Millions of people have blogs; a small number know how to make money blogging—the vast majority don’t. What’s the difference between the two, and how can you join the money making crowd?
This may seem like an oversimplification, but I think it comes down to a few basics:
- You have to be passionate about what you are doing (it’s not a job, it’s a business—your business)
- You have to be patient—it will take months and maybe years to reach your goals, but that’s the case with any business
- You have to be consistent, willing to write, post and keep your blog going no matter what
- You have to be flexible—everything happens faster on the web and you have to roll with it, or get rolled over by it
If that’s describes you and your approach to blogging, you have an excellent chance of succeeding in a blogging career, even if you don’t have all of the technical skills right now.
How much can you make blogging? Some people are content to make a few hundred dollars per month blogging, keeping it mostly as a side business. Others make in the thousands, and that’s where blogging starts to become something more. And a small percentage are making in the tens of thousands each month, making them blogging entrepreneurs.
I’m not in that last category by any means…but there’s always tomorrow! And that’s the point—blogging is a dynamic process, not a destination. It’s an opportunity to grow your business, if you’re committed.
But this article isn’t about me—it’s about blogging as a business and how you can make it work for you. You can read my personal blogging story here in How Blogging Solved My Mid-Life Crisis. I’m doing this and if I can, you can too. I’m about as unlikely a person to make money blogging as you’ll ever meet.
Figuring out what to blog about
The first thing you have to do is decide what it is you’ll blog about. The best choice is going with what it is you’re passionate about. If you’re passionate about a topic, you’ll not only enjoy what you’re writing about, but you’ll also have the perseverance that’s so critical to the whole blogging process. People can sense passion in your writings, and that’s a draw in itself. It’s not a stretch to say that passion will define your career.
Why not blog about what it is you’re most knowledgeable? Knowledge without passion won’t last, but a passionate person will always acquire the knowledge needed. And chances are, what it is you’re truly most knowledgeable about is driven by what you’re most passionate about.
Setting up your blog
Once you decide what it is you want to blog about, the next step is to choose a name for your site. This is important, since not only will it be the name of your site, but it will also be the name of your domain, which is the URL the search engines will see when they look at your site.
You want your site name to be simple, yet descriptive of what your site will be about. It can help if your title contains basic, popular words like “money”, “finance”, “cars”, etc, but there are many sites that have succeeded without including them. I chose “OutOfYourRut” because it describes making a career transition, which is the primary subject of the site.
The rest is mostly a mechanical process. Other than paying for your web hosting service, when you’re first starting out you don’t need to spend any money. Save that for later when your site is growing and needs to go up to the next level.
You’ll need a web host to host your site. As a beginner, you’ll want to go with large providers, like Go Daddy. They have excellent customer support, and if you’re not technically oriented you’ll need that support.
Once you have a host, start with a blogging platform like WordPress. Not only is it a free application, but it’s also a very common one with many free plug-ins (WordPress specific applications that make it easier to run your site) and a wide variety of individual themes to choose from. The platform is very user friendly, which means you probably won’t need to pay an expert to help you set it up and run it.
Keep the site very basic to begin with, adding applications and visual and layout changes as you learn more about blogging. At the beginning, creating content is more important than site presentation.
What to write about
This is content creation—the articles you’ll add to your site. Content is the single most important component of your blog, it’s what will draw visitors to your site and keep them coming back. Since you’ll have no content to start with, you’ll need to create as much as you can as quickly as you can.
That’s usually easiest to do at the beginning because you’re filled with ideas. But as time goes by (usually just a few weeks) you may find yourself struggling to come up with specific posts to write.
Not a problem. Find other sites in your niche and see what they’re writing about. You never want to copy what another site has, but you can take the basic topic and write your own opinion on it. I’ve actually come up with post ideas by commenting on other sites. I find that I have so much to say that I can easily write a full blown post.
Getting people to come to your site
The most basic way to draw visitors is of course by writing good content. But even good content has to get out in public view.
There are dozens of ways to make this happen, and we don’t have time or space to cover them in any detail. But here’s an example of just one…
As a beginner, you can guest post on established sites—that’s what I did. Guest posts will bring some direct traffic to your site, but your real “compensation” for providing content to another site will be a backlink to your site. The more backlinks you can get, the more credibility (and traffic) you will have with the search engines.
There’s no one answer on how to do this, and what you’ll find is that certain methods of generating traffic will work better at certain times than others. The important thing is having several methods that you can use while experimenting with others.
Monetizing your blog
There are different methods on how to make money blogging, and here are some of the more popular ones:
- Advertising (there are several ways to do this)
- Affiliate sales (selling someone else’s products or services through your site for a percentage of the sale price)
- Selling your own products (e-books, online programs, etc)
- Promoting your business (i.e., speaking, coaching or training) to produce sales or clients
- Generating parallel opportunities—this is something I do with freelance blog writing and there are many ways to do this
The optimal way to make money blogging is to use your site to generate income using several different methods, that way if one source declines, you’ll have others to keep the money coming in. To keep things simple you’ll probably want to start with one method then add others as your blog grows and opportunities present themselves. And believe me, they will!
Getting on the blogging fast track
You can learn how to make money blogging—I’m doing it, thousands of others are doing it, and that means you can do it. It’s not some exotic way to make money, in fact it’s more methodical than most outsiders believe. But it does take time and there is an element of trial-and-error to it.
It took me the better part of two years before I started making decent money blogging, but it doesn’t have to take you nearly that long. I didn’t have a program to follow, but you can and that will make all the difference in the world.
Bob Lotich and Jonathan Milligan, two of the best bloggers in the business, have put together the three part Blogging Your Passion University series that’s the closest you’ll come to college degree in how to make money blogging.
Remember that I recommended that you guest post on established sites to get your blog going? Bob was one of the first people who allowed me to do that and it’s had an impact since. Check out his blogging series and put your blogging business on the fast track to success:
Have you ever thought about blogging as a career or business? What keeps you from moving forward with it?