Learn How to Make Money Blogging (Detailed Guide For Beginners)
Last modified on 19th July, 2018
Maybe you have read stories about how top bloggers are making thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars per month from their blogs.
(Later I’ll show you how much some top bloggers are making from their blog).
Perhaps you are not a beginner and have been blogging for a couple of months (or years).
You have been working tirelessly, tried everything you could, yet the income generated from your blog is barely enough to cover your web hosting bills.
What went wrong? How do top bloggers actually make money blogging?
Here’s a little secret, it all comes down to the amount of organic traffic you get from the search engines!
You probably said, you already know this. Hear me out, that’s only half of the story (but a very important half).
So what’s the other half?
Please read on if you want to learn more.
How to Start a Blog For Free and Make Money
To start a blog, you would normally have to do the followings:
- Buy a good domain name
- Buy a web hosting
- Install WordPress
- Upload a good-looking theme
- Start writing and publish your first post
Can you start a blog for free? Yes, you can.
You start a new blog for free at:
But if your goal is to make serious money blogging, I wouldn’t recommend it.
- You don’t control your content. The blogging platform could shut you down for any reason.
- Your blog address looks unprofessional and can be hard to remember, i.e. Sabahan.blogspot.com vs sabahan.com.
- You are not allowed to advertise on most free blogging platforms. So your monetization options are limited.
The advantages of having a self-hosted WordPress site:
- You are in total control.
- You can change the appearance of your blog to match your niche
- You can add and remove functionality to your heart content.
- Your posts will rank higher on Google search result
- You can experiment with any monetization strategies.
With the freedom and customization options that WordPress offers, there’s one downside you can’t ignore.
The learning curve can be pretty overwhelming for total beginners. You do have to spend some money from day one as you need to buy a web hosting and your own domain name.
But I think in the long run, it’s worthy.
Make Money Blogging – Following Your Passion Isn’t Enough
When it comes to making money from your blog, the first advice you’d normally get is to follow your passion (and the money will follow or so they said).
That makes sense because you’ll have a much easier time writing content that you actually love. You can write about hobbies that you enjoy, your work or some specific knowledge or expertise that you have.
The problem is that some people approach blogging like how it was in 2008.
They blog about their weekend recap, annual family gathering and random ramblings of their life.
Then they piggyback on a trending topic and come up with a 300 – 600 words article. Unfortunately that no longer works.
I’m not saying bloggers shouldn’t write about what’s happening in their life but it dilutes the focus of their blogs and Google doesn’t like that.
Unless you’re a lifestyle entrepreneur, there are other better platforms for us ordinary bloggers for that, like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
In most likelihood, a typical blog usually has more new visitors than returning ones. These new visitors don’t know you.
When they arrive from the search engine they are either looking for a specific information to help them do something, or they want to learn something.
Unless you are doing a foodie blog or a restaurant review, no – they don’t want to know what you ate for breakfast, sorry.
People have an intent when they arrive. So every piece of content that you create should be there to help them do something or teach them something.
Writing only about what makes you happy won’t always make you money. You also need to write about what makes other people happy.
To make money blogging in 2018 and beyond, you need to treat your blog like a business.
In addition to writing about what you are passionate about, your content also needs to solve your readers’ problem and brings value to their lives.
To be honest with you, I was guilty of treating Sabahan.com like a hobby and not like a business too.
Besides writing about helpful tips and knowledge that benefit my readers, I often shared my personal opinions on news and current affairs.
To be fair though, I wanted Sabahan.com to be a little personal and not strictly business.
Unlike evergreen content which will continue to generate traffic overtime, other content will run its course and become dated and irrelevant.
I blogged for 6 years from 2006, yet the financial return that could keep me motivated and continued my blogging journey never materialized.
I was also running other successful online business so I chose to focus on that instead and stopped blogging at Sabahan.com entirely.
You see, when you have money being deposited into your account every day for the work that you love doing, it’s much easier to keep yourself motivated.
Sometimes you need to make money first, then you learn to become passionate about your work real quick.
Write Content That Gets Lots of Traffic
There are two main sources you can get traffic from:
- Search engines
- Social media
For certain type of content like tech, sports and business, much more of the referral traffic is coming from Google. By contrast, Facebook does a better job driving traffic to articles about lifestyle and entertainment.
To get traffic to your blog, you need to find a niche that is popular enough and isn’t too competitive.
Then, you need to do some keyword research. You don’t want to write everything in your niche or general topics.
Pick a problem to solve or an outcome your potential readers might what to achieve and find the related keywords using tools like:
- Google Keyword Planner
This gives you estimates of the search volume and how competitive the keywords are. Ideally, you should choose keywords that have lots of search volume but low competition.
BuzzSumo helps you find what content is shared the most on the social media. You can enter your competitor’s URL or a keyword to find the most shared posts. Use the result as an inspiration to create something different, useful or better, don’t just copy them.
Try to tweak your topic so you can complement the popular posts instead of directly competing with them.
For example, recently I wrote a post about how to make money blogging.
Instead of repeating the points already shared by many other blogs, I tweaked the topic and wrote how non-native speakers can make money blogging in English.
How Do Bloggers Make Money?
Once you get traffic to your blog, you can start monetizing it using one or more of the following methods:
AdSense is a service by Google that allows you to put ads on your blog. The idea is you can display Google Ads on your blog and when a visitor clicks on those ads you get paid for the clicks.
- It’s the fastest and easiest way for a beginner to monetize a new blog.
- With AdSense Auto Ads, Google is using machine learning to increase your ad revenue.
- Showing relevant ads could enhance the user experience.
- Setup once and get paid continuously as long as you get traffic.
- With AdSense Auto Ads, you can’t control how many ads are placed on a page. It could end up crowding your content.
- Some of your page’s content may be pushed below the fold especially when viewed on mobile.
- You’ll need a lot of traffic to achieve a meaningful income.
- They compete with your affiliate links for attention and may affect your affiliate links click-through-rates
Currently, I’m using AdSense to monetize Sabahan.com. It may not be a permanent fixture though as I want to provide better focus on my own content in the future.
You are basically getting paid to send visitors away. Although this can be a good compromise if you haven’t fully developed other monetization strategies yet.
There are pros and cons but I would still recommend you to give AdSense a try. See if it’s something that could work for you especially if you’re starting a blog.
Affiliate programs is where you promote a product or service and get paid every time someone signs up for it or when you drive a sale.
There are many affiliate networks out there that have affiliate offers. Here are a few popular programs you can sign up:
One of the largest affiliate programs. Amazon offers over a million physical and digital products to advertise. The commision may not be big (up to 10%) but there’s always something you can promote no matter what niche your blog is in.
ShareASale offers pay-per-sale, pay-per-lead, and pay-per-click programs. They have many blogger-friendly affiliate programs you can join.
One of the largest affiliate networks around. I’ve been using CJ Affiliate since the early 2000 so this one is a good one to join.
ClickBank is a marketplace for digital products, from advice to getting in shape to healthy cooking recipes and dating advice. You can sign up and create unique affiliate links quickly. High commision, 75% payout is common. However, there are lots of shitty products and sales page so be careful which one you choose to promote.
- Envato Market
Envato Market sells digital items such as web templates, themes, video, audio, photos and more. I’ve personally bought lots of items from them since 2010. You’ll get 30% commission for each sale.
- Very easy to get started. Just publish your affiliate link and start selling.
- Tons of products and services to promote to match your content.
- You don’t always have to sell something. Some offers pay you when your readers sign-up for a trial offer or a free service.
- No need to worry about customer support, maintaining the product pages or deal with technical stuff in the background.
- Ongoing passive income. You will continue to make money as long as people read your content and follow your links.
- You need lots of targeted traffic to generate a meaningful income.
- You may run into bad affiliate companies that refuse to pay or go out of business.
- You have no control over the pricing or commission levels.
- Since you are being paid for mentioning a product, this may compromise your reputation as an honest source of information.
- Choosing the right products for your blog can take some work.
Ideally, you should only recommend products and services that you’ve personally used.
While there are pros and cons in promoting affiliate offers in your blog, it’s without a doubt one of most effective ways to make money blogging.
Sell Your Own Ad Space
AdSense which is owned by Google is the middleman. You can forgo the middleman by selling your own ad space on your blog directly.
That way you can keep that middleman fee and you’ll make more money.
- Potentially more lucrative than AdSense.
- You can hand-picked your advertisers.
- Can provide a steady source of income.
- Takes more work to manage than AdSense.
- Have to look for advertisers who are willing to advertise directly on your blog,
- Have to do administrative work like negotiate pricing, create an agreement and invoicing.
Again you will need a certain level of traffic for your blog before people are comfortable spending money on your site.
That said if you have engaged readers that trust your opinion, and lots of traffic, you should prioritize other business model instead of running AdSense or selling your own ad space.
Sell Your Own Digital Products
Your blog can be a “free” source of valuable information to your readers.
As they become your loyal followers and are ready for more in-depth material, you can start offering paid information via your own ebook.
But you are not limited to ebooks, you can sell courses, software, digital downloads and other digital products.
- No need to keep inventory. Your digital products can be uploaded once then sold an unlimited number of times.
- You keep 100% of the profit. It can be the most profitable blog monetization strategy.
- You can sell to anyone in the world and are not limited by your physical location.
- It takes time and a lot of effort to develop your own digital products.
- People may copy your work, share your files and sell it as their own.
- Depending on the product type, experience and technical know-how may be necessary.
I once hired a programmer to code a software for me for USD 500. I used a platform that handled the selling. I just provided the download link from my server and the platform processed the payment and delivery for me automatically.
I figured I’ve made over USD 250,000 in profit. The only work I had to do was providing some customer support.
So selling your own digital products can be very profitable venture if done right.
Sell Your Services
You can get paid for certain skills that you already have.
You can offer your service locally in your area or virtually online. For Examples:
- Freelance writing for other blogs/publications
- Virtual assistance
- You’ll learn a lot offering your service as a freelancer
- You’ll make money quicker
- Low start up costs, little to no inventory is required
- You get paid for a skill you already have.
- You can build up your reputation.
- You do need an existing skill that other people need
- The income is not passive. i.e you are trading your time for money
Make More Money Via Your Own Mailing List
Most of the traffic you get from Google or social media are transient. They come and they go.
Sure some visitors who like your content may return. The more they stick around, the more opportunities for you to make money from them.
But you don’t what to leave this to chance.
Converting your visitors into email subscribers is the best way to have recurring visitors.
You can send them an email whenever you publish a new blog post. They will return, read your new post and continue to share every post you write.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Sign-up for an email marketing platform
This service allows you to send mass-emails to everyone who subscribes to your mailing list. I’m currently using MailerLite because:
- It’s beginner-friendly.
- Support is fast and actually helpful.
- You can send an unlimited number of emails per month
- Use all features for free if you have fewer than 1000 subscribers.
- Should you need to upgrade, the monthly cost is among the cheapest compared to other email marketing providers.
- Create a sign-up form on your blog
A sign-up form allows your visitors to enter their email address. You can place the form at the end of your post, in the sidebar or in a popup. This form is connected to the email marketing service above.I am using Thrive Leads to capture email subscribers because:
- You can try it for free (ask for money back within 30 days if you decide not to use it)
- No recurring fees (unless you subscribe to Thrive Membership which I think still worth the money)
- It’s a WordPress plugin so it will work with any WordPress blog.
- Simple to use. Have a professional looking opt-in form in minutes.
- So many setup options to suit your blog like popup lightbox, sticky ribbon, 2-step opt-in, in-line forms, slide-in, screen filler overlay, exit popup and more.
An email list can be your greatest business asset. Even if traffic from Google or the social media were to drop suddenly, you can always turn to your mailing list for instant traffic.
What Are The Types of Blogs That Make Money?
The types of blogs that make money are the ones that solve problems.
Your money will come from visitors who are searching for a solution to their problems.
I do think you can make money in almost any niche that you decide to enter provided that:
- You are solving problems
- You are adding value to your reader’s life
- Your content attracts lots of targeted traffic
People want to be a better version of themselves. People also want to connect with people who look like them or that they can relate to.
If your blog helps them to reach their goal faster, easier and cheaper etc., you are on the right track.
Back to the question, so what are the types of blogs that make money? These are some of the blog niches that make money.
How to Make Money Blog
Unfortunately, most of the blogs that teach you how to make money seem to be run by bloggers who only make money by blogging about how to make money.
To be fair, you gotta start somewhere right?
While this is the niche that Sabahan.com is in, most of my online money making experience came from the software development niche.
How can you start a how to make money blog when you haven’t even started making real money yet?
It’s a good niche to start in if you can show that you are already making money yourself because it shows you know what you are talking about and it gives you some authority.
But you don’t have to be an expert to start.
An honest and open view of your own making money journey can be just as intriguing and informative as those of an expert. Share what works and what doesn’t for you.
You are not limited to how to make money blogging. There are other ways such as
- Starting a YouTube channel (ideally you should already run a YouTube channel)
- Make money via podcasting
- Make money with Shopify
- Selling on Amazon
- And much much more
Most people have at least a passing interest in personal finance.
When you are:
- Applying for a credit card
- Planning to purchase your first house
- Paying your income tax
- Trying to get out of debt
- Getting a better deal on car insurance
- And so on..
you are within the personal finance territory.
As a blogger, these are topics that you can write about that solve the reader’s problem.
Some personal finance sites write about saving money through frugal living, while others talk about various investment strategies to help their readers make more money.
There are many affiliate offers that you can tie up with your personal finance blog content.
To find out which products and services you can promote, start scouring through other personal finance blogs that make money on affiliate commissions.
Take those ideas, then introduce them to your own audiences. Don’t just copy them, improve and make them unique.
It’s important that you don’t push scummy products on your readers. You are in it for the long term so be professional and earn your trust.
Health and Fitness
You can get a piece of this billion dollar industry by starting a health and fitness blog but you won’t get there trying to reach everyone.
Instead of writing everything under the sun, narrow down your focus to target specific sub-topics such as:
- Weight loss/dieting
- Healthy living
- Food and nutrition
- Muscle buildings/workout
By becoming a voice in a specific small segment of the industry, it’d be easier for you to stand out. It’s also easier to get better rankings in the search engines.
Many blogs in this niche are started by fitness trainers. If you have some experience or knowledge you want to share (weight loss perhaps), you can write a journal or advice blog or a mixture of both.
People like to watch you get better. If you can do it, they probably can too.
The tone of your writing also matters. Should you use a friendly personal tone or a professional tone? Read other blogs in the same niche and see how they do it.
Affiliate marketing is the best way you can monetize your health and fitness blog.
If you have physical products you can even make more money. For instance, LegionAthletics.com have a blog about physical fitness.
They sell physical products like proteins, supplements and vitamins and they make over $10 million a year because of their blog traffic.
Beauty and Fashion
Creating a successful beauty and fashion blog is hard.
In addition to writing great content, the beauty and fashion niche is more reliant on your own personality and your ability to market yourself.
If you have a unique and interesting way of showing what to wear and how to wear it, interesting makeup tips and know how to portray yourself to the world this could be for you.
Successful fashion bloggers get invited to cool events, receive special perks, free merchandise and even business deals by the top brands.
So there are many more ways to monetize your blog.
Lifestyle blog can be broad. Some bloggers write about anything in their life but that isn’t the best way to approach the niche.
They can also be categorized into other niches such as beauty and fashion or personal development.
Lifestyle bloggers write about arts and culture, news and events, gardening, survival, home decor, travel and other subtopics.
Lifestyle bloggers have the opportunity to be an influencer, write for other publication, or represent other business and organizations.
Personal Development / Self-Improvement
Personal development, self-improvement or self-help all have the same goal, that is to transform one’s life for the better.
However simply offering a better life won’t be that useful. Just like personal finance, you need to narrow down your focus and target a specific problem.
Narrowing down your focus helps you stand out, get good rankings in Google and monetize your blog content more effectively.
Posting quotes and other motivation stuff don’t make a good personal development blog.
Everyone wants to be healthier and happier but when they go to Google they are usually looking for specific solutions to their specific problem.
They are looking for positive outcomes. Identify who your target audience is and write specifically for that audience.
Instead of going broad, narrow down your focus to subtopics such as:
- Mindfulness meditation
- Public speaking
- Dating and relationships
- Cultivating happiness
- Mastering social anxiety
- And so on.
Other Blog Niches That Make Money Blogging
There are many other blog niches and topics that can make you good money from.
As long as there is a demand, one can always create a blog in that niche.
You can target news and politics, DIY and crafts, celebrities and entertainment and many more.
Remember, if you want to make money blogging on any topic, your blog needs to solve a problem or add value to your reader’s life.
Example of Top Money Making Blogs
Here are some example of top money making blogs. The niche varies, from personal finance to food/recipes blog, to make money blogging.
Most of these bloggers generate their income by selling their own products and services.
Income from affiliate program comes second, followed by advertising income. This could be from AdSense ads or by selling their own ad space.
The numbers are obtained from their blog income reports which are published regularly for us regular bloggers to drool over and get inspired 🙂
The numbers represent their are gross revenue per month.
Given the low operational cost for running purely online businesses compared to their brick and mortar counterparts, their gross profit margin are very high.
OK ready? Here are the top money making blogs
- Niche: Entrepreneurship, online business and podcasting
- May 2018 income: $153,375
- Niche: Entrepreneurship, online business and podcasting
- December 2017 income: $167,533
- Niche: Frugal living, savings
- May 2018 income: $136,807
- Niche: Food Photography, Cooking
- November 2017 income: $95,197
- Niche: Personal Finance
- November 2017 income: $16,156
- Niche: Food and recipes
- December 2016 income: $46,367
- Niche: Home organization, DIY, and home decor
- December 2016 income: $41,700
- Niche: Tech tips, make money online and blogging
- February 2018 income: $40,055
- Niche: SEO / Affiliate Marketing
- December 2017 income: $25,718
- Niche: Freelance writing
- December 2016 income: $20,492
- Niche: Personal Finance, Investing and Entrepreneurship
- January 2017 income: $18,450
- Niche: Make Money Blogging, Travel
- January 2017 income: $12,748
How Much Money Can You Make Blogging
I am assuming that you want to start your own blog from scratch instead of being a freelance or employed blogger working for other site.
So how much money can you make from blogging? Can you quit your day job and make a living just by blogging?
I guess what you are really asking is can a newbie start a new blog today and be financially independent a few months down the road?
At the risk of sounding pessimistic, it isn’t easy to make money blogging. Most bloggers make nothing, fewer make a little and even fewer make a lot
The pie chart above was a result of a readers survey conducted by ProBlogger who said they’re trying to make money blogging.
- 9% make between $1000 and $10,000 a month
- 4% make over $10,000 a month
- The vast majority makes less than $3.5 per day.
While the survey was published in 2012, I think it’s still representative of the income bloggers can make today.
How much you could make would depend on:
- The quality of your content
- Your ability to optimize your content for the search engines
- Your ability to promote your blog
- Your ability to build followers and grow your email list
- The competition in your niche
The good news is, you can learn all these skills for free online (the exact content you can find on Sabahan.com). Knowing these already put you ahead of the majority of the other bloggers who fail to making money blogging.
Notice that I didn’t include how often you should blog. It may help but it’s less important of a factor today then it was 5 years ago (before 2013).
Brian Dean of Backlinko.com said he has managed to get 1 million unique visits over the last year. At that time he has only published 32 posts in his blog.
You can’t afford to publish tons of low-quality posts every day (a couple of times a week is enough). The days of optimizing 1000 pages around 1000 long tail keywords are long gone.
The good news?
Today, you can get one of your pages to rank for hundreds or even thousands of long tail keywords by publishing high quality and useful long-form content (kind of like this guide you’re reading 🙂 ).
Now, it may take months to over a year before you start generating income from your blog.
There are exceptions of course but if you follow the right steps, beginner bloggers should start making decent part-time income in 3 to 6 months. It may take 1 to 2 years to make a consistent full-time income.
After that, how much can you make from blogging? The sky’s the limit.
In summary, to make money from blogging you have to:
- Create your own blog (duh!)
- Write quality content that attracts tons of traffic
- Promote your blog on the social media
- Monetize your content with ads, affiliate offers, or by selling your own products/services
- Convert visitors into email subscribers
- Promote related products/services via your mailing list
So now you know how bloggers make money, you are not limited to choosing only one method. You can start with AdSense, then add some affiliate offers into the mix.
This can be overwhelming if you do everything at once. Bookmark this page, come back and do one thing at a time.
Work hard (because there’s no magic bullet) and focus on your goal.
Keep at it, only then you will make money blogging.