Monetizing Your Craft Blog
Welcome to Episode 29 of the Craft Seller Success podcast. In this episode I am talking about ways to use your craft blog to earn a little extra money. Lots of ideas, many suitable for all sorts of blogs.
Listen to the Monetizing Your Craft Blog podcast here, download it for later or read the transcript below.
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To see the other episodes available – Craft Seller Success Podcast Main Page
This is the Craft Seller Success podcast from Tin Teddy. Episode number twenty-nine – Monetizing Your Craft Blog.
Welcome to the Craft Seller Success Podcast – helping craft sellers sell their crafts
Hi, I’m Deborah Richardson from Tin Teddy.
Lots of craft sellers have a blog and there are many benefits to doing so. I talked about this right back in episode 1, Five Reasons a Craft Seller Should Have a Blog. You may remember that in that episode I mentioned monitizing your craft blog – setting it up so it generates income for you.
In this episode of the Craft Seller Success Podcast, I am going to talk more about the types of monetization you can consider, the pros and cons of them and share some handy hints to help you get your craft blog earning a little extra for you.
Most of the ideas here will be possible for any type of crafting blog, as well as many other blogs, of course.
At the end of the podcast, I will tell you about a free competition you can enter!
Benefits of Monetizing your Blog
Well, the obvious primary benefit is more money! Whether you have a craft blog as part of your craft selling business, or blog for fun, bringing in a bit of cash is probably going to be something you would like to do.
Many of the ideas I will be talking about are pretty much passive income. That is, once you have set the system up, you just sit back and watch the money come in. Having said that, for this to work you will still need to be blogging regularly with good, quality content. A blog with no visitors will not generate any money.
Whilst you may be earning money from the craft selling business, indeed I hope you are! having additional streams of income can be very reassuring. If one stream dries up, temporarily or permanently, you still have others to fall back on. I know that some seasonal craft sellers appreciate extra streams of income to supplement their craft business during quiet times.
Monetizing your blog can encourage you to offer more content. Later on, I will explain this further.
Monetizing can also add value to your blog for your visitors. For example, I regularly do reviews of crafting books and products that I personally own. My blog readers appreciate finding out a bit more about the product before they buy and use the affiliate links in the review to go get their own item.Monetizing your craft blog can add value for your visitors (as well as earning you money!)Click To Tweet
Because they know I really own the products reviewed, talk honestly about them, and point out issues and problems as well as the good points, they feel they are shopping with more confidence. And I may get a small payment from the seller for sending custom their way. A three-way win there. I will explain more about affiliates in a minute.
Adverts can also be used to break up large chunks of text in articles, making it easier for a visitor to digest your contents comfortably.
Monetizing your blog can also help build up networks, something that may help your business in multiple ways over time. You might, for example, establish a working relationship with another business. You have adverts for their products on your blog and they have adverts for your things on theirs. Obviously, this works best if you form such connections with blogs that are in the same niche as your own, or which complement each other.
So let’s look at some ways to monetize a craft blog.
Showcasing Your Own Products
If you sell your crafts you will probably want your blog to lead visitors to buying your own products.
If your blog does not have high traffic, I would recommend concentrating on marketing your own products on it. This is likely to be the most profitable for you as most other forms of monetization will only bring in an income if there is high traffic to the blog.
You can create your own adverts and add them to your blog. Have a look at popular blogs, or check out affiliate company websites to see the different types of “standard” advert out there. There are banners that are short and wide and go at the top or bottom or a page, or sometimes in between the paragraphs of an article. There are skyscrapers that are very tall and slim and go at the side of a page. And many other types.
Of course, as you are making your own you are not limited to the standard ones, but checking them out may give you ideas on what to make and where to use it.
Looking at adverts for big brands will also give you ideas on how to present your adverts, things like the balance of text to image, how to write stuff that people will want to click and so on.
There are big benefits to only having adverts for your own products. In particular, you are not encouraging people to leave your site (other than to go to your own shop), you are probably going to get a lot more from a sale or your own products than any affiliate or advertising scheme for other people, and create and displaying your own adverts is free.
Another benefit is that you have total control over what the advert is for, where it is placed, how it looks and when you want it shown to your visitors. With a bit of scripting know-how, you could even have adverts that vary depending on what country your visitor is from or other criteria.
Handy Hint – if you have a standalone shop, you may want to ensure that your links go to the products for sale there rather than to marketplace sites such as Etsy. You will probably get more profit from a sale on your own site, plus it is harder to generate traffic for a standalone site, so always worth a boost where possible.
Links from Articles
Another way to promote your own products on your blog is to mention them in articles you write, with HTML links to the products for sale.
There are numerous types of blog post that may logically include your own products. These include:
- posts about new products and lines – the most obvious way to include them
- articles relating to your products, for example, an article on keeping warm in the winter might include a reference to the woolly hats you sell
- lists of products that include your own – for example, you might have a post called “Twenty Items you Need when Planning a Wedding“, one or two of which are your own products, and the others might be affiliate links to other people’s products
- pictures posts of your products being made, special orders that are about to be shipped, craft fair displays and so on. You can link to the products featured
I will talk much more about this subject in a later podcast. For more inspiration on blog posts to help market your own products, check out my book, “Make It, Blog It, Profit! – Blog Post Ideas for Craft Sellers” which is available in digital format in my Tin Teddy shop on Etsy and in digital and physical format from Amazon and other bookstores. Shameless plug over!
You may be able to include an actual shop section on your blog and sell your products from there. I have looked at this in more detail in episode 20, Building a Standalone Craft Shop with WordPress and Woocommerce. Episode 3, Ways to Sell Your Crafts Online may also be useful if you are considering this.
Here you contact a company who’s products logically complement the themes of your blog. The company pays you a single payment or an ongoing subscription payment in return for your placing one or more adverts on your blog that links to their company.
The biggest advantage of this is you know how much money you are going to make. If you are charging £20 for an advert, you get £20 for each advert. It doesn’t matter whether your visitors interact with the advert.
The biggest disadvantage is the need to find and recruit advertisers who are prepared to pay for an advert. You will need to have an up-to-date visitor and retention figures for your blog, and if your blog is quite new or small you may find it hard to convince anyone to want to pay to advertise with you.
Searching for and signing up advertisers is time-consuming. Whilst this was the main way for advertising on websites a few years ago, nowadays more people use automated advertising systems such as Google’s Adsense.
Here you team up with someone who is selling a product that is in the same niche as your own, but who is not a direct competitor. You have an advert or adverts for their shop or product and they have similar ones for your products on their blog.
For example, if you specialize in wedding stationery, you might partner with someone who sells wedding jewellery. Your products are both likely to be wanted by the same target market, but you do not compete directly with each other – brides want both stationery and jewellery!
Adsense and other Automatic Advertising Systems
When Google introduced its Adsense system in 2003 it was something of a revolution. Nowadays many, many websites are using this system and you will find it hard to surf the web for long without seeing Adsense ads.
It is very simple, and rather clever.
You sign up to the Google Adsense program. There are some requirements, such as having a top level domain, your age, the quality of your content and (usually) having owned the site for at least 6 months. Therefore you do need to wait to apply until you have your blog well up and running with a decent amount of quality content posted.
Once signed up, you then place some advert holders on the blog wherever you want the adverts to appear. This might be banners going across the screen, adverts in sidebars, headers or footers at the top and bottom of each page and many more options.
Google will then add adverts in the spaces you have provided, for your visitors to see. It chooses which adverts to show with its very powerful AI technology. Each visitor will have adverts tailored to both your site and them personally. This is to try to ensure that the adverts are relevant for each visitor. People are far more likely to click on adverts that are relevant to them, of course.
You can control some aspect of what adverts will be shown on your blog. There is a long list of categories on Adsense and you can opt out of whichever ones you wish. So if you would prefer that your blog never shows any financial adverts, you can opt out of that category.
It carefully monitors how many people click on each advert and continually adjusts to try to ensure the adverts being displayed are the ones that are most likely to appeal to your readers and be clicked.
Every time a visitor clicks on one of the adverts, you earn some money. Once you have reached a certain threshold, you can cash this out… and spend, spend, spend!
Well, now I have to say that the amount per advert click is very tiny. Therefore if you have a very low-traffic blog you are not likely to make much money from Adsense. Having said that, there are lots of bloggers out there who are doing very well from it and it definitely can be a nice, easy money-maker if you are lucky.
Google has in-depth analytics available so you can see understand how the ads are working.
Once you have registered and set up the advert holders you really can sit back and watch the money come in. This makes this one of the most popular monetizing systems used by bloggers.
One big disadvantage is that you do not have complete control of what is going to be shown on your blog. So there is a chance that you will get adverts for rival businesses, companies you do not like or want to promote or adverts that you might consider ugly or not fitting in with your blog’s branding.
Affiliate schemes are very popular with bloggers as they are simple to implement, but offer you a lot more control over what is displayed on your website than the Adsense type model.
Here is how it works.
Some companies will have their own affiliate schemes, others use affiliate companies such as Shareasale and Adwin. You, the blogger, will register to be an affiliate. There may be some required criteria for affiliates, or the company may need to check your website for suitability first.
Once you are a registered affiliate you will be supplied with various links and marketing materials for the brand or products you are going to promote.
You can then include these on your blog. If a visitor to your blog clicks on one of the affiliate links and then purchases from the affiliate company, you may get a small payment as commission.
The rates of pay can vary hugely. Some companies offer a set sum per purchase, many others offer a percentage of the purchase that is made.
The links you add to your blog may be simple clickable text links within your blog posts, or banners and other graphic adverts that you place in a sidebar, your footer or elsewhere. You will get to choose which of these adverts you want to use. Many affiliate companies regularly offer new ones or seasonal ones so you can keep your pages looking fresh and exciting for your visitors as well as allowing you to find an option that best suits your blog.
Internet giants, Amazon, have one of the most popular affiliate schemes out there. This is mainly because they offer such a massive range of products. There is always bound to be something relevant to pretty much any blog.
To use the Amazon Affiliate program, you need to register, you can use your usual Amazon account for this. I am registered with both Amazon.co.uk, because I live in the UK, and Amazon.com because so many of my blog readers are outside the UK! You can sign up for any country’s version of Amazon that you think will be useful to your visitors.
It is very important to follow Amazon’s rules. You must be transparent about using their affiliates. , not have explicit or obscene material on your site, not be selling products that infringe on trademarks etc and various other things. Be sure to read the policies carefully before signing up.
It is very easy, and efficient, to get affiliate links from Amazon listings once you are part of the scheme. You can add text-only links, nice little image boxes and more. These will contain your affiliate member code and this is how Amazon knows that their visitor came from your site.
A cookie is added to the visitor’s computer and if they then purchase from Amazon with a set period of time, you get a payment. The visitor does not have to buy the exact item which was featured in the advert on which they clicked, by the way. So they may go to Amazon after seeing a link to a 12 pack of pencils, on your blog. But then buy the 24 pack of pencils… And you will still get the affiliate payment.
All of this does not cost the visitor any extra, of course. They still pay Amazon the exact same amount as they would have had they not come to it from your site. The process is invisible to them.
Obviously, if they have something blocking cookies on their computer the system will not work.
Many people are aware of affiliate schemes and know that using your adverts will help you out, at no cost to themselves. So you may get kind fans of your blog being sure to use your adverts on a regular basis so as to support you.
ShareASale and Awin
These are both affiliate companies that I personally use. There are others available too. Affiliate companies work in a very similar way to Amazon. You sign up and then choose which companies you would like to promote from the affiliate site’s portfolio. Each has many different online companies so you can find the ones who have products that compliment your blog.
You then choose the size and design of advert from the range offered. Many companies will regularly change these so you can keep your site fresh.
Again, when a customer clicks on the advert and goes to the advertiser’s site, a cookie is placed on their computer. If they then buy from the advertizer’s site within a specific period of time, you earn a wee payment.
I use these affiliate links to recommend products I personally use and mention on my blog.
Disadvantages of Adverts on Your Site
At this point, I am going to talk about the not-insignificant issues that can arise from having any sort of advertising on your site. These issues need to be considered very carefully and weighed against the benefits of having adverts.
1 – some visitors will hate adverts
Many people use browser add-ons to block adverts (though these will only work with some sorts of adverts). I suspect that it is very hard to surf the web for long nowadays without seeing any adverts, but if you think your target market might be very adverse to them, this should be considered before adding any.
2 – too many adverts
I am pretty sure that at some time you have visited a website, hoping to read what sounds like an interesting article, only to be annoyed when you arrive on a page that is full of adverts. They are intrusive and you end up leaving the site, probably tutting a bit under your breath.
Be very careful that you keep adverts to a sensible maximum and that they are not intruding on a visitor’s ability to use and navigate your blog.
3 – intrusive adverts
Lots of people really dislike pop-up adverts. Again, some will have blockers installed to prevent them altogether. Others will still see them, and be irritated by them. Pop-up adverts were once all the rage, then they died almost totally out. Lately, there has been a return to their use though advertisers are a lot more subtle about them than they once were.
Similarly, some people really dislike adverts that flash or move in any way. Whilst these can indeed be eye-catching, they can also distract someone who is trying to read your articles.
Be very aware of the overall look of your blog posts and ideally to the sensibilities of your target market.
4 – Irrelevant adverts
There is little point in displaying an advert to someone for something that they will never ever want to buy. This is why Google spends so much time on tweaking the algorithms it uses to ensure its Adsense system displays adverts that the visitor is likely to be interested in.
When adding adverts to your blog, always remember who your visitors actually are. If your blog is all about your baby clothes and childcare then an affiliate link to a dog grooming site is unlikely to be as useful as one to something related to childcare.
5 – Sending your visitors elsewhere
This can be one of the biggest disadvantages of offering any adverts to anything other than your own products. It is hard work getting traffic to a blog. Encouraging your hard-won visitors to boing off to someone else’s website will need to have a good chance of generating some sort of benefit for you if it is to be considered.
Again I will repeat my advice about only having adverts for your own products if your traffic is currently very low. If you are going to include links or adverts to anybody else, consider whether the financial gains from such a link are worth losing your visitor. Of course, in many cases, you may feel that they are, but it does need a little thinking about.
I currently do not use Adsense type adverts on my blog, as I don’t feel they would generate enough income to warrant their inclusion rather than promotions for my own products. I do have affiliate links and these are mainly used on reviews of products, where including them will be of genuine benefit to my visitor, as well as a potential source of revenue.
Let’s look at some more ways to monetize a craft blog.
This is a website whereby a visitor can sign up as a member, allowing them to log into the site on future visits. Most online shop sites are membership sites because it is convenient for a visitor to have an account with their details and shopping info in it. Usually, these sites are free to join.
You can also have a membership site where the visitor needs to pay to sign up. This might be a monthly, yearly or one-off payment.
Obviously, there must be some benefit to the visitor to convince them to pay to join your site. This could be one or more of the following:
- Access to members only content
- Discounts off purchases from your craft selling shopping
- Access to special products or sales that regular visitors do not get
- Access to forums, chat rooms and other benefits
A few years ago, membership sites were all the rage and many online entrepreneur advice websites would recommend them to anyone with a blog. However, whilst they can be profitable and there are certainly plenty still around, there are things you really need to consider before adding a paid membership to your own blog.
If your visitors are paying to access content, they will expect it to be top quality and not easily available elsewhere for free.
If your visitors are paying weekly, monthly or yearly for access to your site, you will need to be offering new content on a regular basis. Before starting this sort of membership site you will need to be very sure you will be able to continue to offer quality content regularly.
Plus if the content is not updated regularly, they could just join for the shortest period, harvest all the content, then stop being a member.
Another thing to consider is that if you are handling any personal data about your visitors, which you will have to do for a membership site to function, then you will need to comply with current online data laws, such as the European GDPR Privacy laws. I am not going to go into these now, other than to say that this is a subject you really will need to look into. The penalties are very steep for mishandling data, and I am pretty sure you don’t want to risk that.
Some Other Ideas for Monetizing Your Craft Blog
If you are using a self-hosted WordPress blog, there are plugins that allow you to create a Classified Ads page for your visitors to use. You can charge the visitors to post their adverts for certain periods of time.
If, for example, your blog revolves around stamping, you could have a Classified Ads board for visitors to sell the stamps they no longer want. There are lots of possibilities here and once you have it set up it could be a very easy way to earn a little extra. The Classifieds Board would also add value to your site as a handy way for your visitors to find a bargain.
There are a few potential problems with hosting a classifieds board though, many are the same as for….
Auction and Marketplace Plugins
If you are using a self-hosted WordPress blog you can also get plugins to allow you to host eBay style auctions or an Etsy style marketplace, though on a smaller scale, of course. Your visitors pay to post their items for sale on your site and you get a commission when they sell.
This sort of monetization might be a bit more complicated than many bloggers will want to bother with. You will need to do some research into the legal side of running such a service – and there will be legal things to consider. You will also need to monitor the site very carefully to ensure no one is using it for illegal products. There are lots of potential problems that could arise and I would not recommend this path for anyone who is new to blogging and WordPress.
Whilst for some niches, a service like this could be a very profitable addition to your blog, as well as very handy for your visitors, please do plenty of research first.
Paid guest posts
You could charge people to include a guest post from them on your blog. Whilst a lot of blogs accept free guest posts as there are benefits to both the hosting blog and the guest poster, there are situations where a fee could logically be levied.
For example, if you sell yarn and blog about knitting and crochet, you could charge a fee for people selling knitted and crocheted products to post an article about their shop on your blog. You will not usually want to be promoting shops that directly compete with your own, of course.
As with many monetization techniques, this is likely to only be attractive to a guest poster if you are getting high traffic to your blog.
If your traffic is still low, consider allowing such guest posts for free as your guest will probably promote the post and drive traffic to you.
Things you Could Sell on Your Blog
As well as a vehicle for marketing your own craft creations, there are some other types of products that you could sell via a busy blog.
If you have been working to establish yourself as an expert in your niche (see episode 16 An Expert in Your Niche for more information on this) then you could consider writing an ebook or books on your niche. Nowadays it is pretty easy, and very economical, to create ebooks and they could provide a nice additional source of income for you.
Do edit your book though. Ideally, get someone else to edit it. Best of all, get a professional to edit it for you. Badly edited ebooks, full of typos and other errors, are all over the internet and your customers are not going to be happy if they have paid for such a book.
You could also consider repurposing your blog content as a book. If you have been writing quality blog articles for some time they may be suitable to be gathered up, tweaked, edited and published as a standalone product.
Courses, lectures and tuition
Some bloggers have done very well with selling courses to their visitors. There are a variety of ways to do this and I’d recommend a bit of research to find out which would best suit your niche, blog and personality.
You could offer a one-off event that people pay in advance for tickets to, then streams at a certain time on a certain day. Your customers log in to a secure link at that time to watch. They may be able to message you during the course or lecture. You will need to use an online service for this, or perhaps a plugin for your blog.
The downside of this is of course that some of your target market may not be able to get online at the right time and that it is a one-off thing. You could offer access to the recorded version of the event at a later date though.
Or you could have a course or lecture that, once they have paid, your visitors can access at any time. Such a course could consist of web pages, videos, audio or any combination thereof.
You could also offer downloadable PDF files which your customers can read on their computer or tablet, or print out.
There are also a number of websites that will host an online course for you, often for free or a commission from sales. You will not only be able to market your course on your blog but may benefit from additional traffic to it from the course host too.
Your course will need to offer quality content and be of a decent standard. People are nowadays used to seeing very professional courses, so I’d recommend you check out a couple of courses yourself, if you have not used any before, to get an idea of the conventions and standards you should be aiming at.
If your blog is very popular you might want to consider offering some branded merchandise for your fans to buy.
Check out episode 26 Selling Your Artwork and Designs Using On Demand Services for info on how to easily get merchandise made and sent to your visitors with little or no up-front costs to yourself.
This is only likely to work if you have a decent fan base and strong branding.
You could also create blog merchandise to give as prizes for competitions by the way.
Shout-outs are where a blogger (or more usually a YouTube vlogger or podcaster) refers to a shop, company or brand. In other words, a sort of advert although it is usually more of a quick mention.
There are some bloggers who use this form of monetization as one of their main sources of income. They are often called influencers and have built up a very large following, often across multiple social networks as well as on YouTube, a blog or podcast. Influencers are well known in their niche and therefore people are happy to pay to have them refer to their brands.
So, you would really need to have high traffic and be pretty well known for someone to want to pay for this.
Some bloggers have a simple donation button on the blog, usually using Paypal. Your visitors can click it and donate however much they wish to you.
Usually, this is only a logical addition to a blog site that is offering a lot of very high-quality free content, something that a visitor might want to pay a little thank you for.
The main use of a donation button is on a blog that is connected to a charity. If you sell your products on behalf of a good cause then this might be worth considering.
If your blog is primarily about selling your (non-charitable) products or includes a shop area, a donation button may seem a little out of place.
My final suggestion for this podcast is sponsorship.
Sponsorship of the whole blog is only likely to be an option if your site is not a commercial one. If you use the blog to market your own products and promote your own brand then you can still consider sponsorship for individual posts.
With my previous example of someone who sells wedding stationery and blogs about all things wedding, they might have a regular series of posts on wedding dresses that is sponsored by a wedding dress company. The posts say they are sponsored and include the wedding dress company’s branding. The wedding dress company pays an agreed sum for this exposure.
It is also possible to get sponsorship from people who want to support your blog but do not necessarily want any exposure or self-promotion on it.
For example, if you sell dog collars and have a blog that has many quality articles on dog care, someone (an individual, a business or even a charity) that is very concerned about dog welfare may agree to sponsor you because they feel that your blog is of real value to the dog-owning community.
When entering into a sponsorship agreement be sure that you are very aware of what each side expects from the situation. Ideally, have all this in writing.
Earlier I mentioned my book, Make It Blog It, Profit! – Blog Post Ideas for Craft Sellers. Well, I am going to be giving away a signed copy of the physical version, and three copies of the ebook version. To enter, just comment on the show notes on the Tin Teddy Blog www.TinTeddy.com and either tell me your ideas or experiences with monetizing a blog, or your thoughts on the ideas in this episode.
On the 31st May 2019, I will pick my favourites and contact the winning poster so as to send them their book, they, and the three runners up will be sent the ebook version by email.
The next episode of the Craft Seller Success podcast, episode 30, is called Shipping and Postage for Craft Sellers and it will be out on the 28th May 2019.
Many newer sellers worry about shipping their products, and mistakes can be very costly. Lots of ideas and hints and tips for all craft sellers to help you save money, improve your customer service and, in a small way, help save the planet too!
Thanks for listening. Please subscribe to the Craft Seller Success podcast.
Until next time, bye
The Craft Seller Success Podcast from Tin Teddy.
Featuring Deborah Richardson
Original music by Matthew French
Craft Seller Success from Tin Teddy
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