(Gawkwire.com) I am always harping about the importance of blogging, aren’t I? Well, it’s definitely for a good reason! Blogging is one of the best ways to gain relevance in the search engines, because you are sending out fresh and relevant content and telling the search engines exactly when you’re doing it. This can help grow your business with new customers, spread the word through existing readers, and even give you a niche in the world.

But enough about why blogs matter – let’s talk about how to make money with them! I’ve got 10 surefire ways to earn some income off your blogs. Especially in the current economy, it’s never been more important to monetize your blog to produce extra income where you can.

1. Sell Stuff People Actually Want
No, I don’t mean selling a tea cozy your grandmother made for you or auctioning off some old socks for profit – I mean selling your own content in various formats.

For example, if you have an RSS Feed (which you should, because people can gather your content very easily this way) you can compile these articles and rewrite them as an ebook. Sell this ebook very affordably on your website. You can bet your readers, who already love your stuff, will be interested in purchasing to help support your website.
Another idea is to produce offline material, such as CD-ROMs, hard copy books, or merchandise like t-shirts or coffee mugs. Websites like Lulu.com and CafePress.com are especially worthwhile in these cases.

2. Advertising
This is probably the first thing you thought of when looking into blog monetization, but it’s not always the most successful. That’s usually because bloggers get excited and overwhelm their website with ads or place irrelevant ads on the site. 1) Your readers are smart enough to click on something only when it’s relevant to their interests and 2) most readers don’t like to see too much advertising on a blog, since blogging is supposed to be all about personalization and community, not about making money.

So three rules for choosing advertising:
* Choose one space on your website to display advertisements. If that space is successful, you can then look into taking on more advertisers in other spaces, rotating ads, or making this space bigger.

* Make sure the advertisers you go with are relevant to your blog topics. If you’re blogging about children’s books, don’t take on adult advertising, in other words. 

* Choose one method for displaying advertisements. You can choose from text links, banners, video ads, etc. Start with one and work your way up if they are successful.

3. Affiliate Networks
Are you guys tired of me talking about affiliate programs yet? I hope not, ‘cause I absolutely love them! And if you are blogging, you should love them too, because they can be an incredible source of revenue. Affiliate programs pay you every time someone 1) clicks on your unique URL or 2) every time someone purchases something after clicking that URL.

Choosing an affiliate program can be difficult, so here are some tips!
* Go with what you know! Most large websites and businesses these days offer affiliate programs, so check your favorite websites first. Especially if you plan to work these affiliate URLs into blog posts, you’ll want to be familiar with what you’re writing about.

* Only join relevant affiliate networks, so if your blog is all about beauty products, you probably want to steer clear of sporting goods affiliate programs.

* If you’re overwhelmed with the choices available, pick 2 industries that can relate to your readers. For example, if you run a technology blog, web hosting, domain registration, and iTunes are three niches that your visitors are likely to respond to.

4. Run Contests
You might be wondering how in the world you can make money when you’re giving something away. Well, it’s easy if you have sponsors! Email friends, associates, or even complete strangers from companies that would benefit from your readership and ask them to donate prizes in the form of cash, products, or services. This is free advertising for them and free publicity for you. Even offering some kind of raffle where readers must donate $1 to your blog before they can enter would be a great monetization effort. And, if your sponsors see a good result, they might be keen to setup future advertising campaigns.

5. Ask For Money
No, really! Everyone knows bloggers are oftentimes poor or just blogging for fun and may need assistance keeping their domain and web hosting paid and up-to-date, so putting a small PayPal Donation button or a Scratchback Top List in your blog is a very common practice these days. With Scratchback, you display your readers’ links on your website for a very small donation, so this usually is a great tradeoff. And you’d be surprised what you can earn if your readers are loyal.

6. Offer Specials
Create a Members Only area, organize special blogging events for your readers to participate, sell videos or podcasts, or even put up some tutorials or guides for sale. As long as everything you’re selling is stuff your readers will appreciate, you can make a great deal in offering special places or services to your users.

7. Sponsored Posts
Did you know you can earn money just by writing a review of a certain product, service, or tool? With services like PayPerPost, ReviewMe, and SponsoredReviews, companies will literally pay big bucks just to get word of mouth advertising on blogs with related content. Though a lot of readers will be turned off by too many sponsored blog posts, if you choose your advertisers carefully and pick products or services you either have always wanted to try or have always loved, it can be a very natural addition to your blog.

8. Create a Mailing List
Get your readers’ attention! Having a mailing list will help you keep your readers up to date with your latest news, contests, events, or specials. Plus, you can squeeze advertising in if you want to give your readers deals from companies with related niches or products.

9. Incorporate Ads Into RSS Feeds
By using services like Feedvertise and Feedburner, you can put small Adsense-like advertisements directly in your RSS Feeds. Again, as long as content is related, your readers shouldn’t find this too obtrusive.

10. Miscellaneous!
There are a ton of ways to think outside the box and make money on your blog. For example, there’s a service called ShareAPic that allows you to earn money by hosting your images with their service. Every time your picture is downloaded, you get a share of the company’s profits. But use your imagination and you can certainly come up with other wonderful ideas to monetize your blog.

The biggest tip I can offer is to blog as often as possible and gain your readership before you take any steps to monetize!

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