The Aim of this rather long post is twofold.
I want to scare you away from “Blogging for Money” for good. It’s more likely you will lose a lot of time than end up with a money. I will explain why in a minute.
If by any chance, you find yourself head nodding on every chapter you are about to read, the second aim of the post is just that. To set your expectations right and prepare you for a success.
As an intro to an expectations chapter, let me explain the nifty menu below. Clicking on each title, you will head up to the chapter in the post. While it’s convenient for skipping things around, you should read the whole thing. Seventy times.
And for those of you in a skipping mood, there is a funny research that may explain why you clicked the last item first. I know you spotted that one!
Whatever the kind you may be, the gift will be waiting for you, so take your time and read the whole post. You will cherish the gift even more.
Skipping Mood Menu
Setting The Right Expectations
What is a Niche and What To Do About It?
Before You Write a Single Word: Click Here to Continue
What’s the purpose of a blog anyway
Monetization Strategy for a Brand New Blog
Reality Check: Too much work!
Setting The Right Expectations
Running a blog is a lot of fun. You can show your creative side. You don’t have a boss or working hours. It is all up to you.
Or at least with a journal blogs.
The ones made for ourselves, friends and family. A lot of fun!
But if you want your blog to produce coins, things can get messy, costly, boring and not working at all. I learned it hard way.
Related post: How I Earned 4$ with a 2600$ Investment
I don’t take things lightly anymore and now I believe in order to run even a lemonade stand you need to have a solid plan of operations and a little entrepreneur inside you!
With a blog planned for success, there is a lot of moving parts to research, practice and learn about.
- Niche and Audience Research
- Content Writing and Promotion
- Networking with other bloggers
- Outsourcing things you’re not very good at
- Making sense of time spent on those moving parts
- Making money while doing all of this
You may dislike me for saying it and I’ll be glad, but there is no fast track to a successful blog. The secret ingredient behind every single successful blog is a persistence and patience.
If this was a podcast, I would say that again. So make sure to read the sentence twice.
Nothing will work from the get-go. That’s why you need to be persistent. You have to find your own way of doing things.
For example, networking with bloggers can be done in more than 10 ways as I know of. It will take some time for you to grasp the basics and try them all after you will find an optimal way of doing it.
Same thing with the content promotion. That’s why you need to be patient.
There you go. Your Secret Sauce.
Let me ruin your “passive income” dream even more.
Here is a simple complication element to already complex process.
Not knowing what to do next, why would you do it and when would be the right time for doing it.
The order of confusion is not of a big significance.
That’s why you need a plan of action.
A proven system if you like.
Setting the stage for success
To make a long story short, do not expect to make any money in the first couple of months. Or at least not a meaningful sum.
While ‘meaningful’ has a different meaning to a different people, keep in mind that you are in a process of building things up. You are preparing the stage so you can earn later. That’s the game for the first few months.
Importance of great content. It takes a serious work to produce a quality content. Even as a side project, it will take a few Moons around the Earth at a beginning. It took me 10 days to finish this post. There is no mass production of any kind. Ten days for one post!
You want your every post to be way better than whats already out there. You want to do a quality groundwork for what comes next.
That may be a content promotion so you get a traffic in form of real people reading your content. Once the real humans start saying short sentences like “Wow!” at your content, they will most probably sign up for your email newsletter.
Actually, You can do the same here!
Unlike any other species, we always want more. You just have to like us.
Once they are on your email list, they want more valuable content, they are about to become fans of your blog.
The whole process starts because of a right content.
Promoting the content. Then, once you’re getting used producing an awesome content, you will spend at least twice the time to promote it. It will take me at least a month of promoting this post for what I want it to accomplish.
As our little lemonade entrepreneur may not know, no matter the optimal mix of lemon, sugar, and ice you come up with, and no matter how thirsty I may be, I will not be ABLE TO BUY your lemonade. At least until I don’t see you or heard about your yellow bell stand on wheels.
You have to find me. You have to find other thirsty people like me. You need to know where we hang out, what we talk about, the more the better. You must drive that lemonade stand around and give the lemonade for free if you need to. It takes time and it never ends.
That’s what you will do. With the content.
Collecting Payments. What I believe is in order to get something of value for yourself, you want to give a lot of value up front. And because you want to, not because you need to. Because you care about your audience. You want them to succeed as bad as they want it for themselves. Maybe even more, because they don’t see the full potential yet.
Giving an in-depth and valuable content away for free like you don’t expect anything in return. Ever.
But it takes time for people to engage with your content. It is in our nature. Trust takes time. So, persistence and patience. Your secret, remember?
Once you give enough of free lemonade, you need to find a way to earn something back.
If you did a homework defining your audience, it’s just a matter of time for your blog to become a trustworthy niche destination.
It won’t happen overnight, but when you collect enough blog fans (email subscribers) it gives you an opportunity to sell a product or service to them.
That’s how you collect payments for your lemonade.
Scared yet? It sounds like a lot of work.
It’s because It is.
On the other side, everything that goes into blogging as a business can be learned by anyone who is willing to put a work into it.
You have that privilege to run a business (blog) without an overhead. Except the time invested, you can run a blog with less than 150$ per year. As a solopreneur, you are faster and more flexible as a one-man show still having the potential of business earnings. Earning $10.000 a month is something a lot of small businesses would be proud of.
And you can work on it as a side project.
One step at a time.
The first thing you need to find out is what are you going to write about. What would be an overall theme of your blog’s content? What is your niche?
If you are still convinced that running a blog is better than operating a lemonade stand, read on. You hustler!
What is a Niche and What To Do About It?
Niche is simply an overall theme of your blog’s content. It’s the topic of your articles. It is the thing you are going to write about until you hit every possible keyboard combination.
And because of that, the topic you choose should be something that excites you so much that you want to learn and research all about it. That can be a topic you constantly talk about in your circle of friends and they often find you boring because of it.
Like, here’s John, let’s hear whats new in a running is good for your health world meh.
They still like you, don’t you worry! You’re not boring, you just can’t help it.
When I say niche, I mean something like health or fitness niche, love, and relationships, food niche, lifestyle niches like travel or parenting.
It may be cool if you’re a little obsessed with it. Think Jamie Oliver.
You don’t have to be an expert, though. You will do a lot of research from many angles, trying to produce better article than whats in the first few pages of Google.
For anyone still reading this, with a little can-do attitude and a genuine interest in the topic, you’ll have the right content for your blog. And practice makes perfect.
That’s why it’s imperative to choose a niche that you don’t get bored with. This is going to be a marathon and it must be fun.
There is an urge to show you an example
I will do my best to write an article about planting Agava’s if there is a profit. I will put to work and die few times during the research. Even though my pain threshold is very low, I will do my best and finish it!
Once I publish it I will need to show it to 100 other Agava bloggers. If you think it is getting easier with time, it doesn’t. Not to mention, I should write 99 more Agava posts. No way!
On the other hand, writing 100 articles about guys trapped in the friend zone? Keep the money, I will write 100 best articles the Internet has ever seen.
When I was 18, I’ve experienced the friend zone myself. It sucks big time. Even when you accept that she loves you, but only as a friend it’s not easy to get off the wagon. Because that’s what you want if you cherish your sanity.
I was so deep into research and Web was still young. If I only had a proper job with a credit card I would work double shifts just so I can buy every eBook I can find.
That’s the power of matching the right information with the right audience.
You address the problem and offer a solution in form of information. Those can be in-depth how-to blog posts or smaller posts targeting specifics in your niche. Helpful and entertaining content.
That’s all you need to know really. Don’t get caught in monetization when choosing a niche. It’s irrelevant in this phase.
Digging deeper: Defining Your Audience
Once a general niche is set, you should consider a transformation you can guide your readers through. It is the fastest way to a new blog’s momentum.
If I managed to get out of the friendzone on my own, without much pain and a little help from my older friend (“Fuck that, dude! Call her and let her know!”) I would have a great story.
It’s not that I am the only one who got trapped into friend zone, but we are all different and we have different stories. Or at least we are telling them in a unique way. Each and every one of us is unique.
The uniqueness is the advantage of a niche blog.
If I only wasn’t so stressed about it, I could blog the whole process. It would be like a Hollywood movie for the right audience with the same problems. They would anticipate every post. Maybe I couldn’t get her crazy about me but I could get some people to buy my in-depth guide to the experience!
You have been friend zoned! Only 39$ Cart is closing on Friday so let’s see those Plastic Cards!
Cool! This guy blogged for 7 months about that girl and all the tricks and psychology he learned along the way. I myself learned a lot too. The guide must be even better! I want to read it whole! Maybe Sally would finally love me forever!
We, humans, are addicted to stories. And every single one of us has their own set of stories.
So keep that in mind when you think you are not an expert in your niche. You just have to be a little better at something or more experienced than your audience.
Your audience wants to read about YOU and your beliefs, what YOU have to say on a topic. How do YOU manage it for YOURSELF? How do YOU raise two kids and play piano. How do YOU keep your marriage oiled?
See? No wonder fashion blogs are so popular.
That’s the advantage over million Google results. You are not competing with anyone, no matter the niche. You are competing with your latest post.
Why not write for a broad audience?
Why so specific? Two reasons!
The first reason is about being a One man show!
Now take a minute and go to big niche websites like mindbodygreen.com, inc.com, elitedaily.com.
They can produce a crazy amount of content on semi-related topics on daily basis. They have more than few (hundred) people writing and editing content. While their websites look simple and clean, there is a publishing company and workforce behind every one of those websites.
You, on the other side, don’t need to publish 15 posts every day. As a solopreneur you have to be strategic and effective as possible.
It is faster and easier to build up engaged audience around one specific topic. It is also clever decision money-wise.
See, if you do a great job with a content and it’s promotion, your email list will consist of fans who trust you and buy products or services from you. If you want to try Paid Ads (think Facebook) targeting becomes cheaper AND successful at the same time. You are targeting specific kind of people who would likely be interested in your offerings. No need to spend on a broad audience.
Behold, there is an example following!
Why would you read about freelancing on entrepreneur.com when there is this Emilly’s blog. Two small kids bravely quit 9-5 and started freelancing! You would like to take the plunge too. I mean, you read more than one freelancing website, but you will buy Emilly’s guide.
“How to Quit a Job And Live a Life of Abundance (with two small kids)”!
Her story is unique. She has her way around it. You identified with her. You are reading her blog for the last year or so. You know her!
We are wired to connect with each other.
Before You Write a Single Word: Click Here to Continue
That’s not a clickable title, I tried to make a joke. Just keep reading.
It’s a long article but here’s a good news. You are now more aware what goes to blog’s success and why so many fails, than a lot of wannabe bloggers out there.
Ok so, you are still here, decided on a general niche and gut feeling is probably right about your audience.
It’s not that hard after all, right?
Finally, You are ready to write your first post!
Once I got some time for drawing, there will be an illustration here with a NO YOU’RE NOT READY YET sign! Some nice red font. It will be cool.
Before you write a single word of your long awaited post, you need to do some clicking first.
You need to have your blog hosted on a server in order for anyone to read it. And you need a domain name for people to type into their browser. So they can find it. It’s like an address of your party venue. Those with the right address will show up eventually.
Nerd talk, right?
Hosted = the process of.. oh just read the next item
Server = Physical computer located somewhere around the world on which your blog is saved (hosted)
Domain Name = it’s that www thing, like www.yourname.com
Browser = the app on your phone, usually Safari or Chrome. It can be an application on a computer too, for us old souls.
Party = The event that takes place usually at night when you are thirsty and there is a beer around. And girls.
I will try to explain this without affiliate links or mentioning Bluehost.
(You know when blogger state that the article contains affiliate links and he recommends the service behind the link, he tried it and it’s good. Yes. And if you buy through that link, the blogger will earn a commission. You must saw them, right? Those are the links)
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the idea. It is an age-old idea of word-of-mouth commerce and Internet just accelerated things. Same old business recommendations.
My problem with it is not technical.
Buying a hosting account with the domain is just a small step, whether through affiliate blogger or not. For them, it’s a win-win. Blogger earned a commission, while hosting company got a longterm client. That would be you.
But there are only two wins in an equation. The third one is missing. You again!
Depending on a company, you will usually get a shared hosting (a house with few rooms for each tenant) and probably a simple process for installing WordPress which is great.
Even better, if you purchased a domain name through the same company, connecting it with a hosting should be a breeze.
So eventually you will get something like this:
/ wordpress twentyseventeen /
And then what?
You will install WordPress theme to make things prettier, sure. Some of the modern hosting companies will also offer general WordPress themes on the spot.
But without the strategy for your content, audience, traffic, and monetization you will have a lot of fun time changing themes.
Without a plan of action in place, you just purchased yourself a $100 – $200 per year hobby.
Anyway, if this whole tech side of blogging intimidated you, skip to the Gift chapter and thank me later.
What’s the purpose of a blog anyway
After changing 17 different WordPress themes, you decided on a pink one.
Now let’s get back to basics!
Forget about the blogs for a minute. Heck, forget about the whole Internet.
For every business, small or large, in order to make an income, it must attract people to buy their products or services. How they did it before the Internet?
Some of them called people on the phone. Like, nonstop. Some of them invested in paid TV commercials. Radio. Newspapers. Billboards. Good old advertising.
While in general, people don’t like commercials and would rather watch the damn movie, some of us are actually interested in those products. What a nice set of kitchenware! You know?
Those interested among us are what they call leads. We are leads. Some of us are cold but some are hot. It depends on a level of interest in a particular product. Funny.
There you go, television, newspapers, and billboards are a lead generation machines for the businesses. They invest in advertising and get the leads. People hear about them. Some of them end up buying stuff.
Now we’re talking about blogs again.
For every modern business, the blog is the lead generation machine.
Instead of a billboard, businesses now invest in great content around their services and products and market the content to the right audience. If they sell smart home appliances, they can write about features of the gadget but they can also write about the family safety in general. Whatever may interest their audience. Then leads. Buyers. And then repeat purchase.
Marketing became smarter.
Modern businesses have all the analytics they need, everything is measurable now.
I just adore the way Paris hotel’s banner ad finds it’s way on all the websites I regulary check. It will have to wait, though.
Back then, they weren’t neccesary sure about the profile of people watching the commercials but now they can decide whether to market to short or long-haired blondes. Also with blue eyes. In Sweden.
You just have to love the Internet.
On their blog they do everything in their power to collect as many email addresses as they possibly can, giving away free stuff or coupons in return.
They are building a database of leads’ email addresses (mailing list) and nurture them along the way. Over time, they are trying to sell them services or products.
That’s the whole strategy we are after too.
Monetization Strategy for a Brand New Blog
Once you defined your audience, your next step is to start dreaming about their better tomorrow. Literally.
What would it be like for my audience living the life without the problems they face. How can I help with the information? What kind of content will solve their problems or even entertain them?
That’s your game!
You are offering solutions in form of right content for that audience.
In a genuine and unique way.
As you may remember, our boy didn’t sell many lemonades waiting for customers. He decided to take action and find the thirsty bunch.
You are going to do the same. Your most valuable content will not be read by itself.
You will market your content to influencers in your niche. Why them? Because that’s where your defined audience is. You don’t have to outreach to a rock star. You have just a few posts published, so Emilly with a 100 visitors per month is an influencer for your standards. Rince and repeat.
Once people start reading your blog the electricity will go down. No.. that was a wrong paragraph. Wait..
Once people start reading your blog, some of them will subscribe to mailing list. You know, the leads. Those interested in more, among them.
The more people visit your blog, the bigger your mailing list becomes. And bigger the list, more possibility for a sale.
Yes, along the way, you are going to offer something in exchange for money.
The product you are going to offer will depend on a niche you choose, but it will usually be an extension of your best content.
The product can be anything really, but it’s usually an eBook or a Course. People who love your content the most will buy the product.
If you run a food blog, it can be a “99 No Sugar Cakes” eBook. For a running blog, it can be “Ultimate Running Guide for Beginners”.
It can also be a premium course on “How to Play Guitar Like Keith Richards When He’s Not in the Mood” with a premium price tag. The quality course can be sold anywhere between $190 to $990, even more.
The topic of it should come naturally to you and your most avid readers.
With a strategy and plan in place, you can really collect your first 1000 subscribers in no more than 5-6 months. While it depends on your content and engagement, you should have your first 20 – 50 buyers among those 1000 subscribers. With a 50$ product, we are talking $1.000 – $2.5000 earnings for a brand new blog in a first few months.
And the cycle continues. More content and its promotion mean more traffic and more subscribers. Yes, it translates to even more sales.
And nothing can stop you from releasing second related product.
While the money you earn in a beginning isn’t going to change your life in a meaningful way, its value isn’t monetary.
Once you sell ONE COPY of your product, you made yourself a system. Whatever works on the Internet is a way easier to scale than to make from scratch.
Your first $ can now throw a party inviting more like-minded $’s.
And it’s an incredible confidence booster. Congratulations!
Why is this the best option for a new blog?
As a new blogger, you are at ground zero. You don’t have connections, audience or traffic. Not even money can help you in this phase.
While SEO is a little tricky, everything explained above can be learned by anyone who is not tech savvy and has a solid work ethics. That means not being lazy.
It is the best strategy because it is fast and sustainable. With action-oriented goals, our blog’s success doesn’t rely on external factors but on our work ethics.
SEO takes a lot of time. It will take 6-12 months for any results if you know what you are doing. It’s not fun working on a blog for a year without any reward, trust me.
With this strategy, collecting emails from day one, you don’t have to wait 12 months or so to start earning. Once you get 500 – 1.000 subscribers you can offer a paid product.
All the advanced stuff and SEO should come later, once you have a solid ground.
Other Monetization models
While I am all for building an Email list and selling digital products as a monetization for new blogs, it would be only fair to mention other options.
Whatever monetization you choose, keep in mind that you are actually monetizing your influence, not your audience. So once again, there will be no money until you actually earn it.
As you saw, Your audience will not buy from you without an impact has been made. Same goes for recommending other people’s products.
It’s called affiliate marketing and it’s a great option when you still don’t have the product of your own. Maybe you don’t plan to have it at all and that’s ok.
It boils down to recommending other people’s products or services to your audience.
Let’s say you run a home & garden blog. With a decent audience reading your blog, someone will probably be interested in checking the garden accessories you recommended in your latest post.
You should be creative here and pack an informational article with a product that really rounds the post together.
Every time someone trusts your recommendation and end up buying through your affiliate link, you earn a commission of the sale.
Other than understanding the theory and logic behind it, I don’t have much experience with affiliate marketing. Nothing to write home about, but enough to spot and recommend an impressive resource on the topic. You see, I recommended something without commission. I just can’t help it.
Related article: https://smartblogger.com/affiliate-marketing/
There is this monetization model that goes beyond influence. Sort of.
You don’t have to influence people here, but you must impress Google. Which becomes pretty much the same thing.
You probably saw the banner ads before! You may even block them on several occasions. Or you don’t even notice them anymore.
While you are reading a recipe post, there is a banner ad for a premium leather bag between chapters. And there is another one for Booking.com in a sidebar.
It seems like everything is telling you it’s time for a vacation. But be brave!
Pretty often, an appropriate banner will be determined by your recent online activities. Targeting becomes smarter.
That’s one of the most valuable pros of this monetization option. It’s so simple for bloggers to use those banner ads.
You don’t have to optimize your content for ads. The Network is doing the part. If you write a parenting article, every single parent on the planet may be served with a different ad. We are unique, remember?
Those Ad Networks happens to be one of the biggest companies of today.
That’s the second good thing for bloggers.
Once you earn the money, you can rest assured that Google (AdSense) will send you the check. Good people from Microsoft and Yahoo will do the same (MediaNet).
You are safe until you try to game the system. It’s like running a business without paying taxes.
It’s not all rainbows. Depending on a network you choose, you will be paid only when someone actually clicks on those ads. Cost Per Click (CPC) is a term. Keep in mind you will not help yourself by clicking on ads.
With this monetization everything is variable. How much you earn will depend on a lot of factors like CPC value of an ad, which is determined by the advertiser and not you. Things like Click Through Rate (CTR) will also be an important part of the equation. CTR is telling you how many ads out of those viewed are actually clicked. And on top of that, a visitor who clicks from the US will earn you more than someone who clicks the same ad from India.
There is so much you can change about geography. Your mindset.
To keep you sane, there is this RPM abbreviation. It stands for Revenue Per Thousand Impressions and it basically tells you how much you earn per 1.000 page views.
If you have 15.000 page views per month, and RPM indicator shows that you made $7 with those, you now know what to do if you want to earn 500$ per month.
(15.000 / 1.000) x 7 = That’s 105$ for every 1000 page impressions.
(Page Views divided by 1000 impressions) x Your RPM = Earnings
You should know now in order to earn 395$ more, you need more traffic!
But you don’t know how.
And that’s the problem of monetizing a new blog this way.
It is far from impossible but for a new blogger, there are certain skills to acquire if you want more organic traffic from Google.
You will have to master keyword research. Then you have to learn Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
In that phase, it would be cool to wear I HEART On Page optimisation t-shirt. If you want to wear Link Building Is My Game underwear, that’s even more points.
On top of that, you have to be known for your natural patience skills!
SEO takes time.
It is just too much for your first blog.
Brushing the truth under the rug. Now that’s all being said, let me tell you my favorite thing about this kind of high traffic blogs monetized with banner ads.
Once you do your magic publishing a lot of content accompanied by solid SEO and your blog starts earning, from there it really is a passive as it get’s.
After 3 months of touring across Europe, you’ll be glad to find out your earnings are at the same level. Passive organic traffic from Google keeps sending visitors to your blog on autopilot.
For those of you with some money on a side, the whole model can be outsourced. Once it starts earning, passive AdSense blog is an excellent cash flow asset. You can grow it even bigger, or you can sell it for 20x-25x your average monthly earnings. Yes man!
This whole article is about starting a successful blog leveraging an email list and selling your own digital products. It’s my favorite model.
But my second favorite is definitely ad display networks because they are so passive in nature if you obey the Google terms which are stupid not to.
For those who want more monetization options to consider, here is an ultimate post on monetization by Perrin. You can mix and match, you know!
Learn more: How To Monetize a Blog: 37 Practical Tactics
Reality Check: Too much work!
Saying it’s too much work assumes you will get a small return on your time and/or money investment.
From a business standpoint, I can’t recall any business model that will make a significant ROI in its first year.
Even flower shops can’t blossom in year one.
Everything in nature takes time. For every business dealing with human needs, wants, emotions and problems, it’s only natural to take time too.
But the biggest issue with people starting a blog as a business and fail is the mindset. They lack patience. They want results. I started the same way.
It’s even harder to delay gratification when you get instant Likes and Hearts elsewhere in a matter of minutes. Everything seems instant but your blog.
And there is this state of over-analyzing. I learned hard way there is no point researching on Social Media for 2 months when you don’t even know your niche or your potential audience. So one step at the time. Why complicate things?
It’s like a quest on as many questions as one possible can find in order to obstruct yourself.
Just start already. No one will see it anyway for at least a month or two.
Don’t make me insert a Gary Vaynerchuk video here! Yes!
The Writer’s Unfair Advantage. The pillar of this whole business model is a great content. If you are good at moving stories, you should consider starting a blog as a business, turning your writing services into a semi-passive income. Don’t forget it can be a side project.
It is a lot of work, yes. That’s the reality. But if you find yourself liking the process, the destination is even better. The destination is the state of mind actually. The priceless possibility of smiling and laughing at your screen while at work.
Every business starts with an idea.
By now you should have a few of your own. It’s a great feeling when there is a force within you. It’s only bad when there is no structure behind the force.
Ok, let’s unwrap this, shall we?
I am offering you a technical part of this blog as a business journey. That’s all I can for now.
For a limited time and totally free of charge, you will get a lifetime access to a Cloud-based hosting (DigitalOcean) with preinstalled WordPress and a premium theme I picked for a blog to look like a big deal. On top of that, you can point your own domain name to all of this.
This is how it all looks like.
We are getting you a premium package of tools needed for a successful start.
Click here and unwrap the gift for yourself.
Everything you need and nothing you don’t.
“Ok, but how much this free thing will actually cost me?”
How about free? O$. And a support on top of that. I will be an email away from whatever question you may have.
Here’s the catch.
You knew it, I know.
I’ll be releasing a paid service later, you are getting an early access for free. I may ask for a feedback during your stay. That’s the whole point.
When pricetag shows up eventually, your account will stay free.
If you are on a fence, why not join my Email list so I can send you updates on a progress? You know it makes sense.
My first attempt at asking for social shares
I myself learned a lot writing the article. Now, may I ask you to do everything that you possibly can so more people read this myth-buster?
You know how they say, would you mind sharing this post with your friends and followers? More than 10 Likes will upset me so keep it cool! You can even brag about the gift!