your niche, so it’s good to understand what your audience is interested in and what would be relevant for it.
You can either have deals come in and decide which ones to work on, find deals on influencer marketing platforms, or you can reach out to brands yourself. The latter is harder because it normally means that you have to pitch your services and that the company should be able to allocate some of its marketing budget to an influencer campaign. This is where you really need to understand the brand's messaging, needs and goals. Sometimes timing plays a big role too!
2. Sponsorships/Brand Ambassadorships
This is a variation of working with brands but on a longer-term basis. Think of athletes that have deals with companies to only wear their gear – this is a variation of that but for your specific niche.
Brand Ambassadorships that are worth your time are harder to find but they can be a great source of sustainable revenue. You can negotiate a certain amount of content per week/month/year or how many times you need to be seen in places with their product. It really depends on what you do and again, who your audience is.
If you’re looking for these deals proactively, I’d suggest going through the products or services you use/talk about on a regular basis and would recommend to your friends with similar interests. Then I’d look at those brands from a marketing perspective and see what’s their messaging, what campaigns they’ve done and if they're worked with influencers before. Then put yourself in that brand manager's shoes and think about what you would be aiming for in terms of marketing goals and metrics – and come up with a campaign that involves you!
3. Affiliate programs
Affiliate revenue is essentially sales commissions – you get a percentage from sales of a product or a service that you recommend. You've definitely seen that done before or maybe have even purchased something through an affiliate link! For example, a lot of fashion bloggers use this system to link their new clothes for anyone who wants to buy it.
To be able to do that, you need to share specific links that will track the traffic and conversions from your recommendations. Some brands have their own affiliate programs, while some will be a part of a bigger group. A good example of that is Amazon Associates or Reward style.
This is another way to earn money on social media and is great if your niche welcomes product recommendations. You do need to be comfortable with selling and recommending products and to make good and sustainable income this way, your audience has to either be very large or convert incredibly well.
Affiliate marketing can be challenging to turn into a sustainable source of income and it also means that you are creating content for free. However, if your posts are well-optimized in terms of SEO and get plenty of traffic, you can have a stream of passive income.
4. Display Ads
When was the last time an ad for a dress you've looked at once followed you around on other websites? That was an example of display ads, which you could also embed on your website and earn money depending on your viewership.
The way it works is the following:
- You create an account with a display ad provider (e.g. Google AdSense)
- Once your account had been created, you can create different ad placeholders to fit your website
- You embed the code for those placeholders on your website and start making money!
The amount of money you can make this way will depend on multiple factors, including:
- The volume of traffic to your website
- Who is your audience and where is it from
- Seasonal variations in advertising budgets
Income from this revenue stream will be highly dependant on the other side of the equation: how many ads are being sold by that provider and how much do they cost. The advertising industry can be pretty volatile and I wouldn't recommend making it your primary revenue stream unless you have very high traffic volumes.
It is nice to have as a supplement to other streams of income, but make sure that you don't overcrowd your website with ads - as that might create a bad user experience.
If you have a loyal following or can create merchandise with an appealing message, go for it! This can be an awesome way to diversify your revenue streams. However, you need to understand what goes into it in terms of costs and logistics: from production and inventory to logistics and shipping.
Some of you may know that I've recently launched my own shop, so watch out for a blog post specifically on this! (you know what to do, sign up to my newsletter!)
6. Patreon/Other subscription services
This is a way for your loyal audience to recognise the value you're adding to their lives and pay you a certain amount every month. In return, you might provide some additional content, perks or access to you - depending on how much they are contributing or their tier.
Probably one of the most popular platforms for creatives to do this is Patreon and a great example of this done well is Philip DeFranco. While I was at YouTube, I was part of the team working on YouTube's answer to Patreon, channel membership - so there are multiple ways to make this work for you based on your niche, presence, content delivery, etc.
7. Live streaming on YouTube/Twitch
Depending on your niche you can try earning money with live streaming. I'm not talking about subscriptions at this point as they were covered above already. I'm talking specifically about fan donations. There are quite a few streaming services that offer donations from fans, Twitch and YouTube are good examples.
The way it works normally, is you go live and have fans donate some amount to you in return for a mention, a shoutout, a special request or something else like that - depending on what you offer. For example, if you're doing song covers, they can ask you to cover a certain song!
Apparently, this is one of the primary revenue streams for a lot of gamers! So if you think that your audience would enjoy this format, then give it a try! Just make sure that you set the right expectations and boundaries from the beginning.
8. Your own Subscription/Membership programs
Have you thought about creating your own membership site? If you're an expert in a certain field and you think that you can create inspirational or educational content on a consistent basis, adding value to your audience, then maybe this could be an avenue for you!
There are so many membership sites out there and some of them are very, very niche! It's also a great way to earn sustainable income if you can attract and retain members by creating an offering that benefits them. When it comes to membership sites, I would say that the rule of thumb should be under-promise and over-deliver.
You could also work 1:1 with your audience (or find clients elsewhere) if you are an expert in a subject! It can be scary if you've never done it before so I would encourage you to do some research to see if you can really help your target customer. Maybe practice with friends or offer free sessions until you become confident that you are an expert and until you develop methodologies to help people.
Consulting is a great way to add another revenue stream. It does take some time to develop confidence and to find clients, but it can be very rewarding!
10. Selling your own products (physical or digital)
Now, we have spoken about selling your merchandise, but this is a different animal. We're talking about you creating products - physical or digital, that are not just connected to you or your brand. They're connected to your expertise, so if you were an expert in nutrition, you might consider creating meal planners or something like that - that will help your customers. Or if you are an expert in productivity, you can create an ebook on how to create a productive routine. The options are endless, you just need to be creative!
Whether physical or digital, I'm sure you can think of something that you can create. Again, depending on the type of product that you'll be selling, you might have to think about logistics like production, inventory and shipping. Another thing to consider is sales tax as it can be a challenge to figure out, especially when it comes to International sales.
11. Stock photography and video
If you're creating content, stock photography is a great way to supplement your income. And the demand for stock video is currently on the rise as well!
Everybody needs visual content and some companies don't have the resources to create it themselves. So if you are good at photography or videography and have some spare time to create additional content, create some neutral images or videos and upload them on a stock photography platform!
From what I understand (I've never done it myself before, so I can't speak from experience), you will get paid every time somebody pays the platform to use your content. Shutterstock comes to mind straight away as one of the biggest stock photography platforms out there and it claims to have paid out more than 500 million dollars to content creators!
Once you create the content and upload it, it's passive income from then onwards! It takes some skill and knowledge of the trade to create images that will be widely used, so make sure you practice your skills.
12. Creating photos & videos for brands
Finally, working for brands to create custom images and video for their purposes is another way to earn money. This will probably require a portfolio so make sure you start working on that if you think this could be another good way for you to earn money.
In this scenario, you basically become a photographer or a videographer for the brand! If you're skilled in content production it's a great way to earn some additional income and build relationships with brands. And the best part? You don't have to commit to this one, it's purely service based and can be seasonal - I know some amazing influencers who supplement the seasonal January-February brand-deal slump in this way.
So there you have it! How many revenue streams do you currently have and what's your goal?
Let me know what you thought of this post and what monetisation methods you're using already 🙂