There are lots of guides about how to make money blogging, but here’s what makes this one different:
I’ve taken three different blogs to over $1 million per year. In fact, the blog you’re reading right now has made a total of $6.7 million.
Let’s jump in.
In a moment, I’m going to show you a general framework you can follow to start a profitable blog from scratch.
But first, let’s jump into the specifics of how to make real money blogging, including real-world examples you can study and learn from.
Here are the top 7 awesome ways to make a good blogging income:
If you’d like to create some passive income streams from your blog, one of the best choices is affiliate marketing — recommending the services, digital products, and physical products of other companies in exchange for a commission.
Normally, we’re not big fans of selling ads on your site as a monetization strategy. You need roughly a million visitors per year for the large ad networks to take you seriously, and affiliate marketing is almost always more profitable and just as passive.
That being said, some niches like recipes, fashion, and news are hard to monetize through many of the other methods mentioned here, and they get LOTS of page views. In that case, putting a few banner ads on your site can make sense as a supplementary income source.
But I’m not the only one. Going back to Maria, again, she’s been quite innovative in coming up with ways to do design consultations by photo and email, currently charging $1,275 per room:
You can make this work in almost any niche. You just need to know what you’re doing and be confident in the value you are providing to clients.
The next step up from consulting is to actually do it for them.
Okay, now for the fun part. Let me show you the framework I used to become an honest-to-goodness millionaire…
If you’re a new blogger starting from scratch with no traffic or influential friends, it’s easy to wonder…
Is it reasonable for you to believe you can make money blogging?
For that matter, how do blogs even make money? Ads? Sponsored content (i.e. writing a sponsored post)? Sell products? Good luck? Or something else?
Well, let’s take a look at exactly how I did it at Smart Blogger. Here’s my complete step-by-step process for how to make money blogging:
Let’s start with a little brutal truth, shall we?
You’ll never have a chance in hell at making any amount of money.
In other words, you need a large audience who buys things. Without that, nothing else matters. It’s a prerequisite for everything else.
In the case of Smart Blogger, I noticed early on that bloggers buy lots of different things:
In fact, there are companies with $10 million+ per year of revenue in most of those categories. It’s also a growing space with millions of people:
The only problem?
Loads of competition. Whether it be my previous employers Brian Clark or Neil Patel, my good friends over at Problogger, or the gazillion other “blogging about blogging” peeps infesting the social media space, everyone was intent on snagging a piece of the pie. They also had a several-year head start on me.
So, how did I compete? The honest answer:
Embed This Infographic On Your Site
You’ve probably heard that “Content is king,” and it’s true… to an extent. A more accurate statement would be…
The Best Content Is King
If that’s hard to understand, think about it this way:
Lots of bloggers sit down and think, “What will I write today?” They jot down some thoughts, doing their best to be helpful, original, and entertaining. If they’re disciplined, they might even stick with it for a few months.
But it almost never works. Here are a few reasons why:
Granted, it’s not your fault. Until today, chances are no one ever told you about any of those requirements. You thought, to become a successful blogger, you just had to write interesting stuff and publish it.
No, grasshopper. No.
You’re probably thinking, “Geez. That sounds hard.” And you’re right, it is.
I personally spent about three years honing my skills by writing for other sites before I started my own blog. It doesn’t have to take that long — I’m just a perfectionist, so I wanted to learn from the best people in my space.
It worked, though. Nowadays, my posts get millions and millions of visitors, not because I know some special “secret,” but because I’m really good at what I do.
Blogging is really no different than anything else. The more of a badass you are, the easier it is for you to make money online.
So you want to know how to make money blogging?
Then the next step is to…
When you’re a newbie, getting traffic is confusing.
And so on.
There are a gazillion traffic tactics out there. Everybody says theirs is the best.
But here’s the data:
Pretty much all the traffic for written content comes from either Google or Facebook. The rest of traffic sources combined don’t even come close to competing with those two Goliaths.
So, how do you get them to send you a bunch of traffic?
One option is you can pay for it. They like that.
But chances are, you’re reading about how to make money blogging because you don’t want to pay for traffic. You want it for free, right?
Well, imagine this:
There’s an arena where all the bloggers in your space go to compete for traffic. The number of other challengers you defeat determines the amount of traffic you receive.
In other words, getting traffic is a sport.
There are actually two sports, and I’d bet you’ve heard of both of them: search engine optimization (SEO) and going viral on Facebook. Both take years (yes, I said years) of study to master, but you can start getting pretty decent traffic after just a few months of study and practice.
Which one should you focus on?
Well, here are two questions to guide you:
For most topics, you can do both, but one or the other will be dominant. In that case, focus on whichever one is dominant.
You will, however, search for them on Google. Just as you would guess then, the blogging niche is heavily dominated by search. Here’s a breakdown of Smart Blogger’s traffic by source:
The truth is, we pretty much ignore Facebook. The volume of traffic available there comes nowhere close to the volume of traffic available from search engines. So, we focus on Google.
I also spend WAY more time keeping up to date on SEO stuff than I do on social stuff. I’m a geek about it. Throw me in a room full of Google engineers, and I’d probably know more than half of them.
Not to imply I’m the best, though. I’m also competing against people like Darren Rowse, Amy Lynn Andrews, and Neil Patel. They’re pretty freaking good too.
In time, I think I can be better, but who knows? That’s why sports are fun. You never know who is going to win.
If you’re good though, you’ll always be in the “playoffs,” for your space, and you’ll get lots of traffic. Maybe not the most, but still plenty.
And then you can focus on how to…
Chances are, you see pop ups as an annoyance.
They get in the way when you’re trying to read. They ask you to hand over sensitive information like your name, email address, and phone number. Sometimes you have to deal with multiple pop ups on the same site, and it makes you feel hassled and uncared for.
And all that sucks. In my opinion, you have every right to be annoyed.
But here’s the thing…
That’s where the money comes from. The best predictor of the revenue for a money making blog is the size of their email list. Here’s a breakdown of our revenue at Smart Blogger comparing revenue dollars from email to other sources.
The rule of thumb is you can expect to make $1 per subscriber per month. So, if you have 10,000 email subscribers, you should be able to make about $10,000 per month.
Here’s a different way of looking at it:
If a visitor comes to your site and doesn’t give you their email address, the chances of them returning are nearly zero. You’ll never have another opportunity to help them.
If you believe your content is the best, and you believe you can help them over time, I believe you owe it to them to be as pushy as possible about staying in contact. In other words, not using a pop up is unethical. A little annoyance is a small price to pay for change.
But you absolutely must use them. Assuming you want to make money, anyway.
So, you’re operating in a profitable niche, and you have traffic and an email list. What next?
Lots of new bloggers jump into creating an online course or book or community of some sort, but that’s a mistake, in my opinion. Before you start selling things, you need concrete evidence those things are what people want to buy. Otherwise, you’re risking wasting months or even years of your life trying to push a product no one wants.
The simplest way to obtain that evidence:
By seeing what your audience buys from other people, you can get a much better sense of what they might want to buy from you. If you promote an affiliate product and it converts well, you should think about creating a similar product. If it doesn’t convert well, you should probably move on.
In other words, affiliate program offers are a form of market research. As a bonus, you just so happen to get paid commissions on the products your customers buy in the process. So not only are you learning what your target audience wants to buy, but you’re making money from your blog at the same time. Pretty sweet deal.
By themselves, neither of those promotions really moved the needle on our revenue, but they did teach us useful lessons that went into creating Freedom Machine, which brings us to…
Before you think about launching your own products or services, there’s one essential point about human nature you need to understand:
Whenever anyone purchases anything, they expect to transition from where they are now (Point A) to where they want to be (Point B). For example…
The success of a product ultimately depends on helping customers make those transitions. If the customer doesn’t get to Point B, they typically view the experience as a failure.
So, here’s the magic question:
What makes you better equipped to deliver that transition than your competitors?
For Freedom Machine, we have multiple unique mechanisms:
Combined, those unique mechanisms are EXTREMELY convincing at setting us up as the superior solution. Therefore, the product sells like hotcakes.
To be clear… it’s not necessary to have 3 different unique mechanisms. Sometimes just one is all you need (i.e. fresh, hot pizza in 30 minutes or less). The core idea though is to make sure you are obviously far more capable than your competitors at delivering results.
Then all you have to do is…
Look around at successful entrepreneurs of any type, and you’ll find a surprising trend:
They tend to sell their products before the product is created.
To most people, this sounds like insanity at best or a disturbing lack of ethics at worst. How could you possibly ask people to buy something that doesn’t exist?
It’s the same principle as Kickstarter.
You create a fancy minimal sales funnel of some sort (in this case, just a simple sales page), tell people the product is coming soon, and then wait to see if enough people sign up to justify making the product. If they don’t, you refund everyone’s money and start over.
In other words, it’s the final step in validating you have a viable product. The steps go like this:
In my case, the minimum viable funnel was a 90-minute webinar. The first time I did it, there was no product, no follow-up sequence, nothing. It was just a bare-bones test.
And it resulted in $126,000 in sales live on the webinar.
Seeing that $30,000 sales was my minimum for success, we went ahead and created the first version of the product live with students. About a year later, it’s now approaching $1 million in sales.
That’s also just one product. We have others, and we have still more in the research pipeline.
And guess what I would do if I had to start over again?
The exact same thing. It’s not easy, it’s not fast, it’s not even that sexy, but it works.
Let’s close with some questions and answers, shall we?
So, we’ve covered the basic process. Now let’s step back for a moment and answer some of the questions I hear the most often:
I certainly do, but I don’t think that’s what you’re asking. I think you’re asking…
“Is it reasonable for me to learn how to make money blogging?”
The no BS answer:
It depends on how patient and persistent you are.
Starting a blog from scratch is just as difficult as starting a small business. For example, it requires the same time and effort as starting your own restaurant, software company, or accounting service. Yes, those businesses are wildly different, but the first few years are usually the same story: low income, lots of stress, big learning curve.
Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
The fact is, most bloggers make as much money as any other type of entrepreneur:
So why aren’t more bloggers rich?
The truth is, most people quit. They start a blog, write a post or two, realize it’s hard work, and walk away.
But if you’re patient and persistent?
You can make millions. I have. So have lots of other smart, dedicated entrepreneurs.
You just have to do the work. Consistently. For years.
Can you do that?
Then yeah, I think you can make six figures at least. Maybe more.
As I mentioned earlier, there 7 popular ways to make money blogging:
Which is best for you will depend on your blog, your expertise, and your situation.
Lots of people say you can’t. They tell you to buy a domain name, a web hosting account (Bluehost is one you see pushed a lot by influencers), and a premium WordPress theme.
But I think that’s nonsense.
Once people start sharing your great, informative posts, and you begin to understand how everything works, then you can go through the trouble of setting up your own site, installing WordPress, and all that jazz. Until then though, it’s just a headache you don’t need.
WordPress is by far the most popular. No one else is even close.
As I mentioned earlier, I think Medium is a good place to start. You can also create your own blog with tools like Blogger, Squarespace, Wix, Joomla, and countless others.
I’d like to think Smart Blogger is the best (and most comprehensive) site on the topic, but it’s by no means the only one. Not all of these talk about how to make money blogging, but together, they give you a solid foundation:
Is it possible?
Absolutely, but only if you treat it like a blogging business.
Yes, you can start your blog as a side project. Yes, you can slowly grow it in the background. Yes, you can turn your blog into a source of passive, full-time income that eventually lets you quit your job, travel, spend a lot of time with your family, whatever you want to do.
But like anything worthwhile, it’s hard work getting there.
You have to study. Practice. Master your craft. Put in a lot of work. Hustle.
If you love writing, I can’t imagine a better business, though. Not only is blogging a great way to get your writing noticed, but it’s a great way to connect with people around the world who need you, teach them what you know, and get paid pretty damn well in exchange.
There’s never a day I regret dedicating myself to blogging. Never.
It’s not just because of the money, either. It’s because I also get to do what I love and help people at the same time.
What could be better than that?
The post How to Make Money Blogging: Your FREE Guide for 2022 appeared first on Smart Blogger.