You can make money blogging. It takes about 2 or more years of consistent, steady effort and knowing how to structure a blog around a topic that people will find helpful.
I’ve personally made thousands of dollars from publishing content online. It’s one of the best business models as it requires a lot of upfront work, but if you do it correctly you can build a long term asset that makes money fairly hands off.
Take a look at the results I got from promoting a 47$ ebook in the dating niche:
Look at the results from a website with just 17 pages of content that was only three months old:
How much blog traffic do you need before you start earning money?
Well that’s a simple question with a complex answer. For simplicity’s sake, 300 visitors a day minimum and around 10,000 page views is the threshold of where you can start earning a small income.
For most blogs your income will come from selling products, advertising and affiliate marketing. Most new bloggers should focus on creating content and then leverage affiliate marketing and ad networks. These strategies only work when you start getting a few hundred visitors a day mind you.
To make money blogging is simple, but not easy. There are only four steps you need to follow.
- Pick the right topic
- Start Your Blog
- Create helpful content people want
- Build an Email List
Pick the right topic
To have success with blogging you need to pick the right topic that is a good mix of something you deeply know and can help people with as well as a topic people actually want and need
The most common trap new bloggers fall into is to copy established websites. You read blogs on dating, making money online, tech reviews or whatever then you go out and start your own blog on the same topic.
Worse, you think that you don’t have any interests so you rush out and create a personal development blog where you’ll start telling everyone how to live their lives. Instead, think about what skills and interest you have that other people don’t have. What is something you know how to do better than other people?
Take RoastyCoffee.com for example. This website was started by a coffee lover and dominates Google search for various phrases related to tutorials about coffee. They mix in products from Amazon as well as their own course naturally into their content and make thousands of dollars a month from Amazon Associates.
How to choose your blogging topic:
1 – What are your skills? What do people ask you for help with or advice on?
2 – What can you talk about and write about effortlessly?
3 –What do people pay for in your topic?
4 – Are there other blogs on this topic? You want to find a few smaller sites.
5 – How will your blog be different or better from other websites?
Broadly speaking, you want to find some intersection of all three of these topics. That is your niche.
Start your blog with WordPress
Next is to start your blog once you have selected your topic. There are numerous platforms you can use. If you want to go the website builder route we suggest using Squarespace. For everyone else, getting a share hosting account and installing WordPress is your best option.
WordPress is a free and open source content management system. With it you’re able to install WordPress themes that you can customize without knowing how to code and you get excellent plugins to help optimize your on page SEO so the content you create actually ranks well.
- How to start a blog – Our dedicated guide to creating a professional WordPress blog.
- Bluehost – The best starter web host for WordPress.
- Namecheap – The best domain name registrar for getting your domain name.
Once you have your blog setup, next comes the hard work of writing blog posts over a long period of time.
Create Content for your Blog
You need to create content people want, need and are searching for. Start a blog on a specific topic, build a brand and create helpful content related to your topic. It’s simple, but not easy.
This is why picking the right topic is very important. You have to have some interest in your topic and be fine with running your blog for years to come. The next thing you need to do is find keywords to create content around.
Keywords are simply search terms other people are typing into Google. You want to create helpful content that meets the search intent. Also, content should have a purpose as well. Each blog post should have one clear goal with perhaps a secondary goal:
- To covert traffic into affiliate sales or product sales
- To build your email list
- To make money from display advertising and provide deep linking to your other blog posts.
So how do you find content people are actually looking for? That’s quite easy.
Use auto fill for ideas
This is a basic method but it’s a good start for exploring phrases people use. Click around and pay attention to various phrases related to your blog. What keyword have results that you think you can beat by creating better content on?
“Travel tips packing” at the bottom is a great keyword if you have a travel website. Perhaps your a blogger who focuses on Thailand, you could create a helpful guide on “8 Essential Travel Packing Tips for Thailand.” You could then monetize a post like that with Amazon Associates.
At the bottom of the SERPS you also get related search phrases:
Clothing advice for travel to Vietnam is a wonderful keyword. You could link to products from Amazon and really help people plan their trip. Again, the more you help others, the more you help yourself. Take this concept and apply it to your topic.
Pinterest is a gold mine for some topics. It’s a website who’s main audience is women so keep that in mind (meaning not all topics will be appropriate), but Pinterest has a search function you can use to explore different topics and see what the top pins are. Top pins = content you should be creating.
There are various premium tools that allow you to examine where a website is getting their traffic from and from what keywords. NO tools can give you 100% accurate data, but a tools can give you an idea for various phrases you would have never even thought of.
My favorite tool for this is SEM Rush.
What SEM Rush does is that it tells you what keyword phrases your competitors are ranking for.
I love Quora. You can easily find highly rated questions that have gotten a lot of views that you can take a use for content inspiration on your blog.
Be where your audience is
Focus on search and then one other traffic source that your audience uses. Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome.com is a self made millionaire because of his blog. He popularized the idea of “be everywhere” and many just assume this is good advice.
“Be everywhere” is dumb.
It works for work-a-holic types like Pat or Gary Vaynerchuck but for most people we don’t want to “be everywhere” – we want to be where are audience is so do that. Trying to be everywhere means you’re going to perform mediocre everywhere.
Focus on SEO and one other traffic source. The secondary traffic source could be Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Quora, YouTube. Pick the traffic source where your audience hangs out.
Start an Email List
Once your blog is getting around 500 visitors a day it’s time to think about implementing email marketing. Email marketing allows you to collect email subscribers and then send them down an automated funnel that you create.
The advantage is that you can optimize your email funnel to become another source of income for your blog. It make promotion of products as an affiliate easier as you can send multiple offer to your list and it helps people get broader exposure to the content on your website.
An email list is how you turn a blog into a business. However, focus on content fist and getting search traffic. An email list only works once you have a steady traffic source.
How do you get email subscribers?
To collect emails you simply sign up to an email list provider and then they give you the tools to embed forms on your blog. Our favorite providers are:
- Convert Kit – Great for affiliate marketing and products.
- Send in Blue – Ideal for once a week email newsletters
For more, see our guide on the best email marketing providers.
Each email provider gives you an easy to use email opt-in form. Put the form at the bottom of every blog post, in the sidebar if your design is using one and sprinkled within blog posts in an organic way. Don’t use pop up forms unless it’s an exit intent pop up form.
Last the form should have some sort of lead magnet, a book, free course or coupon code. Something. “Get free updates” does not really cut it anymore.
How to make money with a blog
Once you have a blog that is growing, getting traffic and becoming something valuable; there are 6 broad ways to make money online with your blog. Some are WAY better than others, but all will be mentioned to make this “make money blogging” guide complete:
- Affiliate marketing
- Selling a product
- Selling your time
Donations for your blog
Donations are what they sound like – people sending you money. But why would anyone do such a thing?
It goes back to value. If you provide enough value as to where you helped make a meaningful life change for someone, people will donate. Remember, you have no idea who specifically is visiting your website.
It could be a high paid executive for all you know searching for gift ideas for his wife and you help him discover the perfect gift with your website on fashion.
If you have every intention of creating products and running advertisements DON’T ask for donations.
You can setup donation buttons with PayPal.com. You need to provide a way for people to give you money and Pay Pal is the ideal platform for accepting donations. You could also provide an address to send checks to if you like. But people tend to be most comfortable with using Pay Pal as a way to send money.
Also ask for donations too. People won’t give if you don’t you ask. So ask.
Use language that is simple and to the point like:
“If you want to support my work please consider donating to help cover costs of running this website”.
Next, focus again on value and don’t demand donations or beg. You have to give, give, give, before you get.
You can also use a wish list instead of asking for donations. Wish list? On many websites like Amazon you have the option to add products you want to a wish list. You can use this instead of asking for a monetary donation.
Who’s this for?
Donations are ideal for free software or for public interest websites. If you have a blog and want to do this, a better alternative would be to use Patreon.
Otherwise, if you have every intention of building a business with your website by selling products, providing a service and/or running advertisements DON’T ask for donations.
Subscriptions revenue for blogging
Subscription revenue is the most difficult, but most lucrative from of revenue for blogging. There are many platforms where you can setup an on going subscription model in order to support your blog.
Patreon – The easy to use option
Patreon is an excellent membership, subscription revenue option for bloggers and YouTubers. What makes Patreon so great is that it’s easy to setup and has brand recognition. Most people have head of Patreon or have a Patreon account so getting people to support your work has less barriers to entry.
Patreon works best by giving subscribers a clear and specific monthly benefit to support you. This can be in the form of members only content, discounts or more access to you.
Memberpress – The WordPress option
Memberpress is a premium WordPress plugin that allows you to create a membership website. If you want to create a your branded platform that you control. This is the best option if you’re a blogger using WordPress.
Advertising is an excellent way to make ALL of your blog posts money pages. Sometimes you’ll create content that simply is not product oriented. With advertising, it allows everything you publish to have the potential to make money.
For advertising there are few different options.
This means text based advertising. It’s not contextual so much in that the ads are text (they are, but there can also be images) but more specifically it’s that the advertisements are based off the text content of the web page itself. So a web page about music will lend itself to ads relevant to music like ring-tones.
You have limited control over what ads appear when you use a contextual ad program because the program automatically scans your content and determines what keywords and what ads make the most sense based on your content.
This is good because people ignore irrelevant ads.
The next question that comes up when I teach people about contextual advertising is then “why don’t I just have my friends click on my ads 10 times a day”?
This is click fraud. You’re not the first person to think of this. It violates the terms you agreed to as a publisher, and companies can track consistent unusual click activity. Stay away from click fraud and focus on your unique selling point and helping people instead.
This is the way to go for blogs and it’s what every single publisher online I know does. They build a blog, get traffic and then sign up to an ad network. While you can add AdSense to your website yourself, you will most likely make more money through signing up with an advertising network.
To sign up with a network you’re going to need 10,000 page views a month minimum. Ideally networks want you to have 100,000 page views. Checkout our guide on the best advertising networks for bloggers.
Direct Ad Sales
Selling ads works by either you reaching out to companies for partnerships OR by companies and individuals contacting you directly to make advertising inquiry. When this starts occurring, people reaching out to you it’s a good idea to set up an advertising page outlining the positions and the costs to advertise on your website (if you choose to advertise of course!).
Don’t setup this page until you start getting emails asking you to advertise and if you want to do private ad sales in the first place. Selling ads can be a bit of a hassle, but software today exists in such a manner that it can allow you to easily manage the buying and selling of ads on your website yourself.
All you need to do is determine what kind of ads you are willing to run and what the sizes are. With smaller ads you can have more of them and charge less for each one, larger ads you can charge more (so long as it’s only one or two large ads).
Affiliate display ads
The most common way to promote things as an affiliate is through a special link, but organizations, business, and product creators do create advertisements called “creatives” for their products to help affiliates drive sales.
Affiliate advertisements are ads, but they work a little different in the sense that you will get a commission based on purchase. You’re not getting paid based on clicks or page views as you do with traditional advertising programs.
Why would anyone do this? Well for example, a lot of companies will pay over 100$ per commission. So it makes sense to advertise high earning affiliate programs on your blog.
The BEST way for blogs to start making money. Affiliate marketing is when you sell other people’s or companies products and services and receive a commission on the sale.
Affiliate marketing has numerous benefits for the affiliate:
- No products.
- No customer support.
- You get to leverage the quality work of others.
- You can blend in offers that make sense with your website.
Affiliate marketing has numerous benefits for the company/person:
- Free marketing and exposure.
- Access to new audiences.
- More sales.
- You get to pay your fans and customers.
Affiliate marketing is very, very misunderstood by the public at large. This model may appear an easy path to wealth or at the very least some sort of online income – but it’s actually quite difficult to make sales.
Having success with affiliate marketing is trust based and physcological based. You need to connect with your audience and show them you understand their problem and you understand how a certain product or service can help them.
You do this by again building a brand, promoting relevant products and services and being helpful. From practical experience, you’ll have the most success with affiliate marketing for products under $100 as it’s more of an impulse buy.
How To Make Commissions
To earn money with affiliate marketing simply requires you to get targeted and relevant traffic and then put relevant offers in front of that audience.
Review posts are highly effective if you know what you’re creating content on a topic you know and understand well. Where bloggers go wrong with review posts is thinking they can create short, useless posts about a product.
I normally like to create 2,500 word long posts that review a specific product category and then cover the pros and cons as well as a buying guide.
Tutorials and guides
Better than reviews, demonstrate knowledge. Demonstrate how something works and how you’re benefiting from it. Mention a product or course if it makes sense. Also show people how to do it for free and without the product.
Mention a relevant product at the end of your page or blog post in a short and sweet manner. So the majority of the page content should not be product related, it should be content specific. At the end, if there is a relevant product or course to mention, mention it.
“So that’s it. If you want to dive deeper into affiliate marketing by learning how to sell products and help people without being sketchy my close friend Mark has a great course on building passive income. It helped me get started online, maybe it can help you too?”
When writing an email and wanting to include affiliate links you must for spam reasons make the email long and of high quality. To get the best conversions from my experience is to mention a link 3 times. Once in the beginning, once in the middle, and once at the end.
As previously mentioned, put up affiliate ads in your sidebar of related products and services. If you’re selling ad space then it makes sense to have a few different ads. But if it’s affiliate ads, keep it to a minimum as too many options will cause people to click nothing. Remember you always need to direct people. Depending on the size, 1-4 affiliate ads are appropriate.
Again, people are a bit skeptical of “products I love” pages or “resource pages”. So to build trust, set out to make a high quality resource page with links to products, services, and content you recommend. Not everything you link to needs to be an affiliate link. Set out to make it a win-win for everyone involved.
HOW TO BECOME AN AFFILIATE
In the footer (as we’ve mentioned before – the footer is perfect for some very important links) is where you will typically find a link allowing you to sign up for a product or service as an affiliate. The language will be something like:
- Partner with us
- Work with us
Simply fill out the application and sign up. You can also use a search engine and type in “product name affiliate”.
Make sure to keep track of all you passwords and log-in information for all your different products. Also use a URL shortener to clean up your ugly affiliate links as to make something more attractive. You can also use plug-ins for WordPress to achieve this. The most popular one being “Pretty Link“.
Amazon has the most popular affiliate marketing program in the world. You can make a full time income just from this alone BUT you need to promote products that are the right balance between price and commission.
This was a pitfall I mentioned earlier. No one is going to buy a camera through your link. You need to strike a balance where your creating a site that has products on Amazon that are prices $60-$150 roughly. That way you’ll actually make sales AND the commission is high enough for you earn money to make it worth your effort:
Lastly, please check the Amazon fine print for various commission rates for different products and services.
Sell your own products
Products can be anything from a PDF e-book, to a combination of videos, audio and written content. The real question is what is the best medium to deliver what you create. The two main options are to either send the product directly in email or to have a private page on your website with a download link.
The price points for what you create will vary as well based on their perceived value. A best practice is to have one product have three price points. This tends to generate more sales than having a single price point, and it generates the most sales of your middle price point (which from a physiological perspective looks like the best deal).
Before creating a product however, you must go through the process of market research. Understand your market, use the words they use to describe their problems, look for ways to differentiate yourself from others with already existing products. DON’T copy anyone, simply understand the problems your target audience faces better than they understand it themselves.
This of course takes months of research, surveys, and talking to people – but it’s what will help your product be successful in the end because people will be telling you what they need.
Pay attention to naming and design as well. These must match your brand and must also instill trust by having a level of professionalism.
Take your time and do it right the first time. Every interaction people have with you online must be of high quality. Always.
For actual tools people use online the most popular way is to turn a Word document into a downloadable PDF that you put on E-Junkie and simply sell it on your website. You could also take that book instead and put it on Kindle.
Which is better? Kindle or selling an ebook directly on your website?
The ebook route is better if you’re planning on making the ebook a part of a bigger course. For example, you have 3 tiers. Tier 1 is the ebook, tier 2 is the ebook and some videos etc. It also makes more sense if your ebook has a very specific appeal like you’re making a study guide for some test or you’re teaching someone how to do something specific and technical.
What price should you place your books at if their on your website? 12$-39$ seems to be the range. The higher the range, the more specialized the content should be. If you’re going to charge say 39$ for the ebook, then it should the low end of a three tiered package.
Overall though, for strictly publishing ebooks, Kindle for the long term is the way to go. You’ll make more money in the short term using the E-Junkie model and selling via your website only. But once your book is on Amazon, you get enough sales and reviews, sales will stay fairly consistent.
Just look at JohhnyFD.com – he’s been making 200$ a month, every month off his travel book on Thailand. OH wow, $200, that’s it?
Hey pal, I don’t see you making an extra $2,000 a year from Kindle.
Courses in combination with an email list and YouTube channel are quite profitable. You can use a course marketplace like Skillshare or Udemy or you can self host your own course using an LMS plugin.
The best option for most however is to use the Teachable platform. They take care of all the aspects of creating an online course from the sales page, to accepting payment and hosting all your course materials. Teachable makes the process easy.
Sell a service
The last way to make money blogging is to sell a specific service. You can create a Fiverr gig an link to it from your website or YouTube channel. You could also offer a service on Clarity.FM where people can all you for a set rate.
In general, we suggest using a 3rd part website like Fiverr because they take care of all the technical details that go into selling a service online.
How to Make Money Blogging – Conclusion
Blogs can make a lot of money and provide a lot of unique opportunities for creative professionals to earn online. Though blogging is a slow process, if you’re willing to put in the work you can eventually make money blogging.