A friend told me that he would like to build a blog to launch his blogging career and earn income on a monthly basis. It is possible to make money from your blog, but it is important to have realistic expectations. Blogging is not a get rich quick scheme. It takes hard work and is not going to happen overnight. Most sites will fail to earn any income, so it is advisable to keep your day job and start working seriously on your project in your free time.
If you do make it, blogging allows you to build a career around a topic you are passionate about and have a very flexible lifestyle. You can work from anywhere in the world and you don’t even need to work all the time as your content archives work for you around the clock. So be prepared to work smart and to put in the effort into it as a part-time venture in order to achieve your goals and turn it into a full-time job. Here’s how you can make first $500 from your blog.
First these are the ingredients needed to be able to bring in the revenue from a blog and turn your DIY-project into a real business supported by banner advertising, sponsorships, affiliate sales and other revenue. Make sure you have these sorted first before expecting to make money:
1. You need an audience
Making money online is all about building authority and trust with an audience. You need traffic to your blog, especially targeted traffic from a specific group of people. Without people visiting your site and without having a loyal and targeted audience, it will be very difficult to earn any revenue. Targeted audience is what can be monetized and what sponsors want to reach. You need to create value for people to be able to attract traffic, to have visitors spread the word about your work and to start building trust. Have expertise in your topic and offer something that people find useful and valuable. See more on how to grow blog traffic.
2. You need a buying market
The topic you focus on has to have a buying market and has to be monetizable. Some topics are tougher than others so make sure your topic has an audience interested in spending money if you want to monetize the site. See if there are products on the market that are relevant to your topic. See: How to pick your topic.
3. You need strategic content
Don’t just “sell” as that will affect your ability to build an audience. Publishing sales pitches is not what people want to consume. You won’t believe how many bloggers expect to do well by publishing pure marketing messages. Just telling people about the product and asking them to buy will not do much to your bottom line. Best content is the content that relates to your audience, brings them value and integrates products naturally within them.
Create content that is targeting people that are looking to buy. People become aware of a need they need fulfilled, go into an information search and look at the different alternatives before making a decision on what to buy. People go to Google and do a search to start the product hunt. They are ready to make a decision and make a purchase. You need to rank well for those searches in order to be near their wallets. Do evaluate the alternatives by publishing reviews, comparisons and discount offers.
Now let’s take a look at the most popular options for earning an income from your blog. First consider what the objectives of your blog are in order to figure how you should monetize. All sites are not created with the objective of making money. Businesses use blogs in addition to their social media marketing, to connect and be in touch with their customers. Professionals use sites to build their network. Some organizations use sites to acquire new customers and others use it to understand the changing trends of markets and initiate further research to develop new products. If I am running one such business, will I want to drive my readers away to a competitors website? When the core objective of my site is to promote my business, why will I want to advertise and promote somebody else’s business? In these cases building a mailing list and selling your own product make much more sense.
Become an affiliate marketer
There are thousands of companies who will pay you commission for sales that you generate through your content. You join an affiliate program then post some links on your site. You earn a commission when someone clicks through your links and decides to sign up or buy a product on the other end. Create valuable content about the product, help people use the product better, show how the product can improve their lives, and get revenue when they click your link and buy the product. The product must be relevant to your topic and your audience. You must use it, it must be useful and valuable to you.
Find opportunity in markets and products you are familiar with. Are you using a product that makes your life easier? Have you read a book that inspired you? Become an affiliate and promote it. Visit their website, they probably have an affiliate program. If not, contact the company directly, explain your situation and ask if they can agree an affiliate deal with you. You can also join one of the larger affiliate networks like Commission Junction, Clickbank or Shareasale.
A note not to use banner ads for affiliate marketing. Do you know anyone who clicks on banner ads? When is the last time you clicked on a banner ad? Traditional banner ads take away from the user experience. They distract users and because of that users tend to ignore ads. Banner blindness is a very known phenomenon which was proven by several eye-tracking studies and has shown that readers do not fixate on ads at all. There is also the rising popularity of different ad-blocking browser plugins. An increasing number of people use these plugins which automatically block all banner ads. This trend can be clearly seen as these plugins are usually placed towards the top of most downloaded plugins for Chrome and Firefox.
Pay-per-click ads like Google Adsense
Google Adsense is the easiest way of making an income on your site. Adsense automates the process of selling and displaying ads for you. You place a piece of code and Google delivers text and image ads that are relevant to your audience and your content. Google pays per click and depending on the popularity of the topic you write about, a click can earn you anything from few cents to several dollars. You just join Adsense, choose how you want your ad to look like and install a piece of code on your site and you are set to start showing ads. AdSense lets you customize the appearance of ads to match the look and feel of your site. WordPress plugin Google Publisher Plugin, made by Google, will help you insert Google ads into your blog.
Negative side of Adsense is that many people have banner blindness (many visitors dismiss banner ads as they find them intrusive), tend to find ads annoying and ignore them. This leads to a very low click percentage. You also need a very large amount of visitors and clicks in order to earn a decent amount.
Sell banner ad space to sponsors
You can try your luck and sell banner ads directly to advertisers. Find products relevant to your audience and simply contact the company and ask if they would be interested in sponsoring your site. This normally involves banner advertising and you get paid a fixed amount per month. The other option is the CPM where you get paid by impression. >Popularity of your site is an important aspect that decides whether you should consider banner advertising. If your site is not that popular there will not be too many buyers for your ad-slots and these slots will more or, less remain underutilized. Also pay per impression will not work well as you need a large amount of impressions to make a decent income.
Most of the banner ads you see in sidebars of blogs are not paid for by the advertisers. Majority of bloggers only have affiliate deals or pay-per-click deals to work with. I understand when people use banners if a company wants to pay them a fixed monthly fee to display their banners. If your site is big enough to attract these offers, it seems like a fairly easy and simple way of making an income. If your site is popular and you are getting a lot of page views or advertising offers, then you should certainly consider putting up a couple of banners at least. Many of the biggest sites only rely on banner ads and page views.
Create your own product
Develop something that is genuinely helpful to people, that solves some kind of a problem that they have. Package the product in a specific format and sell it. E-books, webinars, courses, and membership sites are some of the popular formats. This is quiet similar to reviewing and recommending your favorite products, but the benefit of this is that you keep all the income yourself. It does take more time and effort to create the product though and you also have to consider customer support. More on this here.
Become a freelancer
You could become a freelancer and sell your own time. You can become a consultant and charge for people to have one-on-one coaching with you. Get paid to create content for other sites. The negative of this is that you obviously need to work and produce something of value to get a one-off fee. This makes it not as passive as some of the other income options in this post. If you go for it here’s what to look out for.
Ask for donations
Depending on the topic and the readership of your site, a donate button might be the most effective way of monetizing. PayPal offers these and it just might be the way for you to get rewarded for the help you provide to your readers. Ask for donations.
Use Amazon, YouTube and others
You can use your existing content to earn passive income on other platforms. For example if you produce many videos and upload them onto YouTube, you can become a YouTube partner and monetize your videos. Similar to this, you can add your site to the Amazon Kindle store and get paid when people read your content on Kindle.
There are many opportunities for you to get paid by writing product reviews. Most bloggers are regularly contacted by companies that will send them products to review. Negative point to this are that you don’t get paid very much and the content you end up creating is of less worth to your visitors compared to the best content. You will also discover that many people will contact you directly asking to buy reviews or text links. Even though many bloggers accept these, I would recommend to ignore these offers as selling links normally ruins your user experience and is not something search engines like and you risk being banned from the search results.
On the way to your first $500
Pick and choose several of the methods above in order to diversify your income. Experiment, test and take your time choosing the methods that fit your topic the best. Don’t force it. You will find that the best methods will come to you naturally over time as you build your content archives and your loyal audience. Create the best site you can and grow your traffic, readership and trust. Then strategically monetize using one or more of the above methods and you will be on the way to your first $500 in revenue. If you keep working hard on this, work consistently over a longer term, and as long as you never give up, in due time you will become a success and your site will start making even bigger amounts.
What it comes down to now is that we must take action into our hands. It is not enough to read all the “become a problogger” advice – you must start creating something. You must put in the consistent hard-work, create a great blog, and you must find and connect with your audience. And you must do this daily for a long time, before you slowly start getting the results, and start being able to live the blogging dream.
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