Do you REALLY want to make money blogging? Or do you just like the idea of sitting home, in your pj’s, playing on your laptop? If you really want to do this and you’re in it for the long haul, then here’s the truth you need to hear…
Let’s start out with…HOLY COW, you guys! I didn’t realize I’d have this much to say about how to make money blogging when I sat down to write this post.
After 12 years in the game, I guess I’ve learned a lot about what not to do.
But, let’s start with a little back story…
I started my first blog back in 2007. Just 2 years after I started my stationery business on eBay.
FYI: NOT the right place to sell stationery!
I really had no idea what I was doing with any of it!
The only thing I really knew was that I wanted to help support my family without leaving my children to go to a traditional job.
There’s A New Business in Town
At the time, everyone online was talking about this new work at home “job” called a blog, so I figured “Why not check it out?!”.
Except, like I said before…I had no idea what I was doing.
I have an associates degree in social sciences. As in, I didn’t continue on at college and my degree is pretty well useless to me at the moment, but…
I met my husband, got married, had a couple of kids, a couple of dogs, a few dozen fish, a rabbit and for a moment…a pet dragonfly that my oldest daughter was trying to protect from the cold.
And well, you know how the rest of the story goes…
But, the point is, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing when it came to running a stationery business or starting a blog.
I had no experience in graphic design. No education in art, with the exception of high school classes.
And the only thing I’d ever written for the public was how to articles and simple step by step directions for a couple of content mills that have since gone out of business.
I was totally winging it…
So, What Is This Thing Called Blogging?
Off to Google I went. In search of some real knowledge about this thing called a blog.
But, I didn’t find much and I found even less about how to actually earn an income doing it.
As opposed to today, where there are literally hundreds of thousands of articles online about how to make money blogging.
Back then, most people were using it as an online diary or journal and there wasn’t much about how to actually create an income.
But, at first, what I did find was intriguing…
You mean, I get to write about ANYTHING I like?!
Whenever I want…as much (or as little) as I want?
But, then, it became scary…
Like, I have to come up with everything?!
On my own? With no prompts?! No help?!
Then, even scarier…
How on earth can I make money doing this?!
I’m never going to be able to help support my family with this!
And I did it anyway…
My First Blog AKA Working for Pennies
I took the jump and signed up to create a free blog on the Blogger platform from Google in the fall of 2007.
For about 5 years, I worked hard on that little blog. Plugging away, on an almost daily basis, making just pennies and a few free products for reviews here and there.
Despite the fact that I really didn’t make much money, it was a great learning experience and it taught me a lot about how blogging actually works.
A Part Time Income
In 2012, I started a new blog using the WordPress.org platform with the sole purpose of creating an income.
Again…I didn’t have a clue what I was doing!
The new platform was a totally different experience than Blogger and that alone was a severe learning curve.
Plus, the game of making money from blogging had really taken hold of the world and the competition was getting fierce.
I wrote about meal planning, kitchen products and how to save money on groceries. Occasionally, I’d throw in some homeschooling tips, because at the time we had both our daughters home for school.
But, somehow, I managed to turn that little blog into a regular part time income, using just Google Adsense and Amazon Associates.
Only to Fall Apart
However, at the same time, I was selling printable stationery and planners and business was suddenly taking off on Etsy. It required a great deal more of my time.
Around the same time, in 2014, my family and I moved from New York to Vermont…where I could no longer use Amazon Associates!
Combine the move, no affiliate income and a whole lot less attention on the blog and blog #2 was no longer making enough money to make it worthwhile…
So, I decided to shut it down and let the blogging business go for awhile…
The Third Time is a Charm
By the fall of 2015, I was missing the blogging world so much that I decided to start a whole new blog featuring my stationery business.
That would be this blog, right here!
When I first started this blog in 2015, my intention was to share info, sales, new products, etc. about my stationery business.
My main goal was to push people to my Etsy store so that they would shop.
But, it felt dirty and sale-sy. Like a salesman at a used car lot.
So, I started adding more personal posts…and people started reading them.
A recipe here and there, some meal plans…and more people were reading.
The occasional how to post and some money making tips…and even more people were reading!
Light Bulb Moment
Over time, it became more of a lifestyle blog and I switched the name to Food Life Design.
Because food and design are my life.
Besides my husband and children, of course.
I cook, bake and design pretty things every single day. And I love every minute of it!
I stopped using those old google ads and switched to a much better ad servicing company.
The State of Vermont and Amazon came to an agreement and I can use Amazon Associates again, plus a variety of other affiliate programs.
And my Etsy shop is doing well.
At this point, Food Life Design receives an average of around 50,000 views a month and has over 3500 newsletter subscribers!
While that might not be as many as some…it’s a whole lot more than most!
Without the blogging world…None of this would be possible
I would never have found that passion.
I would never have had the nerve to keep on trying…
Even on the bad days…
Because on the good days…when you get an email from someone praising how good your work is…or how much your article helped them…
It makes it all worthwhile.
It’s all thanks to you!
My readers, my customers and and my fellow internetpreneurs!
Thank you all so much!
But, now that you’ve read my story…my journey through the blogging world…
Still interested in learning how to make money blogging?
Have I scared you? Or are you really in it for the long haul?
Because as you can see, it’s not a get rich scheme.
You are not going to put up a single blog post and become a millionaire, a thousand-aire or even a dollar-aire (is that even a word?!) over night.
It’s a LONG process and it takes time, blood, sweat, tears, some swearing and a whole lotta perseverance to make money blogging.
If you can’t handle it…if the work, stress and aggravation don’t seem appealing to you, that’s totally okay!
It’s a lot to handle and only the crazy survive!
Head over to my Make Money page and peruse the other job and business ideas I’ve suggested. You might find something else that is a better fit for you!
But, if you’re as crazy as the rest of us bloggers and you are really gun-ho to get started…
Go grab a cup of coffee and let’s get to the meat of this business…
Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
Seriously, you’re going to need that coffee, because this is one really long post!
How to Make Money Blogging: The Quick Overview
- Sign up for a good hosting company. I use GoDaddy and I have since 2012. But a lot of people choose to get started with Bluehost because it’s just $3.95 a month for hosting. And honestly, that’s really cheap!
- Select WordPress.org as your blogging platform. Choose a theme and set up your design.
- Sign up to be an affiliate for your favorite products and/or companies. I highly suggest using Amazon Associates as your first affiliate program. It’s super user friendly and well, everyone shops on Amazon these days, right? (See more affiliate ideas below!)
- Write some blog posts. Like a lot of blog posts.
- Link to your favorite affiliate products/services in each of your blog posts.
- Sign up for Google AdSense and place ads on your blog. (See more below!)
- Publicize your blog. Tell the world. Announce it on social media. Share your link with everyone you know…and don’t know.
- Share the heck out of your blog until you get to at least 25,000 views. Then sign up for the Mediavine Ad Management company.
- Write sponsored posts.
- Wait for the money to roll in.
Stop Listening to the “Experts”
All of them.
Even if they make a million dollars a year.
What works for them is not necessarily going to work for you. And believe me, I’ve tried all of their tricks!
Furthermore, they figured out how to make money blogging before you even had a chance to get started.
In fact, they’ve probably forgotten half of what they learned along the way. And so have I.
We all do.
You live and you learn, right?
It’s not like you were given a step by step instruction book to follow at the beginning of your life.
You just DO.
Toss out the ideas that don’t work and you move forward…trying new things until you find something you enjoy.
And it’s the same with blogging…
So, while I say “stop listening to the experts”, I don’t mean stop reading them.
Read every single thing you can get your hands on!
But, just like in life…throw away the ideas that don’t work and keep on trying new things.
There’s no rule book!
The business itself hasn’t even existed for 25 years. It’s still being made up as we go along.
Did you hear what I just said?
It’s still being made up as we go along!
We are MAKING this happen!
Isn’t that awesome?
Just imagine 40 or 50 or 100 years from now, the people will look back and think how innovative we were “for our time“.
They’ll be grateful that we took the time to learn the internet and to make up this awesome thing we call blogging. Just as we look back and are grateful for those that invented light bulbs, stick built houses, indoor plumbing and kitchen stoves.
They’re going to think we were so cool!
But, seriously, the great inventors of our past didn’t have a clue what they were doing, any more than we do.
They had an idea and they ran with it…winging it all the way.
And, that’s the greatest part about it all…
We are the new set of “Great Inventors”
Those of us born in the 1980s and early 90s…we are the founders of this thing called “blogging”.
Our parents generation might have come up with the original “weblog” idea…
But we, my friends…you and me…we’ve created the business of blogging.
And as the creators…
WE GET TO MAKE IT UP AS WE GO ALONG!
Not screaming at you! Really, I’m screaming at myself because I followed the “rules” for too long.
I listened to what all the “expert bloggers” had to say and you know what?
It didn’t get me anywhere.
Except stressed out…staring at the computer screen at 2 am, wondering why “everyone else” can make money blogging, but not me.
I’ll tell you why…
Because I was trying to duplicate what was working for them.
Them who were still learning, just like me.
They would say “Write LESS Often”. So, I’d write a post a week…
When that didn’t work, I’d search for the “expert opinion” again, and they’d say “Write shorter posts MORE often”. So, I’d write a quick, to the point post, 4 or 5 times a week.
Still that didn’t work. So, back to the “experts” I’d go and once again they’d say “Niche Down”. So, I’d attempt to narrow my focus to just 1 or 2 categories…
And it didn’t work!
You have to create your own blog!
It’s just like life. No one else can tell you the right way for you!
Make your blog your own. Do what works for YOU!
YOU are what makes your blog successful.
Remember that! It’s important!
Build Your Own Super Highway
Like the 401 in Ontario.
Holy cow, you guys?! Can you imagine driving down a highway with 18 lanes of traffic?! Going in EACH direction?!
Worse yet…imagine being stuck in that traffic?! No thank you!
Keep me in the country! I like my highways with 2 lanes.
Anyway, when I say “build your own super highway”, of course I mean an informational highway.
And if you want it to have 18 lanes, then go for it.
It’s your highway!
But, let’s use this highway 401 as an example…because it’s the largest in North America.
And you want to own the biggest and best super information highway out there, right?
Follow the Pattern But Do Your Own Thing
Any highway being built has to meet certain standards and while I don’t know exactly what all those standards are, I do know that it requires lots of little building blocks beneath that final coat of asphalt that we drive on.
You need sand. A little gravel. Some concrete. Then a fine layer of asphalt over the top. Right?
Don’t correct me if I’m wrong. This is a metaphor, my friends. It does not require the parts of my road to be right. I’m a writer, a designer…not a road builder!
Consider the sand, gravel, concrete and asphalt to be the building blocks of your blog. This is the platform, the design, the content and the income.
This is the part of the pattern that you must follow if you want to make money blogging!
The sand on the bottom is your hosting and WordPress.org. Choose the hosting that best fits your needs. I use GoDaddy, but like I said before, lots of others choose Bluehost because of the $3.95/month starting price. But, don’t waste your time with any platform other than WordPress.org if you want to make money blogging. FYI – It’s free.
Next up is the gravel or the design. Choose a design from WordPress Themes, to get started. These are all free and they offer a great deal of options, so why waste your money on a paid theme?
To Niche or Not to Niche?
After the gravel, comes the concrete. Your niche and content…
Now, I am not a fan of the “niche”, as you know. We as human beings, have tons of interests, so why should we narrow them down to one boring thing, day after day after day?
So, my suggestion for this is…choose a category based on a broad notion of your blog.
My overall blog “category or niche” would be classified as lifestyle. I write about food, household stuff, gardening, making money, saving money, etc.
Maybe you like to write about refinishing furniture, home decor and outdoor living. Your category would be “Home & Living”.
Or perhaps you like to write about space technology, animal habitats or water consumption in the Northeast. These would all fall under the “Science” niche.
Think of your blog like an old-fashioned general store…
The niche is “general store”. The product (your writing) is lots of things people need that will fit into a general store.
Each aisle of the general store has it’s own “niche”. Consider the health & beauty aisle a niche. The produce aisle is another “niche”. Etc.
You do not have to narrow it down to just one thing! Pick one general category, then move on…
Content Is King
The second part of the concrete is the content. What you choose to write about. How good the information is and of course, how much of it you write.
Choosing What to Write About
I’m sure whoever you ask will give you a different answer on this, but I suggest picking 3 to 5 categories from your “niche” and categorizing all of your content under them.
As you write more posts over time, you can further separate them using subcategories.
My “niche” is lifestyle.
Then I use the following categories and subcategories:
- Lifestyle (overall): Budgeting, DIY ideas, frugal living tips, gift guides, holiday/seasonal posts, parties and reviews.
- Money: Making money and saving money.
- Recipes: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, snacks, desserts, canning and preserving food, along with meal plans.
Almost everything I write, here on Food Life Design, can easily be categorized under any of those headings or subheadings. Which, as you can see above, is also how I’ve designed my menu bar.
Creating Your Menu
Make it easy for your readers to use!
As you can see from my menu, I have my basic categories listed, along with links to my free printables, my printables shop and my stationery shop. Plus, of course, a contact link, resources and my blog policies.
If you hover over any of my “main” categories, you’ll notice that my subcategories pop up and you can choose from any of those, as well.
This makes it really easy for my readers to find what they need!
Don’t leave your readers hanging in the dark! You want them to stay on your blog, hang out for awhile and do some quality reading, while they sip their morning coffee!
Show them the way!
If you don’t listen to anything else that I say throughout this entire blog post, listen to this…
YOU HAVE TO WRITE A LOT OF CONTENT!
Stop listening to those “experts” that are telling you to write once a week or worse yet, once a month.
This is not going to bring you the traffic that you need to make money through ads or affiliate programs and it’s surely not going to bring you any sponsored post opportunities.
If you really want to make money blogging when you are first getting started, then, your content, the quality and quantity, need to be your number one priority at all times.
The most important lesson that I’ve learned in my years of running an online business is this…
It’s a numbers game.
The more content you have…the better your chance of being found in search.
It’s that simple.
Of course, your writing should be of decent quality. People should be able to read your blog posts clearly. They should understand what they are reading.
I’m not suggesting you put a bunch of random words on thousands of pages. That’s not going to work, either.
Write each blog post to the best of your ability. Then move on and write another one to the best of your ability. And so on.
But write as much as possible, as often as possible.
Make Money Blogging
Okay! You’ve got your structure built and now it’s time to lay the asphalt for your road…AKA start to make money blogging instead of writing for free!
When most bloggers begin thinking about monetization, they think ads. And while it’s a great place to start, you’ll be starting at the bottom for pennies. Literally. Pennies. Seriously.
Many “experts” will tell you to wait until you have X amount of readers to put advertising on your blog. But, I’m going to disagree with that. If you really want to make money blogging, then don’t wait.
** WARNING! BUMP in the road **
I’m actually going to take us off the super highway for a second here and give you another analogy that makes more sense when you’re considering advertising on your blog…
Let’s consider your blog a magazine or a newspaper…
Do you think that Good Housekeeping or The New York Times sent out their first publications without advertising funds to pay their writers and/or other employees?
The answer to that would likely be a big fat NO!
If you are truly trying to build a blogging business, then why should you work for free?!
Please note: The list below is by no means a comprehensive list of all advertising options.
For beginner bloggers (reaching 1 to 24,999 page views per month) – EVERYONE HAS TO START SOMEWHERE:
When you first get started with blogging, you really only have 3 “good” options for advertising. Do all 3 to maximize your new income.
Google Adsense – This is where most people begin. It’s easy to set up and they don’t require you to have a ton of views to get started.
Plus, of course, it’s google. Don’t we all trust google?! Head over to the Adsense home page to learn more.
Media.Net – Another easy to set up ad system, that doesn’t require a ton of views to get started. Learn more at Media.net.
Find your own – Contact companies that you think might be interested in advertising on your blog for an extended period of time. It can’t hurt to ask and you might even get a yes or two!
For intermediate bloggers (reaching 20,000 to 99,000 page views per month) :
SheKnows – A great network for woman run and women oriented blogs.
In order to sign up though, you must have 20,000+ page views per month, have 80% US traffic and it must be a 70% female audience. Head over to SheKnows to learn more.
Mediavine – This is where most bloggers (including me!) choose to move after receiving that almighty number of 25,000+ views a month. Once you’ve signed up, they take care of all the ads for you and you earn 75% of the revenue right off the bat!
Plus, they’re just the most awesome group of people! Really, truly, honest, human people! Here’s the link to get started!
For advanced bloggers (reaching 100,000+ page views per month):
Adthrive – La Creme de la Creme…Adthrive is the ultimate goal for bloggers these days. It’s the company that all the “big names” in blogging are using. Many of which you can find on Pinterest, claiming to make tens of thousands of dollars (or more!) a month.
Once you’ve reached 100,000+ page views a month, you can sign up. And according to their FAQs page, your income could increase up to 300%! Here’s the link for more information.
Okay, you’ve got your ads all set up to start making some extra pennies each month. Now what?
Now, it’s time to become an affiliate for your favorite companies…
What’s an affiliate?
An affiliate is a person (or company) that shares information about another company’s product and/or service and receives a commission when that share results in a sale.
The best book I’ve ever read about writing is Stephen King’s “On Writing”. I’ve read the book several times and I love it. It’s informative, funny and to the point.
So, I decide I’m going to tell my blog readers about it. While sharing my review of the book, I add a link to the title each time I mention it – like this: Stephen King’s “On Writing” – if a reader decides they want to check out that book, they can just click the link and head on over to the Amazon page to buy it.
It doesn’t cost the reader/customer a single penny extra and Amazon pays me a commission for suggesting it to them.
Where Do I Sign Up?!
There’s lots of places to choose from! Here’s a list of my favorites and some that I know other bloggers are happy using:
- Amazon Associates
- Rakuten Marketing
- Rakuten eBates
- eBay Partner Network
- Target Affiliate
- Commission Junction
What is a sponsored post?
It’s a post that you are paid, a set fee, to write in order to advertise a specific product, service and/or company.
I haven’t done a sponsored post in a long, long time. Since back when I was running blog #1. However, it’s something that I intend to look more into for the future.
Lots and lots of bloggers choose to use sponsored posts because it’s a great way to make money blogging while sharing information about products that you know and love.
Where Do I Sign Up?
Take Time To Build It Right
This thing we call blogging is like a new baby.
You don’t just have a newborn baby one day and then, throw it out to the world, as if it’s finished growing, the next day, do you?
You have to take the time to nurture it.
Feed your blog…write lots of good content.
Let it grow…expand your categories, expand your knowledge base and build your own super highway.
Tell the world…share it on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or wherever you hang out online.
Take the time to build it right.
Whew! Now, that was one, epic blog post about how to make money blogging, you guys!
While that’s the gist of it, it certainly does not cover ALL the ins and outs of blogging. And it definitely does not guarantee that you will make money following these steps.
However, these are the steps that I’ve used to create my own income month after month for years and they’re a great jumping off point for those of you that are just getting started.
At last count, this post was clocking in somewhere around 4,400 words. And I hope that each and every one of those words help you get started with your own blog and of course, helps you make a TON of money blogging.
It’s not always easy…but it’s always worth it!
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Have a Spectacular Day!
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