Sometimes I think we just need permission to do the things we love without having to make a living at it. So I'm giving you permission. I'm telling you it's fine for you to have a blog that gives you an outlet for your creativity, allows you to talk about things that are important to you and lets you stay connected to friends and family. You don't have to try to monetize your joy.
Great post, thank you! I found this to be very useful. I have just got into the Pay Per Click method and it is a great way of building a passive income. Due to my niche, I have found it difficult to source good affiliate networks, but just today I have revisited the accounts I set up on Link Share and CJ, to my surprise they offer a good range of affiliate programs, many of which cater to my niche blog topic :)
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.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that making money blogging is not possible by putting your site up and letting it sit there. The “if you build it, they will come” mentality doesn’t work here, so be sure you’re willing to put in the time. Most bloggers don’t see a spike of income for several months (sometimes years) after starting their blog. Before you dive too deep into blogging, remember these little bits of advice:
Facebook – Depending on your niche you can expect to pay about $1 per click to your blog, but there are many variables that can influence how much you will pay. Depending on the nature of your business this can provide some excellent ROI in terms of initial sales, but the main focus of this ad campaign is to get people to your blog. Wow them with your content and get them to opt-in to your email list for more updates.
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?
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).

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.

Just started an idea and discovered your info. Very helpful. I am over 50 and a little late in the tech game because of past jobs that required little or no time in front of a computer. I am a very good writer with many a published article to my name over the years BUT now journal writing by hand does little or no good in the world of tech. When I get this blogging thing going, it is gonna explode.
Some blogs are focused on getting paid to provide links to news articles, company stores, or other third party websites. The most financially successful of these range from the Drudge, a blog composed almost entirely of conservative-leaning news links, to Smashing Magazine, a site that provides advice and product reviews to help software developers.[5][6]

Within a month, I had On Moneymaking off the ground, and within two months, it was getting 2,000 visitors a day and Performancing nominated it for the best business/money blog of the year. A couple of months after that, Brian Clark asked me to become the Associate Editor of Copyblogger, and so I sold On Moneymaking for five figures and went to work at one of the most popular blogs at the world.

Just thinking aloud here – but maybe you could put a guide together to help people choose the best art for their homes? Maybe in time offer a consultancy service – I bet there are some people who would pay someone to choose the art for them? I’ve seen that you are a self-taught artist – able to offer courses/consultancy on helping others learn art?
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!
So yeah, it sucks. It’s the truth. But sometimes we need to do things that “suck” in order to get us where we want to be (which means being okay with were we are now, but not being content with it). The truth is, though, working part-time helps me pay rent and gives me food and shelter, and allows me to scrape by and focus on what really matters, and that’s working towards my dreams and writing every day I can.
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.
Jeff, first article of yours I’ve read. Excellent stuff! I’m following Michelle as well and am floored at the potential. I’m starting right now to implement all your suggestions. I’ve not yet set up my website email, but hey, one bite at a time, right? I’m looking forward to making a contribution to the interwebs. At this moment, by site is a blank slate, but I have several posts written in Google Docs of which to choose from. Cheers!
If you’re passionate about something, it will show in your content. Readers will be able to see your genuineness and will be attracted to that. This is probably the most important thing you will learn about blogging. You can try everything in the world and use every tool known to man to be successful, but if you’re not genuine, people will see right through it.
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