I found another post in heavy need of updating! Once you’ve read How to Start a Blog, then How to Grow a Blog, you probably finally want me to cough up how to make money blogging, right? I originally wrote this post in December 2010 (hence the older comments as well as, hopefully, the newer ones to come *hint, hint*). Take advantage of what I’ve learned over the last 6 years!
I started blogging with BFS on February 20th, 2010 (I started with Host Monster BUT DON’T – it was bad…I suggest Bluehost or Host Gator). I had dreams that a whole group of yet-to-know-friends would talk with me about the wonderful subject of money…a subject that my poor husband was pretty tired of hearing about from me, lol. When I found out that some blogs actually made money, I thought a few hundred a year would be fantastic since it would pay for itself.
By just the end of that first month, I had a few commenters every day. BFS felt like my special world. I was hooked. By the end of that March, I knew that blogging full time would be my dream job. That’s when I started taking it a little more seriously. I knew I wanted to try for “real” money. Here’s everything I know.
The Development Process
Please check out my full post on How to Grow a Blog, but to summarize how I did it, I:
- Commented on at least 20 blogs a week
- Participated with discussions with other bloggers so people can get to know me
- Guest posted at least once every week or two
- Posted a weekly roundup
- Hosted blog carnivals (pretty much dead now)
- Tried to help other bloggers and commenters whenever I could
Since I sincerely liked to help and had/have tons of inner-fire for writing and personal finance, most parts of growing my blog were fun for me! Even if parts of that sound daunting to you, you can make up for it with passion in the parts you truly enjoy.
Ways to Make Money Blogging
There are 3 main ways to make money blogging that I know about – advertising, selling your own products, and getting other jobs online thanks to your blog and/or blogging reputation.
Since I get asked about the advertising part of online money-making the most, I’m covering it first.
- Direct link advertising – A company may want to place higher in search engine rankings by being linked to from blogs like yours. They place links in posts, sidebar pictures (widgets), or directly in your sidebar in exchange for a set fee for a set term. These are poo-pooed by Google and are generally the less loved form of advertising for bloggers. It’s a controversial issue and personal decision for bloggers to accept direct link advertising or not. My advice is if you do it, get the rates that you deserve and DO NOT settle for $15 per post or anything nuts like that. My site was receiving $150 per post by the end of my first year and $200-$300 by the end of my second.
- CPC/PPC/CPM Ads – Those acronyms stand for Cost Per Click, Pay Per Click, Cost Per 1,000. In short, those are ads that generate revenue for you when someone clicks on them or for every 1000 views. They pay per click, view, or interaction of some sort. Google AdSense boxes are an example. I’ve heard good things about Media.net. I would suggest only looking into these after you’ve grown your traffic a bit. I took it seriously after hitting 10,000 visitors a month.
- Affiliate advertising – Simply put, this is receiving money when someone uses your affiliate link to buy a product or service from someone else. There seems to be no limit to what you can make through affiliate advertising and much of it becomes passive after putting a ton of time into growing your site and cross-promoting your posts, and taking advantage of social media like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Michelle from Making Sense of Cents brings in $50,000+ PER MONTH with affiliate advertising, so I jumped on her Making Sense of Affiliate Advertising e-course as soon as it came out! The course itself was really helpful and the private Facebook group is pure gold.
Your Own Products
This is pretty straight forward. You can make money by selling your own products directly to people. Specifically, I’m thinking about eBooks, actual books, courses you develop, coaching packages, and physical products that make sense for your niche (seasonings if you are a food blogger, jewelry in the fashion niche, etc).
I tackled this branch by publishing How I Make Money Blogging in 2012 and Managing Your Monthly Nut in 2013. I’m still thinking about writing an eBook or creating a course for starting a pet sitting business, but that is still a twinkle in my eye (or a tingling feeling in my fingers as it were, lol). The people I know that making a living off of selling their own products usually seem to do it through developing courses. Right this second, I’m concentrating on making better content for BFS before tackling any new project.
Your Own Services
The other way to make money blogging is by offering your own services stemming from your blogging reputation. Some ideas in this area would be staff writing (done that and have hired that), commenting-for-hire (done that), blog coaching (done that), being a virtual assistant (sort of doing that by replying to reviews for an Android app), negotiating deals for other bloggers (do that), social media management (OH HELLS NO for me…hired that), etc.
This is how I made good money my first year blogging. I started my site, worked on growing my site, and offered my staff writing services at the same time. At one point in 2010-2011, I was a staff writer on 8 sites every week for a total of 14 weekly posts. Since they all allowed me at least one link to my own site in my author intro, staff writing ended up being an amazing way to make $15-$25 per post while also letting people get to know me all over the web.
How Do Start All of That?
Whew! Okay, so that is what’s available after you start blogging and growing. But how do you find it, right?
Direct Link Advertising
When your site starts being tasty for direct link advertisers, they will start emailing you. Now these emails will usually be from people looking for free placements or offering extremely low amounts of money, but you can reply to everyone with the a slightly customized form letter reply, and a few will end up being real deals. As you grow, the larger budget link advertisers will find you too.
If you want to be seen quicker or hate the idea of negotiating, you can sign up with a third party negotiator like me, but then you are either paying a commission out of each sale (like the 25% I charge) or a flat fee in some cases per month or year.
You can sign up for Google Adsense whenever you’d like and stick it onto your site. I’d suggest not wasting that space until you have some solid traffic (heck even 1000+). And as you grow, you will either be contacted by other advertisers for these types of ads or you can reach out to ones like Media.net that you hear about from your online buddies.
As your traffic grows, so does your ability to bring in affiliate income. The only way this makes real money is if you choose affiliates based on something you already would promote, genuinely want to promote, and promote it in a way that actually helps the buyer. Just throwing up affiliate links all over the place isn’t actually helpful, so it will be ignored and make you nothing. Trust me, I did that for years. I didn’t make my first sale until I started learning from people better than me like Kathleen from For Profit Blogging, Anne from Unique Gifter, Michelle from Making Sense of Cents, and Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income. Find affiliates in your niche that you love and show people why you love it and how they will love it too. Again, sincerity for the win. Notice a theme yet?
I have several of my own favorite affiliates and companies that I’m looking into. You’ve most likely noticed Bluehost lately. I am a self-employed blogger who’s asked “how does that make money” more often than anything else. Short answer, I started a blog that I loved writing on, my blog grew because people probably picked up on that (people, is that why you keep coming back? 😉 ), and then I started accepting advertising, staff writing, negotiating for others, and writing eBooks.
Being an affiliate for Bluehost makes that first part of the explanation pretty easy, and “easy” is key since most people are only motivated in short spurts. I know because I am most people, lol. It also helps that Bluehost pays their affiliates well and offers a ton of help to their affiliates and customers.
You also may have noticed Ting Wireless, because they impressed the crap out of me when I switched to them. I am avidly attempting (sometimes to the point of annoyance to friends and family) to get everyone to check their rates out just to see if they will save you money too (they are saving me $600-$1000 every year…should have switched sooner). It’s become my life’s purpose to get people to stop wasting money on cell phone plans when I’ve received the exact same cell service and way better customer service through Ting!
I’m also looking into Discover credit card, Netflix, and Redbox simply because I love all of those companies and they end up in some of my posts already. Oh, and Amazon seems to be a happy go to for tons of people, and I do love them (and shop there way too much), but the payout seems slim. At least, thus far.
Products are up to you. I created my two eBooks because of specific requests and used Create Space and Amazon to self-publish. I also use e-Junkie as the middle man to selling them to people directly and for managing my own affiliates.
How I Make Money Blogging came to be because of dozens and dozens of suggestions/requests/and a few demands in 2011 and early 2012. Managing Your Monthly Nut was specifically requested by three of my friends in 2013…I gave them physical copies and I doubt they read them. It’s easier to sell a thing that is likely to help you make money than a thing that helps you learn how to save money. I think people inherently think that learning self-control isn’t something worth paying for, which is total crap, but human none-the-less.
If you want to create your own courses, email me and I’ll point you to the big bloggers I know of that may already have guides to get you started. I rather not list out dozens here that change with time.
You can find staff writing and other online jobs through those social groups of online bloggers that I suggested earlier that you join or create. Sites like Problogger.net also have listings. Or simply ask around in general either from your own site or by emailing bloggers you know and/or admire. Keep an eye out on the sites you read and comment on since we bloggers do reach out to our community when we need help.
Progress So Far
I don’t know the best way to inspire you to start. BFS by itself has brought in more than $100,000 in advertising since I started in early 2010 through mid-2016. If you add in all of my other online income in the same period of time (ad negotiating, staff writing, eBooks sales, freelancing, etc), I’ve made more than $515,000 before expenses.
I want to help you. If blogging intrigues you, please start today. If all of this has led you in a different direction, no worries (I might have posts about that too, lol). Either way, email me even if you just need a sounding board. My deep-down-in-my-soul belief if that life is for living and the way you can afford that life shouldn’t suck for you. Seriously, we can find your not-suck job. Reach out.
Any suggestions to add? Questions? Feedback? Please, do chime in!!!
FYI: I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year. I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $80,000-$100,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home. If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!). I even have all of my favorite tools on a resource page - I hope they help you too. Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!