Is Blogging for Money Still a Thing?
Yes – it is. Surprised? Blogging feels a bit dusty, like something from a decade ago. But people are making money doing it. If you like to write, it’s a simple source of passive income. You won’t get rich overnight, but you can pick up some extra cash every month.
According to Glassdoor, the average annual income for bloggers is $32,800. Between $500 and $2000 a month is a reasonable expectation in your first year. If you set yourself up for success. You have to find your niche – the subject matter of the blog. It’s what drives followers or subscribers to your blog.
Bloggers who are making lots of money blogging tend to teach beginners about blogging. The freebie as a marketing technique. They’re exercising their existing authority on the topic. They keep their followers fresh too by attracting wannabe bloggers. Teaching people how to blog is a no brainer for building their email list.
Blogging for money works by attracting more traffic, advertisers, and paid subscribers. You may not make $100K. But if you stick with it for a few years, $60,000 a year is not an unreasonable expectation.
Bloggers have lots of options. The first is using your own website if you have one. Not only does it tie your content to what you do, it helps to drive traffic to your site. If you sell products or services, blogging is a great way to educate readers about how and why they work.
Blogging on platforms like WordPress.com starts out being free. But they tend to nickel and dime users. The domain name isn’t customized – for example: mywebsite.wordpress.com vs mywebsite.com. You have to pay for that. They display ads on your blog and keep the money. If your goal is to build a blog into a business, this isn’t what we’d recommend.
Patreon.com is a blogging platform where subscribers pay a fee to access your content. The subscription price is tiered to include a low-price option, medium and high. You can set limits on what content they see by subscriber level. The fee schedule may be daunting for new content creators. There are no free posts on Patreon. You have to build your audience elsewhere which can be tough for beginners.
Medium.com is a familiar name in the industry. You can make money blogging on the site, but it takes a while. It’s a good place to practice and see if you can build a following. If you want to monetize your account, there’s an annual fee of $5 per month or $50 annually. Medium is well known, but the competition is fierce.
Substack.com is one of the newer blogging platforms. Like Patreon, you set payment levels for subscribers, but free posts are allowed. That gives you a chance to build an audience from the platform. Substack.com offers built-in newsletters and helps you forecast your earning potential. Their fees are a bit high once you start charging – 10% plus payment processor fees. Still, we like this site for newbie bloggers.
7 Steps: How to Set Up Your Blog
Before you can make money on a blog, you need to have one. (If you’re confident about setting up your blog, jump to Money
1. Choose your Blog Niche
What are you going to write about? Don’t agonize, decide. What do you like doing or talking about or reading about? Who do you follow on YouTube or Reddit or other blogging sites?
You want to give some thought to the potential audience. The more universal the topic, the more potential for a built-in audience. But there are smaller but dedicated audiences to consider. Rescue Dogs may not be a “hot topic,” but it has a committed following.
Don’t get stuck thinking about it. Get started. There are tools to see what people are searching for if you have trouble deciding.
2. Decide on Domain Name
If you’re using an existing website, you already have a domain. If not, you will need to pick one.
Simple and short and short is the way to go. You want something memorable and straightforward. Adding numbers, dashes or underscores is a technical no-no. They make the domain harder to remember and search engines don’t like them.
If you’re blogging about rescue dogs – dogofmydreams.com is an example. The next step is to see if it’s available. We recommend namecheap.com for checking availability and purchasing domains. They offer free WHOIS privacy with every purchase.
If you’re working on a site, like Substack.com or WordPress.com, you need to pay a fee to use your own domain. Choose whether or not it’s worth the money.
3. What type of blog are you doing?
This is a key decision. The purpose of your blog has a lot to do with what it might look like or sound like.
- Are you educating people or entertaining them.
- Is this a personal experience blog or written from the 3rd person perspective
- Are you selling services
- Are you selling products
When you’re creating content, always think about your audience. The tone of the message needs to match with your readers. A DJ blogging about his services will sound substantially different than a lawyer blogging about his. Tone is about the language of your message – street talk or office-speak?
4. Be Strategic
Everyone says check Google Keyword Planner to find your best keywords. But if you’re just starting, that won’t help you get anywhere near the first page of returns. EVERYONE ON THEM USES THE SAME KEYWORD. The first two pages of SERPs are full of almost identical posts.
Our favorite tool is a free extension for Chrome or Firefox that shows you keywords every time you search. Use Pinterest to see what users are pinning or Reddit to see what’s trending. When you’re just starting, you need to find a way to stand out.
- Titles with numbered lists are very clickable, especially if they start with odd numbers. (Who knew?)
- A title that is longer than 60 characters get cut off in the SERPs
- Put your keyword at the beginning of your title.
5. Setup your Blog
If you’re blogging on your WordPress website, create a page to pull in all your posts. If your theme doesn’t have a modular builder, try adding a plugin like Divi Builder or Elementor. Then create a template for your posts and fill out the widgets.
Make sure your website has an analytics program installed – Google Analytics is free. You can add a plugin to see the stats right on your website. Analytics are essential for new bloggers.
SEO plugins are helpful too, but they don’t provide reports. Use free applications like Ubersuggest to get insights on the blog’s performance.
6. Posting to Your Blog
Bloggers who want to make money post content on a schedule. Two to four times a week is the recommendation. Some bloggers set up a pipeline, creating some posts in advance. If you have a full-time job, it’s a good way to stay on schedule.
If you’ve heard you only have to post 300 words or so, think again. Posts that end up on the front page of Google search returns have roughly 1800 words. With that in mind, consider your topics carefully. We suggest a minimum of 1000 words per post.
We like Soovle to help choose what to write about. The site provides keywords from all the major search engines in one place. See suggestions from Google, Yahoo, Bing, even Amazon. We searched for “bird watching.” Then we looked for the same search suggestions from each source. “Bird watching binoculars” showed up everywhere. It’s a perfect topic.
While it’s helpful to find keywords online, it’s okay to write about what you like too. If you have a bird feeder or take birdwatching trips – make sure you take pictures. Make videos if you can – landscape orientation is best for a website.
7. Marketing Your Blog
Once you have a few posts up, you want to get some traction on your content. If we haven’t been clear, it will take a while for your posts to show up in the SERPs. A new blog takes effort to get noticed.
Best Social Media Platforms
The obvious first choice for promotion is social media. You don’t have to be everywhere, but you need to be somewhere. Research the platforms based on your topics and audience.
If you are willing to do video – YouTube is a winner in almost every demographic. Pinterest can be very helpful with little effort. Facebook helps build relationships. Twitter is hashtag driven. Depending on your topic, posts can pick up steam quickly. Don’t forget LinkedIn if you’re writing for professionals.
Managing Social Media
Buffer is a WordPress plugin that automatically blasts your posts to social media sites. MeetEdgar.com suggests topics, organizes your postings, and saves time. Hootsuite is a free tool for 3 social media accounts.
You won’t make money without a mailing list. However queasy you feel about setting one up, it’s a simple, affordable way to build a following. We always recommend MailChimp because it’s free for beginners up 2000 subscribers.
Now your blog is up. The site is starting to build a following – your social media posts are getting a fair number of likes. When does the money start rolling in? And how much can you expect to make?
With the right niche and regular posting, it’s reasonable to earn between $500 and $2000 per month in your first year. That’s a nice passive income stream for 10-15 hours a week of effort.
Here’s How You Make Money Blogging
Making money on your blog is dependent on traffic and page views. Delivering quality content to your audience is what drives those numbers up. A page view can earn from 1 cent to 25 cents and each email subscriber is worth from $1 to $6. How much money you make is based on how many people read, follow or subscribe to your blog.
We walk you through the money-making scenarios below.
Joining an affiliate program is free money. Just add a link to a product you like in one of your posts. We mentioned HootSuite in a section above. If we were an affiliate and you followed the link to buy the annual plan, we’d earn a 15% commission. (We’re not an affiliate.)
There are thousands of sites that have affiliate programs. Some will have traffic/page view requirements. A simple way to get started is to work through a middleman like Flex. Choose your niche, complete your application and add links to your posts. The commission can vary as much as $5 to $500 a click.
Amazon’s affiliate program doesn’t pay much, but it’s easy to join. With all the products they sell, it’s simple to find relevant products for any blog niche.
Google AdSense places relevant advertisements on your site. It’s great for starter blogs because there are no traffic or page view quotas. You won’t make a lot of cash but might pick up enough for a month worth of hosting.
Once your blog starts to grow, so does the potential for advertising review. Once you hit 25,000 page views a month, you can move to a publishing network for advertisements. That’s when you start making serious money. You can pull in up to $20,000 a month from display ads.
Once your blog is established, companies might ask to place ads on your site. In our rescue dog example, dog food companies might do a display ad. It may not be permanent – might be part of a promotion for shelter dogs. Depending on your traffic and page rank, you can get between $200 – $2,500 a month per display ad.
Just be careful not to put up too many ads. It can turn off your readers. One banner and one sidebar ad is the most we’d recommend.
Blogging sites like Patreon, Substack, and Medium are designed for subscriber payments. As an example, if you have 200 subscribers on Substack on a $7.00 plan, you net $1100 a month. That’s $13,200 a year. Patreon and Medium payment structure is a bit more complicated but in a similar range.
If you’re blogging on your website, you can set up a paywall to view exclusive subscriber content. Many major news websites use paywalls, so they aren’t unfamiliar. Balance the free postings with “insider postings” with a monthly or annual plan. The only fees you pay are to payment processors.
You Can Make Money Blogging
If you like to write, this is a no brainer for picking up some extra cash. Beyond the money you make from the blog, there are perks. As you build a following, you can sell eCourses, coach or consult, and get paid for speaking engagements. What seemed like a dusty idea is a hot ticket to a stream of passive income.
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