A blog itself isn't really a business—it's more of a platform for other income streams. Your content alone won't likely make you money. Instead, you'll have to get advertisers, sell services like consulting or speaking, use affiliate marketing to get a percentage of sales from links people click on your blog, or maybe offer products like ebooks or premium content to actually generate income. ProBlogger has an excellent post about these different ways you can make money.
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.
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.
If you’ve spent a lot of time writing that week and just need a break from working on a post, it may be a productive way to spend an hour or two but I personally think your time could be better spent elsewhere. (This isn’t to say that you can’t find success utilizing this method, I just don’t see many/any people doing it and reporting back that it’s really helped them).
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.
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.
Quality content is content that people can engage with and find useful. Your content should help readers and bring them value. Your blog needs to have interesting, helpful content that people would be willing to recommend or share with their friends. The format, structure, layout (and, of course, the writing itself) will all determine the quality of your blog.
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.
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.