5 Ways to Make a Living Blogging

You may already be blogging. If not, get going! Start with a domain name, a reliable host, and WordPress. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.

Great, now you are blogging. You’ve got a topic you love, a passion to communicate, and a need to make it on your own. Now build an audience, that’s an absolute requirement. We’re patient, we’ll be here when you get back.

Okay, blog in place, adoring fans, regular schedule, and complete commitment. Now here’s some ways you can turn that dream into a financial reality.

1. Affiliate Marketing

Here’s a great place to start. Affiliate marketing is where you endorse another company’s product or service and take a commission for sales. Depending on the size of your audience (you did build a big audience with your terrific content, didn’t you?) your commission could be substantial. Be sure you are endorsing a company you believe in, not just the one that offers the most money. Your readers have learned to trust you and you need to be worthy of that trust in recommending companies you trust in turn.

If you join some good affiliate programs you get several advantages. You immediately have something for your readers to buy, something they want or need, that you think will be an attractive and useful purchase for them. And you don’t even have to make the product. You can concentrate of continuing to grow your audience after recommending your affiliate and the income is now almost entirely passive. Another subtle advantage is your commissions will make clear what products and services are selling to your readership, and therefore what might be a good avenue for you to investigate when you start selling your own creations.

2. Provide Services

Using your blog to find customers for a service you already provide, programming, graphic design, bookkeeping, whatever, can have money flowing from the first day your blog appears. This is an excellent way to have your income take off but has some drawback as your blog continues to expand (you are still getting more readers, aren’t you?). 

There are only so many hours in a day and the services you provide take up some of those hours. There can come a point where you have too much business, too much for you to handle alone, and you need to start expanding into a company rather than a one man show. If that’s your goal, congratulations! But if you want an independent income, but not as the owner of a business with employees, you need a model that doesn’t require you to put in hours providing services.

3. Sell Products

Once you have a big enough readership, you can begin to market directly to them with your own products. What products? That depends on you. Ebooks, templates, music, software, games, and graphics are all great choices, depending on where your passion and talent lies. Why? They are all digital. You put in a lot of effort up front to create them, but once you have you can sell them over and over again with no production cost and no inventory. This makes them another great passive income stream and with a much bigger profit margin than you can get from an affiliate program.

4. Sponsored Posts

This is one of the most talked about ways to make money from a blog, writing posts about a company’s product or service to promote it. Unlike an affiliate program, you get paid directly by the sponsor to put posts for their product in your blog. With a sponsor you have a deep and trusting relationship with, this can be a good thing. But there are legal requirements for disclosing that the post is sponsored and your readers may feel the association tarnishes your credibility. 

If you get paid to recommend a product, how can a reader know if you honestly believe in it or are just doing it for the money? If you’ve built up a bank of trust with your readers, you can weather this, but early on it may be difficult to convince people you are being objective.

5. Advertising

This is last as it is one of the most controversial income streams. Many people recommend putting paid advertising on your blog, and nearly as many recommend you don’t, or at least limit it severely. There are a number of reasons for this. 

First, there are two main methods for calculating payment for ads, Cost Per Click (CPC) and Cost per thousand Impressions (CPM, roman numeral M is one thousand). Detractors say the return from CPC is so much less than affiliate marketing it’s just a waste. They say CPM is nearly as bad. 

Also, these ads can clutter up the site, distracting readers from your content, slowing the load time of your pages with graphic heavy ads and using images that don’t fit with your aesthetic vision of the page. Finally, without strict monitoring, advertisers you don’t approve of or are inappropriate to your site could appear.

In their favor, ads are passive income, generating revenue simply by existing. And the more annoying they are… that is, the more likely a reader is to view them, the more money they earn for the site. Ads in the sidebar don’t pay as much as in the header. Pop up ads covering the whole page pay even more. The rates quoted can seem very tempting since there’s so little work involved. But compared to the other methods already listed, many sites find they represent a small fraction of their revenue. But a great many sites use only advertising and so have no basis for comparison.

This is only a small selection of ways a clever entrepreneur can make a living as their own boss running a blog. And even this selection can be broken down into many more variants. If you want to make a living blogging, or better yet a fortune, you need to dig into each of these and the other strategies available and make a plan for your success. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

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