How to Make Money Blogging
Over the years, many people have asked me various versions of this question: “How do I start a blog?” or “How do I make money with my blog?”
To be honest, I usually avoid answering. Partly because blogging is not for everybody. And partly because it has taken me time and effort to figure out on my own. There was a lot of trial and error, literally years of figuring out what works and what doesn't.
I'm not going to promise that anyone can make money blogging. Because the truth is, they can't.
But I am writing this guide for people who want to put in the work, who love blogging, and who want a business (not a hobby) that can grow throughout the years.
I do not make a full-time income with my blog yet, but I do make a reliable part-time income.
I started my first “for profit” blog in 2011 as a hobby, and didn't become serious about making money until 2014 and 2015. I did significantly grow the profit of my blog in those years, and then took a break from blogging in 2016, during which time my blog income remained remarkably consistent.
The lesson is this: effort (and focus) generally equates to a steady increase in income. And the great thing about blog income, is that it generally remains consistent. Okay, let's get started…
Starting a Blog
I'm not going to spend time explaining exactly how to start a blog. But I do want to mention a few pertinent details.
First, you need to have some technical ability to have a blog. If you do not, you must have the desire and capacity to learn. If you have none of those, you need the means to hire someone who does.
There is a lot that goes into maintaining a blog: understanding code basics, hosting, mailing lists, and more. Many of these details seem small, until you outgrow your basic shared hosting, small-time email list, etc.
Aspects of Starting a Blog
Here are some other things to think about when starting your first blog. You should be planning all of these details BEFORE you purchase a domain, hosting, etc.
Choosing the right platform:
Certain blogging platforms do not allow for ads. Others do not allow a great deal of customization. Here are some tips for choosing the right blog platform.
Naming Your Blog:
More goes into naming a blog than you might think. If you're planning to blog for profit, you'll want to look into whether the name you like is trademarked or not, and whether or not it reflects the general theme of your content.
Getting a domain name:
As soon as you decide on a blog name, you'll want to look into securing it as your domain name. Consider also buying alternative domains, such as .info and .net
A cheap, shared hosting plan is okay in the beginning. But once you start getting more traffic, a better host is vital. Consider a VPS (virtual private server) so you can save yourself some hassle later on.
Sources of Income
The biggest piece of the puzzle is of course how to make money blogging. The answer is that sources of income vary. Some blogs make money primarily from advertisement. Some make money primarily from information products. The only thing I can really tell you with any kind of conviction is how I make money.
My biggest sources of income are:
- Amazon Affiliate Program
- Google Adsense
- Misc Affiliate Programs
Because my main income-producing blog is a natural health and wellness blog, the misc affiliate programs pertain to the natural health and wellness niche.
I've found it vitally important not to focus too much of my energy on promoting affiliates. What works best for me is to focus on content first, advertisement second.
A Note About Ad Placement
I don't regularly utilize banner ads for Amazon. Instead, I focus on text links to various products (or types of products) mentioned in my blog posts. As you can see in my Homemade Taco Seasoning post, I link to relevant utensils and ingredients.
The placement of Google Adsense ads is also important. Just by tweaking the position of my ads, I almost doubled my income from this source.
You'll have to figure out what placement is best for you and your theme, but I have found that having a rectangular horizontal banner at the heading of each article as well as a square ad injected into each article is the most profitable.
The Key Ingredient: Blog Traffic
Of course, none of these sources of income will make you money unless your blog has visitors. Before you have visitors, you need content.
The higher quality content the better. And quality does NOT equate with quantity or even length.
As demonstrated by one of my most popular posts, How to Make Garlic Oil, a post can be short and simple as long as it has information readers are searching for. It also has a solid keyword, that didn't have much competition.
My Biggest Sources of Traffic
- Google Search (59%)
- Pinterest (15%)
- Direct Traffic (14%)
- Bing Search (3%)
- Yahoo Search (3%)
The rest of my traffic came from misc sources, Facebook being one.
As you can see, Google searches make up more than half of my traffic. Which leads me to conclude just how important key words are to the acquisition of blog traffic.
If you want to know how to make money blogging, educate yourself on how to use keywords correctly.
My favorite tool for researching keywords is SEO Book Keyword Tool, and my favorite wordpress widget for optimizing SEO-friendly blog posts is Yoast SEO. I consider both indispensable resources, and they're both free!
Off to a Slow Start
Building up your blog traffic is going to feel painfully slow in the beginning. And at certain points in the growth of your blog you are going to have setbacks or feel as if you've gone stagnant. The important thing is to keep working on it and set attainable milestones for yourself.
When you first start your blog, your goal may be to post once a week and grow your blog to 100 unique visitors a month. After that, the goal may be 200.
By the time you reach the level of my blog, your goal may be to increase your blog traffic by 5,000 unique visitors by the following month. Slow and steady wins the race.
As of 2/4/2017, I average 50,000 unique visitors a month at NaturalFamilyToday.com
Common Pitfalls of Growing a Blog
Of course, there are a lot of things that can set you back or impede your blog's growth. I want to address a few of them here.
Focusing on Things that Aren't Working
You can't do everything, and it's easy to get distracted by advice from others. While one thing may be working for someone else, it may not work for you.
Your time is valuable. That's why it's important to focus on what does bring you traffic, and what earns you money. My advice is to focus on the top 3 in each category. That's why I felt it necessary to list my top sources of income and traffic.
Even though it wasn't really increasing my income or blog traffic, I focused too much time on things like Facebook and Instagram in the beginning. It would have been a more pertinent use of my time to focus on generating keyword rich content and then promoting that content on Pinterest.
Not Starting an Email List
Email lists are limited. If you're not a “loyalty blogger”, they may not immediately bring you repeat traffic or income. However, you're missing out on an opportunity if you do not start collecting email addresses from your visitors.
Your list can be utilized later on to promote giveaways (which I plan to talk about in a future post), update repeat visitors, and promote affiliate events, such as Ultimate Bundles, which are limited time offers that can make you significant income in a short period of time.
Not Joining a Network
Finding a positive and loyal blogging community, especially in a specific niche, can be a challenge, but it’s definitely worth it. Having a connection with other bloggers allows you to easily collaborate and support each other.
Many bloggers within these communities will have bigger reader bases than you, and one share of your content could boost your blog to the next level. Of course, your contribution will be to share their content as well.
As you can see, learning how to make money blogging is not for the weak. It takes hard work, dedication, and a certain level of tech-savviness. But, it can be done.
Are you ready for the challenge?