How to Make Money Blogging (in less than 3 months!)
If you're here, you might have started a blog and are wondering how to start earning some cold hard cash with your new blog. I've created multiple blogs... some have earned a decent amount and some have flopped, but I've definitely learned how to effectively make money blogging if you have the traffic to support it.
In this article, first I'm going to give you ways that people actually make money blogging... and then I'm going to teach you about creating passive income and ways to actually grow your blog.
Don't get discouraged if you aren't earning money from your blog in the first 3 months. For most established blogs, it took up to 2 years before they passed the $3,000 milestone and dropped their 9-5 job.
I'm confident if you study these monetization methods, learn basic SEO, and add value to your readers, you'll be able to do the same one day. My goal with this website is to add so much value to other blogger's lives that one day I hit the $1,000,000 per month mark. It's a stretch, but here's how I'm planning to achieve it:
Display advertisements are advertisements that are managed by a 3rd party companies who select relevant content to display on your blog as an ad. It usually just requires a blogger to copy/paste some code to set up.
Google Adsense is an advertising platform that many, many websites use. Small bloggers are shying away from them because of their low CPMs, but they are still reputable and work for larger companies. The minimum payout from Adsense is $100, so it might be a few months before getting your first check or deposit.
MediaVine is an advertising platform that many bloggers use specifically because of it's high CPM payouts: some bloggers earn over $20 per 1,000 pageviews. However, they ensure only websites with a minimum of 25,000 monthly sessions can join... meaning once you are approved, it's super easy to earn $300/month.
If you can hit 25,000 monthly sessions through Pinterest, apply for Mediavine ASAP because this will be the fastest way to earn some initial capital.
Yllix is a network that is quite simple, but works for lots of bloggers. They allow you to show sidebar ads, mobile redirects, and pop-under advertisements on your website to monetize it. If you're really needing some cash and don't have much traffic, I'd suggest checking them out.
Media.net is an advertising network that comes up an awful lot if you start searching for monetization methods for your blog. Tons of bloggers use this because it's reliable, innovative, and works. If Google owns Adsense, then Yahoo owns Media.net. It's also much easier to become approved through this service and payouts are quicker.
Selling Private Advertisements
Selling private or direct advertisements is when you contact a business (or they contact you) and you negotiate a price to sponsor their business on your blog.
It takes a lot of work to reach out to relevant niches in your industry, email them, and ask for a sponsorship on your website. This is why most websites that sell private advertisements just put up a "Email me to advertise here" image in their sidebar and wait for someone to send them an offer.
You certainly have a lot more control choosing which companies get to advertise using this method, but I doubt you will earn the equivalent that you could from Mediavine.
I will probably never do private advertisements, just because I believe I can earn more money by using the space to sell my own courses, or promoting an affiliate offer for something else that will bring me recurring income (Like Teachable or Convertkit that both pay 30% for life).
Affiliate marketing is when you sell a product or service someone else has created and they give you a share of the profit.
It's super easy for beginning bloggers to make money online simple because there's really no risk or deposit to get started. You just contact a company or sign up to their affiliate program, get a custom tracking link and then shamelessly surround it with value and share it.
Here's an example of some products that I recommend and have an affiliate link:
Bluehost is a web hosting company that I use to set my blog up on. I earn $65 per signup, which is quite a lot, considering someone has to spend around $100 for their basic plan.
ConvertKit is the email service I use to write, send, and automate emails. It's valuable to me because I can sell my courses, send affiliate offers, and drive traffic to my pages using my list. ConvertKit pays me 30% of the lifetime income from a customer.
Teachable is the online course hosting platform I use. Teachable has been wonderful, and once I found them and published my online course, I instantly earned $5000 in the first month and have been growing since. Teachable pays 30% of lifetime income through an affiliate link.
ClickFunnels is a software that allows you to create a website, a sales funnel, and handles all the payment processing of selling things for you. It's super easy to create a full sales funnel from Opt-in to checkout page with them. Clickfunnels pays 40% of recurring monthly accounts. Since their basic plan is around $100 a month, that means it only takes referring 3 people to become profitable.
Thrive Themes is the custom plugin and theme builder I use. It cost me around $240 for a year's license and I'd definitely recommend it for new bloggers. Thrive Themes is super simple to use, but has advanced and complex options for expert marketers.
TailWind is a Pinterest scheduling platform that is super valuable if you're trying to drive traffic from social media. I've seen people pay $15/month for Tailwind and drive over 100,000 pageviews in a month. Tailwind pays 15% of all affiliate transactions.
Psychology of Selling is one of my own online courses that teaches people how to sell things online, but I've opened up an affiliate section so members can test their sales skills. I pay affiliates 50% of the sale, and during the launch that meant $150 per sale.
Selling eProducts is as simple as turning a blog post into an eBook, putting together photoshop templates, or selling Excel spreadsheets you created as products that might help someone else.
One of the best ways to start actually earning money with your blog audience, is to spend a weekend creating something to sell to them. Whether it's an eBook you write in your spare time, or a pack of resources you slap together, if it adds value to their lives and makes a process easier, you can make money with it.
As an Example, Alex and Lauren from CreateAndGo.co made first first big chunk of change from selling a yoga eBook on Avocadu.com. They had a bunch of posts about yoga, eating healthier, and fitness articles, and used that traffic as validation to create a product. Here's some proof:
A friend and I actually spent 2 whole days creating an eBook outline and writing a TON to come up with a simple eProduct we could sell. It's about productivity, has over 15,000 words and is jam-packed with tons of great productivity hacks. If we market it correctly, I truly believe I could sell over 1000 copies for $5 within a year, which means each of us would profit $2500.
Break this down between two days, and you see how profitable it can be once you have an audience and start creating products to sell.
The most important thing in creating a product is PMF. PMF stands for Product-Market Fit, which means creating something that someone wants or needs. Nobody wants an eBook on "120 ways to create boredom". However, if you Google "Productivity Hacks", you'll find thousands of articles with thousands of shares because the information is valuable. Logically, it might be profitable to write an eBook titled "120 ways to be more productive".
Launching a Course
Bloggers usually have expert knowledge in their field. It's very profitable and scalable to turn this knowledge into a video course teaching other's their expertise.
Once you have decent traffic to a few articles on the same topic, you can start thinking about creating a much larger resource... and thus charge more for it. An online course doesn't have to be difficult to make, especially if you are already knowledgeable about your field.
After my Youtube channel Practical Psychology reached 1,000,000 subscribers, I decided to create a small course with ~15 video called the Psychology of Attraction. I launched it on the channel with a few videos and ended up earning over $5000 during the launch week.
I think creating the course took around $2000 to animate it and and around 3 months of my own time. I regularly earn over $4000/month with the course now, and it's all passive income. Even though this was how I monetized my Youtube channel, the same principle applies to a blog. Creating a course for your blog is a proven method to increase your income.
Take some of these case studies as examples:
Project 24 was created Jim and Ricky by from Income School to help website new website creators actually earn money and start ranking for keywords. I did some research and couldn't find how much they earn from this course, but I know they charge a pretty dime for it and there's tons of success stories.
Launch Your Blog was created by Alex and Lauren from CreateAndGo.co to make the process of setting up a blog and optimizing it easier. They reportedly earn over $50,000 per month from their courses.
Power Up Podcasting is from my man Pat Flynn over at Smart Passive Income. This course is basically a step-by-step course that teaches you how to launch a podcast and how to successfully promote it. Pat has an amazing podcast that's been growing for years, so he knows what he's talking about. He also puts up his income reports, and in December 2017, he earned over $40,000 from selling this course.
Pinfinite Growth is a famous course created by the one and only Melyssa Griffin in which she teaches you how to grow your traffic and email list from Pinterest. In September of 2016, she reported earning over $162,000 from all of her courses, which I'm guessing has grown from then.
ConvertKit Essentials was created by Allison Lindstrom to teach you little tricks and hacks on how to use the email service much more efficiently. Right now she sells it fro $149 and she earned $5900 from her courses in August 2017. She is a fairly new blogger at the time, so this is actually pretty amazing and she was super proud of it!
I actually own a few courses of my own, and so far I've been able to earn over $6,000 per month for the past year. The issue with courses is that they must always be promoted.
The "Build it and they will come" mentality is flawed, you must always be promoting your online course if you want to earn a steady income blogging. You should have so much pride in your course and the true belief that it will help people that telling them about your course isn't "selling", but it's "helping" them.
The mechanics of creating an online course used to be very difficult. Between creating the login and enroll pages, organizing the cirriculum, setting up the pricing plans and payment processors... it was such a headache to create an online course.
Luckily I found Teachable. Teachable is an online platform that makes creating, selling, and promoting an online course SUPER easy. They take care of all the payments, they manage all your student's login data, and can even issue refunds for you at the click of a button. Pricing is also really cheap if you have an audience. I highly recommend checking out Teachable as a way to make money online through your blog if you haven't already.
Selling Merchandise is when a blogger sells clothing, accessories, and other various items that have their logo or brand associated with the products.
Selling merch is easier than ever with the creation of companies like Zazzle, Spreadshirt and Createspace. It's super easy to sign up to one of these, add your logo to a shirt, a coffee mug, or backpack and then share a link to buy it. Of course, you'll get a cut of the profits, but if you want to make decent money, you have to sell tons of shirts.
The problem with Merchandise is the volume. To get someone to buy your shirt with your logo on it, they first have to be an above-average reader. They have to love your blog so much they're willing to spend $20+ on your Tshirt.
Another obstacle with selling Merchandise is the shipping. If you use Zazzle, they will ship your customer's shirts to their houses for you. However, if you buy bulk shirts and create them yourself (like my friend did with his athletic company), you have to ship them to your customer. It can cost up to $10 to ship a shirt across the US.
Tshirts aren't the only route though. ImprovementPill, one of my Youtube competitors is selling posters. On his website, each poster sells for an average of $35, but I know for a fact it doesn't take more than $8 to print each one and $8 to ship each poster.
Here is a list of other things you can sell on your blog as merchandise to make money:
- Phone Cases
- Shoes (Like Gary Vee's Kswiss)
The key to selling merch online is to do TONS of research to find the cheapest prices for a better margin, and also to get really creative. Once you have a good product-market fit between the merchandise you're selling on your blog and your blog's audience, you could easily make a couple extra hundred dollars per month.
Promoting an Offline Business
Many bloggers also have offline business likes consulting, dentistry, freelance writing, or accounting... and use the online audience to grow their offline income.
Some bloggers actually have an offline business, such as Jeff Rose and his financial planning business. He saw that during the creation of his blog, his private practice's income also started growing because the word was getting out.
In fact, according to NeilPatel.com, 83.9% of business that started blogging to grow their business saw an increase in leads within 7 months. Check it out:
If you already have a business that's profitable, starting a blog to grow your audience, reach, and income is a great idea! Tons of blogs in the dental, finance, and insurance niche are great at reffering local leads to local business.
Alex Becker actually recommends creating a blog and selling leads as a great cash-flow business. Here's how it works. You create San Francisco Dental Blog. Someone types into Google looking for a local dentist office "Dentists near me". Pop! Your blog comes up, they enter their email address or call the office that you listed, and the office pays you $10 or $100 or $1000 depending on the quality of the leads you're sending. Rinse and repeat.
Coaching is directly teaching and mentoring a paying customers and guiding them through a process you can teach them.
If you're seriously at the top 3% of your niche or field, it's incredibly easy to make money coaching someone. Most coaches get paid "per session" or "per hour" and depending on your field and your expertise, you could charge $20/hour all the way up to $10,000/hour.
The problem with coaching is that it is active income and you are directly trading your time for money. It's not completely scalable. You can't coach 1000 students at once and have a relationship with them.
In fact, most courses are created by someone trying to scale their coaching business. They take commonalities they teach all of their clients... put it into a course, and then sell the course for $297 or $2997.
If you have an awesome website, and people love you, they'll give you money out of the kindness of their heart.
You're not really running a business if your blog runs on donations, but it's possible to make money from it. I don't recommend earning all of your blogging income just from donations, because it takes a ridiculous amount of generous people to replace a full-time income and isn't done often. However, donations can be supplemental to things like selling courses and showing display advertisements.
Patreon is the most used website to process donations. On Patreon, creators can offer small rewards in return for monthly donations. Some creators earn thousands of dollars a month on the platform, but you must advertise your incentive to really grow an income using Patreon.
Selling a book
Most bloggers are competent in writing, and comfortable writing for long periods of time. Combining this skill with their expertise, creating a book is easy and selling the book to an already-relevant audience is even easier.
So far I've written and published 2 books for my Youtube channel PracticalPsychology.
The first one (Passive Income Tutorial) was about making money online through passive income techniques. I originally wrote this book when I earned over $15,000 per month and I wanted to analyze how I did it... so I could do it again! Technically I was 21 years old at this time and it was a LOT of money for me.
The second book (Habit Harvester) is about creating, building, and destroying habits in your life to build the life you want. I actually created a Youtube video for each chapter and used the free videos to promote the book.
For the first book, I outsourced a lot of the writing. I probably spent 2 weeks actually writing the 22,000 words for Passive Income Tutorial. For the second book, I spent a lot more of my own time to create it how I wanted it. Even hired a freelance artist to create images for each habit and the stories I explained to really help the reader.
So far, I've earned almost $5000 from these two kindle eBooks. Also, these are technically eBooks, but I've actually bought copies of Habit Harvester in paperback, and then closed the option to even buy it in paperback version. This was so I could buy 200+ copies at $4 per copy and offer them as a bonus for great customers!
Note: These dates are from 2017 and 2018.
It's not that difficult to write a book, in fact most bloggers just take a bunch of their blog posts and put them together. Ten 3000 words articles on a single topic makes for a pretty decently sized eBook and there are tons of paperback books written like that.
Speaking Gigs (podcasts or events)
If you've grown a blog to a decently-sized audience, you can get paid to speak at events, conferences, or even on podcasts.
If you've put in your due diligence and lugged away at your blog for quite some times, businesses may pay you to come speak at their events. You might have some insider knowledge of the industry that their team can make use of. Or maybe you're just super motivational and they need a writeoff... either way it happens all the time.
With the explosive growth of podcasts in the past few years, you can also get paid to speak on a podcast. Whether you get written a check before the interview, or they allow you to talk about your new book and you end up selling over 1,000 copies that day, you get paid in return for your presence.
For most bloggers, conferences promoters, seminar creators, and podcast speakers usually reach out first for speaking gigs.
Bloggers can make money by collecting their reader's email address and eventually selling books, merchandise, courses, and other affiliate offers to them.
The best part about email marketing is that you can contact your readers anytime you want to. With SEO, Pinterset, and other traffic sources, you don't control the traffic. You have to put a line in the water, wait, and hope that someone see your page or offer. With Email marketing, you have a direct like to contact your audience (aka customers).
I personally use ConvertKit, and so do lots of other bloggers.
In one recent study, it's reported every $1 spent on email marketing and advertising for opt-ins... bloggers and internet marketers earned $44 in return, resulting in the most profitable method of monetization for bloggers.
"The money is in the list."
Let me fill you in with some common email marketing lingo:
Opt-In page: A page on your blog that shows only an offer for a reader. To get the offer, the reader must enter their email.
Lead Magnet: An ethical bribe to get someone's email. For example, I'll give you my 7 day FREE guide on how to grow your blog in return for your email.
AutoResponder: A program that will send emails out automatically after someone signs up to your opt-in. Usually a blogger will send 3-4 emails teaching a reader something, and then start selling things to them in the emails.
Email Funnel: A flowchart AutoResponder that you push your readers through. If they buy a product, they are no longer sent emails about a product. If they don't buy, you can keep sending them products to buy (including more free information to guilt trip them or testimonials to make them feel more comfortable buying).
Broadcasts: An email sent to everyone on your email list. Maybe I want to tell everyone I wrote a new book? Send a broadcast!
Segments: Do you want to email everyone on your list about your new sales course? Well, you might have people who subscribed to your list about selling, dating, and SEO. You don't want to confuse them and send them offers they don't want. You can segment your list to send email only to those who might want the offer.
I personally use ConvertKit as my email provider.
Selling a blog
If maintaining a blog is too much work for you, or you want a big paycheck because you forgot to pay your taxes... you can ultimately sell your blog to someone else.
So if you're earning around $1000 a month, you could most likely sell it for $20,000. Technically the Google algorithm could snap and you could earn zip the next month, but if you're already earning $1,000 a month, there's the possibility you could earn twice that.
I actually sold a website one. Some guy emailed me through my contact form and offered around $200, I countered with $300, and boom I sold my first website. It was a big deal for me, because I only spent about a month creating the website. The website has since disappeared... I think he just didn't pay a hosting fee or something, but when I sold it, the website was earning around $20/month from ads and Amazon affiliate sales.
How to build an audience
Before you actually can start selling stuff and making money, first you need an audience. To build a genuine audience and actually grow your reach, the best way to accomplish a mass following is... to add value to someone's life. Create great content. It's that simple.
There's a really good quote that fits this: "It's simple, but not easy". It's definitely not easy to write 4000-word blog posts and do the research and look up the facts and think about a customer's problems, but it really comes in handy when you want to monetize your blog and start earning cash from it.
Here are 3 types of content you can create that will ultimately add value to almost anyone's lives:
Response content is when you do some research on your keyword and find questions associated with it. For example, someone trying to get to this page might search some of the following:
- How do I make money blogging?
- How easy is it to set up a blog?
- What's the fastest way to make money with a blog?
And then I'll literally just go and answer those question. If it takes me 200 words, I'll answer it. If it takes me 1000 words, I'll answer it. The key with this type of content is that you're literally answering someone's questions so you can give them what they're looking for. If you're super smart about it, you can even bold the answer and maybe you'll get lucky with a Google snippit:
Sharable content is short, snappy, and virality-themed posts. Basically you need a title that invokes someone's curiosity on Facebook or Pinterest. Then you write around 1000 words on that title, either answering questions or sharing interesting data that you've found. If you want great examples of sharable content, go check out Buzzfeed... literally all of their posts are set up this way.
Pillar content is the long-form guides and ultimate reviews that bloggers spend weeks creating. These posts usually have over 3000 words, including at least 20 outbound links to heavy resources and in my experience at least 8 images. The most profitable blogs are comfortable writing this type of content because it gets shared most often and also is great for SEO.
What's fastest way to earn money with a blog?
The fastest way to earn money with a blog is this simple strategy:
- Write 30 posts on topics that are SEO-oriented but have a viral tendency
- Create a Pinterest profile and promote your articles
- Once you hit 25,000 monthly sessions, apply for Mediavine
- After you're approved, enjoy getting paid $300+/month!
Okay, okay, I didn't say it was easy...
But this is the fastest, most reliable and proven method that tons of bloggers have earned money in under 3 months. And although it might not be easy, it's definitely simple.
I've seen some blogs be paid $20 per thousand views, which means by the time you get approved for Mediavine, you're already earning $500/month.
Getting traffic from search engines takes around 35 weeks, so that's definitely going to take too long if you're looking for ways to make money with your blog. However, organic traffic from search engines is definitely much more reliable and sustainable. Plus, you'll have the added benefit of finding highly-targeted customers.
If someone comes to your blog by typing in 'How to make money blogging", you know they might have a blog and are ready to learn how to make some cash from it. However, users from Pinterest are usually subscribed to a relevant board and might click on your pin due to Shiny Object Syndrome.
How to earn over 6 figures with a blog
Here's another little strategy that almost all 6-figure bloggers follow:
- Create a blog with SEO and virality in mind
- Create an opt-in for each post so you can grow your email list
- Once you hit 1000 email subscribers, ask them what they need help with
- Create a full 15-20 video course that helps them with their problem
- Sell the course to your subscribers
- Set up an autoresponder to automatically sell your course
- Find affiliates in your niche to sell your course for you
- Use Facebook and Google ads to scale your business
I might explain a bit more of how this process works in a future post, or even offer the full guide as an opt-in for you to join my email list, but the framework is proven and works if you adapt it to your niche.
Other ways to earn
Don't just take my word for it though, check out some other guides and resources to earn an income from your blog:
ProBlogger's Guide to Making Money Blogging - On this page you'll learn the strategy of gaining and audience and monetizing by adding value.
Forbes' article on earning money from your blog, written by John Ramptom includes a list of 25 methods to monetize your blog. If I've missed something in this post, Mr. Ramptom's probably included it in his.
SmartBlogger also created an ultimate guide. Jon Morrow does a great job at detailing each and every method known to most bloggers, plus includes tons of images for a better reading experience.
MakingSenseOfCents, a finance blog I've mentioned before, has a post outlining and explaining how they built a million dollar blog. In 2016, Michelle earned $979,000 from her blog, and has only been ramping up her income since then.
AnnaEverywhere wrote a beautifully detailed article about making money with a travel blog. If you're in the travel niche (or any niche...) seeing someone else doing something you're planning to do can give hope and inspiration.
BusyBudgeter created an income report to breakdown their income sources. Honestly, I love typing in "Blog Income report + [Last Month and year]" to get a recent idea of how other bloggers are earning their money. I actually started creating online courses because I saw a rise in income from course creators... meaning they are starting to trend.
SmartPassiveIncome also does monthly income reports. Even though Pat earned a whopping $166,000 from his blog and this seems astronomical to beginning bloggers, he clearly lays out a plan that thousands have followed to earn passive income online.
How to start a blog
If you're ready to start and earn money from your blog... here's a little guide on how to set it up in under 30 minutes and for under $100!
First, go check out Bluehost. There's plenty of alternatives, and I've used their competitors before, but Bluehost has never really failed me (and it's what I use for this blog).
You can click on the cheapest option and until you're over around 100 pageviews in real-time analytics, you should be able to handle the traffic.
Then, type in your blog name (or check out my post on naming your blog).
After that, you've got the regular personal information and credit card section, which is pretty easy. Also, if you select the options I have... it comes out to under $100 per year!
The Domain Privacy option ensures that your name, email address, and home address aren't posted anywhere. If someone wants to contact you about the website, they have to go through Bluehost first.
The reason I love Bluehost is because after you purchase your blog, they set you up a temporary domain so that you can immediately start adding plugins, customizing widgets, and writing content. If you've never set up a domain on a previous host, domain propagation takes hours (sometimes a whole day), and waiting is not something you want to do after you've paid $100!
Now that you've set up a domain, hopefully you can implement the tactics to make money from your blog in under 3 months. Leave a comment below if you think I've missed anything or have successfully replaced your 9-5 with your blog.