Blogging for Money is Possible
[toc]The Internet is filled with countless blogs. Some have a readership countable on a single hand. Others receive millions of unique views every month. Many of these blogs make money as they post, which seems like something of a dream job for those of us who prefer a self-reliant Internet lifestyle. Blogging for money is possible, but it takes a decent amount of planning, research and effort. To find out how, let’s start with the basics.
1. Setting up a Blog
When you’re thinking about blogging for money, you need to know how to set up a blog. Mechanically, setting up a blog is simple. You need web hosting, which can be bought easily for just a handful of dollars a month. You don’t necessarily need a specific business host, but you should be mindful of uptime and bandwidth considerations. Bandwidth is important because if your posts go viral, you may see a spike in traffic. If you’re paying per megabyte and you get gigabytes of traffic beyond your cap, your monthly bill can wipe out your yearly profits.
You need a catchy, memorable domain name. This domain name should correspond to your niche in some way. You won’t find a ski blog with a URL like www.summerfuntimes.com. You want a catchy name for your blog that is reflected in the URL. You need people to be able to remember and find your blog based on the title.
Your niche is the most important part. Finding a niche where you can provide knowledgeable, provocative, insightful and valuable content is what drives traffic. You might blog about soft drinks. You might blog about gardening. The niche you choose needs to be something you are knowledgeable and passionate about. It should also have very little competition, unless you plan to become part of a network of industry blogs that share guest posters.
Your blogging software is important too. Many blogs start with WordPress and stick with the platform forever. Some start with Blogger or another platform, and switch when they grow unsatisfied. Some even use custom scripts and a self-developed website. When you’re first starting out, you’ll probably want to go with WordPress. It isn’t the simplest blogging platform available, but it is pretty easy to use and it has a wide range of customizable options, including an almost infinite variety of plugins. Of course, because WordPress is so popular, you will need to make sure you keep your security up to date, or you risk malware infections and hacker attacks.
credit photo: It’s life Jim….
2. Making Money with your Blog
Option 1: Adsense
Google’s Adsense program is a quick and easy way to add safe, effective advertisements to your blog. You earn some revenue for each ad view, a slightly higher amount for each ad click, and earn more through several other channels. For example, if you post videos, allowing Google to throw in commercials is another avenue of earnings. Nearly everyone blogging for money has an Adsense installation. The downside to Adsense, of course, is the existence of ad blockers. If your users don’t see your ads, they can’t click them to earn you cash.
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Option 2: Affiliate Marketing
An affiliate ad program or ad network will likely earn you more cash with each transaction than Adsense, but it’s less reliable. The most common affiliate ad program is the Amazon program. If you write a ski blog and you post about ski equipment, you can link to the products you mention on Amazon with your affiliate link. If any of your readers purchase the item, you earn a percentage of their payment. Affiliate ad networks are similar, but they handle everything for you, simply displaying ads of their own. When a user purchases through one of those links, you earn some and the ad provider earns some.
Option 3: Manual Ad Sales
If Adsense isn’t doing it for you, you can rent out your ad space to third parties on your own. You have direct control over what ads show up on your site, and you have control over how much each ad space costs. However, you need a significant enough readership for people to want to buy your ad space, so this isn’t a great option for starting blogs.
Option 4: Sponsored Posts
There are people who want to advertise their own blogs. These people will offer to pay you to post a blog entry they wrote. This sponsored post will include links to their site and, potentially, their own affiliate links. This is a good way to add content to your blog and to earn some cash. Just remember to follow Google’s rules for sponsored posts — found in their Webmaster Guidelines — so you aren’t affected negatively in SEO terms.
Conversely, you can sell your own guest posts. This helps you bring in traffic and helps larger blogs network to fill their own content queues.
Option 5: Sell Merchandise
You can write and sell an Ebook. You can sell buttons, stickers, coffee mugs or anything else you want branded with your logo. Selling products isn’t quite blogging for money, but it is a logical next step once your blog is up and running successfully.
“Making money from blogging requires you to do only two things: drive a lot traffic, then maximize the income from that traffic.”-John Chow
3. How Many Blogs Should You Run?
There are two philosophies when it comes to blogging. The first is to create one blog and dedicate yourself to it. You will spend all of your time developing content and products for this one blog. You will emphasize SEO and high quality content so you can build readers. You will do everything you can to monetize it tastefully to earn as much as you can. Over time, your blog will become an Internet powerhouse and industry leader. Successful blogs of this type become well-known names, referenced on other blogs and linked to as authorities in their niche. One powerful blog can make you quite a bit of money on a monthly basis.
The other philosophy is to work on as many blogs as you can. It takes a lot of time and effort to become an industry leader. After a certain point, there are diminishing returns on your effort. If you balance how much effort you put into promoting a blog with how much you put into making new ones, you can monetize dozens of blogs at a time. Instead of focusing on becoming the number one reference in a niche, you focus on becoming the number three site in 40 different niches.
Each philosophy has advantages and disadvantages. Say that one popular blog earns you $1,000 a month — a conservative estimate for some niches. It becomes a full-time job maintaining this niche and popularity level. If you instead divide your time over 40 different blogs, none of them will reach $1,000 status. If each one earns you $100 a month, however, 40 blogs will earn you $4,000 a month. Focusing on one blog may be less confusing, however, as managing 40 different logins, URLs and niches can be distracting and time-consuming.
Generally, which route you choose depends on your philosophy. If you’re blogging for money because you have a passion about a particular topic, you will probably drive that passion into your niche and set up one powerful blog. On the other hand, if you’re blogging for money simply to make as much cash as you can, you’ll probably want to run an extended blog network. Either way, beginners should start with a single blog and work their way up from there.
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4. How to run a Successful Blog
Being honest is critical when you’re blogging for money. You may be making your decisions in order to maximize your profits, but you don’t want to compromise on your scruples. If you act like a sleazy profiteer online, you will be alienated by other bloggers and you will drive away your readership. This means you don’t lie to your readers. You don’t register an alternate account to comment on your own posts or promote them off-site. You don’t pose as someone else in order to benefit yourself. If you mess up and lose user data or something, you don’t lie about it and hide it either. Own up to your mistakes, take pride in your accomplishments and remain honest.
This is somewhat covered in your niche, above. Your blog needs to provide unique content. If everything you post comes from a more well known source, people will quickly realize that you have nothing new to offer to the industry. You might gain a small following of people alienated by the larger blog, but you won’t be able to compete. You need a unique niche, and you need unique content to fill that niche.
This is where your personal passion for the subject comes into play. The more you know about your niche and the more fun you have with it, the more it will come through in your content. You’ll be able to provide your own unique insights, anecdotes and experiences, all of which draw users to your blog. Uniqueness, more than anything else, is what sets the best blogs apart from the rest.
Part of this ties in with honesty. You want to be a friendly and knowledgeable blogger. Part of a successful blog today is social media, which you will probably take part in. This means your blog will have a public profile on Facebook and Google+. This is of SEO benefit, of course, but it is also important from a public relations standpoint. People will comment on your blog and your social media pages. You should respond to the comments, strike up conversations, never argue and generally handle your interactions in a friendly manner. This makes people fonder of you as an author and more likely to trust your content. In turn, this means you’ll gain a larger, more dedicated following.
Again, this ties in with honesty. Some blogs, especially those with custom blogging software, allow users to register accounts to post comments. This comes with the risk of losing their personal information in a hacker attack or malware infection. If this happens, or if anything else negative happens, own up to it. You don’t want to be caught in a lie; it ruins your public persona. Once again, it can lead to professional alienation and a loss of readership.
This extends to advertisements, affiliate links and other monetizing schemes as well. If you’re linking to products on Amazon, be sure to mention it’s your affiliate link. If you want users to click your ads, ask them politely to disable ad blockers so they can help you keep your blog running.
5: Good Content
Good content is the best SEO. You may be tempted to use various SEO schemes to get your site ranked quickly, but many of them don’t work in the long term. Google, which is basically in charge of the SEO industry, promotes good content. If you constantly provide high quality content in your niche, the SEO will virtually take care of itself. That’s not to say you can’t benefit from a little keyword optimization and link networking, of course. It simply means that your top priority should be high quality content.
The key is to provide value to your users. If they like what they read, they will come back to read more. If you’re writing for the search engine, it shows.
6: Constant Content
You won’t attract and retain readers if you post once a month. You need a constant stream of high quality content for your blog. This means you need to be writing new posts for it constantly. For some niches, this means a vigilant eye on the news. For others, it means a constant stream of anecdotes and personal insights. Either way, it’s best to write a post as soon as you have something to say. You can always save a post for publication later in the week or month. Posting once a day each weekday is a good starting point. You can take weekends off without issue, and you have room to improve via posting more than once a day.
If you find yourself unable to produce as much content as you need, you have options. You can put out a call for guest posts. You can buy posts or seek out paid sponsor posts. You can also outsource some of your content writing to various freelancers. The course you choose is up to you and your style of blogging.
No matter what, when you’re blogging for money, you need two things. You need a passion for your niche and you need to consider your readers first. Write for your readers! Write what they want to read. If you do that, you’re sure to build a dedicated following that snowballs into something beyond your expectations.
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I recommend you see this video about How to make money from your website. Enjoy!
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