Can you really learn how to make money blogging?
Blogging has exploded in recent years — the number of blogs may reach 31.7 million in 2020. That's because we understand that blogging is no longer a hobby for journaling your thoughts. Blogging has become a proven way to build an audience of raving fans and put money into your bank account.
But don't take our word for it. You can already find real blogs that have upgraded into booming businesses, like Huffington Post and Copyblogger. Even gossip columnist Perez Hilton owes much of his success to growing and monetizing his blog.
If you want to learn how to create a blog, prepare yourself. There's a lot of work involved, and it can get confusing. Fortunately, we're breaking down step-by-step what you need to know about how to earn a living blogging.
Let's get started.
Why Start a Blog?
Life and work already keep you busy. Is blogging worth the time and effort?
The answer is yes, and no.
Blogging is a long-term commitment. For the right entrepreneur, blogging can be an exciting and lucrative business venture. Convertkit surveyed active bloggers on why they started their blog.
Here were the top five reasons:
- Become self-employed
- Creative expression
- Build an audience
- Teach what you know
- Earn more money
Amazing, isn't it?
Blogging lets you become your own boss, express your creativity, and supplement your income.
"But the blogosphere is so saturated. There's no room for me," you might tell yourself. That's a valid concern which leads to our next question...
Can You Still Make Money Blogging in 2020?
Blogging is alive and well. But there are some entry barriers to be aware of before you create a blog:
- Blogging is a long-term strategy. Don't expect your blog to become an overnight success. It may take months or years before your work starts paying off.
- You must be consistent. If you're not actively building your blog, your blog will likely live in the abyss. Adhering to a publishing schedule, regularly reaching out to influencers with your niche, and implementing sales campaigns is key to your blog's growth.
- You might need some upfront capital. How much capital you're willing to invest in your blog will affect its growth. You can, for example, spend money to hire copywriters to write your emails and blog articles. You can also spend money on paid advertising to expand your reach.
How to Earn Money Blogging in 8 Steps
The part you've been waiting for is here. Here is how you get paid with a blog for beginners.
Step 1: Choose a Blog Topic
What do you want to blog about?
The internet is vast. If you have a specific interest, you'll probably find a like-minded community.
Not all niches, however, are created equal. Some niches are more popular than others. And some are more profitable than others.
So, what are the types of blogs that make money?
Here are the niches that tend to experience success:
Health and Fitness
The health and fitness space has exploded in recent years. Fitness influencers are popping up left and right. They're teaching people how to lead healthier lives and sculpt their dream bodies. And there are many subtopics — from vegan recipes to lifting weights.
Michael Matthews from Legion Athletics is a prominent figure within the fitness industry. His blog is booming with helpful content on shredding fat, building muscle, and upgrading your nutrition.
Self-improvement is one of the broadest niches out there, which means more traffic and money for you. Within this niche, you can explore health, relationships, productivity, and more.
The larger the niche, though, the fiercest the competition. You must think about how to distinguish yourself from the competition. Take a look a Zen Habits. Leo Bautata teaches people how to live more meaningful lives by practicing minimalism and mindfulness.
If you decide to blog within this niche, brainstorm on how you can tackle self-improvement from a unique angle.
Digital marketing is creating waves for new bloggers to catch. More entrepreneurs and businesses want to learn how to expand their professional or personal brand. Marketing can be tricky to understand. But if you can translate complex marketing lingo into layman's terms, you will attract a broader audience.
Some topics your blog can cover include social media, content marketing, B2B sales, and email marketing. Popular marketing blogs include Hubspot, Social Media Examiner, and Moz.
Financial freedom — it's on everyone's bucket list. That's why this niche is so popular across all ages. More people want to learn how to destroy their debt and amass wealth.
Like self-improvement, personal finance tends to be a heavily populated niche. Mr. Money Mustache is a shining example of unique branding. His branding features a man in a top hat and well-groomed mustache. He also teaches his readers how to achieve financial freedom "through badassity."
If personal finance is your calling, be sure to think of how you can create a unique brand.
Choose a Subtopic
The blog topics listed above are expansive. There are so many subtopics that follow under each that it's helpful to choose a subtopic.
For example, if you want to blog about health, you could niche in veganism. If you want to blog about personal finance, you can niche in finance for millennials. Or if marketing interests you, you can specialize in copywriting or Facebook ads.
Step 2: Research Your Target Audience
Your next step is to research your niche's community. Here are some questions and sample answers to get you started on your market research:
- What are your niche and subtopic?
Niche: self-improvement. Subtopic: productivity
- Who is your target audience?
Millennials and college students
- What are some pain points of your audience?
Procrastination, poor note-taking in class, no time for self-care, poor health habits, declining grades, understanding complicated subjects.
- What does your audience desire?
How to better manage their time, productivity hacks, better work/life balance, motivational content
Create a Working Mission Statement
After your research, try writing a working mission statement. Here's a template to get you started:
I [teach/help] [target audience] how to [achievement].
Here are some mission statement examples, with one using the sample answers above:
- I teach millennials and college students how to boost their productivity and improve their work/life balance by providing content on time management skills and studying hacks.
- We help men over forty get into the best shape of their lives through heavy compound lifting and high-protein diets.
- I teach personal finance to college graduates to help them destroy their student loans, start saving, and amass long-term wealth.
This exercise will help you clarify who you are and what your blog is about.
Step 2: Secure Your Domain
Like your blog topic, you want to be selective about your domain name. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Don't be witty or clever. People should know what your blog is about just by reading your domain name.
- Go with ".com." — it's more authoritative and familiar to people
- Try using a keyword in your domain name.
- Use your own name if you want to build your personal brand (think Oprah or Ellen Degeneres)
Step 3: Lay the Online Groundwork
After you've secured your domain name, it's time to build a home for your blog. First, you need a website host. Here are the most popular ones:
- Hostgator Cloud
Each host is different. One might be a better option depending on your budget or website traffic. You may find that you switch hosts down the line to accommodate your blog's needs better. Starting out, choose a host that best aligns with your goals and your budget.
Step 4: Create a Landing Page to Capture Emails
From the very start — even before you start publishing blog articles — you'll want to have a strategy for growing your email list. With an email list you can:
- Capture leads
- Run marketing and sales campaigns
- Build audience rapport
- Boost sales
There are several email providers out there but the three most popular are Mailchimp, Convertkit, and AWeber. If you're just starting out with a limited budget, we recommend Mailchimp. Mailchimp is free if your email list is fewer than 2,000 contacts. As your email list expands, you can consider upgrading to one of their paid plans or migrating to another email software.
Create a Lead Magnet
Sometimes it isn't enough to ask people to join your email list. You need a lead magnet to incentivize signups. A lead magnet can take different forms. Here are a few examples:
- Checklists - 7 Questions to Ask Before You Become an Entrepreneur
- eBooks - A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Write a Business Plan
- Videos - Let Me Show You Exactly How I Gather Leads
- Email course - The 7-Day Home Declutter Program
A lead magnet should solve one real problem. Make it easily digestible and uplifting. Your blog visitors should feel like a small win awaits them if they sign up for your email list.
Create a Landing Page
By default, your homepage is a listing of your most recent blog posts. When sharing your blog, it's tempting to send your visitors to the homepage. It's your blog, and you want people to read your content, right?
Well, doing that can stunt the growth of your email list.
Your homepage has too many distractions with too many places to click. They might click an article that catches their eye. Or peruse your About page. Or worse — they check out your various social media handles. Now, they're not even on your blog anymore!
Eliminate the distractions by sending traffic to your landing page or opt-in page. This page gives them just one option: sign up for your email list to receive this enticing freebie. If you still want them to read your content, you can include your most popular articles in a welcome email.
This route is much more efficient for collecting emails, isn't it?
If you're convinced, check out these five elements that make a great opt-in page:
- A captivating headline
- An image of your lead magnet OR something that evokes a specific emotion (e.g. a man raising his fist to the sky to evoke triumph or confidence)
- Your opt-in form
- A submit button with a call to action (e.g., "Start Making Money Online" or "Get It Now")
- Legal information that includes your privacy statement
Check out this killer example from Marie Forleo. She's enticing her visitors with free audio training:
Smartblogger is another great example with their 52 Headline Hacks.
Step 5: Learn How to Write Captivating Blog Posts
It wouldn't be a successful blog without — you guessed it — blog posts.
But there's a lot of blog posts out there that just plain suck. That's because many bloggers writing for a blog is different from writing for school or the news. By the way, it may help to disregard 99% of what they teach you about writing in school.
Think about it.
Ever read a college journal article that didn't make you yawn? Or maybe you scratched your head, trying to decipher the word "anencephalous." This is what you don't want your blog posts to do.
When you're writing for your blog, keep these writing rules in mind:
- Use short paragraphs of two to five sentences
- Use a conversational writing style
- Avoid words you wouldn't use naturally (like anencephalous)
- Bullet points and numbered lists are your best friends
Also, you'll want your blog post to adhere to a certain structure. Here are the most popular types of blog articles (with examples!):
- How to Change Your Car Oil and Save Your Hard-Earned Money
- How to Make Money With WordPress In 48 hours
- 10 Business Ideas to Inspire Your Next Entrepreneurial Venture
- 5 Dog Treat Brands That Your Canine Friend Will Love
- The Office vs. Parks and Recreation: Which One Should You Watch?
- CalendlyReview: Is It Worth the Hype and Cost?
- 25 FREE Online Resources Every Digital Freelancer Needs
- 50 Quotes from Famous Leader to Motivate You
Cheat Sheets / Checklists
- The Ultimate Checklist for When You're Flying Abroad
- Your Cheat Sheet to Writing a Business Plan
- How to Get Published: The Ultimate Guide
- The Ultimate Guide to Bullet Journaling
- Case Study: How We Tripled Our Traffic in Just 2 Weeks
- How I Shed 25 Pounds By Changing My Diet and Exercise Routine
These blog post archetypes get recycled over and over again because they work.
People love patterns, lists, and step-by-step guides. Do your best to write all your blog posts within one of the above formats.
Step 6: Start Growing Your Blog
When you see a band, ever notice that less known bands precede them?
Guest blogging is kind of like that.
As a beginner blogger, people don't know you yet. Your readership is small, and your content receives less engagement. Guest blogging puts your blog in front of a larger audience within your niche.
Sounds cool, right? Here's how you can do it.
Do a quick Google search for the top blogs within your niche. Check which blogs are accepting guest submissions. If they do, carefully read their submission guidelines before pitching your article.
When pitching, keep it short and simple with a few sample headlines. Some blogs will require just a headline pitch — others may require for you to pitch the entire article. Pitching the article upfront can be tedious, but the increased exposure will be worth it. And if one blog doesn't accept it, you can just pitch it to another blog within your niche.
Don't Forget Your Byline
Guest blogging isn't just for getting your name out there. It's also effective in driving traffic to your landing page to collect emails. Do this with your author byline. When you submit a guest a post, you will usually be asked to include your photo and a brief byline.
When writing your byline, here's what NOT to do:
- Share irrelevant information. For example, you mention how you love hiking in your free time when your guest post is about online marketing.
- Make it too long. Just because the publication allows a 5-sentence byline doesn't mean you should use it all and drone on. Get to the point.
- Treat it like a resume. In the blogosphere, few people care where you want to college and your past jobs.
Here's an example of a lousy byline for a gardening blog:
Jennifer is a recent graduate of CalPoly. She is a customer service manager by day but finds true joy in the great outdoors. When she's not working or hiking outside, she's spending time with her two dogs and husband. If you like what Jennifer wrote, be sure to check out her blog Jennifer's Garden.
This byline is all over the place and tells you little about her blog. Don't follow Jennifer's example.
Here's what makes a good byline:
- It's 1-2 sentences
- You tell your readers what you do and what you write about
- You dedicate one sentence for linking to your opt-in page (not your homepage)
Using these tips, let's give Jennifer's byline a makeover:
Jennifer teaches overworked moms to relax through outdoor gardening on her blog Jennifer's Garden. If you're just starting out but already have your gloves and sunhat ready, download her FREE guide: Gardening 101 for Beginners.
See the difference?
This byline is so optimized for converting traffic into subscribers. Think of your byline as an elevator pitch for your blog and email list. After reading your byline, readers should know exactly what you do and what you can offer.
Research Top Influencers In Your Space
Hitting a slump happens in every blogger's career. Maybe your growth has stagnated, or you're feeling uninspired. When this happens, check out the most popular influencers within your space.
Start following them. Join their email lists. Watch their YouTube videos. Listen to their podcasts. Follow them on social media.
Pay attention to everything that they're doing. And this isn't stalking at all — it's research! You're learning about what it takes to climb the ladder within your chosen space.
- What are they doing that keeps them ranking on Google?
- How are they transforming their readers into raving fans?
- What topics are their blog articles about?
- What links are they sharing?
- Where else are they being featured?
- Are they collaborating with other influencers?
- How frequently do they publish?
- On which platforms are they most active?
- What free products or services do they offer?
- What paid products or services do they offer?
When building a popular and profitable blog, you don't need to reinvent the wheel every time. You can study strategies being used by real bloggers. Then tailor it to use in your own blog.
Add Social Media Share Buttons to Your Blog
If your content is useful, entertaining, or interesting, people want to share it. That's why you should enable sharing on your blog posts. If your content delivers genuine value, then your readers will market your blog for you.
Although, you'll want to limit the number of share buttons. Include only the social media platforms where your audience actually gathers. For example, if your blog is about knitting, then a share button for Pinterest would be useful. Pinterest might not be as popular, though, for a blog about first-person shooter games.
If you use WordPress, several plugins can add attractive and functional buttons for social media sharing:
- Social Snap
- Shared Counts
- Sassy Social Share
- Social Warfare
Step 7: Monetize Your Audience
By now, you're probably eager to know how a blogger can make money. After your blog starts gaining traction, you can start monetizing your audience. Here are a couple ways to do that:
#1 Affiliate Links
Don't think you need to create your own products to monetize your audience. Affiliate marketing allows you to make money by promoting another company's products.
Here's how it works:
- You reach out to a company to become one of their affiliate marketers.
- They provide you with a unique link to their store or a certain product.
- You share this link with your audience, usually in an email or a blog post.
- Each time a customer purchases something from the company through your link, you earn a percentage as commission.
Affiliate marketing is a great way to earn money by partnering with relevant brands. For example, if you run a makeup blog, you can become an affiliate partner for prominent makeup brands.
Here are some prominent companies that offer affiliate partnerships:
- Amazon Associates
- eBay Partners
#2 Sponsored Posts
As your blog grows, you can start leveraging your traffic for money. Companies notice when blogs start doing well. These companies will sometimes reach and request to publish an article on your blog. You, of course, will charge for this. Depending on how much traffic you can drive, you can charge anywhere between $100 and $1000 for a sponsored post.
You might think that's a lot of money. It certainly is, especially if you've just started monetizing your blog. Don't forget, though, that your business goals must always align with serving your audience.
If a sponsored post is irrelevant or doesn't align with your brand, then you should decline. People are quick to spot cheap sales tricks and will know when you've "sold out."
Always remember: credibility and brand loyalty is a greater asset than any sponsored post
#3 Launch a Course
E-courses are a profitable and scalable method to monetize your audience. And people love e-courses. You can build your knowledge and skills online while sitting in your pajamas. That's why online course marketplaces, like Udemy and Skillshare, are gaining popularity.
Creating an e-course, however, can be tough. The upfront work is significant — you'll undergo trials and errors before you perfect your e-course. But if you manage to create an e-course that is a success, your audience and bank account will thank you.
And you can create an e-course for anything.
Here are a couple of examples of digital creators with successful e-courses:
- Jordan Roper of Creative Revolt's Killer Cold Emailing course teaches freelancers how to land high-paying clients through cold emailing.
- Cathy Heller's Access Course teaches songwriters and artists how to make a six-figure living by licensing their music for TV shows, ads, and film.
The common theme is to teach their audience step-by-step how to achieve a specific result.
Here's how you can get started on your own e-course:
Decide on the Topic.
If you're unsure of what to create your course about, review your website analytics. What topics get the most traction and engagement?
You can also survey your audience. Ask them what they struggle with or what goal they want to achieve. If you're stuck between a few ideas, conduct a poll for which idea your audience likes best.
Similar to choosing your blog topic, you confirm that there's a demand for your content. The last thing you want is to invest resources into making an e-course that nobody is interested in or will buy.
Choose Your Content Format.
How will you deliver the content of your e-course? Will you create webinars with PDF guides? Will you publish step-by-step articles for your audience to go through sequentially?
Also, consider what e-course platform you will use. There are many online course software, like Thinkific and LearnWorlds, that enable you to create and sell your e-course.
Start Creating Your Content.
This is where the bulk of the legwork comes in. Creating a full e-course requires extensive planning and writing. Not only will you need to understand your topic thoroughly, but you'll need to teach it. And knowing and teaching are two different things.
The work is added if you're delivering your content in different mediums. In addition to blog articles, you might want to include videos and audio files. Perhaps you'll create a Facebook group where your students can interact.
It may be helpful to hire a copywriter and editor when writing your e-course. Their specialized knowledge will maximize structure, clarity, and value in your content.
Start Marketing Your Course.
Since you're a blogger, you can publish blog articles about your e-course topic and then pitch the course at the end.
For example, let's say that your course is about how to make money with website flipping. You can publish an article about all the different ways you can make money online. You can then conclude the list with website flipping. In that section, include a link to your e-course for your readers to learn more.
Other ways to build hype around your course include email marketing, partnering with influencers, and advertising on your social media platforms.
This monetization tactic is reserved for those whose websites are more service-based. This is exceptionally viable for blogs centered around building a high-income skill.
Consulting and blogging go well together because your content establishes your expertise and credibility. You need both of these before people trust you as a consultant. As customers engage with your brand, they begin to view you as an expert. Eventually, you can pitch your services as a consultant and turn your audience into paying customers.
If you're a copywriter, for example, you can publish helpful content about how to supplement your income as a freelance copywriter. After you build your audience, you can start offering consulting services. You can help struggling copywriters hone their craft and develop their businesses.
But copywriting is just one example. There are so many industries where you can offer your consulting services. Life coaching, accounting, and entrepreneurship are just a few additional examples to note.
#5 Google Adsense
Earning money can be easy when you use Google AdSense to display ads on your website. It's easy to sign up and is a quick way for bloggers to make money from their websites passively.
Each time one of your visitors clicks on an ad, Google charges the advertiser. The amount you can make per click can range between $0.20 to $15. This is why you should only use Google Adsense if your blog is attracting a significant amount of traffic. If you're only landing a couple of visitors per day, the money gained from this method may be nominal.
Signing up for Google Adsense is simple.
Here's how you can do it in three quick steps:
- Head to their website to apply electronically (the signup process will require an email address, your blog's URL, and your country).
- Next, you must connect your site to Adsense. Google will provide you a code to enter into your website's HTML. If you're unfamiliar with how to do this, check out their code implementation guide.
- Finally, Google will request your payment details so they can send payment for your ad performance. Please note that there is a payment threshold before you can withdraw. The United States, for example, requires you to have made $10 minimum before you can withdraw.
Also, if you're worried about Google showing irrelevant or spammy ads on your website, don't worry. Their algorithms display ads based on your content and the type of visitors. If your blog is about personal finance, for example, your visitors are more likely to see an ad about bank loans than one about kitchen appliances.
Step 8: Expand Your Sales Funnel
When you decide on how you want to monetize your audience, you'll want to build and expand your sales funnel. If you're unfamiliar with a sales funnel, it's just a series of steps to convert traffic into paying customers.
Because most customers don't just engage with your brand once and then buy from you. According to McKinsey & Company, consumers go through different phases before finally purchasing from you:
Your sales funnels are designed to lead your consumers through these stages with efficiency.
If you're creating a product to sell to your customer, you need to optimize your sales funnel. It isn't enough to just create value. You need to put that value in front of people who will buy it.
If you followed these steps in order, you've already started your sales funnel. You created a lead magnet. You published a landing page. And now you're converting visitors into subscribers. Once you have permission to email your audience, you can send emails to nudge them to make a purchase slowly. One of the best ways to do that is to begin an email drip campaign. Drip marketing is an email strategy designed to convert subscribers into buyers. Let's say that you're launching a drip campaign for your ebook about creating healthier habits.
Your email sequence could look like this:
- You engage your audience with a personal story about how you used to be sluggish and motivated. But after upgrading your habits, you've progressed your career, health, and relationships.
- You explain why it's so hard to create positive changes that stick. You pitch your book as a solution to this problem.
- If somebody adds to their cart but hasn't purchased, you can send a "cart abandonment" email. You remind them that the book is still sitting in their cart, and their best life is one click away.
Email drip marketing is all about building trust. With each email, you're strengthening your bond with your customers. When you finally build enough rapport, your reader is ready to hear your pitch and buy from you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How much money can you make from a blog?
The answer to a blogger's earnings vary. Unlike a conventional job, you don't have set hours or a fixed salary. There is potential, though, to earn a lot from your blog.
According to Glassdoor, a blogger makes an annual average of $32,934. There is a correlation: income increases the longer your blog is active. It's usually around year five of your blog, according to Financial Samurai, when you can expect your blog to hit six figures.
As you can see, blogging is a long-term strategy. But you can undoubtedly fast-track your growth and income, the more resources you dedicate to your blog.
Q: How do beginner blogs make money?
When you're new to blogging, you'll want to jump into all the ways to make money. But that's putting the cart before the horse. If you're brand new to blogging, you need to focus on doing the right steps in the right order:
- Doing careful research about your blog topic, niche, and target audience
- Building your website (choosing a domain name, host, and theme)
- Creating your lead magnet and landing page
- Growing your email list
- Publishing stellar content and increasing website traffic
Without completing these steps first, you won't have an audience to sell to. When starting out, it isn't about making money. It's about growing your audience. You need to focus all your efforts on building your audience before you even think about monetization tactics.
Doing things well and in the right order. That's how beginner bloggers make money.
Q: How long does it take to make money blogging?
Similar to how much money you make, this answer can vary.
If you already have a large following on another platform, like Instagram, you can expect your blog to grow quickly. A brand new blogger with no following may not have it as easy.
Don't let that discourage you. Even the newbie blogger with no following can make money within the first month. Again, it depends on how aggressive you are in marketing your blog.
Q: Who is the highest paid blogger?
Target Internet recently published an article about the top paid bloggers in 2019. That list included:
- Huffington Post at $41.6 million per month
- Endgadget at $3.95 million per month
- Moz at $3.74 million per month
Q: Is blogging a waste of time?
There are many benefits to blogging from a business perspective. Content marketing helps you:
- Rank on Google's search results
- Build your credibility and
- Drive traffic to your paid products and services.
While blogging can be helpful, it's not necessary to build a profitable business. Whether blogging is a waste of time depends on your type of business and your business goals.
Q: How can I make $1000 a month?
The great part about blogging is that it presents many opportunities to diversify your income. Review the earlier section about monetizing your audience, and you can choose which one most interests you.
You can, for example, make $600 a month by selling your e-courses. The remaining $400 you make is from your affiliate links and sponsored posts. Practice different methods for monetizing your audience, and you'll eventually hit $1000 a month.
Q: Is blogging dead in 2020?
This is a common question for people who are on the fence about starting a blog. People are skeptical because other social media platforms are on the rise. Instagram and YouTube are two examples where consumers are spending their time and money.
Still, their rise in popularity shouldn't suggest that blogging is a dying practice. Like email, having a blog is a business practice that can help you gain results. Content in written form is still widely consumed. That's why writing platforms like Quora and Medium, are still thriving.
So, no. Blogging is not dead in 2020. Blogging is still a viable business venture — but only if you're committed to putting in consistent work over the long term.
Q: How can I make $100 a day online?
In our earlier section, we covered several ways to make money through your blog. A combination of any of them will help you net $100 a day.
But blogging is just one way to hit your daily $100. Check out our article on how to make 100 dollars a day to learn other ways to boost your cash flow.
In early 2000, making money blogging sounded unbelievable. But now — blogging is a real business. And it has the potential to grow into a six-figure income source.
But only if you put in the work. Blogging is a long-term strategy with many moving parts. But if you're consistent and committed to delivering value, it will reward you over time.
But remember: Learning how to earn money blogging always starts with building your audience first. You need to build your following and establish your credibility. Only after you've done, this can you finally start monetizing your audience. And if you do it right, that audience will become raving fans ready to buy whatever you're selling.
One reason people go looking for information on how to earn a living from a blog is that they're ready to find their mission or calling in life. They want to build a business around that calling - a business that lets them call the shots in their life. They also want that business to create enough revenue that they can invest their profits to gain long-term wealth. If that sounds like you, we'd like to invite you to take a look at The One Percent. That's exactly what the entrepreneurs inside this community are doing... right now.