Finding a reason to start writing a blog for a living isn't difficult, especially if you can become rich while working at home and covering topics you're passionate about. But the reality is, to create a successful and lucrative blog, you need to build traffic, develop readership and monetize your content with the right advertising or affiliate marketing strategy. To get started, here's your step-by-step guide to make money blogging:
-- Create a realistic budget.
-- Start writing.
-- Look for advertising opportunities.
-- Develop email subscribers.
-- Don't expect to get rich overnight.
[Read: Best Small Business Apps.]
Create a Realistic Budget
To start generating money from your blog, you'll first need to spend money on it to get it off the ground. You'll need to register for a domain name, which typically costs about $10 to $15 to use for a year. Plus, you'll need to find a hosting website. Some hosting websites enable you to use a domain name for free, including WordPress.com, Weebly.com and Tumblr.com. Other sites require you to pay to host your blog content (think: WordPress.org, GoDaddy.com, Squarespace.com and Blogger.com).
Prices vary, depending on the site, and other factors, such as how many posts you put up and how many visitors your blog gets. For instance, Squarespace can cost $12 to $40 a month, depending on whether you're a hobbyist running a blog or turning your blog into a lucrative business where you're selling products and running advertisements.
April Lee, who runs LoveOurRealLife.com, a DIY, home decor and organization blog, and lives in Lee's Summit, Missouri, says you should expect to pay a hefty sum to get your blog up and running. "Plan on spending a minimum of $1,000 in the first year to pay for blog hosting, blog theme, monthly email marketing software and basic courses to get started."
Before you invest a dime into your blog, start writing and see if you have the energy and time to write a lot of blog posts. Some blogs have daily posts; many have at least a new post per week. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of money setting up a blog and a few weeks later decide it's not for you. Once you have a rhythm going, you'll need to carefully consider other logistics, including how you will monetize your content.
"Find a topic you're really passionate about, because if you don't, after a month you'll dread writing post after post about something you're just lukewarm about," says John Pham, the Boston-based writer of The Money Ninja blog. "The other requirement is to find something you can write a million things on. Travel, finance and cooking recipes blogs are examples that can have an endless amount of things to draw upon," Pham says.
Look for Advertising Opportunities
As readers start visiting your blog, you'll want to look for ways to find advertisers. There are a number of advertising programs you'll want to look at, including Google's AdSense and BlogAds.com.
You may also want to consider affiliate marketing, where if somebody clicks on the ad, you may get paid, a type of marketing called pay per click (also known as PPC). How you're paid through affiliate marketing can vary; some programs won't give you a commission unless a user makes a purchase. Some reputable affiliate marketing programs to consider include Rakuten LinkShare, ClickBank and Amazon.
However, don't expect to get rich quickly. For instance, if you're being paid by people viewing ads on your website, you may only get $2 for every 1,000 visitors. If you're being paid a commission per sale, you may get anywhere from 5% to 30%.
Develop Email Subscribers
Once you've accumulate traffic to your site, you'll want to consider creating a subscriber base for an email newsletter. You can make money if you have ads embedded in your email, for instance, and of course, the email is a way to get people to visit your blog.
The more users visit your blog, the better the odds of making some money from ads or products and services marketed on your blog. That's why many bloggers recommend trying to get visitors to subscribe to an email newsletter to boost retention rates. To develop your audience and gain new readers, you'll need to market your blog on social media or create a search engine optimization strategy to entice users to your site through search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.
"A robust email list is the only thing that's fully in your control," says Vered DeLeeuw, the San Francisco-based founder of HealthyRecipesBlogs.com. "Search engines and social media platforms change the rules quite often and you could lose your traffic from them overnight. An email list is far more dependable."
If you have an email list of 10,000 followers, and visitors do stop coming to your blog because people aren't find your blog through search engines, you can at least target users on your email list. What's more, if you send an email newsletter weekly or daily, you can develop a relationship with your users and enhance engagement and repeat visits to your blog.
Don't Expect to Get Rich Overnight
"You need to be patient and trudge through. It can be discouraging when it seems like your site is only read by you and your family," Pham says. It takes time, energy and commitment to build a following -- and create a blog that users visit regularly.
"Blogging is a great side hustle that can certainly turn into a full-time job with patience and hard work. But it's not easy," Lee says. "I began blogging in January of 2017 and did not make over $200 per month until April of 2019. That is a lot of work for a small return."
Lee says currently she is making more than $1,500 a month through her blog. But of course, it's not enough to live on. Fortunately, Lee's spouse is employed full time, and she works part time as a hospital-based speech language pathologist. "I spend approximately 20 hours per week on my blog at this point, so my personal ROI is still not great," Lee says. "However, the flexibility blogging allows for a busy family is wonderful. It's given me the opportunity to have a start-up business, which has always been a dream, without a huge financial burden for my family."