Last Update 10th May, 2017.
Finding a real way to make money online has been a goal of mine ever since I left high school but it was only 3 years ago I learned how to make money online with a blog.
And it wasn't a straight-forward journey.
Like the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, I zig-zagged my way through various scams and shoddy training programs to get to where I am today.
Not quite 40 years… but it took me a long time.
There’s been times when I was working in jobs I couldn't care less about, when money was short, when I was frustrated and disillusioned – even wandering if this whole making money online was nothing more than a pipe dream.
For a period of ten years, on and off, I scraped the web looking for a real way to make money online. Unsuprisingly, each time I bumped into a giant wall of shiny online scams with shiny promises but no real substance, no results.
It wasn't until three years ago when I finally had my breakthrough. I've put this How To Make Money Online With A Blog guide together to help you if you now find yourself in this position.
I'm sorry, it's longer than I thought it would be, but taken from my experience of being a professional blogger for over two years, my hope is that these helpful tips should point you in the right direction.
If all of this writing helps even just one person make the life-changing move from the dreaded day job working for someone else to one to doing a job you love, it'll be worth it.
Let’s get into this!
A “No-Nonsense” Guide on How to Make Money Online With a Blog?
Talk about making money online and you're either bonkers living in your own little dream world, or you're a scammer out to promote your own get rich quick scheme.
Let me be clear from the start – there's no such thing as a get rich quick scheme.
Trust me, I searched for years.
But that doesn't mean you can't build an honest business to tap into the huge potential of the ever-growing online audience.
But know this, I don't want us to start of on any false pretenses:
Building an online business takes work, time and commitment.
In this guide I'm only going to focus on the tips and techniques that I know get results from my own experience of building an profitable affiliate website portfolio. There is nothing fast or automatic about this and you won't ‘get rich overnight at the simple click of a mouse' to it. You'll never make any money online with a blog unless you're driven, disciplined and can work consistently over time before seeing results.
If you know this already, I'm sorry. I just have to be very clear about this. The whole make money online industry is tainted with an expectation that building an online income is quick and easy.
And I'm always very aware that real people like you are reading this and may make decisions based on what I'm saying. This is why I strive to be as realistic, practical and detailed as I can be.
With that being said, let's move on…
Don't rush to quit your 9-5 just yet
If you want to make money online blogging then they'll be a point in time where you'll probably have to make a choice between quitting your job and pursuing blogging as a full-time career.
When you have bills to pay and mouths to feed, this is a massive decision!
As I mention in my FREE 10-Day Getting Started Email Course I worked for years as a Customer Service Representative in massive barn-style call centres back in my home city of Leeds, England. I worked in home insurance, banking and even organising loft and cavity wall insulation installations.
I worked 11 hour shifts with a headset just so I could cover my bills, get home late at night and build up my websites.
Here’s some important facts to keep in mind when thinking about making money online through blogging:
- Most blogs never get make it longer than the 12 month mark
Blogging isn't easy and there's lots of thing you need to put in place before you'll start seeing results. It takes time and most people quit before their blog ever gets off the ground. So to ensure you're succesful at this, be realistic about the process.
- You have to work for free before seeing any returns
It took me 12 months to get to a point where my online income superseded the wage from my full-time job and for you it might be longer. It takes time and it all depends on what website niche you choose, how much you work at it and what support you get. See How long does it take to make money with Wealthy Affiliate.
- You're the driving force of your business
You make it happen or you don't. No one else will do it for you. The success of failure lies on you and some people dont have the self-discipline or the energy to handle that.
- You'll need to invest finanically into your business (but not much)
A huge benefit of making money online with a blog is that the start up costs are very low. In most cases there's no premises to rent, no products to store and no staff to hire. Initially a $12 domain name maybe your only outlay until your blog starts to take money and you want to invest in logo and website design. Just keep this in mind.
- Sometimes it's hard to ‘switch off'
I love being my own boss and having complete control over my schedule, but being an online business owner has it's disadvantages too. Honestly, it's stressful at times and I can never fully switch off. Whether I'm volunteering or socialising, I've always got my website business in the back of my mind.
Again, let me reiterate – I'm not trying to put you off! I've done it successfully for 3 years and I love. Starting my blogs was one of my smartest decisions, but I didn't quit my 9-5 until I was confident my blogs were earning me enough money so I could support myself.
So now let’s get into the good stuff.
The MASSIVE advantages of making money online with a blog
One you finally crack the nut and you've got a money making blog on your hands, it's one the best feelings!
You suddenly come to the realisation that you're working on creating an income-generating asset that is yours and yours only. It's your own little online empire that you are in complete control of.
Once this becomes your main source of income – you'll never go back to the dreary office cubicles again!
Here are some of thebest things about becoming a full-time blogger:
- You get to work to your own schedule
For me, there was nothing worse than having to wake up at 7am to stand at a bus stop in the dark, rainy blustery early hours waiting to go to some call centre for an 11 hour shift. Now I work when I want without even needing to get dressed.
- You’re building your own empire
You own whatever you create. Whether that's a video that goes viral, or a blog post everyone want to link to, when you invest the time to create content, to build out a blog into an authority website – that's an income-generating asset that belongs to you forever. Take it any direction you want to, run how you like, it's your own virtual real estate you have complete control over.
- No dreary office cubicles
No need to ask permission to go to the toilet, no need to send in a request to have a few days off. No more living paycheque to paycheque whilst you work to make someone else money.
- Your potential earnings are limitless
Unless you're a stock broker or a brain surgeon, you're far more likely to make more money running your own business than you are working clocking in for someone else. With a blog, instead of putting in the hours and getting paid once, the time and energy you invest into your income generating asset will pay you time and again.
- You're free to do what you were created to do
Having your own cash generating blog means you're freed up to do other things. Right now I'm in Thailand working full-time as a church volunteer. This has been my dream for a long time and now I'm finally living it. I simply couldn't be doing what I'm doing without the income my blogs provide.
I'd say to anyone seriously thinking about making money online with a blog that there's a lot of wisdom in taking a serious look at the advantages and disadvantages. Consider your options, make the choice that's right for you and get the timing right.
10 Keys to building a successful money-making blog
Again, this is based on my own experience, but if you are to make a success of this new business venture I'd like to share with you some of the things I think are absolutely vital.
1. Get the Right Training & Support
If you've never done this before you're entering unknown territory – and that doesn't have to sound as scary as it sounds. Not if you have the right advice and help.
I learned everything I know at a place called Wealthy Affiliate.
Honestly, I owe all of my success to the top notch training and amazing community who helped guide me through building my first online business.
If you're serious about becoming a professional full-time blogger I can not recommend Wealthy Affiliate highly enough.
It's free to create an account and work through the training. You can build two free blogs with them (easy with hundreds of templates to choose from) and there's free hosting too.
- The Full Wealthy Affiliate Review
- How To Learn How To Make Money Online For Free With Wealthy Affiliate
- How To Join Wealthy Affiliate
2. Make a Specific Plan With Measurable Goals and Deadlines
Most spiring bloggers have no clear, structured plan in place. If you're serious about building your blog into a profitable business then you need to make a plan – that'smeasureable with time limits..
For me, I stick my goals on the wall right in front of where I work so I can see them everyday. It reminds me why I'm doing what I'm doing and motivates me to take action.
When you're writing out your goals you want to get really specific. “I want to make money online with a blog in the next 12 months” is not defined enough.
Here's a good goal, it's something that's measureable and get your teeth into:
“I'm going to create a website and build an email list of 5,000 subscribers and I'll do this by creating 50 posts at 2,000 words each. I will also use Google ads to drive people to my site to earn $10,000 by selling 100 copies of my $100 eBook.
I understand there will always be factors out of your control but having a concrete set of goals that are written down will give you something to shoot for. Here are some god questions to ask yourself when coming up with your goals:
- What's the main reason you're getting into this?
I can tell you how, but only you can know why. What's your motivation, your big compelling driving force for wanting to make money online with a blog? Defining this from the start will make sure you don't get discouraged and quit a few months down the line.
- How long can give to this?
What if you don't reach your goals by 6 months, will you quit? Websites take time to mature. Can you give your site 2 years and re-evaluate then?
- How will your blog make money?
If you already know what you want to start a blog about, what relevant products and/or services can you tie and recommend to your readers? What affiliate programs are best to promote in your niche? How will they help your readers and how will promote them?
- How much will it cost?
How much time can you put into this around your current roles and responsibilities. Do you need to invest money in online entrepreneur training?
I'm not saying you don’t need to have every single box ticked but it's good to think about these things before you get started. It will help you further down the line.
3. Learn all you can about your blogging topic and become the expert
Being an active contributor, participant and researcher of your chosen blog niche is vital for a few reasons; you'll know who you're competitors are, you'll know what you need to get above the noise and stand out, you'll make your brand and voice is distinctive.
At the beginning stages of your blogging business you'll want to ask yourself important questions:
- What other blogs are already in your chosen niche?
And how will your blog be different, what angles will you take? (I use Jaaxy for this.)
- What will you add to the conversation that isn't being said already?
There are so many blogs out there so think about branding, your writing voice, how you'll approach topics and generate engagement.
4. Build Your Email List & You'll Build Your Business
Every serious blogger who is making money online focuses their efforts on building a list of email subscribers.
It doesn’t matter if you want to make money with a blog about being a stay at home mum, trekking across south east Asia or how to keep a pet parakeet…
Building a list of email subscribers who have given you permission to contact them directly with new content is critical to your success because:
- As soon as you publish a post, you can get readers almost immediately
You may have to pay out a little for services like AWeber or you can just start off with the free MailChimp service. Either way, its a great way to get your message out almost instantly unlike SEO or social media where it can be hit and miss.
- A loyal readership
Emails lists are all about relationships and trust. Email turns your casual blog reader into a loyal subscriber who trusts you enough to take action on what you recommend.
- They grow your reach
Email subscribers have given you permission, an open door to contact them directly. They opted in because they appreciated what you had to say. Email subscribers are great at sharing your posts on social media. Nothing comes close to the power of having an email list!
Once you make building your email list a top priority with your blogging business, you can track conversions, do split testing and tweak the design of your blog to ensure maximum conversions.
That is crucial to making money online with a blog.
5. Never stop growing your blog
Professor Byron Sharp wrote a book called How Brands Grow, where he talks about how online brands should grow their businesses by always expanding their reach.
So if you want your blog to be successful and profitable for years to come then you need to be ever expanding and growing your blog reach. The more traffic your blog can get, the bigger the potential for sales and commissions coming your way.
Website => Traffic => SUCCESS ($$$)
Here are 4 Ways You Grow Your Blog Reach
1. Create content that won't go out of date
Also known as evergreen content. Green is a colour that denotes something new and fresh and ever indicates that it will stay that way for all of time.
Evergreen content is content that is always relevant and never goes out of date. This means you write a blog post now and it's still relevant two or three years down the line.
2. Target keywords with every post
For me the biggest source of traffic has always been Google. I use Jaaxy Enterprise to make sure I don't leave the success of my online business to chance.
Keywords, simply put, are what Google use to rank your sites. I implement keyword research techniques to make sure I get the highly coveted top spot on search engines.
And the best thing about using Google, Bing and Yahoo search engines to drive traffic to your site is that it’s FREE, it’s targeted and it’s organic.
3. Spend money on advertising
As your online business matures and start to generate income, re-invest that income back into your business by placing paid ads and getting more traffic back to your blog. I really like PPC marketing because once you learn how to run successful campaigns, it's all about scaling it up to the next level.
While PPC focuses on Google, Yahoo and Bing search engines, most people don't realie you can buy paid ads for social sites like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. We've all seen the big sites do it, which means they're getting results.
4. Get involved in the conversation
As well as building out your blog, be purposeful in building connections with authority figures within your niche. This could mean guest posting for other sites, commenting within forums, launching your own YouTube channel and really working hard to get known.
With 3.75 billion users online everyday, the internet is expanding day by day. So never get complacent. Keep pushing your own limits, keep learning new skills and get your blog out to more people.
6. Build a Recurring Blog Income
The sixth step to make money online with a blog is to follow the steps of the most successful build a recurring (passive) income.
What do I mean by recurring income?
The simple 4 step process of making money online I learned from Wealthy Affiliate goes like this:
Simple put, you sign up to an affiliate program, promote their products or services to your readers and you get a commission for every referral you send their way.
[alert-note]Affiliate Marketing Definition: A way for a company to sell its products by signing up individuals or companies (“affiliates”) who market the company's products for a commission.
What's The Best Affiliate Program To Promote?
The best affiliate program to promote is one that's relevant to the topic of your blog.
So let's say I'm interested making money online with a blog and I've chosen the running niche. (I could also choose to narrow down my specific niche a little further with ‘marathon running' or ‘competitive running'.)
Finding the affiliate program(s) is the easy part.
A simple Google search “your niche here + affiliate program” will bring up lots of results. A quick search for “running gear + affiliate program” and I've already found affiliate programs to choose from – including Reebok and Nike.
I can compare different kinds of running shoes, fitness trackers, sports supplements and recommend what I have used and think is best and add a helpful link for people to find out more.
People click through, add to their cart and BOOM – you get a nice commission for recommending the site to your readers.
The point I want to make is this: where possible – always promote a service or product that provides you with a monthly or recurring income.
Let me give you a personal example.
My biggest money making blog right now is GrowChurch.net – the first blog I built back in 2014.
I write about church growth and leadership development, improving your preaching, having effective systems and I provide my readers with access to further teaching and core coaching programs. These are a 12 month subscription so I with each sale I actually get paid 12 times. That's cool right?
If you're going to all the work of building up your blog, going through the training and learning how to attract visitors to make one sale, why just get paid once?
7. Don't Put All Your Virtual Eggs in One Online Basket – Diversify!
As you develop your online blogging business you'll want to diversify as soon as you can. This is why I have a website portfolio covering a variety of niches.
But I don't necessarily mean you need to have more than website, though I think it's a good idea to be involved in more than one single niche, but I'm talking about more than that.
So how can you diversify?
- Your sources of website traffic
GrowChurch.net gets 1,000 unique visitors daily from Google alone. But I don't just want to rely on that – tomorrow I could wake up and all my traffic is gone. Which is why I'm also building an email list as we discussed earlier and planning to start YouTube and PPC campaigns.
- Your sources of income
There was an uproar online recently about Amazon's changes to it's commission structure. There's a valuable lesson to be learned here – don’t rely too heavily on one particular afiliate program because if they close down, your account gets cancelled or something else happens, you're pretty much stuck/
- Your website hosting and backups
When you're making money with your blog, your website is your online business so protect it. Back it up. You want your online store to be open for business 365 days of the year.
NOTE: Building your blog with WordPress and SiteRubix using the Wealthy Affiliate platform (whether using the free subdomain or transfering your own domain) means you have free hosting, an IT team on stand by 24/7, automatic back up and site health monitoring.
8. Outsource As Soon As You Can
When you're setting up your blog, chances are you have build everything on your own from scratch; researching, writing, designing, accounting, traffic generation, social media updates…. it's endless!
But as soon as you blog is making money, I would recommend reinvesting it back into your business. You don't have to do everything yourself.
The truth is, we can't all be good at everything. I know I'm not.
And I know that instead of spending hours trying to figure how to improve my website design (not an area I'm skilled in) I'd move my online business forward much quicker if I hired a pro.
And to be honest, with half a dozen websites now, I really don't have time to do everything.
Here's a few things I might outsource:
- Content creation
- Logo design
- YouTube video intros
- Website design
- Email marketing
Check out my Best Blogging Toolbox to find out who I outsource to.
You don't need to worry about this until your blog starts making enough money to support itself, but there'll come a right time (and you'll know when that is) when it's best for you and your business to outsource.
But you don't just want to outsource to just anyone. You need to find and train up a team of people who can take on specific job roles so that you're freed up to focus on the more important things of growing your business.
When it comes to outsourcing website creation, content creation or niche research, I cannot rate Human Proof Designs highly enough.
9. Be Willing To Take Action
The beauty of Wealthy Affiliate's Online Entrepreneurship Certification course is that with the assigned tasks that come with every lesson, you'll be building your online business as you work your way through the course.
This is vital to your future success because taking action on what you've learned is what counts.
A plan is what turns a dream into a goal. Action is what turns that goal into reality.
Sometimes we think we get from here to ‘there' in one huge leap, but the truth is, it's by taking small, daily cumulative steps.
Learning and building a money making blog will mean learning new skills, doing things you've never done before and that's okay. Just keep pushing and always ask for help whenever you feel stuck.
If you're going through the Wealthy Affiliate training, use Live Chat, use the question and answer areas and always ask the community for expert help if you’re ever unsure.
10. Get intentional, get organised
This is a point I struggled with for a long time.
What I'm talking about here is basically self-discipline and time management.
Ask anyone – they'd love to learn how to make money online.
Lots of people have great ideas for blogs they could launch… but they just never get to it.
I just talked about making your dream become a reality by taking a series of small steps. But how does it start?
Here are some great words of wisdom from a guy who knows what he's talking about:
[alert-note]“Make a schedule! Yes, we’re trying to “break away from the 9 to 5”, but the nice thing about the 9 to 5 is that at 5, you know you’re done and you remove yourself from the opportunity (mostly) to continue to do work.
When you’re running a full-time blogging business, it’s super easy (and tempting) to do work at anytime, and unless you create a boundary in your schedule you’re going to cross over between personal and business life, and it’s going to be bad. You can overwork yourself and remove yourself from other parts of your life that are also important.
Additionally, when you know you have X hours to work, you’re more likely to be efficient because you know you only have that amount of time. Without that boundary, it’s easy to just say, “Oh, well I’ll do that later because I have the time.”
– Pat Flynn, Smart Passive Income[/alert-note]
For me, even as I type this guide, I can see a small timer counting down in the top of my screen. I find having a countdown makes me work harder and quicker.
As I'm now volunteering full-time in Thailand, I set one day a week aside for nothing else but working on my online businesses. I turn my phone off, close the door and zero in on my to do list.
Everyone motivates themselves and manages their time differently what works for me might not work for you.
I'm just saying find out what works well for you and be diligent to see it through. Do this and it won't be long before you start to see your first sales coming through.
What advice would you give to someone looking to become a blogger full-time?
Blogging about that passion of yours, sharing your message, building your online platform whilst helping people with great high quality content has got to one of the best ways to make money ever. It's about financial freedom, it's about reaching your potential and taking control of your life.
There's an online community of 100,000+ entrepreneurs who are already living in this reality. You can join them and start your free make money blogging course here.
What I’d love to do now is hand this over to you. If you're already making money online with a blog in whatever niche, what advice would you give to aspiring bloggers?
Lets get a discussion going in the comments. If you have any questions related to starting a blog, or making money with a blog, be sure to write below and I'll be sure to get back to you and help you any way I can.
Simon Crowe is the founder of The Make Money Online Blog and is on a mission to help as many people as possible kiss their bosses goodbye.
Get his free Affiliate Marketing Guide For Newbies to learn exactly how to build a real income online and make your dream business a reality.