If you're passionate about a subject and you have decent writing skills, blogging definitely could be an alternative career path for you. The short answer is, yes, it is possible to make a living—a very good one, even—by writing online. On the other hand, the hard truth is most of the millions of bloggers today don't make enough to support themselves just with their blogs. Let's take a look at what's involved.
If you want to really make money with your blog, you need to create a mailing list using one of the billions of email service providers out there. I use and love ConvertKit, but if you are just getting started and don’t understand sales funnels, sequences, or tagging you might want to start off with something simpler and free. If that is the case go with MailChimp where you get the first 2,000 subscribers free or Mailer Lite.
I would much rather go back to cleaning a gym than offering some crappy dieting product that doesn’t work. I know a lot of people reading this need to make a bit of extra income quickly, but it’s very important to not ruin your blog’s long term brand and image over a few quick dollars. Even if you have to work a basic entry job offline for a while it’s a much better option.
The easiest PPC method to get started with is Google AdSense. However, in order to make any kind of decent money with display ads, you’ll need quite a bit of traffic. And by the time you get that much traffic, you’ll make more money going with an ad management company like Mediavine (minimum of 25,000 monthly impressions) or AdThrive (minimum of 100,000 monthly pageviews).
Allow readers to purchase your own products or donate to your cause through your blog. If you have an online store for selling arts and crafts, or you create T-shirt designs available through a clothing website, provide links to those sites. Including a PayPal button for quick, safe purchases or donations is a common way to monetize creative blogs, or blogs that provide free advice or assistance to those who can't afford it.
Search for blogs that cover similar topics. Use a search engine and the search bar on blog hosting sites to find blogs that cover your topic or related topic. Read a few blog posts from the most popular ones, that show up high on the search ranking, have the most comments, or display a readership of 20,000 or more. Get an idea for how much interest and competition there is.
Don’t get me wrong I have made many mistakes along the way but once I knew what I was doing it became a lot easier and more enjoyable. Many of my friends have emailed me or called me to find out more about “What Jamie Does”, but it can be a little hard to sink in at first as to how you can actually make a real income from running a successful blog(s). Therefore I have decided to create this guide for my friends, family, email subscribers and anyone else who wants to start doing “What Jamie Does”.
You always share valuable messages with your readers, Jon. Sharing your wisdom and what you’ve learned from your experiences is appreciated. I still recall one of your suggestions in your original April 2014 version of this post to begin by offering services. I followed your advice and learned loads of insight from conversations with clients and referral sources. It’s interesting that you mentioned your success with guest webinars in the original post and with hosting webinars on your own site in this post. Hmm… It may be worthwhile to think about growing blogging businesses by speaking more often with your current or potential audience. ~Keri
Thanks Donna for taking the time to write this excellent comment. I agree with you 100%. A blog can give you an income from offline sources and is a great way of diversifying into different areas, but again it also depends on the niche you find yourself in. I always say to people to not be too reliant on one source of traffic or one source of income, because they can vanish pretty quickly.
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.
And so, I guess my question here would simply be–would a person who follows your blog about TV shows be interested in paying for a TV-related webinar you created? Would a person who follows your blog about vinyl record collecting want to buy an online course from you? Would a person who follows a travel blog you created want to call you up for coaching lessons?
Just make sure that the e-book builds on your blog output—don’t simply rehash what they have already seen! After all, these people are now paying customers and will get upset with old information. Later on, as you become more established and your archived material becomes more extensive, you can poll your readers to learn what topics they’d be interested in learning more about and interested in purchasing.
Amazing article. I’d like to stress so much on funnel building. You can collect all the emails in the world, however if you do not have a tested system, all those emails will go to waste. Value is so much more important than just selling. If your audience feels they are getting something in return, be sure they will take that next step to buy a product or service from you because they know you and trust your advice…
Hi Sam! I love your site. We should definitely connect. I’m a school counselor and recently launched a site for parents to address pertinent teen topics. Like you, I struggle with the ultimate service I’d eventually offer on my site, but Ramsay’s idea is a great start. He’s absolutely right that people are looking for fresh content for their sites! Best of luck to you and I hope we can collaborate.