A few years back, before I got into blogging, I was brainstorming entrepreneurial ideas with my wife. I had (and still have) a good day job as a software developer that brought in steady pay. In accordance with the passive income model I also invested a healthy percentage of my pay into a 401(k).
But I wanted to give my revenue more of a boost. Since I work in the tech field I originally researched the idea of creating an online retail shop.
Running an online retail shop required a lot of work up front, and a lot of work to maintain. I would need to choose a product, find manufacturers, and create an online store.
I realized pretty quickly that if I found a product I liked then I would need to make an initial investment to purchase this product at wholesale prices. And of course there was the time needed to pack and ship items as needed to consider.
I didn’t want to get into a situation where I was risking too much money, or spending too much time running packages to the post office. So I looked into drop-shipping.
At first drop-shipping looked like a great option. There wasn’t much investment up front. Drop-shipping fulfillment centers would handle sending products for me, and they would manage returns.
But even with that, there was still the time investment of handling customer service calls. Since I had a full time job, I didn’t want to get involved with anything that took too much extra time.
That’s what led me to blogging to earn extra income.
I had a variety of interests and hobbies, as well as an extensive technical background, so I thought that blogging about those things would be a great way to share knowledge with people.
I figured if I could do that then I might even be able to pull in a little extra income.
In this post I’ll explain the different ways that bloggers can make money.
Can you really make money blogging?
The short answer is, YES.
Now, before we get too much further in this post, I want to be honest with you. Most blogs on the internet make very little to no money.
It is possible to make money blogging, and some blogs make an incredible amount of money, but you have to learn how to write posts that are engaging and filling a need, otherwise no one will come to your blog.
I’ve been blogging for quit ea few years now, and I’ve probably made every mistake out there. But some of theses mistakes can be avoided with just a little foresight.
These are a few key things to be aware of when you start blogging:
1. Find a niche in an area that you are already interested in.
This is a big mistake that I made early on. I thought I could throw up a product review site, add some affiliate links and ads, and wait for the money to come rolling in.
That never happened.
I wrote some beautiful code that did all sorts of cool automated tasks, totally assured that my technical prowess would give me a competitive edge.
I wasn’t getting ANY traffic. And the traffic I did get didn’t convert at all. I was making no sales and spending money on web hosting every month, so I was actually losing money.
So I went back to the drawing board and learned everything I could about blogging. (Don’t worry, this post IS NOT a sales pitch. I won’t get to the end of this article and pitch you a “blogging course”, all the info I want to share will be in this post).
I decided to start a new blog, in a niche for a sport that I regularly was engaged with. This was the key. Since I was already very engaged in this sport (or “niche”), I was constantly researching about how to get better at it. I was learning about the products for this sport, and purchasing and reviewing courses for it.
This made it very easy to simply write quality posts about what I was already learning about. My blog posts were targeted to the kinds of web searches that I was engaged with, and I could easily write length content.
That was the first blog that started bringing in some side money.
2. Target Your Blog Posts Towards Google Search Queries
This is one that took me a long time to figure out.
I wrote a lot of blog posts about topics that I thought were interesting, or helpful to others. I wrote “witty” headlines. I wrote “unique” content. None of that mattered.
I also wrote some posts “accidentally” that people actually searched for.
For the longest time I couldn’t figure out how some of my posts ranked on the first page of Google, while other posts were like ghost towns.
Finally I figured out that yes, you can write about whatever you want, but in order for Google to know how to recommend your post, you had to format your posts so that Google search would understand them.
I wrote a post about some of the concepts I use, you can read about it here.
3. Be in It for the Long Haul
After my first “product review” blog failed (long gone are the days of straight product review sites being able to make money) I was still gung-ho on blogging when I started the next blog.
But that enthusiasm waned pretty quickly.
I had spent A LOT of time developing that first site. And A LOT of time writing content for it.
When I started the second blog I didn’t write any code for it, I simply put it on WordPress. But I still spent A LOT of time writing content for it…. for the first 2 months.
And then I just kind of gave up. For a year. I didn’t do any blogging for a year.
Then one day I noticed in my bank account a deposit from Amazon. It wasn’t large, less than 20 dollars, but it was there.
I went back and looked at my Amazon affiliates program, and yep, I had magically gotten some affiliate sales, after not having blogged for a year.
So I went back and looked at Google Analytics, and low and behold some of the posts I had written the year before were generating some decent traffic.
Even more oddly, a couple of the posts had made it to the front page of Google!
This was all very exciting. And it made me realize that the blog posts that I write today might not even rank in Google for 6-8 months. That’s when I understood, this was a “long game”.
How Do Bloggers Actually Make Money?
Ok, so the big question is, how do you monetize a blog? Right?
There a lots of ways that bloggers can bring in money, and how you choose to monetize depends on what you’re blogging about. Most bloggers I know derive their income from more than one approach. Here are a few ideas.
1. Affiliate Links
I mentioned affiliate links earlier in this post, but what are affiliate links?
An affiliate link is a link that you place on your website to a product, and if the user clicks on that link and buys that product then you earn a commission of that sale.
That’s why product review sites are so popular. Bloggers attempt to sell you on the benefits of any given product in hopes that you will buy it so they will get a cut.
Many affiliate programs pay out more than just a percentage of the sale of a product though. Some programs place a “cookie” on your reader’s computer (a small file that lets the vendor know that the user came to their site through your blog). That “cookie” may have an expiration period of around 24 hours, and if that user buys anything from that vendor within 24 hours, you also get a commission of THOSE sales. Pretty awesome right?
If you’re getting a lot of traffic it might be worth putting advertisements on your site.
You’ll want to find advertising programs that match the niche of your web site. If you are blogging about music, check out Guitar Center or Sam Ash for advertising programs for example.
3. E-Books and Self-Publishing
Some bloggers (myself included) make money by selling books in their chosen niche.
Making an e-book and putting it behind a paywall is really pretty simple. If you have some valuable information that others might not have, then people would be willing to pay for your expertise.
It’s also relatively easy to self-publish a book that would be available not only as a an e-book, but also as an on-demand printed book.
4. Selling Courses
As an extension of selling e-books, you might have enough material to turn your expertise into a course.
If you’re into real estate you could make a course on how to flip houses.
If you’re into music you can make a course on how to sing better.
If you’re into magic you could make a course on how to be a better magician.
You get the point. You can turn your expertise into a profitable product and use your blog to help sell that product to your readers.
5. Selling Products
I know, I know. I said at the beginning of this post that I personally tried to steer away from selling products. BUT, it is a revenue stream.
If you are blogging about something that you also happen to make, your blog can be a great lead generation tool for your product.
And these products don’t have to be just digital. Maybe you’re a software developer with a cool new video game. Or maybe you built an app to help sales people manage their leads. You could use your blog to pitch these products to your readers.
So, How Much Do Bloggers Make?
The answer to this is, it depends.
As stated earlier in this post, most blogs don’t generate any revenue.
Most people I talk to who blog and make money are making supplemental cash to their day jobs. Income varies from 50 dollars a month to 500 a month for some of these lower income blogs. That’s not bad money just to write about something in a niche that you’re already interested in anyways.
Some bloggers hit the big time though, and some of them publish their income reports so you can see exactly how much they are making.
Here are some examples:
- Smart Passive Income: $167,553
- Making Sense of Cents: $159,592
- Just a Girl and Her Blog: $41,700
- Pinch of Yum: $32,971
- Johnny FD: $12,795
Those are monthly numbers. Monthly.
That’s a lot of money.
So can you turn blogging into a full time job? Just ask the people who run the sites listed above. The answer is a resounding YES.
Types of Blogs That Make Money?
What types of blogs earn the most money?
That’s a little tricky to answer. It is what everybody is trying to figure out.
But if we think about this logically, we can just run some numbers to see what might be profitable and what might not.
If you have a blog about office pens, you could probably write some cool posts about all the variety of unique pens are available in the world.
But how much does a good office pen cost? No, I don’t mean the crazy rare office pens that none of us can afford. I mean pens that readers are likely to buy.
Let’s take a Scriveiner pen. This is pen is in the upper range of office pens. It’s not a 2 dollar pen you buy at Target.
Will your average reader be buying this? Maybe, but chances are most people who are looking for pens are looking for quality pens that are affordable.
This means that even if you make a ton of affiliate sales on these pens, you won’t be breaking into the kind of money that will allow you to walk away from your job.
But if you’re blogging about finance, then you have a better chance of making some large commissions from your affiliate sales. Even you have less sales than if you were marketing pens, you still are going to net more money.
With that in mind, here is a list of niches that are known to perform well:
- Health and Fitness
Best Blogging Platform to Make Money?
Once you have an idea for a blog, and a strategy for monetizing it, you’re going to need to choose a platform to get started.
We highly recommend WordPress as a blogging platform. WordPress is extremely easy to use. It has a robust user community to go to for help if needed. And most of the time if you need WordPress to do something that it doesn’t do out of the box then someone has made a plugin you can just install.
There is a free hosting platform at WordPress.com where you can get started with no money to begin with, but we highly recommend going with your own hosting provider right from the beginning. This will save you from the headaches of having to migrate your blog when it starts to take off.
Blogging is a lot of fun. It’s a great way to get into writing. It’s an exciting way to share your interests with people. And it is possible to make money doing it.
Ultimately making money blogging is about using your enthusiasm about a niche, combined with your writing skills to market products to like minded individuals.
It takes time to rank your blog in Google, so if you’re interested in trying it, then the sooner you start the better!