There are many reasons to start a blog, and you might just want to write about your hobbies or interests or document your daily life. But you can also make money blogging, and some people have even turned it into a full-time career.
Let’s get this out of the way first: it’s not easy to make money blogging. Blogging is not a get-rich-quick scheme, so don’t quit your day job – it takes months or years to build your blog up to the point where it can replace your income. But if you put in the work, it’s certainly possible that your blog could be generating some cash for you in six months to a year’s time.
If you want to start a blog and get paid for it, this guide is for you. Anyone can start a blog, so don’t worry if you don’t have any experience setting up a website or writing online.
Are you ready to make money blogging? Grab a coffee and let’s get started!
How Much Money Can You Make Blogging?
A 2019 survey of over 1,000 bloggers found that over half made no money from their blog at all. Of course, not everyone starts a blog to make money. However, this research was published on a blog focused on content marketing, so it’s fairly safe to assume the participants were probably not just hobby bloggers.
Another study of 150 bloggers focused on making money from their blogs found that almost a quarter was making less than $100 a month, another quarter were making between $100 and $1,500 a month. Impressively, 14.8% of survey respondents were making between $5,000 and $10,000 a month, and 8.3% were making over $10,000 a month.
A third survey of 600 (mostly travel) bloggers found that while 27% didn’t earn anything, 14.5% were making $5,000 a month or more. Over 80% of these survey respondents worked on their blog for at least 11 hours a week, with over 20% putting in over 40 hours a week, so if you think you can make a decent income from blogging just an hour a day, you may have to adjust your expectations. Half of these bloggers had been working on monetizing their blog for at least a year.
So it’s certainly possible to make big bucks from blogging. But you need to put in the work and the time. In the last survey mentioned above, the bloggers making $20,000 a month had been blogging for an average of 3.45 years.
1. Choosing a Profitable Blog Niche
The first step to starting a blog is choosing what to write about. The sky is the limit when it comes to choosing blogging topics or niches, but if you want to make money from your blog it makes sense to choose a niche that’s easy to monetize.
For example, the typical dog owner in the US spends over $1,000 a year on their pet. The dog niche is full of products and services you could advertise on your blog such as toys, food, training, grooming, and insurance.
The dog niche is also one that a lot of people search for online, so if you write posts on puppy toilet training tips or how to stop your dog from chewing your sofa, you know there’s an audience out there for your content.
Now let’s consider a niche that’s harder to monetize – books, for example. While the average book lover might buy a lot of books, the range of products is limited and most books are relatively low in value. Ok, there’s a market for e-readers and possibly other products, but compared to a niche like dogs, books has more limited potential.
This isn’t to say you can’t ever be successful by blogging in a niche like books. But it will probably be harder and take longer to make money than many other niches.
Narrow or Broad Niche?
When choosing a niche for your blog, it’s important not to go too broad or too narrow. A niche that’s too narrow like “baby monitors” means you’ll probably run out of topics to write about very quickly. You’ll also be limiting your audience to parents of babies who are interested in one very specific type of product (and will only buy it once).
On the other hand, if you choose a very broad niche such as parenting covering every topic from pregnancy to raising teenagers, it can be more difficult to gain ground because you’ll find it difficult to gain authority as a topic specialist.
Aim for a balance somewhere between the two. Sometimes it can help to think about the audience you want to write for, rather than thinking about product-based niches. For example:
- Moms who want to work from home
- People who are interested in living a more eco-friendly lifestyle
- Men who want to get fit without going to the gym
You can also start off focusing on a smaller topic and expand your content over time as your blog authority grows.
Lots of people want to start a generic “lifestyle” or “travel” blog, but there’s a lot of competition for these very general topics. Instead, try to think about how you can niche down by choosing a more specific theme like “traveling as a single female”. This will give your blog more focus and help it to stand out from the rest.
Choose a Topic You’re Interested In
It’s very important to choose a topic that you’re interested in and not just one that you think will be lucrative. For example, you might be tempted to start a blog about golf because there are lots of products to sell and plenty to write about, but if you’re not interested in golf, you’ll get sick of writing about it pretty soon.
While you don’t necessarily have to be “passionate” about your niche, if you enjoy a hobby or you’ve recently spent weeks researching a particular topic that also happens to be a profitable niche, you’re probably onto a winner.
Write down a few potential topics you might want to start a blog about. Think about your hobbies, what you do in your daily life (such as your career or taking care of your children), and current projects you’re working on (maybe you’re renovating your kitchen or planning a vacation). You can then do some market research on these topics to find out which have the highest traffic and profit potential.
2. Keyword Research and Researching Your Blog Content
You can start narrowing down your blog ideas list by checking each to make sure it’s an evergreen topic and interest in it isn’t declining. Evergreen niches stay popular for years, unlike one-off trends, which tend to have a sudden burst of popularity that quickly fades. Evergreen content also stays relevant for years and doesn’t quickly become out of date.
It’s also best to avoid seasonal niches, which are more popular at certain times of the year. Many niches are slightly seasonal (gardening topics are more popular in the summer months, for example) and this is ok, but try to avoid niches like Christmas décor unless you’re okay with only making money for a few months of the year.
Using Google Trends
You can check the seasonality and popularity of your niche by typing it into Google Trends. This will show you how many people are searching for your topic over time.
Ideally you’re looking for a graph without any big peaks and troughs, with traffic that’s remaining steady or growing over time rather than decreasing. Make sure to look at the 5-year and all-time graphs to get a long-term view of your niche.
Let’s take a look at some examples.
This is the graph for “airsoft” since 2004. As you can see, there’s been a gradual decline in interest in this topic so it’s probably best avoided.
Now take a look at the trend for “zero waste”. The interest in this topic has been increasing over the last few years, so a blog about zero waste living might be worth considering.
Here’s the 5-year graph for “kayaking”. As you can see, the traffic follows a strong seasonal pattern, peaking in June and July and dropping off in the summer months. With this topic, the popularity window is fairly wide, accounting for about half the year (and there are some searches all through the year), so you shouldn’t necessarily discount it if you’re a kayaking enthusiast. But there might be other, less seasonal niches you can explore instead.
Compare this to the search trends for “Black Friday”, which has a window of less than a month before traffic drops sharply to zero. A blog about Black Friday Sales might be very profitable… but only for one month out of the year.
Basic Keyword Research
Once you’ve checked the niche you’re considering has fairly steady traffic throughout the year and isn’t declining in popularity, you can start with some basic keyword research.
This isn’t complicated or technical, so don’t panic! You also don’t need to pay for any tools, as there are plenty of ways to do keyword research for free.
You can start with Google itself. Type your main niche into Google and scroll right down to the bottom of the results, where Google will helpfully give you some related keywords in the “Searches related to” box.
For example, this is what I got when I searched for “meditation”
There are a few general keyword ideas here including
“meditation techniques for beginners”, “guided meditation”, and “meditation benefits”. You can also click on any of these searches and repeat the process by scrolling to the bottom to get more specific keywords:
Make note of a few keywords that you think would make good blog ideas.
The next step is to find out roughly how many people are searching for these keywords. The free Google Keyword Planner is a good place to start your research. You’ll need to sign up for A Google Ads account to use it, but don’t worry – you won’t be spending any money.
Go to the Keyword Planner, sign in, and click on “Discover new keywords”. You can then type in one of the keywords that came up in your Google Search and click the “Get results” button.
The keyword planner will return the traffic range for the keyword you type in (how many people are searching for it in a month) as well as some related keywords and their traffic. Ideally you want a niche where there are at least a few thousand searches each month for your main keywords.
Checking Your Niche is Profitable
Now you have a list of a few main keywords, you can go ahead and search for them in Google and see what comes up. We’re not too concerned at what these sites look like for now, you just want to get an idea of the potential for monetization.
Look for other blogs rather than big magazine sites, online stores, or sites like Wikipedia. Take some time to have a look around the blog and see if you can figure out how (and if) it’s monetized. Look for text and image ads and links to products, or maybe they’re selling courses or digital products like e-books. If most of the blogs coming up don’t seem to be monetized in any way, this might be a sign that the niche you’re considering isn’t that profitable.
Sponsored links appearing in your Google search is another good sign that your niche is profitable.
Another thing you can do is look in Amazon for products that someone interested in your niche might want to buy. For example, here are the products that came up when I searched for “zero waste”.
Looking for Low Competition Opportunities
By now, hopefully you’ve found a few niches that have a decent search volume and plenty of monetization potential.
The next step is to check out the competition. You need to try to find some keywords that you have a good chance of ranking for on the first page of Google.
It’s not much good writing a great blog post about “organic makeup” for example, because all the pages on the first page of Google are big brands and publishers with huge teams and budgets behind them (Elle, Sephora, Harpers Bazaar, Marie Claire etc.). You don’t have any hope of beating pages like this.
But that doesn’t mean that organic makeup isn’t worth blogging about. You just need to find some lower competition keywords. The key to this is going more specific and looking for longtail keywords.
Finding Longtail Keywords
For example, let’s try a longtail keyword based on our original “organic makeup” idea. How do you come up with these ideas for longtail keywords?
The method I already described using the “searches related” box in Google can give you some good longtail keywords if you keep clicking through to get more specific keywords. The “People also ask” section can also be an excellent source of low competition longtail keywords.
Another source of keyword ideas is the autocomplete feature on Google. It’s best to do this in an “Incognito” window in Chrome (File > New Incognito Window) so your previous searches don’t affect your results. Just start typing your keyword and Google will give you suggestions of longtail keywords as you start to type.
Google also supports wildcard search. This means you can use an asterisk in the middle of your search term and Google will suggest potential searches.
Assessing the Competition
Once you have a handful of potential longtail keywords, it’s time to try and find which ones you have a chance of ranking for.
There are many tools available that will give you a basic idea of the competition level of your keywords, but these tools aren’t always accurate. The best way to judge competition is by looking at the sites that come up on the first page of Google and looking for certain types of sites:
- Other niche blogs
- Forum sites
- Low-quality sites, or information that isn’t really relevant to your search
- Non-optimized sites (sites that aren’t using the keyword in their titles or content)
For example, take a look at the results when I search for “how to stop a guinea pig water bottle from leaking”
The first result on this page looks like a small blog at first, but further investigation shows it’s owned by a publishing company that owns several major sites, so it might be tricky to beat.
However, the next three results are forum sites and a Quora result. This is exactly what you want to see, and there’s a good chance you can rank for this keyword if you write a good post that answers the question fully.
When you’re researching your blog topic and choosing your niche, you want to make sure you can find plenty of these low competition, longtail keywords. This means you can write content that will give you a good chance of easily attracting search engine traffic to your blog.
A Note About Keyword Research
The method I’ve described above to research a niche and come up with blog post ideas is based on SEO. It will help you to assess the general competition of your niche and find low competition article ideas. This means you can start getting search traffic right away, even with a very new and small blog. This will give you the best chance to start making money as soon as possible from your blog.
Of course, SEO isn’t the only way to bring traffic to your blog and not all of your blog posts have to be written strictly with keywords in mind. Social media can also be a major traffic source for your blog, and you can also use other methods to promote your blog like email marketing.
When you’re focusing on these other methods of traffic, keywords aren’t so important. In fact, you can pretty much write about anything that you think would be interesting to read. Pinterest is full of these kinds of blog posts.
However, I’d still advise focusing on keywords when you get started as a way to generate traffic quickly. As you grow in authority and learn more about which posts do well on your blog, you’ll naturally get a feel for what type of content your audience wants to read.
- How to Use Keywords When Writing a Blog Post
- How To Pick A Profitable Niche & Blog For A Living: 56 Experts Share Their Secrets (NicheHacks)
- 89 Blog Niche Ideas (And How to Choose the Right One) (Blog Tyrant)
- 50 Niche Site Ideas Ripe for the Taking! (Income School)
2. Choosing a Blog Name
Once you’ve decided on a blog niche, the next step is to choose a name for your blog. This can be surprisingly difficult and it’s worth taking some time over to get it right.
The best name for your blog is something that’s catchy and easy to remember and describes what your blog is about, without limiting its potential. Avoid hyphens and numbers in your name and anything that’s difficult to spell.
You can include your main keyword in your domain but you don’t have to. Avoid keyword–focused domains like bestorganicmakeup.com as they look spammy and don’t give you much of an SEO boost these days anyway.
To get you started here are some examples of successful blogs with great names:
- Wellness Mama (parenting, health, and natural living)
- Millennial Money Man (personal finance)
- Young House Love (DIY and interiors)
- Nomadic Matt (travel)
- Pinch of Yum (recipes)
As you can see with these examples, you can have a pretty good guess about what the blog is about, but the names are “brandable”, easy to remember and not too specific.
You also want to make sure that the domain name for your blog is available, preferably in the .com version. (This just makes it more memorable as people are more used to .com domain names.)
To check this, you can go to whois.net, which will tell you if the domain you’re considering is available. You might have to try a few different ideas before you find the perfect domain that isn’t already taken.
- 9 Best Blog Name Generators to Help You Find Good Blog Name Ideas in 2020 (Themeisle)
- How to Name a Blog (the Smart Way) + 40 Blog Name Examples (Ryrob)
3. Choosing a Blogging Platform
So now you know what you’re going to blog about and you’ve decided on a name for your blog. The next step is to set up your blog.
You have two main choices here: You can go for a hosted blogging platform like Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress.com or you can opt to “self-host” your blog, meaning you buy hosting and install a blogging platform like WordPress.
There are many reasons why you might want to blog on a hosted platform – the main ones being that it’s quick and easy to get started. BUT if you want to make money from your blog, I would highly recommend opting for a self-hosted WordPress blog.
The main reason for this is that you’ll have full control over your site from the start. You can get it to look exactly how you want and modify the code if you wish. If you want to add features later such as a forum, online store, or membership site, you can do this easily.
Most importantly, you can run whatever ads or types of monetization you want. You don’t need to worry about terms of service or other restrictions like you do with a hosted service.
WordPress is my blogging platform of choice for several reasons:
- It’s designed specifically for blogging
- It’s easy to install and use
- There are thousands of free and premium themes available
- You can easily extend the functionality with plugins
- There are loads of tutorials and other support available online
- It’s free!
These reasons have made WordPress the platform of choice for many bloggers all over the world. In fact, WordPress powers over 75 million websites or over a third of the entire web!
There’s a bit of a learning curve to WordPress if you’ve not set up a website before, but there are thousands of free tutorials on the web to answer all your questions and walk you through setting up a blog step-by-step, so you shouldn’t feel intimidated.
- The Best Blogging Platforms and Blog Sites for 2020 (Quicksprout)
- WordPress vs Other Content Management Systems (Namecheap)
- Why Use WordPress? A Deep Dive Into 10 Good Reasons (Kinsta)
4. Getting Hosting and Registering Your Domain Name
Ok, so hopefully you’ve now decided on a domain name and settled on WordPress as a blogging platform.
The next step is to buy hosting for your blog.
When it comes to choosing a host, there are literally hundreds of hosting companies to choose from. If you’re just getting started with your blog, I’d recommend one of the three hosts recommended by WordPress.org:
This is because their WordPress hosting packages are very affordable, starting at just a few dollars a month, they make it very easy to set up and manage your site, and they offer excellent support.
I’ve personally used all three of these hosting companies and found them all to offer great service and value for money.
You can choose the cheapest hosting package when you’re getting started, which will be sufficient for one WordPress site. If you want to add more sites or server resources later, it’s easy to upgrade.
Most hosting packages include free domain hosting for one year, or you can register your domain separately with a domain registrar like Namecheap if you wish.
The advantage of doing this is that it’s often cheaper to renew your domain name in the future and it’s easier to move your site later if you want to change hosts. However, don’t worry about it too much – registering your domain name with your host is fine if you want to keep things simple.
Once your blog is getting bigger and attracting more traffic, you might want to consider switching to a managed WordPress hosting service for superior support and to make sure your site is running fast and secure at all times.
5. Setting up Your WordPress Blog
All of the recommended hosts above offer a 1-click installation of WordPress, so it takes no time at all to get a blog online. You’ll just need to fill out some basic information such as the username and password you want to use. Here’s how it looks in Siteground:
Once you click the “Install” button, the WordPress installer will run and set up your blog for you. You’re then ready to log in and start posting if you wish.
However, there are probably a few more things you want to do before you launch your WordPress blog into the world.
Choosing a WordPress Theme
There are thousands of WordPress themes available, so you’re sure to find one you like the look of. You can opt for a free theme or a premium theme, which can cost anything from around $30 to several hundred dollars.
You can change your theme easily, so don’t feel like you’re stuck with the first theme you choose if you change your mind later. You may want to start with a free theme and upgrade to a premium theme later when your blog starts making some money.
Many premium themes also offer a free “lite” version, so if you like the look of the theme you can use it for free, and then upgrade later for additional functionality.
The advantage of using a premium theme is they tend to offer more features and customization options, they’re updated more regularly (important to keep your site secure), and you get more support from the developer.
Whether you choose a free or premium theme, it’s important that you use one from a reputable developer. All the themes in the official WordPress repository are vetted, and you should check the reviews for themes in marketplaces like ThemeForest before you buy.
Some other reputable sites for finding premium themes:
It’s also important to choose a responsive theme. This means that the design automatically adjusts when it’s being viewed on a smaller screen to make sure it’s easy to read on a mobile phone or tablet.
Most themes these days are responsive, but it’s worth double-checking before you install a theme. As over half of web searches now come from mobile devices, you don’t want to end up with a blog that only looks good on a laptop.
After changing your WordPress theme, you should consider adding some plugins to your site. Plugins extend the functionality of your WordPress blog including things such as:
- Making your site more secure
- Optimizing your blog for search engines (SEO)
- Adding image galleries and other features
Basically, whatever you want to do with your site, there’s probably a plugin for it. This means it’s easy to go a bit wild and add loads of plugins, but it’s best not to add more than you need, especially when you’re just starting out. This will keep your site fast and secure.
To find a plugin, log into your new WordPress blog, go to your dashboard and find Plugins > Add New in the menu. You can then search for plugins and install them directly from the dashboard – no need to go hunting around the web and uploading them manually.
The plugins I recommend for setting up your new blog include:
- An SEO plugin like Yoast
- A security plugin like Wordfence
- An image compression plugin like Smush to make your images load faster
- A spam protection plugin like Akismet
- A list building plugin like Optin Forms
- A form plugin like Simple Basic Contact Form or WPForms to make it easy for you to create contact forms
- A social media sharing plugin like Social Snap
- A backup plugin like UpdraftPlus
Adding Pages to Your Blog
It’s a good idea for a new blog to have a few standard pages set up when it launches. Pages are similar to blog posts, but they’re standalone content and won’t show up in your blog feed.
When you start your blog be sure to add:
- An “about” page with some information about you and why you decided to start the blog
- A contact page with a contact form and links to your social media pages
Creating a Google Analytics and Search Console Account
At this point, you’re pretty much ready to start writing on your blog. But there are a couple of more steps you should do that can really help you to make money from your blog later.
Google Analytics is a service from Google that will tell you valuable information about your blog traffic such as how many new visitors you’re getting each day, where these people are, and how they found your site.
Google Search Console is another service from Google for site owners that will tell you what people actually typed into Google to find your blog, as well as other useful information such as how fast it’s loading and if there are any errors on your site.
This information will be crucial for optimizing and growing your blog later. For now, just make sure that you sign up for an account with both and that they’re running and active on your site. You’ll be given instructions on how to do this by pasting some code into your blog or you can use a plugin instead.
6. Creating Your Blog Content
You’re now ready to start creating some content for your blog!
You can use the keyword research you did earlier as a starting point for blog post ideas. Keep looking for more ideas and write down the ones you think will make a good article for your blog.
Blog posts come in many different formats and it’s a good idea to mix things up and create a few different styles of posts. This can also help you to keep coming up with ideas so your content doesn’t get stale.
Some ideas for blog post formats include:
- List posts (e.g. top 10 family holiday destinations)
- Reviews of products and services
- How-to guides
- Round-up posts, where you link to other blogs (e.g. 10 craft ideas for Halloween)
- Interviews with interesting people in your niche
- Commentary on relevant news and current events
- Case studies
- Original research
How Long Should Your Posts Be?
There’s some evidence that long blog posts (of around 2,000 words or more) tend to do better than short blog posts, both in terms of SEO and monetization. Statistically, they’re shared more on social media and attract more links than posts of 500 words or less.
This does depend on the content of course – if a quick and snappy post provides the information the reader is looking for, there’s no need to write for pages.
But in general, you should try to make your posts as useful as possible, and this means including as much useful information as possible. So naturally, blog posts that cover their topic in-depth will be longer than those that just give a brief overview.
It’s also good to mix things up a bit. Don’t try to make all your blog posts the same length. Just as you should write a combination of different types of blog posts, you should also publish a mixture of short and simple posts with longer and more detailed posts.
How Often Should You Publish New Blog Posts?
As often as you can!
The key is being consistent. If you only have time for posting one post a week (or once a month if you’re writing really in-depth, long posts), that’s fine. But it’s more important to stick to a consistent posting schedule than to publish a burst of content and then nothing for months.
You can’t attract a regular audience if you aren’t posting regularly. Consistent content publication is also an important sign to Google that your site is active and being updated regularly.
Basically, the more content you can publish, the faster your blog will grow and the faster you can start making money. But don’t sacrifice quality for quantity. One really good post is much better than 10 badly written posts.
Basic SEO for Bloggers
When you’re writing posts targeting keywords, it’s important to make sure your post is properly structured and written so that Google and other search engines know what it’s about.
SEO or search engine optimization is the art and science of structuring your website and content to make sure it’s easy for searchers to find.
This is a huge topic and there are literally books written on SEO. It’s worth taking some time to investigate further, but keep the basics in mind when you’re writing new posts:
- Try to include your main keywords in your heading, sub-headings, and first paragraph if possible
- Give your images descriptive file names, including your keywords if it’s appropriate, and fill out the alt tag text in WordPress
- Use categories for your blog posts and give them short, descriptive names
- Link to your other posts where it makes sense to do so
- Write a meta description for each post.
There are SEO plugins for WordPress like Yoast and Rank Math that can help you to optimize your posts.
But most importantly, your posts should be written for people, not search engines. Write appealing headlines, keep your sentences and paragraphs short, use subheadings and bullets to break up your text, and highlight key phrases in bold to make your post easy to scan.
- The Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas (Digital Marketer)
- The Ulitimate List of 95 Blogpost Ideas for Creating Craveable Content to Share on Social (Buffer)
- How Often Should You (or Your Company) Blog? (Hubspot)
- How Long Should Your Blog Articles Be? (Neil Patel)
- Blog SEO: How to Search Engine Optimize Your Blog Content (Hubpsot)
7. How to Monetize Your Blog
So now it’s time to get to the fun stuff. You’ve laid all the groundwork and you should have the beginnings of a blog that has a good chance of making you some cash.
There are several different ways you can monetize your blog, but before you get stuck into these, it’s important to make sure you’re on the right side of the law.
The FTC requires that bloggers include a disclosure to inform readers if they’re endorsing a product. Make sure you read up on FTC guidelines before getting started with affiliate links or paid product endorsements (sponsored posts).
Ad networks and affiliate networks also have their own guidelines and requirements that you must follow. Not sticking to the rules could mean your account is closed, or you may even have to pay a fine, so make sure you read and understand them before you do anything else.
So with that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get on to the different monetization options available to you as a blogger.
Affiliate marketers link to products and services from their websites and get paid a percentage of the sale price when someone buys it through their link.
This is one of the most popular ways to monetize a blog because it’s easy, but also because it can be quite lucrative. While inexpensive products may only get a commission payment of a few cents, some affiliate programs offer generous payouts that can amount to hundreds of dollars each sale for high-value products and services.
There are many affiliate programs that you can apply to as a blogger. One of the most popular is Amazon Associates, but there are many other affiliate networks worth exploring such as AWIN and CJ Affiliate. Some brands also offer their own direct affiliate program.
Adding an ad network to your blog is another very easy way to monetize it. Simply put the code for the ads on your site, and every time someone clicks an ad you’ll make anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars (or more in some cases).
These ads can be quite lucrative if your site is getting a lot of traffic, or you’re in a niche that attracts highly paid ads (such as financial topics).
Google Adsense is one of the easiest ad networks to get approved for, and you can start using it as soon as you set your blog up. Other networks like Mediavine, Ezoic, and AdThrive are worth experimenting with when you have higher traffic levels (at least 10,000 monthly pageviews.)
Selling Ad Space
As well as using ad networks, many bloggers sell advertising space directly on their site. This needs a bit more work to set up and manage (there are plugins available to make this easier), but you can set your own price for ads.
You can sell banner ads, sidebar ads, or ads in your posts, and charge on a weekly or monthly basis for each ad. The money you can make depends on how much advertisers are willing to pay, which will generally be in line with your traffic levels.
Sponsored Posts and Selling Links
Another alternative to selling advertising is by offering sponsored posts to brands. This means writing a blog post about their product or services in exchange for payment.
A variation of this is selling a link in either a new or existing blog post. Building links helps to improve site SEO, so many site owners and SEO agencies are willing to buy links if your blog has some authority.
It’s up to you to negotiate the terms for offering a sponsored post or paid link on your site. Some agencies will only be willing to pay $30 or so for a link on a small blog, while big-name bloggers can charge thousands of dollars for a single sponsored post.
You can also sell sponsored posts on your social media channels if you attract a big following.
Selling Digital Products and Memberships
Once you start to build trust and authority in your niche, you’ll find that people are willing to pay for your knowledge and expertise.
At this stage, you can create your own digital products to sell on your blog. Depending on your skills and niche, this could be:
- An e-book
- A course
- A private membership forum
- Printables and templates
- Image filters, graphics, and designs
- Software and apps
There’s not much point trying to sell your own products until you have a loyal following, but they can greatly increase your income potential once you’ve built up authority.
For example, Michelle Schroeder-Gardner from the blog Making Sense of Cents increased her annual blog income by over $650,000 when she introduced her first product.
Selling Physical Products
As well as creating your own digital products, you could offer physical products for sale.
You can do this in a couple of ways. You could actually develop and create your own product like blogger Pat Flynn did with his SwitchPod tripod for vloggers.
Or if you’re not quite ready to create your own product yet, you could set up an e-commerce store selling products you’ve curated. If you do this with a dropshipping model you don’t even need to worry about the logistics of keeping stock and shipping out products.
This could work well in a niche like interior design for selling homewares.
Finally, many bloggers use their blog to bring in potential customers for services that they offer. Some of the most common services offered by bloggers include:
- Freelance writing
- SEO and social media management
You can potentially make a lot of money with this method if you charge high rates for your services. However, it’s less passive than other monetization options and you’ll have to balance the time you spend on your blog with the time you spend freelancing and working for others.
8. Growing Your Audience and Scaling Your Blog
It’s probably easier than you think to make your first dollar from blogging. But most bloggers will agree that getting to $1,000 a month is very difficult indeed.
Once you’ve reached this milestone, you’ve successfully cracked the code to making money from blogging. From there, it’s just a case of scaling up to multiply your income until it replaces the salary from your day job and beyond.
Growing your audience is the key to increasing your blog income, and there are many ways you can do this over time:
- Write more blog posts. More content = more traffic from search engines
- Grow your presence on social media and send traffic to your blog from Pinterest, Facebook, and other social networks
- Consider starting a YouTube channel or Podcast to reach a wider audience and add more value to your blog
- Guest post on other blogs to build awareness of your brand and send traffic to your blog.
- Improve your on-site SEO and build links to your blog through various methods to increase its authority.
- Start building an email list and market affiliate offers and digital products to your subscribers.
At this stage, you might want to think about outsourcing some of your blogging tasks. There’s only so much one person can do, and you’ll be severely limiting your income potential if you try to do everything yourself forever.
If you investigate the most successful bloggers, you’ll find that they have a whole team helping out behind the scenes. Some tasks that you could consider outsourcing include:
- General admin and replying to emails (to a VA or virtual assistant)
- Content creation
- Social media marketing
- Video editing
- Graphics creation
- 4 Business Tasks to Automate and Personalize
- How to Grow Your Blog to 100k Monthly Visitors (From Scratch) (Sujan Patel)
- How to Outsource Your Content to Freelance Writers (4 Steps) (A-hrefs)
- The Entrepreneurs Guide to Outsourcing Work Without Losing Quality (Neil Patel)
Once you’ve got systems in place and start treating your blog like a business rather than a hobby, the sky really is the limit. There’s no reason why you can’t make six figures a year, or even more from your blog. With a proper plan and a lot of hard work, you could join one of the many who have blogged their way to success.