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Make Money Blogging for Real: 3 Must-Know Factors

Posted By Jerry Low 20th of April 2015 Blogging for Dollars 49

This is a guest contribution from Jerry Low.

Most people have heard of the success of Perez Hilton’s blog and that he makes somewhere between $200,000 to $400,000 each month blogging about the latest celebrity gossip.

Success stories like Hilton’s might make the prospect of earning a fortune blogging seem real, but the truth is that it is hard work and not very many crack that six figure per month mark. Still, you can make a decent living from blogging, if you know how to go about it.

Every now and then, I’m pulled aside at a family gathering or am emailed by someone who wants to know if it’s possible to make money blogging.

Some of the common questions include:

  • How do you make money online?
  • How does AdSense work?
  • Should I attend this “make money online” course?

The answer is an absolute yes. You can make money blogging.

While not in the six figures, Matthew Woodward, for example, made approximately $20,000 in December of 2014. That’s a pretty nice paycheck for blogging.

Even a simple idea like Michael Malice’s Overheard in New York, where people submit posts of things they’ve heard somewhere in New York, earns about $9,000 a month from private advertising revenue, such as banner ads placed on the site.

Personally, I have been making money online since 2004. I quit my day job as a rubber dam engineer in 2006, and never looked back.

So, again, the answer is: Yes, you can start a blog easily and make some money.

There are a lot of different online business opportunities, too.

The only question left is: Do you have the writing quality and blogging know-how to get it done? It’s not something easy, but I promise you it’s worth it.

5 ways of making money from your blog without having your own product

When you think of making money from a blog, you might think about Google ads, but there are a few different ways you can make money from your blog:

  • AdSense – People make hundreds of thousands from Google AdSense ads. AdSense makes up about one-third of Google’s revenue. Pay is good, but you will need to play by Google’s rules. There are reports where Google AdSensers get bumped out of the program without warning.
  • Affiliate marketing – This is simply a way to sell related items without the cost of developing a unique product. This is mainly how I make my living online, so this is a viable way to earn money from your blog.
  • Banner ads – Another way to make money from your blog is to sell banner ads on third party sites such as BuySellAds.com. My experience is that this is fairly low pay, but better than nothing. All the different areas of your income can pool together to make a difference in your overall blog earnings.
  • Selling ads directly on your blog – You can earn good money by selling banner ads directly on your blog. However, your blog must first have a good amount of traffic to attract the higher paying advertisers. At first, it might be better to focus on building that traffic and then you can more easily attract the big players.
  • Product reviewer – This might not pay you monetarily, other than the amount you’re earning from blogging, but it can help you try out the newest products in your niche. Merchants send you their products for trial, and you write an honest review. WHSR blogger Gina Badalaty, for example, does this and wrote some great tips on how to become a product reviewer. The key to becoming a product reviewer is that you need to be an influencer in your niche. Personally I get free hosting accounts to test at WHSR so I can write a review on it.

3 key factors: What makes my blog work and why yours doesn’t?

1. You need to be in a profitable niche!

One of the first things you want to think about is your niche and whether it is profitable. Some experts advise being a big fish in a small pond, but I think the exact opposite. You should try the big pond because that is where the money is.

While your great Aunt Mary’s unique recycled dress quilts might be amazing, not that many people are as interested in reading about them as about quilting in general. Don’t limit your topic too much.

When I first got started, I created a site selling inflatable boats online. Can you imagine how many people might buy inflatable boats online? That’s right, not many.

What’s worse, this product is a seasonal product and only sells during the summer, so I was further limited in my sales. Having that said, I did make some money from the site – averaging not more than two sales per year. My inflatable boat business didn’t even take off enough to launch it onto the small pond, much less a big pond.

So, how do you find a profitable niche? Personally, I use SpyFu to check out what advertisers are spending on a niche that I think I might like to tackle. If advertisers, or merchants, are spending big money on that industry, then it means there is money to be made.

spyfu-cpc

There must be a reason why these people can afford $8 – $17/click on these keywords.

If you do not have a SpyFu membership, you can simply do a Google universe search (search at .com, add &pws=0 at the end of your search strings) on the niche you are interested in. Are there any advertisers in the search results? If so, then there may be money in this niche.

Use Google keyword planner to guesstimate the average price of a click in your industry – with that you can predict roughly how much you can earn per Google AdSense click. The higher the pay per click, the more potential there is to earn.

Login to CJ.com and search merchants – use Network Earnings (the green bar) as a potential earning indicator. See image below to understand how I interpret the numbers at CJ.

cj-adv

Network Earnings = How much the advertisers are paying compare to overall. Higher Network Earnings = more affiliates in the program;. 3 month EPC = Average earning per 100 Clicks = How profitable is this affiliate program in long term; 7 day EPC = Average earning per 100 clicks = Is this a seasonal product?

2. Are you getting sufficient targeted traffic?

Another thing you need to keep in mind is the targeted traffic possibilities for a given niche. To be able to make decent money, your blog must have sufficient targeted traffic possibilities. This is where your SEO and social media marketing (SMM) kick in.

When people search for info relevant to your niche topic, they become your target audience. The more people who search for that topic, the bigger your potential audience.

Also, if someone follows your competitors on Facebook, those people are your targeted audience. If you are thinking about jumping into a niche and you see that your closest competitor has a couple million page likes on Facebook, then that is a good sign that there is a big target audience.

More targeted traffics = more money

However, to win the attention of this target audience, you have to gain skills in both SEO and SMM. It is simple math. The more targeted traffic your blog gets, the more money you’ll make.

Here’s how it works: Let’s say you are selling a web hosting service as an affiliate and the average conversion rate is 3%. On average, every 100 visitors that you refer to the web hosting provider, you’ll manage to get three sales. If you manage to refer 200 visitors, then theoretically there will be six sales down the road.

We want all tails keywords

longshorttail Image credit: Bytelaunch

You’ll want to be sure that you figure for both primary and secondary (short-tail and long-tail) keywords to get the best idea of overall traffic possibilities.

Owen Powis, the CEO of Wordtracker, advises that:

“A clear, well-organized site structure helps Google find your content and makes the navigation of your site easier for your customers.”

Being aware of the different target keywords (both primary and secondary) and the advertising basics aimed at those keywords will make your blog more successful.

3. Are you building a List?

You’ve probably heard multiple gurus saying that building an email list is of ultimate importance when driving traffic to your site. If you want to make money blogging, you’ll want to capture your site visitor’s emails and send them emails that will drive them to visit your site over and over again.

If you need help with building and making money out of your email list, here is a very handy guide written Marya Jan on Problogger.net.

Why is an email list so important? An email list is your greatest asset online because those signed up are trusted leads who have visited your blog. Your email subscribers already trust you and your authority on this topic.

If you were going to buy something online, you would probably look at products based on the recommendation of someone you trust. If you wanted to buy a guide to read, you would first look at guides written by or recommended by someone you trust.

If you were following Adam Connell (from Blogging Wizard) new venture WP Super Stars from the beginning, you should note of is that he started collecting email subscribers ahead of time. That’s right -You can start collecting subscribers before you even have a blog. Reach out to family, friends and acquaintances to get started.

Bottom Line – You can do this!

When it comes to making money from blogging, you have to be creative and keep an eye out for new opportunities and changes in how search engine algorithms and advertising work. However, with a bit of foresight sprinkled with hard work and consistency, you too can make a living from blogging.

About Jerry Low
Jerry Low – geek dad, SEO junkie, founder of Web Hosting Secret Revealed. Connect with him on Twitter or find out more about his work at WHSR
Comments
  1. That’s a really top post Jerry, you’re right it is possible to make money via blogging but it requires someone with a warrior’s spirit. A lot of people give up after trying it for just a few weeks. Other bloggers fail simply because they don’t build an email list.

    So instead of relying on advertising (adsense, banners etc.) I would recommend everyone to use their blog to collect emails. With a lot of people using ad block addons on their browsers and using smart phones, relying on advertising is very risky.

    Instead of using banners, replace those banners with your optin forms and make sure you have an optin form below each blog post. Also use a sticky optin form in the sidebar like the one used on this blog, it increases optin rate.

    Then you can promote affiliate products using email marketing. You’ll also get a high conversion rate because people in your email list trust your opinion, that is one of the reasons why they joined your list.

    So build an email list, that’s my advise :)

    Great article Jerry, Thnx for sharing such valuable information!

    • I fully agree. The first 6 – 12 months is always the hardest (unless you have a brilliant ideas). Lots of hard work, dedication, and discipline. I just can’t stress how important it is to stay consistent and discipline if you want success in blogging (or affiliate marketing / online business).

      Personally I do not to sell directly to my email subscribers at all but I read many other experts that you should do that. I remember hearing Steve Chou from MyWifeQuiteHerJob.com on how switching from 9 to 23 emails (adding more sales letter) in his email course improved his revenue by many folds. So yeah, guess you are right on that, too :)

  2. I believe all possible profitable niches are already crowded. Target ting a keyword or niche is very tough these days. I was reading many articles to explore is micro-niche blogging still works in 2015?

    • I am agree with you, Santanu Sir

      Now a days maximum newbies become frustrated for choosing wrong niche. In first time it’s should be best tactics to choose micro-niche blogging.

    • I think niche blogs are still good. It’s all about communicating with your target market and making sure you’re sharing content that helps them in a place where they’re looking.

      Nothing works I’d tire talking to the wrong people.

    • Not true. Both Viral Nova and UpWorthy were started just 3 years ago and look where they are now. You can argue that both of these two are not blogs but if you dig into how they grew in the early days you can see that it can be done by one single person – just like a blog.

      Clambr pulled in more than 2,500 social shares and 200+ comments with just one post during its early days.

      And I can come up with many other success stories.

      Question is – are you smart (and dedicated) enough to get the job done?

  3. Hi Jerry,

    The list building note works so, so well. I learned, the hard way. Or I learned the easy way once I built my list lol….because people check their emails daily and if you give them what they want, where they want it, you can prosper. List building is a matter of convenience. Capture those emails, build those bonds. I noted a quick spike in shares, eBook sales and engagement, including comments, when I began list building a few months ago.

    Overnight, more people seemed to be intrigued with my blog. Like if I waved a magic wand. It wasn’t magic, it was just giving readers what they wanted with my targeted, helpful content, where they wanted it, in their email inbox. I also noted a big increase n social shares too. Folks retweeted my posts and spread the word on FB because they got to the posts in the first place. No need to wait for it to flow through their twitter stream, or to pop up on their FB wall, as that may never happen with the volume of tweets and shares these days. Nope, I got into their email inbox so I knew folks would see my emails, click the linkies and comment or share on the posts.

    I also feel knowing why you want to make money improves or lessens your trajectory. I wanted to make money for all the wrong reasons for many years online. Then I turned things around. I blogged to free me and to free my audience. Money flowed into my experience with increasing ease because I stopped chasing stuff and went after a feeling, and that feeling inspired me to do the freeing, effective things to boost my blogging income.

    Thanks Jerry!

    Tweeting from Bali.

    Ryan

    • Ryan – Exactly. If I could started collecting emails earlier I believe I would have more than 100,000 subscribers by today :(

      I don’t sell directly to my email subscribers but having the ability to reach your audiences/fans and understand their needs (by simply asking) is just crucial for long term success in blogging.

      • Yes Jerry you don’t have to sell directly to your email subscribers you can for example send several emails to your subscribers that deliver true value in the information you provide in the email series about your product or service; the resources can be like free ebook, report, podcast or video that teach them on the entertaining side about your product, after that you can send them a link to purchase your product or service.

  4. Hey Jerry,

    You just made a complicated topic simple for everyone to understand. How and if it’s possible to make money from blogging has got to be the most asked question when it comes to making money online.

    I like the fact that you broke down 5 ways people can leverage in order to make money through their blog. I’ve been doing adsense and affiliate marketing. Yes it’s a lot of work, and slowly but surely you start to learn how to work smart. You want to build a lot of targeted traffic and at the same time you want to be able to convert this targeted traffic as email subscribers.

    The one thing you want to do is give your targeted traffic what they want! Period. You want to do a value exchange. You give you target audience mental value, and eventually they’ll return the value whether its by sharing your blog or giving you physical money for what you promote. It all works out at the end once you stay consistent and figure out what works and what doesn’t.

    Thanks for the sharing Jerry! Have a great week!

  5. great advise there, thanks a lot for reminding me all the steps, i applied them on my blog this month and am working to see great results.

    Regards….#happyblogging

  6. The cpc shown on the Google Adwords and some other softwares is impossible to achieve. I personally tested for a keyword which was showing cpc of around 250$ but when I create a micro niche site and put adsense they only I came to know that these cpc shown on these softwares and websites are just for the rough idea about the competition of the keyword and only meant for the advertisers not for publishers. And let me share with you I was getting around $1-$2 per click on that 250$ cpc keyword. So now you can guess it.

    • $2 CPC on a $250 CPC keyword?! Ouch, this is unbelievable. In my experience (had a site focused in finance products targeting Adsense back in 2007/08) the split should be around 40-60 so if the advertisers’ CPC is $10 Adsenser get about $4/click.

  7. Puranjay says: 04/20/2015 at 8:51 pm

    Great points all around Jerry.

    Barring a few of the celebrity gossip bloggers, I would say a lot of blogging success comes down to expertise.

    Matthew Woodward isn’t successful because he is a good writer. He is successful because he has real expertise in SEO.

    That, to me, is the only sureshot way to becoming a successful blogger – be really, really good at something, then share that wisdom.

    But you know what the best part is?

    You can learn a lot while you’re still blogging. In fact, you can start off as a complete newbie and build up the expertise as you go along.

    Best part, you get to try out new things and share the results with your readers. This is how GrooveHQ.com’s Alex Turnbull was able to create such a compelling content marketing machine – he is learning new things in his business everyday and he is sharing them with his readers.

    When done right, the effect is nothing short of magical

    • Thanks for sharing.

      I think Alex Turnnull is a marketing/PR genius but not everyone can pull things off like what he did with his $500,000 journey. Another person that worth mentioning here is Pieter Levels – the 12 startups in 12 months guy. They made extremely bold goals and grabbed readers’ attention – and as you said, learn (and share) along the way.

  8. As blogger i realize that now days blogging competition is become more and more and earning from blog is much difficult.But if anyone do blog with a unique and wait for few month then i can say he or she will be success for earning money from his/her blog from different source like,Google adsense,info-links and so on.So to become success in the blogging platform one should be persistence and continue writing some unique article.

  9. Making money from blogging is easy and hard at the same time. The answer to all these is working smart. Have a target audience and always provide original and quality content.

  10. Great post. I totally agreed with everything you wrote here and it’s so nice to hear these things from you. I think you hit the nail on the head!

    Thanks for all that you do!

  11. I am so very glad I found your website and read this post. I am so inexperienced in all this, but I do see that you take a totally different approach to the many others I have read. It is so refreshing. I will go back reread, study and apply.

    Thank you,

  12. A very informative post indeed. Thanks Jerry, As far as Matthew Woodward is concerned, he is doing a pretty fine job on his blog.

  13. Hey Jerry,

    Good points, but you did leave one out: Money from clients brought in by the site–paid blogging, new clients, etc. Maybe it was just a little outside what you wanted to talk about, but it’s worth mentioning, in my opinion.

    My own personal site (not the one I’m representing here) lets me make a living by bringing writing work my way. Overall all, though, great advice, especially from people who aren’t quite sure how to turn eyes on their site into zeroes in a bank account. Heck, I’ve been at it for awhile and I learn new stuff all the time. Thanks for the post!

    • Connor – I can only cover so much. But yes – your point, indeed, is worth mentioning.

      In fact this very topic worth a dedicated post on it.

      At WHSR we pay seasoned bloggers a large sum of money every month for their writings and social media marketing work. And, I know a few other large sites do exactly the same. So it’s definitely something bloggers should look into.

      Thanks for your comment.

  14. Hey Jerry,

    I really appreciate this helpful post; i find it the most helpful and educational to all kind of bloggers. Making money blogging is the first and last thing every blogger wants to hear.

    I find Google Adsense profitable for newbies because it has good and first returns. but before trying or investing in any method i advise one to work on Increasing their traffic; since it is the backbone of earning through blogging.

    Regards; Happy Blogging.

    • Josey, Adsense is very easy to start and you can see results almost instantly (how hard it is to get someone to click on a relevant ad?). Just take note, however, that in many cases, I see bloggers are giving away valuable traffics in return of nuts.

      My advice – always try out other income sources once you are familiar with Adsense to grasp the full potential of your blog.

  15. akhil says: 04/21/2015 at 7:32 pm

    Thanks for this piece! Great post. Liked it. :)

  16. I thought it will be a good idea to categorize and compile a list of the online money making methods available so that future visitors will have a good reference

  17. Great information as always. Thanks for sharing.

  18. I especially agree with the first one. If you are not in a profitable niche, no matter what you do, you will hardly get any money at all.
    Best regards and thanks for this reminder

  19. Nice post. Till now I was doing the same mistakes mentioned in the post while choosing a topic to write a post. From now onward I will try not to repeat those mistakes and hopefully earn something good at last.

    Thanks

  20. Very useful article Jerry. Right now I am focusing to increase traffic from various sources and than thinking to apply for adsence.

    Please let me know when is the best to apply for google adsence, the one I mentioned or do I need to keep applying parallely ?

    Does Alexa rank matter ?
    http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/www.manojblogszone.com

    Thanks,

    • Alexa is just a very rough reference to one’s traffic volume. Personally I do not rely too much on Alexa stats. You can apply Adsense right from the start of your blog – I don’t see any conflict between the ads and your blog age.

  21. Thanks a bundle for sharing such a helpful article keep it up
    Cheers

  22. You have given such a wonderful explanation of this topic in brief and in 3 simple steps you have explained everything so easily which is required to become a successful blogger.

    Thank you so much for this great share.

  23. Very useful article Jerry. Right now I am focusing to increase traffic from various sources and than thinking to apply for adsence. – See more at: https://problogger.com/make-money-blogging-for-real-3-must-know-factors/#sthash.s8RELP1Z.dpuf

  24. Thanks for sharing these advices, they are very important! I like the part about longtail keyword, I always try to do research carefully to find the easy kws to rank for.
    Reading this article give more confident to keep going. Thanks!

  25. Making money from blogging is easy and hard at the same time. The answer to all these is working smart. Have a target audience and always provide original and quality content.

  26. Lots of very good interesting ideas here…. have you looked into money blogging yet on 3tags, it is basically a social site that pays, really quite good for blogging, i added one of my posts in the website box…. you can do some very clever things with markdown on 3tags and create some good results

    regards Dexter

  27. Thank your for share this article. I think its very useful :)

  28. Great advice you’ve put together here,

    Love the idea on reaching out to secure some exclusive deals.

    Roy, you could also put together an opt-in bribe for your subscribers. Possibly something like “The Ultimate Guide To Enjoying Lake Garda”, you could re-position it slightly to bring it more in line with what you’re promoting in terms of affiliate programs etc. Create a targeted landing page for it (you can link to from within content) and put together a sidebar opt-in form too. You could reach out to travel bloggers who have written about visiting Lake Garda before, invite them to take part in an interview. You can publish the interviews individually in your blog and put extended versions in your free download – This will give other travel bloggers an incentive to share.

    Going back to one of Jerry’s points about the slider – it may be worth swapping the slider out for a value proposition. For example, MailChimp’s value prop is “Send Better Email”. Ensure your visitors know exactly what they can get from the site when they land on the home page. You could also use your home page to push your free download or you could highlight the main categories/resources on your site – there are a few different ways you could go here.

    Ultimately it comes down to highlighting what people will get out of visiting your site, keep it clear and concise.

    There is always the possibility that it might be too niche but there are plenty of things to try.

  29. List building should be the first strategy upon starting a new blog. Start of every thing is hard but when you get the right way. It’s up to you how much you want to earn. But you must have to know the basics of blogging.

  30. Re: Michael Malice’s Overheard in New York,

    ANOTHER IDEA that I had that I didn’t act on! I”m a New Yorker and overhead something really funny on the subway and thought about starting a site for like a week. Geessh you never really know…:-)
    The look of the site sucks though, he needs to polish it.

  31. This is a very useful post for all the bloggers. Keep posting valuable content like this. Thank you very much !

  32. I have been following you for years and I appreciate the information you are always sharing but I just can’t seem to make money from my blog. I’m not sure if I am going to continue with the effort.

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