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.
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.
Make sure it's easy to share your content – I love sharing posts on social media. However, it gets frustrating when some blogs make it more difficult than it needs to be. You should always make sure it's easy for readers to share your content, which means your social media icons should be easy to find, all of the info input and ready for sharing (title, link, and your username), and so on. Also, you should make sure that when someone clicks on one of your sharing icons the title isn't in CAPS (I've seen this too many times!). No one wants to share a blog post that sounds like you're screaming at them.

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.
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.

My main concerns why I’m asking this is that I think 12 published blog posts might not be enough content for the person that lands on my page to stay on my page for too long, therefore it might be more beneficial to guest post a few months from now. Also, I’m thinking maybe it is better to invest that time in things like learning affiliate marketing rather than trying to get somebody to collaborate.
I had a blog a couple years ago in a pretty precise niche (female musicians), too precise maybe. I had like 20 readers! Now I’d like to try again with another topic but I’m afraid there’s way too much blogs about it already (hippie lifestyle including health, fashion, decor, beauty, printables, etc). I tried checking stats and keywords but I don’t understand any of the information I’m getting. I’d rather pay someone to do the research for me but I have no money. The other thing is that I’m not an expert in anything. The hippie lifestyle thing is the only topic I can think of that would generate more than two article ideas in my brain! Do you think there are solutions for someone in my situation ?
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.

I suppose I just don’t see why being DEVOID of a blog and social media will make you an attractive guest blogging candidate. I get that you’ll maybe be more focused on finding guest blogs rather than building up your Twitter following, but couldn’t you just ask easily say that we should focus on doing nothing but building followers on Twitter, because you can then build relationships and find guest posting opportunities through the people you meet in social media?

I would much rather go back to cleaning a gym than offering some crappy dieting product that doesn’t work. I know a lot of people reading this need to make a bit of extra income quickly, but it’s very important to not ruin your blog’s long term brand and image over a few quick dollars. Even if you have to work a basic entry job offline for a while it’s a much better option.

Of course this is just my own personal interest, you may be a keen amateur photographer, a budding cake decorator or want to write about travelling across Australia. So, carry out your research online by looking at different websites in Google and even on social media sites such as Facebook or Pinterest to see where the money making niches are, where the people are and if these niches are growing or shrinking. It will save a lot of heartache later down the line.


Once the course launches, they are ready with their wallets. The course is priced at $100 (probably undercharging here, but it’s your first course and you are nervous) so some of them balk at buying it, but 100 people do end up buying it and you make $10,000 (minus processing fees). That’s the same amount you made from your advertising and you are in control of everything! Even better you don’t have to wait 30-60 days to get paid.
Selling private ads can come in the form of banners, buttons, or links. You can even make money writing sponsored posts where you write about or give a review of an advertiser’s product or service. Another option is to write an underwritten post or series, which is where you can write about any topic, but the advertiser pays for a “Brought to you by” mention in the content.
For example, Erica Tannen, a former retail executive and founder of The-e-list.com, describes her site as “an excruciatingly opinionated guide to the Connecticut shoreline and best Connecticut shopping.” The hyper-local blog, which now has over 16,000 free e-newsletter subscribers (the money comes from ad revenues) and 74,000 monthly page views, includes reviews of restaurants, shops and tourist attractions, as well as notifications about sales and events.
Working with advertising networks isn’t your only option when it comes to selling ads. If you end up with enough traffic, advertisers may come directly to you and ask you to place their ad on your site. You can also contact advertisers yourself. The biggest difference from the above mentioned option is that there is no middle man, which means you can set your own ad rates.
I went ahead and joined the Amazon affiliate program, but even though I get numerous clicks, there haven’t been any conversions, yet. Because of this, I might get dropped, but you can always re-apply later. I just don’t have enough traffic, yet. If I had to do it all over again, I would not have signed up for a program with time limits so soon. It feels like artificial pressure. I have three other affiliates; all of them relate to my blog content.

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.
Create a schedule for one month full of topics and the dates they will be published. I like to make sure I have a good variety of topics covered each week on Making Sense of Cents. For example, I don't usually like to have a week full of making money ideas. Instead, I like my posts to vary between making money, saving money, life improvement, and so on.
Thank you for sharing such a great post! I am new to blogging and I keep on searching for website like this. One of the hardship I encountered is content for my blog I am not very good at writing so I am planning to hire someone who could provide a very good content. Do you have any recommendation where to hire for someone who could write an article for me?
Have in-depth knowledge in your niche? Package it up into an ebook and sell it on your blog. I'd generally advise against selling it (at least exclusively) on Amazon or Kobo, as you'll probably be able to charge much less. If you've already built up a solid audience, you can probably change anywhere from $5 for a very short one, all the way up to $39+.
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.
Include keywords in important places. Include them in your blog post title, the large "headers" introducing a new section, the first few sentences of your post, and in links. Change your settings so each blog post's URL includes the title of the post, not the date it was posted. Try to make these as descriptive as possible to raise your ranking in search results and attract the right audience. 

Jon Morrow is the gold standard in this arena, and this post encapsulates that. He consulted with me at the launch of my blog, and these 20 principles feel like evolutions of that great advice. My numbers are nowhere near his (frankly, my subscriber list seems fixed lately), but my experience validates the core of what’s here: it’s all about consulting, leading to products (in my case, a bit of the other way around, via a book that arose from my website/blog). If you can afford Jon (I can’t), go for it… provided you truly are an “expert” in a given field, one that other people will pay to listen to. If you can’t, or aren’t (at least yet), just read everything he’s written, here and elsewhere.
Notice that I avoided putting a specific dollar figure on the amount you can make from blogging. It will come down to your work ethic, your skills as a writer, your ability to generate targeted traffic, and plain old good luck. It’s a bit like baseball: everyone played it as a kid, only a small fraction make it to college ball, an even smaller number become professional, but only the cream of the crop makes it to the majors.
If your niche doesn’t allow you to promote or build premium products (anything over around $100 per unit) then think about getting a solid mix of offerings and building it up over time. I remember Darren Rowse saying that initially Amazon Associates was a really small source of income but over the years it has really started to add up. Think eBooks, affiliates, consulting, books, etc. and you’re starting to build an income stream.
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