Thanks for sharing all this useful and relevant information Jon. The most interesting and surprising lesson was the one where you mentioned that spending a lot of time on social media outlets doesn’t really help. I also specifically liked how you set the tone about the fact that you’re not just a blogger and that you’re an expert…etc. This is some confidence needed to be successful in anything.
OK, I’m going to show my age…a couple of decades ago, the public relations profession was in trouble and thoroughly misunderstood. As a profession, it lacked luster. So, the pros (me among them, though I was a cub then:) worked on a national public relations campaign for public relations. It worked. Public relations became recognized as a true profession, though there were and still are nitwits that don’t get it.
Narrow down the topics by reflecting on profitability and other goals. In order to make money, you'll need to find a niche that other people haven't filled already, but is still popular enough to attract a significant number of visitors. Also consider other factors, such as money you'd have to spend if your blog focused on reviewing products that you in turn would have to buy.
Use a contextual ad service. Once your blog contains high quality content and has begun to attract an audience, you can make money using Google Adsense, WordAds, or any other contextual ad service. These automatically generate ads in the amount, size, and placement you specify, matching the ads chosen to the topics you write about. The more readers who click on the ads shown on your site, the more money the advertisers will pay you.
Hi, of course a freestyle blog can be profitable, you have to research the market that your audience is interested in. So what topic(s) (read: niches) do you write about. Do some research in Google and see if any ads pop up. If none, that topic is probably not a very good one. The key is to write great posts, provide great content, build an email list and research what your list is interested in (hint: use polls to check that out, let’s say if you are considering to become an affiliate for amazon and you want to promote cooking books, just an example, you could ask your subscribers to go to a poll you created about what books they love to read, and add cooking books as one of the options, plus several others, to make it more attractive, promise that they can win a reward or so, a free product or free service or even $25 will take them to your 1 minute poll). Also: learn about doing keyword research in Google keywords tool. And learn a bit about SEO done the proper way. Now don’t think you learn this in a week. It can take many years to master this art, but at least a year, if you study like crazy. Make sure your content is great, over deliver in great content, so people LOVE to subscribe to your list, offer a freebie that they will LOVE, and to find out what they would Love you can do a poll in your blog post(s) to research various interests your readers have. Then see if there are affiliate programs for that. Before my reply becomes longer then Jon’s article, I think I leave now, but you get the point…. go do your homework kid 😉 Good luck with your booming business! Believe you can do it, because you can, but you need to work hard, and learn the art of building trust and offering what your readers and subscribers Love…. Woohoo, go do your research now!
As you can see there is no shortage of methods with regards to making money on your blog. While it might be tempting to try and make money right away, I would advise you to focus on getting a nice foundation built up. Offering services from day 1 can work out for you and bring in some clients, but as your blog grows you’ll find that your time is better spent making products.
Thanks for the update, Jon. I’ve been blogging for over 11 years. In that time I’ve seen a LOT of changes. In fact, the number one change is change itself. What used to work (Google Adwords, keyword optimization) is actually a way to lose traffic now. I’ve seen eBooks come and go, as well as video marketing, podcasting, and social media marketing. The secret is they all work, for the right message, and the right person. The hard part is, to find the right message for your brand/personality takes a lot of hard work, a lot of experimentation, and months/years of time. Thanks for laying it on the line. Blogging can be a viable occupation, just don’t quit your day job until you’ve found what works for you.

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.
Wow, are you kidding me? 100k a month? That is insane! I knew if you had a really popular blog you could make good money, but 100k a month?! That is a year’s salary for doctors. I am a blogger myself and make no where close to that. I make enough for a living in hope of some day catching up to you. You instilled a little bit of fire in me, knowing that there is someone achieving the impossible.

Making money through blogging requires a carefully thought out topic. If you have an existing blog with a small audience, be honest when considering whether the topic has broad appeal that isn't already covered by other established bloggers. If it does, great! Otherwise, there's nothing wrong with starting a second blog that will be more successful in attracting an audience, marketing itself, and making money through a variety of methods described below.
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:
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