The idea of blogging for money is an alluring one. There are countless success stories of unassuming first-timers who stumbled and fell headlong into swimming pools of cash that enabled them to leave their day jobs, mean bosses, and their workaday financial cares far behind.
While these stories of starting a blog for money are as exciting as the Publisher’s Clearing House Prize Patrol rolling up to your front door with balloons and a big check, they often fail to mention the one thing that we all know deep down to be true: there is no such thing as something for nothing. It takes hard work, dedication and a passion for your topic to make money from a blog.
The good news is that anyone can start a blog and monetize it. However, you must marry your motivation with follow-through. If you’ve already read our guide on how to start a blog, this guide we’ll equip you with actionable tips and advice that will help you make money blogging.
Step 1: Learn to Discern Blogging Facts From Fiction
People make a lot of assumptions when it comes to the world of blogging for money. To ensure you’re set to succeed with eyes wide open, we’ve addressed the top truths and myths about blogging.
Fact: You don’t need a ton of traffic to monetize your blog.
Contrary to popular belief, a daily audience of millions of readers is not a requirement for a successful blog. In fact, the entrepreneurial coaching website Fizzle estimates that the average blogger can make around $5k a month with just 10,000 visits.
Ideally, blogs cater to a specific niche, which means you don’t need to write a blog that appeals to the whole world. You simply need to talk to the people that share your interests.
Myth: You need to be a subject expert.
This is probably the biggest fiction of all. Not only do you not need to be a subject matter expert in order to start a blog that makes money, you also don’t need to be a professional writer with a PhD in English. Spellcheck and Grammarly are amazing tools that can make you sound like an authority, even if you aren’t one — yet.
Moreover, lots of great blogs have begun with people taking up a new interest and writing about it from the perspective of a newcomer. If the fear that you don’t know everything about your subject is holding you back from starting a money-making blog, just remember few people know everything there is to know on a subject, so focus on what you do know and start blogging about it.
People love to learn with a partner. Take them on your journey via your blog.
Fact: You need a plan, persistence, and patience.
Blogs that make money are not simply Internet diaries, they are businesses and a business needs a plan to succeed. A few things you will want to identify include: how often you will publish new content, how you will drive engagement, how much you can invest in promotions, etc.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is be patient and persistent as you pursue your dream of earning money from blogging. Unless you are besties with the Kardashians, it can take months and even years to build a following of regular readers.
Think of your audience as an accumulation of friends who share an interest. When you first joined social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it’s likely that it took you several months to grow your fanbase to 500 friends or followers. Organic audience growth for blogs is similar in the beginning, so give yourself time to build a following.
Myth: If you build it, they will come.
This magical mantra whispered throughout the movie Field of Dreams is often a secret hope of entrepreneurs, and while it may work like a charm if you’re opening the only restaurant in a small town or a theme park in a big city, internet traffic is not the same. Simply starting a blog and posting will not guarantee readership.
You need to be committed to finding and pursuing your target audience with passion in order to ensure all the wonderful and valuable content you’ve created on your blog is seen and shared.
Step 2: Sell Your Insights
The key to operating a successful blog is to consistently create content that readers find valuable, such as courses, webinars, ebooks, guides, workbooks, etc. Once you’ve established your blog as a credible source for meaningful and helpful content, you’ll find people are willing to pay a variety of price-points in order to access your insights.
If you’re nervous about taking on long-form content, don’t be. Treat it like any other big project and develop it a little at a time until you have a package of content you feel confident selling. For example, let’s say you have a blog on wedding photography, and your readers consistently ask for tips on lighting and filters that make pictures look amazing. Begin working on a guidebook or online course that covers this topic in greater depth than you typically do in the free portion of your blog.
The wonderful thing about ebooks and online courses is that you don’t need to write a 120-page novel all at once in order to help people. You can create a series of 10 to 20-page articles that go deep on various topics within your niche and allow people to learn a little at a time.
As anyone who has taken an online college course can attest, most hour-long classes cover less than 10 pages in a textbook. If you need inspiration or want to see how others are successfully selling their content, check out this profile of Bradley Morris, creator of eCourseAdventures.
Step 3: Sell Subscriptions or Memberships
A blog in its purest form is a digital magazine about a specific subject, and like its print ancestors, the format lends itself well to selling subscriptions and memberships.
There are several highly successful fitness and self-help blogs that make the majority of their income from monthly or annual subscription fees, so don’t be afraid that people won’t be willing to pay. If you create a great space for them to connect with like-minded people and access exclusive content they won’t find anywhere else, they will pay.
Step 4: Do Affiliate Marketing
This is one of the most popular ways to make money blogging because it allows you to earn a commission from things that you love and recommend to others, who then make a purchase based on your recommendation. More importantly, your commission does not cost your readers a dime, so it’s a win-win.
There are a number of reputable affiliate programs you can look into, such as Amazon Associates, Rakuten Affiliates, and ClickBank. As with any endorsement, you need to feel comfortable recommending products and services, and they need to be things that make sense for your readers and in the context of your blog.
Step 5: Get a Sponsor
Sponsorships are a great way to monetize your blog. If your blog already generates a ton of traffic, sponsors may come looking for you. But if you’re just learning how to make money blogging, then you will want to seek out sponsors via one of the many sites that helps brands connect with bloggers such as CLEVER and TapInfluence.
These sites regularly feature opportunities for advertisers to support content on your site, publish an article, or pay for an event. Sponsors will be interested in your site’s traffic, niche, and target audience to make sure it’s a good opportunity for them.
As you browse brands and opportunities, it’s imperative that you choose to endorse brands that make sense for your audience, and that share their values. For example, one of the CLEVER customer testimonials shares how they helped California Closets connect with organizational guru Marie Kondo to host a video where she used their products to empower a client to declutter her closet. Even though the videos are loaded with product placement and mentions, it makes sense for Kondo’s blog and her readers.
Lastly, you should always test a brand’s products and services before forming a relationship or endorsing them. Don’t forget to alert readers when content is sponsored, primarily to maintain trust with your readers and also because it’s required by the FTC.
Step 6: Feature Ads on Your Blog
As we said before, Google AdSense is a way to make money through your blog, but it will likely not become a significant source of income until you garner monthly visitors to your blog in the range of 100K and up. One of the reasons bloggers love to hype Google AdSense is because it’s a passive form of income. You really don’t have to do anything except sign up and chose the type of ads you are willing to host on your site and the digital real estate you are willing to give them, as in banners, sidebars, etc.
Advertisers that Google AdSense matches to your site will either pay Google based on the number of views aka Cost-Per-Mille (meaning thousand in French and referred to by the acronym CPM) their ad gets or the number of click-throughs aka Cost-Per-Click (CPC). According to Google, to make $20 per day from CPM ads via AdSense, you need around 10,000 views per day or 300,000 views per month. To make $20 per day from PPC ads, you will need around 40 clicks, which requires approximately 4,000 views per day.
Step 7: Build a Blog Audience
Although it isn’t necessary to have a huge audience in order to make money blogging, there is a correlation between site traffic and sales. The more people you’re able to drive to your blog, the more likely it is that you or your affiliates will eventually sell them something.
Part of your business plan for your blog (see Step 1) should include a daily allotment of time spent pursuing new visitors and regular readers. There are several ways you can do this, but among the easiest is appealing to friends and acquaintances you already know through social networks such as LinkedIn, Nextdoor, Facebook, etc. Even if your friends aren’t in your target niche, they likely know someone who is, so when you invite folks to visit your new blog, encourage them to share your invitation. You may even want to give friends an incentive to spread the word, such as a discount on a subscription or membership to your blog.
Becoming a subject matter authority is another way to build your blog audience. To establish yourself as someone people turn to for insights, you can publish a book, submit editorial pieces to various media outlets, and volunteer to speak at meetings, like the chamber of commerce, or clubs that share an interest in your subject matter.
Speaking at a conference or tradeshow, serving on panel discussions, and agreeing to be interviewed by the media are also foolproof ways to attract visitors, as is creating and posting engaging video and audio content via YouTube and podcasts.
Ultimately you should take any opportunity that allows you to promote your blog’s message to potential audience members.
Bonus Step: Monetize Your Blog Faster With Mighty Networks
A Mighty Network is a great place to start blogging for money because it comes loaded with features that make it easy to sell exclusive content, courses, and memberships. To launch your Mighty Networks blog now, click here.