When I started DailyTekk back in 2012, I had no idea how much money it would be possible to make as a professional blogger. The honest answer is a lot or a little — it all depends on how much hard work you put into it. But if you’re serious about starting a blog as a business — if you’re passionate and knowledgeable about a subject and want to tell the world about it — you can earn a very solid income as a professional blogger. This article will focus on how you can use a company called Skimlinks to turn a healthy profit in as little as a few months — even if you just started your blog today.
I decided to write this post because I wish it had existed when I started DailyTekk four years ago: insider knowledge from a person who started a real blogging business (in this case, a consumer technology-focused website: DailyTekk). I HATE it when I see websites and blog posts dedicated to “making money online” which are nothing more than shady scams or pyramid schemes that “teach” you how to make money by “teaching” other people to make money. Ridiculous! Examples of real sites that use Skimlinks include Time, Gawker, The Wirecutter, Refinery29, Apartment Therapy and The Huffington Post.
So if you’re interested in learning how a real blog makes money — and I define a real blog as a blog that isn’t focused on making money, but rather is centered around a topic the founder is in love with — then you’re going to learn a lot from this article.
Now in this article I’m going to be focusing primarily on one form of revenue: affiliate links. While there are several other good ways to monetize a blog (which I’ll mention briefly in just a moment), affiliate links don’t require that you have a certain amount of traffic to get started (like many ad networks that require at least 100,000 monthly views). Affiliate links are the simplest and quickest way, in my opinion, to start making meaningful money from a blog.
In particular, there’s one company that I recommend working with to streamline your affiliate sales: Skimlinks. I’ve worked with Skimlinks for quite awhile now and I’m very happy with the company. Rather than needing to signup for a dozen (or even hundreds) of affiliate accounts all across the web, all you need to do is signup with Skimlinks — then you are automatically enrolled in thousands of affiliate programs from Amazon to eBay to BestBuy to Target to Walmart and many, many, many others. There are other options aside from Skimlinks, but Skimlinks is what I’ve used and loved and what I personally recommend.
Now real quick before we get any further let me just mention a few other ways to monetize your blog since I promised I would and because it’s good to diversify your revenue streams.
Display ads are definitely an option. Google’s AdSense and Yahoo’s Media.net are the top players there. But display ads are quickly falling out of fashion as evidenced by the rise in installs of ad blockers.
Sponsorships can bring in BIG bucks once you have an established audience (but I’m writing this article for upstart bloggers, so that’s why I won’t be talking about sponsorships here). You might also hear about native ads or content marketing — it’s all the same stuff. The gist is that companies will pay you to write an article about them or a product of theirs. DailyTekk has worked with large companies like Microsoft, eBay, Bose and many more along these lines. These are often some of the biggest checks you’ll cash as a professional blogger.
The third main way to monetize a blog is via subscriptions. If you’re just a “one-man-band” you can use a service like Patreon to pull in money from fans. This really only works once you have a big audience to solicit. Or you could use a service like TinyPass to wall off popular, useful or sought-after content, but again, unless your site is huge, the numbers aren’t going to be amazing for you.
Of course you could also leverage a larger audience to sell things: books, courses, t-shirts. It’s never been something I’ve wanted to do, but you could give it a shot.
Alright, with all of that out of the way, let’s get on with how you can use Skimlinks to earn thousands of dollars a month on your blog in as little as 3 months.
Creating content that drives sales
To make money using Skimlinks affiliate links, you’ll be recommending products. Whether you already have a blog or are heading off to register a new domain name after reading this article, I’m going to tell you about what I think is the easiest way to make affiliate sales: lists.
Obviously your blog needs to have an overall focus. For my site, DailyTekk, it’s consumer tech: gadgets, apps, startups — stuff like that. I chose this topic because it genuinely interests me. I could write about it all day everyday without getting bored or burning out. Keep that in mind when you pick your site’s focus.
Here on DailyTekk I make all sorts of content. I review the latest gadgets and apps, I write about the latest tech news from time to time, I dole out my opinion on various tech topics and I do a lot of curating.
And it’s that curating that brings in a lot of traffic — and, as a result — money. Curating means selecting and presenting items. Or you could think of it as picking “the best” out of a group and letting people know about it. One way to look at curation is that you’re doing the legwork for someone so they don’t have to: you’re adding some convenience to a person’s life.
The lists that make the most money on DailyTekk are short roundups of “the best” X. For example, the best 4K computer monitors, the best 360° cameras and the best ultra-thin laptops have all been popular in recent months.
I’ve found that the best performing lists contain 10 items or less. Top 3’s, top 5’s, top 7’s and top 10’s all work about equally well (all things considered).
The format I use for these lists typically looks like this: a 1-2 paragraph article introduction that provides some context followed by the list items. For each list item I set a Header 2 (for SEO purposes your Header 1 should be the article title) and then write up a solid paragraph describing the benefits and top features of the item. I usually add a nice picture between each item’s header and it’s descriptive paragraph.
And then instead of linking to the product or company’s actual homepage, I link to a store like Amazon or eBay or Newegg. And here’s where Skimlinks really shines: rather than having to generate individual affiliate links, Skimlinks knows which links quality as affiliate links and turns them into money making links for me — automatically. All I need to know is which stores work with Skimlinks (which is easy enough to find out once you login to Skimlinks — just click on the Merchants tab).
Now I take the lists I make here on DailyTekk very seriously. I don’t make these lists to make money. I make these lists to be useful to people. If you are useful to people, your lists will make money (because they are useful). If you make lists just to make money, rather than to be useful, you won’t likely do either. Real passion and real knowledge really shine through and people can see a fake a mile away. If they don’t find your content useful, they’ll find another article that is better. Plain and simple. So if you’re not going to do this right, you might as well not do it in the first place.
And integrity is key. Don’t make a list titled “The 5 best Android phones” if you only include links to items that will make you money and leave out items that are actually better but won’t earn you money. That’s not good for anybody. Do your homework and make real, informed recommendations. Make a list you would want to make use of. Again, this technique is for real blog businesses — not money hogs.
That said, it isn’t hard to make a list. I typically create a list a day alongside other content like reviews and news and they usually take me about an hour from start to finish. I’d say types of lists probably average around 600-800 words in length.
Why lists are so effective
There’s a reason why creating lists of “the best” items so effectively generates money from affiliate sales. It all comes down to intent to buy.
Let’s say a person is looking for the best computer mouse and Google’s “best computer mice” looking for a recommendation. That is right where you want to show up with your list of recommendations.
The key thing here is that the person searching for computer mice is more than likely ready to make a purchase. They aren’t just doing idle research — they need a new computer mouse and want to buy the best one. Your job, as an affiliate marketer, is to get them to buy based on one of your recommendations.
I hope you’re starting to wrap your mind around the possibilities here. For any given product category, there are probably thousands or hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of searches performed DAILY.
People searching for useful information can help you jumpstart your earnings: even on a brand new blog. These days, each blog post is sort of an island unto itself. If people search for your subject and land on your article, it’s unlikely they will browse around the rest of your site as they are there for a specific reason. But you can take advantage of that by creating a lot of content that people need and will be looking for.
And out of all those search results, people are more likely to click on a title that narrows down their best options for them — like the list post you’ve hopefully created for them — over a long, drawn out or totally comprehensive article or an article that only focuses on one item. Like I said, you’re saving someone time by doing the research for them.
Now lets get into how much these list posts can earn for you, based on real examples from DailyTekk, and how to use them to build an effective Skimlinks strategy.
How to turn your lists into big earners
So how much can these curated “best of” lists earn for you? I’ll give you a good example: an article I wrote several months back that rounded up the best 27” monitors for Macs has earned $1,106 over the last 30 days. Another list post, a camera roundup, earned $839 over that same period.
Okay, so just those two posts earned nearly $2,000 in 30 days. In total, those posts probably took me 2 hours to create. But, it likely took between 2-4 months for those posts to start doing really well in Google search results (that’s about how long it normally takes for a post to “take off” in Google SERPS). The lesson? Create a lot of great content and don’t stop because success (and affiliate sales) take a bit of time to add up. So you’ve got to create a long term game plan.
The fact is, not every list post you create is going to be a mega-hit. You’ll need to play around to find out what works but even more than that you’ll need to be consistent about trying to create content you think will perform well. Like I mentioned earlier, I typically create about 1 list post per day — not all of which are affiliated. I like to have a comprehensive content strategy with reviews, news, opinion pieces and more mixed in with my high-performing lists. It rounds the site out and adds legitimacy brand legitimacy.
But let’s say that you create 5 “best of” lists per week. That would be 20 lists per month. And let’s say that of those 20 lists maybe 4 lists were hits and earned you around $1,000. Well that would be $4,000 for a month’s worth of list-making. And nothing is stopping you from creating more than one list a day. And maybe more than 1 list per week will perform real well. Now think about having carried out this schedule for 3 months… it’s pretty easy to see how you can earn $10,000 a month — or much more — with just Skimlinks on your blog. But it definitely takes patience and persistent and plenty of determination.
If you’re already a full-time blogger, creating these useful lists shouldn’t be a problem for you at all. But even if you have a full-time job other than blogging, you could easily spend an hour a day (at night or maybe before you head into work) making these lists (and I bet if you stuck with it you could quit your job within 6 months).
After plenty of experience creating these types of high-performing lists, I want to make sure you realize that these lists aren’t going to earn you money in perpetuity. They aren’t going to last forever. After awhile, as your posts age, Google will replace them with newer articles and your content will fade into oblivion.
There’s no set time for when this happens. It’s different for every post and subject. You’ll want to monitor your Google Analytics — and your Skimlinks account — to see when a post has peaked and when you should consider creating a more updated replacement.
If you’re not careful, you’re sales will suddenly drop off and it will take you a few months to get back to the level you were previously at. So be diligent and keep putting out great recommendations on a weekly basis if you want to ensure a more stable financial forecast for your blog.
One important final note
I hope this Skimlinks primer was useful for you. One final thing I want to make sure you know about is that Skimlinks takes 3 months to pay out. That’s because they need time to verify all sales. The bad news is that that is a long time to wait for your money. The good news is that once you reach the end of your first 3 months, you’re golden. The money will just keep rolling in assuming you’ve been keeping up with your content creation.
Skimlinks is one of the best ways to earn money as a blogger and I really couldn’t recommend it more. It’s been a great solution for DailyTekk and I really love the in-depth reporting and all of the helpful tools.
If you’re a new blogger Skimlinks is going to be one of the quickest and most-straightforward ways to earn money. If you’re running an established blog and aren’t yet using Skimlinks… I can only imagine how much money you’re leaving on the table and would say it’s worth exploring how Skimlinks can boost your bottom line.
Let me know what questions you have down in the comments and I’ll try to get them answered for you.