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Are you new to blogging and wondering how you can actually go about making money from a blog?
Are you looking for a way to make money online and considering starting a blog as one option?
Blogging can be a great way to make money and grow your own online business. I started blogging back in 2007 while I was still working a typical corporate job full-time. It took me about a year and a half of consistent effort, but in late 2008, I was able to leave my job and pursue blogging full-time. Ever since then, I’ve been privileged to be able to earn a living as a blogger.
Over the years, I’ve talked to a lot of different people who have an interest in doing something similar, but there’s a lot of mystery surrounding the topic of making money with a blog. If you don’t have any experience with blogging, you may have no idea how people actually make money with their blogs.
This article will serve as a guide for anyone who is new to the world of blogging and wants to learn more about how to earn income (full-time or part-time) with a blog.
Since there are a number of different types of online businesses that you could start, I think it’s important to understand exactly why you’re choosing to start a blog before moving forward. There are a lot of different reasons that you might want to start a blog, but here are a few of the most common and most significant reasons.
Work on Something That You Enjoy
You can start a blog on any topic of your choice. That means that you can build an online business around the things that interest you. Over the years, I’ve had blogs on several different topics and my most successful blogs all covered topics that interest me. I’m not a big fan of choosing a blog niche strictly for income potential because if you don’t enjoy the topic, blogging isn’t very much fun.
Regardless of whether you’re looking for a way to make some extra money on the side or looking for something that can turn into a full-time income, blogging about a topic that you enjoy is a great way to make money.
My favorite working days I’ve ever had in my life involved work for one of my photography blogs. I used to travel to different locations (I sold the blog, so I don’t own it anymore), hike, take photos, and then come home and do a writeup on the location. I loved my work because I was able to incorporate my photography and hiking hobbies into what I did.
Low-Cost Online Business
How many businesses that offer unlimited income potential can be started for less than $100?
You don’t need very much money to start a blog. The only truly essential costs are for web hosting and a domain name registration, and that can be done for less than $100 for your first year.
While traditional, brick-and-mortar businesses can be a great way to make money too, there’s no comparison in terms of startup costs and risk. Starting an online business like a blog is the way to go if you’re looking for something that doesn’t require capital.
Unlimited Earning Potential
Despite the extremely low startup costs, blogging genuinely offers unlimited income potential. Many bloggers are earning six-figure incomes working from home, and some are even able to crack seven figures.
And on top of the potential to make a great recurring income, building a blog also provides you with a valuable asset that can be sold if you decide you want to move on and do something different. I’ve sold several blogs in the past and this has been a huge difference between my work as a blogger and my work in previous jobs.
When I quit my full-time job as an auditor to pursue blogging full-time, I collected my final paycheck a week later and that was the end of my income from that job. But when I decide that I’m done with one of my blogs, I can sell it for a few years’ worth of profit.
There are plenty of people looking to buy blogs and other online businesses, so if yours is making some money, it’s an asset that can be sold.
Working as a blogger offers huge amounts of flexibility. You have flexibility over the number of hours that you work (although you’ll need to work enough to make money), the specific days and hours that you choose to work, where you work, and the type of work that you want to focus on.
Blogging is a career of choice for many digital nomads, which shows just how flexible it can be. You can work anywhere with an internet connection.
Not only does this flexibility allow you to travel, but it also gives you the freedom to choose where you live. About two years after I started blogging full-time, my wife and I moved to an area with a lower cost of living, which essentially gave us a raise. Now that we have kids, I also have the flexibility to schedule my work around family life. I still work full-time hours, but I’m able to do it in a way that is convenient for our family.
Ways to Make Money Blogging
It’s important to understand that simply publishing blog posts isn’t going to generate money, but there are many different ways that you can make money with a blog.
If you’re interested in blogging for the money-making aspect, you need to approach your work like a business, because that’s exactly what it is. Let’s take a look at the most common ways that bloggers make money.
Keep in mind that you can use multiple monetization methods at the same time. In fact, you’ll want to have a few different streams of income in order to avoid relying too heavily on one thing.
1. Affiliate Programs
Through affiliate programs, you can get paid for recommending products and services to your readers. You’ll register for an affiliate program and you’ll get special links to use within your blog content. Whenever a visitor clicks one of your affiliate links, you’ll receive credit for a purchase that the visitor makes, which will entitle you to a commission.
While affiliate programs are often linked to sales, some affiliate programs will pay you based on other actions aside from purchases. For example, you may earn a commission if the visitor installs an app or creates an account. The specific details will vary from one affiliate program to the next and will depend on the objectives of the company that is paying for the referrals.
Amazon has one of the most popular affiliate programs on the planet. You can sign up for Amazon Associates (that’s what they call their affiliate program) and use affiliate links to promote almost any product that’s sold on Amazon. Since customers can buy just about anything at Amazon, there are plenty of products to promote for blogs in any niche.
The commission that you’ll earn from purchases at Amazon is pretty low (different product categories will earn different percentages), but there are some significant benefits to promoting products from Amazon.
First, a huge percentage of your visitors already have an Amazon account and many of them are Prime members, so conversion rates tend to be very high.
Second, you can earn a commission even if the visitor purchases something else aside from the product you’re recommending. The visitor might click on a link for a toaster and they wind up buying a TV while they’re on Amazon, and you’ll still earn a commission.
There are also many different affiliate networks where you can find affiliate programs for hundreds or thousands of different companies. By using a network, you’ll be able to manage links to several different affiliate programs all from one place.
Some of the leading affiliate networks include:
While affiliate networks can be very convenient for finding and managing several different affiliate programs, some companies manage their own affiliate programs privately. If you want to promote these companies, you’ll need to sign up to their affiliate programs.
Affiliate marketing can be a great option for new bloggers to start making money. You don’t need a lot of traffic to make money with affiliate programs (although more traffic does help to increase your earning potential. As a new blogger, it’s possible to get started by promoting products and services that you use and know well.
You can include affiliate links within your article whenever relevant. Some bloggers write product reviews, comparisons of multiple similar products, lists of the best products of a certain type, or tutorials that demonstrate how to use the product being promoted.
One of the easiest ways for new bloggers to start making money is to put display ads on the site. Google AdSense is the most common option and as a new blogger, you don’t need to have a specific level of traffic in order to put AdSense on your blog.
While AdSense is an option for most blogs (assuming your blog does not cover topics that are not allowed by Google), the downside is that you’re unlikely to make very much money with AdSense. You can start making some money as a new blogger with AdSense, but you’re not likely to make a significant income from it.
The are other ad networks and ad managers that allow publishers (bloggers) to make significantly more than AdSense will typically pay, but most of these networks require you to reach a certain level of traffic before getting approval to join.
Here are the minimum requirements of some of the best options:
- Monumetric (10,000 pageviews per month)
- Mediavine (25,000 sessions per month)
- AdThrive (100,000 pageviews per month)
You’ll dedicate some time and effort in order to get your blog to the point where you’ll be able to apply for one of these networks, but 10,000 pageviews per month is a lot more realistic and achievable than it sounds when you’re first starting out. Many bloggers are able to achieve that level of traffic within the first 6-12 months.
Once you have some traffic coming to your blog, making money with ads is relatively easy. It’s a passive way to monetize your blog (doesn’t take any additional effort aside from running your blog). You just need to focus on increasing traffic and your ad revenue is likely to increase with time.
However, there are a few downsides to having ads on your blog. First, ads can negatively impact the user experience. Second, when visitors click on the ads they’ll be leaving your site. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons to decide if this is a monetization method that you want to pursue.
It’s not the first monetization method that gets mentioned on the subject of making money with a blog, but offering services can be a great choice.
In fact, offering a service is one of the best ways to make money blogging for beginners. You don’t need a high-traffic blog in order to make money with services, you just need to attract the right types of visitors who might be interested in hiring you.
Services also allow you to make a good hourly rate. Of course, the amount you’ll be able to charge will depend on a lot of factors, including the specific service that you’re offering, but many services have excellent income potential.
In my opinion, monetizing your blog with a service is one of the best and most realistic ways to scale from part-time to a full-time income with a blog. Some services involve recurring work for the same clients. This is an ideal scenario because once you’ve established a client base, you won’t need to constantly dedicate time to finding new clients. You can use your time for doing the work that actually produces income.
The downside to offering services is the fact that as a service provider, you’re trading your time for money. One of the most appealing aspects of running an online business relates to being able to make money passively, and offering a service is definitely not passive.
There are many different services that you could offer (see this list of 25 different freelance services), but some common options for bloggers include:
- Freelance writing
- Social media marketing
- Web design
- Graphic design
- Virtual assistant
- Consulting or coaching
If you’re interested in monetizing your blog by offering a service, think about the skills and experience you already have and what you could offer to people within your target audience.
4. Digital Products
Creating and selling your own digital product is definitely one of the best ways to make money online. Of course, creating a product takes more work than some other monetization methods like putting ads on your site, but the payoff can make it more than worth your time and effort.
Many of the highest-earning bloggers earn the majority of their income with their own products. But selling digital products isn’t only an option for experienced bloggers. Even beginners have the opportunity to start monetizing their blog with products.
As a product creator, you’ll be in control over all of the details of your product. When you’re promoting other people’s products as an affiliate, there will be a lot of things outside of your control. You won’t have control over the pricing of the product, the sales page or landing page, the customer service that is provided after the same, and many other details.
With your own product, you can determine the pricing, marketing methods, and all other details related to the product.
There are a lot of different types of digital products that you could sell from your blog, including:
- Online courses
- Stock photos and graphics
- Audio files
When it comes to selling digital products, info products like online courses and ebooks tend to get the most attention, but these may not be the best options for new bloggers. Selling an info product as a new blogger can be challenging because you haven’t had a chance to establish a strong reputation yet. Many customers buy info products based on the reputation and their impression of the product’s creator. It’s definitely possible to sell an info product as a new blogger, but you may have to work harder to prove that you know what you’re talking about.
Other types of “simple” digital products may be a much better fit for beginners. Some of these products take only a small amount of time to create, and customers may be more willing to buy from someone that they don’t know. A lot of these digital products will be priced on the lower side, so it may be easier to start making some sales.
Printables are a perfect example of a simple digital product that could be a great fit for new bloggers. You may not make a huge dollar amount for each sale, but you might be able to start making some money pretty quickly. For example, a pack a printables that costs $9 will be much easier to sell as a new blogger compared to an online course that costs $299.
If you want to sell digital products from your blog, you’ll need to choose a platform to use for the checkout. Shopify is an incredibly-popular ecommerce platform, but it’s more than you would need to sell a few digital products. It could be a great option if you plan to grow your shop and offer a large number of products.
Other options like SendOwl and ThriveCart are easy to set up and give you plenty of functionality for effectively selling products from your blog. I’ve used both SendOwl and ThriveCart on my blogs in the past (I’ve sold those blogs, so I’m not currently using them) and they’re both excellent options.
5. Sponsored Content
Publishing sponsored content is a great way to make money with a blog, but it’s generally not the best option for beginners. There are a lot of companies and brands that are willing to pay bloggers to get exposure for their products and services, but you’ll need to have some traffic or social media followers in order to land these sponsorships.
There is no set amount of traffic that you need in order to start publishing sponsored content, but 10,000 pageviews per month is a good rule of thumb. You might be able to find some sponsors before you reach this level of traffic, but it may take you more time and effort to land those deals than they’ll be worth. The amount that you can charge will depend partly on the amount of traffic that you have, so this monetization method gets more lucrative as your blog grows.
Although you can find sponsors on your own, the easier way to get started is to use a network that helps bloggers and brands to find each other. You can create a profile on these sites so brands can find you can reach out if they’re interested in getting exposure to your audience. Some examples of these networks include:
Publishing sponsored content can be a great way to make money as your blog grows, but it’s typically an unpredictable stream of income. You may have some months where you land high-paying sponsorships, and other months when you’re not landing any new deals. Even bloggers that make a nice income from sponsored content will often see these significant ups and downs. Because of this, you won’t want to rely too heavily on income from sponsored content.
It’s also important to point out that sponsors may be easier or harder to find depending on the niche that your blog covers. Some topics tend to have more sponsorship and brand partnership opportunities than others. In order to be able to make money with sponsored content, there must be companies and brands that are interested in paying bloggers or influencers for help with generating exposure.
How Long Will it Take to Start Making Money with a Blog?
One of the most common questions related to making money with a blog is, “how long will it take to start making money?”
Of course, there is no exact answer that will apply to every blog. Some blogs are able to start making money almost right away while others can take a long time.
In general, my advice for new bloggers is to plan to invest six months of work without any income. You may start making some money during the first six months, but it’s usually pretty minimal. Somewhere around 6-12 months in, most blogs will start to generate income, and then beyond the one year anniversary, it usually starts to pick up even more.
Keep in mind that this is just a generalization and it won’t be true for all blogs. It’s definitely possible to start making money right away, and it’s also possible that a blog will never generate anything significant.
Growing a blog is a great way to build a legit online business, but it’s not a good way to make money quickly. Most new bloggers who set out to make money will get frustrated and give up before they ever make any money. But if you have realistic expectations and you know from the start that you’ll need to have patience, you’ll be in a much better position to succeed with your blog.
Look at your first year of blogging as an investment in your business. You’ll need to put in a lot of work and you may not get anything for it (in terms of money), but you’ll be setting the foundation for success in the future. The work you do early on may seem like it’s not producing results, but it will pay off down the road.
One of the reasons why I love blogging as a way to make money is because once you have an established blog, it’s possible to really scale back on the amount of time that you put into it, and your income may continue to grow. Once you have established traffic and regular readers that keep coming back to your blog, everything becomes a whole lot easier. But you can’t get to that point without putting in the time and effort upfront.
If you’re in a situation where you’re looking to start making money right away, there are some options that you can pursue.
- Offer a service – Do some freelance work and actively pursue clients in addition to simply listing your services on your blog.
- Start with simple digital products – Don’t wait to grow your blog before creating your first product.
Services and digital products both give you the opportunity to start making money right away. Of course, your income is still likely to grow as your blog grows, but you can speed up the process of starting to make significant money by focusing on either of these two monetization methods.
Steps to Start Making Money
If you’re new to blogging and looking for some steps that you can follow, here is a quick summary of how to make money blogging for beginners.
Step 1: Choose Your Niche
Before you can start your blog, you’ll need to decide what you’re going to write about. The biggest difference between personal blogs and blogging for money is focus. If you have a personal blog, you can write about anything that interests you. It doesn’t matter if the topics of your posts are related or not, because you’re simply writing for your own reasons.
However, if your goal is to make money with your blog, you need to know exactly what you’re blog is going to be about. Some blogs take a very targeted approach and only cover topics related to one specific topic. Other blogs take a broad approach and cover several different topics, but even the blogs with a broad focus will have certain categories that they cover.
In general, I recommend taking a more focused approach with your blog. The tighter your focus is on a particular topic, the easier it will be to brand yourself and your blog, plus Google loves sites that are highly focused.
With that being said, some blogs that have a wider focus are still able to achieve a lot of success. In my opinion, your chances of success are higher with a narrow focus and having a broader focus may take more work to achieve success, but it’s possible to grow a profitable blog with either approach.
Step 2: Set Up Your Blog
Once you’ve chosen your niche, the next step is to set up your blog. There are a number of free blogging platforms out there, but those are much more ideal for personal blogs. If you hope to make money with your blog, I highly suggest that you pay for a web hosting account and install WordPress to power your blog.
Don’t worry, it’s inexpensive and very easy to set up, even if you have no technical skills. You can get hosting from Bluehost for just $2.95 per month through my referral link, and Bluehost will also give you free domain name registration (the domain name is your web address, like vitaldollar.com).
Bluehost’s WordPress hosting plans also ave WordPress automatically installed on your site, so it’s super easy. Please see my article How to Start a Blog for a step-by-step walkthrough that will guide you through this simple process. In less than 10 minutes, you can have your blog set up and ready to go!
Step 3: Publish Content That Appeals to Your Audience
Obviously, the most important part of a blog is the content. Your blog content doesn’t need to appeal to everyone, but it does need to appeal to the readers that you are trying to reach.
Be sure that you know exactly who you want to reach, and then create content that your audience will appreciate.
There are many different types of blog posts that you can publish. Find an approach that works for you while also providing your readers with the content that they like.
Part of the goal with your blog is to build up an audience of regular readers that keep coming back to your blog. Maybe they subscribe to your email list or follow you on social media. Or maybe they just come back to your site a few times each month to see what new content might be available.
Monetizing your blog becomes much easier and more effective when you have an established base of repeat visitors. These visitors will be more likely to purchase your products, buy products that you recommend as an affiliate, or even hire you for a service.
Building an audience takes time, but it’s an essential part of successful blogging.
Step 4: Get Traffic
Of course, in order to make money with your blog, you’ll need to have visitors. This is the step where many new bloggers get lost. A lot of bloggers are focused on writing content for their blog, but they have no idea how to get people to actually see that content. It doesn’t matter how good your content is if no one is seeing it.
There are a few different ways to work on growing traffic to your blog:
Search Engine Optimization – Google is the #1 source of traffic for many blogs, and search traffic can be extremely valuable because these people are actively looking for the exact content that you’re publishing.
Search engine optimization (SEO) involves optimizing your website or blog to give it the best chance to rank highly in Google searches and result in traffic. Building search traffic takes time and Google usually doesn’t send very much traffic to blogs for the first several months. However, if you’re taking a long-term approach to blogging and growing an online business, growing your search traffic over a period of time should be a priority.
Social Media – One of the best ways for new blogs to starting getting traffic is to make use of popular social media platforms. Instead of waiting months for Google to start sending traffic, you can work on growing your profile on social media.
Pinterest is the top social network in terms of traffic for many blogs. While other platforms like Facebook and Instagram are incredibly popular, their users tend to be less likely to click on links and leave the platform. Pinterest users are actively looking for interesting content, so it’s an ideal platform for getting exposure and visitors to your blog.
Write Guest Posts for Other Blogs – Writing guest posts is a common approach for growing a blog. The articles you write for other blogs will typically include a link back to your blog within your author profile, and you may be able to include a link (or a few links) within the body of the article as well.
Writing guest posts isn’t going to result in a flood of traffic for your site, but it can help to establish some connections with other bloggers in your niche and start to build your reputation and name recognition.
Step 5: Monetize
Once you have some traffic to your blog, the last step is to actually monetize that traffic. By this time you should have a good idea of how you want to make money with your blog. I recommend using a few of the monetization methods mentioned in this article (affiliate programs, ads, services, digital products, and sponsored content) rather than relying exclusively on one method.
I believe that affiliate programs can be a good fit for just about any blog. Regardless of the topics that you cover, there are probably some good affiliate programs that you can use. Even if you are selling (or planning to sell) your own products, you can promote other products that won’t directly compete with your products.
You can also work affiliate links into many of your articles naturally without making your visitors feel like you are forcing it on them. For these reasons, I highly recommend that just about every blogger uses affiliate programs as one way to monetize their blog.
The other monetization methods that you choose may depend on factors like the niche that you’re in and your long-term plans for the blog. Creating your own products or offering services can be great ways to increase the amount of money that you make with your blog, but they can also take a lot of time and effort.
Using display ads is generally not the most lucrative way to monetize a blog, but can be a good option if you don’t have the time or desire to create your own products or offer a service.
Regardless of the monetization methods that you choose, making money with a blog is possible and is a realistic goal. That doesn’t mean that it’s easy, but if you have a long-term approach and you’re looking to grow an online business that offers unlimited earning potential, blogging can be a great choice.