Jon Morrow is the gold standard in this arena, and this post encapsulates that. He consulted with me at the launch of my blog, and these 20 principles feel like evolutions of that great advice. My numbers are nowhere near his (frankly, my subscriber list seems fixed lately), but my experience validates the core of what’s here: it’s all about consulting, leading to products (in my case, a bit of the other way around, via a book that arose from my website/blog). If you can afford Jon (I can’t), go for it… provided you truly are an “expert” in a given field, one that other people will pay to listen to. If you can’t, or aren’t (at least yet), just read everything he’s written, here and elsewhere.
Direct Income – when I started making money from my blogs it was through ‘direct’ income streams. I put AdSense ads on my blog and promoted some products on Amazon as an affiliate and the more readers I had the more income began to trickle in (it really was a trickle at first). In time as my traffic grew this income grew and I was also able to experiment with other direct forms of income such as selling advertising directly to advertisers.
Consider a free blogging service. Many people opt to create a free blog using popular services such as WordPress.com or Google Blogger. This is a good option for people who aren't familiar with web design, don't want to pay for their own hosting, or enjoy the ease and stability that comes with these services. These services do have limitations on how you can make money using them, however, so make sure your blog won't break the terms of service.
Affiliate marketing is a blog monetization method in which you place a link to a product or company on your website or a social media platform in an attempt to make an income from followers purchasing the product through your link (this is called an affiliate link). Affiliate marketing can be a great way to make money blogging because if there is a product or company that you enjoy, all you have to do is review the product and hopefully others will be interested in buying it as well.
Advertising is easy to start, making it a popular income stream for many bloggers. However, it’s not nearly as lucrative as it once was and it requires a lot of traffic to be truly profitable. Also, it runs the risk of frustrating your readers (ever been on a site only to be assaulted by the ads?) and making your site look cheap and unsophisticated. Therefore, it’s not a top recommendation of mine.
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).
Just be aware that affiliate marketing with the wrong company can damage your brand. For instance, I started my blog w/ Blue Host because of Pat Flynn’s recommendation – which I am sure he was paid for. I am now on day 5 of my site, and e-mail being down, with NO estimate from Blue Host as to when it will be back up. As a consequence, I wouldn’t buy a thing he suggested or endorsed, because of my experience with someone he put his seal of approval on. Blue Host has a HORRIBLE reputation among the community, and I even wonder if anyone would “recommend” them unless they were being paid.
The point that especially resonated with me was the patience factor. This blog/website business is a huge undertaking and your message served as a helpful reminder that it takes time to build. I’ve been frustrated by the amount of traffic since my launch in February, but your post reminded me to readjust my expectations and just keep investing my time and energy in this. Thanks for the helpful insight! For the next few months, my focus is on just building quality content and then I’ll figure out if there’s a way to offer a service from my site…still trying to come up with that!
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: