I have been blogging for over a year and have been getting tons of questions from people aspiring to make money blogging. People tell me their plans and I don’t know how to nicely let them know that they should tweak their plan if they want to be successful. Honestly, I thought I would rock at blogging because I’ve always been pretty good at writing, I have a graphic design degree, and was a professional photographer. I was wrong. This blogging thing took more figuring out than I originally imagined; even when I was sure I had it all figured out. It hasn’t been easy but I have loved every single second of it. Blogging has provided the freedom I always dreamed of. Those of you with those same dreams, I want to answer for you the 7 most asked questions about how to make money blogging.
*This post contains affiliate links. I may make a commission on anything I recommend, but all opinions are my own.
Start on the right foot
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You must make money from ads, right?
I had a friend ask me this, “I think you make money from ads, but I don’t see any ads on your site.”
At the time I was working with a different ad company than I am now and I worked hard to keep my ads at a minimum so her comment thrilled me. That was my goal. Keep the site clean and easy to read above all else.
But yes, I was (and still am) making money from ads.
Making money from ads has been one of the easiest ways to bring in an income from the blog, but it has been the least exciting! I’m the kind of girl who prefers a much more hands-on approach. That’s why I want to talk about all the other ways to make money with your blog.
Different ways to make money with blogging
- Affiliate marketing
- Working with brands
- Creating your own products
There are multiple different ways to make a passive income which is why so many people are drawn to it.
What is passive income? Passive income is when you do the work once and keep getting paid over and over for it.
This concept is very intriguing but definitely takes some time and effort to figure out.
What is affiliate marketing?
Many companies are now starting up an affiliate marketing program. This is a great way for them to help spread the word about their brand, product, services or whatever else they have to offer and they don’t have to lift a finger.
By joining an affiliate marketing program, you will get a special code to share with your readers when promoting a specific company. Whenever someone clicks on that code and makes a purchase, you will earn a commission.
It’s just like those shopping apps you might be using. “Get $5 when you share this with a friend!” You get your special code, share it on your social media or in an e-mail and if a friend does sign up, you get your $5.
Why I love affiliate marketing
Personally, I love affiliate marketing because I am a natural chatter-box. It comes naturally for me to recommend products or services that I believe in. I have done it my whole life and never made a cent. If I only would have known sooner.
Affiliate marketing is very simple once you get the hang of it and can actually end up creating a very lucrative income. Your commissions, of course, will vary depending on the brands you promote and the type of blog you have.
Get started with affiliate marketing
Starting up with affiliate marketing can be overwhelming, but it really doesn’t have to be.
I first got started with Amazon Associates and personally wouldn’t recommend it to other bloggers starting out. Instead, try out a platform like ShareASale. They have a database that is easy to search through and simple to use.
One of the free lectures in my course will show you step by step how to use ShareASale affiliate links! Get the lecture!
You can browse the different categories and immediately get access to all the different brands with affiliate programs. For example, if you searched: Fitness, you might get linked to different weight loss companies, protein shakes or workout equipment places.
Here is an example of an affiliate program in my niche: finances.
This is for Brightpeak Financial. You can take a peek at their sales page, some of their keywords and how much you’ll get paid “per lead.” Per lead means you don’t necessarily need to make a sale to earn $5.
What is a lead? A lead often means having someone entering their name and information in order to get themselves something for free. In this case it is a Brightpeak financial email course. When someone does I would earn a $5 commission for recommending them.
You can also see here that for Brightpeak Financial, I have a “Pending Approval” which means I have applied to be a part of this affiliate and they are currently reviewing my application.
Once an affiliate has accepted my application, I will be given a special code that I can use to put into my posts and share with my readers.
Tips for smart affiliate marketing
- Truly believe in the affiliates you support – Don’t let money get in the way of you being genuine with your readers
- Don’t sound salesy – If I were promoting a laundry detergent, it would sound pretty tacky and inauthentic if I said something like, “The best new laundry detergent on the market will get your clothes cleaner than ever!” versus simply saying, “My family and I have started using an awesome new detergent and it has done wonders when it comes to removing my kid’s grass-stained pants!”
- Don’t fill every post with affiliate links – Readers will pick up on it if all your posts are packed full of sales links. Make sure you are writing genuine posts.
- Often times I don’t plan a post to have affiliate links in it at all and somewhere along the line I happen to pop one in. I don’t avoid them, I just do my best to be authentic.
- Tell people you are using them! – This one is important and actually a legal matter. If you have affiliate links in your post, you must disclose this to your readers!
- Purchase a course specifically about affiliate marketing
How do you work with brands?
Working with brands can be overwhelming at first. When you are just getting started blogging, you should put your focus on other places before working with brands.
The best way to get your blog out there is by signing up for companies that do the work for you.
Influencer companies to start with:
What do Influencer companies do?
When you sign up for any of these types of sites, they immediately keep track of your blog and social media traffic for you.
You are also able to create a profile that describes your blog and the types of brands you are willing to work with.
From there, influencer companies will match you up with brands that might be a good fit for your blog.
Whenever I feel like I would be able to contribute to that particular company with a sponsored post, I apply.
Just because you apply does not mean you will get the post. It just means you are able to submit an application and if they chose to work with you, you will hear back.
Smart tips for working with brands
- Don’t accept brands you don’t actually support.
- Make sure you can still be honest and authentic in your blog post.
- Money should not come before authenticity.
As hard as it has been at times, I have not applied to certain sponsored post offers because I couldn’t honestly see myself promoting that particular brand. I want to be authentic for each brand and for my readers.
Some examples of sponsored posts:
How do you create your own product?
Depending on your blogging niche, there will be a variety of products that you can create.
Personally, since starting my blog, I have taken advantage of many other blogger’s products and courses in order to help me improve when it comes to being a successful blogger.
The first product I decided to create for myself was my Fun Sized Budget Bundle.
Feel free to click on it and take a peek. It’s a very simple course that’s available for only $12. The price has varied since I originally started it, but I have already made over $1,000 through this course alone.
Even better is my Stay at Home Blogger course! It has a 4 phase action plan to help you create a money-making website from home in your spare time!
How to sell your own product
- Easy Digital Download – This is what I used to create my Budget Bundle from the start. It was fast, easy to use and allowed me to start selling my downloads.
- Teachable – This is the platform I am now using for my bundle because I am working on creating a bigger and better financial course and also want to incorporate affiliates into my courses!
- WooCommerce – WooCommerce is great if you have actual product that you are trying to sell through your blog! I haven’t used them personally but they are one of the top online sales plugins available.
Tips for creating your own product:
- Write what you know – Don’t try to create something that isn’t true to you and your blog
- Base your product off of your top performing blog posts – You already know this is an area that people are wanting to hear from you. Go with it.
None of this will work if. . .
- You don’t commit your time – Starting a blog is a major time commitment. In order to help me take blogging seriously, I would tell my kids, “Mom needs to work.” Even before I was making a profit at all from blogging, I wanted to take it seriously so that eventually it would be as profitable as I had hoped it would.
- You don’t stay consistent – Not only does Google appreciate when you are consistently posting, but your readers do too. Showing that you are an active blog will keep people engaged and help you grab the attention of the search engines as well.
- You aren’t active on social media – Everyone has a different social media following. That’s ok. Be active on social media you are already familiar with and work to build up that audience. This will help you engage with your readers and show brands that you are worth investing in.
- My personal opinion on social media is to focus on Pinterest. Because Pinterest is its own unique search engine, you stand the chance of gaining the most momentum from it. Don’t miss out! Even if you are not comfortable with Pinterest, it’s important to use it.
- You don’t help others – When I browse Pinterest looking for other blogger’s content to share, nothing makes my skin crawl more than a Pin that says something like this, “My Weekend Recap.” — Tell me, if you were browsing Pinterest (or searching on Google) are you going to read a post that says this? Probably not. Why? Because you have no idea who this person is. Why should we care about what they did this weekend? How does it benefit us in any way? Make sure you are thinking about your readers and their wants. That is the best way to find success with blogging.
Where do I even start?
There are a ton of free blogging options available when you are first starting out and I know they can be tempting. I’m here to tell you not to even bother.
These free hosting options are great if you plan to have your blog as a hobby. If you are hoping to make money from this someday, jump in with all the faith you can muster and get a self-hosted site immediately. Here’s a step by step guide.
Once your domain is all set up, the next step is to get started with an e-mail list. Doing this right away was something I heard from almost every experienced blogger right off the bat. Do you know why they suggest it? Because they didn’t do it!
Having an e-mail list gives you a direct link to a group of people who you know want to get updates from you! That is a powerful tool to have and one you definitely don’t want to put on the back burner! You can read a little about my personal e-mail host and how they helped me grow my list to over 7,000 now!
Quality everything should be a top priority…especially images!
When you are using images in your post, you can either take your own or use stock photos. The site I use most frequently for my in-post photos is Pixabay. All of their images are totally free and really great quality.
Another type of image to make sure you are doing your absolute best with is Pinterest. People browsing Pinterest will get their very first impression of you based on the images you create.
Tips for creating the best Pinterest images
- Use a program like Canva – They have a variety of free photos and illustrations to choose from or you can upload your own. They also offer word templates or you can create your own!
- Create long images – Some are saying that these days the image size doesn’t necessarily matter, but there’s no denying that a big image is going to stand out more than a small one. So I say, stick with the bigger ones. Canva has these image sizes in presets as well. (See the Pinterest Graphic option below. — I usually use Infographic.)
- Don’t let your images dominate – I struggled with this when first starting out because I let my image almost cover up the words. It was too much. See the difference between an older post of mine versus a newer, redone image. Keep in mind this isn’t the worst original image by any means but it’s a little tougher to read and the picture didn’t really add anything to it, it kind of took away from it. The redone version is cleaner, clearer and more to the point.
If you were starting any other business or any other profession, chances are you would get some experience or hands-on training before jumping into work. You do this so that you can be your absolute best in the job you are in. The same goes for running a blog.
Investing in training is investing in yourself and your success.
Everything you need to know
For bloggers just getting started I recommend starting with Stay at Home Blogger. This course has all of this information and more. Plus it is one of the most affordable blogging courses out there.
How much does it cost to start?
Don’t worry, there isn’t as much start-up cost to blogging as you might think.
- Get started with BlueHost for as little as $48 for the whole year
- You can use the free WordPress themes or select one of your own. Mine was $50
- Stay at Home Blogger: 4 Phase action plan to building an online empire in your spare time.
- Get a FREE email setup with Constant Contact (Price will change depending on features and as your e-mail list grows.)
Total: $148 – $198
Other recommended purchases
There are a few other features that you will want to consider adding right away or investing in when you have more money set aside:
- Tailwind – This is a Pinterest scheduler that allows you to pin your pins ahead of time so you aren’t spending your whole life on Pinterest. Your pins get scheduled throughout the entire day which will bring in more viewers.
When will I make money?
I can’t answer that, but don’t count on it being right away.
I didn’t make anything until after 9 months (besides a few pennies here and there.)
You just have to keep at it, keep improving and doing your best to promote yourself and your blog. That’s the only way this will work. If you don’t promote yourself and don’t put in the work, it will show through on the blog. Consequently, you won’t get any traffic.
- Quality before quantity – Make sure what you are writing is helpful to others. Take your time and create a great post. It’s better to create one high-quality post a week than 5 half-assed posts that no one wants to read.
- Keep at it – No business sees success overnight and the few that do are not the average. Some days will be worse than others. Just keep going if you plan on reaching your goals.