promoting your expertise to deliver training or consultancy services to businesses can be a highly profitable way to create an online income. In the past I have helped lots of businesses get started blogging by working with them to create editorial calendars and giving their marketing teams tips to promote their posts. Whether you’re an Excel guru, a marketing whiz or a customer services master you can build up your profile on your blog.
One example is this: since our blog is a sub-domain for my wife and I’s boutique beach resort, nobody seems to want to touch me as a guest blogger. I get the same response every time “you’re commercial and so you’ve got to pay for a sponsored post”…and while yes, we are commercial and not a private blog per se, we’re a tiny family run business and 95% of private blogs are striving to be commercial, whether they’re associated with a company name or not.
You always share valuable messages with your readers, Jon. Sharing your wisdom and what you’ve learned from your experiences is appreciated. I still recall one of your suggestions in your original April 2014 version of this post to begin by offering services. I followed your advice and learned loads of insight from conversations with clients and referral sources. It’s interesting that you mentioned your success with guest webinars in the original post and with hosting webinars on your own site in this post. Hmm… It may be worthwhile to think about growing blogging businesses by speaking more often with your current or potential audience. ~Keri
I have a lot of great ideas, but most of them are just thoughts and theories, and it seems that no one would want to read about, even pay for, ideas in which I am not a complete expert on. My greatest talent, perhaps, is being a prolific writer. Otherwise, I’m more of a Cliff Craven I know a lot about some things, and some about a lot of things. How does THIS make MONEY??
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.
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).
I always wanted to be a writer, but I was scared at what would happen, what could happen. I didn’t think I could monetize my dream, and my family (in particular my father) were very keen to tell me my dreams were “nice” but not realistic. And honestly, coming from a family filled with naysayers and non-believers, it was hard striking out on my own. But as I realized I needed to do something and break free from this all, it dawned on me that hey, I don’t need to be doing this full-time.
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.

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.

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).


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?
The point that especially resonated with me was the patience factor. This blog/website business is a huge undertaking and your message served as a helpful reminder that it takes time to build. I’ve been frustrated by the amount of traffic since my launch in February, but your post reminded me to readjust my expectations and just keep investing my time and energy in this. Thanks for the helpful insight! For the next few months, my focus is on just building quality content and then I’ll figure out if there’s a way to offer a service from my site…still trying to come up with that!
Hey Alex & Lauren! All this information has been so usefull and so easy to understand, i am very grateful. But i have a query, i live in a country in South America (Chile) where spanish is the main language, therefore i don`t know if its best to create my blog in spanish (which is easier for me because i have much more vocabulary and grammer skills) or go with the world wilde language English. Hoping to hear from you guys, thanks!
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 biggest thing to keep in mind is that making money blogging is not possible by putting your site up and letting it sit there. The “if you build it, they will come” mentality doesn’t work here, so be sure you’re willing to put in the time. Most bloggers don’t see a spike of income for several months (sometimes years) after starting their blog. Before you dive too deep into blogging, remember these little bits of advice:
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.
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
After reading through this post, I’m punching the air. Makes sense! But the thing is I write short stories, reviews, articles and the like on my blog. I’ve a little more than 500 subscribers and I’ve read every available material on getting traffic and making money. I only wonder how it applies to me since subscription to my blog is trickling in at a very slow rate 🙁 Anyhow, this is another great post from you, keep it up!

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.
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.
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.

Lets say, for example, that you refurbish and resell used smartphones out of your home. You could use a blog to attract visitors to your website where you list your current phones for sale. Your blog might cover topics about DIY refurbishing. On one level, it seems counterintuitive because you want people to buy your phones, but it also helps you build a brand and gain recognition. Social media guru Jay Baer explains the concept on Copyblogger:
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).

Selling physical products online can be hard to setup as you will need to deal with storage, shipping and even deal with things such as local taxes and distance selling laws. Of course a lot of this headache can be resolved by finding a company who will offer a white-label or drop shipping service leaving you to worry about getting traffic and updating the website.


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!!

Jeff, first article of yours I’ve read. Excellent stuff! I’m following Michelle as well and am floored at the potential. I’m starting right now to implement all your suggestions. I’ve not yet set up my website email, but hey, one bite at a time, right? I’m looking forward to making a contribution to the interwebs. At this moment, by site is a blank slate, but I have several posts written in Google Docs of which to choose from. Cheers!
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