Making money blogging… it sounds elusive, right? But, really, it’s not as tough to do as you may think. You get to make your own hours, you get to work in a coffee shop or at home in your pj’s, you get to be your own boss, and you get to share something that interests you with others. Blogging is an amazing way to make some extra money or support your entire family (if things really take off).
I started blogging at the very end of 2009, and I had no idea that I would be able to make a single cent from blogging, and that definitely was not the goal. Once I learned more and more about the blogging industry I started to see the opportunities to make a little bit of money here and there. What I never expected was to learn that I would be able to make a good chunk of money from my blog every month. That was (and continues to be) mind-blowing!
There are SO many bloggers that are making a good part-time or even full-time income from blogging, and you can do it too! To make money blogging there are a few things you should know though before you get started. I’ve learned a lot over the years (mainly from messing up along the way) so I’m going to tell you what has and has not worked for me. I will also tell you how you can start your very own blog.
We live in such an exciting time because we get to make our own opportunities! I can think of so many people who have completely changed their lives because they decided to start blogs. It’s kind of insane when you think about it. You don’t need a degree or a certification to start a blog, you need very little money to get started, and the profit margins are super high. However, I have to be honest. Blogging is not a magic, snap-your-fingers make shit tons of money with no hard work type of endeavor. Blogging takes a TON of work, effort, and determination to be successful. But! If you’re willing to put in the effort you can absolutely be successful and make money blogging just like I do!
Today, I’m Spilling the Secrets. How to Make Money Blogging…
Setting Up Your Blog
1. Sign Up For Hosting
So you’ve decided to start a blog. The very next thing you need to do is sign-up for hosting. This is where your blog will “live” online. It’s basically like paying rent to have a site online. Hosting supports your site and keeps it online. The way it’s been described to me is like this: hosting is like the home you rent or own, while your domain name is your actual address. You will need both hosting and a domain. (Btw, hosting is different than your domain name [your www. address]).
Next, choose your hosting plan. I recommend going with the $4.95 per month plan (right now it’s only $3.95) if you are a small to medium-sized site. You can always move up to a larger plan, if needed. The $4.95 per month rate should meet your needs as you are getting started.
2. Choose a Catchy Blog Name
This is the fun part! Once you’ve chosen your plan, you’ll then need to choose and type in your domain name. As mentioned above, this is the www. link for your site. I wouldn’t rush through this part of the process. In fact, I’d say this is THE most important thing to consider once you know what your site or blog is going to be about.
Picking a Great Name for Your Blog
Ideally, you want your blog name to easily convey your blog’s purpose and mission. Take the time to really think about the name so you’ll love it for years and years to come. I would also recommend trying to find a name that won’t box you into too tight of a category. For example, you’ll want to think ahead. Avoid names that have time references in them. I see site’s with words like “newlywed” or “millennial” in the title, and I always get a little worried for those bloggers because there’s almost a ticking clock with the blog name. What happens when you’re no longer a “newlywed” or a “millennial”? Even if you’re not sure how long you’ll be blogging ask yourself if your blog name will still work in 5 or 10 years.
Ask your friends and family for their input on the names you’re considering. I’ve found that sometimes my friends and families think about connections or associations that never even crossed my mind. Once you have the top blog name contenders see if the domain name is even available (I like to use GoDaddy.com for this) and then do a Google search to be sure you won’t start building your blog with a name that someone else as already using. Something else you have to think about is this: some blog names are federally trademarked. When something is trademarked it means that someone or some company owns the federal rights to a name or phrase and others can’t use it. If it does get used then you can be subject to being forced to stop using the name or phrase or you may have to pay fines. Both big bummers. So definitely do your homework, and save yourself a headache! Also, be sure the name you’re considering isn’t even close to a name or phrase that is currently trademarked because even that isn’t allowed. (For long-time blog readers you may remember when this site was called AndThenSHESaved… yep… I had to change the name of this site because it was too close to someone’s trademark! That was shitty. Learn from what happened to me! :)
Important consideration… If you’re really business-minded and thinking long-term consider purchasing all the slight variations of your business name. For example, I own AndThenISaved.com, AndThenTheySaved.com, AndThenHeSaved.com, etc. That way, you don’t have to worry about someone else setting up a site with a domain name that’s super similar to yours. You can purchase these additional URL names through a site like NameCheap.com.
Once you’ve chosen your name and verified that it’s available, go to the next page and input all your information. You can skip the extra upgrades. The only one I might suggest you consider is that you purchase the Domain Privacy. This will guarantee that your home address or whatever address you use to sign up for your domain is not accessible on public records.
Input your billing information and you are all set! Your brand-spanking-new hosting and domain are ready to go.
3. Choose the Right Blog Platform From the Beginning
After you set up your hosting and domain name, you’ll want to install WordPress on your new hosting. You can do this in the dashboard section when you log into your Bluehost dashboard.
WordPress is the “software” that you’ll use to actually write and create your blog. It’s how you will put your content onto the domain name you selected. With WordPress you don’t have to know HTML or coding, and it makes everything very easy.
Important note: You must have your own hosting and install WordPress from WordPress.org onto that hosting. While you can set up a free site on WordPress.com, you are not allowed to add advertising or affiliate links if you’re hosting it there — thus disabling your ability to making money blogging!
I started with another website platform and moved to WordPress when I was running into super frustrating issues like simply adding social share buttons to my site. Adding social share buttons is not something that should not be a big deal at all even though it was on my old platform. I decided to switch over to WordPress when I did a redesign of my site. It was a HUGE process moving every single post, comment, and all of that from the old platform to the new platform and there were lots of glitchs, and there continue to be random issues (like the images in my old posts not appearing… blarrrgggh. That’ll get fixed someday soon!;) I’m having to deal with these random issues because of the platform switch. It all makes me wish I started with WordPress from the very beginning. Ah. That would have saved me so much time.
So, if I were to suggest a blog platform, I’d highly recommend WordPress.
4. Hire a Designer
When I first started my site I used a template and customized it. That design worked completely fine for quite a long time. Once I saw that this site was getting a good amount of traffic, and I was ready to take it to the next level that’s when I decided to hire a designer. I get so many people telling me about how they love the look of my site, and it’s always a great thing to hear. It took a lot of time to get it just the way I wanted it, and to get it that way I hired a pro.
If you’re just getting started, please know that you don’t need to hire a designer as you’re getting started especially if you don’t know if you’ll even like blogging. If you decide to use a template or design the site yourself. Just keep your blog simple, clean and easy to navigate. (Also! Once of my biggest pet peeves if when I want to reach out to a blogger and can’t contact them. Please include your email address somewhere. You never know who may want to send you an email.:)
If you can’t (or if you’re not ready to) pay a designer, at least consider paying to have someone design your blog header (that will make your big first impression with readers), and connect your hosting and domain name on WordPress. I promise it is worth the bit of money that it will cost — and it will save you a great deal of frustration. My thinking is, (within reason) “Pay others to do what they are good at so I can make money doing what I am good at.” (I’ve worked with Kyla Roma for all of my site design.)
[Tweet “Pay others to do what they’re good at so you can make money doing what you’re good at.”]
5. Write, Write, Write Before You “Go Live”
Before you start promoting your blog write about 10 posts, and have another 10 – 15 waiting in the wings for after you “go live”. This will help ease you into blogging, so you will have a slew of content ready to go, and it will help with those first few weeks of blogging as you get started. I have to admit, I just kind of winged it when I was starting out, and that worked for me. However, one thing I would recommend doing from the beginning is having an advertiser page on your site or at the very least a sidebar ad on your site so readers know that their will be ads on your site. That is helpful so readers aren’t surprised once ads start appearing.
Another tip I have to share with you… I recently learned about Trello.com and it has been so amazing for planning out posts. It starting to keep me organized so I can get content up more often. I’m super excited to use it.
6. It’s About Your Readers
To make money blogging you’ve got to have readers. In the beginning (especially!) focus on creating great, original content, and build your relationships with your readers. Your readers are the most important part of your blog. Plus, the readers are what makes blogging fun! Otherwise you’re just typing into the abyss which is completely not fun. Readers, and the relationships with those readers are the most vital part of the success of any blog. Blogging is about the long-term, not the short-term.
7. Become an Affiliate
Now that we’ve got the basics covered: you’ve set-up your hosting, you’ve got your blog designed, and you’ve got some content written, it’s time to start thinking about making money blogging! The first way — and easiest — way to make money is through affiliate marketing. This is a really great ways to start dipping your toes into the blog advertising world.
“Affiliate marketing” is pretty much when you get paid to promote another person’s product, coupon, deal, or website. It’s typically CPA advertising — which means that you only get paid a “commission” per action that the reader takes.
When you sign up for an affiliate programs, you get a link that is specifically set-up for you so when you include that link in your blog’s content, and readers click on that link the company is able to track the click-through’s and/or purchases, and then you are paid your “commission” based on those stats.
For example, if an ebook affiliate program offers 10% of a sale to the affiliate (the blogger) then for a $24 ebook the blogger will earn $2.40 for every person who clicks through the affiliate link and makes a purchase. If 100 people bought the ebook, the affiliate makes $240 in affiliate earnings, and that’s just for putting a link on their site!
In many cases, people have to make a purchase in order for you to earn money as an affiliate. However, there are also hundreds of other options that require no purchase. Also, I should say, as you’re getting started you may find that the affiliate programs require you to have a certain level of traffic. That can feel frustrating if you’re just starting out and have a low readership but just take that as your cue to keep creating amazing content, and build up your relationships with your readers. Then, after a month or two reapply to the program. I got turned down for a ton of programs in the beginning, and eventually got accepted.
Some Affiliate Programs:
• ShareASale (I’ve made the most from this site)
8. Sign-Up for Google Adsense
Promoting affiliate links for products and resources that you believe in and that are a good fit for your audience is a great way to make money blogging but I also recommend that you sign up for Google Adsense. Google Adsense is a simple way to earn a little money by showing ads on your sidebar. You simply add a block of HTML coding to your sidebar, at the bottom of your posts, in your blog footer, and BOOM! you’re set. Google Adsense is extremely low-maintenance, and easy to set up.
With Google Adsense, you’ll earn around $1 to $2 per CPM. CPM = cost per 1,000 pageviews. So if you have 10,000 pageviews per month, you’ll earn around $20 per month with Google Adsense. Again, the better content you have, and the better relationships you have with your readers the more your traffic will grow. Now, I net hundreds each month through this method.
Another thing that is great about Google Adsense is that you can block URL’s of sites that you don’t want advertising on your site, and you can set channels with keywords to help Google Adsense serve up automatically generated ads that are more targeted to your audience. I learned the hard way about this because when I first got started with Google Adsense I had some rather sleazy credit sites appearing in my ads and I (understandably!) got some backlash from readers about those ads appearing. You better believe I changed the settings super fast as soon as I realized what had happened. Learn from my mistake, okay.:)
Additional Money Making Ideas for Your Blog
Sidebar Ads – Consider selling your own sidebar ads. I used to manage all my ads independently until I found out about Passionfruit ads. They charge a (relatively) small yearly fee for the service but, I have to tell you, Passionfruit has completely streamlined my ad program. I used to have to mess with sending PayPal invoices all the time, tracking the actual ad images and corresponding links, and rotating them all a few times a month. Passionfruit does all that now. It’s basically genius. I love it.
Product Development – I recently dipped my toes in this area with the financial planner I wrote about recently. I played more of a consulting role in this project but it was a lot of fun, and I hope to do more of this.
Book Deal – This is obviously a super exciting opportunity, and it doesn’t happen to every blogger but it DOES happen sometimes. Whatever type of blog you start I’ve got to urge you to build a story around your blog. Don’t just be another fashion (or whatever) blogger. Ask yourself these questions: Why are you writing your blog? Who are you helping? What are you working towards that is bigger than you?
Ebooks and Ecourses – These are time-consuming to develop but they are another way to provide a service to your readers.
Perks – There are also ways to get perks without having the actual exchange of money. For example, you can get Airbnb travel credit by sharing your referral link with readers. The same goes with StitchFix. These are two examples where you can get some non-monetary benefits to help pay for what you might already be spending money on. Using referral links can be a fun, but they are definitely not a lucrative way to “monetize” your blog.
Indirect Opportunities – Blogging has opened up a ton of other ways to earn money in ways I never would’ve imagined! Again, it comes back to creating great content and having a strong, loyal readership (loyal readers are actually way more important than the quantity of readers, btw). Brands and PR companies will start contacting you directly to work on campaigns together. These are usually super fun and unique experiences. Remember that PNC Bank project I worked on awhile back? That came about because a PR company contacted me directly.
I keep a few things in mind when I’m approached by a company about a project or campaign. They are:
– Do I believe in this product/company/brand?
– Will there be restrictions on what I’m allowed to say, or not say, about the product/company/brand? If I’m not “allowed” to be completely honest then I turn down the advertiser because being able to be honest about whatever I’m writing about is sooooo important. You know how you can tell when you’re getting bullshitted? I won’t allow that to happen here even if it means turning down money…. which can be very hard to do but you’ve got to do it sometimes. It’s all about integrity.
Those are the ways that I’ve been able to make money blogging. I hope it’s been a helpful post, and that it’s given you some insight into how all of this works.
If you have any questions about making money blogging that I didn’t cover ask them in the comments. :)
(Btw, speaking of affiliate links, there are some in this post. This means that if you click on one of my affiliate links (like Bluehost) and sign up or make a purchase, then I’ll receive a small commission from that company for referring you.)