From time to time I get questions about blogging from friends and family members. They know I've started a couple of blogs and made them somewhat successful, and they want to know how they might go about setting up their own successful sites.
At this point I usually start talking to them about how much work it is to blog, how you have to constantly be writing content, promoting the site, networking and researching SEO. After I've been talking to them about this for a few minutes usually their eyes start to glaze over, and they begin to realize that making a blog successful isn't an going to be an easy project. Most of them ditch the idea before they even get started. To me that's a big mistake because starting a blog, while it is a lot of hard work, can also be extremely rewarding – both monetarily and in other ways.
If You Treat Blogging As A Business, You Can Make Good Money
Once they've heard just how hard blogging can be, they often move on to the question of how I can afford to spend so much time doing something that is essentially just a hobby in their mind. At this point I have to explain how I started blogging as a hobby, but after a year or so of constant effort I realized that it could be so much more. Blogging has the potential to become a nice side income, and if you work especially hard and have a bit of luck – you can turn it into a full time income. Because of that I started to treat my blogging more as a business. I think without that added benefit of being able to make quite a bit of money from blogging, I may have stopped writing quite some time ago.
While I haven't matched my day job income yet from my blog, I am blessed to say that it has been enough to replace my wife's day job income so that she could stay home with our son that was born 5 months ago. To me that's huge, having the peace of mind that this extra blogging income creates is priceless.
A Blog Has Almost No Startup Costs
One of the great things about launching a blog is that it has almost zero startup costs, but has the potential to make quite a bit of money. What costs can you expect to incur right at the beginning?
- Domain name: You can usually find a domain name for anywhere from $7-10 a year. That's dirt cheap.
- Hosting: You can find a cut rate hosting plan for about $5-10/month. That's only a few cups of coffee! I'm on a higher tier plan now with Media Temple, and that costs closer to $30/month.
- WordPress: The standard for blogging software, the self hosted version of WordPress is actually a free product!
- WordPress theme: You can find a ton of free themes to start with (which I recommend), but premium themes like Thesis, Genesis, Catalyst or Headway will cost you anywhere from $70-165.
Those are the main things you'll need to pay for. So for anywhere from $67-$200+/yr you can start your own money making business. That's not a bad deal!
I actually started another site last weekend. In about 1 hour I bought a domain name, added the domain to my hosting account, installed WordPress and the Thesis theme. Now it's up and running and being indexed by Google! Once you have done it a couple of times, setting up a new site is a breeze!
The Main Blog Costs Are Related To Your Free Time
To me the biggest cost that there is related to blogging is the free time you'll lose to writing content, promoting your site, getting backlinks, tweaking your site, networking, engaging in social media, etc. There are endless tasks to perform with a blog, and if you don't enjoy it, you could burn out pretty quick. For me I would probably have blogged as a hobby anyway, and doing it for money just made it all the more attractive. I don't mind spending 20-30 hours a week on my sites because I actually enjoy the entire process. For others it might be more of a chore. Make sure you go in with eyes wide open.
How To Make Money With A Blog?
Making money with a blog isn't easy, and it takes time. In order to make real money, you'll need to start building up content, get plenty of backlinks by participating in carnivals and writing for article sites, guest posting and a variety of other things.
As a general rule, however, if you do everything the right way, you can probably expect to be making at least something by your 5th or 6th month. My first site didn't take off until the 6th month, and at that point it's been a money maker ever since. This site you're reading this post on started making money it's second month because I already had some contacts to sell advertising to from my other sites.
So what are some of the biggest sources of income for some of the bigger sites?
- Google Adsense: by far the biggest. to do well with adsense you have to write about the right topics though. Check out other successful sites to see what they write about. I suggest adding Adsense right away, better to have the ads there from the start, and possibly make some money!
- CPM ads: If you can find a premium ad network that will accept you – and if you have enough traffic, CPM ads can pay pretty well.
- Direct sold banner ads: If you can sell ad banners directly, it can do pretty well. The key is finding people who want them.
- Affiliate sites: sites like shareasale, flexoffers.com, linkshare.com and a variety of credit card sites do pretty well for me as well. Promoting these works best with posts usually -reviews/etc. Banners in the sidebars don't tend to do as well.
- Your own info products: If you can come up with an ebook or other info product that people are willing to pay for, you'll have a nice source of recurring income.
- Get paid to sites: If you have a blog it's a good place to promote “get paid to” sites like cashcrate.com, swagbucks, ebates and others that will pay you for referrals.
- Paid posting: I have become a staff writer at a couple of places in exchange for payment for each article. Usually in the range of $10-75 /article depending upon how long you've been blogging and the quality of your work.
- Use your blog as a launching pad to write a book: I haven't done this, but I know of several bloggers who used their site as a means to write and publish a book.
What it really comes down to is that your income opportunities are only as limited as your imagination!
Some Things To Remember About Blogging
I won't go in depth in this post as far as step by step instructions on starting a blog, but here are a few tips for things I've learned about blogging.
- Less is sometimes more: I've found that my adsense ads do better when i have fewer ad placements on a page. I put one or two ads in a well placed location, and it tends to do better than say 3 ads on the page.
- Do your research: take the time to do some research as to what the popular and newsworthy items of the day are. Write about those things because people are searching for them. Do your keyword research.
- Content is king: having good content is key. The more you write, the more content that you have that gets indexed by google – and the more chances you have for coming up in the search engines.
- Do blog carnivals: participate in blog carnivals, they're free backlinks, and backlinks are like gold.
- Don't expect huge money right away, it takes time: I think it was 6 or more months before i made any real money. Have patience, it will come.
- Network with other bloggers and help each other: Sometimes blogging may feel competitive, but actually it's more of a team challenge. If you can cooperate, give each other links and promote each other's content -you all win.
So there's my brief intro into blogging as a business. I'll probably be writing more about this in the coming weeks. In the meantime, however, if you're interested in starting a blog, here's a comprehensive ebook on how to make money with a blog.
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Have your own blogging tips, or questions that you'd like answered? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!