So you’ve got a passion for writing and you want to use it to make money through blogging. It might seem like an impossible dream, but plenty of people run profitable blogs and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be one of them.
Of course, you have to be realistic about things. Very few people are actually able to make a full-time living from their blog, so don’t quit the day job just yet. But if you’re looking to supplement your existing income and you enjoy writing, then blogging could be perfect for you. And who knows? You might get lucky and become one of the people who make a substantial income from their blog.
If you’ve never blogged before, one of the most intimidating parts of getting started is deciding which blogging platform to use. With so many options available, it can feel like you’re taking a leap into the unknown. However, there are two basic pieces of advice which, if followed, will take the worry out of picking a blogging platform.
The first is that if you want to launch a blog that makes money, then don’t use a free blogging platform. Although it is technically possible to run a profitable on a free platform such as Blogger, you’ll find your opportunities to make revenue are restricted. (You won’t be able to run adverts on your blog, for example.)
You’ll also be running the risk of your blog disappearing if the company you’ve chosen to use decides to shut up shop, as happened with Posterous.
So what should you do instead? Well, the second piece of advice is to use WordPress.org. WordPress.org (we’ll just call it WordPress from now on) is a piece of software which, when uploaded to a web hosting package, can be used to build a blog. Now that might sound confusing, but it’s actually a really simple process. In fact, if you choose WordPress hosting from 123 Reg, you’ll be ready to go in a matter of minutes. You can learn more about WordPress hosting here.
Why do we recommend WordPress? Well, it’s simple to get started with it, but you can make an almost infinite number of changes, meaning you can create a blog that looks exactly how you want it to look and does exactly what you want it to do.
Researching your audience
Another thing to consider before you start blogging is the audience you’ll be writing for. Essentially, you want to build up a good idea of the kind of visitor you want to attract to you blog before you’ve even written your first post.
By doing this, you’ll have a good idea of what topics you should be writing about because you’ll understand what potential visitors want to read about. In fact, this kind of research should help you pin down exactly the kind of blog you want to start.
Note that although these articles are business-focused, the same principles apply. Just think of your blog as a business and your readers as customers.
Remember, your overall aim should be to write content that resonates with whichever audience you’ve decided to target. If you don’t have a strong idea on what you want to write about, then this guide to picking your blog niche will help you decide.
Ways to monetise your blog
So how can you actually go about making money from your blog? The answer to that question depends on a number of factors including what your blog is about, what you’re good at and what you feel comfortable doing.
Below we’ve covered some of the most popular ways of generating revenue from a blog, along with the benefits and drawbacks of each particular method.
Joining an ad network and including adverts on your site is probably the easiest way to start earning money from your blog. Even blogs that generate revenue from other means are likely to have some adverts on them.
Getting ads on your site is easy. Simply sign up to an ad network such as Google Adsense and then add the appropriate code to your blog. If you’re using WordPress, there are plenty of plugins available to help you display Adsense ads on your site, making things even easier. One of the biggest advantages of Adsense is that you can tweak settings to ensure that only relevant ads are displayed on your site.
The biggest drawback of these kinds of ads is the small amount of money you receive for people clicking an ad. We’re talking pence here. That means you’re going to have to attract a 1000s of visitors to each post in order to make a decent income from your blog.
Affiliate marketing allows you to act as a middle man and get a cut of the money when one of your visitors buys a product or signs up for a service offered by a major company.
Essentially, when you sign up to an affiliate marketing scheme, you’ll be given a unique code. You can then use to code to track when people sign up to or buy from the major company you have affiliated with and get paid.
One of the biggest advantages of affiliate marketing is that there is a scheme for almost every blogging niche you can think of. Some companies such as Amazon run their own affiliate programme, while others use an affiliate network such as CJ to run things on their behalf.
You can usually find a suitable programme by searching on Google for things like “[Company/product name] affiliate programme”.
The drawbacks of affiliate marketing include the difficulties inherent in getting people to click through and sign up/buy a product. Some affiliate niches, such as online gambling, are also very competitive, meaning it’s hard to make an impact.
One of the drawbacks to affiliate marketing is that you have to get people to keep coming back to your site in order to get them to click links, so they can buy a product/sign up for a service and you can make money.
Building an email list helps mitigate that issue. The aim here is to get visitors to your blog to sign up for your email list so you can then contact them directly with affiliate offers.
The main drawback here is that you have to be clear about what you’ll be sending people when they sign up, otherwise you could end up breaking the law. And of course, there’s still no guarantee people will click on the links you send them.
If you’re not desperate to make cold, hard cash from your blog then product reviews are an alternative to be considered. Essentially, you’d be looking for companies to send you free things in exchange for you reviewing them on your blog.
For many, this sounds like a dream situation. But as always, you have to be realistic. The biggest freebies will be offered to the biggest bloggers, so unless you’ve built up a substantial following, you shouldn’t expect to get much at all.
You also need to be aware of various pitfalls relating to product reviews. There are issues relating to advertising regulations which you should be aware of, and you should also ensure that you don’t violate Google’s guidelines by including followed links in posts in exchange for a freebie from the company you’re linking to.
That said, if you’re blogging in a niche that interests you, product reviews can be an excellent way to make things worthwhile.
As the name suggests, sponsored posts entail you being paid for writing a post about a particular topic, or being paid to accept a guest post.
For a popular, high traffic blog, sponsored posts can be a big earner and they often involve little work.
However, you’re unlikely to secure sponsored posts for a blog that hasn’t yet established an audience. You should also be aware that running too many sponsored posts could undermine readers’ trust in you. There are also advertising guidelines to consider, so make sure any sponsored posts are clearly marked as such.
Sell your services
Blogging is a great way to build a reputation in a particular niche, so it can also provide you with a great foundation for launching your own business.
Obviously the key here is to write about the area in which you’ll be offering your services and then use your blog to build connections with people who are likely to become clients.
You’ll need to launch a business site, or convert your blog into a business site. But the versatility of WordPress should mean this isn’t a problem.
Launch a product
You can also use your blog as a springboard to launch your own product. This can be a bit trickier than launching a service, largely because the number of niches where it will work is so much smaller.
You’re probably only going to be able to do this if you’re working in an arts and crafts blogging niche. You could easily use the blog audience you’ve built up to launch a successful store using an online trading platform like Etsy. Or you could turn your blog into an ecommerce platform in its own right. You can read more about the pros and cons of these two options in this guide.
If you view your blog as something of value in and of its self, you can always ask for donations to help keep it running. The idea is to encourage people who enjoy your work to help fund it. This can be done either by a simple PayPal donate button, or via a service like Patreon. Patreon allows you ask people for money in the return for the promise of a certain number of blog posts per month.
This is a great way to monetise a blog that is focused on your own artistic endeavours.
Building an audience
The one thing the above monetisation tactics have in common is the need for a blog audience. Readers are the lifeblood of any blog and your biggest focus should be on reaching new readers and keeping your old ones.
There are several ways to do this. One of them is attracting the attention of influencers, something which you can learn about here. You can also build connections and mentions for your blog using this guide. On top of that, you should also ensure your blog is optimised for search engines, and that you’re using social media to help you attract readers.
Remember, no matter which monetisation method you choose, if your blog isn’t getting a steady stream of visitors, you aren’t going to make a profit.
Blogging can be profitable, but don’t expect things to take off overnight. You need to spend time and effort building up your reputation before you can start to generate a regular income from your work.
Any questions? Ask them via Twitter @123Reg or on Facebook and we’ll get back to you.