Do you want to know how to make money blogging? More and more people are starting to blog and many of them are finding you can make good money from a blog. But it’s not just money you can make, you can get free tickets to events, free music, free DVDs – the opportunities are endless! Often the successful blogs are ones that find a niche to attract people and then go from there. Sound interesting? Read on to find out how to make money blogging.
- How do you create a blog?
- What do you write about?
- How do people find out about your blog?
- Other ways to make money online
The best blogs around range from the sublime, such as ‘Mashable’ – a blog specialising in social media currently supposedly under a multi-million dollar offer from CNN, to the truly ridiculous – ‘icanhascheezburger’, a blog containing pictures of cats and other animals with humourous captions underneath them (and it’s really popular!).
We bet you didn’t know that even Samuel Pepys’s famous diary is available online as a blog. Here’s a BBC article about it.
So, someone’s taken your funny cat pictures idea already, and even the old classics have made it onto the web. How do you create something people will want to read and make money from it? Only the Moneymagpies have the answer…
Blogs are completely free and pretty easy to set up. You can be in complete control of your blog yourself, and all you really need to get started is something interesting to say. Even if you’re completely new to this blogging lark, it’s honestly not difficult to get the hang of.
So what are the best blogging sites? If you use a free hosting service like Blogger, you’ll be taken through the process step-by-step. It will provide you with a web address, a template and text editors so you won’t need any kind of previous expertise at all. It’ll do all the complicated stuff for you. (If you can use a word processor, you should have no problems using Blogger).
Bear in mind that most blogs make no money, others make a little, and only a lucky few make enough money to provide their owners with a living. Although it’s something you can do in your spare time, making money from a blog is effectively like running a business. You have to put a lot in to get a lot out.
The secret to blogging success is contained in three things: good content, good traffic and good marketing. And we’re not going to lie – achieving all three is hard work and certainly won’t happen overnight.
‘So how do you achieve these three magic things?’ you ask.
This one is all on you. You need to have an inspired idea for what you’re going to write about and you need to be able to write about it well.
Step 1: See what’s already out there (and get inspired!)
Take a look at Google Blogsearch to see what other blogs are out there. It’s also worth checking out what the most popular blogs of the moment are through Technorati’s Popular Blogs page and bloggers who have won Webby Awards (the website equivalent of the Oscars).
Read blogs that write about subjects you are interested in. See what they do and how you could do it better. Learn from other blogs about how they make money (if they do) and import those ideas into your blog.
Ultimately you want to stand out, but don’t be afraid to take various ideas from good blogs you see around the internet. That’s how the best blogs get started.
Step 2: Decide on a subject
It should already be obvious that your blog can be about absolutely anything. If you’re looking to make money out of your blog, some subjects can attract more lucrative advertising than others. (For example, if you set up a really popular travel blog, holiday company advertising can offer reasonable commissions).
What we will tell you though, is to write about something based on your real life experiences, or something that you are genuinely enthused about. Successful blogs are successful because they are built on passion.
How focused your blog is on a particular subject is up to you. Some websites build up a huge amount of traffic just by collecting together all the weird, funny or interesting things they find online. Most successful blogs, however, tend to zone in on one particular subject.
Try to find your own niche within the market. There’s no point trying to cover multiple news topics as you’re effectively competing with major websites with millions of readers. Provide something different to what’s on offer elsewhere. If you feel most websites aren’t paying particular attention to a certain topic, or aren’t covering it particularly well, and you can do a better job then a blog is your perfect chance.
As an added bonus, if your site builds up a good following then you can start using it to get ahead in the blogosphere. If your blog covers music, you can start asking record labels (and it’s probably best to start small) for free promo tracks that you can review. Labels will have to spend a lot of money on advertising, and often something like that is effectively free advertising for them. You give your blog credibility by consistently staying on top of the latest releases and you get free music at the same time!
A word of caution: do be careful if you are writing about your work on a publicly available blog. Employees have been disciplined or even sacked for writing what is seen as negative material about their employers online. If you are going to blog about your working life, it’s probably sensible to make sure you blog anonymously.
Step 3: Know your audience – and let them find you
Who are you writing for? Family? Friends? People in your profession? Or the general public?
Knowing this will dictate the writing style of your blog, the layout, and how you let other people find out about your website.
If you’re serious about your blog making money then you need to be aiming for a very specific market. You also need to make sure that that market finds out about the blog.
It takes time to begin with but with persistence you will get there. Start small by telling all of your friends – maybe put each new blog post in your Facebook status or mention it on Twitter and encourage people to share with others if they like it. Make sure you have a link to your blog and a few words that sell it to lure people in.
The right name can do wonders
A catchy or memorable name for your blog is crucial if you are to get people’s attention and make them click on your blog.
You can call it whatever you like – but make sure your blog name is the same as the URL if you want your site to be noticed. (The URL is the bit that goes at the top of your internet browser – so Moneymagpie’s URL is ‘http://www.moneymagpie.com/’).
If you want your URL to match your blog name, you will need to purchase your own domain name. However this isn’t usually very much – most website ‘domain’ names can be bought for less than £10 a year (sometimes they only a cost a couple of quid).
Have a look at 123reg.co.uk or easily.co.uk and bag yourself a memorable name for your website.
A couple of other rules to follow when naming your blog:
1) Keep the title short and snappy
2) Avoid using things like hyphens in the URL (it makes your web address complicated and hard to remember)
Get your blog out there
It’s a good idea to get your blog published on a blog directory. This is a site people interested in reading blogs more generally visit and it could be a very powerful tool. Technorati is the big one to get your blog on – it was designed to help bloggers so make the most of it.
Set up a Facebook group dedicated to your blog. Invite all your friends to join and if you’re good with technology, you can set up an RSS feed so that all your blog posts will automatically be uploaded to Facebook. With over ten million users, Facebook is the perfect free advertising space.
Twitter can be similarly useful. Once you have written an article on your blog, perhaps you could tweet a link to your article at some celebrities (ie those with a lot of followers) asking them to ‘retweet’ it – if it involves them there’s every chance that they will! You can also use things like ‘hashtags’ – for instance we may do a tweet and write #money – to try and attract people’s attention.
The ideal scenario would be for one of your posts to make it on to a site like Digg or StumbleUpon. These are simply sites where others have recommended pages from the web they liked. Obviously you can’t make this happen – but if your content is good enough, who knows? Make sure you put links to these websites on your blog so that people can instantly vote for it.
Good marketing: how to start to make money from blogging?
Once you’ve got things up and running, sign up to a service like Google Adsense or Yahoo! Publisher Network, both of which use specialist search technology to target your site with relevant advertising.
This means that once someone comes to your site to read your blog, if they click on one of the adverts, you will get a share of the revenue. It usually follows that the more informative your site is, the more people will click on relevant ads.
But before you do this, there are some things you may want to think about first.
Who are your target advertisers?
It may sound obvious, but it’s best to pick advertisers who suit your target readers. This not only involves looking through potentially suitable advertisers, but also asking yourself what type of people will read your blog.
This may be quite hard to work out initially, as if it’s just a general blog it will be difficult to determine readership. But once you’ve decided the aim of your blog – or its ‘niche’ – then you can jump into advertising. Even if it’s just a blog about yourself, it’s likely your readers will be like-minded people, so if you write a lot about music then choose music advertising.
With a small blog, to make money from advertising you will need people to click through to the adverts. If the advertising is not suited to your audience then you won’t get any people clicking on them, and you’ll just have some redundant advertising on your page!
Be careful with your advertising though. Most people don’t mind a small amount of advertising – sometimes it can even brighten up a page. But if people are inundated with pop-ups and videos when on your blog they’ll get annoyed and probably won’t come back. There’s nothing wrong with advertising, just try and make it discreet.
Build your traffic
Obviously, unless you have serious amounts of traffic, this is only going to be making you pocket money. It’s a free service, but you might want to spend some time focusing on the content and layout of your blog so you can form a community before you begin advertising.
Readers are put off by advert-filled pages, so it’s best to focus on content before you begin to carefully select which adverts to put around your page. If the readers aren’t completely bombarded with them, and the adverts you choose are geared towards the readers, then you’ll do better from it.
You’ll probably need to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to your website in order to make a living from this kind of advertising, but if you just stick to the basics above your blog could be a nice little side earner.
Sell things off your blog
Don’t forget that you can also sell things off your blog (or even advertise your own services). This is likely to be a more surefire way of making a bit of cash from your blog if the size of your readership is more modest.
If you write a gardening blog for instance, you could sell seeds or an ebook of all your top tips. And if you make a living as a gardener, use the blog to advertise your services, and include photos and write-ups of your best past commissions. It will be a lot more eye-catching than a bog standard CV!
Alternatively, if you’ve decided to start a more creative blog with examples of your illustrations or creations you’ve made you could sell some of these too. Sites like Etsy and Big Cartel offer pages for independent designers to sell their products, and you can attach these links to your blog so people can purchase if they like.
Don’t be afraid to pitch your work around too. Magazines, independent art stores and even bigger retail branches are constantly on the look-out for new designs – if yours are good you could soon get them featured.
The possibilities are pretty much endless for selling things on your blog, and the more inventive you are, the more you stand to earn.
Create a newsletter
There’s nothing to stop you setting up a regular email newsletter to readers, particularly if your blog is selling a service or products, or you’re using it to sell yourself as a speaker or specialist in something. We like the price and service offered by Aweber which is the company we use to send our weekly newsletter (join here for free!).
Onwards and upwards
Making your blog successful is all about establishing yourself as an expert, as someone a reader can trust and relate to. This isn’t going to happen overnight, so if you’re serious about having a blog that makes money, you need to be in it for the long haul.
Plenty of people have created popular blogs which make them a decent revenue though, so it’s certainly possible. Detailed below are just a few blogs that started with humble beginnings before gaining a huge following and eventually making a lot of money:
- The Huffington Post – Many would struggle to believe that Arianna Huffington’s creation started off as a mere blog such is its power in online news. It was founded in May 2005 before AOL acquired it for a whopping $315m in February 2011
- Fotolog – The photo-sharing site grew so popular that its web servers couldn’t cope with the amount of people signing up. It was eventually sold to Hi-Media Group for a tidy $90m.
- TechCrunch – Founded in 2005 by Michael Arrington, the site looks at technology companies, news and innovations. It was sold to AOL for $30m in 2010.
Other ways to make money online
Looking for more simple ways to make money online? Have a look at our suggestions below!
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