You can make money blogging, it’s simple but not easy and it take 1 or more years of consistent, steady effort and knowing how to structure a blog around a topic that people will find helpful.
I’ve personally have made tens thousands of dollars from publishing content online. It’s one of the best business models as it requires a lot of upfront work (which keeps lazy people at bay), but if you do it correctly you can build a long term asset that makes money fairly hands off.
Take a look at the results I got from promoting a 47$ ebook in the dating niche:
I made $2,907 over the course of a few months months by promoting a low cost ebook on an old dating website I used to run years ago that ranked in the top 3 spots for “how to tell if a guy likes you.”
Blogs with good content, top 3 rankings for transactional content and the right product offering make money. There are quite a few ways to get started and one of the best ways is to focus on affiliate marketing. Take a look at my Amazon earnings for one website for one month:
Focus on affiliate marketing as a revenue stream
To make money with a blog you must pick a topic where you can leverage affiliate marketing. While there are numerous way to make money with a blog (covered later), affiliate marketing and running display ads will always be your base income with a blog.
If your topic has no real affiliate program opportunities I would consider choosing a different topic and niche. We are here to build a business and help people and that can’t be done if there is a lack of potential revenue streams.
How much traffic do you need?
Well that’s a simple question with a complex answer. For simplicity’s sake, 500 visitors a day is the threshold of where you can start earning a consistent income.
Again, for the majority of blogs your income will come from affiliate marketing and display advertising at first and then long term you can leverage email marketing and selling your own products if you like.
Start your blog
To make money blogging you first need to create your blog, choose the right niche, pick the correct blogging platform and build out an email list:
- Pick the right topic
- Choose the right platform
- Create helpful content people want
- Build an email List
Pick the right topic
Topic selection is what will make or break a blog. Most who start blogs tend to go to broad and publish content on everything, too niche where they pigeonhole themselves or they copy more established websites because that’s the content they are into but have no personal experience on (thus creating a website that is just an echo).
Instead, you should consider creating a topic on a specific niche that you have an interest in. Instead of creating a photography blog, go a step more specific and create an iPhone photography blog for example.
In addition, you need to find where money is being spent. Blogging on your “passion” does not work. We’re trying to make money blogging so focus on topics people care about and that have an audience around.
Broadly speaking, the most profitable topics are:
- Topics that have advertisers.
- Lot’s of products to promote as an affiliate.
- The ability to build and grow a large email list.
- Something where you’re solving someone’s problems.
To make money online you need to provide value and value comes from helping other people solve their problems. So when looking at your topic think about your unique angle you can take. What about the competition? You want to find other websites on your topic because that’s how you know there is revenue potential.
Are there any keyword phrases that are competitive as well and can drive a lot of traffic? How about under-served topics where you can create content on? Last, are you interested in this niche and do you think you can publish 100+ blog posts?
Choose the right blogging platform
So with starting a blog there are quite a few platforms to choose from. In general I suggest going with a shared webhost and installing WordPress. WordPress is open source, there are a lot of great themes to customize the design of your website and you have access to additional plugins to expand your websites functionality.
I know one size does not fit all, so here are my top three blogging platforms explained:
Bluehost and WordPress
Bluehost the most popular webhost for WordPress and they have been the #1 recommended webhost for 10+ years. They provide quality hosting at affordable rates, good customer support and a beginner centric on-boarding experience to help you get your blog up and running fast.
With WordPress you can blog, add on ecommerce to your website with plugins, sell digital products and more at a cost effective price.
Ghost.org CMS for subscription blogs
Ghost is my favorite platform for anyone who considers themselves more of a writer and want’s a blogging platform focused around email marketing and running a blog as a paid subscription.
With Ghost you can of course do affiliate marketing and run paid ads, but the core features it’s built around are growing an email list and locking your content behind a paywall. Regardless, if you want to build subscription revenue, Ghost is your best option.
Squarespace – The done for you option
Squarespace is one of the most popular website builders and provides all the features you need to create a blog. It’s not open source like WordPress but the helpful thing for beginners is that everything is included for one price with one company.
You get unlimited hosting, a domain name, email marketing as an extra as well as an intuitive structured website editor to customize your website.
Create helpful content people want
Keyword research and topic selection is by far the most important aspect of creating a successful money making blog. You need to pick a topic where you’re solving problems for people, you’re answering questions, creating tutorials and can leverage affiliate marketing in addition to running display advertising.
Do not just go and create content on whatever you think and hope for the best. You need to first do keyword research and get an idea of what people are looking for. You do this by using a keyword research tool like aHrefs or Ubersuggest.
For example, I have a popular YouTube video on “Fiverr selling tips” so one would assume that I should create a blog post on this topic:
Nope, wrong. Doing some basic research it’s easy to see that this would be a waste of time. People are not looking for this content. But are there another keywords that are a bit similar? Let’s take a look:
So the phrase “sell on Fiverr” is much more searched for. To be honest 1600 searches is not that much, but it is enough where I would consider creating a piece of content on as it would get traffic for related keyword phrases too like:
“How to sell on Fiverr” or “sell on Fiverr with no skills.”
But the SEO difficulty is quite high so it may be hard to rank anything published on a website that’s not focused on freelancing.
Developing the ability to understand keyword research is quite important to making money with a blog. You need to know what content to write that people want that can also make you money and what content is in fact a total waste of time to create.
Start an Email List
Email marketing is incredibly ignored by beginners who would rather focus on blogging and creating videos. I get it, I used to be the same way. You already have a ton to do and now you have to manage an email list?
An email list from an authority website where you’re solving problems is immensely valuable. Through automation and testing, you can build out an email list that runs on auto-pilot that converts subscribers into customers. I’m telling you right now, a blog +YouTube channel + email list is a powerful marketing stack that can generate a significant income.
My personal favorite provider is ConvertKit. They offer easy to use automations, you can set and/or/if functions for your email sequence, you get beautiful landing pages and can setup dedicated thank you pages with a one time offer.
Create a brand new revenue stream from your blog using email marketing
How to make money with a blog
Once you have a blog that has traffic, here are the different ways you can leverage to make money from your blog:
- Affiliate marketing
- Selling a product
- Selling your time
Donations for your blog
Donations are what they sound like – people sending you money. But why would anyone do such a thing?
It goes back to value. If you provide enough value as to where you helped make a meaningful life change for someone, people will donate. Remember, you have no idea who specifically is visiting your website.
It could be a high paid executive for all you know searching for gift ideas for his wife and you help him discover the perfect gift with your website on fashion.
If you have every intention of creating products and running advertisements DON’T ask for donations.
You can setup donation buttons with PayPal.com. You need to provide a way for people to give you money and Pay Pal is the ideal platform for accepting donations. You could also provide an address to send checks to if you like. But people tend to be most comfortable with using Pay Pal as a way to send money.
Also ask for donations too. People won’t give if you don’t you ask. So ask.
Use language that is simple and to the point like:
“If you want to support my work please consider donating to help cover costs of running this website”.
Next, focus again on value and don’t demand donations or beg. You have to give, give, give, before you get.
You can also use a wish list instead of asking for donations. Wish list? On many websites like Amazon you have the option to add products you want to a wish list. You can use this instead of asking for a monetary donation.
The Brave browser blocks ads when surfing the internet. As such you can setup an account on Brave Creators to earn Brave rewards. What this allows for is that anyone who uses Brave can tip you in Basic Attention Token (BAT).
Brave Creators can be setup for both a website or YouTube channel. You will need a digital asset exchange however in order to accept and receive payment through your wallet.
For the Brave Brower there is integration through the Gemini Exchange (open an account and get free BTC)
Who’s this for?
Donations are ideal for free software or for public interest websites. If you have a blog and want to do this, a better alternative would be to use Patreon.
Otherwise, if you have every intention of building a business with your website by selling products, providing a service and/or running advertisements DON’T ask for donations.
Subscriptions revenue for blogging
Subscription revenue is the most difficult, but most lucrative from of revenue for blogging. There are many platforms where you can setup an on going subscription model in order to support your blog.
To get this to work you’ll need to have publicly available content to get traffic and to then funnel that free traffic to your subscription offer
Patreon – The easy to use option
Patreon is an excellent membership, subscription revenue option for bloggers and YouTubers. What makes Patreon so great is that it’s easy to setup and has brand recognition. Most people have head of Patreon or have a Patreon account so getting people to support your work has less barriers to entry.
Patreon works best by giving subscribers a clear and specific monthly benefit to support you. This can be in the form of members only content like private videos, podcasts and posts as well as discounts or more personal access to you.
Memberpress – The WordPress option
Memberpress is a premium WordPress plugin that allows you to create a membership website. If you want to create a your branded platform that you control. This is the best option if you’re a blogger using WordPress.
Ghost – The subscription CMS
Ghost is a blogging platform that integrates email marketing and paid subscriptions. With Ghost you can blog and get organic search traffic and also create private, subscriber only content.
When you blog with Ghost you can choose to email people who have subscribed to your blog and in those emails you can content lock specific portions so only paying subscribers get access.
Teachable – Create a Membership
Teachable is primarily focused on selling online courses. But they do allow for you to setup membership websites or products that have a set monthly cost.
Display Advertising (like AdSense)
Display advertising is an excellent way to make money from your content that’s not transactional focused. Sometimes you’ll create a blog post where there is really no relevant product or service to promote. In these situations it’s ideal to either run ads to monetize your work or to grow your email list.
You have limited control over what ads appear when you use a contextual ad program because the program automatically scans your content and determines what keywords and what ads make the most sense based on your content.
This is good however because people ignore irrelevant ads. So content like “copyright free images” where there is literally no product or service to promote (as the search intent is people looking for free images to download) can now earn revenue for your online business by showing relevant ads.
We know what you’re thinking, “why don’t I just have my friends click on my ads 10 times a day”?
This is click fraud. You’re not the first person to think of this. It violates the terms you agreed to as a publisher, and companies can track consistent unusual click activity. Stay away from click fraud and focus on your unique selling point and helping people instead.
To make money with display ads most creators rely on an ad network. Google’s AdSense program is currently the most popular option, but Ezoic is also a good choice too and may earn you more revenue. You simply have to test both platforms.
If you grow your website a substantial traffic level, typically over 2000 visitors per day then you’ll be able to apply to an ad network who will optimize the ads on your site for you.
*See our guide on the best display advertising networks for bloggers.
Direct Ad Sales
Selling ads works by either you reaching out to companies for partnerships OR by companies and individuals contacting you directly to make advertising inquiry. When this starts occurring, people reaching out to you it’s a good idea to set up an advertising page outlining the positions and the costs to advertise on your website (if you choose to advertise of course!).
Don’t setup this page until you start getting emails asking you to advertise and if you want to do private ad sales in the first place. Selling ads can be a bit of a hassle, but software today exists in such a manner that it can allow you to easily manage the buying and selling of ads on your website yourself.
All you need to do is determine what kind of ads you are willing to run and what the sizes are. With smaller ads you can have more of them and charge less for each one, larger ads you can charge more (so long as it’s only one or two large ads).
Affiliate display ads
The most common way to promote things as an affiliate is through a special link, but organizations, business, and product creators do create advertisements called “creatives” for their products to help affiliates drive sales.
Affiliate advertisements are ads, but they work a little different in the sense that you will get a commission based on purchase. You’re not getting paid based on clicks or page views as you do with traditional advertising programs.
Why would anyone do this? Well for example, a lot of companies will pay over 100$ per commission. So it makes sense to advertise high earning affiliate programs on your blog.
The BEST way for blogs to start making money. Affiliate marketing is when you sell other people’s or companies products and services and receive a commission on the sale.
Affiliate marketing has numerous benefits for the affiliate:
- No products.
- No customer support.
- You get to leverage the quality work of others.
- You can blend in offers that make sense with your website.
Affiliate marketing has numerous benefits for the company/person:
- Free marketing and exposure.
- Access to new audiences.
- More sales.
- You get to pay your fans and customers.
Affiliate marketing is very, very misunderstood by the public at large. This model may appear an easy path to wealth or at the very least some sort of online income – but it’s actually quite difficult to make sales.
Having success with affiliate marketing is trust based and physcological based. You need to connect with your audience and show them you understand their problem and you understand how a certain product or service can help them.
You do this by again building a brand, promoting relevant products and services and being helpful. From practical experience, you’ll have the most success with affiliate marketing for products under $100 as it’s more of an impulse buy.
How to make commissions
To earn money with affiliate marketing simply requires you to get targeted and relevant traffic and then put relevant offers in front of that audience.
Review posts are highly effective if you know what you’re creating content on a topic you know and understand well. Where bloggers go wrong with review posts is thinking they can create short, useless posts about a product.
I normally like to create 2,500 word long posts that review a specific product category and then cover the pros and cons as well as a buying guide.
Tutorials and guides
Better than reviews, demonstrate knowledge. Demonstrate how something works and how you’re benefiting from it. Mention a product or course if it makes sense. Also show people how to do it for free and without the product.
Mention a relevant product at the end of your page or blog post in a short and sweet manner. So the majority of the page content should not be product related, it should be content specific. At the end, if there is a relevant product or course to mention, mention it.
“So that’s it. If you want to dive deeper into affiliate marketing by learning how to sell products and help people without being sketchy my close friend Mark has a great course on building passive income. It helped me get started online, maybe it can help you too?”
When writing an email and wanting to include affiliate links you must for spam reasons make the email long and of high quality. To get the best conversions from my experience is to mention a link 3 times. Once in the beginning, once in the middle, and once at the end.
As previously mentioned, put up affiliate ads in your sidebar of related products and services. If you’re selling ad space then it makes sense to have a few different ads. But if it’s affiliate ads, keep it to a minimum as too many options will cause people to click nothing. Remember you always need to direct people. Depending on the size, 1-4 affiliate ads are appropriate.
Again, people are a bit skeptical of “products I love” pages or “resource pages”. So to build trust, set out to make a high quality resource page with links to products, services, and content you recommend. Not everything you link to needs to be an affiliate link. Set out to make it a win-win for everyone involved.
Sell your own products
Products can be anything from a PDF e-book, to a combination of videos, audio and written content. The real question is what is the best medium to deliver what you create. The two main options are to either send the product directly in email or to have a private page on your website with a download link.
The price points for what you create will vary as well based on their perceived value. A best practice is to have one product have three price points. This tends to generate more sales than having a single price point, and it generates the most sales of your middle price point (which from a physiological perspective looks like the best deal).
Before creating a product however, you must go through the process of market research. Understand your market, use the words they use to describe their problems, look for ways to differentiate yourself from others with already existing products. DON’T copy anyone, simply understand the problems your target audience faces better than they understand it themselves.
This of course takes months of research, surveys, and talking to people – but it’s what will help your product be successful in the end because people will be telling you what they need.
Pay attention to naming and design as well. These must match your brand and must also instill trust by having a level of professionalism.
Take your time and do it right the first time. Every interaction people have with you online must be of high quality. Always.
For actual tools people use online the most popular way is to turn a Word document into a downloadable PDF that you put on E-Junkie and simply sell it on your website. You could also take that book instead and put it on Kindle.
Which is better? Kindle or selling an ebook directly on your website?
The ebook route is better if you’re planning on making the ebook a part of a bigger course. For example, you have 3 tiers. Tier 1 is the ebook, tier 2 is the ebook and some videos etc. It also makes more sense if your ebook has a very specific appeal like you’re making a study guide for some test or you’re teaching someone how to do something specific and technical.
What price should you place your books at if their on your website? 12$-39$ seems to be the range. The higher the range, the more specialized the content should be. If you’re going to charge say 39$ for the ebook, then it should the low end of a three tiered package.
Overall though, for strictly publishing ebooks, Kindle for the long term is the way to go. You’ll make more money in the short term using the E-Junkie model and selling via your website only. But once your book is on Amazon, you get enough sales and reviews, sales will stay fairly consistent.
Just look at JohhnyFD.com – he’s been making 200$ a month, every month off his travel book on Thailand. OH wow, $200, that’s it?
Hey pal, I don’t see you making an extra $2,000 a year from Kindle.
Courses in combination with an email list and YouTube channel are quite profitable. You can use a course marketplace like Skillshare or Udemy or you can self host your own course using an LMS plugin.
The best option for most however is to use the Teachable platform. They take care of all the aspects of creating an online course from the sales page, to accepting payment and hosting all your course materials. Teachable makes the process easy.
Selling merchandise sounds like a big deal, but there are so many platforms that will handle the selling, shipping and delivery for you it’s actually not that complicated.
You can use a service like Printful or Modalyst to drop ship products. Printful allows you to design clothing that people can buy and Modalyst allows you to sell related physical products for your website.
The margins on using a service like these two are roughly 15-20%.
Sell a service
The last way to make money blogging is to sell a specific service. I personally suggest using a 3rd part website like Fiverr because they take care of all the technical details that go into selling a service online like payments, deliverables, feedback and they are a marketplace so you’ll get organic sales.
Clarity.fm is another interesting option where you can setup a coaching call offer for prospective clients. This is an excellent choice if you’re an in demand expert.
How to make money with a blog – conclusion
Blogs can make a lot of money and provide a lot of unique opportunities for creative professionals to earn online. Though blogging is a slow process, if you’re willing to put in the work you can eventually make money blogging.
The first step is to start building up traffic and attention for your brand. Put in the work, spend the money, do what it takes and know that it will likely take a year before you start seeing big results.
David UtkeDavid Utke is a professional blogger, YouTuber and a highly rated user experience consultant. He and his team create helpful tutorials, software reviews, videos and more based on real-world experience. Join over 30,000 monthly readers and 27k+ YouTube subscribers!
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