Have you thought about extending your self-publishing and becoming a self-employed blogger?
With all the apps and tools that are available now for writers to publish their work online, there are many options when it comes to earning an income from your writing career.
You might think of self-publishing as only publishing ebooks and books on Amazon.
But this is only one of many ways that are available to publish and get paid for your writing.
Writing for an income
There are so many possibilities, including online writing, freelance writing, editing, or content writing, when it comes to getting paid to write.
Many writers are learning how to mix and match writing and publishing to maximize the return for their work.
Writing jobs are also a good fit if you want more independence and more flexible working hours.
If you are a stay at home mom or want to start a business from home, your writing experience gives you a great head start.
Yes, publishing ebooks on Kindle is one way to sell your writing.
But if you love writing, blogging quality content is now becoming a very lucrative means of making extra money every day of the week from your writing skills.
But, let’s start with books and ebooks.
Selling books and making money
With ebooks and books, the time investment needed to write, produce, market, and then promote one title is enormous.
Then there is the issue of whether a book will be popular enough to sell reasonably well.
Book publishing has always been a gamble, so nothing is new here about self-publishing and making a living from writing.
Only a small percentage of self-publishing authors make a decent annual income from ebooks, books, and audiobooks.
In other words, the failure rate is very high, so there is no easy money to be made.
Of course, there is a difference between authors who succeed and those who don’t.
Usually, it is that successful authors write for their clearly defined target reading market, and know precisely what these readers buy and want to read.
Before writing a new book, they read many books that are highly ranked in their specific genre or sub-genre because these books are competitive products.
By doing this, they do what any other business does before producing and launching a new product.
They do market research before deciding on what they will produce and publish.
The horse before the cart
For many self-published writers, poor book sales are the result of having this logical business order in reverse.
Sure, writing a book is rewarding, and for many, it is a very proud moment when their book is finally published.
But writing a book, and then crossing your fingers and hoping that your great idea will sell is not a great recipe for success.
Publishing a book and then doing a lot of research about where it might sell, but without the knowledge of what books you are competing against, it is not a good business practice.
It creates the obvious problem that it is impossible to promote the book to a clearly defined target audience before publishing to build hype and gain pre-order sales.
Pre-order book sales are like gold because they can give a new book a huge sales ranking boost on the day of publication, which then helps gain more sales and money in your pocket, in the days and weeks after the book launch.
Secondly, after a book is published, without a clear understanding of where to market and advertise a book, you waste a lot of time and money.
Fine-tuning book marketing and promotion
As an example, if you use Facebook advertising to promote a book, where and to who will you target it?
Placing a Facebook ad to target people between the ages of 18 and 65 who live in the US will cost a fortune and result in very few sales.
However, if an author knows what the target readers and buyers are for a book, the chances of success are much higher for far less investment.
Instead of a scattergun approach, the author will place highly targeted ads.
Perhaps for a young adult light romance based in San Francisco, the demographics could be between 19 and 23, live on the west coast of the US and have interests in reading, and in particular, young adult and romance.
For a World War Two historical novel about a fighter pilot based in England in the latter years of the war, or a collection of short stories about the swinging ’60s, the demographics would be entirely different.
Understanding, recognizing, and using target reader demographics is the best way to fine-tune book marketing and book promotion.
Yes, you can make money by self-publishing
There are successful writers and self-publishing authors, but they all treat what they do as a real business.
It means doing all the hard work that is necessary before finally writing and publishing a new title.
Well before writing, they do their market research before deciding on what they will write.
Then, after writing, they will spend hours, days, weeks, and even months on editing and proofreading.
With the keen knowledge of the target market, there will also be a lot of time and money spent on book cover design.
It will be meticulous in making sure the book cover will attract target readers and book buyers.
Authors who make money, spend very wisely and have a set marketing plan to launch a new title. They also have a separate promotion plan for after the book is launched and often for the first year or more.
Treating ebook and book self-publishing as a real business like any other is the best way to succeed, and hopefully, build a career in writing.
But the truth is that it is a very tough business. Don’t give up, but there are easier ways to increase your income from your writing.
Blogging is also self-publishing and lucrative
It is not only from selling ebooks and books that you can make money from writing.
More and more authors are turning to monetized blogging to either supplement their income from book royalties, or in some cases, to make blogging their full-time writing job.
Starting a blog is easy and extremely cheap, even for a self-hosted WordPress site.
In my case, I do both, but in recent years the financial return on time invested has led me to concentrate more on blogging and content writing than on writing books.
The reason is simple. Books and ebooks need sales, which can vary significantly from month to month or year to year.
But blogging earnings are much more stable and predictable resulting in a very steady income.
Successful authors treat self-publishing books as a business. Making money from blogging is exactly the same.
You need to do your research first and then learn to identify your target market. It will be crucial to your success.
A blog that makes money is one that is acutely targeted to a particular online reading audience.
In most cases, a successful blog will answer questions people have when they search for answers on the Internet.
Other good blog ideas come in the form of being entertaining or informative.
Think here of a local news blog or a blog publishing weekly and seasonal gardening articles. You can even go more upmarket and start your own online magazine.
Recipe blogs have come a long way over the years, and today they are one of the most popular monetized blogging topics and can earn excellent advertising revenue.
Define, fine-tune, quality writing and stay focused
Successful blogs focus on one narrow topic niche. Think of SLR digital cameras, or for a recipe blog, vegan recipes, or South Indian curries.
The reason this narrow focus is necessary is that blogs rely heavily on Google and Bing search for site traffic.
Keyword selection for blog posts is vital in attracting blog visitors in large numbers.
Social media also plays a role in attracting traffic, but it is usually quite a way behind organic search and email marketing.
By far, the most essential quality of an excellent blog is to write articles that are of high quality, accurate, and error-free.
Because blog articles are published quite quickly, make sure you use a good grammar checker before you publish an article or post.
Making money online from blogging relies almost entirely on the amount of traffic you can get. The more visits you get, the more money you can make.
But building up site visits takes time and a lot of work, so never expect blogging will be a financial success from day one.
The advice often given by other bloggers, which I agree with, is that it takes at least a year to get a blog moving in the right direction.
It means writing a lot of quality long-form content for your site and learning to apply excellent SEO practices to build a sizable base of daily traffic.
But once you have done the hard work, and you are getting traffic to your blog, you can expect to start making steady money.
Your target market
Starting a blog without knowing what the target market or market segment is, means you have no focused strategy.
Put simply, there is no plan in place to reach people who are interested in the blog’s product or service.
When the service you are offering on a blog is, say, manuscript editing, you will achieve higher value by targeting authors as opposed to writers.
Sure, writers can be authors, but writers can also be content writers, poets, journalists, or bloggers.
Understanding this differentiation strategy will become a cost advantage.
Spending time and money targetting people who will never buy your product or service is money and time wasted.
It can be summed up by a quote from Michael Porter. “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”
Trying to sell high-quality handcrafted dog collars at a premium price to a generalized target market of pet owners is not as effective as specifically targeting fashion-conscious dog owners.
Blog with a competitive advantage
That sounds like a complicated Wall Street term. But it is not.
All it means is that you should look at a blog as a business. Try to do things better than your competitors over the long term by having a comparative advantage.
One popular blogging term for creating superior performance is called the Skyscraper Technique.
It works by taking ideas and concepts from the top five blog posts or articles on search engines on a particular topic. Then you produce much better content.
Succeeding with this approach can create credibility for a new product or service, which leads to sales. Then hopefully, sales lead to brand loyalty, which is really just a term for returning or repeat clients and customers.
Blogging can be very profitable because of the economies of scale. The costs involved in setting up and maintaining a blog are extremely low compared to the returns or profit that you can expect to make.
Forget about using a free blog platform or a free domain. Installing WordPress is the only way to get your blog up and running.
It costs next to nothing to register a domain name, create a blog, and pay for a hosting company. Bloggers making money all use WordPress.
When you are designing your blog from your WordPress dashboard, make sure you use a fast premium theme. Speed is crucial now for mobile traffic.
However, to succeed in WordPress blogging and monetize your blog, you have to attract the right customers. But how can you do that?
Your competitors are the secret
If you could find a way to access your blog competitors’ traffic, wouldn’t that be a good idea and a huge advantage?
Well, you can, and it is surprisingly easy.
All you need to do is identify the keywords your competitors are ranking for that are getting a lot of traffic.
You can use Ubersuggest, which is a free tool to identify your competitors’ top-ranking keywords.
Then you can use these specific keywords as your target keywords in your articles or posts.
Of course, you have to write great content to compete, but that is the essence of digital marketing.
Remember, though, that a lot of people can write great content, but not very many know how to target it using competitive keyword rankings.
If you are determined to make a living or even a part-time income from blogging, you have probably read a lot of articles like this one.
I did exactly the same when I was in the process of trying to figure out how I could do it too.
Stop thinking about lots of traffic
Almost every article about successful blogging talks about increasing Google traffic and has graphs skyrocketing over a very short time.
I tried this approach for a long time.
Yes, I got more traffic by leveraging social media, writing more posts, and using clever, almost clickbait titles.
I was getting lots of blog comments and referral traffic too. But the money didn’t roll in.
It was frustrating because I thought I was doing everything right.
The penny dropped when I read an article a few years ago about aiming for targetted traffic. I apologize because I didn’t bookmark the article. I wish I had.
But the thrust of it was that not all traffic is desirable traffic.
A good case in point is Google Adsense.
If you attract a defined target group to your blog, Google can better target their ads on your site, and you get a better click-through rate and higher earnings.
If you are offering a service, you will get more inquiries and more sales.
However, if you are using broadly targeted Facebook Ads to get traffic, for instance, you will get a considerable amount of traffic that is just happy clickers.
They have no real interest in your product or service and never read your blog posts in full.
Around a year ago, I started to change my approach to blogging and concentrated on getting higher quality traffic.
It started with a complete revamp of my site and removing a lot of weak content. Then I wrote a whole lot of new, longer, and far more informative content.
I also stopped using Facebook Ads and cut back my social media activity in general by around 75%.
I expected a substantial initial drop off in overall traffic by taking this approach.
But it didn’t occur. Instead, this happened.
The first few months saw a steady increase in traffic. Then, where you can see the green arrow, my traffic increased.
What happened next?
Here is a blow by blow account of how my blog improved.
Overall traffic rose and continues rising every month. The last point in the graph is only a projection.
More importantly, my targeted keywords started ranking and increasing in number.
Month on month growth is very steady.
That’s all well and good, but what about the money?
As I have shown you, my site traffic has grown slowly and steadily.
No big jumps. But the quality of the traffic has changed, and it is why the next few graphs are so different.
My blog has three income streams: advertising and promotion, affiliate income, and a book promotion service.
The biggest surprise for me has been Gooogle Adsense.
Although it has always been a steady earner, recent months have seen a considerable increase.
As for services and affiliate income, the result has been similarly positive and growing.
But to make money, you need to spend money, and I have.
I now pay for a subscription with Semrush. I also invested in some technical site improvements by hiring a developer.
The adage that you need to spend money to make money is true.
My aim is to make blogging my full-time occupation because it is something I really enjoy. I love writing, learning, and technology, so it’s a great fit for me.
What can you sell on a blog?
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.
1. Sell advertising space
Selling blog space, which is sometimes called webpage real estate, is the quickest and easiest way to start making money.
Google Adsense is the easiest way to monetize a blog by allowing Google to show ads on your blog.
At first, it will earn pennies from valid clicks, but as your traffic builds, it can turn into a steady and reliable passive income paycheck every month.
2. Become an affiliate marketer
Affiliate marketing is another excellent way to make money from your blog.
Affiliate programs, such as Amazon Associates, among many others, are usually easy to join and to start earning sales commissions.
Again, your either allow space on your site for ads, or you can use text affiliate links, which are very effective and are not as intrusive.
3. Accept paid content
Another simple way of earning money is to accept sponsored posts, advertorial articles, or paid links on your blog.
Content marketers are always looking for blogs that accept paid articles.
But where you can make lots of money from blogging is from selling products and services.
If you are a writer and author, the very first products you should start selling on your blog are your books and ebooks.
4. Sell a service
You could also sell your services as a proofreader, ebook formatted, or freelance writer.
If you have the skills and some free time, you could also sell your time as an editor.
Online courses are becoming extremely popular now. Perhaps you could offer online writing classes.
Do you have a non-writing skill that people need?
You could offer your services as a consultant for website development, social media management, or as a personal virtual assistant.
5. Sell memberships
Another idea is membership sites.
Your product is premium content that you restrict to only paying subscribers. It is a difficult model, but one that some bloggers are trying more and more.
6. Write for other blogs
Some bloggers also accept freelance writing jobs and sell their content to other blogs.
Be careful to avoid content mills that underpay writers by doing your research first for a list of websites that pay fairly.
Generally, fair sites pay $50 at a minimum for quality articles.
It can work in reverse too. If you are in the process of building your blog, you can pay for experienced content writers to write content or guest posts for your new blog.
A quick Google search will result in hundreds of ideas and ways to earn a steady and reliable income from a well-designed and content-rich blog and turn it into a full-time job.
7. Blog, without a blog
Many content writers don’t have a blog. They write blog posts and articles 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 affiliate 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.
Are you an author or a blogger, or both?
Writing for money from blogging and books is much easier today than years ago.
All the tools and resources are at your fingertips to successfully publish books and ebooks, or to start a career in blogging, or content writing for sites that pay writers.
But both need to treated as a long-term business and not a short-term hobby.
Both are hard work and time-intensive, but as a writer, you know this is the case in any writing endeavor.
All forms of publishing need at least a modest investment in the tools and services you will need to succeed.
But compared to a brick and mortar business, the investment is negligible.
So in closing, can you earn money from blogging and writing books?
Yes, as long as you do your research, treat it like a real business, and above all else, work hard and be stubbornly committed to achieving your personal business goals.