Insights

7 ways to monetize your online following as a wellness influencer or coach

It may have started as a passion project, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Your online following could be the ticket out of your boring day job and into a full-time gig that you love. Your audience loves the health and wellness content you provide but unfortunately, that alone doesn’t pay the bills.

Turning those hard-earned followers into a reliable income is tough… but it’s possible. To prove it, here are 7 ways that people (just like you) have done it.

1. Display advertising 

If you have a website, you have the potential to earn money just from people visiting your site. Display Ads are placed in strategic places on your website and generate income on a per session or per click basis. The easiest way to do this is through an ad network such as Google AdSense.

Many people see this as easy passive income, but there are some definite pros and cons to including display ads on your website and factors to consider before signing up with an ad network.

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Pros:

Display ads are easy. Once you sign up with an ad network, there’s not much else you have to do besides continue to create awesome content. Display ads can be passive income at its finest.

For most big ad networks, the more sessions you have on your site, the more money you make. As you continue to make more content and have more visitors to your site, the money earned from ads can be a big part of your revenue strategy.

Cons:

No one likes to be blasted with ads. They came to your site to learn how to make gluten-free chicken tacos or figure out what a whole food plant-based diet is. Not for sneakers or a new apple watch. Do your research into ad networks before signing up. Some allow for specialized ads so that someone coming to your vegan food blog won’t be blasted with an ad for a local BBQ joint’s grand opening.

You have to have a decent amount of traffic to make any “real” money from display ads. Since money is earned from cost per click (CPC) or a rate per 1,000 page views it’s not usually worth it until you have a significant amount of people heading to your site each month.

Then there’s the issue of privacy. It’s a new decade and privacy has taken on a whole new level of importance. Google’s next big chrome update could result in a decrease in income from ad networks as they work to better protect people’s privacy. We’ll see how this roles out in the next year or so, but something to consider if a major part of your income strategy is ad revenue.

How much money can you earn from display ads?

A Pinch of Yum, a wildly popular food blog, earned over $52k from AdThrive in just one month. On a smaller (but still impressive) scale, the food and lifestyle blog Nikki’s Plate brought in $2,726.68 from Mediavine with 115,324 website sessions.

A few popular ad networks that are worth considering

While these are far from the only ad networks you can apply for and begin to earn revenue from, a few popular ones among health and wellness creators include:

Google AdSense is a popular ad network for people who want ads but have less than 50,000 sessions per month. There’s no page view or session minimum to get started, but the pay and selectiveness of ads isn’t as good as other networks out there

Mediavine requires you to have at least 50,000 sessions per month. The RPM (or “rate per mille” which means the rate per 1,000 views) is higher than Google AdSense but you need more monthly sessions to even qualify for this ad network.

AdThrive provides one of the highest RPMs but is one of the most difficult to get accepted into. While Mediavine only requires you to have 50,000 sessions per month, AdThrive requires 100,000 sessions.

Other forms of advertising worth noting

Many of the same pros and cons of display ads apply to other forms of advertising. Depending on the type of content you create, video or native advertising may be better suited for you and your audience.

Video advertising

Video has become an incredibly popular way for people to consume content in recent years. From Instagram Reels to TikTok, it seems like every platform is moving towards video. If you’re creating YouTube content for your audience, you may be able to capitalize with video ads. These ads typically play shortly after your content begins.

On YouTube, you can sign up to have ads in your content once you obtain 1,000 subscribers and have at least 4,000 Watch Time hours over the past year.

Native advertising

Native ads are made to look more organic to your site and less like, you know, ads. These ads typically have a higher click-through rate than your typical ads, which equals more money if you’re being paid per click.

While more natural and native-looking ads do create a better user experience, it’s important to note that they may be more likely to take people away from your site. If you have links for your products or services on your website this could result in fewer dollars in your pocket.

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2. Sponsored content and ambassadorships

Even without a website, you can leverage your social media audience to make some serious money. Companies and brands pay health and wellness influencers to promote their products in a fun and unique way. Even if you don’t have a huge following, you could earn an income from partnering with your favorite brands.

Having only 5,000 followers qualifies you as a “micro-influencer”. Brands want to work with people who have an engaged audience. So 5,000 engaged and loyal followers can be just as (maybe even more) valuable than 25,000 so-so followers.

Sponsored content and brand ambassadorships work like this: a brand pays you to create and promote content using their products. Brands count on your audience trusting what you say and use. Their goal is to pick up new customers and fans from this exposure. You can leverage your website, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, Pinterest, email list, and more to create successful partnerships with brands you love.

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Pros:

You create amazing, valuable content for your audience anyhow, so why not get paid for it? You can share products and services you love with your audience so that they can also use and love what you recommend. The larger and more engaged your audience is, the higher fees you can often negotiate.

Cons:

Not everyone likes to be sold to. Having a lot of sponsored content can come off as fake and sales-y to your audience. Make sure you have a good combination of your unsponsored and sponsored content to keep an authentic feel to your platforms.

Everything you provide your audience should be high quality and authentic to your brand so that when sponsored content does make an appearance it still seems natural to your audience.

How much can you earn from sponsored content and brand ambassadorship?

This depends on your audience, the brand’s budget, and your negotiating skills. Many brands are interested in an engaged audience. This means even a micro-influencer with 5,000 followers on Instagram can get paid for producing sponsored content. The bigger the following, the more engaged your audience is, and the wider your reach all combine for a potentially big paycheck for something as little as one Instagram post.

The Fit Delish, a food and fitness blog, made $570 from 3 sponsored Instagram posts. At that time she had less than 10,000 followers.

The Clean Eating Couple brought in $42,390 in one year with sponsored posts with a much larger audience.

How  to get started with sponsored posts

Before you reach out to any brands or networks, do an audit to see what you have to offer. It’s great to love a product or a brand, but you want to highlight what you can do for the brand and why they should pay you to post about their product. A media kit is a great way to do this.

You can easily create an attractive media kit in Canva or other free design programs. Here’s a tutorial to make sure you have all the components you need to stand out to a brand. Essentially you’ll want to highlight who you are, what you do, who your audience is, and stats for followers, views, subscribers, reach, engagement, and any other information the brand would want to know.

Once you have a standout media kit, you can take one of two routes: pitch brands directly or sign up for a blogging network.

Pitching brands directly will probably result in a lot of pitches sent and a lot of crickets in the background. That’s just how it goes. Make sure to keep following up and cultivating relationships with brands who show interest in working together.  The emails and follow-ups are worth it. Working with a brand directly often leads to higher-paying jobs and long-term relationships.

Working with a blogging network puts you in a  pool with a lot of other bloggers and influencers. There’s not usually much room for negotiating price or content terms when working within a network. But, if you’re just getting started and want to get your feet wet, it’s a good place to start. Here are 15 blogging networks you can look into to find one (or several) that fit your brand.

3. Affiliate marketing

If you have a large audience, following, or high traffic website, then affiliate marketing could be a great source of passive income. While sponsored content results in guaranteed payment for a deliverable, affiliate marketing works a bit differently.

You’re essentially promoting a product or service to your audience with the hope that people will then purchase that product or service. Why? Because you then earn a commission of sales off of those purchases. You’re not guaranteed any compensation, but with a large or loyal following you could make some serious money

The brand or affiliate agency provides you with a unique link. When you share the link with your audience and they click on it, they’re directed to the company’s website. Any purchases they make are tracked and credited to you.

Affiliate links can be inserted into blog posts, social media posts and stories, emails, videos, and just about any way you communicate with your audience. Just be sure to understand the rules of the brand or agency and always disclose to your audience that it’s an affiliate link.

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Pros:

When it comes to passive income, affiliate marketing is where it’s at. A link inserted into a blog post can earn income for years without any updating or extra work on your part.

When you choose to be an affiliate for products that you love and use every day, it’s easy and authentic to offer affiliate links to your audience on a routine basis.

That favorite granola you eat every morning? Make a point to share something about it several times per month in your IG or Facebook stories. When they see you loving the product or brand daily, you build trust from your audience that this product is something they need to get their hands on.

Another huge benefit to earning money from affiliate marketing is that you don’t have to do anything besides sharing the link. Unlike when you sell your own products, affiliate marketing comes free of any customer service, complaints, shipping, or glitch management. You share the link with high-quality and authentic content. After that, the company does all the work while you earn your commission.

Cons:

The biggest con to affiliate marketing is the audience requirements to make it worth your while. Yes, you can throw some affiliate links into your content with any size following. No, you won’t make much, if anything, without a large and engaged audience.

For example, you can earn up to 20% of a direct purchase with Amazon’s Affiliate Program depending on the category of the product linked and your region. If someone heads to Amazon through your link but ends up purchasing something in a different category, you still earn commission.

The small percentages add up with a big audience. But, with only a few eyes on your link (and even less clicking and purchasing), it can be difficult to make money this way.

How much can you earn from affiliate marketing?

The income possibilities are endless with affiliate marketing but are directly related to how many eyes are on your content and how trusting people are of your recommendations.

In 2019 The Clean Eating Couple made over $50,000 in affiliate income with an average of 450,000 page views per month. While a blogger with a much smaller audience reports a much smaller affiliate income of $52 in one month.

How to get started with affiliate marketing

What products and services do you like and use? What would your audience truly benefit from having?  Being authentic in your affiliate marketing is going to pay off in the long run.

There are several affiliate networks that you can sign up for to work with several different brands. A few popular options are Amazon, Awin, and Share a Sale. These networks allow you to partner with several companies and products in a one-stop-shop sort of way.

Many brands and companies have their own affiliate programs that offer higher commission rates and discount codes for you to share with your audience. Think of a product or brand that you love and head to their website. See if they have an affiliate program and sign up directly.

You can sprinkle affiliate links throughout your content and in your social media posts and videos. If you’re looking for a place to start, check out some of these options:

Minimalist Baker is a successful food blog but took a break from creating recipes to create this comprehensive guide for starting a blog. Throughout the post are links to everything they use and recommend. Many of these links are affiliate links that lead to a commission. Note how they disclose that it includes affiliate links at the top of the post (something you must do to avoid deceiving your audience).

The vegetarian food blogger Cookie and Kate has her own Amazon shop which links to all of the products and tools she uses and recommends. She’s not selling these products herself, but receiving a commission of sales from the shop.

4. Informational products

You’re an expert at what you do and your audience likely follows you for all of the free content you provide them. Why not step it up and create an informational product to sell?

Selling content to your audience could be in the form of a meal plan, cookbook, comprehensive guide, or an eBook with recipes and shopping lists. Depending on your niche, the possibilities are endless.

Pros:

You have an audience who finds your content valuable. Market research for a paid product is easy when you can ask them what they need that you aren’t already giving them. When the product you create ties perfectly into your niche it’s easy to consistently advertise in blog posts, videos, and on social media.

Making a quality eBook, meal plan, or course is going to take some effort, time, and probably even money. The good news is that you only have to do all of that work once. You can continue to promote and sell the goods long after the work is done. Eventually, it can turn into a passive income stream, earning you dollars while you’re sleeping.

Cons:

Customer expectations have gotten higher, making eBooks more difficult to sell. You have to get creative, make the product irresistible, and go far beyond what you share for free. Having a specific niche and an engaged audience can help improve sales of a paid informational product.

Your audience buys your guide, uses it, loves it, and your income caps out at $27.99 (or whatever you sold your product for). Unlike a membership or an ongoing program of sorts, the revenue you can earn from one product per person is limited.

These are reasons why more and more people are moving towards turning their knowledge into courses, which require a lot more investment (time and money) but are seen to be more valuable, especially when combined with coaching (which we'll discuss later in this guide).

How much can you make from an informational product?

The Sculpted Vegan offers Meal Planning Masterclass for $97, which consists of pre-recorded video modules, a pre-made workbook, and example meal plans.

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In March of 2016, Pinch of Yum earned $525.00 in sales from an eBook on how to monetize a food blog, only a fraction of their total income that month.

It’s not likely you’ll get rich selling informational products, but it can be a great supplement to your marketing strategy.

How to get started selling informational products

Depending on the type of informational product you want to create, there are several free and paid tools to help you get started.

For eBooks, guides, and PDF meal plans, Canva and Microsoft PowerPoint are two surprisingly effective tools that are free to use. If you don’t want to spend your time on the design portion of the eBook (or even the writing) you can always utilize job boards like Upwork or Fiverr and pay someone to create it for you.

If your website is hosted on WordPress, Easy Digital Downloads and WooCommerce are easy plugins to help you set up payment and downloads directly on your website. You could also use a service such as E-junkie or SendOwl to house your download and take care of delivery and payments for you.

For courses, Thinkific, Kajabi, and Teachable make it easy to set up and start selling your course content.

6. Provide coaching services

If you’re a personal trainer, nutritionist, health coach, life coach, or any other wellness professional you may be able to offer your service to help people one-on-one. The internet allows you to connect to people all over the world and help them transform their lives while increasing your own income.

Personalized support can look different depending on what you do and how you craft your coaching services. Be sure to learn the legal stipulations for what you can and can’t do with your credentials in your state, country, or internationally when providing coaching services.

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Pros:

Even if you only have a small audience, you can earn money through coaching. It only takes a few people who feel as though you’re talking to them and can help them make real, needed change in their lives.

Depending on the transformation you provide for people, you may be able to charge a premium fee for individualized coaching services.

You can set up your coaching services in any way that makes sense for your clients to make a transformation and then maintain that level of success. Your clients may stick around for several months, if not more, providing a steady source of income for you.

Cons:

While you may be able to charge a premium price for individual coaching, the number of clients you take on is limited, and so is your income. One client could take up several hours of your week when you consider prep time and actual coaching hours.

It’s difficult to scale a business based on individual coaching. Unless you’re hiring another coach to take some of the workload, there’s a limited number of people you can work with at one time.

How much can you make from individual coaching?

Depending on the frequency of visits, demand, and the transformation you’re providing to your clients you can feasibly charge anywhere from $100 a session to more than $1500 per month.

How to get started with coaching

When providing 1:1 services, you want to make sure you’re legally protected. Find out what you need to do to protect yourself and your business based on the type of coaching you’ll be providing.

Other than the legal and business aspect of your coaching business, there’s not much else you need to do. You can offer your services as simple or advanced as you want. A simple Zoom or phone call with a follow-up email can work for providing some coaching services.

If you’re looking for a program to help you with on-boarding and serving your clients, there are several to choose from. Healthie and Practice Better are electronic health records systems that help to take care of office tasks while providing a premium platform for you and your clients to use. If you’re offering nutrition and meal planning services on a 1-on-1 basis, That Clean Life is a popular tool to use.

7. Offer group coaching or membership programs

If one-on-one coaching isn’t a great fit for your business or you’ve capped out your time and earning potential, you can always scale up and help even more people. Group programs and membership sites are a great way to increase your impact and income.

That transformation you could provide to one person can be formatted in a way that helps more people at the same time.

Group programs are often for a set period, whereas memberships can last for years if the person is finding consistent value in the content. They often combine elements of informational products and courses, with coaching in a group setting, to provide a sweet spot of results and value.

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Pros:

While you may only be able to see 5-10 individual clients per week, a group program or membership can bring in 10’s or 100’s of clients each week. The amount of work you need to do will vary depending on your model, but your income will no longer be dependent on the time you put in.

Memberships and group programs can help your potential clients build trust in your services at a smaller price point. Before a client invests in a premium coaching service, they may be more willing to join a membership for $19.99 a month. This can be a great lead into a higher-priced option, and vice versa once a client finishes their 1-to-1 coaching.

Cons:

With less individualized support, the price point will have to make sense. Often groups or memberships bring in less money per person than 1:1 coaching. With the right marketing and an increase in subscribers, you could earn the same amount or more from memberships.

You’re a health pro, not a tech guru. Memberships and groups have to be housed somewhere, and that can come with a technology-induced headache. Making sure everything is running smoothly and that your clients are getting what they came for can add to the stress and workload. Thankfully, there’s an increasing number of options to make things simpler for you (like MealPro App).

How much can you make with a group program or membership?

While many variables come into play, the possibilities for income are truly endless.

For example, you sell a membership where clients receive a monthly learning module, weekly Q&A’s and a meal planning service for $19.99. Thirty people purchase your membership for a total income of $600 per month. Within a few months, you’ve doubled your users and now make $1,200 per month. A few months later it takes off and you have 120 members and are making $2,400 per month. You do a similar amount of work whether you have 5 members or 500 members, but your income continues to grow.

In practice, health pros are already taking advantage of this amazing income strategy. Beat PCOS has a 10-week course filled with modules, recipes, and meal plans that sells for $173.00.

5 Dollar Dinners sells their Meal Plan Membership for $5/month. Members get weekly meal plans, recipes, and a shopping list. Each week has something new to keep members interested and invested in the program.

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How to get started with a group or membership program

For a group or membership, you’ll have to find a set-up that allows your clients to access the content and to collect payment for you on a recurring basis. For robust courses or memberships where you have multiple deliverables, a platform such as Thinkific or Teachable can be a great place to start. These sites have their limitations but take care of the backend pieces for you. They make it easier to focus on the content and serving your clients.

If you want to add easy meal planning to your membership, MealPro App can be the perfect ally. With MealPro App, your clients can access your custom and interactive meal plans and shopping lists. You can offer meal planning as a stand-alone membership or easily add it to another platform to complement the rest of your program.

How will YOU turn your audience into income?

Out of these 7 ways to monetize your audience, which will you choose? From ads to digital goods and membership sites, there’s no limit to what you can do to offer increased value to your audience and earn a living.

If you’re interested in developing a group program or membership with recurring revenue then check out MealPro App to see how easy it is to offer customized meal plans to your audience, helping them reach their health goals and increase your income.