So you finally want to join the blogging community. Well by reading this article you’ll have taken the biggest step to starting a blog that can create an income for you and your family.
I have been blogging as my main source of income for the past 8 years. It has been a long hard slog but in the past few years I have managed to launch successful blog after successful blog which have meant that I can quit the 9-5 and spend more time with my family & building a lifestyle I am happy with.
Don’t get me wrong I have made many mistakes along the way but once I knew what I was doing it became a lot easier and more enjoyable. Many of my friends have emailed me or called me to find out more about “What Jamie Does”, but it can be a little hard to sink in at first as to how you can actually make a real income from running a successful blog(s). Therefore I have decided to create this guide for my friends, family, email subscribers and anyone else who wants to start doing “What Jamie Does”.
This guide to making a money making blog is completely free. I don’t want anything for it – just for you to take action and do it, so many of my friends would love to do it but give up too soon, often when their big breakthrough might only be a few weeks away.
The guide is quite long and there are lots of links to other pages on this blog and on other blogs too which will help you – so please make sure to bookmark this page.
I hope you find it as enjoyable as I did writing it.
How Much Can you Earn Blogging?
Whether you’re looking to supplement your income with a little extra to pay for a few nice treats or create a blog that will support your lifestyle then you can pretty much make as much money as you like from blogging if you are prepared to put in the hard work.
There are lots of great stories out there of successful bloggers who make money blogging:
For example over the past couple of years, husband and wife team, Bjork and Lindsay at PinchofYum.com, a food and recipe blog, have built up a huge following and some months they have made nearly $25k.
Another blogging couple, Yeison and Samantha, who run mytanfeet.com are making over $5k per month while they travel the world and share their photos and stories on their blog.
I’m not going to lie to you but it can take months even years before you might see a significant return on the time you invest in to starting a blog but that is why I have created this free guide so that you can be confident in taking the right steps to achieving your blogging goals.
So let’s continue…
How to Pick a Profitable Blog Niche
This is the most critical step. Seriously.
There is no point in starting a blog that you want to make money from without a plan. There are thousands, even hundreds of niches out there. Some are broad and huge; some are small and virtually unknown. Some niches are easier to make money in than others.
This is why your research is important.
A good place to start when you are picking a niche is to look at your own interests in Google.
For example I really launched a blog in the survivalist niche a couple of years ago which I sold for a great profit. The reason I created this blog was that I enjoy being outdoors, hiking and mountain biking etc. I also watch a lot of TV shows about people like Bear Grylls and Ray Mears.
I’m no expert but it’s something I like.
One area I never really got into with my survivalist blog and wanted to was Everyday Carry. Most people will have never heard of this concept but it really is an interesting sub-niche with in this niche. Everyday Carry is basically any items you can’t leave the house with.
For most of us this will be our wallet, phone & keys – and in the summer months hopefully some sunglasses :).
If you travel a lot for work you may have a laptop or tablet with you.
If you work on a construction site you may have a tool belt.
However for many people who are always prepared everyday carry is about having everything you might need in an emergency or for general use on you at all times. This will often include a light source (torch), a pocket knife, some small tools & rope it’s quite amazing how easy it is to carry all these things with you in your pockets, on your keys or in a small bag.
So let’s have a look to see if we could make some money here.
First I would go to Google and type in my interest.
As you can see from the results there are a variety of different websites here from blogs, to eCommerce, to forums. Google also shows there are over 14.7 million websites that mention “everyday carry”.
I can also see a sub-reddit here which has almost 75k subscribers.
Next let’s have a look at Google Trends to see if it is growing in popularity or declining.
As we can see here Google Trends thinks this topic is on the up.
Ok so what about traffic. How much would it cost us if we wanted to pay for people to come to our website by Google’s Advertisements and how many people are searching for this stuff.
Pop over to the Google Keyword Planner and type in your terms. Google will also suggest other related terms too.
Here we can see that Everyday Carry is searched 12k times per month and the cost per click (CPC) tells us that is would cost around $2.50 for someone to come to our site by clicking on a Google Ad.
There are lots of paid tools out there which can help you see how much sites are already paying for adverts and this really will help with your initial research.
If you want to do this then you can sign up to a free 14 day trial of SEMRush and try this out yourself.
Here we will use SEMRush to see what keywords the website Everydaycarry.com is ranking in Google for.
So as we can see from this chart SEMRush thinks that it would cost Everydaycarry.com over $30k per month to get the traffic they are getting for “free” from Google’s organic results. By clicking on the different options we can then see which keywords have the highest search volumes.
Overall I would say this was a profitable niche with a growing audience and therefore something worth looking to building a blog around.
Of course this is just my own personal interest, you may be a keen amateur photographer, a budding cake decorator or want to write about travelling across Australia. So, carry out your research online by looking at different websites in Google and even on social media sites such as Facebook or Pinterest to see where the money making niches are, where the people are and if these niches are growing or shrinking. It will save a lot of heartache later down the line.
Are you still with me? That’s a lot to take in if you haven’t done this before.
So What Will You Need to Make Money Blogging
Now that you have done your research and worked out what niche you want to enter it is time to start bringing all of the different elements together for starting and monetizing a blog.
1. Get a Blog
If you’re planning to make money from blogging then it goes with out saying that you will need
to start a blog. :)
When anyone asks me about starting a professional money making blog I always recommend them to use self hosted WordPress as it’s the best platform for bloggers and I suggest you use BlueHost to host your new blog.
I use BlueHost for most of my sites, including this website!
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2. Create Great Content
So now that you have built your blog you are ready to create some blog posts for your readers.
The reason this section is called “Great Content” is because your content really does need to be of a high standard. Everyday millions of blog posts are published on the internet and with so much competition for our limited attention spans you really have to be creating blog posts people are going to want to read and perhaps even share on social media or on their own blogs.
Make sure your posts are:
- Well formatted and look good with relevant images
- Are in-depth and entertaining
- Offer links to other posts to expand on points
3. Build Up Your Audience
I started my first ever blog by writing on a consistent schedule about myself, my hobbies and interests. People found me via Google, Facebook, social media and my readership gradually grew over time to where it is today.
Once I had built up an audience, making money from blogging became an afterthought.
When you have a large group of fans interested in what you have to say, the money will come. Trust me on that.
The hard part is finding and gathering your fans.
Promote your blog
No matter how great your articles are no one is going to know about them unless you take time to promote your blog.
I know enough about SEO to probably be wrong about a lot of it. I could probably write a series of articles on SEO tactics I have learned over the years but as I am not an expert I’ll point you in the right direction to some good articles on the subject.
- WordPress SEO Guide (Blogging Wizard)
- The Big List of Link Building Tactics (Point Blank SEO)
- How to Research competitors with SEMRush
- Beginners Guide to SEO (Moz.com)
- The SEO BluePrint(MatthewBarby.com)
P.S. SEO is not dead, it’s one of the best traffic sources for people who will buy your products/services or sign up to your email lists. SEO is a lot harder than it once was but don’t ignore it.
From my experience, the social media sites that send the most traffic to blogs in general are:
The results will vary depending on your target audience.
If your blog is aimed around professional readers and business people you might have more potential traffic from LinkedIn and Google+. If your target reader is more visual it might make more sense to focus exclusively on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for promoting your blog.
WordPress also have a variety of plugins that make it easy to put social sharing buttons on your blog posts. Some people like to limit the number of plugins they use on their WordPress blog because it can slow the blog down and it can open your blog up to more attacks, butt a social sharing plugin is one that should have high priority if you do choose to use plugins.
THESE ARE THE TOP SOCIAL SHARING PLUGINS FOR WORDPRESS:
Those are six popular sharing buttons. There are many more. Whichever you choose make sure you limit the number of icons that appear and also make sure the plugin doesn’t slow down your page speed dramatically. If it does you’ll lose readers.
Sharing your blog content on social media is an art. There is no right way to do it. People have success sharing blog content in their own unique ways. Some will share only their blog links on social media. Others will share a high percentage of unique content on social media.
As is with most things in life, sometimes the best approach is somewhere in the middle.
Paying for clicks and traffic on social media or in the search engines can be a great option to market your blog. A lot of the information about blog marketing covers the organic options. While some of these can turn your blog into a popular destination quickly the more likely scenario is that it will take time for you to build communities to promote your blog content.
With paid methods, you have the opportunity to pay for traffic and clicks right away. And if you do well in targeting your audience on the right channels you can easily build your audience with advertising to supplement your organic efforts.
Facebook – Depending on your niche you can expect to pay about $1 per click to your blog, but there are many variables that can influence how much you will pay. Depending on the nature of your business this can provide some excellent ROI in terms of initial sales, but the main focus of this ad campaign is to get people to your blog. Wow them with your content and get them to opt-in to your email list for more updates.
Twitter – has a variety of ad options like Facebook and other social networks. The best one for your blog marketing efforts is the Promoted Tweets option. You can expect about $0.50 to $0.75 estimated cost per engagement, which is Twitter’s way of telling you what your cost per click is.
Reddit – ads appear on the top of the various pages. They are obviously ads so users don’t feel tricked into clicking on them. When people choose to select an ad they usually know it. So there is little chance of upsetting customers this way.
LinkedIn – has traditional online advertising that appears in the sidebar, but the Sponsored Updates options is much more advantageous for content producers.
Build Your Email List
You will see lots of bloggers who proclaim that the money is in the list. In my early days I didn’t buy in to this ideology but now it’s one of the most important things I focus on.
Once you’ve developed your fan base, it is essential to retain them as you continue to build your personal brand.
In the case of my blog, about 99% of my early readers would come, read a single article, and then leave forever. So instead of missing out on a potential regular, I started gathering email addresses using a service called Aweber, but these days I prefer GetResponse.
In return for a reader’s email address, I would give away a free 7 day email course via email. About 85% of the time, that reader would stick around after the mini course to check out my new articles and updates.
In fact, I have readers on my blogs that have stuck with me for over 6 years!?!
The key to growing your mailing list is to keep your existing fans while at the same time as attracting new readers. This way, your audience will increase month on month.
If you are not sure about which list building software to use I have reviewed a variety of email marketing services for you.
- The Beginners Guide to Online Marketing (Quicksprout)
- Email List Building Tactics (Backlinko.com)
- Social Media Image Sizes
Best Ways to Make Money from Your Blog
So now that we have covered the basics of building up your blog and it’s following lets have a look at some different ways you can begin to monetise your blog and start earning.
Related: Top online business ideas
Cost per click advertising (CPC) are ads that can be displayed on your website that you will be paid for every time someone clicks them.
If your blog brings in high traffic levels then displaying Google adverts can be a quick and easy way to make steady revenue. If your blog is good at keeping your users on the pages then these types of ads can work well for driving high conversions, especially with in-post ads.
The big advantage of using a Google Adsense is that it takes just minutes to set up and you don’t really need any coding knowledge to implement it within your blog.
Similarly to CPC advertising, cost per mile (CPM) ads can bring in good steady income from your blog if you’re piling through large levels of traffic. They are very easy to set up and you really don’t need any knowledge of coding to do so – all you have to do is create an advertising account and add the code to your site; simple.
Typically, CPM brings in ridiculously low returns – some ads pay out around $0.10 per thousand impressions, so you will need a lot of traffic to make a decent income.
Of course instead of using a third-party to broker your advertising deals it might make more sense financially to work directly with businesses to promote their products. Generally you will need to build up a decent sized following before going down this route.
A sponsored post is one way in which to make money from advertisers. With this type of arrangement you may be asked to publish a post that is provided by the advertiser or they may ask you to write a post that mentions them or their product – depending on your following you can expect to receive between $50 and $500 for a sponsored article.
There are some complicated rules for bloggers who publish sponsored posts and depending on your country they can differ. The main point is to make sure that you clearly declare when a blog post is an advertisement.
Rather than publishing banner ads on your website via Adsense or another 3rd party you can always work with advertisers to setup their banner ads directly. Generally banner ads are paid on a CPM model, which is basically a price per 1000 impressions of their banner on your website.
Affiliate marketing is a kind of performance-based marketing. With this form of marketing, business owners reward affiliates for each customer brought to the company through the affiliate’s independent advertising endeavors. There are four key players in affiliate marketing:
- the merchant
- the network
- the publisher
- the customer
As a result of its increasing complexity, the affiliate marketing world has evolved to include a subset of players which includes specialized third party vendors, affiliate management agencies, and super-affiliates.
Affiliate marketing works in conjunction with several other online advertising mechanisms. This is the case because affiliates will often use these platforms for marketing purposes. Some of the mechanisms include search engine optimization (SEO), e-mail marketing, paid search engine marketing (PPC-Pay Per Click), display advertising, and content marketing. At the same time, affiliates can also appropriate less traditional advertising methods. An example would be publishing reviews of services or products.
In many cases, affiliate marketing is confused with referral marketing. This is likely the case because both marketing methods involve the use of third parties who drive business to a retailer.
If you are planning to become an affiliate marketer then it might be a good idea to sign up to an affiliate network such as Shareasale or ClickBank in order to find offers to promote.
You can learn more about making money with affiliate marketing from these useful resources:
Companies will often look to sponsor influential blogs within their niche. This usually includes having the brand mentioned within the header/sidebar of your website or even having cross-branding across the whole blog.
The big disadvantage of this is that you really need to be fairly established within your niche for companies to want to make the decision of sponsoring you.
Everyone has a skill that businesses need and offering your time and expertise is a great way to make an income from your blog. Services have the highest profit margins as you are effectively selling your time and not a physical product – however your income is limited to the number of hours you are available for work.
Consulting & Training – promoting your expertise to deliver training or consultancy services to businesses can be a highly profitable way to create an online income. In the past I have helped lots of businesses get started blogging by working with them to create editorial calendars and giving their marketing teams tips to promote their posts. Whether you’re an Excel guru, a marketing whiz or a customer services master you can build up your profile on your blog.
Pay per minute phone call consulting involves offering consulting services over the phone where the customer pays per minute.
Clarity.fm offer this and you can apply to be listed as an ‘expert’ within your niche on their site. In return, you’ll be able to run your consulting phone calls through them, and you even get a widget for your blog.
Writing – with so many businesses now running blogs their is a huge demand for competent writers and bloggers. By promoting your services on your blog rather than on a freelancing network such as Upwork you can demand a higher rate. You could also offer similar services such as proofreading and editing too.
Design – if you are good at illustration or design then there are lots of opportunities to offer your services to businesses or other bloggers. Whether that is creating infographics, logos or photo-editing you can use your blog to demonstrate your skills and pick up new clients.
Of course selling your time for money is not the most scalable way to make money online. One of the ways in which to create a business that can scale to your needs is to sell products online.
Platforms such as Shopify, Woocommerce & Etsy have made it cheaper and easier than ever for anyone to create an online store and sell products online.
Selling physical products online can be hard to setup as you will need to deal with storage, shipping and even deal with things such as local taxes and distance selling laws. Of course a lot of this headache can be resolved by finding a company who will offer a white-label or drop shipping service leaving you to worry about getting traffic and updating the website.
If you don’t want the headaches of dealing with shipping goods and storing them then creating digital goods can be a great way to make money from selling products and taking advantage of scaling your business. Anything from productivity software, to knitting patterns, to recipes or even training courses can be delivered electronically.
If you’ve got a really active community within your blog that are looking to learn more about what you’re writing about, then there could be an opportunity to create a paid membership area.
This would require members to pay a fee to see extra content on your site (usually learning resources or videos).
For example internet marketer Brian Dean runs a successful SEO membership site called SEOThatWorks.com. Which even though it costs nearly $2k to join he has had scores of happy members join.
eBooks & online Training Courses
As I mentioned earlier if you looking at offering consulting or training services then it might be worth packaging your materials together into an online course. By offering MP3 or video downloads your students can follow along at their own pace. This is a very popular blog monetisation strategy especially within the online marketing space.
There’s loads of up-sell opportunities from offering training courses and it can easily be scaled if it is mainly self-teaching materials. Not only this, but you can start gathering email addresses from your trainees and start marketing new courses to them.
Although there is high potential for revenue, it’s not always an option for blog owners that don’t have a lot of time/resources.
So how do you make money blogging?
What’s been your biggest struggle with making money from blogs?
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