Hey gardeners and gardening enthusiasts!
I admire your passion for plans and the need to share your knowledge and experience of growing and taking care of them.
My grandma has been growing vegetables for over 60 years now.
Her garden is a constant stream of delicious seasonal veggies from early Spring to late Fall.
I wish she kept a blog, honestly.
She could definitely teach a lot of people a thing or two about gardening.
Unfortunately, she’s just not interested in the world of online.
Luckily, some of you are.
And some of you are producing wonderful content that’s helping millions of people to better take care of their plants.
A lot of you don’t know how to monetize your gardening blogs, however.
Which is a shame, because if you did, you could spend all the time in the world with your plants and make a living doing it.
What would you say if I told you there was a way to do just that?
In this article, I’m going to go through ways of monetizing your gardening blog.
Creating content strategically
Before I dive into the means of monetization, I’d like to say a thing or two about creating content.
Talking about monetization before the content would be like putting the carriage before the horse.
You need to populate your blog with high-quality relevant content before worrying about monetization.
As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t even worry about monetization before have at least 30 comprehensive articles on your blog site.
Because before that point, even your earliest content is not old enough to reach its full potential when it comes to Google search results placement.
That can take up to 10 months, especially with new websites that are only starting to build their domain score.
On top of that, it takes many months before new blogs start to get a sufficient number of page views to warrant the effort of monetizing them.
That number is somewhere around 3-5 thousand page views a month.
Before then, your time and effort are better spent creating content for your blog.
Now, what do I mean by creating content strategically?
This means creating some of the content with the intention of monetizing it.
In other words, review articles.
Let’s say you’re an expert in growing tomatoes and you’ve tried various tomato fertilizer products over the years.
Creating a review article like “Top 5 tomato fertilizers” would be a perfect example.
Not only could you help your audience to pick a good tomato fertilizer, but you could also earn a percentage of every sale that comes from the affiliate links in your article.
Talk about a win-win.
Use these review-only articles sparingly, however.
A good rule of thumb is 1 review article for every 3-5 normal articles.
By normal articles, I mean articles where your primary goal is not monetization, but providing as much value as possible.
It’s OK to use affiliate links in the non-review articles too, by the way.
Just don’t over-do it.
It looks spammy and untrustworthy.
Monetizing your gardening blog “in thirds”
In other words, don’t put all your eggs into one basket.
We’ve all heard of this one before, right?
Well, it holds true in the case of blog monetization as well.
The basic idea is simple – don’t get dependent on a single stream of income.
The internet is a dynamic place. Things can go very right, but occasionally they can go very wrong as well.
Things go wrong usually because of the mistakes bloggers are making.
For example, knowingly or unknowingly gaming Google’s algorithm and exploiting a weakness that eventually gets fixed.
Or getting their Amazon Associates account banned because they used Amazon’s product images by just copy and pasting them and not using Amazon’s dedicated plugin or link code for this.
It’s in your best interest to prepare for the rainy days beforehand and set things up so you can survive the potential setbacks.
While there are more than a few possible streams of income a blog can produce, these three are the most significant:
- Affiliate marketing
- Digital products
I’ll go in-depth on what each of these streams of income are, why they’re worthwhile and when you should dedicate time and effort into setting each of them up.
Monetizing your gardening blog with affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is a powerful tool in every blogger’s monetization toolbox.
Gardening bloggers are not an exception.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is basically promoting someone else’s product to your audience and receiving a commission upon successful sales.
By promoting, I don’t mean shilling.
To keep your integrity and the trust of your audience, only promote products you believe in and use yourself.
How does affiliate marketing work?
The concept of affiliate marketing is simple.
Usually, you have to register for an affiliate partnership.
After that, you get affiliate links that are unique to you which you integrate into your content.
When a person clicks on an affiliate link and makes a purchase, the company knows they were referred by you and you get a commission.
What can you promote using affiliate marketing?
You can promote anything, really.
Gardening-related books, courses, tools, and even plants themselves.
If a product is useful to you, it might be useful to your audience as well.
Where to find gardening-related affiliate programs?
There’s no lack of good gardening-related affiliate programs on the internet.
Affiliate networks like Clickbank usually have entire categories dedicated to Home & Garden.
There are even specialized affiliate networks like AvantLink, for example.
AvantLink caters to the outdoorsy crowd.
They represent hundreds of companies in the outdoors niche and many of them have gardening-related products in their catalogs.
Last and certainly not least, there’s Amazon’s affiliate program called Amazon Associates.
We all know Amazon sells everything under the sun, right?
I’d just like to stress the importance of respecting their rules.
When Amazon bans your Amazon Associates account, they ban the website domain as well so you can’t just create another account and submit the same website again.
APRIL 16, 2020 – UPDATE – Amazon slashed their affiliate commissions by up to 80% in some categories. In this new light, I cannot recommend the Amazon Associates affiliate program anymore. It would be a better idea to go directly to manufacturers or find alternative affiliate networks instead of Amazon.
If one of your favorite companies isn’t advertising their affiliate program on one of the affiliate networks, they might still have one.
Just visit their company website and look for something like “Affiliate Program” or “Affiliates” in the bottom of the index page.
When should you start dedicating time and effort into affiliate marketing?
In my opinion, the number of page views that warrant bothering with affiliate marketing is somewhere between 3 and 5 thousand per month.
Because the conversion rates are usually only 1-2%.
Sometimes even less than that.
In other words, you wouldn’t be making any money from it anyway.
Another reason why you should avoid having many external links in your content at first is because you want your audience to stay with your content for as long as possible.
Google tracks that stuff and if people are bouncing off your pages for whatever reason, the algorithm will think they’re not having a good time or not finding what they’re looking for.
As a result, your content will get de-ranked in the search results.
Monetizing your gardening blog with ads
The second pillar of blog monetization are ads.
There is a big ‘however’ coming up, though.
However, ads are not worthwhile until you are eligible to join one of the ‘premium’ ad networks that pay more than Google AdSense.
Let’s say the average click-through rate (CTR) is 0.1% and the cost-per-click (CPC) is $0.5.
That would mean that per 1,000 unique visitors to your gardening blog, 1 person would click on an ad which would earn you $0.5.
Certainly doesn’t seem like the way Warren Buffet makes his money, right?
You would need 15,000 unique visitors to be able to buy yourself a pizza, for example.
And getting 15,000 unique visitors is hard.
Even in a span of a month.
Luckily, there are ad networks out there that pay a lot more than AdSense.
Each of them has a set of requirements to join, though.
Another reason not to bother with ads until you can join a premium ad network is a simple fact that ads do cheapen the look and feel of any website.
We’re all somewhat used to ads being everywhere nowadays, but you need all the help you can get at first.
A clean looking blog will aid the overall user experience, which Google tracks vigorously.
But let’s not go off on a tangent too much.
Let’s say a thing or two about Google AdSense first.
What is Google AdSense?
AdSense is Google’s program for ad delivery.
You basically apply for an account and once your account is approved, you get a piece of code that you can insert where you want ads to appear.
You can also use a plugin to help you with ads placement.
Ads themselves are usually contextualized to the content on the page they appear on and/or the visitor viewing the page.
Google takes care of all that.
Is Google AdSense free?
Google AdSense is free.
That’s why a lot of new bloggers join it.
You simply apply to join and wait for your account to be approved.
Google is typically happy to have you because that’s one of the ways they earn their money.
They take a cut of your earnings, of course.
What are some of the good AdSense alternatives?
There are dozens and dozens of ad networks out there.
Everyone’s competing for a cut of your ad revenue.
Picking the right one can get difficult.
The avoid paralysis by analysis, I will mention only 3 premium networks to shoot for as your gardening blog grows.
All 3 require you to meet certain criteria before joining, of which pageview count is the clearest and the one we’ll concentrate on.
I researched all 3 of the networks and found that they all:
- Pay well
- Offer stability and fast ad loading times
- Have outstanding customer service
- Have a good reputation
When your blog reaches 10,000 pageviews per month, you’ll be eligible to apply for Monumetric ad network membership.
Other requirements to join Monumetric ad network are:
- If your website has more than 10,000 but less than 80,000 pageviews, you’ll pay a fee of $99 (don’t worry, you can pay it off from future ad earning so it’s not an immediate out-of-pocket expense)
- You have to have organic traffic
- Your content has to be original and frequently updated
- No inappropriate content
- Engaged audience
When your blog reaches 25,000 sessions per month, you can apply to Mediavine ad network membership.
Note that page views do not equal page sessions in a 1:1 ratio.
To reach 25,000 sessions per month, it will take a considerably larger number of page views per month.
It’s hard to say how many exactly, but you will be able to track page sessions for your blog through Google Analytics.
Other requirements to join Mediavine ad network are:
- Original content
- Accommodating site design to Mediavine ad placements
- Organic traffic
- Google AdSense account in good standing
When your blog reaches 100,000 page views per month, you will be eligible to apply for the AdThrive ad network membership.
AdThrive is one of the most recommended ad networks out there.
It is difficult to get accepted to AdThrive, but once you do get accepted, your ads revenue will probably double or triple.
Other requirements to join AdThrive ad network are:
- Google Analytics installed and running
- Majority of the traffic coming from the USA
- Good standing with Google and other major ad providers
- Unique and original content
Monetizing your gardening blog with your own digital products
Creating and selling an e-book or a course on a topic you understand is a great way of monetizing your passion for gardening.
You understand growing tomatoes through and through?
Why not write a thorough course about it?
Lay down a step-by-step guide on what one should do if they want juicy tomatoes on the table for their family.
You would help be providing immense value to your audience and making a buck in the process too.
Not only that, but this is also a great authority-building tool.
Publishing an e-book on Amazon tells the Google algorithm you’re an authority figure in your niche.
This will positively affect your search results ranking.
Another potential benefit of creating such value-packed content like an e-book or a course would be other bloggers recommending it.
Other people linking to your content is another metric looked at by the Google algorithm.
This kind of endorsement by your peers means your content must be providing value and Google heavily rewards that.
Monetizing your gardening blog with email marketing
Email marketing entails capturing your audience member’s emails.
Why is that important?
Email is access. Simple as that.
There’s nothing more valuable than having 24/7 access to your audience.
This power must not be abused, however.
Nobody likes their inbox being spammed by a ton of ads.
The only acceptable way of asking for an email is providing value first.
Giving away one of your digital products to your email subscribers exclusively is a great incentive for someone to actually subscribe to your email list.
Newsletters are another good way of enticing people to subscribe.
Once they’re subscribed, your job is to keep them subscribed.
And you do that by providing value, of course.
Meaning, about three-quarters of your emails should be informative, and only a quarter of them should contain sales pitches.
This is not a rule, but it’s a solid guideline.
There’s no shame in trying to monetize your passion.
Being able to support yourself through earning money from your gardening blog will only mean you’ll be able to spend more time in your garden.
And what’s better than that, right?
Just keep in mind that the name of the game is patience.
Pushing monetization on your audience without providing value first will backfire.
Doing it right and being of service to your audience first and foremost will, in turn, make them trust you and feel grateful to you.
The #1 goal should be to provide uncomfortable amounts of value you basically guilt the other person to buy from you.