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10 Foundational Tips for Bloggers Wanting to Make Money Blogging

Posted By Darren Rowse 11th of June 2010 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Almost every time I do an interview about blogging I’m asked some variation of this question:

What tips would you give a beginner wanting to make money blogging?

It’s always an interesting question to answer – particularly when you’re asked to limit your tips to just a few sentences so the person can use it as a sound bite. The problem in condensing the advice into just a few quick tips is that for every tip there are plenty of successful blogs out there who didn’t do what you’re advising and still have had success.

filename.pngImage by Wessex Archaeology

Having said that – here are a few of the foundational tips that I would give to those starting out. They’re not ‘rules’ and not every successful blog has followed them – however I think they are solid advice and should apply for most bloggers. They’re presented in no particular sequence.

1. Choose a topic you know about and have an interest in writing about

It is much easier to sustain a blog over the long haul if you have a genuine interest in the topic. It’s also easier to gain the trust of others and be seen as an authority if you know what you’re talking about.

2. Choose a topic that is in demand and has potential for profit

IF your goal is to make money from your blog (and it isn’t for everyone) you’ll probably want to do some thinking about the topic you’re going to write about. Most profitable blogs have a niche that they focus upon (here are some reasons why). Beyond your own interest in the topic there are other factors that you might want to consider when it comes to profitable niches including its popularity and whether people are searching for that information, how many competitors there are in that niche (and how strong they are), what income streams might be available on the topic, whether the topic is a long term one or a fleeting trend etc. For more reading on choosing a topic check out How to Choose a Blog Niche.

3. Produce content that meets peoples needs or solves problems

The content on your blog needs to mean something to people, it needs to solve a problem that they have (whether it be ‘I need to how to….’ or ‘I’m bored and need a laugh’ or ‘I want someone to tell me how xxxxx applies to my life’). Do this and people will keep coming back and they’ll tell others about you too. Read more on this in a post I wrote about ‘Usefulness’ as a principle of successful blogging.

4. Build traffic by participating on other sites and building a network

Building great content on your site is just half the battle but especially in the early days you can’t just rely upon a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality. Later on you might find that you can focus less upon promoting your blog but in the early days you need to get off your own blog and be willing to interact on other parts of the web (other blogs, social media, forums etc). Build a presence on sites where the type of reader that you want are already gathering, build relationships with other blog/site owners and be as useful to others as you can where ever you go. Read more on this topic at The Myth of ‘Great Content’ Marketing Itself.

5. Produce Content that People Want to Pass on

The bulk of your content will want to be solid content that focuses upon meeting the needs of your readers – however it can be well worth your time also throwing into the mix content that is designed to be more about attracting new readers through word of mouth. It is hard to define this content and many times it just happens but be aware of what content in your niche is being passed around on social media sites and you’ll begin to see opportunities to write some of your own. Often this content is funny/playful, controversial, statistics/research based or ‘list posts’ that are mega resources (50 ways to….’ or ’50 ….. to watch’ type posts. Ultimately it is the type of content that someone reads and where their first reaction is to make them think – ‘I need to send this to….’ or ‘I need to tweet this’ or ‘I’m going to bookmark this on Delicious’.

6. Develop a ‘hook’ or ‘hooks’ that will keep those visiting your blog for the first time coming back again

Some people will naturally keep coming back to your site after their first visit, but a very large percentage of them will never return unless you ‘hook’ them in some way. Many bloggers rely upon people subscribing to their RSS feed to ‘hook’ readers and while this can help only some visitors will know how to do this. Other options for this include creating an email newsletter or getting readers to sign up to join/become members. Once people sign up for these you have their permission to remind them about your site and continue to draw them in. Further reading on this topic: How I use Email Newsletters to Drive Traffic and Make Money.

7. Build Community

People no longer just come online to download information or read the expert opinion of others. The web is not a passive place, people want to interact, create, discuss and belong. A blog is a great way to broadcast information but it is also a fantastic tool for building a sense of belonging and interaction, so make the most of that. You might want to add other areas to your blog for this type of interaction (a membership area or forum) but much of it can happen right in your blog posts as well. Ask questions, feature what your readers are doing, run interactive projects, do polls, host debates, give your readers a place to show off what they’re working on. The more you get your readers to ‘do’ the more they’ll feel like a member rather than just a ‘reader’. Get more tips on building community on your blog here.

8. Experiment with Different Direct Monetization Streams

One of the wonderful things about the blogging space today is that bloggers now have a myriad of ways to monetize their sites. Back when I started in this business things were much more limited and most bloggers just used AdSense and Amazon affiliate program because there were not many other options. Those can be great starting points to begin to learn about running ads and affiliate programs on your blog but don’t limit yourself to them. The key is to experiment with different ‘direct income streams‘. Try some different ad networks (whether they be contextual ads, impression based ads etc), try selling your own ads and play with different affiliate marketing campaigns. Play with using different ads and affiliate programs in a variety of ways and positions on your blog (for example in your RSS feed, in posts, in your sidebar, in your header etc).

9. Plan for Indirect Income Streams Early

One of the biggest trends in blogging over the last couple of years is bloggers also experimenting with making money ‘because’ of their blog through more indirect income streams. It’s not just about running ads on your blog – there can often be other things you can do including selling your services as a consultant, running training programs, developing eBooks or other resources, starting a paid members area/forum, selling premium content services etc. Not all of these will apply to every niche but more and more bloggers are now discovering the power of developing their own products and services to sell to blog readers.

10. Don’t Give Up Your Day Job…. Yet

Making money through blogs can be very profitable and a lot of fun, however it is not a fast process and there are no guarantees. It almost always takes years to build up and there are many many bloggers who’ve been at it for that long who make very little money (if any) despite their best efforts. I think there is something to be said about investing a lot of time into a blog if you want it to grow, however I’d advise very very careful consideration if you’re thinking about opening up time by giving up other employment. I personally took 2-3 years to move my blogging from a hobby, to a part time job to a full time thing (and even when I went full time there were times where I took on other work) and most full time bloggers I chat with today have similar stories. Further Reading: A Reality Check about Blogging for Money.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Great points. I think building community is particularly important, and later, you should know how you can leverage that to make income without damaging the trust you’ve gained.

  2. Hey,

    That’s a really nice post. Quite insightful and informative. Can you throw some light on role which affiliate websites play in increasing the income which a blogger can generate. Are they a quicker, more secure and stable way to improve your earnings as many websites give you payments on referrals, and also a percentage of your referrals earnings.

    Thanks for sharing your points.

    Manish :)

  3. There are some great reminders here.

    I think that the niche market is one that you just have to figure out on your own. Plenty of people feel that they don’t want to limit themselves with having to blog about one thing. However, once you’ve been in the game for a bit, you realize that people don’t generally want a catch-all of everything that interests you, because their crossover interests will be limited and their interest will wane as soon as you drift to another topic.

    Plus, search engines and the ensuing traffic love blogs that have a tight, easy-to-define focus.


  4. Definitely don’t give up your day job. I’ve been blogging for a year and I’m still not anywhere near making a profit.

  5. Hey Darren,

    These are great tips! This is a post that could be read several times to make sure everything is understood. So many individuals start up blogs and then leave it dry. Mainly because they starting blogging about something that really doesn’t interest them. So that is a very important tip!

    Chat with you later…

  6. A lot of spot on advice here. I particularly agree with “Produce Content that People Want to Pass on” because this is ultimately what will make or break your success.

    There’s only so much traffic to be gained from search engines and blog commenting – the real viral impact occurs when people feel compelled to share your content with other people.

  7. The point no.10 is definitely the hardest for the most of the bloggers.

  8. This is very timely for me as my site had only been up for a month. I have done some of them before the site officially went live. Hopefully it’s not too late to make a few changes if needed.

    I’m not trying to make a profit out of it yet (well, a bit I guess) but that’s the ultimate aim.

    Have a good one.

  9. Choosing a good niche you want to write about and one you can monetize is key.

    I really enjoyed reading recent posts on you blog about the different niches people are successful in. Very inspiring.

  10. This post is just what I needed. I have a goal set for monetizing my blog but I didn’t know quite how to go about executing it. This post reads to me like a step by step process and I will certainly implement these points.

  11. Hey Darren,
    Great point when you state
    ” 1. Choose a topic you know about and have an interest in writing about ”
    I am really blessed that I chose a topic that inspires me to teach and learn at the same time, I feel it’s a benefit that keeps me moving and shaking with my blog.
    I also feel that if someone is debating on starting a blog they should really evaluate the interest they hold, as well, the knowledge they can spread throughout the blog they are starting.

  12. It all backs down to consistency and never giving up if you wanna make it.

    Research are important too !

  13. you have to have a passion, discipline and an ability to write good, interesting content regularly.

    Unfortunatly most can’t do that. They just copy other bloggers. My advice is to not be a vomit blogger, ie just regurgitating what all the big boys are saying. Be unique or go do something else!

  14. Having just launched a blog, I know exactly what this post is talking about! It takes a lot of time and effort to get something that is reasonable to actually launch, and then after that….comes the waiting…trying to build traffic and create a community. The catch 22 is how to first build that community? Its tough to get people to comment and join a community when no one else is there! Working at getting that critical mass can be tough.

  15. Darren,

    I was laughing as I read your introduction to the post. Your point is well taken. Monetizing a blog is a vast topic; worthy of a progression of weeklong workshops.

    When starting to blog I would conceptually understood what you are saying but an actual “aha” would not occur until I began to take action.

    The foundation of writing in a niche that interest you is paramount. Without identifying the niche internal conflicts in moving forward will burn you out like a short fuse on a firecracker before your “bang” is heard.

    It is the commitment to continuity that education and eventually success takes place.


  16. Darren,

    Your advice is great. As someone who owns a few blogs, sometimes I get overwhelmed just by the management aspect of the blogging, let alone writing good content and listening to your audience.

    I think bloggers that are attempting to make money by blogging need to realize that they are managing a business, and should their blogs as a business. Although is it possible to run a successful blog entirely using free tools, at some point bloggers need to invest money in their blogs. This is an idea that I still struggle with from time to time.

    Investing a small amount of money into a blog can pay big dividends in terms of growing your audience or building a network.

  17. That was a great run down on blogging Darren!

    I believe it’s really important to choose the right niche. One that you’re really interested in.

    If you’re not an expert on the topic, share your personal struggles…

  18. Thanks Darren,

    I have always had a hard time with #5-7. It is what I call the “popularity contest” portion of the Internet. I wasn’t popular in high school, so I have no idea how to be popular now. Some people have a definite knack for it.

    However, I have done well by just working hard, being persistent and having a sincere passion for what I write about. Really great list here, and I will keep plugging away at it as I am nowhere near giving it up.


  19. Great tips there Darren!

    I also implement these tips in creating any niche blog. Ignoring what we feel interest to write and what readers want to read and share is the biggest make we could ever made.

    I believe in making money from blogging, ‘sharing’ is an essential element to be considered and you’ll be on the right track.

  20. All the 10 points are really true. Choosing blog niche is the most difficult part I think. Another thing I learned from this post is producing useful content. You have written the article after good research. Well written.

  21. i tried alot of ways but without earn

  22. Making money from blogging is not as easy as everyone thought off.
    Well bloggers are making money because they have build a reputation on the web and a new blogger will need a time to make money and gain that much of reputation in that niche.
    As i’m providing my own services from last couple of years and will be looking forward to gain more access to untapped audience so that i will make more money out of blogging.
    I have started my journey as a blogger and now i’m a entrepreneur and run a Digital Media Agency which will provide all the solutions

    Thanks Darren making so much easy for me to do what i have dreamed off. Your blog is an inspiration for every blogger and surely he will learn more things here other than wandering on the web.

  23. I think bloggers miss out on the chance to make money locally from their area of expertise. My blog is still small so I’m not pursuing money-making opportunities on/from the site other than some affiliate options, however, I’ve already been asked to hold local classes on building a blog/writing for blogs, etc. This could also be an ‘early-days’ type consulting service I offer through the blog itself. So, opportunities are definitely there if we just keep our eyes open and prepare ourselves properly.

  24. Thanks once again for the information and encouragement. As a journalist, the writing and photography parts of blogging are easy for me. No so for the monetizing.

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

  25. Thanks for the great info – As another comment said the niche market is the one to go after – I chased the big targets a few years ago, but am now seeing so much return on the niche and long tail searches. It is so powerful – the internet is brilliant.


  26. Awesome post!… I have almost got everything in place. I just need something free to give away so I can build an email list and then launch a course!…

  27. Great post, I really liked the fact that just having good content wouldn’t bring in the traffic. There seems to be a lot more to do than that.

  28. You’re spot on with this one. Trying to maintain a blog on a subject that you have no interest in doesn’t usually end well. It turns into more of a job that you don’t want to do.

    And nothing is worse than having no job and trying to start making money from your websites. It usually seems to take a little bit of time before you can make money from a website, and with no job or income coming in that time goes by much slower.

  29. Well said! I can readily identify with these points. I do find that I thrive more off of a niche that I’m knowledgeable about and very comfortable blogging about. I’m in the beginning stages of building my blog. My blog is about 7 going on 8 months old now and I can testify that the “build it and they will come” mentality doesn’t apply, because I blog almost everyday. (some weeks I blog 6 times and skip one day.) I’ve got 183 articles under my belt and I realize that I have to interact out in the blogosphere and make myself known.

  30. Great article, Darren. I’ve been at this for just under a month or so, but I’m trying to plan ahead ala #9. The bocking side of my blog is still fairly niche, which makes me a big fish… but it’s a *small* pond. Hopefully enough of your wisdom will help me figure all this out by the time I have the traffic to make use of it.

  31. Really great and informative tips, Darren :). I think the no. 10 tip should be printed in very big fonts and then pasted on every bloggers monitor if it were not to block their viewing but I think their walls would do :) cos the no. 10 tip is a very important point to know. Many people think making money through blogging is such a fast thing like driving an F1 car but it isn’t.

    Great tips again :).

  32. Good post Darren.

    I think it is important to open up as many revenue streams as possible when trying to make money from blogging. It is not as easy as many people would like to make you think, and I like the way you keep reminding people of that.

  33. Last point completely suits me. since I have just started it in last 6 months, I would say that it will take around 2 years before I can even think of telling others that “Yes I got success in Blogging” :)

  34. Hi Darren,
    Well thought out post as always.

    If I may share, here is the approach I have used to choose a blog topic.

    List all the things you are truly passionate about and would work at even if you were NOT paid for them.

    Pick one topic from the above list that people will pay for and start blogging.

    When I started blogging my topic was a natural choice since I am obsessed with sharing about health and wellness http://www.ReduceStressIncreaseSuccess.com.

    As a final note, you mentioned think early about multiple income streams. Valid point indeed. I have found so far this year I have made more income off line than on line as a professional speaker but I guess it is because I have only been blogging six months or so.

    Enjoy a great day,

  35. I had read this and really great insights! I like how you connect the motivation to keep blogging to the feeling that nobody looks at it. I had never thought of it this way.

    It’s really important to keep in mind that creating the content ON your blog is only half the effort. The other part is creating content and/or sociable activities OFF your blog to attract and engage an audience to your blog.

  36. I really appreciate your blogs Darren. It is inspiring and encouraging to not give up. My blog is moving very slowly, but I don’t mind. There is a lot to learn and experimenting to monetize. I have started this yet because I want to build a community first.

    Excellent advice and I look forward to your next blog.

    I also appreciate the comments that others have made, which provides answers to some of my questions and find encouragement in your words. So to all you commenters I thank you also.

  37. Great points Darren.

    What you mentioned can be applicable to any web business, not just blogging.

    It takes work and time, and this cannot be emphasized enough.

    I like your advice on the day job thing. It is advisable to keep it until you are fully confident and you start seeing positive results of your web business.


  38. I like the idea of blogging about what you know, because that has been engrained within my own mind for years and it seems more fun to blog about the stuff that we live and dream about and know the insides and out of the topic area.

    But equally important is building up and testing revenues streams with affiliate programs and your own products, it all is just inspiring and exciting to think about..

    Cheers Darren!

  39. P.S. Typo in article:

    “3. Produce content that meets peoples needs or solves problems

    Bhe (The) content…”

  40. “Don’t Give Up Your Day Job Yet,” is the best advice. I talk to a lot of people who did just that. Of course, when they realize how hard it is and how much work is involved…they wish they had their old job back!

    But it can be done. Just be patient.

  41. Hi Darren,
    I do own a blog myself, i knew and implement these tips for my blog, but getting the remainder is great, a blogger can never be told or reminded enough, sometimes bloggers get so involved with blogging they forget some real basic key points.

    I hope I am not speaking for myself and i am the only one, but thank you for this great post as usual.

  42. Very, very good advice! So many people want to make money period but they want to make it so fast! I get so many emails and comments from people that want to do just that. Although there have been examples of people who have made money fast you just can’t count this as a norm. I still go by the old belief that you should do something that you love! But your advice of choosing something that – a subject – that will make money has to be taken into consideration as well. Your blog gives so much good advice!

  43. Nice set of tips for newbies. I guess most newbies missed the tip #2. They choose topics that are not indemand or it might be indemand but not profitable.

  44. I’ve tried a lot of ways too! And now I’m quite a successful blogger. I appreciate you writing these ten points cause from my experience of 3 years as a blogger I can say that these are really helpful points. Point No 2 is particularly important cuz not always do people consider a topics’s popularity and how profitable it could be for them while creating a blog. Consider dropping by blog sometime

  45. My first thought in just reading the title would be to tell them to start off with their own domain if at all possible. Even scratching up that $10 to pay blogger could make quite a difference in earning potential.

  46. One and two don’t always intersect. It’s sometimes hard to find a topic you’re passionate about and that’s popular. It’s also hard to be cutting edge in popular topics because there’s more competition… But lots of blogs have broken out in the uber competitive blogging about blogging niche so anythings possible.

  47. Thank you Darren for all those points above. This makes a great checklist for anyone who wished to jump into the water.

    Point no. 9 is the one I’m looking into right now. I think that one of the best way to monetize a blog is to sell your own products.

    I think it takes some guts to pull this off and many would avoid doing because it involves a lot of work on the blogger’s part.

    After much consideration, I thought that this is the route that I am taking and will definitely learn more things along the way.

  48. Just wanted to say (for beginners),

    Learn from others and implement your own. And of course, do not take shortcuts and be patient.

  49. 110% agree on everything and especially the final point! Still on my day job for the moment and not planning on leaving it for a while.

  50. Thanks for mentioning that promotion becomes less necessary as time goes on and content on a blog increases in depth, breadth and quality.

    I have had some private discussion among a few fellow bloggers who are putting forth tremendous content. Our assessment: if you build it, and it’s stellar stuff, they just might come… but it’s probably going to take quite a bit longer. Which may be a worthwhile tradeoff for some people.

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