The Truth About Blogging: Make Money Blogging and Free Stuff

Yes you can make money blogging!  In fact, I’ve replaced my full time income through blogging.  It takes a lot of hard work and dedication but the rewards are well worth it! Keep reading to find out how to make money blogging!

How To Make Money Blogging

So, tell the truth….are you thinking about starting a blog for the money and free stuff? As I’ve preached throughout this series….blogging is not all about making money and getting free stuff….but it is a nice perk!

In this post I’m going to teach you how to make money blogging.  You may not start out replacing a full time income but with dedication and perseverance you can get to a full time income.  The nice thing about blogging is that you get what you put into it.

What you will learn:

  • Top networks that connect bloggers with brands….that pay you to write!
  • How to set up ads for the most return.
  • Other avenues to make money blogging.

How to Make Money Blogging

Before we get started……Have you been following along with the How to Build a Successful Blog series

I’m at a point now where I feel like Serendipity and Spice officially qualifies as a successful blog.  I’ve replaced my full time income as a retail manager and it keeps growing every month!  Now this has taken 3 years of devotion and dedication….there were many times where I just felt like quitting because I wasn’t seeing the return I wanted but then as if a light switch was flipped….everything changed and Serendipity and Spice just exploded into a successful blog!  Seriously, I felt like overnight it just took off….so just keep plugging away and one day it will happen!

Over the past few months I’ve been asked over and over again from friends, family, and readers “how do I start a blog?”.  Make sure you check out the  how to build a successful blog series….it’ll walk you through all of the important steps to take!

Networks to Join

  1. IZEA is my favorite of all the networks!  You have the opportunity to write sponsored posts and you get to set your price.  I started using this network my first month into blogging and even got chosen for several campaigns….as my blog has grown so have the campaigns….I started off making $10-$20 a post and now I make $250 a post….so they are well worth trying out! Plus, they offer super easy Twitter and Instagram opps!
  2. Acorn Influence:  Acorn is a great network for writing sponsored posts.  You just fill out the application and once they approve you then you’ll be on their contact list for sponsored opportunities.  When they have a brand that fits well with your site they will email you to see if you’re interested and they’ll give you the rate.
  3. US Family Guide is one of my new favorites….this is where you can get free tickets for select events. We’ve done the Easter Bunny Train and the Atlanta Motor Speedway Gift of Lights!  They don’t pay but it’s pretty simple to fulfill their requirements and the events are fun for the whole family!
  4. Sverve…is a community of bloggers and a great way to connect with brands!  You apply for campaigns that you think your site would be a good fit for.  You can also share your posts, endorse other bloggers, have other bloggers endorse you, share the love in the blogging community.  I’m going to focus more on Sverve this year and really start using it to it’s full potential….so hop on over and check it out!
  5. Social Fabric is a network full of all different bloggers- it is currently invite only but you can always apply to get on their radar.  You can check out their shoppertunities to sign up for blog posts, Google+ albums, etc.  Their main focus is on the shopping experience and they pay really well…but please note…the competition is fierce so when you get one of these campaigns you better ROCK IT!!!
  6. Pollinate Media is an network that connects brands with bloggers to write sponsored posts.  I just recently got started with them but they work with brands like Cottonelle, Target, World Market, People Magazine, etc.  They do require that you have at least 12,000 page views a month and there’s other criteria that you can check out on their website.
  7. The Niche Parent Network is a digital community connecting parents with brands to write sponsored posts.  They send out emails whenever there is an opportunity and you simply apply.
  8.  The Blueprint Social– this is mainly for craft bloggers….I’ve written several sponsored posts for the Blueprint Social.  They do a mixture of free product campaigns and paid sponsored posts.  With all of their campaigns though you do get some kind of free product and it’s usually fun brand new to the stores product!  They only open applications at certain times throughout the year so you’ll have to check back whenever they open next.
  9. is a great site to try new products.  Basically you go through and apply for different products to review and they send you the product for free…many times companies will also host a giveaway.  Just recently they started offering pay with the product reviews…anything with a $ sign next to it is a paid opportunity.  But for bloggers that are just starting out it’s a great way to get some reviews under your belt and some giveaways too.
  10. The Motherhood is a great network to join. I’ve participated in 3 campaigns with them so far and they are GREAT to work with! The pay is fair and quick! Once a campaign wraps up I get my checks in the mail very quickly.
  11. SwayGroup is from TheSitsGirls and is another fairly competitive network…but they work with some great parenting brands.  Just fill out their application and subscribe to their newsletter.  When the newsletter comes out you will see what campaigns they have coming up that you can apply for.
  12. The Clever Girls Collective has some strict guidelines for joining but once you’re in they get some pretty good opps.  I’ve written a few posts for them and they’ve always been fairly simple, straight forward posts that pay good for starting out.
  13. BlogHer has an ad network and an influencer network.  Although I haven’t worked on any of their sponsored post campaigns I have done several of their Twitter campaigns.  The Twitter campaigns are so simple!  They usually require 8 tweets over the course of a 6 week or so campaign and pay you $50.  These take me about 5 minutes to schedule in HooteSuite and another 15 minutes to submit throughout the campaign….so yeah, 50 bucks for 20 minutes of work….I’ll take it!

Ad Networks

There seems to be a split among bloggers about Ad Networks….you either LOVE them or HATE them.  I personally LOVE them….I mean it’s income that I don’t have to do anything to make.  So many websites have ads now that I don’t think it really takes away from my users’ experiences….but I do try to make sure that my ads aren’t too intrusive or annoying.

Now, there are TONS of Ad Networks out there….just Google “Ad Network” and you’ll be given pages and pages of results.  I’m just going to share with you the ad networks that I have personally used and know the most about.

  1. Google Adsense– Google Adsense is probably what you’re going to use when starting out…they accept everyone!  That’s because Google Ads will run but you only get paid on clicks.  NOW….do NOT click your own ads or get family/friends to constantly click your ads because Google Ads will ban you and take away all of your revenue.  You do have to reach $100 before Google Ads will pay out….which sometimes can take many months.
  2. Meridian….formerly Sovrn….formerly Lijit I loved this network when I was with them…they would payout faster than Google Adsense and I would always make more money.  These ads are based on CPM- that’s tech talk for views.
  3. Rivit– this is a great ad network for DIY sites. I was only with Rivit for a short time but they would payout every month just like clockwork!
  4. this site I only used for a few months before joining The Blogger Network.  They had some really great ads that look more natural on your site…you’re able to customize text ads to match your theme.  The payout was definitely higher than my adsense ads!
  5. The Blogger Network– You have to have at least 80,000 pageviews a month to join The Blogger Network but they handle setting up DFP and backfill and try to maximize your ad revenue.  So far they have done an amazing job and I love not having to think about my ads at all!  The customer service is fantastic too.  I simply email my account manager if there’s something I want to change or categories I want to exclude.  They take a percentage of your revenue (as all networks do…they’re just more transparent about it) and work to optimize your ads.
  6. PadSquad for Mobile- this is my mobile ad network and I LOVE LOVE LOVE them!  Once I signed on with PadSquad they optimized my mobile site so now people stay on the site longer….my bounce rate is now about 25%!  And my ad revenue tripled the first month!

Affiliate Networks

It took me awhile to figure out how to make money with affiliate networks. I mean Amazon is super easy but when dealing with other affiliate networks you have to very strategic in how you use affiliates to make money.  But once you hit on something that works it can really pay off! For example, this post just took off on Pinterest and now I average about $700 a month in affiliate sales from this one post! I’ll take that any day over a sponsored post that only pays me once!

Centerpoint Media –>this one seems to be the highest paying

Amazon— we all know about Amazon…and this is where I get a majority of my affiliate product links.  It’s so simple to use and you can find just about anything you want to link to….not to mention that Amazon is a highly trusted site so people you refer are more likely to make the purchase.

Share A Sale

Escalate Network

Panthera Network – Lots of high paying affiliate offers.

Other Ways to Make Money Blogging

Write & Sell an E-book

Sell a Product

Open an Etsy Store

I know I’ve just barely scratched the surface of making money with your blog….there are numerous opportunities if you’re willing to get out there and work for it.  Make your own opportunities by selling ads on your site, working out advertising with local businesses, approaching companies on your own….there’s a slew of ways to monetize your blog.

Now for a word of caution:

ALWAYS use no-follow links when linking outside of your blog!  Advertisers can be sneaky people and want you to not use no-follow links and they will pay for you to not use no-follow links BUT you WILL regret it.  Here’s the deal about no-follow links.  To you and me it sounds bad, at first I though no-follow meant I wouldn’t get credit for people using my links in sponsored posts or I wouldn’t get paid on affiliate links because it wouldn’t track.  That is NOT the case.

No-follow links simply contain a code that tells Search Engines not to follow the link because it’s not part of your website.  These companies that don’t want you to use no-follow links want to steal your Google PR juice and are hoping you’re too naive to realize it.  If Google catches you not using no-follow links for sponsored posts or affiliate links they will take away your Google Page Rank and then you won’t be worth anything to any advertiser!  So just don’t do it- I always stand my ground to these sketchy PR people who contact me wanting to do a free “Guest Post with a link to their site” or tell me that I can’t use no-follow links.  I simply decline the offer….it’s not worth losing everything I’ve worked so hard for!

One more thing….. there is a HUGE difference in accepting a guest post from a fellow blogger trying to build their site and one of these sketchy companies trying to build their business links.

If a blogger in the same niche as me reaches out to do a guest post I will usually accept as long as their content is new, original, and for the sole purpose of trying to gain new readers.  However, if you are approached by a poorly written email stating they love your site and would love to publish an article then make sure:

  1. You CHARGE them for it!
  2. You let them know up front that you ALWAYS use no-follow links.
  3. Don’t ever post an article for FREE (unless it’s a fellow blogger)….these people are taking advantage of new bloggers and I HATE seeing this happen…it infuriates me….if you couldn’t tell. 🙂

So there you have it….how to make money blogging and earn free stuff!

What networks are you a part of?  Share in the comments below!

Finish reading the How to Build a Successful Blog series:


Posts may include affiliate links. Serendipity and Spice earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend at no additional cost to you.
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  1. says

    Again.. You ROCK! Thanks for all these. So question: I am pretty tech savvy- however- I am having a hard time understanding Izea. Is it as simple as setting up an account and waiting for people to contact you? Any more insight on Izea would be so greatly appreciated! XOXO Marie

    • says

      Hi Marie! Yes, for Izea once you set up your account you pretty much wait for offers to come to you. Then you bid on the offers…the free membership gives you 3 bids per month and the $1 membership gives you unlimited bids per month. I do the $1 membership because one paid tweet more than pays for it and you’ll need the bids for all the social media opportunities if you’re wanting to do those.

  2. Cydnee/Tampa Cake Girl says

    Great tips and ideas! Very useful information. Thank you joining us at #purebloglove. We enjoy having you every Thursday night at 8PM through Sunday night. ~Cydnee

  3. says

    Such great tips! Love this and found several great ideas here. Pinned to my personal board. Thank you for sharing at Snickerdoodle! Hope to see you again!

  4. says

    Hello and congrats! Your post earned a feature on Two Uses Tuesday (Sarah Celebrates/Purfylle)! I hope you can stop by this week to check it out and share your latest and greatest =)

  5. says

    That’s an amazing post, great info I didn’t know.Finally a post about this subject that provides real suggestions and links to the source!
    Thanks so much for sharing the knowledge!!!

  6. says

    Hey Melissa!
    Thanks so much for posting all of these awesome blogging tips! We started our blog this summer and have been pouring through all of your tips (currently working on the twitter followers thanks to your ebook!) We honestly would have had no idea about all the different ways to monetize or gain followers! Going to keep searching through these after work!

  7. says

    Thank you for this informative and interesting post! I’ve just recently gotten back into blogging ahead of my dip into freelance writing. There is some advice here that is helpful and interesting. Will definitely be checking some of these out. 🙂

  8. says

    Amazing post Melissa! So helpful! I’m a new blogger trying to learn the ropes. You’ve addressed so many of my questions. I just had an offer to “guest post,” but had a bad feeling about it. Now I know to steer clear. Thank you!!!!

  9. says

    THANK YOU for pointing out the difference between a real guest post and free advertising! Those people make me so mad it’s not even funny. Unfortunately they continue to do it because people fall for it. It needs to stop!

  10. says

    Hi Melissa,

    Wow, thank you for all the links to research. I currently make nothing on my blog, but would love to make enough in the future to cover the costs involved with having my blog. I hope it’s ok to ask you this, if not I apologize. I noticed that you said you just started working with Pollinate and that you have to have over 12,000 views in a month to be considered. Again I say, WOW! I’m going to honestly tell you that I only have about 50 views a day. How long did it take you to get to that many views? I can’t imagine having that many views in a day, congratulations! Thank you again for your posts about blogging!

    • says

      Hi Amy! I’m glad you found this article useful! Please feel free to ask me anything….it took me a LONG time to get to where I am now…I’m in my 3rd year of blogging and just hit about 40,000 pageviews a month. But it took a long time and a LOT of work to get to this point…plus several posts going viral on Pinterest. 😉 When I first started I use to look at my stats every day and was thrilled to see anything over 20 views because it meant someone other than my family was reading my blog! You’ll get there…it just takes some time…and you’ve got the perfect subject…my Disney posts do awesome! 🙂

  11. says

    This is a very well written post, Melissa. I’ve read a few of your other blogging posts and you really know what you’re talking about. I’m fairly new to blogging (more than 1 1/2 years), but I’ve stopped writing on my first blog to concentrate on my new business. My second blog is only about 6 months old, but I haven’t had much time to write in it. I do hope to eventually grow it and I’ll be looking into your posts and tips closer. (but I can only dream of ever getting to 100,000 page visits!)
    Thank you for all your advice
    Debbie 🙂

    • says

      Thanks so much Debbie! I hope that the stuff I’ve learned along the way will help others. 🙂 And I’m no where near 100,000 pageviews….but that’s my goal! 😉

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