I have worked online for over seven years, and a lot of my time and effort goes into creating blogposts. The subject matter changes- one day I’m reviewing the latest mobile phone, next time it’s a beauty product, but the format is pretty similar and writing online has its own rules and regulations. I’m an online writer, a web journalist, an editor, a social media consultant, a presenter and a blogger. It’s the blogger part of this equation that often produces the most interest and there’s one question I get over and over again.
How do you make money from blogging?
I’ve been explaining the intricate answer to this question for a number of years now and thought it might help if I put it down in steps for you to follow. First of all, I’m going to address the money/blogging issue from the perspective of a home based NON journalist blogger. If you have writing experience, that’s great, that will definitely help, but if you’re asking this question it suggests you’re not being paid to blog- you’re not on the staff of Handbag/ Beauty and the Dirt/ Sugar etc (great blogging business companies) so you’re looking to find out for personal use.
First of all, you should never EVER start blogging as a way to make money. For one, the passion will be lacking in your writing and you won’t get the followers, and secondly only a few few people ever make serious cash from their blog. Blogging superstars like Sussanah Lau of Style Bubble have revealed that most of the money they make is from side projects off the back of their blog- the blog alone does not garner a full wage. If you’re going to blog do it because you like it, you love it- it’s fun. Got it? Ok, now lets see how we can go about helping you get back your hosting fee.
Step One: Choose your Blog Platform Wisely
The platform you choose to blog on will actually help or hinder you in terms of money making. I get that you might not want to invest cash if you’re starting out, but if you’re using a free WordPress.com site, when you look to put ads you’ll be restricted as they don’t allows this in their terms and conditions. So choose wisely if you’re serious. Blogger- which is free on Google, is commonly used because of the flexibility if offers, but it can look a bit clunky and is hard to customise completely. WordPress.com is free to use- but- as already mentioned, restricts you. WordPress.org is also free to use and doesn’t restrict what you can do, but you’ll need to pay to host it (from £5 a month as a guide) and it’s not as easy to set up. There’s also Typepad as another option, but this is lacking popularity nowadays. I love WordPress.org and strongly recommend you start here- don’t think, ‘oh, when I get big I’ll move platforms‘ as you can lose lots of pageviews that way, and it’s a risky strategy.
Step Two: Adverts and Affiliate Links on the blog
The simplest way to make cash from your blog is to place adverts on it. One of the most commonly used platforms for adverts is Google Adsense simply because of how simple it is to install. You choose the areas you want the adverts to run (leaderboard/sidebar/skyscraper etc), identify specify category exclusions and then voila, you’re good to go. Not all ads will be relevant as they often scan the text of the blog to pick a related one, so you may find yourself with gambling ads if you ever talk about the ‘competitive world’ (hence the excluding option). It’s easy to install, but a little clunky to play with at the back-end and the returns are pretty low money wise. You generally make money here via clicks per impression (amount can can vary) and unless you have high volume traffic you probably won’t make very much (Think around £1 a month if you have below 5000 unique visitors a month).
You can also created spaces on the sidebar saying ‘Advertise here’ and then if a company is interested, set your own rate (for a small site, £20 a month with a 3 month minimum is reasonable).
Another option you can use (concurrently if you wish) is linking an Amazon Associates account. You can list favourite items like shoes etc, or allow them to place whatever they wish in the designated space. If someone clicks on the ad, then buys the product or ANYTHING else from Amazon, you get a percentage of this. This can be really helpful if you run a niche site and have carefully tailored your Amazon account to fit with your readership.
Another tool I like to use is Skimlinks. You can easily install this as a free plugin and what it does is hyperlink any mention in your text of a retail product- eg, I talk about a great Sony Xperia phone and it will link those words to TMobile. You then get a percentage of the cost of anything a user buys from those sites- this is what is called ‘affiliate marketing‘ and as a referrer you get some money. There are many affiliate networks you can join, bur rather than signing up individually to loads, Skimlinks covers most major retail stores and you get a cut (sometimes smaller than doing it all separately, but much more convenient). I like how unobtrusive it is and I do use it on this site.
Step Three: Blogger Advertiser Networks
If everything I have covered so far has felt a little bit overwhelming you may want to consider joining a blogger network. This will be a company whose main goal is to look after a number of blogs, and sell them as a group to companies. This means that someone like Estee Lauder buying in is assured of proper placement on 200 relevant beauty blogs and you get a quality advert on your site. A blog network can also offer perks like VIP nights and meetups with free drinks and products, and you may like the social element. The downsides are that you still need to have the readership to make any money from this, and ad rates can be lower using a network then if you’d negotiated yourself. An example would be that a site which has around 20,000 unique visitors (someone who has come to your site for the first time) a month might net its owner around £20-£30. Blog networks will also occasionally offer you other options, such as the opportunity to write a paid sponsored post (price from around £10-£50) and cash if you choose to reskin your site.
Reskinning means removing whatever background you have chosen to have on your site and replacing it with whatever campaign they are running- an advert for a film, or a product. That’s quite a lot of compromising on your side here, so you may not want to do this. Should you choose to go ahead, you still have to be accepted by a blogging network, and they don’t take anyone! Your blog needs to have been live at least 3 months, be well presented and inoffensive and have a good tone to it. Each blogger network has different niches, so consider them carefully before approaching. Good ones are Glam, Handpicked Media, Federated Media, NetShelter and The Guardian Select Network [disclaimer: this site is part of the Guardian network, and I also work with Glam on another project]
Step Four: Promotional / Sponsored Posts
There’s quite a lot of buzz in the blogging world about the value of promotional blogposts- both to the blog and the people who pay for them. You tend to need to place a disclaimer when you write one-‘This review of X product was sponsored by X company’, which can devalue it in some people;s eyes and if you do to many, some will accuse you of selling out. In monetary terms, expect to receive an average of £20 to £200 for a post (minimum 250 words), normally containing three links back to the company. Yes, you CAN make more money- but that’s when you get bigger, and probably won’t read this article. Other companies may ask you to create a post which contains a video and offer you a CPM rate. CPM stands for ‘Cost Per Thousand Impression’ and refers to page impressions. Every time someone reads a post of your site they are giving you ‘1 impression’, if they go to seven pages that’s 7 impressions. A company will offer you an amount per impression (think 0.05p) and then the more readers you get clicking, the more you make. This can be good if you have a high traffic site or if the content is off value, but make sure to judge each on its own merit. I’ve run video campaigns before for sites I’ve worked on, and they have tended to net me the least amount of money- maybe £20-£30 over 3 months, and you have to factor your time into this.
Step Five: Review Networks
You may be blogging out of sheer love, but by reading this piece, you have realized you’d like to get something back for your hard work. We’ve looked at ad networks and blog networks, well, I’m going to introduce you to the hidden gem that is Review Networks. How it works is that you sign up to these services and you’ll get regular emails. Some will be irrelevant ot time wasting, e.g. ‘Looking for blogs to review a cereal bar. Will provide one cereal bar and article must be 600 words with three links’, but other will be pretty good. BuzzParadise is a review network and has previously given bloggers free perfumes, trips abroad and even money if bloggers have written about something within their time frame. I know of BuzzParadise, FuelMyBlog and Broadcast Bloggers personally, but I am sure there are many more sites like this out there- let me know if you know any good ones and I’ll add them in!
Step Six: Working as a full time blogger
By now you may have realized that blogging is your passion and it’s all you want to do EVER. Well, you’re partly in luck as your blog now stands as a great portfolio if you try and get hired full time. I say hired here- as unless you’ve hit it big you WON’T be working full time on your blog- but maybe on the blog for Cosmopolitan or a blogging company such as Aigua Media. It’s a very competitive industry so you want to make yourself stand out, and having a well maintained blog is a good start. Try and be vocal on social media as well- a Twitter account and Facebook account for your site are skills you can list on your CV, but make sure they’re professional as people don’t look kindly on swear words or drugs. Be persistent and realize you may have to work from home a lot, as blogger jobs can be done remotely, saving money on company overheads. Blogger Jobs is one place to start, and you can often find jobs placed on Gumtree. Think about whether you’d accept working for free- if it’s a high profile site that’s good exposure but a start up can be a hit or miss option.
Step Seven: Moving forward with blogging
You should now have a good grasp of the steps you need to take to make money from your blog. It’s unlikely it will ever run into the thousands, but you should be able to afford a pretty dress or a new lipstick with the proceeds. It can seem like a lot of hard work when you first start, but once you’ve implemented many of these suggestions, they will run themselves and then you can enjoy responding to your readers and coming up with new story ideas. A blog is a great way to share your passion with people and give you a voice online, and if you use it as a springboard to a career in journalism- well, why not? Equally, if your blog is a hobby born out of love and passion for the subject matter, you should also celebrate that.
To stay in touch with what is going on in the world of blogging here are a few resources for you to bookmark.
- ProBlogger- This site has loads of tips and tricks for you to use, from what plugins help you get more visitors, to ideas on how to construct blogposts.
- Search Engine Journal- SEO is important to the life of your site so get acquainted with the jargon and pick up some tips.
- Mashable– A lot of this hugely comprehensive site won’t be that helpful blogwise to you, but they always reveal the latest news about plugins and changes to blog platforms, so wade in now and then and you may come away with a gem.
Good luck with continuing to expand your blog, and if you leave me the link to it in the comments below I’ll check it out. You can also speak to me about the blog consulting work I offer, where I will help you increase page views and boost your PageRank and profile online.