The Internet is many things. Some call it the information superhighway. For others, it’s a huge social network. Still others see it as a playground with thousands of forms of entertainment. For some, though, the Internet is one huge, wide-open market where anyone with a good idea can earn an income. For them, it’s not so much that you have to learn how to make money on the internet, rather it’s a matter of figuring out how to tap into this vast market and watch the geyser of money start flowing. Often, their first attempt at earning income on the internet include writing a blog. They figure that all they have to do is register an account with a free blogging site, slap up a few articles, put some ads on the articles and the money will flow.
Of course, as the old saying goes, if it were that easy, everyone would be doing it. Like anything else, making money with blogging is a lot more complicated than just making a blog. There are millions of blogs out there floating around, and most of them never make any money. So how do you learn to cash in on the internet – particularly, how do you make money with blogging on the internet?
Here is how to make money from a blog:
1. Set up your blog
2. Start creating useful content
3. Start finding readers
4. Build engagement with the readers
5. Start making money from the readership you have through one or more of a variety of income streams
Sounds easy doesn’t it! On some levels the process is simple – but you need to know up front that there’s a lot to each step.
In order to make money blogging you’re going to need to have a blog. While this is pretty obvious it is also a stumbling block for many PreBloggers who come to the idea of blogging with little or no technical background. If that’s you – don’t worry! This happens to most bloggers who start out feeling a little overwhelmed by the process of starting their own blog. Do you want to start a blog? If so – you’re in the right place.
This article will walk you through the basics of how to start a blog, There are many reasons to start a blog, but the challenge that faces all aspiring bloggers is: how to start a blog? Follow these 5 easy steps?
There are a few simple steps that you will need to complete to start your blog:
To start a blog you’ll need to select a blogging platform – or a tool that helps you to get your content up onto the web.
There are many blogging platforms available but in my mind the choice is clear and simple. I would set up straight away on a WordPress.org site, and I highly recommend you do too.
WordPress is by far the most popular blogging platform and for good reason –
• It is free to use (although you do need to make a small investment in a domain and a server – more on that below)
• It is easy to set up
• It has been around for many years and is a robust and secure system (although you do need to keep it up-to-date to maintain security)
• It has a whole industry of tool providers, designers and developers around it that will help you to customise your blog in many ways. Keep in mind that WordPress offer two tools:
1. WordPress.com – where they host your blog, look after the back end, and give you access to have it on their own domain. It’s free to start but, you pay to upgrade different elements of it.
2. WordPress.org – where you have complete control and host the blog on your own server, your own domain and have complete control over how it looks, operates and how you can monetise it. It is completely free to use but you need to arrange your own hosting, domain etc.
WordPress.com is easier to set up and means you don’t need to keep upgrading versions of WordPress but it gives you less control over your design, how you monetise and what features you can add. WordPress.com is free to start with but depending upon what upgrades you want to get it can end up being just as expensive as WordPress.org.
My recommendation is to go with WordPress.org – you’ll have a little more work in the setting up phase but in the long run you’ll have full control over the look, feel, features and monetization of your site. It could end up cheaper for you too!
I know some of you are probably searching for advice on how to start a blog for free and so my advice to invest a little in a WordPress.org blog might not be exactly what you’re looking to hear because there are some small costs associated with it – but you’ll be better off in the long run.
I recommend using GoDaddy for getting both your domain and hosting set up.
Choose a Domain
For the next step of starting your blog you’ll need a domain name (your blog’s address) so that you have a home for your blog online. This domain name is www.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx– every blog needs its own domain, so it can be easier said than done to find one that isn’t taken! When considering a domain name, consider:
• The Human perspective – readability of your domain, the ease of it to say and remember, etc
• The Brand perspective – uniqueness, what the domain says about you
• The SEO perspective – choosing a domain with good keywords can help your site rank higher in Google
• The Legal perspective – copyright and trademark factors
Depending upon where you get your domain and which domain you choose, a domain isn’t a super-expensive thing to secure – but it will cost you at least a few dollars a year.
If you’ve gone with xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx as your domain and hosting provider, installing WordPress is super simple. In fact xxxxxxxxxxx have created a simple video to show you exactly how to do it: If you have any trouble during this process, they have a live chat support system which enables you to ask questions of their support team. Once you’ve completed this process, you now have a WordPress blog installed! You started a blog! Congratulations – you’re almost there!
If this is your first experience of WordPress you might be looking at the dashboard and wondering what you’ve done by installing it – it feels overwhelming doesn’t it!
Don’t worry – you’ll pick this up in no time and just need a good walk through!
Configuring your blog
Luckily the team at xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx have put together a series of videos to help
Here’s a good video that introduces you to what you’re looking at on your WordPress dashboard.
And here is another on creating categories and tags for your blog:
One of the most powerful things in WordPress is that it allows you to install and use plugins to get extra functionality on your blog. You might want to save this one to watch later but it will help with making your blog more feature rich.
Designing your blog
Another thing you’ll want to do now is to think about your blog’s design. First impressions count for a lot so you’ll want one that says something about the type of brand you’re trying to create and that helps you stand out in the crowded blogosphere.
While there are many thousands of free themes out there, this is an area that it can be well worth investing in.
OK – hopefully by now you’ve got your domain, hosting, have installed WordPress and have your theme installed. You have started a blog… but you’re not a blogger until you start creating some content for your blog!
There are two types of content that you are able to create for your blog in WordPress – ‘Pages’ and ‘Posts’.
Pages are the ‘static’ pages on your blog that won’t really change that much but which you’ll link to from your menus and navigation areas on your blog. Your first page should probably be an ‘About Page’ – a page which tells people about you and your blog. It’s a page you’ll want to show up in your navigation area/menu and is going to get quite a few people read it to understand what you’re about as a blogger.
Posts are a little different and what you’ll spend most of your time creating as a blogger – they’re where you create your regular blog posts. Posts will appear on the front page of your blog once they’re published. They usually have comments and a date to show readers when it was published. Next it is time to write your first blog post. Once again the content is going to vary a lot from blog to blog but how you get that post up onto your blog is a relatively simple process and one that you’re going to become a master at in no time!
A blog is not a blog without content so once you’ve set your blog up you need to focus your attention upon creating useful content. What you choose to create will depend a little on the topic that you choose to write about (on that note, most successful bloggers have some focus to their blogging whether that be a niche or a demographic that they write for).
The key with creating content is to make it as useful as possible. Focus upon creating content that changes people’s lives in some way will be the type of content that people will value the most and it will help people to feel like they know, like and trust you – which is really important if you later want to make money from your blog.
• How to Craft a Blog Post – 10 Crucial Points to Pause
• How to Create Blog Posts that People Remember
• The 4 Pillars of Writing Exceptional Blogs
• How to Come Up With Fresh Ideas to Write About On Your Blog
• 11 Quick Tips for Writing Compelling Blog Posts
• How Often Should You Blog? (Hint: The Answer Might Surprise You)
• 21 Ways to Write Posts that Are Guaranteed to Grow Your Blog
• 10 Ways to Switch Your Brain to Writing Mode When Working From Home
As you create the most useful content that you possibly can. It is easy to get very insular with your focus and spend most of your time looking at building your blog. Many bloggers have a ‘build it and they will come mentality’ with their blogging but this is a bit of a trap.
If you want to make money from your blog you need to not only focus upon building a great blog but it is also necessary to get off your blog and to start promoting it. Start by thinking carefully about the type of reader you’d like to have read your blog. You might like to create an avatar of that reader (sometimes called a reader persona or profile) to help you work out who you’re trying to attract.
Once you know who you’re hoping to have read your blog ask yourself where that type of person might already be gathering online. Begin to list where they might be gathering:
• Are they reading certain blogs? List the top 3
• Are they participating in certain forums? List the top 3
• Are they listening to podcasts? List the top 3
• Are they engaging on certain social networks? List the top 3
• Which accounts are they following on each of these social networks? List the top 3
Each of these places that your reader might already be gathering has opportunities to develop a presence whether that be by leaving good comments, offering to create guest posts or simply by being helpful and answering questions.
With this list of blogs, focus, podcasts, social media accounts in hand you will have some good spots to begin to hang out and create value.
The key is to build a presence, to add value, to foster relationships – not to engage in spammy practices.
Further Reading/Listening on the topic of Finding Readers for your Blog:
Here are a few other links to check out on the topic:
• 5 Mistakes Bloggers Make with SEO and What To Do About Them
• Here’s How My 2 Blogs Grew
• How to Socialize Your Posts for Maximum Effect
• How to Promote Yourself Without Coming Across as a Jerk
• 11 Ways I Diversified Traffic Sources for My Blogs to Become Less Reliant Upon Google [With a Surprising Twist]
• Grow Traffic to Your Blog Through Guest Posting and Creating Content for Other Blogs, Forums, Media and Events
• 2 Types of Content that Help You to Find Readers for Your Blog
With sustained focus upon creating great content and finding readers for your blog you’ll begin to notice people visiting your blog and engaging with your content. At this point you need to switch your focus to engaging with those readers and building community.
Respond to comments, reach out to those readers personally and do everything that you can to keep them coming back again and again by building a ‘sticky blog’. Look after the readers you already have well and you’ll find they spread the word of your blog for you and help make your blog even more widely read.
Having an engaged reader is also much easier to make money from.
Further Reading on deepening reader engagement on your blog:
o 7 Strategies for Growing Community on Your Blog
o 11 Quick Tips to Get More Comments on Your Blog
o Why You Should Make Building Community a Priority in Your Blogging
OK – the first four steps of starting a blog, creating content, finding readers and building engagement with those readers are important foundations that you really do need to get in place before you’ll be able to build long term income for your blog.
There’s no avoiding that what we’ve covered is a lot of work but if you do it well you’ll be setting yourself up well and giving yourself every chance of being able to make money from your blog.
With these foundations in place you’re now ready to start attempting to make money from your blog but you do need to be aware that just because you have set up your blog, have content and have engaged readers that the money won’t just automatically flow.
It takes continued work and experimentation to make money from your blog.
I’ve written many articles here on ProBlogger on the topic of making money blogging and will link to some suggested further reading on the topic below but let me share a few introductory words on the topic first.
There are Many Ways to Make Money Blogging
One of the biggest misconceptions that I see bloggers having about monetising blogs is that they have to do it in one of a handful of ways. The reality is that there are many ways to make money from blogs.
As you’ll see there are quite a few options that bloggers have to derive income from their blogs.
Don’t worry though – while this map is quite overwhelming at a first glance there are a few main ‘clusters’ of income streams that you might want to focus upon rather than all the specific ones.
This is where many bloggers start. In many ways this model of making money from blogs is not dissimilar to how a magazine or newspaper sells ads. As your traffic and brand grows you’ll find advertisers will be willing to pay to get exposure to your audience.
While you need decent traffic to do a direct deal with an advertisers there are ad networks (like Google AdSense) that act as a middleman and enable smaller publishers to run ads on their blogs.
To put it most simply – affiliate income is when you link to a product that is for sale on another site (take Amazon for example) and if someone follows your link and ends up buying that product you earn a commission on that sale.
There’s more to it than that but this is another great place to start with monetising your blog as affiliate programs are easy to sign up for and if you have an engaged audience you will find they follow the recommendations that you make on products.
Further reading on affiliate income:
• The Ultimate Guide to Making Money with the Amazon Affiliate Program
• 10 Popular Affiliate Programs for Small and Medium Sized Blogs
While not something most bloggers do I have noticed an increase in the number of bloggers making money by running events.
These range from big conferences and events hosts thousands of people every year right down to smaller meet-ups where money is made either through charging readers to attend or by finding a sponsor for the event.
Alternatively online events or summits are getting more popular.
Another growing category of income that I’m seeing more and more bloggers are experimenting is recurring income streams (sometimes called continuity programs or membership programs).
This is where readers pay a regular recurring amount (usually on a monthly or annual basis) for access to either premium content, a community area, some kind of service, tools, coaching (or some combination of these things).
Many brick and mortar businesses indirectly make money from their blogs by using their blogs to grow their profile and direct readers to their business.
A common way that many bloggers make money is through offering services to their readers. These might be anything from coaching and consulting, to writing or copywriting, to design, training or other freelance services.
Selling eBooks and courses on blogs. These ‘virtual products’ take work to create but can lucrative.
Products can of course take many forms and income virtual information products like eBooks or courses but also other virtual products like software, reports etc.
The other type of product some bloggers sell is physical products. This is most common when the blogger has a business but sometimes bloggers also create merchandise (T-shirts etc) or other physical products to sell.
Other Income Streams
There are of course other forms of income that bloggers experiment with. Some include asking for donations, syndicating content to other sites and lastly selling their blogs.
Multiple Income Streams
Most full time bloggers make money more than one way and end up with multiple income streams. Diversifying your income in this way not only is smart and helps you spread the risk from having all your eggs in one basket but it also speeds up the journey to going full time. This won’t happen overnight though –
Direct or Indirect Income?
One last little distinction in terms of income streams…. Some bloggers make money directly ‘from’ their blog while others make money indirectly ‘because’ of their blog.
Direct Income –Put AdSense ads onto your blog and promote some products on Amazon as an affiliate and the more readers you have the more income you’ll get to trickle in. As traffic grows this income will grow and then experiment with other direct forms of income such as selling advertising directly to advertisers.
Indirect Income –As your blogs and profile grow as a result of your blogging sell your services as a speaker and consultant, maybe wrote a book?