Extending your writing to monetize a blog makes very good sense for authors.
You can write, of course, but relying on book sales income is for the majority of authors, fraught with the danger of sales cycles.
Some months can be good, others not so fantastic, while there are times of the year where book sales in general peak and trough.
In contrast, a well-designed, focused, and informative blog can deliver a steady passive income throughout the year.
When you start to monetize a blog it does not necessarily mean you will make a fortune, but my experience with blogs is that the income from each one of mine has been extremely consistent, with steady year on year income growth.
So where do you start if you want to earn an income from your writing by blogging?
Before you start to monetize a blog, there are five very important first steps to take and consider before you leap into it.
The five musts to generate an income from blogging
1. A great blog that is minutely focused on one subject.
Topics are limitless, but if you think a fashion blog would suit you, this is far too broad. Think about fine-tuning your blog towards leather fashion, fashion for over 50s or sustainable and responsible fashion.
For a gardening blog, think of specialising in one species such as camellias or roses, growing kitchen herbs, or on balcony gardens.
No matter what your broad topic is, focus in on one narrow topic that will make your blog a specialist informative portal for readers.
2. You will have to use a WordPress blog.
There is no escape from the necessity of having your blog on a self-hosted WordPress platform.
No, not the free WordPress! Most free blogging platforms are ad supported by the operator, so you cannot monetize these sites by displaying ads.
To blog successfully you will need all the income producing tools that a self-hosted site will make available to you.
So yes, you will have some startup costs. As a rough rule of thumb, it will cost you around US $100-150 per year in hosting fees to have your own site.
However, WordPress itself is free, and there are 1,000s of free WordPress themes and plugins that you will be able to use to increase the functionality and look of your site.
If you want more, there are professional themes and plugins that will cost you a little, but not a lot.
I use a professional theme that costs me less than $50 a year, and a mix of free and paid plugins.
3. Your site must be a .com address.
While it is certainly possible to make money from a site other than .com it is always best to find a .com name. My blogs started out with a .ch name, but after changing to .com, my amount of traffic increased exponentially.
The reason is probably to do with Google and Bing Search indexing sites with geographical endings and targeting to certain countries and regions, while .com is not geo-targeted.
4. You will need to get lots of traffic.
A site with little or no traffic will make no money at all.
There are three ways to build site traffic. Use SEO to get search engine traffic, leverage social media to the maximum, or pay for Google Ads.
I prefer the first two. Slower, but much cheaper and you will build a more loyal audience over the long term.
If you are intent on gaining a lot of organic traffic, you will need to get serious and think about investing in an SEO suite such as Semrush, which I use for all my sites.
Try a free SEO search.
5. Your blog must be at least one year old.
Because when you apply to advertisers such as Google Adsense, Chitika or any other affiliate, they will want to see that your blog will make money for them if you display their ads on your site.
The only way to prove this is to have a good history of steady and increasing traffic to your blog.
Understanding this is vital, so forget about making a cent in advertising in your first year, but get to work on building your fantastic blog now and reaping the year on year rewards later.
During the first year, you should concentrate on writing great content, and be learning how to be a freelance blogger. Use SEO to increase your site visitors as well as giving your blog maximum social media exposure.
However, don’t despair. Read on and you will find out that there are ways to make money from your blog that will help in delivering revenue much sooner.
Ways you can earn money from your blog
There are hundreds of ways to monetize a blog with a product or service or content marketing. A quick search on the Internet will find a long list of ideas. However, the five main categories are listed below.
Some have the potential to make a modest but regular income, while others can give you very good returns if you are prepared to put in some hard work.
1. Banner and text advertising
This is obviously the easiest way to monetize a blog. Once approved by a provider such as Google Adsense, Chitika or a host of others, it is only a matter of adding a script (a short piece of code) to your blog and ads will start appearing.
You will get paid when people click on the ads, or in some cases, after every 1,000 views.
This is by far the quickest and easiest way to make money from a blog, as there is nothing you need to do once your ads are in place.
But as I noted before, you will need to get your blog approved first, and this rarely happens for a very new blog.
If you can build steady traffic after a few months, try applying. If that fails, try again after a couple more months.
2. Selling links, images and advertorial posts.
Again, your blog needs to be getting traffic, but advertisers will pay for text and image links on blogs.
All this involves is making a piece of short text a link that will lead to the advertiser’s page. As an example, if I make advertise here as a link, it will take you to our advertising page.
Prices depend on negotiation but range from $10 to $35 for each link that you sell. Image links are usually small ads that you will have to add to your site. Very often, these are sold on a monthly basis.
Advertorial is writing a blog post to help promote one of your advertisers.
If your blog is about fashion, it may be an advertiser selling clothes online, and your content helps to sell its products. Again price is by negotiation, but you can earn anything from $25 to $100 per article.
3. Selling your service.
By a long way, this is the best way to make money from your blog and you can start promoting your service as soon as your blog is online.
There are again, hundreds of services you can supply online. If you are a writer, you could think about writing for other sites, editing, proofreading, online courses for new writers or writing reviews or copy for promotional purposes.
You might have expertise in other areas such as graphic design, logo creation or social media management.
Put your thinking cap on and you will find a service you can provide and promote on your blog.
4. Sell books!
One of the real benefits of building a monetized blog is that you will improve your book sales because you will concentrate your efforts on building a lot of traffic.
Simply put, the more visitors you get, the more chance you will have to sell your books.
You can also utilise some online platforms to sell your books online through various voucher portals like VoucherBin to boost book sales.
Another use for an ebook is to make it free on your blog, BUT in return for an email address to build your email list.
By asking for an email address you kill two birds with one stone. One, you help build your mailing list, and two, you have found a potential new reader to consider buying your other books.
5. Affiliate marketing.
One of the most popular means of making an income from a blog is to find affiliate programs to add affiliate offers to your blog.
Probably the most well-known is Amazon Associates, which lets you advertise Amazon products on your site and you earn a commission for every sale your site generates.
Like advertising programs, it is quick and easy, and usually only a matter of adding a script to your blog, and then you don’t need to do anything more. Another advantage is that it is easier to get approval for this means of income generation.
Is a monetized blog for you?
Money does not fall from the sky, so don’t expect to make money from blogging without doing the work necessary to make it a success. There will also be a learning curve, especially during the first year.
However, if you put in the effort, you will reap the rewards.
I started blogging over ten years ago but only got serious about monetizing my sites about five years ago.
I have four blogs, of which two make a small but regular monthly income from advertising, one earns a good income from advertising, links and content, and the last one provides a book promotion service.
Because my blogs were up and running at the time, I didn’t have to wait a year when I first started monetizing, so they became income producing quite quickly. Not making a fortune, but enough to be encouraged at the time.
Since then the income from my blogs has increased every year and now delivers a very regular five-figure part-time income for me.
Are you ready to get to work and start making money from your blog?