The first thing you need to know is that it’s completely possible to earn an income from blogging, there are plenty of people who do this and it’s an achievable goal.
The second thing to know is that it’s not easy and it’s not quick.
In this article we’ll discuss the various things you need to do in order to build a blog that earns money, but the most important things you need are patience and consistency. People often get excited by the idea of launching a blog, but often they run out of steam for two reasons:
- It’s hard to keep coming up with ideas for new posts all the time
- They’ve been working on the blog for a while and it’s making no money, so they get disillusioned
If you’re starting a blog with the goal of turning it into even a micro-business, you have to accept that it’s likely to take time before you start making any kind of money, never mind enough to quit your day job. Why? Because the main thing a blog needs in order to be profitable is an audience, and it takes time to build a regular audience.
Bloggers typically earn money by running advertising on their sites, or by endorsements or sponsorship deals with brands, and they only work if your blog is able to influence an audience. The best bloggers are able to influence large numbers of people to favour certain brands or products, and that’s what enables them to make so much money.
The audience is all important
If a makeup manufacturer knows that a particular beauty blogger has an audience of millions of women who trust her advice and recommendations, then it’s going to be very worthwhile for that company to set up some kind of deal with the blogger. The manufacturer could pay the blogger to personally endorse or promote their products, or they could simply buy advertising space on the blog, ensuring that their message was seen by all of the site’s millions of visitors.
So does this mean that you can only make money from blogging if you are able to build a huge audience? It certainly helps, but it’s not always completely necessary. It’s just as important to have an audience that’s focused on a specific topic. A blog that has millions of visitors but covers a wide range of generic topics might be less valuable to advertisers because it’s hard to say what all of those visitors are interested in. Whereas a blog that’s tightly focused on a topic such beauty will have a very specific kind of audience, so advertisers know that the vast majority of visitors to the site are highly likely to be interested in buying beauty related products.
Large audiences will always help you to earn advertising revenue, but making sure your blog stays focused will also make a big difference.
A smaller, focused audience can be more lucrative than a larger, more generic one. If you were blogging about personal finance, for example, a lot of people might come to your blog looking for information on mortgages, credit cards, or personal loans, and the advertising rates for those kinds of products can be very high. So even though a personal finance blogger is unlikely to get a very large audience, the advertising revenue could still be significant.
Work hard on crafting your blog
So now we understand the importance of having the right kind of audience, how do we go about building it? There are no shortcuts. As somebody once said, there is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.
To get a regular audience, you need to regularly and consistently provide content that they find valuable. You want your audience to enjoy your writing so much that they will come back for more, and when they do come back for more you need to make sure that there’s some fresh content for them. This means writing good posts and writing a lot of them. How often should you write a new post? As often as possible without compromising on quality.
Successful bloggers have the following qualities:
- They write well, in a style that their audience enjoys.
- They are full of ideas, and they work hard to constantly find new things to blog about.
- They have inhuman discipline, they force themselves to write regularly, even when they don’t feel like it.
If you want your blog to be a business, you have to think of your blog posts as your main product, and you need to keep manufacturing that product to meet your customer’s demand, otherwise your business will fail.
Make no mistake, writing is hard. A lot of people have a few good ideas for blog posts, but to consistently keep churning out good quality articles several times a week for years on end requires a lot of willpower.
This is why it’s important to write about something you love, so that you won’t get bored and will find it easier to keep looking for new ideas.
Now that we’ve established that the only path to success is to write a lot of good stuff and never stop, what next?
Find an audience for your blog
Sadly even the most talented of writers is not guaranteed success. In business terms, you’ve created a great product but you still need to find a way to let people know about it. This is where social media can help. Set up a profile for your blog on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and any other social channel you like and start sharing your content there – this should help you find people who are interested in what you have to say.
Make friends with other bloggers, enter blogging competitions, submit your blog to online directories. Writing a lot of good content is hard work, but promoting your blog and finding ways to build the audience is even harder. It can take a long time, and it’s difficult to stay motivated when you’re writing a lot of blog posts but struggling to get any readers. This is what separates the winners from the losers – the ability to keep plugging away for months, even years, while you slowly build up a regular following. Most bloggers quit because they underestimate how much time and effort is involved in succeeding.
How to actually make money from a blog
Let’s assume you’ve got a successful blog with lots of regular visitors, how do you start making money? The easiest way is to use Google’s AdSense programme, which will place adverts on your website that are automatically targeted to your audience based on your site’s content and their interests. This is great because it requires little effort from you and is a good way of ensuring that visitors are shown adverts which they will find relevant. This is important because AdSense pays you whenever somebody clicks on an advert on your site, and people are more likely to click on adverts that they find interesting. Payments can be anything between a few pence to over £10 per click, depending on the advertiser and the topic. Some topics, such as personal finance, can pay very highly, whereas most ads will pay at the lower end of that range.
For most moderately successful blogs, AdSense is by far the easiest way to start making some money. Amazon’s affiliate scheme is also a good place to start – this enables you to earn money whenever you send somebody to Amazon and they buy a product. So, if you write a lot of product reviews, you could include links to the relevant Amazon product pages and whenever your visitors follow those links and buy the products, you will receive a fee. The earnings can vary, but typically you will start by earning 4% of the value of the sale.
There are lots of other online advertising platforms and referral schemes, but these are the most widely used by bloggers and some people with popular blogs make a lot of money from these schemes.
Once you reach the next level, where have a very large audience, then you might be in a position to set up sponsorship or endorsement deals directly with brands. Doing this requires some business sense, because you need to be able to find brands to work with (or if you’re lucky, they’ll come to you) and negotiate the agreement with them. A-list bloggers often work with agents, such as Gleam Futures, who help manage all of this stuff. However, unless you’ve got a serious audience size, an agent won’t be interested in working with you.
So to summarise, in order to achieve your dream of becoming a professional blogger, you need to:
- Write new posts as regularly as possible
- Maintain a high standard of writing quality and original ideas
- Keep your blog focused on a specific topic
- Work hard to promote your blog in social media and other channels to build an audience
- Be consistent and patient – it takes time
- Use advertising networks like Google AdSense or Amazon Associates to start earning money
- When your blog is big enough, start looking for direct partnerships with brands in your market
- Consider working with an agent when your blog becomes really successful