Weblogs, or blogs, have been around in one form or another since the late 1990s. Early on, people found ways to monetize blogging. A few blogs have made eye-popping amounts of money, and many have generated respectable sums for their owners. In truth, most blogs make very little. No matter: in the years since blogging made its debut there has been a lot of hype about how one can effortlessly make millions from blogging. On the other end of the continuum are those who say it’s nearly impossible to make real money online, especially from blogging.
The truth, like the truth about most things, lies somewhere in between. Granted, many of the people who overstate the moneymaking potential of blogging are doing so in the hopes of selling you something, and what they may be selling are products and/or services whose usefulness is inversely proportional to their price. So it pays to be cautious. As for those who state unequivocally that you can’t make money online, their hearts may be in the right place, but it is indeed possible to make money online – yes, even with blogging – if you keep a few points in mind. Here are five tips to remember if you want to make money from your blog.
1. You can make a living blogging, but it isn’t a given.
There are millions of blogs on the Internet, with more being started (and abandoned) every day. Many bloggers are merely hobbyists and don’t care about making money, but many others have monetized their blogs or are attempting to do so. If you’re serious about being a professional blogger, you can either start your own blog from scratch, or you can be a freelance or employed blogger for an established company or site. On a March 2014 article on Lifehacker, Melanie Pinola discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the two approaches to pro blogging. She notes that getting a job as a professional blogger with an established site is much easier than starting at ground zero with your own blog. Setting up and monetizing your own blog takes considerable effort and no small amount of dedication. And the monetary results vary wildly. Notes Ms. Pinola, “Some people have made hundreds of thousands of dollars writing their blog (or sold their blogs for millions), while others have yet to make a cent from theirs.”
2. Your blog is just a platform.
Unless you are such a brilliant, in-demand writer that the world hangs on your every word and is willing to pay to read each blog post, you cannot think of your blog as being a standalone business. As the aforementioned Ms. Pinola writes, a blog itself isn’t really a business; it’s more of a platform for other income streams. While good content is paramount – that’s what keeps people coming back to your blog – you will need to employ a combination of strategies if you want to generate income. Among these strategies are advertising; selling services (e.g., consulting or speaking); affiliate marketing; or offering products such as e-books or premium content. If your content is really top-notch and original, and you accumulate enough of it, you might be able to turn your blog, or part of it, into an e-book or even a print book. With that in mind, make sure your content is top-notch and original.
3. Your blog can’t thrive in a vacuum.
You should link your blog with your main web site (provided the blog is relevant to your site, of course) and also to your social media sites. Even if you don’t have a standalone blog and are guest blogging or freelance blogging for other sites, promote your posts whenever possible on your social media sites. That way you’re not only promoting your own work but also the site that is helping you make money: a win-win for everyone.
4. Don’t expect overnight success
– at least not if you define success as making tons of money. Again, unless your content is breathtakingly brilliant, universally recognized as such, and unlike anything else in the blogosphere, the world will probably not beat a path to your door right away. Manage your expectations and don’t quit your day job…not yet, anyway. Melanie Pinola on Lifehacker advises that you give yourself at least six months before you start pulling in income, adding that even then it’s likely to just be “coffee money.” Even so, you can gain a loyal following in a period of just a few months, and your name will be out there, which could lead to other writing or speaking opportunities. That’s another reason to care about the quality of everything that is published under your name, whether it’s on your own blog or someone else’s.
5. Don’t be afraid to explore different ways of making money on your blog.
Of course you don’t want to do anything that will be contrary to your principles or to the mission and vision of any endeavor associated with your blog – whether it is your own business, a group or association, or another site or forum on which your blog posts appear. For instance, if you write a blog about Internet marketing scams, it’s not a good idea to have ads about dodgy online biz-ops. If you’re using free programs such as Google’s AdSense, it can be difficult to control what shows up on your banner ads, so keep this in mind. But there are plenty of ways to monetize your blog, and if one way doesn’t work, scrap it and try others. Here is an excellent article by Darren Rowse on Problogger about ways to make money with your blog.
Blogging may never make you rich, but it can certainly help support you in your endeavors. And it can be a lot of fun as well – a true adventure that can open doors for you both professionally and personally.