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.
Building a Framework – Abby Lawson is a successful blogger and has written an ebook about starting a successful blog. It's FULL of amazing information, and it's affordable. She's a friend of mine (and we're in a mastermind together!) and I can honestly say that she knows her stuff! In her ebook, she teaches technical advice, how to write engaging content, networking tips, social media strategies, monetization tips, and more.
Thanks for a great post. I have printed it out as I always like to read my inspirational stuff again and again. I am thinking of teaching a creative writing course to senior school kids, because in my country(South Africa) job opportunities are scarce and education expensive. I want to teach young people that you can create your own opportunities through writing and growing to be an expert in a chosen field. This way they will also improve their confidence in approaching opportunities when it do arise and with the right attitude. I am a real estate professional and writes a blog on aspects which I have noticed my clients are ignorant about. My readership has risen through the year and all my sales last year came from readers of my blog. Thanks again for the information you present so well and with a sense of humour. I still cannot afford one of your courses but I read every one and apply all that I learn. Praise be to Your Royal Awesomeness!
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.
Facebook Strategies Worth Sharing – I bought this ebook last month, and I highly recommend it. Facebook is an area I'm currently working on, and I've already read the whole book. The author of this ebook grew her Facebook page from 2,000 to 100,000 followers in just 5 months! Crazy, right?  I started 2016 with just around 6,500 Facebook followers and ended it with 38,000. I owe a lot of that to the great tips in Facebook Strategies Worth Sharing. Growing my Facebook page has allowed me to reach new readers, improve my blogging income, grow my email list, and more.
Use a contextual ad service. Once your blog contains high quality content and has begun to attract an audience, you can make money using Google Adsense, WordAds, or any other contextual ad service. These automatically generate ads in the amount, size, and placement you specify, matching the ads chosen to the topics you write about. The more readers who click on the ads shown on your site, the more money the advertisers will pay you.
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.
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
Affiliate marketing is my absolute favorite way to make money blogging. I love it because it can feel quite passive. You can create just one blog or social media post, which can potentially still earn you money years down the line. Now, you will have to maintain the post and keep generating traffic to it. Still, affiliate marketing allows me to relax a little and enjoy life more, all while knowing that I am earning a great living by promoting products that I use and enjoy.
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:
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.
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).

Jon, this is a great article. Thank you. As usual, you are full of useful information. I am new to blogging (just launched in March) and I initially started with the small e-mail list from my business website, which does not have a blog. I started a completely new website after realizing I was on the wrong platform altogether to grow an audience. I learned this thanks to the information you and other professional bloggers provide. You recommend affiliate marketing to monetize a small new blog, which are my exact thoughts for my blog. Do you have an affiliate program? If so I would love to promote your info on my site. Thanks again!

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
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).

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).

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!

Create a schedule for one month full of topics and the dates they will be published. I like to make sure I have a good variety of topics covered each week on Making Sense of Cents. For example, I don't usually like to have a week full of making money ideas. Instead, I like my posts to vary between making money, saving money, life improvement, and so on.
Thank you for sharing such a great post! I am new to blogging and I keep on searching for website like this. One of the hardship I encountered is content for my blog I am not very good at writing so I am planning to hire someone who could provide a very good content. Do you have any recommendation where to hire for someone who could write an article for me?

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+.


If you are interested in covering a broad topic that many people already write about, create multiple specialized blogs instead and link between them when the subjects overlap. For instance, if you are a nutrition expert, write one blog about healthy weight management, another one about child nutrition, and another about growing your own vegetables.

My main concerns why I’m asking this is that I think 12 published blog posts might not be enough content for the person that lands on my page to stay on my page for too long, therefore it might be more beneficial to guest post a few months from now. Also, I’m thinking maybe it is better to invest that time in things like learning affiliate marketing rather than trying to get somebody to collaborate.


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.
The easiest PPC method to get started with is Google AdSense. However, in order to make any kind of decent money with display ads, you’ll need quite a bit of traffic. And by the time you get that much traffic, you’ll make more money going with an ad management company like Mediavine (minimum of 25,000 monthly impressions) or AdThrive (minimum of 100,000 monthly pageviews).

One added benefit is that if someone clicks on a link from your website to Amazon and ends up buying multiple items (not just the item you are promoting), then you would get credit for the entire sale! Imagine you recommend a book on Amazon, your visitor goes to Amazon to buy a book - and while they're there they end up buying a new TV, a Sony PlayStation, and some other things... you get credit for all of the sales. Not only that but you also earn from any sales you make in the following 15 days from that customer.


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?
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