How to Make Money With a Blog – Learn Why the “Blogging is Dead” Camp is Wrong
By, Ramona Jar
Every few months someone comes and tells the world “Blogging is dead.” and yet many of us still make money with a blog.
Blogging has been dead for at least 10 years now, since the early adopters started making money and then claiming it’s a done deal – you can’t create a profitable blog.
And yet, every year, new bloggers appear on the ‘map’ and earn a good income.
Is blogging really dead?
Well, blogging as we knew it a decade ago is clearly gone. I remember that, back in 2006, when I started my first blog (or even 2002, when I created my first website), you had to write some good useful content and that was it.
I had active forums in days and reputable blogs in under 2-3 weeks.
Things have changed now.
You need a good domain name, a great content, some excellent networking skills, you should know a little about coding, about social media, content marketing and the some neurosurgery.
OK, I’m kidding now, but it’s impossible to make it today with just an idea and the drive to tell the world your stories.
In all these years I started new blogs routinely and some made it, while others just helped me gain more experience. Even so, all my online trials made me who I am today, boosted my exposure and allowed people to know me and, some, respect me.
Let’s see if my blogging experience can help you make your next project a hit.
How to Make Money With a Blog
Blogging today is like running a small business, so don’t be shocked if you read about planning, goal setting and the likes.
1. Create Your Persona
WHAT do you want to write about?
HOW does this help your audience reach their goals or save a problem?
WHO are you writing for?
Whoa, a lot of questions, right?
My most successful projects so far had a goal (even if I didn’t realize it back then). I had a website that helped people who were starting martial arts understand how all this Karate stuff works.
I had a webmaster forum that helped thousands of people navigate the stormy waters of web design and development.
I created an orthodontic blog writing about my experiences as an adult in braces, helping other people muster the guts to go through this.
Now I blog about parenting, since I have a 4 year old, and try to help parents understand that raising a kid can be an amazing adventure and how to become the best parent you can be.
Or blog about my travels and help people find new wonderful places to visit.
My biggest money earner so far is my personal finance blog, which helps people get out of debt and become financially independent.
In this case I finally craked the ‘how to make money‘ code and it’s also earning me a decent buck.
Weird enough, while other projects didn’t earn me a fortune, they did something else: made me an authority in my industry and got me a lot of web design clients.
So it’s important to also understand how to measure said success. Only you can decide if money is a measure of success, or not. You might not earn money via advertising with a project, but you could get clients to pay for your services or maybe buy a product you sell.
You might gain authority within your industry and boost your personal brand, with a blog.
Anyway, the conclusion here: come up with a project that helps someone with their struggles and money will start coming.
2. Figure out how you will earn money.
Some projects will earn you exposure, which later translates into money (people who recommend your services or pay for your expertise themselves, people who buy your books and courses etc.).
Others will earn you an income directly, such as selling products or services.
So, how can “I” make money blogging, you ask?
Direct advertising (people paying money to be featured on your blog).
Banners and affiliate links. You can sell books, courses or even your services.
The options are limitless, but you should have your end money goal in mind, so that you don’t end up like me, years ago.
As I already told you, in the past I built several successful projects. Active forums and blogs, good traffic etc.
And then I just found myself pumping more money into them (forum software can be quite expensive, getting a bigger hosting plan for all the projects etc.) and wasting 10 hours/day at least.
Money gains? Almost nothing, few hundred bucks on advertising and that was it.
I ended up selling 3 of my forums and the closing down most of the network, as soon I as I became a mother. Having a baby and staying all day long to work ‘for free’ on my websites wasn’t a good idea anymore.
After this cold shower I started learning more about productivity and proper planning, so I slowly started rebuilding a network. I sold a freelancing course, I created few lucrative niche blogs and life isn’t as hectic as before.
But now I know exactly what I plan to achieve with my websites and it’s easier to monetize them.
It’s easier to make money with a niche blog.
Niche is everything
As you can infer, I had projects in many niches: blogging, web design, finance, health, martial arts, travel. Others were on the gaming, business, women, photography niches.
You can’t make money with a general blog anymore. It’s more difficult to promote and do a proper SEO job on it. Not to mention finding your right persona is more difficult.
It’s easier to target freelancers who want to start their own small business, for instance, than write about travel, cooking, parenting, the weather and the war in Syria.
So, before you do anything … think about a niche.
And not just any niche. A profitable niche.
Right now, some of the best money earners are in the health, travel, parenting, finance niches.
Do your research well and you’ll surely come up with few industries you can write about and earn some money in the process.
3. Create a plan.
I hate planning. Most of my web design business was run without a solid plan (and it showed).
Create short-term and long-term goals. Then map your exact steps to attain your goals. That’s the key to success. Don’t forget to include financial goals, as well.
In the past 2-3 years I was able to achieve more than before, just by being more focused and planning better. And the number of hours I actually work has dwindled significantly: from 10-14 a day to 1-3 a day.
4. Determine your end goal.
Earn $5000/month in 5 years, with 2 hours worked every day (an example).
OK, it’s achievable, you can do better or worse, depending on how you work towards it.
Now let’ see what this means for your blog:
If you are selling a course for 100 bucks for instance, you would need to be getting 50 more students every months, by 5 years time.
Your mailing list gives you a 2% conversion rate, when you advertise your course to your subscribers, this means that you should have at least 2500 subscribers to convince to buy your course at least in the first month, then more people so that you can constantly get your desired outcome.
So, let’s say a 10,000 subscribers list should start you in the right direction (again, we’re playing with numbers here to give you an idea).
How do you get 10,000 subscribers in 5 years? That’s 60 months, so you’d need to gain roughly 170 subscribers a month.
Well, that’s not that difficult anymore.
You can’t eat the entire elephant in one bite (10k subscribers is a LOT, especially for new bloggers), but 167/month is another story.
I can already see the elephant grow smaller during these years, until you’ve managed to eat it all.
While annoying and hard to set, goals really allow us to reach new heights easier.
You can do a similar math with blog traffic for instance (how many visitors/day you want to have by 4 years time), affiliate marketing gains etc.
As soon as you have your main goal set up, you’ll be able to break it in yearly and monthly chunks and then see the exact steps to take:
- More guest posting
- Better lead magnets (the ‘bribe’ you offer your subscribers to join your email list)
- Even paid traffic with Facebook ads and more
5. Create some epic content.
Yeah, yeah, content is king, yeah, yeah!
I can see you rolling your eyes, but, even now, after almost 20 years since I started writing online, content is still king.
Of course, it’s harder to promote it, compared to 10 years ago, when all you had to do was to write it and visitors would come.
But it’s still THE FOUNDATION of any successful project.
Look at some of the biggest players in your industry. How is their content? Chances are their articles are top notch, useful and engaging.
This is the standard for your blog as well.
Solve a problem (create a tutorial for poeple to use a software for instance). For example, Barbara teaches readers how to invest and build wealth.
Share your experience, advise them, write about the best options they can use.
If you just do some keyword research and pump out articles that seem to have been written by a blindfolded monkey, you are wasting your chance to make a difference.
I was able to help my clients rank no.1 in Google for years with epic content. Doctors who started writing a medical blog and grew their practice beyond expectations.
But that content was outstanding and people would rave about it on social media (hey, that’s free traffic for you). It made the author look like an authority and get more money at the end of the day.
Write such content.
If every once in a while you get an email from someone telling you how much your article helped them, then you reached your goal.
I was thrilled all these years to see new web designers get more experience after reading my tutorials, martial artists who had it easier, because they knew what to expect in the dojo, freelancers who started their career because of me and now are thanking me for changing their lives.
Try to make each article matter and you are on your way to success.
Bonus: Is Passive Income Real?
6. Network like there’s no tomorrow.
I hate it when people think the others are an enemy. Of course, at the end of the day, we are competition, probably. But we can’t make it alone.
During all these years I had partnerships that allowed my business to grow.
People recommend me and I do the same. My best friend is also a freelancer and finance blogger and we share ideas and promote each other. If she’s doing OK, then I’ll do better if we team up.
Join Facebook and forums in your niche. Don’t be shy, people are usually nice towards others.
In any niche you’ll find some crabby folks who don’t want to deal with anyone, but most people want to help out or partner up. Comment on their blogs, promote their content, offer some excellent guest posts. Everyone has something to gain, together we are indeed stronger.
Dive in and Start a Blog
Register a great domain name. That’s your url or web address. And it only costs about ten bucks. Please do us all a favor and don’t blog on blogspot.com or wordpress.com. Treat your money making blog with the respect it deserves and get a proper setting.
You’ll also need a hosting account, which is the location on the web where your blog lives. The blog host provides space on its servers and equipment to store your blog. You can get a web host for $4.00 (on sale) per month now.
Set up wordpress and install a theme. The theme is the style of your blog. Ideally you should have a custom design, but this, unless you are a web designer, it can be quite costly.
You can certainly get by with a free design for a while and then, when money starts rolling in, you can hire a designer.
You can DIY or hire someone to set up your site for you. Check out Upwork and Fiverr for professionals to set up your blog.
Publish said epic content on your blog and also on other same-niche blogs. These in turn, will help you promote your site and get some more traffic and exposure.
Click and sign up here for low cost website hosting and domain names.
Don’t mess with your set up. Don’t mess with content or promotion. If you are skimping on quality, your entire blog is bound to fail.
Treat your blog as a business.
Yeah, I get it, you are rolling your eyes again …
A blog is a small business, whether you like it or not.
I know you see it as a hobby. You love a topic and want to write about it. That’s great, the best projects online are based on a passion. I doubt you could write for years about something and hate it, so, writing out of love is the secret to long-lasting success.
But don’t do it like an amateur, otherwise you’ll never consistently make money out of it.
Set a budget for your blog (hosting and domain name at first). Then prepare some money for promotion, better software licences etc.
Treat your income with the same respect as you do with your current salary. Don’t squander it. Re-invest a part of it on your blog and then manage the rest as you wish.
In time you’ll probably want to hire content writers for instance, a personal assistant, maybe a web designer. All these will free up some of your time and allow you to take your blog to the next level.
These are just few of my ideas, if you want to make money with a blog.
Fortunately, you can try out blogging on the cheap – and find out if starting a blog is for you.
Blogging is clearly not dead. Come join us and prove it!
Ramona Jar is the owner of Personal Finance Today (or in short, PF Today). She is dedicated to bringing you the LATEST and BEST advice when it comes to managing your money.
Disclosure: Please note that this article may contain affiliate links which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you sign up or buy through the affiliate link. That said, I never recommend anything I don’t believe is valuable.