We all have something that motivates us to start a blog.
For a lot of us, that motivation is the dream of being liberated from our 9-5 job and make money from the comfort of our own home.
So is it possible?
I earn a living from my blog, Adam does and so do countless other bloggers.
I’ve been earning money from blogging since 2004.
By 2006 I was earning enough money to quit my job working as an engineer.
Sure we can’t all be making that sort of money but making enough to leave our 9-5 job is definitely possible.
For example, Stacey Corrin was able to generate a full time income in around 3 months by offering services based on what she knows about – now that’s inspiring.
Now the question is how do you go about turning your blog into a money maker?
Keep reading to find out what you can do to generate an income and important factors that will contribute to your success.
How to make money blogging – 3 key success factors
Before we talk about specific tactics you can use to make money from your blog, we need to consider 3 key success factors.
Have you chosen a profitable niche?
Choosing the right niche is essential.
If you don’t choose the right niche you will struggle to make your blog profitable.
For example; years ago I launched a site selling inflatable boats online. Not my best idea.
There were a few issues with this site but the worst was that I was selling a seasonal product. Summer is best for selling boats, so what about the other 9 months of the year?
Against the odds I did make some money but it averaged no more than two sales per year.
So how do you find a profitable niche?
It all starts with an idea, then you need to validate your idea with research.
There are plenty of tools to help you:
- SEMrush – Use this tool to find out whether advertisers are spending a lot of money on advertising. The thinking is that if advertisers are spending money, there is clearly money to be made in that niche. It’s a paid tool but you can get some helpful info from the free version.
- Google Search – Try searching for your niche and see if there are any advertisers. Google personalises search results so it’s worth de-personalizing them. This can be done by running your browser incognito. Alternatively this post at Moz.com offers some other effective methods.
- Google Keyword Planner – This free tool will allow you to guesstimate the average cost per click in your niche. You can also get average search volumes for specific keywords. This is useful if you want to make money from Adsense (we’ll talk more about it in a moment) but it’s important to note that it won’t be all that accurate due to how Adsense is used for ad retargeting.
- Affiliate platforms – Using affiliate platforms like CJ Affiliate (previously Commission Junction), Clickbank and Shareasale can be used to find out how much merchants are paying out to affiliates. You may need to sign up for an account to search and commissions can range from 5% to over 50% depending on the niche. We’ll talk about affiliate marketing in a moment.
Does your blog get enough targeted traffic?
Targeted traffic is important.
If your traffic isn’t targeted it won’t help you sell products, earn affiliate commissions or attract advertisers.
Both will do a great job at directing targeted traffic to your blog and will ultimately help you earn more money.
It’s worth noting that SEO traffic is generally more transactional in nature so people are more likely to part with money if you can help them solve a problem.
Social media traffic is less transactional generally but that’s no reason to forget social – a solid focus on social networks will allow you to increase your blog’s reach.
It’s easy to get side tracked and pursuing nothing but an increase in visitors/page views but that’s not always what matters.
The reason why most bloggers like Pat Flynn are making incredible amounts of money is not just because they get a lot of traffic but because they have a large following.
A community of people who genuinely value the information they share; that’s what you need to stay focused on.
Traffic generation resources
There’s a lot you need to know about SEO, I recommend reading this SEO for bloggers guide by Ashley Faulkes to get a handle on the important stuff.
You also need to promote every blog post effectively and keep focused on growing your audience. Check out the Blogging Wizard guide to blog promotion to find out how.
For more ideas on how to drive more traffic to your blog, this post by Jayson DeMers over on Forbes.com will help you.
Are you building an email list?
One of the key similarities between all of the top bloggers is that they are actively building their email list.
An email list is your greatest business asset.
It will help you create a community of followers, promote your latest blog post and sell products/services.
When someone subscribes to your email list, they are showing that they trust you and want to hear what you have to say.
Start building your email list early on, before you launch your blog if possible but the main thing is that you do.
For more details on exactly what to do, read this epic list building guide by Adam.
Tactics to turn your blog into a serious money maker
You now know the keys to success; so let’s talk about specific money making strategies.
Below are some of the best ways to get started.
Be a freelance writer
If you can write a blog post, chances are that people will pay you to write blog posts for them.
With brands spending more money on content marketing, you’ll be in a prime position to gain clients.
My recommendation is to write about what you know, don’t try to write about what you don’t.
Other brands and bloggers are looking for specialist writers in particular niches. It’s very possible that you will create a name for yourself in your niche and you’ll get more clients because of it.
How can you find writing gigs?
Be sure to check out our category-organised list of the best freelance job websites for more.
Offer a service
Not everyone wants to write for others, what about offering a service?
For example, Kerry Russell is very experienced with WordPress so is able to offer support and design services. Christian Karasiewicz is very experienced with Facebook and Twitter allowing him to offer one-on-one coaching as well as other services.
This all comes down to what you know but it works best when you enjoy doing it.
If there’s a service you’d like to offer but can’t, learn how to do it, get experience and offer it in the future.
Google’s Adsense service has been a popular cost-per-click (CPC) advertising platform for a long time now.
It’s good purely because it’s easy to setup and manage but it’s not as profitable as it once was.
You’ll need an established blog to sign up for an account and a decent amount of traffic to make this worthwhile but it definitely makes sense for blogs in niches where other monetization tactics aren’t possible.
It’s worth noting that you need to play by Google’s rules here, there are no shortage of stories where people have been booted from the program without warning.
If you can use other ways to monetize your blog, you should. For some blogs it makes more sense to focus more on building an email list rather than losing visitors for a few cents.
What about alternatives?
Media.net is a good alternative, it powers the Yahoo! Bing network and supports a lot of different ad types including mobile and in-content.
There are also various specialist ad networks in different niches; for example, the video game niche has several good platforms including Ad4game.
Looking for more alternatives? Check out our dedicated guide to Google AdSense alternatives.
Promote CPA offers
CPA stands for cost per action so you get paid when a user takes the desired action.
This could be signing up with an email address, installing software or purchasing a product.
Sell banner ads
Selling banner ads is a great way to get a consistent income from your blog, without having to worry about how many users are clicking or purchasing products.
You can use sites like Buysellads.com to recruit advertisers but they take a cut of the profits and you need a fairly established blog in order to get your account approved.
If you’d prefer to manage the ads yourself and you use WordPress, this post covers some helpful plugins that will enable you to keep 100% of the revenue.
You could also sell ads in your newsletters or recruit sponsors for your podcast.
Most of the highest earning marketers are making their money from selling products they have created (or have had created for them).
The best product is one which directly solves a problem your audience is facing.
Generally information products are easier to create. All you need after is a launch plan and a system to help you sell it.
There are plenty of platforms that make it easy to sell digital products, below are some examples:
Most sales are attributed to affiliates so it’s worth using a platform that will allow you to recruit your own affiliates.
All of the above allow this apart from Selz but it should be added to Selz in the near future.
If information products aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other options.
Selling WordPress themes, plugins and other software are very popular. If you have an idea that you can’t bring to fruition, look into getting a co-founder on board or hiring a freelance developer.
Create a membership site
You could try creating a membership site that sits on a sub-domain and use it to offer exclusive content that can’t be found on your blog.
This could include ebooks, videos, audio recordings, premium tutorials and more.
You could also offer other benefits like a membership only forum for example.
You don’t just have to set a one-off price; this is perfect for offering a monthly subscription which can make this extremely profitable.
If you use WordPress, setting up a membership site is fairly straight forward.
The S2 plugin provides most of the important features you’ll need to get you started and there’s a paid version which is very cost effective.
You can also find some other options in this post.
Sell sponsored posts
This is a great way to get paid for the content you write.
The most popular form of sponsored post is a review, but it doesn’t always have to be.
It’s as easy as setting a price and adding a page on your blog to let people know.
This post can give a rough idea of how to price your posts although it’s based on metrics that aren’t of much importance now. It’s also worth considering your traffic, social shares, how engaged your audience is as well as language and cultural aspects.
One important thing to mention is that this isn’t about saying good stuff about a brand because they’ve paid you; the key is to be honest.
Promote affiliate products
Affiliate marketing is extremely profitable.
You’ll get paid a commission by referring others to a product/service using a special link.
The more people you refer, the more money you make.
You could display banners for affiliate products but the best way is to write engaging content.
For example, you could use tutorials, list posts or reviews to promote products.
Ultimately, the best recommendation will come from products that you have actually used.
For example, I get free hosting accounts to test out at Web Hosting Secrets Revealed (WHSR). This means I can personally try the web hosts to see how well they perform. I then write reviews based on my first-hand experience.
The web host gets the review seen by a relevant audience, I get free hosting accounts and sometimes make a commission when a reader makes a purchase.
WHSR blogger Gina Badalaty has done this and has written some great tips on how to become a product reviewer – just in case you wanted to learn more.
Now, my challenge to you!
Don’t just read my post and dream about making money from your blog.
Take what we’ve been discussing in this post and put it into action.
Find a profitable niche, put together a business plan, write some awesome content and get your blog out there.
Don’t just take action, take the right action.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means we may make a small commission if you make a purchase.