Affiliate sales comprise a large chunk of revenue for most big-name bloggers. For instance, Pat Flynn made $53K last month from affiliate sales, compared to "just" $9,500 from book sales. In general, look for affiliate products with higher price points; web hosting companies are a great choice if it makes sense in your niche, with payouts of anywhere from $60-$130+ per signup.

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.
Make it easy. My blog name isn't the easiest for a person to spell, and even I sometimes jumble it when I'm spelling it to someone. So, my top tip would be to make sure that it is easy to type. I've seen blog names that are extremely long, contain words that are difficult to spell, and so on. Instead, you should make it as easy as possible for your readers.
Understand the difference between total revenue and net income. Most income reports tout total revenue. Net income or profit (what really matters) is often buried in the post. I came across an income report recently with a super impressive number in the title (and Pinterest image). It was total revenue. Not until I read the whole post did I learn this blogger spent well over half their total revenue on Facebook Ads alone. On top of that, they had an extensive list of expenses. By the end of the post I realized I had netted more than they did the previous month.
If you’ve spent a lot of time writing that week and just need a break from working on a post, it may be a productive way to spend an hour or two but I personally think your time could be better spent elsewhere. (This isn’t to say that you can’t find success utilizing this method, I just don’t see many/any people doing it and reporting back that it’s really helped them).
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.

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 begin making money from a blog 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.
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:

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:


Think of new article topic ideas. I have a long list of over 100 possible article topics that I keep on my laptop as well as on my phone. I think of the many, many topics that you'll find on Making Sense of Cents through life experiences, reader questions, research and articles that I've come across (like if I see a crazy statistic that I find interesting, I'll then turn it into a long article), and so on.
SEO helps improve your website’s visibility in unpaid search engine rankings (also called organic results). If your website is placed higher in search engine results, you are more likely to receive increased traffic to your website. Knowledge of SEO will increase your traffic, thus bringing in readers and the potential to earn money through those readers.
The reason this section is called “Great Content” is because your content really does need to be of a high standard. Everyday millions of blog posts are published on the internet and with so much competition for our limited attention spans you really have to be creating blog posts people are going to want to read and perhaps even share on social media or on their own blogs.
NOTE: I’ll get into this in the section on Helping Other Bloggers, but be sincere in your help. If you only seek out to get something out of someone else, you won’t form a relationship with that person. I’ve liked Stephanie’s blog and content since I first saw it. She has an amazing story of being broke in New York City, and she’s built this amazing personal finance business in just a couple years. I help Stephanie because I like Stephanie, not because I want or expect to get anything out of the relationship.
Jaime, this is an excellent article. I’ve been blogging for fun for over four years, In the last year I’ve branched out and started a self-hosted blog about blogging for fun. I’m at the point think I have enough to offer on that subject and a few others. There are so many steps to get started, I think it overwhelms people, including those of us who are comfortable blogging. There are lots of courses available, but most of them that I’ve tried are pretty general. Do you recommend getting a coach?
Loved this article. I do get caught up with wasting time sharing to Twitter and Facebook and not seeing the traffic. I had my 1st Blogiversary in Nov 2014 and am getting a lot of positive feedback but not seeing the traffic. How do you get on some guest blog spots? We have an 1820 Farmhouse and do most of the work restoring the house and also I have a passion for cooking so I do a lot of food presentation and recipes. Love to hear what you think at BeFedAgain.com

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.
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”.
×