Millions of people are looking for ways to make money online, and blogging is one of the most popular and frequently-recommended online business models. While blogging can be a fantastic way to make money online (it’s been my primary source of income since 2008), you can’t simply start a blog and expect to make money.
Many of the 600 million blogs that exist today are primarily for personal reasons like fun and entertainment. Running a blog for fun and for business are two completely different things, so if you hope to generate profit with your blog, you need to be sure that you’re running it like a business.
If you’re wondering how to turn a blog into a business so you can start making money online, we’ll cover all the necessary details in this article.
Related reading: How to Make Money Blogging for Beginners
What Makes a Blog a Business?
Before we get into the steps involved with turning a blog into a business, we should first define what it means for a blog to be a business. To break it down to its simplest form, there are two components: income and approach.
The goal of any business is to make money. If you want your blog to be a business, you need to be making money or working towards the point when it will generate revenue. Blogs generally take some time before they start making money.
If you’re in the very early stages when your blog isn’t generating revenue yet but you’re working towards it, your blog can still be a business. Just like a traditional business may require some work to lay the foundation before the business starts to bring in money.
There are several different monetization methods that are common for blogs, and we’ll look at those in more detail later. The specific monetization methods you choose don’t determine whether your blog is a business or not (i.e. selling products doesn’t make your blog more of a business than monetizing with display ads), but it’s essential that you have a plan for making money. If there’s no plan for making money, it’s a hobby, not a business.
It’s possible for personal or hobby blogs to make some money, but that existence of income doesn’t automatically make the blog a business. The second requirement involves your approach for running the blog.
For the blog to be a business, you must approach it like a business. The #1 goal of any traditional business is to make money. All of the related to running the business are made within the context of that primary goal.
Are you approaching your blog like a business? Do you make decisions based on what will generate revenue and profit? Or are you treating it more like a hobby blog and making decisions based on what you want to do simply because you enjoy it?
There’s nothing wrong with approaching a blog as a hobby. However, if you want to make money blogging, you need to be certain that you’re approaching the blog like a business.
If both of these elements are present, the blog makes money (or you’re in the early stages and working towards making money), and you approach the blog like a business instead of a hobby, your blog is in fact a business.
How to Turn a Blog Into a Business
Now that we’ve covered what it means for a blog to be a business, let’s look at the specific steps you can follow. These steps apply whether you’re launching a brand new blog or working with an existing blog that hasn’t been generating revenue or treated like a business in the past.
Step 1: Decide on a Monetization Strategy
It’s possible that making money with a blog can happen by accident. But maximizing revenue and profit won’t happen without a plan or strategy. There are many different ways to make money with a blog, and below, we’ll look at the most common options.
It’s important to understand that you’re not limited to a single monetization strategy. In fact, it’s a good idea to pursue multiple strategies because it will help to diversify your income and protect you from huge drops if something happens to one source of revenue. Additionally, having multiple income streams also helps you to maximize your blog’s earning potential.
If you’re just getting started, you may want to start with a single monetization strategy. Once you’re having some success, you can work on developing another monetization method. Focusing on one at a time may help you to avoid feeling overwhelmed and stretched thin.
The most simple and straightforward way to make money with a successful blog or content-based site is through advertising. This can include Google AdSense, other ad networks, and any ads that you sell directly without going through a network. Banner ads are typically the most common, but this can also include video ads and text-based ads as well.
Generally speaking, advertising is not the most lucrative way to monetize a site. However, the rates that you’re able to earn will depend on a number of factors including the type of blog content you publish and the specific audience you’re reaching. Some blogs have much higher earning power than other because advertisers are willing to pay a premium to reach visitors.
The primary benefit of making money with ads is that it requires no effort on your part if you’re using an ad network. You can focus on creating great content and increasing traffic rather than trying to sell a product.
Advertising can be combined with other monetization methods, but depending on your approach, you may need to be careful. For example, if your primary monetization strategy involves selling your own products or services, having ads on your blog may not be appropriate. With ad networks, you generally have very little control over the ads that appear on your site. As a result, your blog could feature ads for products or services that compete with your own.
Affiliate marketing involves earning a commission by promoting someone else’s product or service. For example, Amazon runs one of the most popular affiliate programs (they call it Amazon Associates). You can sign up as an affiliate and use your personalized tracking affiliate links to send your blog visitors to Amazon, and if they make a purchase, you’ll earn a small commission.
There are affiliate programs in every niche imaginable. Regardless of the topics you cover on your blog, affiliate marketing is a possibility.
The primary benefit of affiliate marketing is that you’re not responsible for anything except making the referral. You don’t have to create the product, manage inventory, deal with shipping or order fulfillment, or provide customer service. You can earn a cut of the sale while having very limited responsibility.
In my opinion, just about every blogger should include affiliate marketing in their monetization plan or strategy. It works well as a primary monetization method, and it can also supplement other methods.
For example, if your blog makes money with ads, you can easily include affiliate links in your blog posts and increase your overall revenue. If your blog is monetized by selling your own products or services, you can recommend complementary but non-competing products and services as an affiliate.
Business today are allocating bigger parts of their marketing budgets for advertising online, but that doesn’t always involve banners or traditional advertisements. A growing number of brands have found that partnering with bloggers and influencers is an ideal way to get new customers.
Brands may be willing to pay you to publish content that promotes their products or services in some way. You may be responsible for writing this content, or in some cases, the sponsor will provide the content for you to publish.
Sponsored content can involve product reviews, news and announcements, informative articles, tutorials, or other types of content that provide exposure for the sponsor.
Having a large audience is helpful for making money with sponsored content, but it’s possible to find sponsors even with a smaller audience. The engagement and response you get from your audience (blog comments or social media responses, likes, shares, and follows) will be just as much of a factor as the size of your audience.
While sponsored content and brand partnerships can be an excellent way to make money with a blog, the downside is that this revenue is typically not as consistent or predictable as other methods.
You may have a really good month and land a few new sponsors, and then you may go through a dry spell for a few months. For this reason, sponsored content usually works best as a supplementary income stream.
One of the most lucrative ways to monetize a blog is by creating and selling your own products. Digital products are popular for ease and convenience, but you could also sell physical products that will be shipped to the customer.
There are endless types of products you could create (see our list of digital products to sell), and it really just depends on your target audience and what they’re interested in. Common products for bloggers include things like printables, ebooks, online courses, graphics, and templates.
Of course, creating and selling a product requires more work and effort than monetizing a blog with ads or affiliate links, but payoff can also be higher. If your products are evergreen (meaning, they will continue to be relevant for a long time), you may be able to create the product once and make money from it for months or years to come.
Selling a digital product sounds intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Some products are much easier to create than others. You could start with a simple product like a basic printable that could be created in just a few hours (you can hire a designer on Fiverr if you don’t want to create it yourself).
Platforms like Podia make it easy to sell digital products from your blog. With Podia, you can sell simple downloads like printables and ebooks, and you can also create and sell access to online courses and membership websites.
Podia is simple to use, and they even have a free plan so you can start without any expense. They handle they’ll payments, and they also provide access so customers can get the product immediately.
Offering a service is a blog monetization method that’s often overlooked. Some people don’t recommend offering a service because it involves trading your time for money. However, offering a service is often one of the most practical and realistic ways to start making money online.
There are countless different services you could offer as a blogger, including freelance writing, consulting, coaching, graphic design, photography, marketing, and virtual assistant services. Of course, those are just a few examples. The appropriate options for you will depend on the topics you cover with your blog and the specific audience you reach.
One of the nice things about using a service is that it’s possible to make a good income even with lower traffic volume to your blog. Depending on the services you offer, you might only need to convert a few visitors into paying clients to have a lot of success. (For more details, please read How to Make Money with a Small Blog.)
Step 2: Develop a Traffic Generation Plan
Once you know how you want to make money with your blog, the next step is to develop a plan for getting visitors to your blog. There are a number of different ways to get blog traffic including search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, guest posts on other blogs, building an email list, ads and other paid traffic, etc.
While it’s certainly beneficial to get traffic from several different sources so you don’t have all your eggs in one basket, it’s my opinion that organic search engine traffic is the most valuable. “Organic” search traffic is free and results from ranking near the top of the search results, as opposed to pay-per-click advertising where you’re paying to show up on the search results.
If you want to get traffic from search engines (mostly Google), you’ll need to write and publish content that targets keywords and phrases people are searching for. You can use tools like KWFinder to get keyword ideas, and you can also see which keywords and phrases your competitors are ranking for.
Of course, your traffic generation plan can also involve other methods of attracting visitors, like email marketing and social media marketing, for example. You might choose to focus your efforts on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, or another social network.
Step 3: Create a Content Strategy
One of the most common mistakes that bloggers make is failing to create a content strategy or plan. Many bloggers simply write about whatever comes to mind. If you want to have success with your blog, you need to have a plan for the content you create.
Your content strategy should work well with your monetization and traffic strategies. For example, if you plan to monetize your site through affiliate marketing, you’ll need to create the types of content that allow you to include your affiliate link. You should identify the specific affiliate programs you want to prioritize and then keep that in mind as you develop your content strategy.
If you’re after search traffic, keyword research is a necessary step in creating your content strategy. Your blog posts should target specific keywords and phrases that people are searching for, which gives your content the best chance of being found. Ideally, you’ll target low competition keywords that are easier to rank for. KWFinder provides a keyword difficulty (KD) score for each keyword. The lower the score, the easier it will be to rank on the first page of Google for that keyword.
Here are some factors that need to be considered and addressed in your content strategy:
- Who will write the content? Are you writing everything yourself? Will you hire freelance writers? Keep in mind this can change over time. You might start by writing all of the content to keep costs at a minimum, and then hire freelance writers as revenue increases.
- Who will edit the content? This is especially important if you’ve got a team of freelancers writing the content. Someone will need to edit and format the posts. Will you do it yourself? Will you hire an editor or virtual assistant?
- How frequently will you publish new content? Publishing volume is an important consideration as well. Set a goal for the number of posts per week or per month that you plan to publish.
- What topics or categories will you cover? It’s important to set boundaries in terms of what you’re going to publish. This will help with your keyword research and will keep your blog focused and on-topic.
Once you’ve answered those questions, you can create a list of blog posts to create. You may choose to set up an editorial calendar with specific dates when each blog post should be published. The keyword research you’ve done should be used at this stage to help with finalizing the articles you’re going to produce.
Step 4: Set Your Approach
The last step is to set your approach, which will impact how you run the blog and the business. This involves:
- Setting goals
- Determining your working hours
- Deciding on reinvesting the revenue
This step often separates the successful bloggers from those who wonder why their blog isn’t making money.
It’s a good idea to set both short-term and long-term goals for your blog. Be sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and time-sensitive (they have a deadline). Your goals may involve profit, revenue, traffic, or other metrics.
You should also decide how many hours per week you’re going to work on your blog. If possible, I recommend setting a specific schedule that includes the exact days and hours you will be working on the blog.
Of course, you can change your schedule as needed, but having a schedule helps you to treat it like a job or a business. It’s the best way to make sure that you’re giving your blog the time and attention it needs to grow and reach your goals.
If you have another source of income, it’s helpful to reinvest the money you’re making with your blog. If you ran a traditional brick-and-mortar business, you would probably reinvest the majority of your revenue back into the business to help it grow. Blogging is no different.
There are many different ways to reinvest in your blogging business, including hiring freelance writers to increase the amount of quality content you publish, or to hire a virtual assistant who can manage many of the small tasks and free up your time for more important things.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, blogging can be a great online business. Content-based websites like blogs can make money with advertising, affiliate marketing, selling products, and publishing sponsored content. Many bloggers generate a full-time income working from home. It’s also possible to grow it into a larger business by hiring a team of freelancers or employees.
Some personal blogs do make a little bit of money, but if your goal is to make money blogging, you should use a different approach. Instead of creating a personal blog, you should build your site around a specific topic or niche.
Some of the most profitable blogging niches include fashion, travel, business, finance, health and wellness, dieting, relationships, parenting, and hobby-based topics.
Final Thoughts on How to Turn a Blog Into a Business
If you’re looking to make money blogging, you need to approach your blog like a business. You should have a specific plan for how to monetize your blog and how to attract visitors. It’s also important to develop a content strategy that works with your traffic generation plan and your monetization plan. Lastly, you need to decide on some details about how you’ll approach the blog, like your goals and working hours.
With the right approach, your blog can become much more than a hobby. When you follow this plan for how to turn a blog into a business, you’ll have a legit online business with unlimited income potential.