Hi! This was hands down one of the most helpful posts I’ve ever read about how to make blogging a realistic career path. I love how honest and open you were in both suggesting the good but reminding me of the bad choices out there, some of which I know I would/have made. I found your blog after hanging my head from another post on yet another site saying to forget about blogging as your source of income. Completely ignoring that advice and seeking out some that matched my determination, I found yours and so glad I did! Thank you again for this awesome post – it’s officially made it into my favorites bar to come back to.
Awesome post so far, Jon. I’ll have to read the full post in the morning since it’s nigh time at where I live. I just have one question. Is it profitable for a freestyle blogger to affiliate marketing? If I’m correct, affiliate marketing is more suitable for niche-based sites, right? Are freestyle blogs even profitable? I’m just starting out, so can you recommend me something?
I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this one. I was blown away that you don’t have ads on your site. I have ads on my site and I’m reading along thinking your advice is to forget the ads and sell products. As a food blogger, my mind goes to e-cookbooks, actual hold-in-your-hand cookbooks, books on how to start a food blog and how to do food photography. But according to this post, those I should sell later…the cheaper products. I can’t think of what “services” I could offer, other than offering to come over and cook for them (not happening) and I’m not quite an expert at offering services of personally coaching someone’s food blog. Maybe I’m just too green for that 🙂 Am I missing the point?

In-depth tutorials are great for getting links and social shares. However, they can also be a great way to earn money on your blog. There are a number of ways you can make this happen - include affiliate links for the products you use in your tutorial; promote your own products in the tutorial; write a tutorial to promote an advertiser's product (just be clear that it's a sponsored post), etc.


Premium content can mean any type of content you charge for - an ebook, whitepaper, downloadable guide, etc. But what I'm referring to here is pay-gated content. Basically you just put some awesome content up behind a paywall, which means visitors pay to access it. You can get your own paywall set up in 10 minutes or less using a plugin like MemberPress or Paid Memberships Pro.


Find something that other people are interested in, too. If you choose to write about Himalayan basket weaving for men, you probably won’t have many readers, and you’ll have a hard time earning any income. Try to find something that combines your interests with things other people also care about. For my main blog, I write about money advice. I’m a personal finance nerd but, fortunately, there are people online looking for that type of information, too.
Include keywords in important places. Include them in your blog post title, the large "headers" introducing a new section, the first few sentences of your post, and in links. Change your settings so each blog post's URL includes the title of the post, not the date it was posted. Try to make these as descriptive as possible to raise your ranking in search results and attract the right audience.
Of course, offering products and services doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive from using ads. You can do both, but what I see happen is that when you start to make $5 from ads you try to figure out how you can make even more and that becomes your focus. The tactics you use to boost your ad revenues are often the ones that prevent you from building your list and promoting your own products.

I went ahead and joined the Amazon affiliate program, but even though I get numerous clicks, there haven’t been any conversions, yet. Because of this, I might get dropped, but you can always re-apply later. I just don’t have enough traffic, yet. If I had to do it all over again, I would not have signed up for a program with time limits so soon. It feels like artificial pressure. I have three other affiliates; all of them relate to my blog content.
A blog is not a blog without content so once you’ve set your blog up you need to focus your attention upon creating useful content. What you choose to create will depend a little on the topic that you choose to write about (on that note, most successful bloggers have some focus to their blogging whether that be a niche or a demographic that they write for).
Adsense is a contextual advertising network that places partner (business) ads on your website. It’s easy to set up—all you have to do is copy and paste some code given to you from Google in the places you'd like the ads to appear on your website. Google will then show ads from advertisers that are a match to the content on your website so that ideally your website visitors see relevant ads.

Fortunately, there are many resources available to help. In addition to the BlogHer events and site, some of my personal favorites for learning tips on writing compelling content, marketing and monetizing are Fizzle.com, MichaelHyatt.com and Problogger.net. All three provide lots of free advice (and more in-depth training and support is available for a fee).

I know many personal finance writers with blogs that track the financial mess they got themselves into. They don't have financial degrees, but they are doing very well for themselves and help many people with their experiences. Many times, readers just want to hear from you, follow a real person's journey, read about how a real person made it through a problem, and so on. This is a great example of why degrees are not always needed.

Your newsletter is all yours. Unlike social media sites, your newsletter and email subscribers are all yours, and you have their undivided attention. You don't have to worry about algorithms not displaying your content to readers, and this is because they are your email subscribers. You aren't fighting with anyone else to have them see your content.


The answer is yes. However, I would caution against it. The reason is, when you use a free service, you don’t have as much control over your blog—the free service does. This can be risky, especially if you will rely on your blog for income. A self-hosted WordPress blog is my recommendation and can be started very inexpensively. See my step-by-step tutorial here.
Include keywords in important places. Include them in your blog post title, the large "headers" introducing a new section, the first few sentences of your post, and in links. Change your settings so each blog post's URL includes the title of the post, not the date it was posted. Try to make these as descriptive as possible to raise your ranking in search results and attract the right audience. 

Lets say, for example, that you refurbish and resell used smartphones out of your home. You could use a blog to attract visitors to your website where you list your current phones for sale. Your blog might cover topics about DIY refurbishing. On one level, it seems counterintuitive because you want people to buy your phones, but it also helps you build a brand and gain recognition. Social media guru Jay Baer explains the concept on Copyblogger:
In-depth tutorials are great for getting links and social shares. However, they can also be a great way to earn money on your blog. There are a number of ways you can make this happen - include affiliate links for the products you use in your tutorial; promote your own products in the tutorial; write a tutorial to promote an advertiser's product (just be clear that it's a sponsored post), etc.

Even though you have to pay for your own web hosting out of pocket, going this route allows you much more flexibility in terms of site design and usability. And don’t worry, hosting is really inexpensive, especially if you take advantage of our 42% off coupon code with Hostgator (BTOP42). Depending on your hosting plan, it shouldn’t end up costing you more than a few dollars a month.


This is all great information from someone who has had connections and still has connections for year. If you never worked at copyblogger you’d have a real job. In other words…you got lucky and the other 1988098804880979 million bloggers out there won’t have your right place right time luck and therefore won’t have your connections and therefore won’t make this kind of money. Your bragging is embarrassing and shameful!
If you want to be famous or reach a wide audience, you will have to choose something slightly broader and work hard to make the best content for that topic. A subtopic relating to fitness, finance, or relationship advice is likely to reach the most people. Consider specific but broadly applicable topics such as managing money in college, or a marriage counseling blog.
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