If you’re a person that’s blogging for pure fun, writing random poetry, or using a blog platform for a diary, you’re not going be interested in this post.
Most people I’ve talked to want to know how to use a blog to make money, or if you can actually make money with your blog.
Let me just give you the answer right now so we can quickly move on to the matter at hand:
Yes, you can make money with a blog. If you bust your butt and keep learning as much as you can about it, you can probably make a lot of money with one.
However, before you get too excited, you have to understand that there are a variety of ways to make money with a blog.
Here’s a few examples:
- You could use your blog to bring in customers to your bricks and mortar business.
- You could use a blog to gain authority online, thus gaining more clients for a business.
- A blog could be used to generate an income from displaying advertisements like AdSense ads.
- You could sell products that your business has available on your blog.
- A blog could be used by a salesman to bring in more customers and gain more clients.
- Your company could use a blog to create buzz about products your company is selling.
- A blog could be used as a social media center for advertising methods.
- You could use a blog to sell affiliate products.
As I said, there are many ways you could use a blog to make money online, but before we go too far I do have a word of caution for you…
Don’t quit your day job.
It’s fairly easy to make money from blogging. You could put up a blog, monetize it with AdSense ads and within a week, have your blog pulling in money.
However, AdSense only pays a few cents a click, so you will need to get a ton of traffic and a crap-load of clicks on those ads to make any real money.
Just to give you a real-world example: I worked very hard on my first blog for the better part of 2 years before I saw any real money. Even though I was making money there were months I made $500 from AdSense, and some I made only $100; the amount of money I made always fluctuated.
In that case, I was only trying to generate money from one source which was AdSense.
I made quite a few mistakes along the way, like:
Picking too small of a niche…
Not researching my subjects enough…
Ignoring my mailing list…
Not writing outstanding posts…
One of the biggest mistakes I made was trying to make money using nothing more than AdSense ads; I really didn’t have a business goal that was doable.
So, if you really want to learn how to make money with your blog, I’m going to give you a blueprint in this post that should help you get on your way to making money with your blog.
If you’re diligent and really hard, there should be no reason why you can’t make some good money from your blog or from blogging.
Taking Blogging Seriously
Blogging is just like any other worthwhile endeavor, if you push yourself really hard and make it work, it’ll pay off sooner or later.
Having been a professional musician and teacher for years, I can see the same pattern in music students.
When a student first gets a musical instrument, he or she is very excited to try it out and has all sorts of ideas about how great and fun it’ll all be when they start playing.
Soon reality rears its ugly head and the student then realizes that it takes hours upon hours of dedication and work to become a musician.
If you want to be a really awesome musician, it’ll take a ton of practice.
But hey, if you truly love music, as I did when I was growing up, you’ll look for every chance you can find to practice and hone your craft. Let’s face it, only a few of the bazillions of people that start playing music will actually become professional musicians.
That’s just the reality of it.
And it’s the same thing with blogging. Many will come, but few will make the entire trip.
It’s just the law of the cul-de-sac.
What is Your Blog’s Purpose?
Much of your blog’s success will be dependent on what your goals are for the blog. A person that is using a blog to connect to his clients will have a far different goal than a person that’s selling affiliate products to make money from her blog.
So establishing what your niche is and understanding its role in the market place is very important.
I’ve written extensively about these subjects on other posts but it bears repeating briefly here. In order to build your blog on a solid foundation, follow these suggestions and click on the links for the more detailed information.
Using Your Blog to Make Money ― Step by Step
Step 1 : Determine your niche – Before you do a single thing, determine what your market is and how you are going to fit into it.
A big mistake I made was not picking a big enough niche or a niche that could fit into several bigger categories. For example, my niche is:
Writing –>bogging –> Copywriting –> Copywriting for Recreation Vehicles
See how all of those can dovetail into one and other?
The reason why I’m bringing this up is because when I created my blogging site before, I painted myself into a corner. I was rather new to Internet marketing at the time, and I had been told that the smaller, more focused a niche was the better off I’d be.
So I started a blog about electric bicycles.
Even though there were plenty of people that were interested in electric bikes and scooters, it was too small of a field to write about. Add to that the fact that there were already quite a few well established electric bike sites that were eating up the market share online.
Some of those sites were owned by regular brick and mortar stores that had established an online presence for years.
I couldn’t compete with that small of a market too long.
So the big lesson to pull from this is: Pick a niche that can expand into bigger niches if you can.
It will give you a lot more to write about, make it easier to survive in a niche that won’t be overcrowded, and you’ll have more business opportunities to make money at.
Step 2: Start Building Relationships — The old business model said, Create Buzz –> Sell Them Something –> Go On To The Next Customer.
However, building relationships over the long haul is far more profitable.
People that live on the Internet are sold to almost constantly and they are getting sick of it. They want something more; to be a part of a group, to feel appreciated and special.
One of the best ways to do that online is to give them something. Don’t just give them crap, give them something of serious value that will open their eyes in amazement.
As a copywriter, I tell my prospects everything.
I show them many tricks of the trade, tell them how to do research, and actually write sales copy for themselves. I really let them know as much as I can about the craft and how they can use it to improve their lives and business.
You probably think I’m nuts for doing that, which is fine.
However, when it comes to actually writing the advertising copy for their businesses, they choke and ask me to help them.
Because writing advertising is just like any other skill, it requires tons of practice, dedication and work to get to the place where you’ll be able to write it well enough for your business.
Even if I’ve told them everything I can about writing copy, once they sit down to actually try writing it themselves, reality hits them.
It’s a lot harder than they think.
So since I’ve handed my readers the keys to the kingdom, they trust me and ask me to write their copy for them.
See how that works?
Here are a few methods of connecting with people that you need to use if you want to build your online readership:
Comment on other people’s blogs as often as you can. I use Twitter and if I see someone on there that posts regularly and often, I’ll check out their stats to see how large their groups of followers are.
If they have a rather large following and are very active I’ll join their group and find out where their blog is. If they write great content, I’ll read their posts and leave a comment.
Note: Read at least 3 of their posts and 3 of their comments. This will give you keen insight on what to write about and how to phrase things. You don’t want to look like a noob.
if you aren’t genuinely interested in what they have to say, you’re lack of enthusiasm will probably get noticed and they’ll flag you as a spammer.
Here’s a few tips on leaving comments of blogs that you should practice:
- Try not to promote your products at all on them, unless you’ve been given permission to do so.
- Don’t use foul language on them. I don’t care how cool you think you are, you’ll lose some readers over these types of issues.
- Try to make your points or comments relevant. If you’re leaving generalized comments, you will be viewed as spam.
- Always try to be encouraging and friendly with your comments and try not to come off as a know it all. If you have a disagreement or criticism you should try to disagree without being disagreeable.
- Thanking the person that wrote the post while actually using their name works real well in establishing a relationship with the blogger and they will actually want to help you.
- Try to offer helpful advice. This helps to establish credibility and professionalism that is reflected on your business and yourself.
Here are some examples of good comments and bad comments.
Topic: 7 Steps to Claiming Your Niche Market
Bogus Comment #1:
“What’s Going down i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It
positively useful and it has helped me out loads. I am hoping to give a
contribution & help other customers like its aided me. Great job.”
Note: This person obviously wrote a generalized post and is surfing around the Internet looking to publish a link that leads to his advertisement. He’s just pasting his link and bogus message all over the place. Mark it as spam.
Bogus Comment #2:
“Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is missing a few factors, for one you do not use all three H tags in your post, also I notice that you are not using bold or italics properly in your SEO optimization. On-Page SEO means more now than ever since the new Google update: Panda. No longer are backlinks and simply pinging or sending out a RSS feed the key to getting Google PageRank or Alexa Rankings, You now NEED On-Page SEO. So what is good On-Page SEO? Blah, blah blabady blah blah blah blaah blaaaaah blah blah blah blabady blah blah blah…”
You get the picture.
Note: Again, this comment had absolutely nothing to do with the subject and it’s obviously spam.
Many of the people that leave comments like this use special software to generate articles and comments. If you look at Bogus Comment #2 you’ll see just how bad the comments read.
Anyone can easily spot a fake comment; It hardly makes any sense and you can tell immediately that it is nothing more than spam.
Topic: 10 highly-Successful People On How They Stopped Procrastinating
“This is so timely as I was just analyzing my own procrastination habits earlier today. I am CONSTANTLY surprised at how much I can accomplish when I just sit down and do the work, but getting started is often the worst part for me. I’m pretty good at prioritizing, but I also tend to let myself get mentally overwhelmed by thinking about everything I need to do as a whole, rather than focusing on one item at a time and appreciating the progress as it comes. I’ll get a couple of things done, but when there’s still a long list in front of me, I don’t feel like I’ve made “enough” progress. It’s a vicious cycle!”
Note: The comment was from a blog post on 10 highly-Successful People On How They Stopped Procrastinating. You’ll notice that this poster sounds natural and genuine.
Also, there are no links of any kind, especially the kind that send you to a page that tries to sell you something. You can see that the topic was relevant to the post and the young lady that commented had a picture of herself that accompanied the post.
So the bottom line is: spamming tactics to gain links is a bad idea and will probably get you banned from posting on other people’s sites, while earning you a bad reputation. (Not only that, but it is just annoys people to death that have to perform constant maintenance on their blogs)
Thank goodness there are spamming prevention plugins for WordPress that you can easily get for free to combat this problem.)
Step 3 Commenting in Forums to Gain Authority
I do realize that I’ve sort of focused on blog commenting; however the rules I’ve laid out here are for contributing in other places too.
I frequent a popular Internet marketing forum where a lot of people hang out for good advice. I always make sure that I actually try to give an opinion or instruction there that has value.
People that are on forums are usually looking for answers, so it’s fairly easy to contribute and help someone out. Make sure that your answers are thorough, clear and professional at all times because a lot of people will read them.
If you go on a forum or a social media site and start contributing crap, you’ll get shredded, flamed or ignored.
Here are a couple of suggestions for using forums to gain readership and authority:
- Check out the forum first. You don’t want to waste your time on a forum hardly anyone is frequenting. If you’re trying to gain readership or authority, you’ll want to find forums that have at least 1000 members, close to at least 10,000 comments and has people commenting on it frequently.
- Before you sign up to use the forum, make sure that you read their rules and agreements. You want to make sure that you will be able to have a signature linking to your blog, site or opportunity. It makes no sense to post to an entity that won’t allow you to use it for any kind of personal gain.
- Set up your own personal profile and make it as complete as possible. It always amazes me how entrepreneurs will leave tons of great, valuable comments on a forum and have absolutely no contact information on their profiles at all. Make sure you put as much as you can about yourself and your business in your personal profile, otherwise you’ll look like a noob or unprofessional.
- If the forum asks you to make an introductory post, do it with style! If you are really intending to impress people make sure you write something that leaves an impression. You can make a ton of really great friends on a forum.
The main thing to remember about a forum is that it is just like blog posting. If your posts are short and sucky, devoid of anything valuable or interesting, then your traffic will go elsewhere in search of another guru in your market.
So, make sure that you’re adding value, and that you’re genuinely trying to help someone out.
Just like a commercial I saw once, if you don’t really have it…People just seem to know.
Step 4: Use Your Blog as a Launch Pad
There are many ways that you can use your blog as a way to launch other aspects of your business.
As a matter of fact, you probably won’t make a ton of money directly from your blog, but you will use your blog as a reference point, as a center of your online marketing efforts.
The main idea of this method of using a blog is that you are:
- Establishing a relationship with your audience – You are trying to connect with them and get them involved in some way with you. A good tip is to use a picture of yourself in your branding instead of using a logo. You could also use a video to tell a story about yourself so that people can make a connection with your personality.
- Giving you a chance to prove that you can deliver. If you are providing great, quality content for people that visit your site, then they will be able to see that you really know your stuff.
- Giving your audience a chance to also participate in your blog, by way of a forum, commenting or connecting with you and others in such a way that it benefits them.
Let’s face it, people will do business with others that they know and love. The more people are happy with you, know you and trust what you have to say, the more likely they will be to purchase your services or products in the long run.
One of the best ways to establish authority online is to use your blog to become a place where people can see exactly what you’re made of and if you are for real.
Nothing speaks volumes to a crowd more than verification of your knowledge base.
Different Ways to Monetize Your Blog
There are many different ways that you can monetize a blog and they generally fall into these different categories:
- Affiliate Marketing
- Advertising and Advertisements
- Selling Digital Products
- Physical Products
And finally, my favorite method in the whole world…but I’ll tell you about that in a minute.
Here’s the breakdown of each of the different methods and their pros and cons:
Affiliate Marketing – Just like any other type of Internet marketing, affiliate marketing takes a lot of time and effort to make an income from.
If you’re brand new to making money online, this is one of the easiest ways to break into it. (Notice I didn’t say it was “get rich quick”.) The way this works is you create a digital product that can be easily delivered online and you decide to sell it.
So you offer anyone online that wants to sell your product a commission if they sell your product. Using state of the art affiliate commission software, and special tracking numbers for your affiliates, they sign up to sell your product.
You automatically pay them a commission and make money because digital products are very cheap to produce.
Or, the easier way…
You don’t even create the affiliate product yourself, you just go to a website like ClickBank, sign up, and start selling other people’s products. (…Easier said than done, for sure.)
There are people that are really good at making money with affiliate products and make a sizeable income but I would say the vast majority aren’t making money.
It has been my experience that the people which make the most money with affiliate products are the ones that are creating the products not selling them.
The people that make the products and systems are very skilled at packaging them, hiring advertising copywriters for their products and putting the whole affiliate system together.
The majority of their time and efforts are spent on marketing the products themselves more than the creation of the product. Not only that but the really good affiliate product producers have loads of more expensive upsells to throw at their customers at even higher prices.
The Upside of Affiliate Marketing: As a seller of affiliate products, it is very easy to sign up for an affiliate program and start selling a product. If you are selling affiliate products in your niche or one that’s compatible with your site, then it will be easier to sell the products.
If you’re creating the products it’s fairly easy to create the products and set up a system that you can get affiliates to join and sell for you.
The Downside of Affiliate Marketing: You’re going to need to attract the good affiliates that are good at selling online to make decent money at this game. And those types of affiliates don’t come easily.
A vast majority of the affiliates that you’ll attract will be around only for a short while and then –poof- they’ll be gone.
Note: A word of caution, there have been some very nasty ways that unscrupulous affiliates have managed to rip off the product owners of large sums of money. Without going into too great of detail, you need to be vigilant and keep an eye on any suspicious behavior or fast movement of large sums of money.
Sell Digital Products
Selling digital products is a fairly simple business model. You create an eBook, online video course, or other digital product and sell it directly from your site.
Once again, most of the efforts that you will expend will be on marketing your products.
However, I and others have noticed a trend. There’s a massive flood of information on the Internet and more being made every day. Thousands of hours of videos are being uploaded, bazillions of sites being created every second, etc.
I talked about this quite a bit on a previous post on how to get your blog posts read.
I personally believe that the days of crappy content, products, and services are on the way out.
If you’re thinking of throwing together some sort of slap-dash junk and start peddling it, you’re probably going to have a hard time selling digital products.
I think this is because there is just so much of it being peddled already that only the best cream will rise to the top.
A good way of thinking about how things can get inflated is by looking at education.
It used to be that a college education was the easy ticket to a better job. However, these days anyone that has a pulse can get into college and if they work it for four years, will easily graduate.
Because of this, the degrees are becoming inflated.
No longer is a Bachelor’s Degree the easy ticket to a better job. You now have to have 3 PhD’s and 4 Master’s degrees to get a decent gig because competition is very stiff.
It’s getting to be that way with online digital products. I recently went to a site where the marketer was offering 7 eBooks and 3 video courses just to get your email address!
So it had become clear to me and others, that the high quality content and products in this arena will be the winners.
As an instructional designer by trade, I look at learning programs and systems through a different lens. If you buy a digital product created by me there has to be a systematic approach to the learning system so that the learner can actually use what he has learned.
I want the info product to be so good, that whatever I sell to an individual, he or she is getting the highest quality information and course material as possible.
This is what will establish you as an expert and put you light years ahead of other people selling digital products online.
The Upside of Selling Digital Products: Digital products do not require a lot of money to create nor do they require any great skill to make.
If you know exactly what you’re doing and your subject matter well enough you could produce a fairly decent digital product in a relatively short period of time.
The profit margins are great on digital products because you can make them for next to nothing. Other than some rather inexpensive software and the time it takes to make the products themselves, you really won’t be out much money.
How I Made Money with My First Digital Product
Years ago, I was a band director at a military academy and there was a bagpiping team that had some of its members making money on the side with their bagpipes. As it turns out, these kids were playing their bagpipes for funerals, weddings and other events and making great money doing it.
So I decided to take notes from these students and write my first eBook called, “How to Make Money with Your Bagpipes”. I sold it online for about $25 a shot and made a very modest sum of about $700 from it.
However, I was the most excited with the fact that I had written a book that others got a value from more than anything else.
As a matter of fact, one of the people that purchased my eBook sent me an email several years later, after I had taken the product off the market and asked if he could buy another copy. Turns out that his hard drive got fried and he no longer had his copy.
I sent him a copy for free, of course.
The Downside of Selling Digital Products: The downside to selling digital products is that you have to have an automatic delivery system to sell your products.
You’ll need a service in place that will help take your orders, process them and then send your customers to where they can get their digital product instantly.
The best way to do this is by selling through Amazon. You can sell all sorts of digital products through Amazon without being on a subscription or having to go through a set up process. Getting on board with Amazon is fairly easy if you have your own account with them already.
Another problem with selling digital products is that there are already tons of them on the Internet and you’re going to have to make something that stands out from the crowd.
You want to create a product that will really strike a flash of amazement when people purchase one.
One of the problems of creating and selling digital products is that they are simple to make and to sell. If you write one that becomes really successful, it won’t be long before someone will copy what you’ve produced and become your competitor(s).
So, the best way to avoid that problem is to create a complex series of info products that reflects a system of some sort.
Since you’re going to be in the information marketing game anyway, you might as well build a series of courses that will eventually become an entire system at some point.
When you have one simple product, it is very easy for competitors to duplicate what you do. When you have a system that is complex, it is much more difficult.
Selling Physical Products – Years ago, I had an online embroidery site that specialized in making and selling high quality embroidered music apparel. I basically sold all of my apparel and took orders online.
I didn’t need to set up shop or get a building to run my business because it was all done on the Internet.
I created all of my items in my basemen t and sent them through the mail by priority rates.
I did very well with this business for years and I learned a lot about Internet marketing. However, I was also working a job as a full time teacher and I got burned out.
So, selling physical products is an excellent way of making money online and I would rate this as my #2 favorite way of making money online.
You can also sell digital products in a physical form and make money as well. Currently, I have a product on Amazon that I’m selling which is a digital product that is packaged as a video course and sold on a disc.
With great fulfillment companies like Kunaki, you can get your physical product made in no time, dirt cheap.
The Upside of Selling a Physical Product: An early victory in the market place will motivate you to sell and more and get you addicted to becoming an entrepreneur. Most of the other ways of making money using your blog will take a while to land some sales.
If you pick a good niche and have a great product, you can make some early sales very quickly. My PaintShop Pro Tips and Tricks course started selling very quickly once I got it onto Amazon.
The Downside of Selling a Physical Product: Unless you are using a fulfillment company, you will have a lot on your plate and you could burn out.
When I was running my embroidery company online, I built the website, digitized the designs, sewed out the garments , packaged them up, did all of the online marketing, and anything else you can think of.
It was a ton of work and I got burned out.
If you decide to go this route, either try to hire out the menial tasks or get a family member or partner to help out with the business.
Selling Your Services – This is one of the easiest ways to start making money online and my personal favorite. You basically start advertising your services through your blog and people hire you to perform a task or service.
Depending on your niche, target market, and how expensive or cheap you are will determine how fast you can start making money online.
If you’re blogging consistently, you can start advertising your services immediately and you may see results rather fast. As I mentioned earlier in this post, you can use your blog to establish authority very quickly and prove you’re worth your salt.
You can also use your blog posts as bait for people to visit you from social media sites and later convert the posts into eBooks and other digital products to either sell or give away with your businesses branding in them.
The Upside to Selling Your Services: Again, depending on your type of business and niche, you may start getting clients very quickly. You will be working more intimately with your clients, therefore if you play your cards right you can retain those clients for years.
The Downside to Selling Your Services: Clients can also be demanding and once they get to know you, may place all sorts of demands and changes on you. However, you’ll learn how to deal with clients like these over the course of your business, and once you develop a system of dealing with them you’ll be able to navigate those waters much easier.
To Conclude All of This…
There are all sorts of ways to make money with your blog, and you’ll have to figure out which business, niche, product or service is right for yours.
I’d like to leave you with the same inspiring words a shoe company came up with years ago…
“Just Do It!”
You need to get moving and get out there and fail a bunch of times. Yep, that’s right, fail.
All successes are built on failure and trial and error.
If you just sit on your donkey butt and do nothing, I can assure you that nothing will happen. That’s a 100% guarantee.
So get out there and get started, you’re not getting any younger, ya know.
To Your Success!’
Mark “Elmo” Ellis
Mark “Elmo” Ellis is a freelance advertising copywriter and experienced blogger ―able to deliver high converting copy and content on a consistent basis. Mark lives on 3 beautiful acres of land with his wife and dogs next to the Valley View Ferry in Madison County, Kentucky.
If you need a private consultation for free, you can always contact Mark at one of the following points of contact below: