It all started back at university when I decided that I really didn’t want to work in a 9-5 office job that I hated. I had a dream of working for myself so I could avoid things like office politics and spend more time on things that mattered to me. I also really wanted to make enough money that I could contribute meaningfully to some charities that I’m passionate about.
I want you to have realistic expectations, though. Those results are not the norm. My first month of monetizing my blog I made several thousands of dollars. But that occurred after I had been blogging for eighteen months. But do the math – I’m estimating my business will earn six-figures in ** the second year**. And I’ve never monetized a blog before!
Once you setup your account on AdSense you will be given a code to add to your blog. This code will automatically display advertisements on your blog from companies who are part of Google’s advertising network. You may see ads from small companies related to your topic, or you may see ads from large companies that are completely unrelated to your topic.
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.
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.
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.
PS: my answer to this question is always… “the better question is… how can my blog help me build a profitable business?” Most of the profits from blogging are not made on your blog, but that’s okay. I don’t believe blogging about making money per se, but about branding yourself and positioning yourself within your niche market as an authority and leader. Once that is established, there are so many ways to move people into your money making enterprises. Email marketing, as you pointed out, is one of the best ways to do this. Sending people to your membership sites, services, info products and coaching programs are all great things to route people into as well.
Quality content is content that people can engage with and find useful. Your content should help readers and bring them value. Your blog needs to have interesting, helpful content that people would be willing to recommend or share with their friends. The format, structure, layout (and, of course, the writing itself) will all determine the quality of your blog.
The answer is yes. However, I would caution against it. The reason is, when you use a free service, you don’t have as much control over your blog—the free service does. This can be risky, especially if you will rely on your blog for income. A self-hosted WordPress blog is my recommendation and can be started very inexpensively. See my step-by-step tutorial here.
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.
It’s dependent on traffic. Traffic goes up and down and you never know when it is going to do a major dip. Most advertisers pay based on the number of views their ad will get. This turns you into a traffic monster. You start to look for creative ways to get any kind of traffic, no matter if it’s good traffic or not. This can easily lead to your site becoming another junk site that you try to avoid.
Be aware that many blog hosting services only allow their proprietary contextual ad service, and may shut down your blog if you use one not made by the host company. If you are hosting your own blog, you should research contextual ad services and choose one that shows appropriate ads. Some allow pornography or other ads that may not be suitable for your blog.
Awesome post so far, Jon. I’ll have to read the full post in the morning since it’s nigh time at where I live. I just have one question. Is it profitable for a freestyle blogger to affiliate marketing? If I’m correct, affiliate marketing is more suitable for niche-based sites, right? Are freestyle blogs even profitable? I’m just starting out, so can you recommend me something?
I am getting everything in line for my blog. Hosting on blue host, child theme with studio press, fiverr logo made because that’s what my budget will allow at this point. I am now extremely focused on writing content. I am an expert in my niche, but my writing skills need to be developed. I am going to looking into freelancing.com but are there any books, blogs, or other materials you would suggest on becoming a better writer and learning how to put your voice in writing?
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Hi, just wanted to comment that I agree with the straight-forward approach. It’s the best way to learn information quickly, without digging through ingratiated, sugar-coated words to get to the point. I can’t yet afford any of the training, so I find many blogs and pieces of information like this every day. I have to read fast and get through it, otherwise I’ll sit there all day reading through feel-good mush.
As usual a top knotch post full of excellent advice, very easy to understand and follow. Just studying your posts is an object lesson in how these things are done. I, like many aspiring bloggers, am very familiar with the glazed look that passes over people’s faces when I attempt to explain what my plans are! I think the primary problem is that we have been brought up to do business in a particular way. You make something therefore you get paid for it. Most business people feel there is something inherently wrong about a system where you provide huge amounts of valuable content free of charge and without obligation. The peception is that the model cannot be susstainable.
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.