How to Make Money Blogging: For Beginners
If you love writing, it's time to get paid for it.
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If you’ve read income reports or featured stories that detail how a blogger is making a six or seven-figure income, it probably made you think about starting a blog of your own. After all, blogging seems like a great way to earn a living, especially if it generates an above-average income.
While blogging can certainly be an ideal way to make money, the topic can be confusing and overwhelming for beginners. For example, how does a blogger actually make money?
I’ve been blogging full-time since 2008, and when I started my first blog in 2007, I had no idea what I was doing. Over the years, I’ve seen a number of people go from complete beginner to a stage where they’re actually making pretty good money. If people like me and millions of other bloggers can do it, so can you.
Convincing Reasons to Start Your Own Blog
Maybe you’ve thought about starting a blog, but you’re not yet convinced. If that’s the case, these reasons should be enough to get you motivated to take action.
1. Start a Blog on Any Topic
You can start a blog that will cover any topic that you like. If you’re just blogging for fun, you can write about whatever you want and whenever you want. If your goal is to make money (and I’m assuming it is since you’re reading this article), your blog should be focused on a particular topic or theme. It could be a broad topic like health and fitness, it could be a narrow topic like gluten-free dessert recipes, or it could be somewhere in between.
Although some money-making blogs do cover random and unrelated topics, those blogs are the exception to the rule. You’ll have a much better chance for success if you focus on a particular topic because visitors will be likely to have an interest in most of the content that you publish. It’s easier to establish a following and build your brand.
When it comes to choosing a topic for your blog, you can pick something that interests you. Even if you’re just blogging about your dreams or aspirations, that means you’ll be able to spend your time working on something that you enjoy– and you’ll potentially get paid to do it.
Regardless of whether it’s just a side hustle or something you hope to be able to turn into a full-time income, blogging about a topic that you enjoy is a pretty great way to make money.
2. Requires No Experience
You don’t need any experience to start a blog. Even if you’re not tech-savvy, you could have your own blog set up in 10-20 minutes. It may sound intimidating, but it’s really not complicated.
It’s also not necessary that you have experience in the topic that you’re blogging about. If you do have experience, you’ll be able to use that expertise to your advantage, but it’s not always required. For example, some personal finance blogs are run by people who started a blog as a way to chronicle their own progress as they learned about managing money, or to track their debt payoff journey.
3. Start Your Own Online Business
A blog can be a legit online business that gives you unlimited earning potential. How many businesses do you know that can be started in 10-20 minutes with less than $100 and allow you the potential to make six or seven-figures per year?
Many people would love to run an online business either for extra money or as their full-time income. Some types of online businesses require a lot more money and risk to get started, and others offer only limited income potential.
4. Set Your Own Hours
Regardless of what your current schedule is like, you can work on your blog in the hours that are available to you. You’ll need a little bit of time (I’d recommend 10 hours per week), but it doesn’t matter when you’re able to work those hours.
If you have a traditional 9-5 job, you can work on the blog in the evenings or on weekends.
If you’re a morning person, you could get up early and work on the blog at the start of your day.
If you’re a night owl, you can stay up late to work on it.
If you have kids, you can work on the blog when they’re napping or after they’re in bed at night.
You’ll have the flexibility to work the hours that suit your schedule, so you can make blogging fit into your existing life rather than turning your world upside down to find time to work on the blog.
And if you’re able to get to the point where you earn a full-time income from the blog, you can choose whatever hours you want to work.
5. Work from Anywhere
Blogging is a perfect match for those who are attracted to the digital nomad lifestyle, because you can very literally work from anywhere that has internet access. Keep in mind that there are ways to get internet access just about anywhere these days.
Regardless of whether you’re interested in working on your blog a little bit while you’re occasionally traveling or whether you’re a digital nomad that is constantly traveling, this can be very appealing.
6. Brand Yourself as an Expert
Growing your own blog can be a highly effective way to build name recognition and establish yourself as an expert on the topic of your blog. Being viewed as an expert can help you to grow and monetize your blog, but it can also offer many other benefits and open up lots of doors.
The blog content that you write and publish will do the work to demonstrate your expertise. Think about the way that you want to be viewed and write content that will help you to establish that image.
Realistic Expectations for New Bloggers
While there are a lot of convincing reasons to start a blog, I don’t want to make it sound like it’s easy to grow a blog to a full-time income.
The truth is, it will take time, effort, and patience, but if you’re willing to dedicate yourself, it’s a very realistic goal.
One of the keys to having success as a blogger is to start with realistic expectations. Most people who set out to make money with a blog wind up quitting before ever making any money. In my opinion, the biggest cause is unrealistic expectations.
A lot of bloggers start out thinking it will be easy. They publish a few posts and expect that visitors will start coming to their blog to see what they have to say. Disappointment usually sets in when they realize that it’s going to take more work and patience.
If you start with realistic expectations, you’ll be much less likely to reach a level of frustration that leads you to quickly give up on your blog. You’ll be in a better position to see it through until you reach the success that you’re after.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what you should be expecting as a new blogger.
You Probably Won’t Make Very Much Money the First Year
Most new blogs make very little money during the first year. Even a lot of high-earning bloggers took some time to find their rhythm and start generating income.
Of course, there are exceptions, but in general, you should plan to make very little money from your blog during the first year. The specifics will depend on a lot of factors, like how you monetize your blog.
My recommendation is to plan to make no income from your blog for the first six months. Chances are, you’ll probably make a little bit during those first six months, but it might not be anything significant.
From months six through twelve, your traffic is likely to start picking up and you may be able to make some money. After the one year mark, things are likely to pick up even more.
You’ll Need to Put in a Consistent Effort
Blogging isn’t a great side hustle if you’re going to be sporadically putting in time or effort. It’s pretty difficult to build a blog if you’re going a month at a time without touching the blog.
Ideally, you’ll be able to put time into your blog each week. That’s not to say that you can’t ever take a week off, but don’t want big gaps where you’re not publishing new content and not doing anything to grow your blog.
As a new blogger, it’s a challenge to get momentum. Taking a long time off will kill whatever momentum you have.
You’ll Need to Work to Get Traffic
One of the most common mistakes from new bloggers is thinking that all they need to do is write and publish content. Your content could be phenomenal, but if nobody knows about it, it’s not going to do you or anybody else any good.
As a new blogger, you’ll need to work to get exposure for your content. This might involve being active on social networks, writing guest posts for other blogs, commenting on other blogs, networking with other bloggers in your niche, or any number of other things.
In the early stages, promoting your content is almost certain to take more of your time than actually writing the content. Once your traffic increases, you won’t need to work so hard to get traffic and you can dedicate less time and effort to it.
The Long-Term Payoff Can Be Significant
It may seem like a lot of work to get a blog off the ground if you’re not going to make very much money the first year. Honestly, it is a lot for very little return during that first year. But the long-term payoff can be huge.
All that work that you’re doing in the first year may seem like it’s not paying off, but if you stick with it, you can see the benefits later. Once your blog has some momentum, you’ll be able to get traffic and make money much easier. You can make more from the time that you’re putting in, or even put in less work while your income grows.
Additionally, a money-making blog is an asset that has real value to buyers and investors. If you decide that you want to be done with the blog, you can sell it for a nice chunk of money. The amount that you’ll get will vary depending on a lot of different factors, but a lot of blogs are able to bring in 3 years’ worth of profit when they’re sold. So if you’ve made $50,000 in the past year with your blog, you might be able to sell it for around $150,000. That’s a pretty significant reason to consider starting a blog!
Ways to Make Money with a Blog
When you hear or read about people making money with a blog, you may have no idea who is paying them or how they’re actually generating income. While there are a number of different ways to monetize a blog, these are some of the most common and popular options:
Possibly the most straightforward way to make money from a blog is through advertisements. Most advertisements on blogs are banner ads, but other types of advertisements (like videos) also fall into this category.
There are several different ways that you could make money from ads on your blog. It’s possible that you could sell advertising placements on your own and work directly with the advertisements. Although it’s possible, it also takes time and effort, and you may not have the right connections to companies that would be interested in advertising on your site.
Google’s AdSense program is the most common way for bloggers and other website owners to make money from ads. You can sign up for AdSense for free and Google will provide you with ad code that you’ll put on your site. All you have to do is put the ad code on your site and get traffic. Google will keep the ad slots filled and you’ll make money whenever a visitor clicks on one of the ads.
AdSense is popular because it’s open to anyone, as long as your blog and content don’t violate Google’s terms. You don’t need to reach a certain level of traffic to be able to use AdSense, so it’s an option even for new or small blogs. However, most bloggers don’t make all that much money with AdSense. If you have the traffic to get into another ad network, you’ll probably make more money.
There are a number of ad management companies or ad networks that you can use to handle the ads on your blog. Most of them will also handle the technical details of getting the ads on your site, and it’s totally hands-free for you. All you need to do is keep traffic flowing to the site and you’ll make money.
These types of ad managers and networks tend to generate more money for bloggers than AdSense, but you’ll need a certain level of traffic in order to get approved into these networks. A few of the most popular options include:
- Monumetric (you’ll need at least 10,000 pageviews per month)
- Mediavine (you’ll need at least 25,000 sessions per month)
- AdThrive (you’ll need at least 100,000 pageviews per month)
Advertising is one of the easier ways to make money online because you don’t need to sell anything. As long as you have visitors coming to your site, you can make some money from advertising.
However, advertising is generally not the most lucrative way to monetize a blog. Most of the high-income bloggers make the majority of their money from other methods.
Affiliate programs allow you to earn money by recommending products and services to your visitors. You’ll use special tracking links and you’ll earn a commission whenever a visitor clicks through your affiliate link and makes a purchase.
For example, you could join Amazon’s affiliate program and put affiliate links in your blog posts that lead to specific products on Amazon.com. If a visitor clicks on your link and makes a purchase, you’ll earn a commission.
Some affiliate programs allow you to earn a commission without requiring the visitor to buy anything. You might get paid if the visitor takes an action like downloading an app, signing up for an account, and filling in a lead generation form.
There are affiliate programs for just about any type of product or service you can imagine, so becoming an affiliate is an option regardless of what topics your blog covers. It’s also possible to use affiliate programs without being overly pushy. Your blog posts may allow you to naturally mention products and services that are relevant to the reader, so it doesn’t have to be a hard sell.
Amazon has one of the most popular affiliate programs because you can promote just about anything through their program. You can also use affiliate networks to find products and services to promote. Networks manage the affiliate programs of hundreds or thousands of companies, so you can find a lot of opportunities within the same network.
Some of the most popular affiliate networks include:
Some companies choose to manage their own affiliate programs rather than going through a network, so you may also find these types of private affiliate programs. If you’re not sure if a company has an affiliate program, check the footer of their website. You may see an “affiliates” link in the footer.
While there are lots of possibilities for making money with affiliate programs, the best way to get started is by promoting products and services that you already use personally. You’ll be more familiar with these products and you can provide a genuine, honest recommendation and show your readers how they can benefit.
Affiliate marketing offers excellent income potential, but you don’t need a huge blog with lots of traffic to start making money through affiliate programs. As a new blogger, you can include affiliate links within your articles whenever it’s relevant, and it’s possible that you can start making money pretty quickly even without very much traffic. As a result, this is one of the best ways for new bloggers and beginners to start making money.
There are many brands that are willing to pay bloggers in exchange for exposure to their audience. They may pay you to write an article about their product or to show how the product can be used.
The amount of money that you’ll be able to make through sponsored content will depend on a few factors, like the size of your audience and their level of engagement with your content. Some bloggers will also work with brands for promotion through social media channels or YouTube videos in addition to blog content, which can increase the amount that you’re able to charge.
Publishing sponsored content can be a great way to make money once you have an established audience, but it’s difficult as a new blogger who is just starting out. For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend making it a priority if you’re new to blogging.
Once you have a steady flow of traffic coming to your blog and you have an audience that brands would want to reach, sponsored content can be worth pursuing. You could find sponsors on your own, or you could use networks that exist to help bloggers/influencers and brands find each other. Some options include:
Sell Your Own Products
Many of the highest-earning bloggers make the majority of their money by creating and selling their own products. This typically involves digital or downloadable products, but some bloggers do sell physical products that are shipped to customers.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to digital products, but some of the common options include:
- Online courses
- Stock photos and other graphics
- Audio files
Of course, the types of products that you could offer will depend on the niche that you’re in and the types of products that are relevant to your audience, but there are plenty of possibilities.
Some digital products may earn you hundreds or even thousands of dollars every time they are sold (high-ticket courses, for example). Other products may sell for only a few dollars (like printables or stock photos). The smaller ticket items are generally easier to sell as a new blogger because you may not enough name recognition yet to demand a high dollar amount for a course.
From my experience, selling digital products is one of the best ways to start making money as a new blogger. When you start a blog, you’ll be faced with the decision of trying to monetize the blog right away, or focusing on growth first and monetizing later. It’s possible to launch a blog with your first product already created, and you may be able to start making money even with just a small amount of traffic.
The last monetization method that we’ll look at is the membership model. As a blogger, you could offer something specific to paying members in exchange for recurring payments (usually monthly or yearly) in order to maintain an active membership.
There are unlimited possibilities here, but a few examples include:
- A group coaching program with regular video calls
- Access to a library of downloadable resources
- New members-only content released on a regular basis
The membership model can be used with just about any type of blog in any niche. Sometimes it’s used in combination with another product, especially online courses. You might sell a course for a one-time fee and offer an upgraded membership package that provides additional on-going education and resources for a monthly fee.
Membership can be extremely lucrative because of the recurring payments that keep coming in, but you’ll need to give members a high level of value in order to prevent them from canceling. Most people are hesitant to sign up for anything with recurring payments, so you’ll have to make it a very strong offer in order to overcome that objection.
The Best Approach is a Combination
We’ve looked at five different ways to make money from a blog and you may be wondering which one is the best option. Truthfully, the best approach is to use a combination of monetization methods rather than relying on one source of income. That doesn’t mean that you need to start your blog with a few different monetization methods right away, but you should be working towards that goal.
I believe that affiliate marketing can be a good fit for just about any blog, including brand new blogs. Aside from that, you can evaluate the other ways to make money and see what might be a good fit for your blog and your audience.
Steps to Get Started with a Money-Making Blog
When you’re ready to get started, there are only a few steps that you need to follow in order to launch your own blog.
Step 1: Choose Your Niche
First, you’ll need to decide on the topic of your blog. The ideal niche will combine your experience/skills, interests, and income potential.
Think about your existing skills and experience. What do you know well? What do you do at your job or what have you done at previous jobs?
It’s also important that you enjoy the topic of your blog. It will make your work a lot more fun! Think about your hobbies and interests. If you could work on anything, what would it be?
You should also think about income potential. The major topics that offer income potential for bloggers include things like business, finance, health & wellness, family & relationships, fashion, beauty, and travel.
With so many different ways to make money, most blog niches offer plenty of income potential. The ones that you might want to avoid would be very obscure topics that won’t be of interest to very many readers.
Step 2: Pick a Domain Name
After you’ve chosen your niche, the next step is to decide on a blog name and domain name. The domain name is what visitors will use to access your site (like thinksaveretire.com).
Finding a .com that you like can be a challenge because so many of them are already taken, but I recommend putting in the effort and going with a .com because it will make your domain easier for people to remember. If you have a .net or .org or something else, many people may forget and just type in .com out of habit, making it harder for them to find your site.
Namecheap is my favorite resource for finding a good .com that is available. All you need to do is enter the main keyword and it will provide a list of suggestions. For example, if you’re starting a travel blog, enter “travel” or another travel-related keyword.
Step 3: Get Web Hosting
Once you’ve decided on a domain, the next step is to purchase web hosting. If your goal is to make money with your blog, I don’t recommend using free blogging platforms. Paying for hosting will give you full control over the site, and it doesn’t cost that much.
Step 4: Install WordPress
Through your web hosting account, you can install WordPress, which is the content management system that you’ll use to manage your blog. WordPress is free, easy to install, and very powerful.
Don’t be intimidated by the thought of installing WordPress, it’s very easy. For clear instructions, please refer to this guide.
Step 5: Choose Your Blog Theme
WordPress themes are templates that control the design and layout of your blog. There are literally thousands of WordPress themes to choose from. Many of them are free, and if you have $50 - $100 to spend, you can buy a premium theme that will give your blog a more professional look. In addition to a better look, most premium themes will also give you more customization options and technical support from the theme’s developer.
There are a lot of places to buy premium WordPress themes but my favorite options include:
Step 6: Start Writing Blog Content
Once your blog is set up, it’s time to start writing content! Always keep your target audience in mind when you’re deciding on the topics that you want to write about and be sure that you’re publishing content that will attract the right readers.
There is no set amount of posts that you need to publish, but 1-2 posts per week is a good goal for new bloggers.
Step 7: Promote Your Content
In order to get traffic to your blog, you’ll need to spend some time promoting your content. Social media is a great option for new bloggers, but the specific platforms that you’ll want to focus on will depend on the audience that you’re trying to reach. Think about your ideal audience and the platforms that they are already using. Are they on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or LinkedIn?