Whether you’ve recently started a blog or are about to start one, you probably have one pressing question. How can you make money blogging?
If the first image that comes to mind is of news sites plastered with ads, you probably wonder who’s going to pay ME? If you’ve read income reports from bloggers who’ve been in business for years and are making millions, you probably feel overwhelmed and frustrated and you wonder if you should even continue on this path at all.
Let me stop you right there. Blogging is not a competition. You are trying to make a living here and somebody else’s success (or failure at that) is utterly irrelevant.
A blog is like a glue that keeps your online presence together. Your blog is your business card. Your portfolio. A platform to keep in touch and make yourself known.
You can make money with your blog directly. Or you can make money because of your blog.
Keep on reading and hopefully, things will become clear.
Can you make money from a blog?
ABSOLUTELY! Many people around the world supplement their income this way or even make a full-time income with their blogs. Some bloggers even make seven figures per year! I turned a profit within one month after starting this blog. You can read my first income report to learn how I did it.
How much money can you make as a blogger?
It depends. Some of the most successful bloggers make millions. Others never make any money. The vast majority of bloggers fall somewhere in between.
An important factor is the blogger’s intent. If you plan to blog as a hobby and never actively seek opportunities to make money, it’s unlikely you ever will. On the other hand, if you put on your entrepreneurial hat, there are tons of income streams you can pursue.
Having multiple income streams is extremely important. Same goes for traffic sources.
You should never ever put all your eggs in one basket.
Blogging is a very complex enterprise. Just because it has a low barrier to entry, low overhead, and low risk, it doesn’t mean cash will flow in without breaking a sweat.
How do you start a profitable blog?
A profitable blog starts with a solid foundation. Here’s what you need to do in broad strokes:
- Figure out what you want to blog about. Don’t make this step any harder than it needs to be. You DON’T have to find the most perfect or profitable blogging niche right away. Most bloggers I know started with a broad topic and narrowed down the focus of their blogs in time.
- Get hosted. If you need help with this step, I wrote a detailed tutorial on how to start a WordPress blog. I also talk about why I recommend Bluehost in this comprehensive Bluehost review.
- Write helpful content. A key step in making money with a blog is to create valuable content. You do this by writing blog posts people want to read. Consistency is also important.
- Get your content in front of people. It’s not enough to write one amazing blog post after the other, you also need to get people to your blog. One way to do this is by learning and applying SEO. Another is by starting a Facebook group. Pinterest can also help you boost your traffic (see how). Converting your blog visitors into email subscribers will provide you with the means to share your content with them long after they left your blog. If you’re ready to start an email list, I recommend MailerLite (free up to 1,000 subscribers).
- Make money with your blog. Try to diversify your income streams as much as possible and never concentrate all your efforts and resources in just one area. We’ll talk more about this next.
How do you make money from a blog?
There are lots of money-making opportunities in the blogging world. These income streams are some of the most popular ways to make money blogging.
Affiliate marketing is one of my favorite ways to make money from blogging. It’s great when you are just starting out and don’t have tons of traffic or a product to sell. Affiliate marketing can be incredibly profitable as your blog grows.
If you are not familiar with affiliate marketing, it’s basically a super simple way of promoting someone else’s products or services using a unique special link. When someone clicks through and makes a purchase, you earn a commission, which can be anything from a few cents to hundreds of dollars.
If you want to know more, this article has tons of affiliate marketing tips for beginners.
There are thousands of affiliate marketing programs you could join. These are some of the most popular:
- Amazon Associates. This eCommerce giant has a gazillion products you can promote. While they offer pretty low commissions, they make up for it by giving you a share of the whole shopping cart. In my eBook, How to Make Money as an Amazon Affiliate, I cover everything you need to know and do to make Amazon work for you.
- ShareASale. This is one of the best affiliate networks you could possibly join. It has tons of merchants to choose from, including Etsy, Erin Condren, Wayfair, Minted, Zazzle, Shein, WP Engine, Agoda, and Viator.
- Skimlinks. Skimlinks is a bit different since it’s an automated affiliate marketing solution. You simply add a little piece of code to your blog and they will instantly transform all your product links into affiliate links. Join here.
Sell digital or physical products
Many bloggers create and sell their own products. This is pretty awesome and can elevate the whole idea of a blog to new heights.
To do this, you can use a shopping cart managed through a third-party platform. But your blog should still be at the center of your marketing strategy. I recommend you build content around your products and mention them as often as it makes sense.
Here are a few highly profitable ways you can make money with a blog by selling your own products:
- eBooks. Self-publishing can be very profitable. Plus you can automate the whole distribution process and it doesn’t require an inventory. To get your eBook in front of people, you can use an eCommerce platform such as SendOwl — it quickly integrates with Paypal and Stripe and you get to keep all your profits, minus a small flat monthly fee. Or you can use Amazon’s KDP service to become an Amazon published author. This course teaches you exactly how to write, launch, and sell a bestselling eBook.
- Paper books. Many bloggers managed to sign up book deals with a traditional publisher due to their blog. Self-publishing is also an option.
- Courses. If you’re comfortable talking in front of a camera, sharing your knowledge in video format can be very lucrative. That’s because video courses can be priced way higher than eBooks. Teachable is one of the best platforms for creating, hosting, and selling online courses.
- Physical products. You can sell physical products via a marketplace such as Etsy or take advantage of print on demand. Print on demand has lower profit margins but you don’t have to store, ship, and deal with returns.
- Digital goods. Think photos, graphics, fonts, templates, themes, printables, and so on. You can sell them via a marketplace such as Creative Market or Etsy or offer them for download directly from your blog using SendOwl.
Although many of these products can be sold on a marketplace, if you want to fatten that bank account, you cannot simply wait for people to find you.
In 2020 and forward, you’ll have to start connecting with like-minded souls in a proactive way. A blog is not only an ideal place to promote your products but also a platform where you can build relationships with future clients.
Advertising is one of the easiest and most passive ways to make money blogging.
Companies are eager to get their products in front of the right audience and a blog can be the perfect bridge between customers and brands.
In this case, profit is directly related to traffic. So when you are just starting out, this is not a viable way to make a full-time income.
Your CPM (the amount of money you can make for each 1,000 ad impressions) also depends on your niche, ad placement, and reader engagement.
Here are three way you can make money with advertising:
- Sell ads privately. You negotiate a flat monthly rate, either directly with the brand or an agency. Then you place their graphics in strategic places on your blog, like the sidebar, before or after the content. Your self-promotion and negotiation skills are key. The more traffic your blog gets, the higher the fee you can charge. The downside, however, is that not everybody pays on time, and chasing them up can be a bit of a headache.
- Joining an ad network. AdSense is the low hanging fruit here, as they don’t ask you to have a minimum of page views. But they also pay very little and I don’t really see the point in signing up with them if you’re going to make only $0.20 a day. Ezoic, on the other hand, requires you to have a minimum of 10,000 sessions per month but depending on your niche and your visitor engagement rate, you could be making three figures as soon as you join them. In time, the value of the ads tends to increase as they constantly test and optimize the ad placements on your site.
Sponsored posts are a non-disruptive form of advertising that seamlessly matches the platform where it is displayed. They are often called native ads, a huge trend right now.
- Sponsored posts. You write an article in your unique writing voice, mention the sponsoring brand, and publish the content on your own blog. You are not trying to sell anything, but rather raise awareness.
- Social media posts. You can also make money by leveraging your social media profiles. I’ve used SocialPubli before and totally recommend them.
- Sponsored guest posts. Sometimes brands hire freelancers to write content for them and then pay bloggers to publish said content on their blogs. While this sounds like easy money, I advise you to be very selective.
- Giveaways & reviews. Many companies are happy to send bloggers free products in exchange for a review and/or a giveaway. Sometimes there’s monetary compensation as well. If you want to go down this rabbit hole, make sure the products you receive for free are really worth your time and are relevant to your audience, especially if you don’t get paid for your work.
Provide a service
A blog can be a compelling business card and serve as your portfolio. If you have a unique skill and can easily do something that most people can’t or are not willing to invest their time in, then you could be sitting on a goldmine.
You start by establishing yourself as an expert via well-thought blog posts and at the same time, you let people know that you are ready to help them achieve their goals.
Apart from your blog, you can also join a freelance services marketplace like Fiverr, for additional income. The only problem here is that you cannot clone yourself, so services are not scalable.
- Coaching. This is a wonderfully fulfilling way to share your knowledge with the world. One-on-one coaching lets you learn about your audience’s pain points, which in time can help you create your first (or next) product.
- Freelance writing. If you are a decent writer, this one is a no-brainer. As for how much you should charge… It depends on your professional experience and the exact project requirements. Prices range from $10 to hundreds of dollars for 500 words.
- Virtual assistant. Hiring a virtual assistant is becoming more and more the norm among both individuals and organizations eager to outsource their workload. If you want to become a virtual assistant I recommend you read The Bootstrap VA.
- Graphic design. If you have a neck for design, you can make money by doing all kinds of client work, like creating logos, infographics or illustrations tailored to your client’s needs.
- Programming. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’ve been surfing the web for more than 5 minutes, you surely know the world needs more responsive blogs, faster and safer websites, smarter landing pages and better design. For every website that’s got it right, there are dozens that still don’t convert to their full potential.
How long does it take to make money blogging?
This is another complex question and no two bloggers are the same. I made money in the first month. But the most common scenario is for bloggers to start seeing some cash after a few months to a year.
Blogging has it’s own learning curve and building trust, authority and a following take time.
But with the proper planning and the right strategy, you can reach $1,000 after 6 months and a full-time income after a year. This is realistic.
This means you will not only have to work hard but also invest in your education.
There’s simply too much random and possibly outdated information out there and you could spend days, weeks or even months piecing it all together.
That’s why I always recommend you take the shortcut and stand on the shoulder of giants, bloggers who already went through all you are going through right now and learn from them as fast as you can.
This means purchasing a few eBooks and courses because they will save you tons of time and frustration.
If you’ve tried everything to bring people to your blog yet nothing seems to work, Ana’s Boost Your Blog Traffic is a godsend when it comes to growing your blog.
If you are struggling to crack Amazon Associates, my own eBook, How to Make Money as an Amazon Affiliate, will help you start earning with the world’s largest affiliate program.
How much traffic do you need to make money from a blog?
Traffic is certainly important. Even more so if your preferred income stream is advertising.
However, for all the other sources of income mentioned above, you should put the accent on quality rather than quantity. This includes getting a theme that conveys your message and establishing a personal brand.
For example, when I first started this blog, I made $245 with only 2,000 pageviews. That’s not a lot of pageviews at all.
But then I started using Pinterest in a more strategic way. My page views went up and I saw a boost in income too.
Now if all your traffic goes to a handful of blog posts that you aren’t monetizing, you cannot possibly expect to make money.
But if you are smart about it, you can easily make a few hundred dollars per month even with a small blog.
Can you start a blog for free and still make money?
Maybe. Some (but not all) free blogging platforms allow you to make money. BUT…. they all have serious shortcomings when it comes to design and functionality.
This means you could be earning way more by simply investing a small amount of money in a self-hosted blog.
A self-hosted blog means you have your own domain (like bylauraiancu.com vs. bylauraiancu.blogspot.com or bylauraiancu.wordpress.com as I’d have gotten if I chose a free blogging platform) and pay a web hosting company to host your blog and make it available to the world.
If you host your blog on Bluehost, their plans start from as little as $2.95/month (paid annually). This is really cheap. Plus, when you are just starting out you really don’t need to spend more than that.
If you’re ready to start blogging, my tutorial on how to start a self-hosted WordPress blog makes it super easy for you to get everything set up in 15 minutes or less.
Still on the fence about this? Read why you need to purchase hosting for your blog.
THINGS TO READ NEXT
- How I Made $246 In The First Month With A Brand New Blog
- How I Made My First $1k Blogging
- How To Use MailerLite To Grow Your Email List Lightning Fast
- The Beginner’s Guide to Making Money Blogging With Affiliate Marketing
- 7 Amazon Affiliate Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make
Hey there dream chaser! I’m a writer, designer and the creator of The Smart Blog Planner and Perfectly Productive Planner. I’m on a mission to inspire and empower you to create a highly profitable minimalist online business and show up for your dreams in a sustainable way.