I am sure you read a lot of blogs each day. But do you stop to think about how a blog is earning money?
Apart from personal blogs and journals on free blogging platforms, most blogs need an income to survive.
There are direct costs involved in maintaining a self-hosted blog. Almost all bloggers who are working either part-time or full-time have expenses.
A good web hosting service is not expensive at only a few dollars a month. A domain name costs around $10.00 per year. So the cost of hosting a site is minimal.
But the annual cost for premium WordPress themes and plugins can be quite expensive. On average they can cost between $50-70 per year for each one. It is very easy to spend up to $1,000 per year on licences and subscriptions alone.
For full-time pro bloggers, an SEO suite is absolutely essential. A single licence for any of the best software packages such as Semrush, Hrefs or Majestic can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 per year, or even more.
Some larger blogs have employees, so there are salaries to pay.
With all these expenses, bloggers have to make a return on their investment.
So how do they earn money blogging?
How do you make money from writing blog posts?
There are two essential ingredients involved in successful blogging. Great content and lots of organic traffic.
Blogging is essentially content marketing. The whole point of writing a great piece of content is to market or promote a product or service. It doesn’t matter if the aim is to sell an ebook, insurance, software, online courses or business service.
Content writing needs to inform, involve or entertain. In other words, it must be well-written and worth reading. But within the text, there are links, ads or a call to action that are the monetized components.
But conversion rates for elements like clicks, links and form completion are very low. Most often these are in a range between 0.5 – 1.5%.
A very good piece of content needs to attract a lot of readers to create a financial return. The only way to do this is to employ excellent search engine optimization (SEO). The content needs to rank high enough on Bing and Google search results to bring in lots of traffic.
Social media can also bring traffic, but it requires much more time investment. That is why SEO is the preferred way to get site visitors.
Most pro bloggers aim to rank in the top ten on Google search for keywords for each blog post or article.
A lot of great content that is ranking high and attracting a ton of traffic is the aim. Then a blog can and will make lots of money.
How do bloggers make money?
There are many, many ways of monetizing a blog. If you have just started a blog, you are probably looking for ideas.
In the list below, I will outline and detail some of the most popular ways.
But the broad basic ways to earn money from a blog are advertising, selling a product or selling a service.
A lot of bloggers use a combination of all three of these means to produce an income. When they first started out they probably had only one income stream.
But then over time, they add more. A variety of income streams increases the amount of money a blog can generate each month.
It is quite a standard approach to building a great blog. Once you get your base right and your traffic is steadily increasing, you have more and more opportunities to exploit.
The many ways blogs earn money
1. Blog, without a blog
Many content writers don’t even have a blog. They write blog posts and article for other blogs. This has two advantages.
They can concentrate all their efforts on writing fantastic content. Secondly, they don’t need to spend time and money on maintaining a blog or website.
They work to get articles published on high ranking sites. With this method, they gain fast access to a lot of traffic and readers.
The articles usually contain links that will produce income. Many high traffic blogs accept content like this because it is quicker and easier than writing the content themselves. So it is a win-win situation.
The other way is for content writers to sell articles to a website for a set price. Again, it can be a win-win scenario.
2. Advertising, of course
You see ads on a big percentage of blogs and websites. There is a good reason why selling ads on blogs is so common.
It is the easiest and least time-consuming way for bloggers to make money from their sites. Once the ad code is set in place, there is nothing else to do.
Google Adsense is the most popular way to monetize a blog by allowing Google to show ads.
For ad placement to be a financial success, a blog needs a lot of traffic. But with high monthly visits, it is a steady and very reliable income every month.
Display ads are the most common. But in-article ads are becoming more popular because they are less intrusive and pay quite well per click.
Other ad networks include Chitika, PopCash, InfoLinks, RevContent, PopAds and MediaNet.
The only downside is that ad codes do slow down the page loading speed slightly. Because of this, some bloggers prefer to use other means of income.
Affiliate marketing is by a long distance the preferred way for blogs to make money.
The benefits are that from a referred sale via an affiliate link, the returns can be quite lucrative.
Amazon Associates, ShareASale, Rakuten, ClickBank and CJ Affiliate are the most popular programs for new bloggers.
But seasoned bloggers prefer to work directly with companies and their affiliate programs. Joining a program is often only possible by invitation.
This happens when a blog is ranking quite high in a company’s target market and it can help increase its sales. These partnerships are quite common on many blogs you might read.
The benefit for the company is that it gets more sales leads and completed sales. For bloggers, they get monthly income reports that can make them smile.
4. Sponsored and advertorial articles
This is another easy way blogs earn money.
By accepting sponsored posts, advertorial articles or paid links on a blog, the blogger gets paid for publishing an article or inserting a link.
Content marketers and companies are always on the lookout for high ranking blogs that accept paid articles and links.
You will have seen many articles on blogs written by guest writers or contributors. In some cases, these articles are paid content.
There are rules and best practices for paid content. If it is a well-respected site, the paid article should be clearly marked as advertorial or sponsored content. However, it is not always the case.
For newer bloggers, in particular, paid posts and links are a good money-spinner. They get paid for simply publishing an article or adding a link on their blog.
5. List building
Sometimes a blog will be all content and carry no advertising or affiliate marketing.
The aim of the blog like this can be to continually build an email list for email marketing purposes. Many companies and marketers believe that direct mail marketing is the most effective way to increase business activity and sales.
The only goal of the blog is to get an email address from a site visitor. Some blogs are discrete about how they ask. But many of them use pop-ups as a call to action to encourage a visitor to sign up for a newsletter or a free offer.
6. Blogging a business
International, national, regional and local businesses are blogging more and more.
It doesn’t matter what size a business is, blogging matters today for finding new clients.
Online buying is now a reflex for so many people. So having a discoverable online presence is vital to businesses both big and small.
Many small businesses use Woocommerce with WordPress to sell their products online. They might have a high street store, but online shopping is huge now.
There are inexpensive services that offer online credit card payments and shipping. It’s a simple way to increase sales for any existing business.
For businesses that offer a service, blogging combined with online payments makes it easy to find new clients.
These include editors, proofreaders, virtual assistants, teachers and graphic designers. There are also social media managers, book cover designers and course providers. Many of them base their whole business strategy on an online acquisition of new clients.
In today’s world, every business needs to blog to attract new business.
Can you make money blogging?
A good way to look at it is like this.
Akismet is one of the essential security plugins to combat spam comments on WordPress. It has well over 5 million active installations.
Because WordPress is the most popular blogging platform by far, it means that there are millions and millions of bloggers.
If over five million people can do it, so can you.
Therefore, the answer is yes. There are many ways to make money blogging if you are prepared to learn and be patient.
The first step is to understand what the best bloggers do. Those who are making money have a blog that is acutely targeted to a specific niche online audience.
Successful blogs answer questions people have when they search on the Internet. These blogs are always informative, but at the same time easy to read.
There are a lot of great topics for a targeted blog. Themes and topics to do with recipes and food, health and fitness and lifestyle are extremely popular. Beauty, fashion and personal development are also great themes.
You could also think about pets, parenting or publishing and writing to give you a few more ideas.
The most crucial factor is that you narrow down your blog topic or theme to a defined target audience.
The other essential factor is your blog setup and the tools that you will definitely need to succeed.
Investing in the right tools
Let’s get one thing straight before I begin.
If you think you can blog for free and make money, forget it. You’ll be lucky to make pennies.
The only way to make money out of blogging is to invest in the right tools to do the job. Use them well, and you have a good chance. There are a lot of pro bloggers who are making 5, 6, 8 or even more than $10,000 per month.
Yes, blogging is a serious business. But as with all businesses, you need to spend money to make money.
Here are the priorities. But remember that some of your initial costs will be spread over 12 months in instalments. So you won’t be too badly out of pocket.
1. A fast webserver
A fast website is essential to rank highly now. Google has made mobile-first a clear factor in ranking blogs and keywords.
It doesn’t cost a fortune though. A fast web host like Bluehost costs only a few dollars a month. So it won’t break your bank account.
2. Premium themes and plugins
Free themes give you the very bare basics. To get the functions you will need, you have to go for a premium theme version.
With plugins, you have a choice. Some free plugins work extremely well. For instance, Wordfence is a must-have security plugin, and I find that the free version works perfectly for my needs.
However, for reliable and secure site backups, I pay for the premium version of Updraft Plus.
Another necessity is a premium grammar and spelling checker. My preference is the Grammarly Chrome extension because it works perfectly with WordPress.
3. An SEO suite
If you want to compete, it’s a priority. You need access to competitive data, keyword research, backlink data, site auditing and content creation tools. And that’s only a few of the tools an SEO software suite gives you.
But, grit your teeth because it is expensive. I know it is not an easy decision to make. It took me months to decide to bite the bullet.
I chose Semrush because it was the most affordable compared to others for a one user pro version. Apart from the price, it was the only one that offered fantastic content creation tools.
So has an investment of $99 per month in Semrush and all the premium themes and plugins I use been worthwhile?
Blogging is all about ROI
It costs me just under $2,000 per year to pay for all the tools I use for blogging on five sites.
So, is my money well invested?
Here are three graphics with the red arrows pointing to when I started getting serious about blogging for an income.
As you can see, blogging and financial success are not always linear. There are ups and downs. There are learning curves. But always look at the trend line.
It is pretty clear from these graphs, but particularly the quarterly income graph from my accounting software that blogging can be financially rewarding.
How do bloggers make a good income? They invest in their online businesses and work very hard.
It’s no different from any other type of business. You can’t build any type of business for free and expect that it will make money.
But the big advantage of blogging is that the fixed base expenses are minimal compared to the income that it can produce. In my case, my fixed expenses are only around 5% of my income. That is a very good return on investment.
The biggest expense by far is my time. And I have plenty of that to spend. Do you?
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