For the past few years, blogging has become very popular and you've probably heard the words blog, blogging, blogger, blogosphere many times. You may have also heard that many people make money blogging and wonder if that is true. The simple truth is a lot of people make money through their blogs and it's pretty simple and cheap to do. For some, it's enough to pay for a nice dinner once a month, for others it takes care of their mortgage. Some have even managed to turn blogging into their full-time job. Whether you can make money blogging depends on many factors which I'll address in this post.
What's a Blog?
A blog is a type of website where entries are made on a regular basis. The term blog came from the phrase Web Log. Similar to how a sea captain may make entries in their ship's log, someone can post log entries on the web for others to read. For some a blog is nothing more than public diary to share information with their friends. Many comment on current affairs or even are primary news sources.
To make blogging easier, there are a few good blog applications you can use on your website. There are also free and paid services you can use and not have to worry about maintaining a web hosting account and the software on it. Because blogging has become so popular, a few standards have been implemented to simplify sharing blog content, interacting with other bloggers, allowing readers to participate through comments and making the blog easy to update.
You can start blogging without knowing much of the technical details, which is a big reason behind its popularity.
Why use a blog
A blog is just a type of content management system (CMS) for a website. There are many different types of ways to put content in addition to blogs such as forums, wikis article sites and even just managing your own web pages manually. Each has their strengths and weaknesses depending on the information you want to publish online.
Certain types of content benefit from being published in a chronological fashion, such as announcements, news or tracking the progress of a large project or event. So a blog would be a good fit for writing about living in a new city but may not be a good idea if you just want to talk about the day you moved. If you're a fisherman, you can blog about your fishing trips but if you just have one list of fishing tips to share a blog is not the right fit.
Can I become a blogger?
Nearly everyone can, but that doesn't mean everyone should and definitely not everyone will be successful and make money blogging.
Some people focus a lot on the appearance of their blog. They add widgets and gadgets that provide little value to their visitors and distract from the content. A blog should be simple and easy to read. The most important aspect is what you write, not what it looks like.
You need to write, and write a lot and write it well. To make money blogging, you need to attract visitors to your blog and the only good way to do that is to write things people want to read. Good original content is the key. Not many people can do this. Either they don't know enough about the subjects they try to write about or they just can't string more than two sentences together in a way that makes sense. That doesn't mean you have to be Earnest Hemingway but you need the ability to express your thoughts clearly in written form. You also need a certain level of understanding of what you are writing about to make readers want to come back.
Some people try to just copy content from others or quote news articles but do not add any additional value. Sites like these will not receive much, if any traffic from search engines, because search engines filter out a lot of duplicate content. They are pretty good (but not perfect) at identifying which is the original or most authoritative page. If you don't get genuine traffic to your blog from interested visitors, you are likely to get into more trouble trying to monetize your blog.
What should I choose to blog about?
This is where a lot of people seem to have trouble. First let me say, you should pick a particular subject area (niche) about. If you have varied interests, it is probably better to create a separate blog for each one. Being focused will help increase visitor loyalty.
When I was just starting out, I was quite often the youngest person at the meeting. Many times I was approached by others asking me if I had any advice to pass along to their children. My response was always the same. Three key ingredients in achieving success are hard work, dedication and continual efforts to expand your knowledge. Timing and a good personal network are also important but who you know will only get you so far if you don't know what you're doing. To be able to put in the effort to be successful you need to focus on things you enjoy. If you hate what you do, it is unlikely you will put in the extra hours to make yourself stand out.
The same is true if you want to start blogging. In addition to a good understanding of the subject you choose to blog about, you also need to have a genuine enthusiasm for it. Especially in the beginning when you get little or no traffic. I can't think of one case where someone started a blog one day and the next was overwhelmed with visitors. It usually takes months for traffic to develop. Blogs that are getting thousands of visitors a day at one point were probably only getting a handful. It feels silly to write so much when nobody is reading but if you're doing a good job, you'll eventually see some results. You'll have to do it for yourself at first and hope others are also interested in what you are writing about. At the very least, you may learn some new things while doing research for your entries. If you're doing it for fame or fortune as your primary goal instead of genuine interest, readers will pick up on that and move on.
You can choose to write about anything you want. If you find your friends and family come to you for advice on certain subjects, that's a good sign that they value your opinion on those matters and others might as well. It doesn't matter what it's about. You can also choose to share your knowledge about any hobbies you have.
Your success will also depend on how many other people are blogging about the same subjects. While you don't have to have a monopoly on any area, the more blogs that are out there in your niche, the more you will have to show your ability to compete for readers.
How do blogs make money?
For a blog post on how to make money blogging, I've written a lot and barely discussed the making money part.
There's a reason for that. You don't monetize your blog, you monetize your blog's traffic. That's why I chose to spend so much time on going over what you need to know to create a good blog. Write good content and you'll attract good traffic. Once you have good quality traffic you can start making money from your blog. There are a few different ways you can monetize your traffic that I will elaborate on.
The most popular way people make money from their blogs is through advertising. This is similar to how television shows work. They create good programs, attract potential consumers and advertisers line up to pay. How much you can charge for advertising depends on the type of advertisers you can attract for your topic as well as the demographic of your readers.
There are four main types of advertising:
- CPM Ads - CPM stands for cost per metric. The metric is 1,000 impressions. An impression is when a user views an ad. Advertisers will pay $X for 1,000 impressions. The more real impressions you have, the more you can earn.
- CPC Ads - CPC stands for cost per click. Advertisers will pay every time an ad that is displayed on your site gets clicked by a real visitor.
- Paid for articles - There are some advertisers that will be willing to pay you directly to write about their products or services. They do this to both get your readers to learn about them as well as for the links from your site which helps improve their search engine rankings.
You can either work directly with advertisers to place ads on your blog or use the various ad networks out there that help bring advertisers and publishers together. Google's AdSense is currently the most popular program for bloggers and pays the best for many. It is mainly a CPC network with some CPM ads thrown in.
You must have realized that it seems easy to cheat these advertising systems. All you need to do is get people to load your pages or click on ads. They don't have to buy anything. Many people do this and advertisers and the ad networks aren't dumb. They've seen people try to cheat them for years and have developed ways to identify invalid clicks or impressions. Trying to inflate your advertising earnings is more likely to get you banned from the advertising network than to make you money.
Affiliate marketing is a type of Pay Per Action (PPA) advertising. You only get paid when the visitor performs some sort of action on the advertisers site. This usually involves purchasing a product (sale) or in a few cases, submitting their information to the advertiser (lead).
Since this requires your visitors to do more than just load or click and ad, it can be a bit more difficult but very profitable. One way you can do this is to review products. You can't throw a rock out on the internet without hitting some sort of affiliate review site or blog, so you really need to differentiate yourself to do this well. You need your readers to trust you and value your opinion on the products you review. Trust is one of those things that is hard to get and easy to lose, so you need to provide honest affiliate reviews. If they buy something based on one of your reviews and realize you were full of it, chances are they won't take your advice again.
Attract your own customers
Many people who have their own businesses blog. A blog is a great way to communicate with and attract customers. They can read what you say and determine if they want to give your their business or not. Whatever it is you sell, showing visitors you know what you're doing can help convert them into customers. It's also a good way to highlight new products and services.
Blogs can also help with search engines if you have a business. Linking from your blog to your main site where appropriate can improve your rankings by helping web crawlers better understand what your site is about. You can also find visitors that you wouldn't have otherwise. Let's say you run an antique store with a blog. One day you decide to write a blog post about how to get the mold smell out of books. It gets hundreds of visits and a few of those decide to visit the rest of your website and then some of them decide to actually take a drive to your shop.
The revenue you generate may be obvious like from ad or affiliate sales, conversions on your e-commerce site or indirect because you gained someone's confidence. It all depends on your needs and you should focus on the efforts that are best suited to you.
A lot of people have misconceptions about what blogs are and how to use them to make money. I hope this helped clear those up or helped you in some other way.