Online Entrepreneurship: How to Convert Your Writing Hobby Into Cash

We all know that one person who quit their desk job and made a fantastic success out of their hobby. Whether opening a bakery, becoming a personal trainer, selling knitwear on Etsy, or even walking dogs, it seems that nowadays, pursuing a passion can turn anyone into an entrepreneur.

If you’re an avid writer in your free time, the prospect of making the transition to professional blogging is probably more achievable than you might imagine. That’s because you’ve already been developing a potential income stream without even realising it: your loyal readers. If what began as simply your musings or recipe sharing is now resulting in thousands of page views a month, making some efforts to monetise your blog is not only the next logical step, it’s a wasted opportunity if you don’t.

The most common forms of monetising a blog are:

  1. Advertising (including sponsorships, product reviews, etc.)
  2. Donations or pledges
  3. Premium downloadable content (such as e-papers)
  4. Coaching or consulting services (including public speaking engagements)
  5. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate programmes should offer a good match for the reader and product

While there’s a comprehensive overview of the pros and cons of each these main five (and two other less common) methods of blog monetisation in this Forbes article, many bloggers find the least disruptive to their blog’s image is affiliate marketing. This is particularly true for lifestyle blogs covering topics such as diet and fitness, interior design, or beauty and fashion. That’s because so many blog entries naturally reference products or services that the writer is personally a fan of. Affiliate marketing allows you to take those recommendations to the next level.

Once you create an affiliate account with an online retailer, you can then embed a link to the product referenced in the blog post. This product link will contain a code reflecting your affiliate account. If a reader clicks on the link and makes a purchase, you earn a small commission from the sale. The most extensive and well-known affiliate programme is Amazon Associates. There’s no cost to creating an account and it doesn’t clutter up your page with adverts (although the option to place advertisements on your blog certainly exists).

For a music or film review blog, iTunes’ affiliates programme works in a similar way. You review a film or album, and the link is right there for any interested readers to make a purchase. There seems to be an affiliate programme for every conceivable product under the sun. There are even companies such as affilinet that specialise in campaigns which can match up blogs to very specific industries. So, if your blog covers automotive trends, banking and finance, or travel and tourism, there are commissions to be earned without actually having to adjust your content or your blog’s premise.

Buyer beware: Be on the lookout for scams

Of course, as with any online activity, one needs to be careful in choosing a reputable company. There are plenty of affiliate marketing scams out there that can not only fail to deliver on promised commissions, they may also fail to deliver any purchases your readers make. Also be wary of anything that resembles a pyramid scheme. Your reputation is too important and the effort you’ve put into establishing readers’ trust can quickly unravel.

While affiliate marketing might not reap the instant rewards to allow you to quit your day job in every case, it certainly can provide a low effort revenue stream. And who couldn’t use a few extra pounds in the bank?

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