I started my blog in August of 2011, and it’s something that has completely changed my life.
Back then, I never realized that making money from a blog was something you could do. I don't think I even looked into how to make money with a blog back then as it was never my goal when I first learned how to start a blog. I certainly never thought blogging would drastically change my future, but I’m so glad I gave it a shot.
Blogging has allowed my husband and I to leave our day jobs, travel full-time, see family and friends more, meet great people, and have one heck of a great life.
Because of the great experience I’ve had, I love helping others realize that making money from a blog is something they can do as well.
I never thought it would be possible, but here I am. Plus, I know many, many other bloggers in all sorts of niches who are making a great living online.
While there is no 100% guarantee that you will be able to earn a full-time living by blogging, I know many bloggers who are full-time and are very happy with it.
Due to that, today, I wanted to answer your common questions about starting and making money from a blog.
- How To Side Hustle- Answers To The Most Common Side Hustle Questions
- How I Successfully Built A $1,000,000+ Blog
- How To Quit Your Job And Become A Full-Time Blogger
Here are all of your questions about making money from a blog:
Is 2018 too late to start a website/blog?
One question I receive often is whether it is too late to start a blog/website.
No, it's not too late, at all!
Trust me, people were saying the same thing when I first started Making Sense of Cents – that people who started in 2011 were starting too late and that no one would ever be successful with it.
However, that's definitely not the case.
There is a lot of room for new bloggers, and there is plenty of room for growth well into the future. I believe that companies and advertisers are only recently starting to realize the value of online influencers, such as bloggers, which means that the blogging world will continue to grow well into the future and that opportunities for making money from a blog will continue to increase.
More and more companies are starting to advertise with online influencers on their blogs, social media accounts, and more, and I expect this to just continue to grow well into the future. Whereas in the past, it was mainly celebrities that companies advertised with, but now, it is actually shifting to bloggers and other online influencers (such as Youtubers and Instagrammers!).
The world is a huge place and the online world is just going to keep growing. Every blogger earns a living online in a slightly different way, and everyone has a different message/story. Plus, there are TONS of different ways to make money through a blog, and I expect this to keep growing.
Of course, blogging is constantly evolving, and there are always new things to learn, which will probably always be the case for managing any online business.
So, if you are thinking about starting a blog, today is the day. Don't let your fears hold you back any further! You can find my free How To Start a Blog Course here.
How do I come up with a blog name?
Deciding on a name for your blog is probably one of the hardest parts of starting a new website.
You may know exactly what you want your blog to be about, and you may have even already written a few articles. However, your blog name may be stopping you from actually creating your website and launching it.
Coming up with a blog name doesn't have to be impossible, though, and it shouldn’t lead to stress.
I still don't know how I first came up with Making Sense of Cents, but I'm glad I did. It is still catchy to this day, and I even still receive compliments on it.
Here are my tips for deciding on a blog name:
- Make it easy. My blog name isn't the easiest for a person to spell, and even I sometimes jumble it when I'm spelling it to someone. So, my top tip would be to make sure that it is easy to type. I've seen blog names that are extremely long, contain words that are difficult to spell, and so on. Instead, you should make it as easy as possible for your readers.
- Think about what you'll be writing about. You should think about the topics you want to write about on your website, who your target audience is, and more, and then jot down descriptive words that are related to what you want your website to be about. Brainstorming this way can help you think of a blog name!
- Use a thesaurus to think of similar words. Sometimes, your first choice for a blog name may not be available, or perhaps you want to see if other words catch your attention better. A thesaurus can make this task easier.
- Make it catchy. You may want to think of something funny, use alliteration, or something else to make your blog name catchy and memorable.
- Use your name. If you don't want something catchy and/or if you think you're not creative enough, then just use your name. It's super easy that way, and more and more people are starting to do this.
Creating a name for your blog is easy, see!
What should I blog about?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. I always recommend creating a blog around a topic that you are passionate about, that you are an expert in, that you like, or something else along those lines.
This can make blogging more fun instead of a chore.
You can blog about several topics or you can blog about one specific thing, such as personal finance. I recently had someone email me about starting a blog about lizards.
Yes, your blog can be about anything and/or everything. It's entirely up to you.
Here are some possible blog topic ideas. The list doesn't end here either. Choose one, all, or some. It's all up to you.
- Small business
- The outdoors
- Fitness and health
- Inspiration and advice
- Electronics, and more!
That's the beauty of having a blog – it can be anything you want it to be.
Do I need to be an expert or have a degree in the topic I choose?
Another question, somewhat related to the above question, is if a person should be an “expert” in their niche before they start a blog. I receive this question all the time and, due to that, I definitely think it's something that needs to be discussed.
I don't think you need to be an expert or have a degree, in most cases, when it comes to blogging.
I know many personal finance writers with blogs that track the financial mess they got themselves into. They don't have financial degrees, but they are doing very well for themselves and help many people with their experiences. Many times, readers just want to hear from you, follow a real person's journey, read about how a real person made it through a problem, and so on. This is a great example of why degrees are not always needed.
However, if you are wanting to give advice about legal or tax matters where you could get someone in a lot of trouble if you tell them the wrong information, then, yes, you should be an expert.
Should my blog be self-hosted?
If you really want to start making money from a blog, the first thing you will need to do is make sure you have a self-hosted blog.
I recommend you start on self-hosted WordPress (this tutorial will help you start your blog the correct way). I cannot say this enough, but I do not recommend Blogger or WordPress.com (you want the self-hosted version, which is WordPress.org – confusing, I know). Buying that $10 domain name from Blogger or GoDaddy does not mean you own it either.
Advertisers, companies, and readers will still know you are on Blogger or free WordPress, which can look unprofessional. Plus, your blog can be deleted at anytime and for no reason when on a free version, and it even happened to me. This can hurt your chances at making money from a blog.
Seriously, just trust me. Go with self-hosted WordPress, and it will significantly increase your chances of monetizing your blog.
If you want further proof, take a look at my past income reports. You can tell that my income through blogging didn’t take off until I switched to WordPress. Right there is a lot of proof that being self-hosted on WordPress is the way to go!
So, to recap, the positives of being self-hosted on WordPress through Bluehost include:
- You have a more professional website meaning you may be able to make more money on self-hosted WordPress.
- You will have complete control over your blog.
- You own your blog, and it can’t be deleted for any reason.
What are common blogging expenses?
Now, to run a successful blogging or online business, your expenses may be different than mine. And, you definitely don't need to spend a lot of money with a new blog – I certainly wasn’t in the beginning.
When I first started my blog, I spent almost NOTHING on blogging expenses. In fact, I probably went a few years where I was only spending about 1%-2% of my revenues on blogging expenses.
Now, some of my expenses include:
- My computer
- The actual blog: design, hosting, etc.
- Courses, guides, and ebooks
- My email (newsletter) list
- Virtual assistant and editor
- Technical management
- Transaction fees
And, let me repeat, to start making money from a blog, you do not need to spend money on all of these things. In my first year of blogging, I spent less than $100 total for the whole year!
Learn more about my expenses at My Complete List of Monthly Expenses for a Multi Million Dollar Blog.
Do I need a lot of readers to start making money from a blog?
You do not need millions of pageviews per month to make money blogging, but it is something you will want to increase if you want to improve your income. If you want to learn how to make money with a blog, then this is an important step!
Every blog is different, but once you understand what your readers want, understand how to effectively reach out to companies for partnerships, and know how to charge the correct rate, you can make a good income online in many cases, regardless of the amount of pageviews you receive.
There are many different ways to increase the number of pageviews so you can make money blogging.
Here are my tips:
- Publish high-quality blog posts – Your blog posts should always be high-quality and helpful. This will lead to readers coming back for more and more. I always recommend that a blog post be at least 500 words, but more wouldn’t hurt either. The majority of my blog posts are around 1,500 to 3,000 words.
- Be active on Pinterest – Pinterest is one of my top traffic sources. I recommend creating great images, making sure the description and title of your images are catchy, pinning regularly, and only pinning long images. In case you are wondering, I use Picmonkey to edit all of my images and Tailwind to schedule them.
- Be active on other social media sites – Besides Pinterest, there are several other social networking sites you may want to check out. This includes Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Periscope, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, and others.
- Post regularly – For most blogs, you should publish something at least once a week if you want to start making money from a blog. Going for weeks or months at a time without a blog post can lead to readers forgetting about you.
- Network with other bloggers – Too many bloggers see other bloggers as competition. However, you should see them as friends and colleagues. This means you may want to interact with them on social media, reach out to them via email, attend conferences, and more. Of course, be genuine with it all, and give more than you take.
- Guest post – Guest posting can lead to new readers checking out your blog and subscribing to your blog. This can be a great way to reach a new audience.
- Make sure it’s easy to share your content – I love sharing posts on social media, but it gets frustrating when some blogs make it more difficult than it needs to be. You should always make sure it’s easy for readers to share your content. This might mean making your social media icons easy to find, having all of the info input that is needed for sharing (title, link, and your username), and so on. Also, you should make sure that when someone clicks on one of your sharing icons the title isn’t in CAPS (I’ve seen this too many times). No one wants to share a blog post when it sounds like you’re screaming at them.
- Create catchy headlines – The title of your post is a major factor influencing whether readers click over or not.
- Learn SEO – SEO (search engine optimization) is not something I could teach in such a small section, but I recommend doing your research and learning more about what it is and how it can help you.
- Make it easy for readers to browse – If you want more pageviews, you should make it as easy as possible for readers to read your other blog posts. You will want to make it easy for readers to find your blog homepage, categories, tags, search bar, and so on. Also, I recommend including links in every single one of your blog posts, so readers can easily find related topics.
Do you mind sharing a detailed list of what processes you have with new blog posts?
There is a somewhat long process that goes into each article I write here on Making Sense of Cents. Over time, though, it has become quite routine. And, other than me brainstorming and writing the actual blog post (I have always written content myself, which I enjoy), almost everything else is now outsourced to virtual assistants.
Here is a list of what goes along with each new article that you see on Making Sense of Cents:
- Think of new article topic ideas. I have a long list of over 100 possible article topics that I keep on my laptop as well as on my phone. I think of the many, many topics that you'll find on Making Sense of Cents through life experiences, reader questions, research and articles that I've come across (like if I see a crazy statistic that I find interesting, I'll then turn it into a long article), and so on.
- Create a schedule for one month full of topics and the dates they will be published. I like to make sure I have a good variety of topics covered each week on Making Sense of Cents. For example, I don't usually like to have a week full of making money ideas. Instead, I like my posts to vary between making money, saving money, life improvement, and so on.
- Write content. I like to write an article from beginning to end with no breaks. It may take me an hour to write an article or I may be at it all day. Sometimes, content does span a few days, but for the most part, I like to finish a piece of content in one sitting. I then hand over the content to my editor to fix anything from grammar, punctuation, to the general flow of the article. The only thing she doesn't edit is my monthly income report.
- Once I get the content back from my editor, I add images (one for Pinterest and one for Facebook), format it the way I want, and add links to related content on my website.
- Once the article is published on Making Sense of Cents, I share it to Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, StumbleUpon, Flipboard, and Twitter. I also schedule it to share on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter for future dates as well.
- The last thing I do is send an email to my subscribers about a new blog post being published.
Oh yeah, I also do all of the above for articles that I write for other blogs. So, if I'm guest posting on a blog, I tend to share it even more than I do my own content. If you guest post on a person's website, you should do the same – the more you share it, the more traffic that person will then get, and the more likely they are to re-share it too.
Where does blog income come from?
This is a question I receive more and more about making money from a blog. Many of you are interested in blogging, but you are not sure where the income actually comes from.
You receive blogging income from whoever is paying you.
- If it is affiliate marketing you are providing, then you get paid through the company whenever someone buys or signs up for something through your link.
- If someone is paying you to place an advertisement on your website, then you get paid by them.
- If you have display ads on your website, such as with Google Adsense, then you get paid from Google or one of the many other thousands of companies.
There are many companies and blogging networks out there who are looking to pay for things on blogs!
You usually get paid either through PayPal or by receiving a check in the mail.
How long does it take to start making money from a blog?
There is no one answer to this question.
As you can tell from my past income reports, I started earning a few hundred dollars a month from my blog less than one year after I started. After just two years of blogging, I was earning several thousands of dollars a month, which was all on the side of my day job.
I know some who started making thousands of dollars a month after just a few months of blogging. There are bloggers out there who began a year or two after me and are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. There are also other bloggers who aren’t making any money.
As you can see, blogging is not a get rich quick scheme. However, if you are serious about it, you never know what it may turn into.
It all depends on you, the effort you put into it, whether you have the time to learn how to monetize your blog, and more.
In what ways can I start making money from a blog?
There are several ways to make money blogging. These include:
- Affiliate marketing
- Blog sponsorships
- Display advertising
- Product sales
- Staff Writing
I have further discussed the different ways below.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a blog monetization method in which you place a link to a product or company on your website or a social media platform in an attempt to make an income from followers purchasing the product through your link (this is called an affiliate link). Affiliate marketing can be a great way to begin making money from a blog because if there is a product or company that you enjoy, all you have to do is review the product and hopefully others will be interested in buying it as well.
Affiliate marketing is my absolute favorite way to make money blogging. I love it because it can feel quite passive. You can create just one blog or social media post, which can potentially still earn you money years down the line. Now, you will have to maintain the post and keep generating traffic to it. Still, affiliate marketing allows me to relax a little and enjoy life more, all while knowing that I am earning a great living by promoting products that I use and enjoy.
I regularly earn around $50,000 a month through affiliate marketing, and it's all done fairly passively through blog posts and email sequences. For the most part, all the work is done and the traffic that is generated to my email list and blog posts passively converts people into buyers with minimal work required from me.
If you want to learn about making money from a blog with affiliate marketing, read the tips below:
- Use the Pretty Link plugin to clean up long affiliate links. I use this for all of my affiliate links because something like “makingsenseofcents.com/bluehost” looks much better than the long links that affiliate programs usually provide.
- Provide real reviews. You should always be honest with your reviews. If there is something you don't like about a product, either don't review the product at all or do mention the negatives in your review.
- Ask for raises. If you are doing well with a particular affiliate program, ask for a raise. The worst thing that can happen is that your affiliate manager says no. The best is that they say yes!
- Form a good relationship with your affiliate manager. Your affiliate manager can supply your readers with valuable coupons, affiliate raises, and more.
- Publish tutorials. Readers want to know how they can use a product. Showing them how to use it, how it can benefit them, and more are all very helpful.
- Have a recommendations page. I always like checking out a blog’s recommendations page. It can be a great way to list valuable products and services that readers may need or want. Here's mine as an example.
- Don't go overboard. There is no need to include an affiliate link 1,000 times in a blog post. Include them at the beginning, middle, and end, and readers will notice it.
You can learn more about affiliate marketing strategies in my course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
Can blogs get sponsored?
Advertising on a blog is one of the first ways the average blogger begins making money from a blog. In fact, it's exactly how I started!
This form of blogging income is when you partner with a company and advertise their brand on your blog or social media accounts.
From this form of blogging income, I earn around $15,000 to $20,000 a month. And, this is all from companies finding me and approaching me directly.
What is display advertising?
Display advertising is another popular way of making money from a blog.
Display advertising is a passive form of blog income, as you just place advertisements (usually through an advertisement network) on your blog’s sidebar, below a blog post, or somewhere else. The income increases or decreases almost entirely based on your page views, and once you place the advertisement, there’s no direct work to be done.
If you want to learn how to make money blogging through display advertising, then some popular networks include Adsense, Media.net, MediaVine and AdThrive.
Personally, I use AdThrive for my display advertising network. I don't have many display advertisements on my blog, but I regularly earn around $1,500 to $3,000 a month from this.
Can I create my own product?
To really be in control of how you make money blogging, you'll eventually want to create a product to sell to your audience. There are many products you can create and sell on your website, such as an ebook, course, etc.
I launched my first for-sale product last summer, which was a blogging course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I make around $20,000 to $50,000 a month from this course, and because I have already created and finished the course, it's a nice form of somewhat passive income.
Plus, I have helped many, many people improve their affiliate marketing income as well, which is such a great feeling!
Can I make money writing for others?
Lastly, if you want to learn another way of making money from a blog, you can also use your blog as a platform for other projects, such as for staff writing on other blogs.
If you want to staff write for others, I highly recommend having a website of some sort so others can find your work and hire you. It's much more difficult to get your name out there without your own website.
Staff writers usually start out between $15 to $25 per article, and as you gain more experience, you can usually command higher prices.
I know some writers who are making thousands of dollars a month by writing for others, and it all started because of their blog. In fact, I recently secured a staff writing gig for $1,500 per article, which equates to around $2.50 per word. I never would have received this offer if it wasn't for my blog.
Do you have to pay taxes on blogging income?
Yes. Just like with nearly all full-time or side income that you may bring in, you will have to pay taxes on your blogging income.
I recommend reading Blogging and Taxes – What You Need to Know for more information.
In that article, a blogging friend of mine, who is also an attorney talks about:
- Blogging and self-employment.
- What self-employment tax is.
- Filing taxes as a blogger.
- Tax deductions for bloggers.
- And, what if your blog is just a hobby?
It's a very informative read, and it will help clear up many of the common blogging and tax questions that you may have.
Where do you get your photos from for your blog?
One question I receive a lot is about where bloggers can get photos from.
After all, photos can be a very important part of your message and are used often in blogs, such as within a blog post, on social media sites like Pinterest, on a homepage, and more.
I use three main areas for my blog photos:
- My own photos. These are usually found in my RVing-related content and Instagram. Photography is an area that I'm still looking to improve, so I usually use the two forms below for the majority of my pictures instead.
- Unsplash. Unsplash is great for landscape and other photography.
- Haute Chocolate
- Ivory Mix
Why does a blogger need an email list?
My biggest blogging mistake is that I waited YEARS to start an email list, and then even longer to take it seriously. I didn't take my email list seriously until around the beginning of 2016, when I switched to Convertkit.
Yes, I waited that long!
I didn't really use my email list because I didn't really understand newsletters, and I also didn't realize how having an email list could help me. Due to that, I didn't start trying to grow my email list until just a couple of years ago.
Wow, was that a huge mistake.
I really wish I would have spent more time on my newsletter, but I'm glad I've learned from my mistake.
Due to this, I recommend that all bloggers spend time growing their email list.
Here is why all bloggers should have an email list:
- Your newsletter is all yours. Unlike with social media websites like Pinterest and Facebook, your newsletter and email subscribers are all yours, and you have their undivided attention. You don't have to worry about some social media algorithm not showing your content to your readers, as they are your email subscribers so you aren't fighting with anyone else to have them see your content.
- The money is in your list. I believe that an email/newsletter is the best way to promote an affiliate product. Your email subscribers signed up specifically to hear what YOU have to say, so you definitely have their attention. Your email list, over any other strategy, will almost always lead to more sales.
- Your email subscribers are loyal followers. If someone is allowing you to show up in their email inbox whenever you want, then they probably trust what you have to say and enjoy listening to you. This is a great way to grow an audience and to grow a loyal audience at that.
- Email is a great way to deliver other forms of content. With Convertkit, I am able to also create free email courses that can automatically be sent out to my subscribers. This makes life easy because all a reader has to do is sign up, and then Convertkit sends out all the information that they need and drips out the content day by day (or whatever timeframe I choose).
What blogging ebooks and courses do you recommend?
I receive this question nearly every single day.
Growing a blog and building a successful business requires work, and a lot of it!
If you want to be successful and really grow the ways you are making money from a blog, then you may want to look into buying ebooks and/or courses that will teach you exactly what to do, so that you can minimize the amount of blogging mistakes you make and learn how to run a successful blogging business from the very beginning. Plus, there are many blogging secrets that you just can't find by searching the internet. So, by taking a course or reading an ebook, you will learn exactly what you have to work on.
I'm almost always taking new blogging-related courses because I know that there is always something new to learn.
Here are the ebooks and courses that I recommend for bloggers:
- Facebook Strategies Worth Sharing – I started 2016 with just around 6,500 Facebook followers and currently have over 90,000. I owe a lot of that to the ebook Facebook Strategies Worth Sharing. Growing my Facebook page has allowed me to reach new readers, improve my blogging income, grow my email list, and more.
- Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing – I earn over $50,000 a month through affiliate marketing, and I share my exact strategy and tips in this very informative online course. If you're a blogger, then you NEED this course. I show you exactly how to make passive income from blogging, even while you're sleeping.
- 7 Surefire Ways To Boost Your Blog Income Overnight – By signing up, you'll receive a free copy of the informative ebook 7 Surefire Ways To Boost Your Blog Income Overnight. Plus, Ruth sends out many other great blogging tips all the time. Her course, Elite Blog Academy, launches one time each year (next time will most likely be 2019), and it's probably the most popular, well-rounded blogging course.
- 21 Strategies I Used to Increase My Monthly Page Views from 17k to 400k+ in 10 Months – Lena Gott's guide is full of great information on how to increase your blog's page views. If you are feeling stuck or if you are a new blogger, check out this resource! Lena went from 17,000 monthly page views to 400,000 and shares all of her best tips in this guide.
- Pinterest Strategy Guide – I learned my Pinterest strategy from Rosemarie at The Busy Budgeter. She is currently selling her Pinterest strategy for $139, or you can get it for free if you purchase Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. Rosemarie is a Pinterest consultant and helps bloggers increase their Pinterest traffic tremendously. This is the strategy that brought her from $18/month income to over $22,000/month in just 19 months by using Pinterest.
The blogging ebooks and courses above will help you to create a successful blog. They will show you how to master Facebook, get crazy traffic from Pinterest, grow your blogging income, and more.
What other questions about making money from a blog do you have for me?