You just Googled “how to make money blogging”, and you’ve found yourself on the Authority Hacker site.
And you want to know something weird?
I can read your mind.
I know you’ve been scouring Google for info on ways to make money from a blog because:
- You hate your 9 – 5 job and want to quit
- You’re sick of being broke, so want a side hustle
- You’ve heard about famous bloggers worth millions
Long story short, you want to know if this stuff is even possible.
The good news is that you’ve come to the right place for a practical guide on how to make money blogging.
No theory, boasts or guesses (well, not many) – just actual steps you can follow.
You see, far too many people jump into the world of blogging after reading some over-hyped content that tells them they can earn thousands of dollars each month.
And they can do that with very little work.
Sounds too good to be true, right?
Those bloggers who seem to be an overnight success?
Yeah, they’ve worked their asses off for years to get to where they are right now.
Most of them had no idea how to make money blogging when they got started.
But we’ve put together a 6-step, blogging for beginners, blueprint you can use to skip to the top of the queue in terms of making your first few bucks online.
6 Key Steps For Building A Profitable Blog
- Choose something to blog about
- Choose a domain name
- Set up your blog
- Write some content
- Get traffic
- Monetize your content
How do bloggers make money With a blog?
Before we delve any deeper into this topic, I wanted to take a few minutes to cover exactly how people make money blogging.
You see, when non-internet marketing (normal) people first hear about bloggers making thousands of dollars every month, their first reaction is usually along the lines of:
“Really? Isn’t that some kind of scam?”
But the truth is that for every blogger that goes public with their income reports, there are 99 others who keep their income hidden.
In fact, a growing number of bloggers no longer publish monthly income reports.
I don’t blame them.
Anyhow, here’s a quick roundup of the monetization models used by the same bloggers who are making 4, 5 and 6-figures per month:
- Affiliate income – Money bloggers earn for referring sales to another company
- Advertising – Money bloggers get paid to show ads on their site or get clicks on these ads
- Products & Services – Money bloggers get for selling their own products and services
We’ll dig into these income models and how to make money blogging in more detail shortly.
But for now, here’s how that income breaks down for the top 1% of bloggers, as per our own research:
How To Make Money Blogging With Affiliate Marketing
This is one of the oldest income models out there and still one of the most profitable ways how to make money blogging.
Because there are almost no overheads, no customer service headaches, and no shipping costs.
Actually, before I forget, we’ve already put together in-depth guides on the Amazon and Clickbank affiliate programs.
You can check them out here:
Once approved, you then find products or services that seem like a good match for your blog’s audience and promote them via banner ads or text links.
If somebody clicks on your ad and then makes a purchase, you’re paid a commission.
30 – 90 days later you’ll receive a check or EFT (Electronic Fund Transfer) payment for all the money you’ve earned.
And all you did was put these affiliate offers in front of your existing audience.
That’s one of the best ways to get started if you want to learn how to make money blogging.
Here’s an example of a blogger making the most of affiliate marketing opportunities in their niche.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner runs the hugely successful Making Sense of Cents blog, something she started way back in 2011.
The concept was simple and relevant (especially back in 2011) – help people control their emotional spending habits and personal finance.
She never actually set out to make money blogging.
It just kinda happened for her.
Her timing was perfect though because most of the world was just starting to crawl out of a recession.
As of her last income report, Michelle now earns more than $125,000 every month, and the bulk of this (at least $50,000) is from affiliate marketing.
Most of her affiliate income is from three sources: Bluehost sign-ups, survey companies, and affiliate referrals for a number of info products.
How to Make money Blogging with Advertising
Once you’ve built up a substantial audience for your blog, you’ll probably be surprised at how quickly you’re approached by companies wanting to buy advertising or a sponsored post from you.
This normally doesn’t happen until you have at least 100,000 unique visitors coming to your blog each month, so don’t start planning your retirement just yet.
You’ll have two basic options when selling advertising space on your site:
- Selling display ads directly to companies
- “Renting” your site to companies like Mediavine
With display ads, there’s a certain amount of manual labor involved, including fun stuff like uploading the ads, calculating an RPM (Rate per 1,000 views) that won’t bankrupt you, and then invoicing the advertiser. Or worse again, chasing an advertiser to pay their invoice.
Using a vendor like Mediavine is far more straightforward.
What…no Google AdSense?
You only need to apply, and if approved just add a snippet of code or WordPress plugin to your blog.
They take care of everything else, and you go about your publishing schedule safe in the knowledge you’ll be paid.
The only tiny snag here is that your site needs to generate at least 25,000 sessions (visits) per month to be considered for the Mediavine program.
And no, they won’t take your word for it – you need to give them access to your Google Analytics.
If you want to learn how to make money blogging in the most passive way possible. Mediavine is probably your best bet.
Do we have an example of bloggers who generate the bulk of their income from advertising?
But of course!
This happily married couple have been making money from their travel blog thing for over a decade now, but only recently added Mediavine to their income stream.
Although most bloggers are now tight-lipped about their income, Deb and Dave earn somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000 per month just from advertising.
How to make money blogging with Products & Services
So, what if you don’t want to do affiliate marketing or sell/rent advertising space?
You sell physical or digital products and services instead.
What types of products and services could you possibly sell from a blog?
Everything and anything.
You could create and sell your own online courses on beekeeping, and combine that with eBooks on the same subject.
You could create a membership site for budding authors who want to learn how to write something good enough to make the NYT best-seller list.
Maybe you love pottery and you’re looking for a platform to sell your physical products from?
Or maybe you could sell your knowledge via a consulting service, where you bill more per hour than you could ever hope to in a 9 – 5 job?
See, the possibilities are pretty much endless.
But let’s take a look at a blogger already making bank using this approach.
Making money from a blog in the fitness niche might seem like the worst idea ever.
And it is unless you can differentiate yourself from the hordes of other fitness bloggers online.
Steve Kamb did just that by digging into the niche and finding an untapped audience – “…nerds, misfits, and mutants”.
Yup, he started teaching nerds how to get fit and lose weight using a mixture of info products and coaching through his Nerd Fitness blog.
How did it pan out for him?
As of last count, he’s earning at least US$1 million per year (gross) from his fitness products and coaching services.
So, as you can see, selling products and services is yet another way how to make money blogging.
Now that I’ve lit a bit of a fire under you (I hope…otherwise that burning smell is something else), it’s time to figure out exactly what you’re going to blog about.
1. Choose A Blog Niche/Topic
Some well-intentioned people will tell you to “…pursue your passion, and the money will follow” when it comes to building a blog.
I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but pursuing your passion is terrible advice in the vast majority of cases.
Allow me to explain why.
“If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset (“what can the world offer me?”) and instead adopt the craftsman mindset (“what can I offer the world?”).”
– Cal Newport.
Let’s say your passion is mouse furniture – you make tiny furniture for mice.
Now, while this might keep you occupied for hours on end, there’s probably a very limited market for making minute furnishings for mice.
But how can you be sure?
It’s always a good idea to validate your blog topic before you start a blog.
This saves you investing weeks or months of your time in creating content for an audience that doesn’t exist, killing all your hopes to learn how to make money blogging.
How do you go about validating your idea for a blog about mouse furniture?
The first place to start is with checking basic keyword volume, or how many times per month people are searching for keywords related to your idea.
Ubersuggest offers a quick and easy (and free) way to do this research.
20 searches per month…you’re going to struggle to make money here.
And by “struggle” I mean “Forget this one and start again”.
Let’s compare this to a keyword like “dog furniture”.
Ooooh, 4,400 searches per month – that’s a big difference!
You now know there are enough people searching for dog furniture to make it worth your while blogging about it.
But let’s make doubly sure this isn’t some weird glitch by asking Google how popular this topic has been over the last 5 years.
Say hello to my Google Trends:
(Bonus points if you heard that in Tony Montana’s voice.)
The blue line shows a consistent/upwards trend for dog furniture, and the red line is the flatline trend for mouse furniture.
So, Google confirms what you discovered in Ubersuggest.
And yes, you can also track trends with Ubersuggest, but you can only run a comparison from within Google Trends.
It’s always, always better to use data rather than guesswork when coming up with something to blog about.
And, as you might expect, we have reviews of both of these tools here, which you can (and should) check out:
Or, check out our comprehensive guide on which keyword tool would best suit your needs, and your budget – there are no punches pulled here.
Are there any other ways to test that your blog idea is watertight…or has as few leaks as possible?
Search for forums, social media pages, Facebook groups and..similar blogs.
Yes, you should check to see if anyone else has a blog on the same topic.
Because it’s instant proof that a market exists, especially if that blog has been around for several years.
You’re concerned you might look like a copycat?
Don’t be – everything is a remix.
Your blog – even on the same subject – will have its own angle, your unique writing style, etc.
2. Choose A Domain Name For Your Blog
Even if you plan on using free blog service like Blogger or WordPress as your publishing platform, it’s still important to consider a domain name.
Because the time will come when you’ll need one, especially if you’re using a free blogging platform.
You have four choices when creating a domain name for your blog:
- Crammed full of keywords
- Branded with keywords
If we take our earlier example of dog furniture you might be tempted to register a domain name like “JennysBestDogFurnitureBlog.com.”
Don’t do that.
Equally, “Jenny’s Blog” doesn’t give visitors any clue as to what the blog is about.
You could also go with option 3 and come up with something like “JennysDoghouse.com”
Or, you could be clever and do something like “HoundHouses.com” “or “FourLeggedFurniture.com”.
You’ve probably noticed that I’m using .coms here, and not .org, .net, .info or any of the other domain extensions.
The reason for this is that it’s now human nature to automatically type the .com version of any domain name.
If you can’t find the .com version of your domain name, then play around with .org, .net or .co.
Let’s run our idea through Instant Domain Search:
That ‘WHOIS’ indicates somebody has already beaten us to the .com, but the .net and.org are still available.
Instant Domain Search is really handy for checking the availability of a domain, but it also has a domain generator feature, which is the second column of results in the above example.
You’ll see lots of potential ideas there.
It also has a dedicated domain generator feature when you just type in your keywords and it spits out dozens of free domain ideas for you:
If you’re not certain that your domain name looks and sounds professional, imagine what it would look like on a business card.
Does it look childish and amateurish, or do you think “Hmmm….I’d check that out”?
Always consider how you’re branding yourself, even if you’re just starting out.
If you find yourself struggling to find a domain name you like, here’s some advice on coming up with a blog name.
DO NOT rush out to register a domain name straight away, or at least not until you’ve finished reading the next section on how to set up your blog.
3. How To Set Up Your Blog
What makes them so attractive to a new blogger is that they’re not only free, but you need zero technical knowledge to get them up and running.
You just sign up, complete a few fields, choose a template and your blog is live.
At first glance, a free blog platform would seem to make more sense. And if you’re starting off with absolutely no budget, they very much do.
But there are downsides to using free blogs:
- You have no control or ownership over your blog – it could be deleted without warning, and forever. This happens way more often than people think.
- The range of templates and actual features is usually pretty limited. You can pay for upgrades, but they usually cost as much as owning a self-hosted blog.
- Getting a free blog to rank in the search engines is an uphill struggle. This is thanks to idiots spamming free web blogs almost non-stop for the last 15 years.
If you want a really good explanation as to why using free platforms can be a terrible idea, check out this article on the now-defunct blogging platform, Squidoo.
Thousands of bloggers saw their income dry up overnight when this platform closed its doors with little or no warning.
So seriously, from you to me, if you are serious about learning how to make money blogging, skip this option.
Starting this type of blog means you’ll first need to come up with a domain name, which we’ve already covered.
Once you’ve done that you need to find a reliable web host, and then install and configure your WordPress site.
Sounds very confusing, doesn’t it?
After all, there are dozens of domain registrars and web hosts, so which ones are best for new bloggers like you?
Take a deep breath.
We know this is a point where many prospective bloggers quit because even starting a blog seems too complicated.
It’s honestly not.
And to prove that point we put together a quick tutorial video to show you how to:
- Register a domain
- Set up your WordPress hosting
- Install WordPress plugins
- Launch your WordPress blog
So, as you can see, it takes less than 20 minutes to actually start a blog.
And SiteGround makes the process really easy for newbies.
And the total cost of doing the above?
What’s that you say, you can’t afford $40 to start your blog?
How many venti cappuccinos do you drink each week?
Or how much money do you spend on pizza and sodas?
Even the most cash-starved person can find $40 by making some entirely healthy lifestyle changes i.e. not eating burgers and fries several times a week.
Self-hosted blogs are so affordable it’s silly to use a free blog unless you have absolutely no other choice.
And I mean cornered-by-zombies-trying-to-eat-your-face lack of choice.
4. Create Great Content
Now, this is where the rubber meets the road – writing blog posts that help build your audience.
Far too many newbie bloggers sprint away from the starting line, writing for all they’re worth.
They’re pumped. They’re motivated. They’re productive.
They churn out blog post after blog post, pouring all their passion into their writing.
This goes on for weeks and weeks, as they wait for their audience to magically appear.
But there’s nothing.
This is the point where most bloggers quit.
They announce to everyone that trying to make money blogging is a waste of time, and slink back to their still-hated day job.
Hundreds of new bloggers experience this during their first 90 days online.
You might even be one of the people this has happened to.
The Internet is overflowing with blogs that started out posting once a day, then once a week, then once a month…and then silence.
Yet another dead blog.
What these bloggers missed is the research phase of writing their blog posts.
Publishing great content on a regular basis is important, but if your posts lack focus or structure, then you’re wasting your time.
So, how do you go about adding focus and structure?
- Keyword research
- Competitor analysis
- Attention-grabbing headlines
- Content formatting
The good news is that you’re already familiar with the basics of keyword research because you used it to check if there was an audience for your blog.
The good news is that you’ll only need to use Google for this part.
Let’s take the random keyword of “dog beds” and enter that into Google, and scroll down until you find the “People also ask” section.
What you’re seeing here are real questions people have typed into Google.
If you open and then close several of these results you’ll get an even longer list:
For the purposes of our test research, we’ll settle on the keyword “get rid of dog smell”.
Shouldn’t we check how competitive this keyword is?
We ran this keyword through KWFinder, just to put your mind at ease:
A keyword difficulty score of 28 is ranked as ‘Still Easy’, and this keyword also has consistent search trends.
That means year-round traffic, so this looks promising so far.
391 searches per month might not seem like a big deal.
But that number is based on you only ranking for the exact phrase, and not the dozens of related phrases you’ll also rank for.
391 searches per month are actually more like 3,900 searches per month.
Keyword search volumes are not absolutes…because only a Sith believes in absolutes.
That’s my movie reference done for this blog post.
Now let’s take our basic keyword and run it through Google, and we see these title tags/headlines in the top 10 positions:
- How to Get Rid of Dog Smell Without Removing the Dog
- 10 Ways to Get Rid of Dog Smell
- 12 Hacks To Get Rid of the Dog Smell In Your House!
- How to Remove Dog Smells From Your Home: A Pet Lover’s Guide …
- How To Get Rid Of Dog Smell | Products & Steps For Your House
- How to Get Your House to Not Smell Like Your Pets (with Pictures)
- How to Get Rid of Dog Smell in Your House
- Ultimate Guide on How to Get Rid of Dog Smell in House
- How to Remove Pet Odors in Your Home
You might have noticed that:
- Numeric values appear in the first three results – numbered lists are popular
- They all focus on getting rid of dog smells from a house or home
- “How to” is the question format for 60% of the titles on page one of Google
Keep these titles in mind as we move onto the next section – writing your headline.
A famous marketer once said:
When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.
That hasn’t changed.
These days your headline isn’t just important as a means of grabbing attention.
It also needs to incorporate elements of search engine optimization for things to really work in your favor.
Basically, you need to include your keyword(s) in your headline.
Based on your earlier research we have two options – either mimic the existing headlines or come up with something new.
My choice here would be to include the best of both worlds, like so:
How To Get Rid of Dog Smells: 10 Simple Homeowner Hacks
So, does our headline compare to the other blogs?
- Our exact keyword is included
- The correct question (How To) format is used
- We included a numeric value (10)
- Using the word “Simple” implies anyone can do it
This is the easy part of explaining how to write a blog post.
You just need to structure your page like a roller coaster.
What in the name of Hades does that mean, I hear you ask?
What most bloggers do is write as if they were still in high school or college i.e. several long paragraphs, all composed of large blocks of text.
Presenting “walls of text” to your visitors is the quickest way to have them mentally switch off.
Instead, you should allow your content to “breathe”.
Now, let’s pause for a few seconds while I ask you to do something odd…
Tilt your head to the right and draw a mental line along the right-hand margin of the above text that starts with the word “Why” and ends with the word “breathe”.
Looks like a rollercoaster, doesn’t it?
That’s roller coaster content formatting in a nutshell.
You can write a long paragraph of text, but only as long as you follow it with a short line of text afterward.
Like the last few lines you read.
The reason why you should write like this is that it makes it easier for people to read. This approach is based on something called the Flesch-Kincaid readability score.
What you might not realize is that most adults can only read at a high school level.
They also have a very short attention span.
So, you need to write specifically for that audience.
The Hemingway Editor allows you to test how readable your content is, providing you with an overall score.
Please don’t try to achieve a perfect score with this tool – it’s possible, but your writing will lack any personality if you do.
Use Mixed Media
Another way to make your content far more readable is to make it a rich experience for your readers.
Basically, you should include images, charts, graphs, pictures and embedded videos and podcasts where it makes sense to do that in your blog posts.
How many images should you use?
One for each major subheading, if possible.
How many videos?
Two is more than enough for a single blog post.
These extra media elements break up your text, making it easier to read.
And the easier your content is to read the more likely readers are to actually finish it and maybe even share it with their friends.
The focus of everything you publish on your blog should have your readers in mind but also what search engines want.
Keyword research shows you the topics your potential audience are interested in reading about.
There’s zero guesswork involved there.
But some people only use their blog as a way of showing off their vocabulary.
Meanwhile, bloggers who “get it” pay attention to not only their keyword research…but also to what Google is doing.
You see, the easiest way to figure out what the focus of any blog post should be is to look at what’s already ranking in Google.
Check out the blogs that already rank on page one for the keyword you want to target and analyze each one in detail:
- Analyze the keywords used in their headline
- Make note of keywords used in their subheadings
- What’s the word count for the post?
- How many images do they use?
- What sites do they link out to?
- Do they have videos embedded in their post?
Google gives you a blueprint for how to rank on page one – the sites they already have in the top ten positions.
These are the sites that the algorithm has decided as the best possible match for that keyword.
This also means the content on these blogs is exactly what Google wants to show visitors.
All of the information you need is right there – you just need to pay attention.
But you’ll see new bloggers trying to use this template or that style of content, or some weird viral tactic they heard about in a forum.
But they rarely bother looking at the blogs that are already ranking for the keyword they’re chasing, and asking themselves one question:
“How can I do a better job than any of these other sites?”
Mastering this skill will set you apart from 90% of other bloggers.
We’re done here – let’s move on.
5. Get Traffic
Some people would have you believe that all you need to do is write mind-blowingly engaging content, and people will “naturally” find you.
Or that search engines will fall in love with you because your content is SO good.
That’s a steaming pile of horse shit.
And I say that based on experience.
That one piece of advice torpedoes the careers of far too many bloggers, so I’d like to stamp it out right here and now.
Writing content alone won’t generate traffic to your blog.
Not now. Not ever.
The good news is that there’s a bazillion ways to build an audience for your blog, but you might have to use a little bit of lateral thinking.
Search Engine Optimisation
If you’re a regular visitor to Authority Hacker then you’re probably already familiar with the basics of search engine optimization.
If not here’s a beginners guide from the lovely people at Ahrefs.
Truth be told, if you can get your head around the keyword and competitor research sections featured earlier, then you’ll already know most of what you need for good on-page SEO.
But good search engine optimization has another key component – backlinks, or what posh people call off-page SEO.
We cover that over the next few sections.
No, no I don’t mean go and pay some outsourcer to spam people’s blogs.
What I’m suggesting is that you find blogs that are in some way related to your own and leave a helpful or engaging comment on their most recent blog post(s).
But not this:
Please only comment on blogs that are related to your topic, but never your direct competitors.
Your dog blog might leave a comment on a popular post from an animal welfare charity, for example.
You will get a link back to your site by leaving a blog comment (in most cases), but the real value in doing this is in:
- Incidental traffic from people who get to “know you”
- Building a relationship with the blog owner
You can hack your blog commenting by using a site called Feedly.
Basically, make a list of the 10 – 20 most popular blogs in your niche, and add them to Feedly.
You can do this by searching for the name of the blog within Feedly, or manually adding its RSS feed.
Now comes the cool bit – when you get a notification that one of these blogs has published a new post, get over there and be the first to comment.
Being the first commenter not only raises your profile with that audience, but there’s a very good chance you’ll get some free traffic to your blog as a result.
You can use the free Chrome extension Feedly Notifier to have alerts appear within your browser, so you’ll never miss an opportunity.
You’ve become a regular (and hopefully popular) commenter on several popular blogs related to your niche.
Now is the perfect time to approach the owner of the blog with the idea of writing a guest blog post for them.
You know their audience, their audience knows you, so all the planets should now be in alignment.
Basically, you come up with a handful of content ideas you think would be a good fit for their blog. Then drop the owner an email asking them if they’d be interested in publishing any of them.
Your guest blog post will contain at least one link back to your site.
Plus, it might also draw some curious readers over to your blog.
This is a hugely simplified version of the guest posting process, but it gives you enough info to get started.
Guest posting is one of the key link building strategies within The Authority Site System 2.0, by the way.
Answer People’s Questions
Once you’ve reached a stage where you’re comfortable with your blog topic, then it’s time to consider sharing your knowledge and expertise directly with others via sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers.
The model here is a simple one: People post questions, and “experts” answer them.
A worrying number of the “experts” on these sites plagiarize other people’s content and pass it off as their own.
Actually, that’s being far too kind – they steal content from other sites.
This presents smart bloggers like you with the unique opportunity of posting original, helpful answers and getting “upvoted” for doing that.
Fifteen minutes each day answering a handful of questions is enough to:
- Make a name for yourself as a “go to” blogger in your niche or market
- Get Quora users visiting your blog to see what other topics you cover
Okay, not everyone wants to sit in front of a camera and talk – I totally get that.
But having your own YouTube channel doesn’t always require “talking head” videos.
I’ve witnessed dozens of YouTube channels growing from zero to 250,000+ subscribers in less than 12 months.
And without the content creator once showing their face.
Most of the time they’re just discussing whatever their blog is about against the backdrop of whatever news article or forum thread they’re commenting on.
Posting engaging/useful/funny content on YouTube can help you build a substantial audience.
And all without having to do any other form of marketing.
There are arguments for and against using social media to help build your blog’s audience.
If you’re a photography blogger, then platforms like Pinterest and Instagram make perfect sense.
But even if you’re not a photography blogger, using an image based platform like Pinterest can still make sense.
Okay, you might not have cool photos to share with the world, but why not create a mini infographic to share on these platforms?
Use social networks where it makes sense for you to do that, but don’t feel compelled to be on all of them, all the time.
You’ll drive yourself nuts if you do.
The days of cashing in from free Facebook traffic to business pages are over.
But Facebook groups are still going strong.
Because humans are tribal creatures.
We love to belong – it’s hardwired into us.
So, how can you use Facebook groups to drive traffic to your blog?
1. Join other groups
What I’d suggest is to join 10 – 20 Facebook groups, but:
- Only those related to your blog topic
- Only those with active members, and lots of them
Look at the different Elementor groups on Facebook, for example.
Thousands of members and multiple posts per day – these are the types of groups you’re looking for.
Then focus on adding value to each group by answering questions, offering advice, etc.
DO NOT join the group and instantly start spamming it with links to your content – that’s the fastest way to find yourself at the business end of a ban hammer.
Watch out for any “promo days” where you can post links to your own blog content – that’s one way to get traffic to your blog.
While you’re being Captain Helpful you should also pay attention to the types of content that get traction in the group.
Are they long-form posts, or images, or maybe just people asking questions?
Make note of any trends you notice.
Once you become a trusted member of the group you’ll find that most admins will be way more lenient with you linking out to your own posts.
Now for the next step.
2. Start your own group
There’s absolutely nothing stopping you from starting your own Facebook group straight off the bat.
But you should participate in other groups at the same time you’re doing this because:
- It’s the easiest way to learn what works, and what doesn’t
- People love joining related Facebook groups, especially ones run by people they know
Your long-term strategy should always be to run your own Facebook group but to leverage the audience of other groups to ramp up your audience more quickly.
Finally – and please don’t forget this – stay active in your own group(s).
Be as helpful as you were in other groups. Offer advice and tips. Share links.
But if you only ever shill your own content/products/services then people won’t be shy about leaving your group, and lots of them.
6. Monetize Your Content
“Monetization” is Internet marketer jargon for “how you make money from your blog”.
You might be wondering why I left monetization till last?
After all, wouldn’t it make more sense to start making money right after you publish your first blog posts?
You can do that, but without an audience, you’re going to struggle to make any real cash.
But, let’s assume you’ve already written some great content, and spent some time building your audience.
Now it’s time to monetize your blog.
We’ve already briefly covered the different types of income streams your blog can have.
What’s important to understand is that monetizing your content isn’t just a matter of splattering it with ads.
Here are my 5 rules of monetization to keep you on the straight and narrow.
Rule #1 – Use banner ads sparingly
Newbie bloggers have a terrible habit of plastering banner ads all over their site.
And they’re usually banners advertising everything from web hosting to “adult products”, or anything that looks like it might earn them their first buck.
Note: LingsCars.com is actually a very successful business – this hot mess actually drives viral traffic to her site.
But her site is the exception, not the rule.
Any new affiliate taking the same approach would be lucky to make a single cent.
Banner ads do have their place in the world of blogging, it’s just that new bloggers always overdo it.
Not only does a page full of banner ads look gaudy AF, but you’re also wasting your time if your visitors use ad blockers.
And as of 2017, 47% of US respondents to a survey admitted to using two ad blockers across all their devices.
But if you can’t use those lovely animated banner ads…what on Earth can you use?
Rule #2 Do use contextual links
What’s a contextual link?
It’s when you casually link to something within your blog post, like mentioning that Ahrefs is awesome and that I use it for my own keyword research.
That didn’t feel like a promotion for Ahrefs, did it?
Even though it totally was.
You can do the exact same thing for any product you’re promoting via an affiliate program.
Why use contextual links instead of a banner, a graphic or something else?
Opinions might differ, but numbers don’t lie.
Unless you’re dealing with somebody who tries to convince you that 2+2=5.
Back away from them slowly.
Anyways, banner ads account for 22% of overall sales, but contextual links account for 51% of overall sales.
That’s not just a marginal difference, it’s a ginormous one!
And the added benefit is that these types of links are completely safe from ad blockers.
Why do people click links more often than banners?
It’s human nature to click on a blue link on a page, even if it’s just because you’re curious.
Rule #3 Choose bigger commissions
Generally speaking, it takes roughly the same amount of time and effort to promote a product that pays a $50 commission as one that pays $5.
But most new bloggers tend to gravitate towards products that pay lower commissions.
Well, because they assume their visitors might be more inclined to buy them because they’re cheaper.
What they’re missing is that the price of the product or service you’re promoting isn’t important – it’s how you position it.
Let’s say you’re promoting a web hosting service that pays a $50 commission on each sale.
An inexperienced blogger will just paste affiliate banners or affiliate links all over their site and hope that somebody clicks on them.
A more clued-up blogger would review the web hosting service by actually signing up for an account.
Not only that, but they’d point out both the good and bad aspects of the service.
But doesn’t including “negatives” make people less likely to buy whatever you’re selling?
Nope, because by doing that you build trust with your audience.
And once you’re in a position of trust, people are far more likely to use your affiliate link.
One final tip: Choose products with recurring commissions if possible. Making money this way is ideal because you only have to “sell” once, but you get paid commission for months or years afterward.
Rule #4 Test multiple offers
Let’s assume you have a healthy level of traffic to your site – a few thousand visitors per month who engage with you by leaving comments and maybe even emailing you.
But you’re not making any money, and you can’t understand why.
You ran some banner ads and made exactly zero sales.
Fine, test contextual links instead.
The contextual links aren’t converting visitors into sales either?
Cool, that particular product or service obviously doesn’t appeal to your audience. In fact, they appear to hate it.
Maybe AdSense ads are a better option for your site, and maybe it’s not.
Maybe your audience would react better to digital products, or maybe they won’t.
But you’ll never know until you keep testing until you find something that does convert.
Rule #5 Be patient
It takes time to earn money from a blog, usually several months.
Sure, there are exceptions.
But for every “instant” success story you read, there are thousands of other bloggers who won’t earn job replacement income for at least 12 months, if not 24.
Yes, success can happen overnight, but in the meantime…be patient.
How much money can you make blogging?
What’s interesting about the blogging world is that the Pareto Principle comes into play here too.
Or, in other words, 20% of the bloggers make 80% of the money.
So even if you learn how to make money blogging, expect some stiff competition at the top.
Something else that’s interesting is that how bloggers view “success” is entirely subjective.
If you take somebody like celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, his site reportedly earns him about $575,000 per month.
He makes money blogging about celebrity gossip – just in case you’re not familiar with him.
Nope, that’s not a typo – over half a million dollars per month for blogging about celeb rumors.
That’s life-changing, build-your-own-supervillain-lair, money every single month.
Or, what about Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman, who earn $125,000 per month from their homemade crafts blog A Beautiful Mess?
In a sea of IM blogs, they make money blogging about handcrafts and DIY stuff.
That’s $1.5 million dollars per year…from a single blog.
They represent a huge level of success in the world of blogging.
In fact, it’s so huge it might tempt you to quit while you’re ahead…because avoiding failure is easier than failing, right?
But you should look at the other bloggers who earn anywhere from $2k to $10k per month.
How would you feel right now if you had a blog that made you an extra $2,000 per month?
You would most likely view that as a massive success, and you’d be right.
So, what I’m trying to say here is:
- Spend less time focusing on how much money you can make from blogging,
- Spend more time focusing on what your “freedom” number is
That number is how much you need to earn each month to comfortably quit your job.
And then go live your life as you see fit.
That Sounds Great…But What About Expenses?
The good news is that running a blog – even a large one – can cost almost nothing.
You’re basically paying for hosting costs, domain renewal, content, and one or two tools.
If you’re writing all the content yourself at first, then you’re not even paying for that.
But let’s take a look at some typical annual expenses:
- Domain name: $12
- Website hosting: $100
- Keyword tool: $358 (KW Finder)
- Email marketing tool: $120
That gives you a grand total of $590 per year to run a barebones blog.
As your blog becomes more successful you’ll be able to outsource some of the work you don’t enjoy, to focus on what you do enjoy.
How many other businesses could you start for less than six hundred bucks a year?
5 Lessons From Massively Successful Bloggers
This information is a mash-up of tips and advice from some of the biggest names in the blogosphere.
1. Brand yourself
Become the face of your blog, literally.
This might feel weird at first, but visitors will identify more with your blog if you put a human face to it.
Would you prefer to buy from a complete stranger or somebody you “know”?
2. Be Consistent
Oh God, does this mean you have to blog every single day?
But you do need to choose a publishing schedule and stick to it like Gorilla Glue.
This applies to writing blog posts, recording your podcast, making YouTube videos, etc.
Even if you can only manage to publish once per month, stick to that schedule as if your life depends on it.
3. Have multiple income streams
Never, ever, ever, put all your income eggs in one basket.
Making any money at all from blogging is always mind-blowing when you first start out.
My first ever check was for $67 – I still have a photo of it here somewhere.
But don’t get complacent.
Once you have a stable full-time income from one source, then starting investigating others. If you’re making money as an Amazon affiliate, start looking at selling ad space on your site, for example.
Or think about what type of digital product, premium content or course you could launch.
4. Target one niche. Dominate it
Don’t try to be all things to all people, because you can’t.
You’ll make far more money running a blog about helping students deal with their debt problems than a general blog about finance issues.
Specialists always outearn generalists in pretty much every aspect of life.
5. Invest in yourself
The biggest mistake you’ll see new bloggers make is that they forget to invest money back into their small business.
This is usually because they’re afraid their blog won’t last, so they pocket as much cash as they can.
But if you don’t reinvest in your blog (content, paid ads, or whatever) then your blogging business can’t grow.
How much reinvestment is enough?
30% is what the really successful bloggers reinvest in their business, but even 10% is a hell of a lot better than nothing.
But…I Don’t Have The Time
Sure you do.
The average person spends 2.14 hours per week brainwashing themselves via social media.
They then spend at least another 4 hours watching TV/Netflix/Amazon Prime.
Trivia: I once worked with a guy who played World of Warcraft for 6 – 8 hours after work each day…but didn’t have free time to learn how to make money blogging.
You need to decide what is more important to you – idle entertainment or building a better future for you and your loved ones.
And you can create the time to work on your blog by simply reducing (not eliminating) the amount of time you spend binging Netflix shows, etc.
All you need is 30 minutes per day, every day.
If only publish one blog post per week, in a year’s time you’ll have 52 pages of content. In two years 104 pages, etc.
There you have it, your complete blueprint on how to make money blogging.
Two years from now you could be making money from a profitable blog.
Or you can stick to binging on Netflix and social media, and wish you tried harder two years ago instead.
As the saying goes, the best time to start a blog was last year, but the next best time is right now.