Blogging has been dramatically increasing in popularity, but many people don’t associate blogging with making money. In fact, most bloggers probably don’t make any money at all from their blogs – although many of them probably could, with a little work.
People often wonder, how do bloggers make money?
After all, it’s not like bloggers are selling products or doing affiliate marketing.
That’s the question I want to answer in this post.
However, before we get too far into this discussion I want to make one thing clear.
The term blogging is pretty ambiguous. It is used to refer to so many different things, including people who write blog posts on commercial websites where products are being sold. Most of the time, the word blog is used interchangeably with site or with content (depending on the context).
For this post, I want to focus on one specific meaning of the term blog (as well as bloggers, blogging and the like).
I’m going to focus on personal blogs.
What I mean is the type of blog that you would see hosted on WordPress.com.
Maybe it is a blog about someone’s life, or about a specific challenge they are trying to complete. For example, I have a friend who went to paragliding in Nepal and for three months, and kept a blog chronicling his adventures.
That’s the type of blog I’m talking about.
That means I’m not talking about sites that are trying to make money selling their own products or doing affiliate marketing. That is a whole different topic and one that I have gone into elsewhere.
Blogging and Making Money
Most of the time, people don’t start blogs thinking that they want to make money.
Blogging tends to be basically a hobby, and people do it as a way of expressing themselves and sharing something of themselves and their experiences with the rest of the world.
However, over time a blog often ends up representing a significant time investment and blog writers often find that they have a significant amount of traffic going to that blog. If you are popular like that, trying to make money from the process makes a lot of sense.
Most of the ways of making money off a normal website also apply to a blog.
For example, you can host affiliate links. If you are talking about something you bought in one of your posts, you might choose to use an affiliate link, which would make you a little income if anyone clicked on that link and actually bought things.
However, this approach often doesn’t work very well on blogs, because most bloggers don’t talk about products all that much.
Because of this, an alternative approach is using advertisements on your site, such as through Google AdSense or one of the other ad networks.
You can actually get a significant amount of income from your site through your ads and many people choose to monetize their sites that way exclusively. One advantage of using ads is that you don’t have to adjust your content in order to make money.
In fact, you can actually ignore the ads entirely and just focus on your writing if you want to.
Another approach that is sometimes used is to create a donate button on your website. This allows you readers to donate money to you if they choose to.
This approach does work, but it is probably the least effective.
The reason is that people do not tend to donate money frequently, and often want to get something out of any money they give away.
That brings me to the last option.
You can actually sell products on your blog if you choose to.
I know this blurs the line between what is and isn’t a blog a bit, but it is something that I want to discuss briefly. For example, if you were a writer, you might choose to sell a selection of your writing on the site.
Additionally, you have the option of asking people for a donation and offering a product in return.
That approach means that people still get something for their money, which can boost the amount of donations you get. However, you have to pick an item and price that will actually make you profit, else the entire process isn’t worthwhile.
Getting too Commercial
With blogging, there is always a risk of seeming too commercialized.
Most of the time, people don’t visit blog sites with the idea of buying something. Instead, they would visit a website specifically focused on that area, or they would go to a store.
With a blog, most of your readers will be looking for something interesting or entertaining.
If you place too much of a focus on the commercial aspect of a blog, then you risk losing much of your readership (which will ultimately lose you profit too). Finding that balance can be a little challenging, but for a blog, your aim should be your writing first, and your commercial ventures second.
Realistically, if you want a significant commercial focus on a blog site, you might be going in the wrong direction altogether. Instead, you may want to consider developing a niche site and actually targeting the people who are looking to make purchases.
Every blogging platform has its own set of rules.
Most people really aren’t aware of these when they start their blog, but sometimes these rules can be critical.
One problematic rule is where you are expressly forbidden from trying to make any money off your blog. For example, WordPress.com is pretty picky about what you can and cannot do with your blog and if you are doing something they don’t like, they have been known to delete whole blogs.
Interestingly, WordPress does offer its own form of ads that you can use on your page and potentially earn money from them.
This can only be done if you have a VIP or Enterprise level account and you need a certain level of traffic.
Other blogging platforms have different sets of rules.
Another rule to watch out for is whether you can transfer your blog to your own domain and hosting at a later date. Some providers allow this while others do not.
Even if you don’t plan on transferring to your own domain and hosting, it’s good to always have that option just in case you do need it.
After all, what you think and what you situation is now will probably not be the same six months or longer down the track.
Personally, I find that having my own hosting and domain name gives me more freedom and means that I don’t have to worry about someone randomly deleting all of my hard work.
As you can see, there is no single answer for the question, how do bloggers make money.
Instead, different bloggers take different approaches, and some of them end up being more successful than others. What works for you will probably depend on the type of blog you have, who hosts it and what suits your style.
However, it is worth noting that niche websites will generally make more money than blogs unless you manage to create a blog that has a huge amount of traffic.
As I mentioned before, blogs do not specifically target buyers, which can make it more difficult to actually make sales.
Instead, you can take your skills and experience from blogging and use it to develop a niche site (or even an authority site). This approach lets you target your audience much better and actually make more money from your site overall.
If you want to learn more about doing this, a great place to start is Wealthy Affiliate. This is the website that taught me how to make money online as well as countless others.
It is actually an amazing place to learn, especially as the lessons are specifically designed for people with no previous experience and are easy to follow. Plus, it is also a community-based site, so there are lots of people that you can talk to if you have any questions or issues.