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.
A blog itself isn't really a business—it's more of a platform for other income streams. Your content alone won't likely make you money. Instead, you'll have to get advertisers, sell services like consulting or speaking, use affiliate marketing to get a percentage of sales from links people click on your blog, or maybe offer products like ebooks or premium content to actually generate income. ProBlogger has an excellent post about these different ways you can make money.
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.
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.
If you are interested in covering a broad topic that many people already write about, create multiple specialized blogs instead and link between them when the subjects overlap. For instance, if you are a nutrition expert, write one blog about healthy weight management, another one about child nutrition, and another about growing your own vegetables.
I’ve been building online businesses and e-commerce websites since 2000. I would never in my life start a new website with a “free” blogging or “free” website platform. If you do, within months your website is going to start growing, and you’re going to have to switch to a paid platform anyway. You will have thrown away all that time (and lost money in the process).
Very useful, applicable and dare I say inspiring post, Jon! I feel I’m ready to systematically implement all of your solutions (and similar ones offered by others) but I often wonder if I would have more success starting a new blog from scratch, than trying to up the ante with my existing blog. It would be nice to have time for both! Great post though, I will be bookmarking (and sharing, cuz you asked) this one.
And one last note to add: in regards to being thoughtful and caring about other people, the best blogging day I ever had was when I wrote a post about a group in Africa- no affiliate marketing-nothing in it financially for me. That post was sent all around Facebook and helped my stats tremendously. I’ve decided to permanently promote the needs of the group as it focuses my giving theme to one area.
Write content. I like to write an article from beginning to end with no breaks. It may take me an hour to write an article or I may be at it all day. Sometimes, content does span a few days, but for the most part, I like to finish a piece of content in one sitting. I then hand over the content to my editor to fix anything from grammar, punctuation, to the general flow of the article. The only thing she doesn't edit is my monthly income report.
I don’t think enough can be said for working a part time job. In this last year I finally set out to claim my stake in the internet world after years of saying “maybe tomorrow”, and your blog was one of the big ones that helped me devise a strategy for going forward and putting my ideas into practice. Because despite all my ambitions, I didn’t know what to do – originally I wanted to move forward with 2 blogs and expected to get to 1000 subscribers in a couple months, but I know that’s not really realistic now.
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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.
Membership sites can improve your traffic, growth and even the engagement of your readers. Remember: people who register as members also tend to be loyal . . . and loyal readers are the best readers. It means that they trust you. If you continue to provide great services and products for them, they will continue to pay for their monthly subscriptions.
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.
Great article Jamie! I’ve only ever used affiliate links on my blog but recently I’ve been getting a lot of text-link offers. A typical email will ask a link to be put into one of my articles (relating to the content or website they want to link back to) and they offer anywhere between $50-$150 per link. Given the nature of your article, I just wanted to check your thoughts on such offers. Are they legitimate or should I have red flags go up as I’d hate to think they increase spam or worse yet affect google ranking or break basic rules of website T&Cs. Again, I’m not familiar in monetizing via such offers and googling about it didn’t give me much info. Thanking you in advance.
Jon, thanks for this awesome post. My question is, what do you think of blogs who ask for donations or claim to sustain themselves by them? (Also books and products). But what do you think about the donation itself and if you´re pro-donation, when is a good time to start asking for it in a blog? Thanks a lot for your time. Hope some day I can meet you Im from and live in Mexico
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.
Your newsletter is all yours. Unlike with social media websites like Pinterest and Facebook, your newsletter and email subscribers are all yours, and you have their undivided attention. You don't have to worry about some social media algorithm not showing your content to your readers, as they are your email subscribers so you aren't fighting with anyone else to have them see your content.
Make it easy for readers to browse – If you want more pageviews, you should make it as easy as possible for readers to read your other blog posts. You will want to make it easy for readers to find your blog homepage, categories, tags, search bar, and so on. Also, I recommend including links in every single one of your blog posts, so readers can easily find related topics.