Hello! Today I am sharing a post written by a fellow blogger. Making money with a blog completely transformed my life. You can read further in my monthly online income report updates.
If you’re a blogger, you’re probably interested in making money with a blog.
But if you search online for how to monetize your blog and you’re given the same, tired advice everywhere: place ads on your site, use lots of affiliate links, look for sponsors.
While those methods might still work, they’re usually a gigantic waste of time for beginning bloggers, requiring you to aggressively promote other brands for little payoff.
There’s a better way to make money: creating your own product.
I started with a completely unknown blog that made no money (unless you count the pennies I made with Adsense) to making just under $500 during the six-day prelaunch of my very first product. If I can do it, you can too.
Here are five steps to finally start making money with a blog of your own:
Step #1: Create value consistently (and for free).
If you can’t earn people’s trust, you certainly won’t earn their money. The essential first step to having a profitable blog is creating value content for free.
Some bloggers skimp on the quality of their free posts and save the best material for people who will pay. This is wrong.
Make every post value-packed. Go out of your way to provide content that will completely wow your readers.
Do whatever it takes to make them want to return to your blog and tell their friends about you. Don’t worry about the creative well running dry. If you cared enough about a topic to dedicate a whole blog to it, there’s plenty more where those ideas from.
Since my blog is about helping people pursue their passion in life, I created an 11-page illustrated PDF called Stop Dreaming and Start Doing: How to Actually Do What You Love, and gave it away on my site for free. I took my experience as a career counselor and psychotherapist and condensed it into a valuable guide that would motivate people to take action with their lives. People still write to tell me how much they enjoyed reading the guide.
Step #2: Stop talking to an empty room.
Most bloggers never gain traction with their ideas — not because they don’t have anything worth talking about — but because their message isn’t reaching enough people. In other words, they’re talking to an empty room.
I learned this the hard way. The first few blogs I started never got more than a a few dozen visitors a day because I was so intent on getting the word out there on my own. It wasn’t until I started leveraging bigger, well-known sites that my blog garnered more attention and took off.
The best way to leverage the popularity of other sites is to write for them. Look for well-known blogs in your niche and pitch an article that would bring tremendous value to their readers. When you do this properly, you’ll earn new fans and followers who want to know more about you and your platform.
I used this strategy when I pitched an article to The Huffington Post last summer. Within 48 hours, my pitch was accepted and my post was featured on the site. After successfully writing a few more articles for them, I was given contributor access. The exposure I got from writing for them brought hundreds of new subscribers to my own my blog as a result.
Side note from Michelle: If you are interested in starting a blog of your own, I created a tutorial that will help you start a blog of your own for cheap, starting at only $3.49 per month (this low price is only through my link) for blog hosting. In addition to the low pricing, you will receive a free blog domain (a $15 value) through my Bluehost link if you purchase at least 12 months of hosting. FYI, you want to be self-hosted. This is essential if you want to monetize your blog as you will appear more professional and this will help you monetize your blog tremendously. My blogging income did not take off until after I switched to self-hosting.
Step #3: Partner with the right people.
Search sites like Bloglovin’ or Blog Search Engine to find other bloggers in your niche. What things are they doing or writing about that you admire? Find commonalities that you share with the person and then reach out to them on Twitter. Link to a specific article of theirs and list something specific you enjoyed about it, then suggest collaborating sometime in the future.
The key is to be authentic. People will sense if you’re just looking to use them as a means to an end. Be genuine with your intentions to work together and seek to provide value for both of your audiences.
Step #4 Start a community.
Speaking to your audience through your blog is one thing, but most experts recommend having an email list so you can message them personally.
But there’s an even better way to engage with your readers: Facebook.
Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you send Facebook friend requests to all of your followers. Instead, create a Facebook group of your blog/brand and invite your followers and email subscribers to interact with you there.
Sure, not all of them will have Facebook, but most will. Not only is it more personal than email, but followers can meet and engage with one another. This builds a sense of community while also taking the pressure off you to facilitate every discussion.
I grew the People Passionate Facebook community to several hundred people in just a few months simply by asking my email subscribers to join.
In the group, I kept up with everyone by asking them what things they were working on and what they most needed help with. This encouraged others to participate in discussion and also gave me a much better understanding of my followers’ biggest challenges.
#5: Create a product.
Once you’ve followed all of these steps, you’re ready to make money with a blog of your own.
By this point, you’ve established to your community that you’re not some random internet marketer who’s just out for their money. You’ve earned their trust and they believe in what you have to offer — many of them will be more than willing to pay for you for a resource you’ve taken the time to create.
As far as what product you can offer, it can be anything — a video tutorial, an ebook, an online course, even coaching services. The beauty of having a Facebook community is it allows you to validate your idea for a product or service before you even begin creating it — all you have to do is ask if it’s something they’d be interested in buying.
I noticed that my Facebook group had a lot of aspiring bloggers who wanted to know how to grow their blogs and write for influential sites like The Huffington Post. So I asked if they’d be interested if I were to create an email course that outlined the entire process — from buying a domain to growing traffic to monetizing their platform. Thirty two people said they’d be interested in the course if I created it.
That was all the validation I needed.
I spent three weeks writing and refining the course. During my prelaunch sale, I sold eight copies, netting me a few hundred dollars profit on my very first product.
Final thoughts about making money with a blog.
Profiting from your blog means thinking about the long-term. Aim to provide value in everything you do for your audience. Build a community that appreciates your work, survey your followers on the things they need help with the most, then use their feedback to create a resource that addresses their needs.
When you focus on finding a product for your customers, and not vice versa, you give yourself the opportunity to finally make money doing what you love.
Author bio: Kevin is the founder of People Passionate – a blog dedicated to helping others pursue their creative ideas. Check out his blogging course that teaches you how to grow a successful blog: The Blogging Roadmap. Connect with him on Twitter @ppl_passionate.
Are you interested in making money with a blog of your own? Why or why not?
diane @smartmoneysimplelife says
This is great. Thank you!
There’s so much more to learn about building a successful and profitable blog than I ever imagined. Definitely not a simple case of ‘build it and they will come’. It’s a challenge but I know it’ll be worth it.
Thanks again for the ideas… Lots to think about.
Thanks for reading, Diane! You’re so right about the “build it and they will come” myth. Like anything else, we have to actively hustle to get noticed. Marketing is half the battle!
Thank you Michelle! I always enjoy reading your posts! I hope that one day I can be at least half as good as you are in your job. 🙂
Thanks so much for reading. Glad you enjoyed :).
Hi Kevin! It is a great post indeed! Thank you! 🙂
I love this one Kevin! And thanks for the tips about joining a community, I just checked out the People Passionate Facebook community.
Glad to have you on board, Clarisse!
Luke Fitzgerald @ FinanciallyFitz says
Thank you for this helpful information! All things I need to get better at! So much to learn as I continue this new journey of mine!
It’s a journey indeed! Let me know if you have any questions, Luke. I’ll be glad to help!
Chris @ Flipping A Dollar says
I’m still stuck on #1. It’s so frustrating to know that when I’m posting consistently, my traffic increases slowly. When I don’t, it drops off. Well no crap! And then people won’t waste the time to comment either.
Ideal goal would be to post 3 times a week but I just don’t have the time right now. Juggling family and all that is where I get stuck. Well, plus the full time job. If that were gone, it would be a lot easier to post consistently, but then my paycheck would be a lot lower too (to start at least).
Thanks for the advice though!
I can totally relate to the challenges you’ve mentioned here, Chris. It can be frustrating to work so hard to consistently post content only to see a minimal increase in traffic. That’s something I struggled with for quite a while myself.
A few suggestions:
1) It helps to write posts and schedule them to be published ahead of time. This takes away the burden of having to constantly be at your computer the night before your post goes live. As you build a backlog of schedule posts, you’ll feel a lot less overwhelmed knowing you’re ahead of the game.
2) Getting comments has always been a challenge for me as well. Even now, I’d love to have more engagement on my posts (don’t we all?). There’s one simple strategy that helps a ton with this though: just ask. When I share new posts with my followers via broadcast email, I ask them a specific question related to the post. People are more likely to comment when they get to add their voice, and sometimes they need to be reminded that their voice matters. Try asking for direct feedback, you’d be surprised how effective this is!
3) Making time for blogging (or anything that we want to do) is always going to be an issue. I’m actually in the middle of writing a post about this! The best piece of advice I can give you is to prioritize what truly matters to you. If you really want your blog to take off, you’ve got to put it ahead of everything else. Even work. That means getting up a little earlier so you can write. Even 500 words every morning adds up! Don’t wait until after work to hustle with your dreams. Your goals come first!
I hope I was able to add some insight here. If you ever need anything, feel free to email me!
I was not aware you could schedule posts to be published in advance! This is going to help me so much as I have pre-written about a month and a half’s worth of posts. I have been just trying to jump on the computer at the time I want it to post, but that is easier said than done.
Erin @ Erin's Inside Job says
This is great, thanks! I am brainstorming what I want my product/products to be since I know that is how I will really be able to make a more sustainable income. I want to start a similar consulting/coaching business for bloggers to help them achieve their goals, and all these tips are spot on!
All the best with your consulting and coaching, Erin! Glad you like the tips 🙂
Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore says
Great tips! I’ve pretty much done the traditional ways and haven’t tried the things you mentioned, like creating free products, yet because of the time involved. I make most of my money online by working for others. As soon as I’m able to stay home and freelance full-time I hope to be able to put a little more time into my own brand and site so I can create some of these free products and then create paid products too!
I remember the first time my free guide was downloaded; what a feeling that was! I can also recall how amazing it felt to make my very first sale from my first product. It’s pretty magical to create something that others find valuable and get paid doing it. It’s so worth the time and energy! You got this, Kayla. 🙂
These are great points and some I’ve started to utilize this year!
Thanks, Michelle! Have you created a product for your readers recently?
Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing your story and congratulations on writing for Huffington Post. I definitely see how this helped you along in your blogging journey.
Thank you, Lauren!
Alexandra @ Real Simple Finances says
Thanks for these fantastic tips, Kevin! This will definitely help as I try to make money from my own blog. My motivation is my impending due date — I want to be able to spend more time at home.
Time at home is great! Although I must admit, it’s not always the best working environment for me. I need to be in a place with lots of energy, otherwise I’ll just convince myself that I deserve a nap…every hour. But to each their own! One of the best perks of blogging is having that location independence :).
This is most helpful to me. Thank you!
You’re welcome, Mathe!
Brittney @ Life On A Discount says
Great insights! I know social media (Facebook and Twitter) are things that can be leveraged for exposure and engagement, I just haven’t taken that step. I am hoping when my busy season at work slows down, I can focus on building a community and connecting with other bloggers.
Thanks for sharing!
Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says
I like bloggers who talk to their audience and respond to comments, not only in their social media but also in their blog. Kevin, I agree with all these! High five!
*high fives Jayson*
Thank u soo much for this info,my dream is to have a blog but I did not know where to start.
I am from Namibia, Africa.
I am still not sure what to write about, and what will interest ppl.
Thanks for reading my post! Blogs like this one or my own (PeoplePassionate.com) are great places to start if you want to learn how to blog. I recommend doing a little research, you’ll find lots of great information on how to set up a blog and choose what you’d like to write about.
Great article! How long do you reckon one should work on a blog to start seeing interesting income coming in (like £500 to £1,000 per month)?
I think focusing on providing value to your audience and discovering ways you can create both free and paid content will work best. It’s all about scale. Once you’re able to find a common problem and solve it, that’s when you will start to make money. Start small :).
Jesse Gernigin says
Kevin great post. I am running through ZTL right now and I am working on guest posting and growing my audience. Glad to see your clear and action oriented advice!
Let me know how ZTL goes, Jesse. It seems like a really great program. I love Ramit’s stuff!
Congratulations on your success! I know you all worked hard to get there. I am in the DIY world and found that networking at conferences is a game changer if you need a boost. I found a new blogger friend a half hour from me. We met for coffee today and what a breath of fresh air talking to and sharing ideas with someone who gets you and is just as passionate as you are.
Very cool, Diane! That’s one thing I haven’t done yet, attend blogging conferences. I’ve been fortunate enough to know a few bloggers through my social circle though, and you’re right, it does wonders to talk to someone who’s on the same journey as you.
Dane Hinson says
Some really fantastic advice in this post. For now, I’m blogging for the pure enjoyment of it but I’d like to monetize it at some point. Definitely have the feeling of speaking to an empty room. I’ll use some of these strategies to try to gain more exposure and increase readers of my blog.
Let me know how it goes, Dane!
James Brown @ Financial Freedom Reverse says
Michelle, thank you for this informative post.
I’ve created several blogs in different niches for myself and my customers. I know how it is important to keep blog readers engaged. This is the golden rule of inbound marketing. Especially now when there is an information overload.
But all the content that is the main part of blogging requires time, energy and patience in order to succeed.
Nevil Patel says
Very informative. All these points are essential. Along with that, bloggers should have patience during initial days and focus on attracting loyal users to their website.
I recently started blogging and I use your site as my blogger bible! This post especially got me thinking and gave me some great ideas. Thanks!
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
haha thank you!