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.
Be aware that many blog hosting services only allow their proprietary contextual ad service, and may shut down your blog if you use one not made by the host company. If you are hosting your own blog, you should research contextual ad services and choose one that shows appropriate ads. Some allow pornography or other ads that may not be suitable for your blog.
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).
Email is a great way to deliver other forms of content. With Convertkit, I am able to also create free email courses that can automatically be sent out to my subscribers. This makes life easy because all a reader has to do is sign up, and then Convertkit sends out all the information that they need and drips out the content day by day (or whatever timeframe I choose).
In other words, Jon is an incredible writer, communicator, and hard worker–no question. But you’re in the business of helping other people make money. You’re not, by contrast, a travel blogger. You’re not, by contrast, helping to teach people how to buy their first pet. You’re not, by contrast, an entertainment blogger writing about Rihanna and “True Detective.”
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+.
Hi! This was hands down one of the most helpful posts I’ve ever read about how to make blogging a realistic career path. I love how honest and open you were in both suggesting the good but reminding me of the bad choices out there, some of which I know I would/have made. I found your blog after hanging my head from another post on yet another site saying to forget about blogging as your source of income. Completely ignoring that advice and seeking out some that matched my determination, I found yours and so glad I did! Thank you again for this awesome post – it’s officially made it into my favorites bar to come back to.
Indirect Income – later on in my blogging journey opportunity has come for ‘indirect’ income streams. As my blogs and profile grew as a result of my blogging I was able to sell my services as a speaker and consultant and was offered the opportunity to author a book with the publisher Wiley. Later I was able to start an event for bloggers which also made money. None of this income came directly from the blog – but rather it came ‘because’ of my blog.
Write content. I like to write an article from beginning to end with no breaks. It may take me an hour to write an article or I may be at it all day. Sometimes, content does span a few days, but for the most part, I like to finish a piece of content in one sitting. I then hand over the content to my editor to fix anything from grammar, punctuation, to the general flow of the article. The only thing she doesn't edit is my monthly income report.
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.
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.
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.
Making money through blogging requires a carefully thought out topic. If you have an existing blog with a small audience, be honest when considering whether the topic has broad appeal that isn't already covered by other established bloggers. If it does, great! Otherwise, there's nothing wrong with starting a second blog that will be more successful in attracting an audience, marketing itself, and making money through a variety of methods described below.
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.
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.
Wow, that’s a great post. I was wondering how all that applies to someone like me that is a creative. My ideal readers are not fellow artists that I could teach something, but people that love their interior and want to brighten it with some colourful and inspiring art. Thank you so much for you response and I will definitely come back and read your blog more often.
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.
The truth is, it's not as easy to carve out your space on the web and make a name for yourself as a blogger today, as it was back when blogging was brand new. And it takes a lot of time to build your audience to the point where it's successful. (The most successful, multi-million dollar blogs today were started around 2005 or earlier.) So it's definitely not something you can get rich quickly with, though many people do work on their blogs full time.
Search for blogs that cover similar topics. Use a search engine and the search bar on blog hosting sites to find blogs that cover your topic or related topic. Read a few blog posts from the most popular ones, that show up high on the search ranking, have the most comments, or display a readership of 20,000 or more. Get an idea for how much interest and competition there is.
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.
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.
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: