To Blog or Not To Blog? The Beginner’s Quick Overview of How To Make Money Blogging
|June 6, 2012||Posted by Louise under How To Start A Business|
If you’ve been weighing your options on how to earn internet money, then you must have at one point or another wondered whether you can make money blogging. Blogs abound online, but how do they make money? Are they a viable business option for you?
It’s true that many bloggers do make a lucrative living online, but it’s not as easy as it seems and it’s not an overnight success story either.
Do Blogs Really Make Money?
Back in 2009, IncomeDiary reported the monthly earnings of the top 30 blogs of that time. Some of the figures were estimated, but nevertheless the list ranged from heavy hitters like HuggingtonPost with a monthly earnings of $2.3million (really?) to more modest blogs like Retireat21 with a then monthly earnings of $5000. Do I have your attention now?
But remember that was back in 2009. With Google Pandas & Penguins, tons more competition online and lots of smarter consumers, the rules have changed (figures!?!). Some of those top bloggers have seen a decrease in their earnings while others have seen an increase.
The Huffington Post for instance was purchased by AOL in February 2011 for US$315 million and is still in the top spot while others like Retireat21 have slid down the list, generating less monthly earnings – making half what it did in 2009, according to onlineincometeacher.com.
Want some more realistic examples that relate more to you the blogger contemplator? Ok then, consider www.trafficgenerationcafe.com. Blogger Ana Hoffman, who uses various monetization tactics (I’ll talk more about these below), reported earnings of $3783.00 for December 2011. Not bad, when you consider the site’s tender age of 18 months. Maybe it is a viable business option after all, eh?
Is It Easy Money?
So, I researched this topic and here’s the reality check: A blog is a business that you must build and maintain like any other venture – no matter what sexy headlines others’ online may pitch at you.
As professional and veteran blogger Darren Rowse from www.problogger.net says in his book Problogger| Secrets For Blogging Your Way To A Six-Figure Income, “Though blogging has enabled a growing number of people to earn and income, the process is rarely a quick one.”
The good news is that it’s an online business and as such, it has greater overhead cost-savings and a wider range of exposure than your typical off-line set-up. And if you love to share information with others then blogging just may be for you.
Common Types Of Blogs
You probably noticed that the types of blogs out there vary. Here are some of the common ones:
Spreading the news blogs like Huffington Post: These are usually blogs with massive content, often called news sites or content aggregators because they pull from various sources on the web.
How-to blogs like Problogger: Self-explanatory. These blogs show you how to do something. Problogger shows you how to be a profitable and quality blogger.
Product blogs like Beauty Crazed: this type of blog can be focused on one specific product or on many within a niche. Beauty Crazed for example blogs about different kinds of beauty products. People often visit these blogs with the intention to buy.
Personal blogs like Dooce: Some bloggers share their daily lives with their readers, including their passions and thoughts. This is more popular than you’d think; especially when you have something interesting to say.
Business blogs like Century21’s Talk21 Blog: many large corporations and businesses use blogs to engage with their customers.
Mass Media blogs like Perez Hilton: Also known as a gossip blog, this type banks on the sensationalism of pop media figures to boost traffic. Weird how some actor’s bad hair day could pull in so much traffic, but it does!
Political (Opinion) blogs like CNN’s Political Ticker Blog: A blog where a group, community or individuals “share” their political opinions.
Education or government blogs like the CanadaBusiness blog: Many schools now have a blog on their site to involve parents. Likewise, government, municipal and other government level blogs are fast becoming commonplace, including the public, being transparent, promoting change, garnering support, etc.
Quick Overview of Blogging Steps
1)Getting Your Blog Set-up and Rolling
To join the blogosphere, you start by choosing a blogging platform like WordPress or Blogger, which are super user-friendly and allow you to easily add content and customize, using different themes and layouts. Although many blogging platforms are free, some require you arrange hosting, which is easily done and inexpensive. The plus side of arranging a host provider is that you get more freedom with customizing and monetizing your blog. So, make sure to read the terms and policies of different platform choices as some are more limiting than others and can affect your monetization efforts. You can read more about choosing a website/blog platform here.
Once you’re set-up, you’ll have to choose what categories you want to cover (and you’ll probably want to match these to keywords).
2) Add Content
Your blog is set-up with theme and categories. Now you can start adding content. There are many types of content, including video, audio (podcasts), postcards (images with messages), infographics, and of course written articles, which on blogs are called posts. Make it interesting by mixing it up and adding good quality content frequently to keep your readers reading and coming back.
3) Get Traffic
It’s not a build it and they will come type of situation. Remember, Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams had divine intervention. You only have the internet! You have to learn and implement traffic strategies to get people to your site. This could include some social media, some involvement in forums, some comments on other blogs and maybe eventually, some writing for other blogs.
The wonderful thing about monetizing your blog is that it can generate you earnings while you play or sleep! We call this passive income. Keep in mind you can’t earn much without acquiring a healthy dose of traffic first. Once you do have traffic, there are many ways to monetize including:
Different Monetization Methods
Advertisements: Companies will pay you to display their ads on your site. Some ads, like Google Ads will pay you a small amount every time someone clicks on the ad. Another form of ads are in-content links, where certain words inside a post are linked to an ad. Other advertisers will pay you for space and time. So you could get say $150 for one month’s of advertising in a prime location on your blog.
Sponsorships: companies will also pay you to have their name or presence on your site. Very similar to advertisements, but without the sales detail. Sometimes they’ll even pay to put content like an article on your site. BeautyCrazed for example has a section called “Life and Beauty Weekly”. I could be wrong, but I think it’s a sponsored newsletter. It has its own articles, ads and contact info and likely, the sponsor pays the bloggers to house its content on their site.
Affiliate Commissions: This technique boils down to you (an affiliate) putting links on your blog that readers will click on, giving them access to someone’s product page. If they make a purchase, you get paid a commission. Pay-outs vary. Some companies pay as low as 10% of the selling price, some will pay 75%. Some will even hand over the whole sales amount, banking on the likelihood that buyers will also buy their back-end products. One large company that generates mega sales by use of affiliates is Amazon.
Paid Reviews: Companies will pay you to write product reviews if your site targets their market and possesses a lot of traffic.
Product Sales: Of course, you can sell your own products on your own blog, from books to software to art to anything.
Consulting: Many bloggers specialize in their niche and use their blog to offer consulting services. For instance, if you are in the social media/internet marketing niche, you could help businesses with their social media campaigns.
Freelance & Service Contracts: If you’re a writer or offer other services like translations, web design, graphics design, etc., you can use your blog to showcase your work, engage potential customers and land some paying contracts.
According to Problogger Darren Rowse, the key to monetization is to diversify. As he says in his book in response to a past Google update that affected his ranking and took his profits for a nosedive,”The experience did teach me many lessons, including the importance of diverisfying your interests, not relying only on search-engine traffic, and expecting the unexpected when working online.”
So, try more than one method and see what works best. As you improve, you can formulate a monetizing strategy that incorporates your favourites. The mix will even out the ups and downs of your income stream and help keep your business sustainable.
Check out how these blogs use different monetization methods:
Some Visual Examples on Monetization
In this example at www.problogger.com, where you may have guessed they dish out blogging information, you see the use of advertisements as well as some of their own brand name products. Problogger also offers a membership program.
Here we examine www.cardadvice.com.au . On this screen capture, we see a car banner ad in the header and topic-related ads similar to Google Ads.
Dooce.com is one of those personal blogs mentioned above that appears to use a few different income streams. On the screen capture below, we see what must be affiliate links. Blogger Heather Armstrong posts pictures of fashion ensembles (red lady inset) and then links each item to its online store. Elsewhere on the blog, she’s monetized with various advertisements and also sells her own products like books, calendar, and t-shirts.
As you can see, when you dissect a blog into its parts and shove them under the microscope, you discover lots of different interplaying elements. Therefore, like any serious business, it takes time to build; it won’t happen overnight. So, if you’re still keen on blogging, keep these in mind:
- You will be producing lots of content, therefore you need to choose a subject matter that gets your synapses firing.
- Because you are dealing with website software, installing advertisements, or embedding affiliate links on your blog, among other things, you’ll have to become somewhat technically savvy.
- Finally, you’ll have to learn and apply various internet marketing methods like building traffic as well as explore and evaluate different monetization streams.
And there are many points we didn’t touch upon, like choosing the right format for your readers and the purpose of your blog. I’ll save that for another post.
So do you think blogging is for you? If not, what is stopping you? Do you know of other successful blogs worth mentioning? Leave a comment below. Let’s talk!
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