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.
If you're passionate about a subject and you have decent writing skills, blogging definitely could be an alternative career path for you. The short answer is, yes, it is possible to make a living—a very good one, even—by writing online. On the other hand, the hard truth is most of the millions of bloggers today don't make enough to support themselves just with their blogs. Let's take a look at what's involved.
Create and customize your blog. If you are using a free service, there should be a tutorial to guide you through the initial steps of setting up your blog, as well as a forum for people to ask questions. If you are hosting your own site, you will need someone with web design experience to customize your blog, or you can use software such as WordPress.org to use the same structures available at free services.
If you are new, obviously don’t try to fit all of these income streams in at one time. You should build on it and work on one at a time. Slowly build your income. Think of it in terms of a job. When you start out at a job you don’t usually start making the big bucks right away. After time and experience come into play, then you start making more and more money with raises and promotions. Now you can make a ton more money online than a typical job but it is the same concept!
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.
Disclosure and quick heads up – I started my first blog on Bluehost and have now partnered with them to get you a big discount rate. If you make a purchase through this or any of the links on this post I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I still think a self-hosted WordPress blog is the best way to start a successful blog and build a business!
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.
These are some of the best I have read in a while Jon. Well, am a blogger in a relatively different online environment – Africa to be precise. Some things just don’t work out over here – ebooks no one buys them, mailing lists, no one joins them and very few people are willing to pay you to teach them anything. Hopefully, over time I will find the right formula to bissect this difficult market.
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).
It’s always great to learn from the best (=Jon)! The idea of the Minimum Viable Funnel was a real eye-opener, I have a product idea and will definitely test with the MVF if it flies. Actually, I did it with my other blog in the past (wasn’t even aware of the concept, it just happened…). It saved me from a huge disappointment and effort. Only one person bought the product so there certainly was no market for that! And refunding the money to that one person didn’t break the bank!
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.
You are man of kind. I do blogging since 7 years ago. I didn’t earn much like others. The reason behind i didn’t gave readers value. I pushed them to click my advertising. That’s silly. But, now, i understand that readers need something useful for their life. I called it human to human approach. Not human to machine, like the way i did. E Since months ago, i read your blog everyday. Just like a breakfast at Tiffany.
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.
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.
• WordPress.com: Not to be confused with WordPress.org which allows you to create your own website, WordPress.com is a free basic blog hosting service that's easy to use. However, you will have to put up with WordPress ads and branding unless you pay a monthly fee, and you can't put advertisements on your site. There are also limited options for customisation and expansion
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is the strategy that most bloggers start with when looking to monetize their blog. However, keep in mind you're not limited to selling banner ad spots (which is generally an ineffective strategy these days). Consider other areas you could rent out: space on your pop-up box, social media headers, the "P.S." on your email newsletters...think outside the box (quite literally).
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.
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.
The reason this section is called “Great Content” is because your content really does need to be of a high standard. Everyday millions of blog posts are published on the internet and with so much competition for our limited attention spans you really have to be creating blog posts people are going to want to read and perhaps even share on social media or on their own blogs.