One of my biggest struggles lately has just been mental – I am having trouble getting myself to actually create content or really do anything with my blog. It could be so many things – overwhelm, too many ideas or goals, lack of results which feels discouraging, not making any money, even a feeling that maybe I’m not doing the right thing / have the wrong goals. It’s tough but I am sure many beginners go through these challenges.
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!

I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this one. I was blown away that you don’t have ads on your site. I have ads on my site and I’m reading along thinking your advice is to forget the ads and sell products. As a food blogger, my mind goes to e-cookbooks, actual hold-in-your-hand cookbooks, books on how to start a food blog and how to do food photography. But according to this post, those I should sell later…the cheaper products. I can’t think of what “services” I could offer, other than offering to come over and cook for them (not happening) and I’m not quite an expert at offering services of personally coaching someone’s food blog. Maybe I’m just too green for that 🙂 Am I missing the point?
Premium content can mean any type of content you charge for - an ebook, whitepaper, downloadable guide, etc. But what I'm referring to here is pay-gated content. Basically you just put some awesome content up behind a paywall, which means visitors pay to access it. You can get your own paywall set up in 10 minutes or less using a plugin like MemberPress or Paid Memberships Pro.
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+.
Great post, thank you! I found this to be very useful. I have just got into the Pay Per Click method and it is a great way of building a passive income. Due to my niche, I have found it difficult to source good affiliate networks, but just today I have revisited the accounts I set up on Link Share and CJ, to my surprise they offer a good range of affiliate programs, many of which cater to my niche blog topic :)
More and more companies are starting to advertise with online influencers on their blogs, social media accounts, and more, and I expect this to just continue to grow well into the future. Whereas in the past, it was mainly celebrities that companies advertised with, but now, it is actually shifting to bloggers and other online influencers (such as Youtubers and Instagrammers!).

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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This year’s BlogHer event, held in New York City, featured successful bloggers including celebs such as Gwyneth Paltrow (founder of the popular Goop.com),  workshops on branding, social media and monetization and a whole lot of networking. BlogHer puts on one heck of a show and if you’re serious about learning more about blogging, I highly recommend you check out some of its upcoming conferences.
The next thing you do is start sending traffic to your landing page. For example, you could go out and do guest posts and link back to this big article. You could run Facebook Ads that are targeted towards the right audience. You could link to other bloggers in the post and then email them and ask for a simple tweet. Here are some more traffic tips.
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.
Even though you have to pay for your own web hosting out of pocket, going this route allows you much more flexibility in terms of site design and usability. And don’t worry, hosting is really inexpensive, especially if you take advantage of our 42% off coupon code with Hostgator (BTOP42). Depending on your hosting plan, it shouldn’t end up costing you more than a few dollars a month.
If you aren’t part of an ad network then you are constantly searching for new companies to advertise on your site. This one was always a pain in the ass for me. I wanted to spend time making my site better, but if I ignored selling my ad space then I wouldn’t have money to continue to make my site better. You can join an ad network, but that means you are giving up a percentage of the revenue. Work hard to only get 50% of the money? Bleh.

Fortunately, there are many resources available to help. In addition to the BlogHer events and site, some of my personal favorites for learning tips on writing compelling content, marketing and monetizing are Fizzle.com, MichaelHyatt.com and Problogger.net. All three provide lots of free advice (and more in-depth training and support is available for a fee).

Even though you have to pay for your own web hosting out of pocket, going this route allows you much more flexibility in terms of site design and usability. And don’t worry, hosting is really inexpensive, especially if you take advantage of our 42% off coupon code with Hostgator (BTOP42). Depending on your hosting plan, it shouldn’t end up costing you more than a few dollars a month.
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.
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.
really great article, thanks Jon. I particularly like #1 – it’s the mindset shift that we all need to step up and “play” at the level to generate substantial revenue. Reversing the sales funnel is also very smart and makes a lot of sense. It’s easier to make one $3,000 sale than making 300 $10 sale – although putting a $10 product out there is less scary than selling a $3000 service – again, it’s all about the mindset.
Thank you so much for this helpful post! I have been researching how to make a successful blog for a month or so and have found many of your posts very helpful! It is my goal within the next year or so to have one up and running! I’m currently working more then full-time hours but live my job; just want more freetime. I think with some hard work I can make it possible.

Of course, offering products and services doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive from using ads. You can do both, but what I see happen is that when you start to make $5 from ads you try to figure out how you can make even more and that becomes your focus. The tactics you use to boost your ad revenues are often the ones that prevent you from building your list and promoting your own products.
Anyhow, the good thing is I think we can very reasonably expect a warning before anything like that happens. Enid Hwang (one of Pinterest’s top honchos) recently spoke at the AdThrive Summit and shared that Pinterest does penalize/look down on/treat any differently an approved API partner (like Tailwind) than it would someone who is manually pinning — this has been known for some time, it was just nice to hear them reaffirm it (any conjecture beyond that is merely a rumor).
Hey Ramsay, Really a great work buddy. I’m blogging from last 2 years but was unable to make some good amount from my blog. After reading this article I found that there are many other Ideas which can help me to grow my $$$$$. Many newbies looking for such articles for finding the right ideas and guideline. And you are helping them a lot with your valuable guides.
More and more companies are starting to advertise with online influencers on their blogs, social media accounts, and more, and I expect this to just continue to grow well into the future. Whereas in the past, it was mainly celebrities that companies advertised with, but now, it is actually shifting to bloggers and other online influencers (such as Youtubers and Instagrammers!).
With a business account, you’ll have access to Pinterest Analytics, as well as the ability to create “Rich Pins.” You can also pay Pinterest to promote your pins with a business account, but that’s definitely not necessary. We experimented with about $50 worth of promoted pins before figuring out we could make our pins go viral on our own, without the help of ads.

Solid numbers about blogging incomes are hard to come by. For example, in the US, the Bureau of Labor Statistics lump bloggers in the very broad category of “Writers and Authors” which has a median income of $61,240 per year. That’s not an accurate measure since there are vastly different occupations included in that category. Information from small surveys and anecdotal evidence can also be found online, but much of it is outdated or taken from tiny sample sizes.
A blog is not a blog without content so once you’ve set your blog up you need to focus your attention upon creating useful content. What you choose to create will depend a little on the topic that you choose to write about (on that note, most successful bloggers have some focus to their blogging whether that be a niche or a demographic that they write for).
John is the host of EOFire, an award-winning business podcast, interviewing top entrepreneurs. He’s interviewed successful entrepreneurs such as Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Robbins and many more. John is also the author of the #1 ranked book for Podcasting in Amazon. He’s an excellent example of what happens when you chase your dreams and remain committed.
Direct Income – when I started making money from my blogs it was through ‘direct’ income streams. I put AdSense ads on my blog and promoted some products on Amazon as an affiliate and the more readers I had the more income began to trickle in (it really was a trickle at first). In time as my traffic grew this income grew and I was also able to experiment with other direct forms of income such as selling advertising directly to advertisers.
Thanks Donna for taking the time to write this excellent comment. I agree with you 100%. A blog can give you an income from offline sources and is a great way of diversifying into different areas, but again it also depends on the niche you find yourself in. I always say to people to not be too reliant on one source of traffic or one source of income, because they can vanish pretty quickly.
Track current trends - What stuff is in the media right now? It's good to pick a topic with longevity (you don't want something that will fall out of fashion), but if you can piggy-back on a trend early on, you can quickly establish yourself as an expert on it before anyone else. Searching #journorequest on Twitter shows what kind of people/topics journalists are currently reporting on

Few months back I started my blog. I was really eager to monetize my blog. I used AdSense but barely made to 100$ even after almost 10k views. That’s when I turned to affiliate networks. It is working great for me. Now I am working on an ebook on how I made money through my fairly new blog. Its a guide for begginer bloggers. Can I include a link to this post in ky ebook? This post is definitely a keeper.
Thanks for the tips! I just started by blog last month and am deciding the route I want to go for monetizing. I have a few affiliates setup, but I’ve been going back and forth on adsense. I appreciate your opinion against using it, my feelings are similar. I also really like your infographic. Did you create that yourself or pay someone else to? I would be interested in how to go about making something like that. Thanks!!
Great article. I recently came back into blogging. I hadn’t realized how much I had learnt from my first attempt. Now with the new blog I started about a month ago, I am seeing an increase of traffic everyday which is quite surprising and very exciting. So I have been reading all over how to monetize a blog. Your article is excellent and in-depth. Thank you for sharing I will definitely be using some your advice. Blessings.
Thanks for such a great post! I’m a newer blogger but have made a little money as a influencer, from my decent sized Instagram page (@Msheatherlynne). I’ve always been passionate about fashion so took the step to create my own blog a few months ago, and boy has it been an adventure (i.e. not nearly as easy as I thought it would be, especially monetizing). It would be an honor if you ever have time to drop by my blog! 🙂

OK, I’m going to show my age…a couple of decades ago, the public relations profession was in trouble and thoroughly misunderstood. As a profession, it lacked luster. So, the pros (me among them, though I was a cub then:) worked on a national public relations campaign for public relations. It worked. Public relations became recognized as a true profession, though there were and still are nitwits that don’t get it.
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.
Make sure it’s easy to share your content – I love sharing posts on social media, but 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. This might mean making your social media icons easy to find, having all of the info input that is needed 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 when it sounds like you’re screaming at them.
My name is Jamie Spencer and I have spent the past 5 years building money making blogs. After growing tired of the 9-5, commuting and never seeing my family I decided that I wanted to make some changes and launched my first blog. Since then I have launched lots of successful niche blogs and after selling my survivalist blog I decided to teach other people how to do the same.
So I put in my request to go part-time. And although I work at a different store now and it’s a bit boring at times, it’s closer and gives me an extra day to work towards blogging every day, so I’ve been focusing my efforts fully on growing my network, reaching out to others for interviews and questions, and doing guest blogging. And so far, just seeing my name up on other blogs skyrockets my confidence, even if I may not be where I want to be right now at this very moment.

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.

Consider affiliate programs. By finding an affiliate program suitable for your blog, you agree to provide links to a company's products, and in return are paid for each reader who makes a purchase after following your link. You can find specific companies by searching an affiliate directory such as ClickBank, or by searching individual company websites for affiliate programs. Consider these factors before you choose an affiliate program:

Thanks heaps. Really honest and helpful information and makes me want to get into making mine happen again. Time off from Uni soon so more time to devote to it. I like the point about adding something that you feel is good. What’s the point in getting to where you want to go if you have to do so at someone else’s expense? There’s already enough of that in the world now so why add to it. Better to make yourself stand out by being someone who doesn’t do that. Perhaps that’s why I like your blog. By the way, I can truly say that “I hate Uni too.”
Amazing article. I’d like to stress so much on funnel building. You can collect all the emails in the world, however if you do not have a tested system, all those emails will go to waste. Value is so much more important than just selling. If your audience feels they are getting something in return, be sure they will take that next step to buy a product or service from you because they know you and trust your advice…

Indirect Income – later on in my blogging journey opportunity has come for ‘indirect’ income streams. As my blogs and profile grew as a result of my blogging I was able to sell my services as a speaker and consultant and was offered the opportunity to author a book with the publisher Wiley. Later I was able to start an event for bloggers which also made money. None of this income came directly from the blog – but rather it came ‘because’ of my blog.
OK, I’m going to show my age…a couple of decades ago, the public relations profession was in trouble and thoroughly misunderstood. As a profession, it lacked luster. So, the pros (me among them, though I was a cub then:) worked on a national public relations campaign for public relations. It worked. Public relations became recognized as a true profession, though there were and still are nitwits that don’t get it.
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. 
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