People are always surprised when I say I’ve been making money blogging for over a decade. One reason my blogs are profitable (and have been ever since I was a beginner blogger) is because I experiment with different ways to make money. The second reason is that I treat my blogs like a full-time business. The third way I make my blogs profitable is by writing articles that are problem-focused, evergreen, and painful if left unsolved.
The tips in this article are from a workshop called How to Make Money From the Most Profitable Blog Niches, which I taught at a WordPress for Bloggers MeetUp in Vancouver. Of course, the first and most important topic I covered is whether or not you have readers! No blog readers, no profit. If you don’t have enough traffic, read Will People Read Your Blog? It Depends.
Is blogging a profitable business for writers? Definitely – and blogging is a creative, interesting, challenging, exciting way to write! Do all bloggers make money from their blogs? Nope. In fact, very few online writers or content creators have profitable blogs. Why not?
“One problem that I see a lot of bloggers do is simply writing what everyone else is writing about on their blog – and doing it in the same way everyone else is,” says professional blogger Darren Rowse, author of ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income. “The term ‘echo chamber’ comes to mind.”
How do you make money writing for your own blog? The same way you get a book published in an overcrowded niche. You set yourself apart by finding your blogger’s voice, and you write the blog posts you want to read. Blogging – just like writing a book – requires discipline and commitment.
Making money blogging is like starting a small business. You are the entrepreneur, the product, and the service. Don’t cheat, don’t cut corners, and don’t be lazy. You’ll make money writing articles for your blog if you actually do the work that counts. No need to practice for 10,000 hours! Just start blogging today.
How to Make a Profit From Your Blog
I don’t know why so many professional bloggers and SEO “experts” say you can’t make money just writing for a blog. It took me about 10 years of profitable blogging to realize they are wrong. I sell nothing but an ebook about letting go of someone you love – though I have written several ebooks. None of them sold as well How to Let Go of Someone You Love.
Don’t believe everything you read. Or write. Or think. Do a little research, a lot of blogging, and a little accounting. Is your blog profitable? If not, try different strategies. If you are making money, do more of what works.
1. Write solid content in a specific niche
Step out of the online “echo chamber” by not blogging about your year of cooking with Julia Child or your decade of doing everything Oprah Winfrey says. Instead, find a blog topic or niche that interests you, learn about it, and share what you learn in a unique, creative way. Solve problems, using your writer’s voice! Remember that making money as a blogger is a long-term process. The money you earn grows slowly, like compound investment.
What are the most profitable blogging niches? Read 10 Types of Blogs That Do – and Do Not – Make Money.
2. Be patient – but proactive – as your blog traffic s-l-o-w-l-y increases
Different bloggers find different ways to build traffic effective; what works for the blogger next door may not work for you! For instance, I find the usual tips for increasing blog traffic time-consuming and boring. Posting comments on forums, commenting on other blogs, staying active on StumbleUpon, participating in comment exchanges, and writing guest posts just doesn’t work for me! Instead, I focus on Search Engine Optimization, Twitter, and Yahoo Shine.
3. Find advertisements that appeal to your readers
What search terms do your readers use to find your blog? For example, readers often find Quips and Tips for Successful Writers by searching for “feature article ideas”, “how to write a blog post, and “how bloggers make money.” So, my advertisements should focus on freelance writing, magazine articles, and blogging tips. I also feature books, books, and more books because I love books! Plus, I like being an Amazon affiliate.
4. Explore different types of affiliate programs for bloggers
There is no “best” affiliate program to make your blog profitable. It depends on your type of blog and niche. The only way to find the best affiliate advertising network for your blog (eg, Commission Junction, LinkShare, AdBrite, Chikita, Google Affiliate Network, Kontera, ClickBank, etc) is to experiment with different ones! I just introduced ClickBank to Quips and Tips for Successful Writers, and one eBook in particular is earning me hundreds of dollars a month. I earn $26 each, and sell about five a week. A. It takes time to figure out what the best ads are – and whether they represent reputable, worthwhile products. But if you want to make money blogging, you need to put in the time.
5. Approach companies directly about becoming an affiliate
I advertised products on my Quips and Tips for Couples Coping With Infertility blog, until I realized they’re a middleman for a bigger pregnancy website. So I applied to be a direct affiliate for that bigger website, and now earn more money when a reader buys a product. If you can cut out the middleman (an affiliate advertising network), your blog will be much more profitable. You’ll make make more money because you’re working directly with the advertiser.
6. Apply to different types of profitable blog affiliate networks
Two of my blogs are with the BlogHer advertising network – I applied a few months before they actually accepted me (they had a waitlist). BlogHer isn’t my biggest source of income, but I like being part of the network. Monetizing your site isn’t just about slapping up some Google Adsense ads and putting big banners everywhere; it’s also about finding quality advertising that you’re proud to be a part of.
7. Experiment with different types and sizes of ads
So many choices! Banner ads, product images, text ads, in-text link ads, pixel/favicon ads, contextual links, eBook ads, exit ads, lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Start with the ad types and sizes that you dislike the least, let them run for a couple of months, and see if your blog gets more profitable. Keep in mind that you probably need over 1,000 page views a day before you earn $100 or even $50 a day with your blog. It depends on your niche and products, but you will learn that blogging is still profitable. Now more than ever.
8. Experiment with ad placement on your blog
The experts at Google Adsense say that the most profitable ads are “above the fold” and within the post itself. Find a balance between making your ads obvious, but not too distracting or annoying. I don’t love advertising in the middle of my articles, but I want to earn more than $50,000 this year from my blogs…so the ads stay where they are. Now I’m experimenting with auto ads, which lets Google Adsense place advertisements wherever they want. In the comments, widgets, header. Anywhere. I love this even less than the big ad in the middle of the blog posts, but Google helps make my blogs profitable. And that allows me to keep blogging.
9. Consider selling ad space on your blog to profitable companies
Advertisers have asked me for my “rate card” (a summary of how much different ad spaces sell for on Quips and Tips). I created one, but haven’t taken the time to pursue selling ad space. Many bloggers sell a 125×125 spot on their blog for X dollars per month (the “X” depends on how much traffic the blog gets, the type of blog it is, the number of pages it runs on, etc). Some bloggers also sell ad space in their newsletters. I’ve never sold advertising space on my blogs, and believe it’ll be more trouble than it’s worth. I want my blog to earn a profit but don’t want to do anything but write 🙂
10. Pay attention to readers’ comments and emails
I created my fifth blog — How Love Blossoms — because so many readers on Quips and Tips for Love and Relationships were asking about marriage, infidelity, breaking up, making up, etc. My readers told me what the needed: a whole separate blog about love. When you’re monetizing your blog, listen to what your readers want.
Above all, treat your blogging like a job. If you want your blog make a profit, you have to treat it like a business. For instance, post your articles consistently. For example, I write a post for Successful Writers every Tuesday and Thursday – unless there’s a special occasion like today, when I’m working on course content for a “make money blogging” class that I know my readers would benefit from.
Discouragement is one of the biggest obstacles to profiting from your blog. Read How to Stay Motivated When You’re Starting a Blog.
An Option for Bloggers Who Aren’t Profitable Yet
If your blog isn’t profitable, consider blogging or creating content for other websites. I’m not talking about guest posting; I’m talking about getting paid to blog.
Here’s the question: is it more profitable for online writers to get paid per blog post, or earn money per reader click? Here are the pros and cons, plus the reasons I stopped blogging for Suite101 – an online e-zine that folded after it was no longer profitable 🙁 .
First, a question from a reader:
“Could you elaborate on why you are no longer writing articles for Suite101?” asks S.B. on Is Writing for Suite101 Worthwhile? It Depends. “I’m a freelance writer with a couple of regular gigs, but want to make a few more hundred dollars per month. I would write mainly about pregnancy and parenting. Do you think that could be a profitable blog? How many articles (or in how much time) would be necessary to achieve this? (I realize this is totally variable, but if you have any general thoughts that would be so helpful). As a stay-at-home mom with not a lot of extra time, I’m wondering if this is worth it, or if I should continue to pursue other outlets.”
Regardless of whether you get paid per blog post or per click, learn how to use social media to grow your online business. Even if you get paid per post, you should try to bring traffic to your posts on other blogs and websites. You’ll benefit from the exposure, your editor will love you for your efforts, and you’ll gain new readers. And that’s how bloggers make an online profit!
If you earn money per click (not per blog post), how many articles do you need to write to make it profitable?
It’s impossible to say how many articles you’d need to write to make blogging worthwhile. It depends on the topic of your post and how well optimized it is. I write Psychology articles, which don’t pay well per click. But articles about money, mortgages, debt, employment, plastic surgery, etc earn lots of money per click. So, yes, blogs can still be profitable depending on what you write about.
Profitable blogs rely on traffic. The more readers you have, the more money you’ll make. People say they don’t click Google ads, but lots of readers click on banners and links. Last week, I made $140 in one day from Google Adsense on my Quips and Tips blogs (I’m on a “earn money per click” revenue share model).
Earning money per click is a long-term investment of your time
Writing for blogs that pay based on readers’ click behavior can take years to pay off. Writing for your own blog is better because it’s a long-term investment you can control. But writing for other websites, organizations, businesses and blogs leaves you vulnerable to their decisions. If you need to make money right now, it’s more profitable to find blogging or writing gigs that pay per post. But if you’re willing to treat blogging like a long-term investment or business, then create your own blog and learn how to make it profitable!
I write articles for BC Women’s Hospital and Know Your Advisor.com, and I charge $50 per hour. That’s my favorite way to make money as a freelance writer because I’m compensated for every minute I spend researching, writing, and editing. I don’t think I’d go back to a pay per click revenue share model.
Benefits of Getting Paid Per Blog Post
- Predictable income; you know that you’ll make $5,000 this month (instead of getting paid per click, which is unknown until you actually get paid)
- No worries about the website disappearing overnight or editors deleting your posts. You’ve already profited from your blog post!
- Um…I can’t think of any other benefits of payment per post. If you have ideas, please share below.
Benefits of Earning Money Per Click
- Passive, long-term income (my favorite way to be a profitable blogger).
- Some control over how much money you earn (eg, if you share your post, you could potentially earn hundreds of dollars).
- Getting paid while you learn how to blog. I’m forever grateful to Suite for teaching me how to write online and build a profitable series of blogs.
What are the most profitable blogs in your niche? Find your niche, explore the blogs that are earning good profits, and watch how the bloggers run their business. Don’t copy them; study and experiment with your own style.
If you’re a blogger who wants to write faith-based articles, read 8 Things You Need to Know About Starting a Christian Blog.