Make Money through Blogging!

u/followme

You're probably not going to make money blogging.

A few times a week I see questions on r/blogging asking stuff like:

"How much can I make with X?"

"Is X a profitable topic to blog about?"

"How much money can I make with X views?"

Those questions indicate that you're already on the wrong path to making money.

What's a blog, really?
The term "blogging" has been diluted to the point where it can mean drastically different things, and that contributes to the confusion and unrealistic expectations. A "blog" used to be someone's personal soapbox \- it was a platform for their opinions and experiences. There was (and for the most part, still isn't) any money in a "true blog". Those don't garner enough web traffic or attention to make money.

The "blogs" that do make money are usually better described as "niche sites" or "affiliate sites". If you have a website about gardening, or cooking, or parenting, or woodworking, or any other specific subject \- that's a niche website. Any site that monetizes primarily through affiliate programs (getting a commission for helping to sell a product or convert a lead) is an affiliate site. Most niche sites are affiliate sites, but non-niche affiliate sites exist too \- they're mostly just lists of product reviews.

The way you approach a personal blog and the way you approach a website intended to make money are totally different.

The difficulty of carving out your niche.
The days of "if you build it, they will come" are long gone. Simply writing an interesting, accurate, informative, or entertaining post will not guarantee people ever see it. Far from it, actually.

Search engine rankings are extremely competitive. If you don't consider search engine optimization (SEO) in the way you write and structure your post (and indeed, your whole site), strangers will never find you in the search results.

No, SEO isn't "fair". Bigger websites are trusted and favored. The incumbents are firmly entrenched. If you don't have massive resources (time, capital, expertise and personal authority) it's not feasible to compete directly. All you can hope for is table scraps.

Social media isn't the answer either. Without a dedicated social media strategy and consistent effort, you'll get little traffic from those sources either. Every popular social media company has continually decreased the amount of organic reach individuals and especially businesses can achieve to force them to pay for advertisement.

And even if you do all that right, you're at the mercy of Google, who can (and often does) change their search algorithms. They alter the criteria that determines search rankings, seemingly on a whim, and demolish 6-figure businesses overnight.

Realistic blogging expectations
So, no, it's not feasible to casually talk about your love of coffee and get paid for it. It's all or nothing. You have to commit huge amounts of time and/or money, learn and implement SEO, and create and maintain social media accounts whether you want to or not.

It takes 8 or so months MINIMUM to begin to see a return on that initial investment. Many sites don't make any significant money for several YEARS \- and that's assuming there has been consistent effort throughout the whole duration.

That's hundreds of weeks of keyword research, article writing, editing, sourcing photos, finding affiliate programs, interacting on social media, creating email campaigns, making infographics, networking with other bloggers, staying current on SEO practices, and updating old things that aren't relevant anymore.

Blogging burnout
So you better be passionate about your niche, right? There's all sorts of conventional wisdom about that. The adage "Do what you love and you'll never work another day in your life." The commonly retold advice to have 3 hobbies: one to keep you creative, one to keep you in shape, and one to make you money.

That's all bullshit.

I was passionate about succulents. I still like them, but I used to be consumed by them. My succulent blog, which I did for fun, took off and became successful. Then it stopped being fun.

It was no longer "when I felt like it", because I learned that consistent posting is a ranking factor. I had to do things I hate, like use Instagram. I liked writing posts, but after I was done there was a checklist of chores I didn't like that took just as long to complete as writing did.

I burned out. I recovered, through great effort, because the site was making greater than $500 a month and I knew it could make a lot more. But now it's a secondary job, not my passion.

How to blog successfully
Set your expectations before you begin.

If you want to blog as a hobby, do it. It costs little or nothing to get started. You meet cool people. You learn new stuff. It feels good to create.

Just don't expect to make money, or even to have an audience. You'll need to be okay with throwing your words out into the void and having them be invisible.

If you want to blog for money, do it. But take it seriously or you'll just waste your time and money. Niche sites are a booming business and it's never been more competitive, so act like you're opening a restaurant on Main Street and prepare as well as you can.

And don't research by looking at "blogging" resources, like r/blogging The concentration of money-making blogs here is very low. Your search terms should be "affiliate marketing" and "niche site", because that's what you're going to be doing.

Just because it's competitive doesn't mean it's impossible \- and the payoff can certainly be great. It won't be easy, but then, nothing valuable is ever easy.

Good luck.
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applezoid
I'm on my second blog, and I will say this is mostly true. Some thoughts:
👉 You definitely have to write about what you love. And this should determine your niche more than anything. Why? One, you will be authentic, because you actually care about what you're writing and are more likely to develop a unique perspective. In the adage of pro wrestling, you can be a hero or a heel, but you can't be boring. I read a ton of blogs in my personal finance niche, and I can tell which ones have a real voice and which ones are just repeating what they've heard without much original thought.
👉 Competition: Yes, but bloggers are also collaborative. I help promote the blogs I like in the personal finance niche, and they in turn promote me. It's not always one-to-one, sometimes the "payback" (and don't think of it in those terms) comes much farther down the road. And I don't do it to get a return, I promo blogs I think are great and have something to say.
👉 Money: If it's you're only concern, blogging isn't the thing for you. Blog if you care about something, have a unique perspective on it, and want to share it. I have had up months and down months, but overall my blog has been in the black, and was so after a few months (much quicker than my previous blog). I agree with another commenter that there should be a period of thought and planning, but eventually you just have the pull the trigger. I still think I mostly found my voice for my current blog from just doing it. I doubt my blog will ever be more than a side hustle and I'm OK with that, because the first priority is doing it because I enjoy it.

Well, those are my thoughts on the matter. I also agree with the other commenter who said the phrase do what you love and you will never work a day in your life is BS. It totally is. Work is work. Just because you love it doesn't mean it always loves you. It just beats doing something you hate.

whill
How many blogs would you recommend to already have written before "pulling the trigger"?

Thanks!

applezoid
Sorry, been off Reddit for a while haha Really I think whatever you're comfortable with. You'll find your voice the more you write, and those old posts will be long forgotten and seen by hardly anyone. If you get big enough that people start going back and reading through all your posts from the beginning, maybe you'll go back and revise them with a new reader in mind, but that's a long way down the road. Get a rough idea of what you want to do and start blogging!
ItsMeMrD
Hi, I'm about to start a travel blog. I'm doing it as I love traveling and also as my girlfriend kept saying that I should do a blog as I tell stories really well. So now I'm doing it. I really don't expect to make money, it's just a thing I want to do. But, how do you actually make money from a blog? I don't get how it pays.
applezoid
There's a few ways, but the easiest are through ads on the site. So if you get a blog through say Bluehost or another hosted platform, you can use plug-ins to add Google adsense to your page. When you grow your audience there are higher paying ones such as MediaVine but you need like 25,000 visitors per month or something like that. Google adsense has no restrictions.

I also use Amazon affiliate links. Basically is someone clicks a link in your blog to Amazon and buys something, you get a small commission. I only link to products I use and like myself, and I only include links where it fits naturally. I'm also clear about what links are affiliate links. It's generally considered a good practice.

There are other affiliates programs that fit different blogs. A lot of travel blogs seem to have a certain travel insurance program as one affiliate. Keep an eye on blogs in your genre and see what they use.

Those are the ones I'm familiar with – I hope that helps!
ItsMeMrD
Thanks a lot mate, I appreciate you taking the time to reply to me. It does help as I had no idea about any of those things bar the ads to be honest. Maybe something I should look into.

Mine will be through WordPress, I assume I can still do those things with that
applezoid
Mine is too, but if you want ads you need to have it hosted somewhere. Mine is hosted through Bluehost but there are others as well. You can use the free ones from WordPress but they don't allow ads (at least they didn't) but I'm pretty sure you could still do affiliate links.

One thing related to affiliate links – I have them for personal accounts to. Like, if I talk about cell phones for some reason I will include by Ting referral code – if someone signs up we both get a $25 credit. It's not "income" per se, but counts toward the good since it's $25 I'm not spending on my already very low cell phone bill.
ItsMeMrD
Oh right, interesting. I did everything through WordPress so I therefore probably can't do ads if what you say is true.

I clearly no nothing about blogging, which I already knew to be fair. It's food for thought. I asume I can switch to another host if I need to?

That's still a good deal with the phones.

Edit: just Googled if it allows ads and the first answer said yes, through WordAds. Their official thing that lets external ads be used.
applezoid
Yeah, you can migrate a WordPress blog from the free one to a hosted one. That's what I did with my first one. The process was simple enough that I could handle it.

Interesting about the adwords – that's one way to make money. I know nothing about how effective it is. I don't even think adsense is that effective, though it seems like you can earn more from it than you used to. I earn almost the same now getting between 30-60 hits a day (with the occasional spike in the hundreds) as I used to with more like 500-800.
ItsMeMrD
I'm sure I'll never make money from it, but lwt's be honest, if I made anything it's a very welcome bonus!

So, when you pay for one of the 4 options they offer. Personal, Freelance, something else and Professional, that isn't the hosting you're paying for? It's the options of how to design your blog is it? The more expensive ones were for money transaction sites it said. So the hosting is free but I paid for the designs and layout options? I got the Freelance one by the way.

ChaoticanWriter
I would say that most of this is true, but drawing an organic crowd via Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is still possible, provided that you are providing something that people are ->actively searching for<- regularly.

For example, I have an article that's 25 Fantasy Writing Prompts. … It technically a listicle. Its something that's consistently in demand by people looking for prompts to write stories, or practice writing, and it's a niche specific to those interested in fantasy.

The view count is ~6000. Definitely the most popular article on my site.

I'd say if you have interesting articles, it's best to leverage it with things that attract traffic.
👉 A formula that works (listicle, "Top 10", Number)
👉 A topic that people actively search for (writing prompts)
👉 A niche within that topic that stand out to people who are looking for a specific thing (fantasy).
👉 All of the traditional SEO boxes checked.
👉 Time… Lots of time. … This article has been around for about a year. Little less.
Granted, I make no money on my site.
It's a hobby site. I haven't gotten to the point of configuring/optimizing it for ad revenue.

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