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.
WordPress also have a variety of plugins that make it easy to put social sharing buttons on your blog posts. Some people like to limit the number of plugins they use on their WordPress blog because it can slow the blog down and it can open your blog up to more attacks, butt a social sharing plugin is one that should have high priority if you do choose to use plugins.
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.
As you build up your blog, expect to receive multiple sponsored post requests each day. These native ads can be a highly effective way for businesses to reach your audience in a non-threatening way - and they can be a highly effective way for you to make a lot of money. Just make sure the posts are actually interesting and relevant to your audience, and that you fully disclose the sponsored nature of the post.
If you want to be famous or reach a wide audience, you will have to choose something slightly broader and work hard to make the best content for that topic. A subtopic relating to fitness, finance, or relationship advice is likely to reach the most people. Consider specific but broadly applicable topics such as managing money in college, or a marriage counseling blog. 

If you want a more concrete answer than that, we’ve found it takes even our smartest, most dedicated students 3-6 years to make enough money from blogging to quit their jobs. And that sounds like a long time, but so what? 3-6 years to be able to work from anywhere in the world, take a vacation whenever you want, and probably have passive income until the day you die?
I mean, of course I’d come up with suitable content for Forbes should they wish to publish me, haha, but honestly we’d be happy with guest posting on even mildly popular travel blogs. The problem up to now, as I mentioned above, is that nobody wants to let us guest post, they want us to pay to do a sponsored post since our blog is attached to our business. If my blog was MexicoMike.com instead of http://blog.geckorockresort.com/ then it wouldn’t be an issue, but as soon as anyone sees the name of our business they incorrectly assume we’re loaded 🙂
Brainstorm keywords for each blog post. Keywords are the important words that relate to the topic of your blog, and specifically the new subtopic you cover each time you post. Choosing relevant keywords that people search for frequently will increase the visibility of your blog, attract more readers, and show them advertisements they are likely to click.
Jon, this is a great article. Thank you. As usual, you are full of useful information. I am new to blogging (just launched in March) and I initially started with the small e-mail list from my business website, which does not have a blog. I started a completely new website after realizing I was on the wrong platform altogether to grow an audience. I learned this thanks to the information you and other professional bloggers provide. You recommend affiliate marketing to monetize a small new blog, which are my exact thoughts for my blog. Do you have an affiliate program? If so I would love to promote your info on my site. Thanks again!
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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