How to Make Money Blogging (And Love What You Do!)
By Chris Harper
You’ve subscribed to the blogs. You’ve read the success stories. It seems that everyone is starting a blog these days and so many of these bloggers are blogging for income and lots are successful.
Do you want to make an income from your blog? So many people make it look easy, but do you even know where to start? And how do you do it while also loving the work. After all, that’s why you want to get into this anyway–to enjoy what you are doing.
You’re not alone. While so many people have been jumping onto the blogging bandwagon over the past few years, actually knowing how to make money blogging is not as straightforward as you might hope. But luckily, we’ve prepared this guide for you to walk you through the steps you need to take and you’ll soon be blogging for cash.
Before we get into this, I want to mention something that I tell all aspiring bloggers that ask me how to make money from blogging.
It is so easy to get caught up with the idea of making money with a blog. When I was getting started, my mind kept jumping to things like:
How should I decorate my home office once I am able to quit my job and blog full time?
Where will I take my kids on vacation once we have all this extra cash?
What color yacht should I get?
Can you blame me? With seemingly so much money out there, it was easy for me to get caught up in the ideas of what could be.
But in the back of my head, I always knew the reality that there are very few overnight successes in the world, blogging included.
I’m not trying to be a party pooper here, but I think it is important to know that creating a successful blog that makes money takes time. This is important for two reasons:
- You must set realistic expectations so that you don’t get discouraged.
- Because of this, you need to pick a blog topic that you are passionate about so that you don’t get burnt out over time.
OK, public service announcements aside, let’s get to the meat of things.
This might be too rudimentary, but I think it is one of the most important parts of this whole thing. But, you can’t have a blog without a topic and you can’t make money blogging without a blog!
The topic or theme for your blog sets the tone for all of your posts. It can be broad or narrow (but not too broad or too narrow!).
And hopefully, it will be something of interest to you. You can research and plan and look for the most profitable niche out there with the greatest potential for income, but if you think it is boring, you won’t be as successful as you could be if you chose a topic you are interested in.
When you love the topic you are talking about, people will feel it in your words. They will more inclined to believe you are an expert in the field and will be more willing to trust you with your blog monetization strategy (we’ll get into that a bit later!).
Maybe you already have a great topic or maybe you are just thinking it through. Either way, here’s a list of things to consider when deciding on the topic for your blog.
- Does this topic interest me?
- Am I passionate about this?
- Do other people consider me an expert in this area?
- If I wrote about this every day, would it still be interesting to me?
- Can I think of 50 post ideas in 20 minutes or less?*
If you answered YES to all of those questions, you are heading in the right direction and are certainly going to love what you do! If you answered NO to any of the questions, you don’t have to start over, but at least take a moment to think things through and proceed with caution.
Once you have your topic, the next step is actually building your blog and starting to write. While you won’t start making money right away, it is a good idea to keep your monetization strategy in the back of your mind.
A lot of this will be driven by the types of posts and content that make the most sense for your blog topic.
For example, if you are a mom and plan to write about all of the great toddler toys that are out there, you probably are going to want your blog to have a good system in place to write reviews of products, to share photos, to maybe sell ads or even offer up an e-book. But you probably won’t need the ability to easily sell your consulting services since that’s not something as valuable to your blog’s niche.
So as you think through the setup of your blog, keep all of this in mind so you have an idea going forward and don’t have to adjust too much along the way.
This isn’t a tutorial about how to set up a blog. In fact, there are plenty of guides out there about how to start a blog, but I do want to touch on a few important points that help with how to make money blogging. (Also, be sure to check out our quick guide to starting a blog to make money.)
- “Free” or paid blogging services can make it really hard or even impossible to make money with your blog, so we want to steer clear of these.
- There are plenty of blogging platforms out there but WordPress seems to be the most versatile for what we’re trying to do here.
- And you will want to host your site on your own server, not the service that WordPress itself offers. Essentially, don’t go to wordpress.com to set up your blog. Rather, do it through your web host’s setup process, such as through Hostgator.
- There are about a bazillion WordPress themes out there, so don’t get caught up looking for the “perfect” one.
- Instead, pick a theme that is popular so that you know lots of people have found success with it and then stick with it.
- Again, think about what you want to accomplish with your blog and the types of posts you plan on writing. Make sure that your theme, at a basic level, will be able to support these.
- Just like it is easy to get bogged down with looking for a WordPress theme, you can later get too far into the weeds when working to customize your theme.
- You want your blog to be aesthetically pleasing, but don’t sweat over every little detail. After all, changing a header color from dark purple to darker purple probably isn’t going to change your blog income that much.
- Once your content is flowing and the site is up and running, you can always make the little tweaks later.
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is so important to a blog, especially when you are focused on blogging for an income. There’s enough content on the Internet about SEO to—well—fill the Internet. But at a minimum, you should do the following:
- Get a good WordPress SEO plugin like the one from Yoast.
- Using that plugin, make sure that every post and page on your site has optimized titles and descriptions, and there are no SEO red flags.
Aside from the potential for money, this is the part that probably gets you the most jazzed in this whole endeavor: writing. If you did a good job of picking your blog’s main topic, then the writing should come naturally to you and even be fun or therapeutic.
You will want to make sure that you are writing great posts that people want to read.
What is missing from the Internet when you do a Google search for your topic? Write about that and fill in those holes. See something else that someone has written but could be better. Be that person to make it better.
Are you reviewing a product? Write the best, most comprehensive, review there is.
Making a list of resources? Make it the longest list imaginable and leave no stone unturned as you populate that list.
Essentially, be a good Internet citizen, tidy up a bit, and leave the place better than you found it.
That’s probably a weird heading for a blog post about making money with your blog, but it is one of the biggest mistakes that people make. If all of your content is focused on getting keywords shoved into your posts and optimizing them for conversions, your writing will show it and you will come off as disingenuous.
Confusing, right? The point here is that, while you are planning to make money from writing on your blog, you don’t want to let on to your readers that monetization is your primary goal. Instead, if you primarily focus on that great content and then work to monetize it, you should be more successful in the end.
As you might imagine, there are loads of ways to make money with your blog. But among all of these, there are basically two ways to do it:
- you either promote or sell other people’s stuff
- or, you promote or sell your own stuff
Of course, these can be broken down a lot more (see below), but in essence, you are doing one of these when you set out to monetize a blog.
It’s also important to point out that for most of these methods, your blog is supporting your income. In all areas except direct advertising or sponsored posts, the blog is more or less what attracts people to you and then the selling comes secondary.
Furthermore, know that you don’t have to just pick one method. In fact, take a look at any popular blog out there–they probably use multiple income streams within the same blog to capitalize on things the best way possible. (But keep in mind that you want to do this within reason–you don’t want every square inch of your blog to be dripping with monetization offers and ads.)
You might want to check out this video from Shannyn at Frugal Beautiful ?where she quickly covers the big ways to make money as a blogger:
Running ads on a web page is about as old as the web itself. Remember those old popup ads and flashy banners? Yuck!
Luckily, today’s ads are typically better looking than they were several years ago. (Don’t believe me? Check out Million Dollar Homepage.) And they are optimized for the content of the site they appear on or, sometimes, for the end viewer looking at the ad. The whole idea is to make the ads relevant to people.
Advertising on your blog is probably the easiest and more straightforward way to generate income blogging. But can also be the way to make your pages messy and full of superfluous things that your reader just may not be interested in.
Google AdSense is an easy way to get started with this and is probably going to be the most familiar to you. But’s it’s probably also not going to be your best moneymaker. These ads are competitive and don’t typically pay that much in the long run, especially when you think about the fact that you are just starting out and simply aren’t going to have tens of thousands of visitors every month in the beginning.
Ad Networks To Consider:
You might also want to look into these ad directory networks:
- Only set up advertising if you plan on having a lot of visitors to your site. Otherwise, it might just not be worth the hassle and extra junk on your pages.
- Keep in mind that you typically have to apply with the ad networks, so you will want to have your site set up and operating well before applying.
- Be careful about putting too many ads on your blog posts. Check out the Google ad placement best practices for details.
While “ads are ads,” private ads are a bit of a step up from network ads because they are a bit more niche. The best part is that you don’t have to go through an ad network to sell the ad space. That could mean more money for you.
There are a couple of ways to make money with private ads:
- Sell the ads on a “per click” basis. This will involve making sure you have a WordPress plugin in place to keep track of things for you. You may then have to compare notes with the site you are linking to in order to make sure your numbers line up.
- Sell the ads on a timeframe basis. This is easier because you agree on a price to put an ad in a certain spot or spots on your site for a set period of time.
If you can swing it, I would recommend selling ads for a certain period of time. It is just easier to manage that way and less work for you in the end.
But to do this, you need to be sure that you have a good amount of traffic in place so that you can be a valuable ad placement for your ad client.
This method of ad sales is also more work than the automated stuff you get from Google. But of course more work typically means more money for you in the long run, so it is likely worth it.
The extra work comes in the form of networking. You are going to have to reach out to potential advertisers and sell your ad space to them. But, as you might imagine, it all comes back to content — if you have good content and are getting traffic to your site, your ad space is going to be appealing to someone.
- Consider offering your initial ad buyers a period of free or deeply discounted ad space to test the waters. This is especially helpful if you have a new site and don’t have good data from other ads to back up your claims. At the end of that period, check to see how many clicks went to that ad and then report that back to the business. This should entice them to actually pay to continue advertising with your site.
- Be careful about putting up all these blank “put your ad here” boxes all over your site. You don’t want to look desperate.
- Just keep the ads off at the beginning and then offer someone to be the first ever advertiser on your site — people eat that kind of stuff up!
Is there a company or individual who closely ties in with your blog’s main subject? What about a product that would be perfect for your key audience? Then perhaps a sponsored post, giveaway or paid review is the best way for you to make money with your blog.
A sponsored post is essentially just a blog post that someone pays you to write on your own blog. A lot of times they can be used by these companies as PR initiatives or ways to promote some work they are doing. Whichever the reason, they can be a great revenue stream because you can charge what you want (and feel is fair) while still pretty much writing about what you want (unless the sponsor has paid to give you direction).
Also note that blogs are the only place where this works. In traditional media, these are called “native advertising” and result in big bucks for well known websites like Huffington Post, The New York Times and even BuzzFeed. ?
Paid reviews come into play when a company wants to promote a product or service. They generally pay you to write an honest review of the product. Sometimes you can even keep the product.
Giveaways are great because they can really engage your audience while also making you money. Essentially, a company will give you one or more of their products to give away to your subscribers. You can do it through a blog post, social media campaign or to your email list. These are fantastic because they are a win for everyone:
- Your subscribers get the chance to get cool stuff.
- You engage your list and even get to build it a bit. Oh yea, and you get paid to do it.
- The advertiser gets their product promoted.
- You are going to want to have some regular traffic before trying to pull one of these off.
- But often the networking you did for your private ads will work here too — you can just reach back out to your existing advertisers to see if they might be interested in one of these enhanced promotions.
- You will be surprised at how easy it is to find products and services to review once you have built your audience.
- You should always disclose the fact you are being paid to do something on your blog. It is legally required and just a good idea so you are being totally upfront with people.
Affiliate marketing is just the online term for commission or “finder’s fee.” But it can be an oh-so-great way of generating income for your blog.
To do affiliate marketing, you can find products and services that closely align with your niche or that you feel would be of interest to your readers. Then, just write a review of that product and link to the affiliate’s website with your special tracking code. If the person buys you get a commission.
But you can also do it on the individual post level. Is there a particular product that closely pairs with that blog post you just wrote? Then drop an affiliate link on the post.
Probably the biggest affiliate program that bloggers use is through Amazon Affiliates. Since they sell everything “from A to Z,” it is typically really easy to find products that your readers would find interesting.
And the best part is that if someone clicks your link and then makes a purchase on Amazon — any purchase that is — you get a commission. So if you are reviewing a book, someone clicks the link and then makes a purchase on Amazon, you get the commission for the entire purchase. BUT, if they also buy a lawn mower, you get the commission for the lawn mower too.
Amazon isn’t the only player in the affiliate space. A ton of online stores have affiliate programs. As do online services. Try searching Google for your site’s topic along with the words affiliate program and you will be surprised at how many affiliate programs pop up.
You can even make up affiliate programs with individuals and small companies. You can work out a program so that if they get a new customer as the result of your blog, you get a commission from them. Just be sure to set it all up on the front side of things to avoid any confusion later.
- Do affiliate marketing on your blog.
- You can certainly combine it with any other money-making technique.
- It will be worth it.
While using your blog to promote other people’s products is great, what is even better is promoting your own stuff.
Of course, you just have to make something first. But it can be anything.
E-books are an easy way to get into the world of selling your own stuff. You can produce yours with a simple word processor and then sell it on your site using a tool like Gumroad. Typically, e-books are longer than the average blog post. But they work because if you have a loyal audience who wants to read more of what you are writing and you have something valuable to give them, you can put it all in an e-book to sell.
Consulting works as a service as well. This is the perfect tie-in to a blog because you have already done the legwork to set yourself up as an expert. People will read your blog and think, “boy, does this guy have things figured out!” And then they will want to pay you for your time to give them advice. Like many things on this list, consulting takes time to establish yourself, but once you do it can become a very lucrative business that is built up by your blog.
Membership Communities are sort of like a quasi-outsourced form of consulting. Basically, you can charge people to be in an exclusive community on your site. They then have a group of like-minded people — and you — to ask questions and bounce ideas off of. The great part is that, while you need to be present to make this valuable for people, many of the questions will be self-answered by the group. How’s that for a passive income?
- Use a tool like Beacon to take existing blog posts and reformat them into an e-book that you can sell. Sometimes all it takes for people is to repackage things in a different way!
- Consider multiple items in this category and how they can support each other. Maybe you offer your e-book for free, but it promotes your membership community. And then down the road your membership community is a way to upsell your consulting work.
- If you can, try to keep people on your site instead of sending them to Facebook or other group sites. The more time they spend on your site the more likely they are to buy (or click an ad or affiliate link).
This post has been all about making money with your blog. But, you can also get paid to blog for other people as well. We have a great guide that lays out 5 Ways to Get Paid to Blog. I think the most important part is the end of the title: And love what you do!
Blogging is different from other forms of written media. It is more personal and casual. And it can happen faster than, say, a book. It is more raw.
That’s why so many people turn to blogging. For most, it is a creative outlet, a way for them to record their thoughts and speak their mind.
In fact, I would venture to guess that most people who start blogging never plan or even try to make money with their blogs. They are simply doing it for other reasons.
The reasons these other folks blog should be similar to your reasons. That should be your first goal — to fulfill whatever you have in you that is compelling you to take up blogging.
But you have the upper hand on all of those other people. You are smarter. You know that you can create a blog, love it, and still make money with your blog.
Why not combine both? Hopefully this post has been a starting point for you to do just that.
The post How to Make Money Blogging (And Love What You Do!) appeared first on Blogtrepreneur – For Busy Entrepreneurs.