Advertising is easy to start, making it a popular income stream for many bloggers. However, it’s not nearly as lucrative as it once was and it requires a lot of traffic to be truly profitable. Also, it runs the risk of frustrating your readers (ever been on a site only to be assaulted by the ads?) and making your site look cheap and unsophisticated. Therefore, it’s not a top recommendation of mine.
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 you want to be successful and really grow the ways you are making money from a blog, then you may want to look into buying ebooks and/or courses that will teach you exactly what to do, so that you can minimize the amount of blogging mistakes you make and learn how to run a successful blogging business from the very beginning. Plus, there are many blogging secrets that you just can't find by searching the internet. So, by taking a course or reading an ebook, you will learn exactly what you have to work on.

Understand the difference between total revenue and net income. Most income reports tout total revenue. Net income or profit (what really matters) is often buried in the post. I came across an income report recently with a super impressive number in the title (and Pinterest image). It was total revenue. Not until I read the whole post did I learn this blogger spent well over half their total revenue on Facebook Ads alone. On top of that, they had an extensive list of expenses. By the end of the post I realized I had netted more than they did the previous month.
I don’t think enough can be said for working a part time job. In this last year I finally set out to claim my stake in the internet world after years of saying “maybe tomorrow”, and your blog was one of the big ones that helped me devise a strategy for going forward and putting my ideas into practice. Because despite all my ambitions, I didn’t know what to do – originally I wanted to move forward with 2 blogs and expected to get to 1000 subscribers in a couple months, but I know that’s not really realistic now.
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.
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!

Please let me know if there is anything that I have missed in this article or if you still feel a little bit confused. I really like learning about what problems you’re facing and will do my best to help you out if I can. Also, if you know of an effective way to make money in the early days it’d be great if you could share it. Please leave a comment below and let me know.

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.


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.
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?
Hello Jon, the lessons are detailed and comprehensive. Frankly speaking, I have never read a blog post that carefully like today and I really benefit a lot from it. However, I still have a question regarding to this post, that is, if I am not an expert in any field, what kind of blog (topic for blog) should I start with and how to get enough traffic to my blog? I agree with you that we should not sell ads but should sell our own products or affiliate products via our blog. However, if I cannot teach others something and my blog doesn’t have enough traffic, how can I sell my products or the affiliate products to my readers? Anyhow, I will still focus on your blog and hope I will learn more valuable knowledge through your blog.
As always, a fantastic post Jon. Have just shared on G+ with the comment that you are simply the best at what you do. I love your style, and the practical advice is invaluable. I was particularly interested in your downplay of using twitter, FB etc to hope to grow your blog, but what you said makes total sense. As someone who is building an author’s platform prior to publication, I’d been hesitant to sell products, but no more. Thanks so much for your inspiration.
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!
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.
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!
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!).
I suppose I just don’t see why being DEVOID of a blog and social media will make you an attractive guest blogging candidate. I get that you’ll maybe be more focused on finding guest blogs rather than building up your Twitter following, but couldn’t you just ask easily say that we should focus on doing nothing but building followers on Twitter, because you can then build relationships and find guest posting opportunities through the people you meet in social media?
Great article Jamie! I’ve only ever used affiliate links on my blog but recently I’ve been getting a lot of text-link offers. A typical email will ask a link to be put into one of my articles (relating to the content or website they want to link back to) and they offer anywhere between $50-$150 per link. Given the nature of your article, I just wanted to check your thoughts on such offers. Are they legitimate or should I have red flags go up as I’d hate to think they increase spam or worse yet affect google ranking or break basic rules of website T&Cs. Again, I’m not familiar in monetizing via such offers and googling about it didn’t give me much info. Thanking you in advance.
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.
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.
My understanding is that you have to subscribe/pay for the business version of Word Press in order to use any of the monetizing functions. I think you should clearly state this in this article at the beginning. I think there is a degree of bait and switch here if people are just signing up for the free subscription and then finding out they have to pay for a subscription to make money. I am ok with that, it just needs to be stated up front everywhere.
I learned this the hard way last year when I launched a new blog… it felt icky doing it but I convinced myself that it was part of growing and “getting outside my comfort zone”. I was promoting something I believed in, but it was too heavy handed because my focus was more on making money than serving my audience. I got my first unsubscribers that week… lesson learned. Not that I’ve sworn off selling, but I’m learning how to do it in a way that doesn’t turn people off.
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.
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