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Blogging is one of the most effective ways to make money online, but many people feel overwhelmed or intimidated at the thought of trying to build a successful blog. It’s easy to look at the high-profile blogs that get floods of traffic and feel like it’s not a realistic option for yourself.
However, you don’t need to have a popular blog that attracts thousands of visitors (or more) every day in order to make money blogging. In this article, we’ll look at how to make money with a small blog. Hopefully, the idea of becoming a successful blogger will seem much more realistic and attainable after reading this.
Before we move into the key points of the article, I want to share a few details about my own background. I started my first blog in 2007 as a side hustle. In late 2018, after about 18 months of consistent work on the blog, I left my job to focus on my blog full-time. Since then, I’ve had blogs in several different niches. Most of my blogs have not attracted huge amounts of traffic, but I’ve earned a pretty good living for more than a decade.
I talk to a lot of people who would love to have the flexibility to work from home and be self-employed. Most of them think blogging for income is unrealistic, and I’d like to show you why that’s not true.
Related reading: How to Make Money Blogging for Beginners
What is Considered a Small Blog?
First of all, when we talk about “small” blogs, it’s important to clarify what that really means. Typically, when someone refers to a blog as being small, that means the blog has a small audience or does not attract a lot of visitors. It’s not necessarily a comment related to the amount of content that’s been published on the site.
The exact amount of traffic that would fit the definition of “small” is a matter of personal opinion. If you ask five different bloggers, you’ll probably get five different answers. For the purposes of this article, I would consider anything less than 25,000 visitors per month to be a small blog. That may sound like a lot of traffic if you’re just getting started, but keep in mind this is the high end of the range. The information covered in this article is also applicable if your blog is getting 5,000 visitors per month.
How Much Traffic Does a Blog Need to Make Money?
When we’re talking about making money with a blog, or any other type of online business, it’s very important to consider your perspective. Everyone has different goals and expectations. You may be interested in starting a blog so you can make $500 per month to cover some bills. Or maybe you want to turn your blog into a full-time business and you’re looking to make at least $10,000 per month.
Perspective is important because it impacts everything. Having a blog that makes $2,000 per month might be a huge disappointment if your goal was to make $10,000. But the same blog would be an overwhelming success if your goal was to make $500.
So when we talk about how much traffic you need to make money blogging, it’s important to determine just how much money we’re talking about. I’ve had some blogs that made $100 – $500 per month and I considered them successful because they required almost no work and I had low expectations for them. I’ve had other blogs that made $5,000 – $10,000 per month and were disappointing because I was hoping for something better. It’s all a matter of perspective.
The amount of money generated will vary drastically from one blog to the next, and also from one niche to another. But as a general rule of thumb, if your goal is to make $1,000 per month, I’d suggest that you should be aiming to attract at least 10,000 monthly visitors.
Of course, it’s possible to make much more than $1,000 from 10,000 visitors, and plenty of bloggers are doing it. But that should provide a starting point and some frame of reference that will come in handy.
The Truth About Building a Blog
A lot of the information you read online or videos that you see on YouTube make it seem like it’s easy to make money blogging. While I think blogging is an excellent option for someone who wants to start an online business, it’s definitely not easy.
The truth is that it takes time and patience to build a successful blog from scratch. Yes, there are some bloggers who have had success almost immediately, but they’re a very small minority. Most successful bloggers put in six months, a year, or even a few years of work before they had much success. If you’re looking to make money quickly, blogging is definitely not your best option.
But if you’d like to build a highly profitable online business that gives you the possibility for exponential growth over the next several years, and you’re willing to wait 6 to 12 months before you start making money, blogging could be a good fit.
How to Make Money with a Small Blog
Now, let’s look at some of the keys to making money without having a lot of traffic coming to your blog.
1. Keep Your Content Focused
Most low-traffic blogs that make money are highly-focused on a particular topic. You shouldn’t expect to make money with a personal blog that covers anything and everything that interests you, with no particular focus.
Keeping your content tightly focused will help with the types of monetization methods that work well for small blogs (more on that in the next point). You should be able to define your target audience and what they’re interested in.
2. Choose the Right Monetization Methods
There are many ways to make money blogging, but the most common options include:
- Display ads (banner ads and video ads)
- Affiliate marketing
- Creating and selling your own products (usually downloadable products)
- Publishing sponsored content
- Offering a service
Display ads and sponsored content tend to work better with high-traffic sites. You can definitely make some money with ads if you have less than 25,000 visitors per month, but it’s unlikely to be a substantial amount. The best ad networks require you to have higher traffic, and you might be limited to Google AdSense and other advertising options that don’t pay very much.
It’s not essential to have a huge audience to make money with a sponsored post, but the smaller your audience is, the more time and effort you’ll need to dedicate to landing those deals. In many cases, you’d be better off using that time to work on growing your blog’s traffic.
With that in mind, the three monetization methods I suggest focussing on if your blog has low traffic are affiliate marketing, selling your own digital product, and offering services (freelance writing is a popular option).
If you’re not familiar with affiliate marketing, it involves promoting someone else’s product. You’ll earn a commission when a purchase is made by someone you referred through an affiliate link. But not every affiliate program requires a sale. Some programs may pay you for generating leads, applications, or downloads that don’t require a purchase.
With a small blog, it’s also important to focus on the right types of affiliate programs. Specifically, it helps to promote products or services that generate a significant payout for each conversion.
For example, Amazon’s affiliate program is extremely popular, but the commission rates are very low. If you’re promoting a $25 product and you earn 3% for each sale, you’ll only make $0.75 from each conversion. You’ll need a lot of blog traffic to make a significant amount of money this way.
On the other hand, you might be able to earn a $100 commission per referral by promoting another product. Digital products like online courses, membership sites, and software, tend to offer much higher commissions for affiliates. By promoting these types of products, you may be able to make much more money even with relatively low traffic.
You can also earn a high amount per conversion by creating your own products or by offering a service related to the topic of your blog.
The most profitable approach will usually involve a few different monetization methods. For example, you could create your own products and also promote other non-competing products as an affiliate.
3. Work to Improve Conversion Rates
Whether you’re monetizing your blog with affiliate marketing, your own products, or services, the conversion rate will have a direct impact on the amount of money you make. Increasing your conversion rate means that you’ll be able to generate more sales or attract more clients with the same amount of traffic. In many cases, improving conversions may be easier than attracting more visitors.
One of the keys to improving conversions with a blog is to create content with a purpose. Don’t write and publish blog content just for the sake of having something new. If you want to make conversions, you need to create content that will encourage and inspire readers to take the action you want.
If you’re promoting a product as an affiliate, write content that allows you to get that product in front of your readers. Write a review of the product, an article that compares it to a leading competitor, a tutorial that shows how to use the product, or anything else that helps to show readers why they should buy the affiliate product.
The same thing is true if you’re creating and selling your own products. Write content that allows you to naturally mention and promote the product to show readers what it can do for them.
If you’re offering a service, write articles that demonstrate your expertise and clearly offer your service to readers.
Whichever monetization method you choose, use your blog content to promote honestly and assertively. You can also use a tool like KWFinder to do keyword research and find topics that people are searching for in relation to the products or services you’re promoting.
And once you’ve had some level of success, go with what’s working for you. If you’re making money with a particular affiliate program, brainstorm lots of content ideas related to that product to promote it more aggressively. If you notice a particular type of article is working well, create more content with the same approach.
4. Build an Email List
An email list is extremely valuable for any blogger, and that’s especially true for low-traffic blogs. If you’re not getting a lot of visitors from search engines or social networks, email marketing may be one of the best ways to get your content in front of the right people.
Visitors who subscribe to your email list are far more likely to come back to your blog in the future than visitors who don’t subscribe. You can use your email list to get more views for a new blog post or to promote a product or service (either your own or one you promote as an affiliate).
I use and recommend ConvertKit. They offer a free plan for small lists with up to 300 visitors, so there’s no cost if you’re just getting started.
5. Focus on Networking
Almost every successful blogger is well-connected with others in their niche. If you want to have success with your own blog, you should be working on making more connections and strengthening the connections you already have.
Of course, it’s a good idea to network with other bloggers. But it’s also helpful to get to know others in your niche, like business owners, service providers, affiliate program managers, online course creators, etc.
You can benefit in countless ways by having a strong network. This could include guest post opportunities, social media shares, links to your blog, mentions in the press or media, affiliate opportunities, general advice, and more.
Networking can be intimidating at first, but it’s not that difficult. Find places where people in your blog niche hang out (forums, subreddits, Facebook Groups, LinkedIn, other social media platforms, etc.) and get involved. You can also reach out directly by email or through a website contact form.
6. Embrace What Makes You Unique
Most of the small blogs that are highly profitable have done a great job of connecting with their audience. If your readers truly like and trust you, they’ll be far more likely to buy a product based on your recommendation or to hire you for a service you’re offering.
One of the advantages you have as a small blogger is that you can connect with readers on a personal level. The most popular, high-traffic blogs can’t do that. You might be able to interact with your readers through blog comments, social media, or email. You can also show your own personality with a small blog.
Take some time to think about what makes you and your blog unique. How can you stand out from other blogs in your niche? You don’t necessarily need to become a high-traffic blogger to make a great income if you embrace what makes you unique and brand yourself in a way that readers connect with.
7. Improve Your Existing Content
If you’ve been blogging for a while, you probably have some content that’s already getting visitors each day. Rather than spending all your time creating new blog posts, dedicate some time and effort to get more out of the content that’s already getting traffic.
This approach works really well if you have a post or a few posts that stand out as top content on your site. Go back through that content and look for ways you can monetize it better. Find relevant affiliate products you can promote within the post. You might even be able to create a digital product like a course or ebook based on the interest in your popular content. Or maybe there is a service you can offer that’s related to the posts that are getting traffic.
Your Blog Doesn’t Need Millions of Visitors to Make Money
Contrary to what many people believe, you don’t need a high-traffic blog to make money online. But you do need to take the right approach. If you follow the advice covered in this article, you’ll know how to make money with a small blog. Whether you’re looking for a few hundred dollars per month or a full-time income, it’s possible.