Most people, if not all, start a blog hoping to, someday, make a sizable income from blogging.
I’m sure most of you have had similar thoughts, that you’d start a blog, stay home in your pajamas or travel the world in your boat, and enjoy seeing your bank account get fatter with sweet, sweet passive income!
Maybe you thought you could someday replace your shitty 9-5 with a shitty boss.
Maybe you’ve devoted your life taking care of your kids and now that they’ve grown big enough to take care of themselves, you want to be independent again!
Or perhaps you have toddlers and you simply want to stay home where you can be close to them, spend time with them as they grow older and not miss a day! And make some money while at it!
Or maybe you just want to get rid of that paralyzing student debt and start living your life already!
If not these, then maybe you just need a second source of income to be a little free-er financially (I know that’s been the case for me, and so, The Side Blogger was born.)
Whatever the reason may be, we all have but one goal. Blog, and make money from it.
The problem, however, is how people perceive the notion of making money blogging. When I speak with new bloggers, they seem split between two categories: the first category of new bloggers are overwhelmed with too many [unnecessary] things. And the second category consists of those who think they can just start blogging and money will magically pour in and fatten up their bank accounts.
Let me first clarify a few facts about blogging:
- Blogging isn’t easy. The faster you want to make a sizable income, the more hours you will need to put in. Do you know why, even though blogging is such a lucrative field, most people never make it? Because they start a blog with misplaced ideas of somehow making a lot of money while doing little to no work. The concept of hard-work and long-hours scare them. Make no mistake, if you want to have a successful blog and want to make money from it, you will have to WORK for it. That said, if you want to build a system of passive income and want financial freedom from the comfort of your home, in your own schedule, then trust me, the work you put in will be worth it!
- Blogging is as much a creative endeavor as it is a science. Sure, good writing is important, but so is your strategies to make money from your blog. Fortunately, much of blogging success is calculable based on how many visitors you get, how many email subscribers you have, etc.
- A lot of new bloggers tend to focus on all the wrong things first. Listen, most bloggers start blogging on the side. There are very few who start blogging full time from the get-go. And being a side blogger means that you will need to prioritize your tasks. If you’re worried about SEO even before you’ve written your very first blog post, there’s a problem!
- Most new bloggers know they want to create a passive income stream, but they don’t know what they want to do in the first place and where their money will come from. In my blog post “How to Start a Blog that Makes Money and Helps People“, I start off by suggesting that you should figure out how you want to make money first! Give that post a read, it’ll be useful, trust me.
So, in today’s blog post, I want to tackle the topic of different ways to make money blogging. If you know what your options are for making a sizable income from your blog, it will be that much easier to plan your content. Because really, a money-making blog is just a money-making machine. It’s science! You need to create a system that allows for money to come in. Without this system, you can blog as much as you want and you won’t see a dime at the end of the day!
And to figure out just the right system for you, you need to first know what you want to accomplish with this system. The outcome is known: it is to make money from home, preferably while you sleep. But to achieve this outcome, you need to first decide where the money will come from. Passive income is only passive after you have done the work and put the system in place.
In this post, we’ll look at the pre-requisites to making money from blogging, followed by 10 popular methods for making money with your blog.
Pre-Requisites for Making Money with Blogging
In order to start making money with blogging, you need a few things.
- A blog niche to focus on.
- A blog set up the right way with user experience in mind (pay attention to good design, not fancy, but a good design that works and converts.)
- Blog posts full of quality and value.
- A strategy to drive traffic to your blog.
- An email list of engaged subscribers who believe in you and your work.
Let’s tackle each of these briefly.
A Blog Niche to Focus On
People read blogs to find a solution to their troubles. Or, to at least relate to others who have similar troubles as they do.
To make money from blogging, you need to do more than just relate. You need to find a way to provide solutions to your readers’ problems, within a particular niche.
Now, people will tell you that there are some 5 or 7 popular blog niches that are supposedly the most lucrative. Personally, I refrain from making such remarks. I believe that in order to make money, you need to tap into the right audience. Sure, a common topic such as “personal finance” or “fitness” may be easier to deal with in terms of driving traffic or finding products within those niches that will sell. However, that doesn’t mean that you cannot have a bit of an unorthodox niche AND be successful at the same time.
So, all I’ll say is that find a topic you love, and then give it a twist. Do not just talk about the thing you love, but find a way to talk about it in such a way so that you are solving some kind of problem within the topic that you love.
For example, personal essays aren’t exactly popular per general consensus. As in, they’re not the biggest moneymakers. However, lifestyle blogs are popular. And what is a lifestyle blog if not a collection of very targeted personal essays?
Think of it this way. Let’s say you have a shitty boss. You work all day with this shitty boss at your 9-5, and then you come home and vent in your blog.
Now, that’s not a money-making topic, for sure!
However, what if instead of simply venting, you offered a solution? For example, what if you blogged about how to deal with a shitty boss at your 9-5 and keep your sanity? Surely, more people will benefit from that blog post than just a few paragraphs where you’re doing nothing but whining?
A Blog Set Up the Right Way
There are plenty of blogging platforms. I only suggest one.
The reason being that it is the best platform for incorporating multiple income streams. I will be talking about the various different ways a blogger can make money shortly, but for now, just keep in mind that to make a sizable income from your blog, especially if you’re a side blogger and not a full-time writer, self-hosted WordPress is the ONLY platform you should be blogging on.
I suggest you set up your WordPress blog with SiteGround [affiliate] hosting company as they are, by far, the best hosting company AND recommended not only by yours truly, but also by WordPress.org itself!
Get an amazing and well-coded theme for your blog. I have a post on blog design right here if you need some pointers.
Blog Posts Full of Quality and Value
People spend money on those whom they trust.
In order to make money blogging, you need to prove to your audience that you’re worth investing in. And for a blogger, the best way to do so is through blog posts.
Do not hold back or withhold information from your blog posts. Give them all you’ve got; because that is how you build authority and establish trust and trust = money for a blogger.
And then provide tremendous value within each blog post to demonstrate you know what you’re talking about.
Combine all of these, and then keep repeating.
A Strategy to Drive Traffic to Your Blog
Different people favor different things when it comes to a strategy for driving traffic to a blog. Some people are really good at utilizing Facebook and/or Instagram to drive traffic. Others know SEO very well. While some others have great connections and networking skills, and they know how to get people to link back to their content.
If you do not have a specific skill to drive traffic already and you’re just starting to learn, I advise you to start with Pinterest. It is a visual search engine and optimizing your content for Pinterest is much easier than say, optimizing for Google. It is also easier to start building momentum with Pinterest than, say, Facebook or Instagram, if you do not already understand those platforms really well.
An Email List of Engaged Subscribers
You know something cool? Let’s say that I’m at a bind and need a couple of hundred bucks pronto. All I have to do is send an email to my list of subscribers, offer a discount on one of my products, and I’ll make that money in just a few hours. Don’t believe me? Read this blog post about how I made over 200 from my email list, in under 6 hours!
An email list is a blogger’s best friend. Whether you make money with affiliate marketing, or by selling your own courses and products, or by offering services, your subscribers are your biggest fans and they’ll be the first ones to invest in you! Do not neglect or put off building an email list. You should be doubling down on your email list from day-1 of your blog launch.
If you need some help getting started, I have a free email list building course; just sign up using the form below and you’ll be enrolled in the free email course.
How to Make Money Blogging
And now, let’s take a look at 10 different ways a blogger can make money. Ideally, I’d say that you should employ more than one of these methods to your own blog for making money. Diversifying income sources is how most bloggers and entrepreneurs, in general, make money.
That said, when you’re just starting out and you have limited time in hand, I would suggest you pick just one or two of these methods and do your best to set up a system to start making money with your chosen method(s), before you seek to diversify your income sources further.
1. Make Money Blogging with Affiliate Marketing
This is by far my favorite method for making money blogging. You can start implementing affiliate marketing into your content marketing funnel from day-1.
By the way, “content marketing funnel” is just a fancy term for blogging with intention. Every blog post is a part of the bigger system that I mentioned earlier in this post. Your system works to achieve certain goals. For example, one of your blogging goals could be making $1000 per month by selling a certain affiliate product. To achieve this goal, let’s say you decide to write three blog posts. Each of these posts is now part of a system to make $1000 per month.
To further illustrate this, let’s look at an example from this very blog — The Side Blogger. One of my affiliate merchants is SiteGround website hosting company [affiliate]. In order to sell SiteGround hosting to new bloggers who’re just starting out, I have a few blog posts. One of them is a how-to guide that illustrates how someone can set up their WordPress blog on SiteGround for the first time. Another blog post in this SiteGround-Sales-Strategy is why I chose SiteGround as my preferred hosting company in the first place. Yet another blog post is how you can make your WordPress blog faster with SiteGround hosting.
The end-goal for all three posts is the same — sell more SiteGround hosting packages. And I have been doing this since the very first month I launched this blog.
For example, here’s a portion of my SiteGround affiliate sales report:
The best part about affiliate marketing is that you’re not creating these products yourself! All you really have to do is promote it in a way that makes your readers want to purchase the item you’re promoting. And because you do not have to create the product itself, you are not responsible for maintaining the product quality (you just need to make sure the product is still useful and good while you’re promoting it), or deal with customer support. Really, all you have to do is promote the product.
And to remain authentic and trustworthy, I suggest you choose your affiliate products carefully. Choose products that you believe in and you know for sure will improve your readers’ quality of life. It’s always better to promote one product you believe in than to sign up for a bunch of random affiliate products and try to promote them without knowing what you’re promoting or why your readers need them.
For example, just a couple of weeks ago, a certain big-name hosting company reached out to me. They wanted me to promote their services concurrently with SiteGround. I declined even though the money would have been great! First of all, I love SiteGround and in fact, host this very blog with them. So, why would I sign up to promote another company when I have, in the past, convinced people to NOT sign up with them because I didn’t like their services?
Also, trust me, you’ll have an easier time selling 10 of the same product you believe in than try and sell 20 different products that may or may not have any real impact on your readers’ life and needs.
To make money selling affiliate products (or by any other money-making strategies, really), it’s best to first set a target. Having a goal will prompt you to take specific actions. For example, if you want to make $1,000 selling a certain product every month, figure out how many of the product you have to sell to reach your target amount.
Let’s say that you have an affiliate product that pays $20 per successful sale. Then you’ll have to sell 50 of this product per month. On the other hand, if you have a high-ticket affiliate product that pays you $100 per sale, then you need only to sell 10 of these products per month.
This shows you how important it is to vet your merchants. As a new blogger, you may have a hard time selling 50 of a certain product. But if you choose the right product that has high demand and pays well, you may be able to sell 10 of that product easily! Knowing how many you will have to sell will help you create evergreen blog posts that you can promote year-round.
[Learn more about how to make money blogging with affiliate marketing.]
2. Make Money Blogging by Selling E-Courses
I’ll be honest with you, after creating two courses recently, I know for sure this is a LOT OF WORK. Creating a course takes time and effort, and sometimes money too!
However, once you have created a course, if it’s an evergreen topic, you can continue to sell it for months and years to come. And because it is your own product, you have complete authority and control over the quality of the product (third party products have a risk factor, because they can change any time. Someone may buy off a company, or a company may go bankrupt or simply decide to shut down. Their services can change and so can the quality of their product or service. You won’t need to worry about that when the product is your own.) Creating your own product is by far the best way to sustain your blog’s success and have some form of stability.
E-Courses are also great for establishing authority. The teacher knows best, yeah? It creates trust between yourself and your readers, and that allows for even more sales as time goes on.
The catch is, of course, the quality of your course. However, if you know what you’re talking about and you really have a grasp on the subject matter, then teaching an e-course can be a very lucrative form of passive income source for you and your blog.
For example, blogger, copywriter, and novelist C.S. Lakin of Live Write Thrive has a thriving business alongside her blog, selling courses and workshops on fiction writing + making a living as a writer.
Just like selling affiliate products, you should also set a goal for how many of the courses you wish to sell. This will help you figure out the correct marketing strategy. Some people sell courses only once or twice a year. They make a ton of money in one go, and then the rest of the year (or the months between each launch) they focus on supporting their latest pool of students.
Others, like myself, have an evergreen sales funnel that brings in fewer students, but it’s more consistent.
Depending on your special needs and the format of your course, you may choose one method over the other, but do keep in mind that your marketing tactics will need to reflect your system for maximum conversion.
3. Make Money Blogging by Selling Digital Products
Aside from e-courses, you can also sell digital products in your blog. Things like eBooks, templates, printables, etc. eBooks are like courses, but without the ongoing maintenance. You can offer eBooks (and other types of digital products) year-round on your blog. If you have a self-hosted WordPress blog, you can easily set up WooCommerce and start selling digital products right away! Sometimes people also sell eBooks on Amazon, or they choose to self-publish an actual, physical book.
I have a blog shop where I sell Canva templates that are useful for bloggers. Templates such as media kits, eBook templates, workbooks, Social Media graphics, etc., templates that I know for sure bloggers will benefit from. Every blogger will need some or all of these products at some point in their blogging journey, and not everyone is design-savvy, nor do they have the money to hire designers to create bespoke products.
So, I know that some of my readers will benefit from having the option to buy a template made with Canva — an online graphic design platform that is super easy to use — and then customize it to give it a more unique and branded look.
You may do something similar. You can ask yourself what kind of digital products your readers will benefit from the most. Maybe you want to teach something to your readers but you do not quite have the time to create an online course yet. So, an eBook may be a great product to create and sell in the meantime.
Or maybe you have readers who would benefit from other things. To give you an example, if you’re a personal finance blogger, and you know that your readers will benefit from having a yearly budgeting template, perhaps you could create one and sell it!
Yo have the option to create these templates or printables on your own, or you can hire a designer to make these for you (make sure to white label them) and then sell them on your blog.
4. Make Money Blogging by Offering Coaching/Counseling Services over Phone
Let’s say you’re a nutritionist with a private practice.
You could totally blog about health and nutrition and sell your coaching or counseling services through content marketing.
The way content marketing works is that you blog about a topic to establish your authority. And when your readers start to trust you and your knowledge on a certain matter, they’ll be more willing to buy from you. Whether that’s a course, or an eBook, or your services, you can always use blogging to promote whatever it is you’re trying to sell.
To give you an example, let’s say you’re a therapist and you blog about mental health. You could easily leverage your blogging to sign more clients, and you could do that via phone or Skype or Zoom etc. Or, if you’re a personal finance blogger, maybe you can help your readers with their monthly budgeting! Why not offer a phone session and make some money by helping your readers with your expertise? Let’s say you offer an hour-long session for $99. If you can secure 5 sessions per week, that’s around 2K per month!
One real-life example is Maria Killam, an interior/exterior designer and blogger, who pretty much has championed the many ways a blogger makes money, including remote consultation via phone and other methods.
5. Make Money Blogging as a Freelancer
Similar to offering coaching services over the phone, you could also sell your freelancing services. Maybe you’re a graphic or web designer. You could blog about that to build authority and start selling your design services as a freelancer. I know quite a few bloggers who make money blogging by selling their design or copywriting or editing packages. If you have a skill, your blog can definitely help you monetize that skill and bring in customers and clients.
Going back to C.S. Lakin, she offers her editing and copywriting services along with selling e-courses on her blog.
6. Make Money Blogging through Membership Benefits
You see, memberships are great because it gives you an opportunity to earn recurring income with your blog. No matter what your niche is, you can always find a way to provide gated content to your readers by implementing a members-only area in your blog.
Let’s say you’re a fitness blogger. You could create a member-only area for your subscribers where you provide content for your members only! Maybe you create three new videos every week showing a certain type of fitness routine that only your members get to enjoy.
Or perhaps you’re a photographer. You can create a members-only area where you offer 10 new photos every week to your members that they can use as they please; on their blog or on their social media, for example.
You could also create an online course, and instead of selling at a one-time price, you could offer it on a subscription basis. For example, a blogger, podcaster, and creative, Sean McCabe of Seanwes has a membership area where he offers access to various online courses that he’s created for a monthly membership fee.
7. Make Money Blogging with Sponsored Blog Posts
A great way to make money blogging is by posting sponsored blog posts.
Sometimes you’ll have companies and brands who’d pay you to write a blog post. They may want something like a review, or they may want something written in your usual style (whatever that may be) but incorporate their products in some way.
Often you’ll see food bloggers share a recipe where they have used a certain ingredient/product by a company in their recipe. While it is not a “review” the post is still promoting the product, and the blogger will make money from it.
One of my favorite blogs, A Beautiful Mess, works with a ton of brands. They never post direct reviews, but they write all kinds of DIY or recipe posts that promote certain products. They also host giveaways sponsored by brands and companies, and my understanding is that there’s a lot of money in that! Like… a LOT! The bigger the brand you work with, the more money you get.
How much money you make also depends on the reach of your blog. If you’re a newer blogger with few visitors, you’ll make a lot less than say a blog that gets hundreds of thousands of hits every month. But that’s OK. You can always start small, and as you grow, your income will also grow.
Be aware of companies who want you to write a review post in exchange for being an affiliate for them. If you think their product is a good fit for your blog’s audience, and if you think you will be able to sell a lot of their products, then sure, maybe it’s worth it. But if the product isn’t a good fit, then you’ll just be wasting time. Personally, I do not advise you to write reviews of a product you barely know anything about in exchange for being an affiliate.
But, if it IS a good fit, then sure, go ahead!
8. Make Money Blogging with Events
Often you will see bloggers hosting meetups and events. A blogger on Medium called Tom Kuegler once made quite a lot by hosting a virtual blog summit. Basically, a bunch of successful bloggers gave talks and people were able to sign in virtually and listen to these talks/lectures.
He went one step further and compiled these lectures into an online course! That was really smart!
You can do this locally too. Maybe create an event or a Meetup and charge people for attendance. You can set up a Wordshop in your niche, and charge people for attending that workshop.
You can go a step further and record the session, and then offer the recorded session to your blog readers for a fixed price.
You can also make money by speaking at other people’s events. A blog can help you get these gigs as a blog is usually a sign of authority. That’s what a blog does. It creates authority and credibility. And when you have those, you will find that a lot of people will want to hear from you.
9. Make Money Blogging with Ads
Not my favorite way to make money, but it is quite popular in the blogging world. Often, the first thing people do to make money blogging is by signing up for various Ad networks, Google Adsense being the most common of them.
I do not like ads because it is a number game. You will need a LOT of traffic on your site, and even then, the money you make simply isn’t enough. I also tend to find blogs with lots of ads a bit cheap. But hey, if you want it, go for it.
Another form of ads that I actually don’t mind much is direct ads. Essentially, a company will pay you to put a small ad on your blog, and they will likely pay you a fixed price. Let’s say you sell three ads inside your blog’s sidebar. You could charge them by month, say for a whole month, you will have an ad on your sidebar, and you will charge $1000 for the ad space. Those are more straight forward and doesn’t seem cheap like other ads that are automatically placed by ad networks.
10. Make Money Blogging By Selling Blogs
Yep, it’s a thing! It’s called blog flipping. Basically, you buy a new/not well-performing blog and then flip it. You add regular content, create an income stream, and just when the blog starts to get traction, and traffic, and starts to make money, you sell it for a much higher price.
You can do so with a brand new blog too! Buy a domain and hosting yourself, start a blog, quickly convert it to something lucrative, and then sell it!
You can buy or sell blogs at various sites; one that is quite famous within the blog flippers is Flippa.
Some people make a lot of money by blog flipping full time.
Do keep in mind that no matter how you choose to make money blogging, you will need to put in a lot of work first to build authority and credibility. You will need to publish a lot of blog posts, drive traffic, and build an email list of loyal subscribers who will support you, motivate you, and will, essentially, be the first ones to buy from you!
Do not expect to just set up a blog and start making money. It will take time. So, I advise that you learn to enjoy the act of blogging. If you’re blogging solely to make money, then you’ll find it a lot harder to keep at it and doing the kind of work that it takes to build a successful, money-making blog.
FAQ about How to Make Money Blogging
Before I wrap things up, let’s take a look at some of the basic questions people have about making money with their blog.
Can you make money with your blog?
But let’s not pretend that you can flick an imaginary wand and money will start pouring in. Blogging takes work just like any other business. So, the answer to this question is, yes, as long as you are willing to learn, be patient, be persistent, willing to make mistakes and learn from them, and then keep at it constantly, there is a very good chance that you will be able t make money from your blog.
How soon can you start making money from your blog?
That depends on a variety of factors such as:
- How long can you spend on growing your blog per week?
- How familiar are you with different monetization methods and ways to build your email list?
- How lucrative is your blog niche?
- How committed are you?
Based on how you answer these questions, you may start making some profit as early as in 3-6 months, or longer.
How much money can you make with your blog?
Let’s see. I’ve had my blog for just a little over a year, and I’m closing in on 1K per month. And that’s just blogging on the side, spending about 10-15 hours per week.
So, how much you can make is a relative question. The most accurate answer I can give you is this: there’s a lot of money in blogging. A LOT! But truth be told, most bloggers do not make any money at all, and you know why that is? Because they have impossible expectations. Most newbie bloggers think they will just buy a domain, set up WordPress, start writing, add a few affiliate links, and money will start pouring in.
Well, not so easy! Blogging is like any other business; you will need to work for it. It will take patience and perseverance, but if you stick around and continue to put in your best foot forward, the question “how much money you can make” becomes irrelevant. There is no minimum or maximum, nobody is putting a cap on your earning. The potentials are limitless.
Do you have to have an email list to start making money with your blog?
Some monetization methods may work even without an email list, but if you’re serious about making money with your blog, you will soon find yourself in need of some way to get in touch with your audience, so yes, you must have an email list and you should start growing one as soon as possible.
What are some of the ways that bloggers make money?
As outlined above in this post, there are 10 prominent ways to make a sizable income off of blogging. These are:
- Affiliate marketing
- Selling e-courses
- Selling digital or physical products
- Offering phone/online coaching
- Offering freelance services
- Creating paid membership benefits
- Sponsored posts
- Speaking or other events
- Selling ads
- Blog flipping
How do you start a blog for cheap?
I’ll give the number.
Domain from NameCheap: ~ $8 – $12 annually
SiteGround Hosting (GrowBig Plan): ~ $72 annually for first-time customers
ConvertKit for email list building: $29 per month for 0-1000 subscribers (You get the first month free wth my affiliate link)
That comes down to a total of $80 – $84 to start off, and then $29 per month for email marketing with ConvertKit. These are my recommended investments for a beginner, serious, and committed blogger.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’re a serious and committed blogger material, and you don’t want to make the investment right off the bat, I suggest trying out Medium to start off. Commit to writing two posts per week on Medium and see if you like writing. Once you are certain that you have what it takes to stay patient and be persistent about creating a successful blog, you can then go ahead and make the recommended investments, and start a blog on a self-hosted WordPress platform with the recommended investments.
So, now that you have a better idea of all the different ways that you can make money from your blog, which one(s) will you apply? Also, if you have a question or comment, share with me below!