With the free version of WordPress, you don’t really have that much freedom to make changes to your site. Plus, WordPress actually owns your site if you use the free version (meaning, your site is technically not even yours). With the free version of WordPress, your website link even looks unprofessional; instead of a .com ending, your site will look like “yourwebsite.wordpress.com”.
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.

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.
• 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
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:
In my opinion, the most important way to let yourself know is through networking. As an IT Professional for over 20 years (way before social media sites) I’d seen how human interaction has evolved, but the basics remain the same. Everyone wants to get known and recognized and if you want to get yourself or your product/services out there, you have to network with others respectfully and also help others. Networking is not a one-way street, you have to contribute by collaborating with others. This is how you get to promote yourself or a product/service.
Trust continues to be a major issue on the World Wide Web between bloggers and readers. Readers want to see bloggers posting lots and lots of meaningful content to their sites on a daily basis and giving them something to think about. It’s relatively easy for a person to post once a week and expect readers to be converted into repeat buyers when that’s certainly not the case toward being a successful and profitable blogger. Creating quality content and putting people first puts a full-time or part-time blogger in the front seat to earning honest and passive incomes from affiliate marketing.

I have done my research and am getting myself ready to launch my blog. However, I have a question about basically what comes first, the chicken or the egg. Should I start using Instagram and get a following there first, or launch my blog and then start using Instagram, or launch them simultaneously? I have gotten so many opinions and would really value yours.

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.
Now, once you and I have taken advantage of that info. (and I am still in the process of launching) then we will be in a better position to either thank Jon or criticise him. Of course, timing is almost everything but with the amount of free flowing, easy to read, writing that Jon provides, which is the hallmark of all good communications, plus incorporating such useful content, then I like to think that if we could follow that example then eventually we (yes, you and I, Bill) would be rewarded with fans and finance.

Creating a job board on your site is a great way to make your blog "sticky" - meaning you get visitors returning again and again. It's also a great way to earn some extra cash while also providing a valuable service. Darren Rowse from ProBlogger runs a hugely popular job board where he charges $70 for a 30-day listing. With around 70 listings per month, he's bringing in some solid earnings with relatively little investment of time or money.
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:
As you build up your blog, expect to receive multiple sponsored post requests each day. These native ads can be a highly effective way for businesses to reach your audience in a non-threatening way - and they can be a highly effective way for you to make a lot of money. Just make sure the posts are actually interesting and relevant to your audience, and that you fully disclose the sponsored nature of the post.
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.

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.
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:
Just make sure that the e-book builds on your blog output—don’t simply rehash what they have already seen! After all, these people are now paying customers and will get upset with old information. Later on, as you become more established and your archived material becomes more extensive, you can poll your readers to learn what topics they’d be interested in learning more about and interested in purchasing.
Write down every topic that you are knowledgeable or passionate about. You'll have a much easier time making money from a blog you are interested in, rather than trying to write content you don't like because you think it will make money.[1] Some examples are hobbies that you enjoy, your career, or some specific and miscellaneous knowledge that you have.
I’ve been through quite a lot with my days a blogger. I was making money, but it just wasn’t enough. You literally make pennies and dollars. That is not enough to support yourself. It wasn’t until I met Noah King. A mentor of mine who taught me how to make REAL MONEY online writing about what I love. I am now making $6000/month after a year of hard work and can do it all from the convenience of my home. Never give up or sell yourself short! Noah has his own website where he talks about how to achieve the same success he has. You can check him out here if you’re interested – http://www.deservingwriter.com/
This is an awesome post. I too found PinchofYum.com some time ago. I’ve built a niche site and I’m in the stage of promoting it so I really needed the information posted here. I’ve researched making money for years but never paired that research with any ACTION. It was not until recently that I started putting things in motion so seeing some of the steps I’m taking being talked about in this topic is quite reassuring. My blog is based around making money online but making it make sense for beginners. https://chuckcandoyoucantoo.com
You need to advertise on FB Will, and create targeted ads, they are not that expensive and will, if your content is appealing, drive traffic to your website, or FB page, or both… the targeted advertising on FB is absolutely fantastic, it might be a small number of people, but at least you know they are interested in what you have to offer. Forget about the free promotion on FB. It only works a little and it takes way too much time! Unless you have a FB page with 10.000 active followers or so… and even then, because FB is not showing your followers everything especially promotional links… they want you to pay… which I can understand. After all FB is free to use and the advertisers are the ones that help FB make a huge profit… Good luck! Anja

Before I looked down to see who the creator of the pin was, I knew it was going to be from Pauline Cabrera over at twelveskip.com. Without even realizing it, I had subconsciously begun to recognize her purple-themed pins with the crisp block font.  And I knew that those pins led to really good content, so I clicked on the pin and ended up reading her article.
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.
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.
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 mean, of course I’d come up with suitable content for Forbes should they wish to publish me, haha, but honestly we’d be happy with guest posting on even mildly popular travel blogs. The problem up to now, as I mentioned above, is that nobody wants to let us guest post, they want us to pay to do a sponsored post since our blog is attached to our business. If my blog was MexicoMike.com instead of http://blog.geckorockresort.com/ then it wouldn’t be an issue, but as soon as anyone sees the name of our business they incorrectly assume we’re loaded 🙂
Now, I had a question. I am just 14 years old and I am entering the blog-o-sphere as an intermediate. Now, you may check my blog “theartofvk(dot)com.” I write how to articles mostly and also try to do videos as I am not a native English speaker it get’s difficult for me. When I read post on BBT I find it really interesting but How To articles… umm.. are they nice enough? How To article probably don’t keep people engaging do they? I am recently also trying guest post and on my 5 attempt my article was accepted at Hongkiat.

I will quibble on one point though, your comment about BBT getting 13,000 subscribers before launching even though you “had nothing but a coming soon page and an invitation to join our email list.” As I recall, you also had a freakin’ awesome video on that page as well that just made people yearn to give you their email address, even without knowing a thing about BBT. So that didn’t hurt, either. ; )
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 have done my research and am getting myself ready to launch my blog. However, I have a question about basically what comes first, the chicken or the egg. Should I start using Instagram and get a following there first, or launch my blog and then start using Instagram, or launch them simultaneously? I have gotten so many opinions and would really value yours.

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.
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?
Hi Jamie, the article is very helpful. I have a question though…I searched several niches on Google Trends. they all show between 75 to 100 searches. That makes it difficult for me to choose. I blog about many things within the lifestyle category. Do I really need to pick a niche? My goal is to be a social media influencer. I’m a practising artist though.
If you want to make direct income from your blog through ads, Google AdSense is something you may want to consider. Google AdSense is a type of advertising program known as CPC (cost per click, also known as pay per click) in which publishers display relevant ads on their websites. It is one of the easiest ways you can make money as a beginner blogger.
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…
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!
Second job, anyone? In America, two-income families are the norm but think of the havoc it wreaks on your daily life. You’re so exhausted by the time you get home from work; you barely have enough time and energy to make dinner and help the kids out with their homework. Even that becomes difficult if you work at more than one place, whether evenings or on weekends.

Trust continues to be a major issue on the World Wide Web between bloggers and readers. Readers want to see bloggers posting lots and lots of meaningful content to their sites on a daily basis and giving them something to think about. It’s relatively easy for a person to post once a week and expect readers to be converted into repeat buyers when that’s certainly not the case toward being a successful and profitable blogger. Creating quality content and putting people first puts a full-time or part-time blogger in the front seat to earning honest and passive incomes from affiliate marketing.
SEO helps improve your website’s visibility in unpaid search engine rankings (also called organic results). If your website is placed higher in search engine results, you are more likely to receive increased traffic to your website. Knowledge of SEO will increase your traffic, thus bringing in readers and the potential to earn money through those readers.

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!).
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
Affiliate marketing is a blog monetization method in which you place a link to a product or company on your website or a social media platform in an attempt to make an income from followers purchasing the product through your link (this is called an affiliate link). Affiliate marketing can be a great way to begin making money from a blog because if there is a product or company that you enjoy, all you have to do is review the product and hopefully others will be interested in buying it as well.
I would like to work from home and am looking into blogging. I literally have no idea what I’d write about (I’m interested in several different things that are not related to one another) and am assuming I’d need sponsorship to actually make money. Since I know what assuming gets me, I am doing my homework before I do anything else. Thanks for all the info and any other advice is appreciated.

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.
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