We had no idea we’d make $103,457.98 our first year blogging.
Honestly, that number seems so fake just typing it…
Like something you’d see in a movie or a dream.
And that’s exactly why we created this website…
Because as crazy as it sounds, this is not a dream.
This is a reality for many people and something we want to help YOU achieve!
That’s also why we created this 10 step-guide is the ULTIMATE free resource for how to make money blogging in 2020.
Why listen to me?
Well first of all, because Alex and I went from making $0 blogging to over 100k in our first year! Now, we make that much every MONTH!
You can read our blog income report for more details on our blogging income on a month-to-month basis.
More importantly, I’d listen to us because we teach our students how to get results.
People like Faith Hawks.
Faith Went From $0 to $2,700 Blogging in Three Months
Faith blogs about mental health, specifically anxiety and depression, at Radical Transformation Project.
With the strategies outlined in this article, Faith was able to go from no blog to making over $32,400 per year blogging! How cool is that?
And we’ve helped students reach some crazy high levels as well (levels that might blow your brain a bit)…
You can read more about Faith’s story here.
Natalie Now Makes $20,000/Month Blogging!
When we first met Natalie, she was tired of feeling overworked and tired of not making enough money with her blog.
Since implementing our blog monetization strategies, Natalie has been able to…
- Quit her full-time job to blog full time
- Earn an average of $10,000 – $20,000/month with her blog
- Start a quickly growing YouTube Channel
- And she has even started her own podcast!
You can read more about Natalie’s story here.
In this article, we’re going to show you the exact steps that we took and helped Natalie, Faith, and others through to get paid for blogging!
These lessons in this guide are the culmination of the knowledge that we have gained over the last three years of blogging and they stem from our multiple failures and successes, tears of sadness and of joy, and LOTS of trial and error.
This post is a beast, so let’s start with 5 FAQs about making those sweet dollar bills as a blogger…
For all of you preferred video learners out there, here is a video of this topic (plus some extra tips!) from our YouTube Channel below.
5 Most Popular Questions We Get About How to Make Money Blogging
1. How Much Do Bloggers Make?
Some make a lot, some make very little, and some make none at all. It depends on a variety of factors, your work ethic, whose plan you are following, your blog topic, and so much more. We also have a separate article on how much do bloggers make that goes into more specifics.
2. What Does a Blogger Do?
It depends on what stage you’re at in your blogging career, but the main job a blogger has relates to content creation. Most days though are pretty casual and involve a lot of working at home on my computer in my comfy clothes and simply tackling my to-do list. You can learn more in our article on what does a blogger do for more details.
3. How Much Money Can You Make Blogging?
Well over $100,000 per month (That’s how much we make now).
4. How Do Bloggers Make Money?
99% of bloggers make money through 5 main sources:
- Ads (Just basic ads we’ve all seen on a website can pay surprisingly well – $3,000/m for us)
- Affiliate Marketing (Selling someone else’s goods or services – will explain in detail later)
- Selling Your Own Products (Can be either physical or digital)
- Sponsored Posts (Where someone pays you to make a specific piece of content on your website often promoting a brand or service)
- Services (Where someone pays you for a service like a speaking engagement, freelancing, or anything really)
5. How Long Does It Take to Make Money Blogging?
Depends on your work ethic. Some of our students make money from their blog within the first month or two and some take 6 months or more.
Here’s the good news: Anyone can make serious money blogging with the right tools and plan of action in place.
Let’s show you how…
Here is an overview of what we will cover in this comprehensive article on how to making money blogging:
Table of Contents
Okay, let’s jump right in!
It’s imperative that you have the right building blocks in place when starting out.
- Choosing your blog topic (also called a niche)
- Select a name for your blog
- Build the blog on a great platform (like WordPress)
There are a few initial steps to get started, so make sure you’ve done all of these before moving on to the next section.
Choose a Blog Topic
There are a few different factors to consider when choosing a blog niche, and one of the most important is the potential for making money blogging.
I’m sure there is a niche group of people interested in the fine art of tossing potato sacks; however, it’s probably not a very profitable topic.
The key is to align your passion (or interests) with what other people want and need. How can you use your knowledge to help others solve their problems?
Lauren and I personally love health and fitness, so we created our first blog about that.
Some great blog topics that are known to be profitable are:
- Health and Fitness
- Specific Diets (Keto, Vegan, Etc)
- Home Decor
- Beauty and Fashion
- Making Money Online
- Relationship Advice
Don’t over think this too much, your topic will likely change over time as your blog changes. Also, feel free to pick two topics and combine them.
Decide on a Blog Name / Domain Name
Once you’ve decided what topic you want to blog about, it’s time to settle on a great name for your blog. Then you’ll pick a domain name (a domain name is the name on the bar on top. So createandgo.com is our domain name for this website).
Most good blog names fall into one of two categories:
- Your blog name contains your name.
Alex’s Vegan Recipes (Vegan Recipe Blog), Alex Wanders (Travel Blog), or Alex Nerney (My full-name for a lifestyle blog)
- Your blog name is more descriptive in nature.
Create and Go, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Twins Mommy, Etc.
Pro Tip: Your domain name shouldn’t be too long, hard to spell, or hard to pronounce.
We failed on all of these counts with our first health and wellness blog, but we were still able to learn how to make money blogging and earn over $10,000/month with that blog.
The point here is your blog name does matter, but it’s not something to seriously stress over either.
We also outline some additional steps in our article on selecting a great blog name.
Build Your Blog
Now that you’ve got your blog niche and domain name picked out, it’s time to actually BUILD your blog!
We outline all of these steps and more in our step-by-step guide on how to start a blog.
We also have this simple video guide on how to start 10 minutes you can check out if you have not built your blog yet:
In order to get started building your blog, you’ll need two things.
- Blogging platform – This is the place you will make edits and write your posts.
- Blogging host – Just like buying a lot for a new home, you need to buy a space on the internet for your new blog to be set up. A blogging host helps you buy and secure this lot!
Disclosure: We are an affiliate for Bluehost, which means that we may receive a commission if you sign up through our affiliate link. This is at no additional cost to you and helps us continue to offer free content on our site. P.S. We only recommend products and services that we have personally used and continue to stand by!
WordPress and Bluehost are like peanut butter and jelly for blogging because:
- WordPress is the main platform used by 95% of our successful blog friends
- Bluehost is perfect for newbies and has 24/7 customer service
- They are fully integrated with one another and Bluehost makes the set up process easy
- You can get started for as low as $2.75/month.
You can start with Bluehost in less than 30 minutes, and you’ll need to complete this step before moving on to step two (blog themes).
Honestly, I think the BIGGEST mistake that we see most new bloggers make in the first few months is spending an obscene amount of time designing their blog.
Here’s how to get this right the first time.
1. Choose a Great Blog Theme
One of the best things that you can do from the start to make your blog look good is to choose a great theme for your blog.
A blog theme is a pre-made template you can upload and customize to your liking. Some are paid and some are free. The free themes are good to start with, but the paid themes are much better and customizable.
Our favorite free blog themes are:
Our favorite paid blog themes are as follows:
Divi theme, by Elegant Themes, is a great theme for beginners because it’s super user-friendly and very customizable. It will help you design a beautiful blog, with tons of personality and customizations, in no time.
A beginner-friendly and customizable theme like Divi is the best route to go for beginners who want to learn how to make money blogging.
2. Make Sure Your Website Loads Quickly
Wait for slow pages to load sucks! We all know that.
If your page takes more than 4 seconds to load, you lose 17.1% of potential readers (source).
There are a LOT of factors that go into page and site speed, including your blog theme, plugins, page builder, images, etc.
There are also various blogging tools to help with site speed. Here are some of our favorites that we personally use:
- Speed Boosting Plugins: Optimus, Cache Enabler, and WP-Optimize
- Image Resizing (Images slow down the website if they are too big): BeFunky
- Image Compression (same as above): Optimizilla and TinyPNG
3. Make Sure Your Site Looks Good on Mobile
Because most of us spend our time blogging from a laptop, we tend to forget about how our sites look on mobile.
In general, 60-70% of users visiting your blog are viewing it on a mobile device.
This means that the way your site displays on mobile is FAR more important than how it looks on desktop.
Here are some tips for optimizing your content for mobile:
- Avoid pesky pop-ups as they can lead to higher bounce rates.
- Use a mobile-responsive theme (like the ones we’ve suggested)
- Make your content clear and easy to read from a phone
Here is a screenshot of what our content looks like on mobile:
ALWAYS CHECK YOUR SITE ON MOBILE after you write new articles and make any and all other changes to your blog.
4. Other Blog Design Tips
Always strive for “simple and professional” over “fancy and beautiful.”
Remember that you are running a blogging business to make money and the focus should be on the CONTENT – not your design.
As such, the design of your blog should always be simple, professional, and designed for efficiency.
Some other tips to accomplish this include…
- Use a clear, readable font like Open Sans, Lato, or Roboto. Check Google Fonts for some ideas.
- Stick to shorter paragraphs with 1-2 sentences. It will make your content easier to scan and read.
- Use large, easily identifiable headlines and sub-headlines to break up your content.
Messy, complex designs will cause your readers headaches and confusion.
It’s time to answer the million-dollar question: “What should I write about? “
It’s rather simple, really.
If you want to earn money blogging there is only one type of content you need to focus on.
Now that we’ve been blogging for over 3 years now, we’ve pretty much written every type of content under the sun. And unfortunately, a lot of that content has served absolutely no purpose whatsoever.
We once wrote an article for our health and wellness blog on PURPLE POWERHOUSE FOODS…
If you’re going to be blogging for money, most of the content that you should create should be based on what people are already looking for.
This content people are already typing into the internet trying to find.
In a nutshell, you are creating content that people are looking for and trying to help them with their problems.
How do you know what type of content people are looking for?
1. Using Keyword Research
Keyword research is just looking for “keywords” people are typing in on the internet.
There are some great keyword research tools out there that will help you find what keywords and terms people are searching for related to a particular topic.
When you type in “dog” into google you can see Google auto fills “dog breeds” and “dog names” in search:
This means these are popular keywords people are typing in.
So if you have a dog blog then creating an article on the most popular dog breeds is a great idea!
Let’s look at an example.
When you type in a keyword like “Yoga Poses” into Pinterest, you’ll see some of the most popular pins at the top as well as other top searches related to your keyword:
This tells us that when people search for “Yoga Poses,” they are also very often searching for “Yoga Poses for Beginners” and “Yoga Poses for Flexibility.”
This is how we first began deciding on what type of content to create because we were driving most of our traffic through Pinterest. We have many articles on our health and wellness blog on the yoga keywords above.
Other Keyword Research Options
Additionally, some free keyword research options are
Paid Keyword Tools
There are plenty of paid keyword tools you can advance too over time as a blogger.
Moz’s Keyword Explorer is a comprehensive keyword tool that provides a ton of information on various keywords, including:
- search volume for keywords
- how difficult it will be to rank
- other keyword suggestions you could create
- and more
Another great keyword research tool that rivals Moz is called SEMRush.
This is our preferred software because of the additional features that it comes with, including:
- website analysis (both yours and your competition)
- site audits (make sure your website is optimized)
- brand monitoring (see when your brand gets mentioned on the web)
- and so much more!
It’s also pretty pricey but a fantastic tool when trying to rank for keywords.
Note – The process of trying to rank for keywords is called Search Engine Optimization and is often abbreviated to “SEO.” So when you hear fancy bloggers saying SEO they are talking about trying to rank their website for keywords.
2. Create Content with Purpose
Remember that every piece of content that you write should have a purpose. By purpose, we mean:
- Make a sale.
- Get an email address.
- Get new people to a community group
- Provide TONS of value for your readers
- Sometimes all of the above.
Don’t just post about randomness or what you ate for breakfast that day because you’re a “blogger.” That’s not how to make money blogging… That’s how you waste your time.
If you shift your focus on creating incredibly valuable content that people are searching for, and helping them solve their problems, you will find it hard NOT to make money off a blog.
There are a lot of different ways to get visitors to a blog and start building a fan base…
- Google SEO
- Guest Blogging
- Email Drops
Most bloggers immediately run to Facebook and Instagram because those are the two most popular platforms on the Internet. While they are very big, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going to provide you with the best source of traffic to your blog.
To make money blogging for beginners, here is our first piece of advice on this topic.
Start with ONE Source of Traffic First
If you try to be great at every platform, you’ll end up mediocre at all of them.
One of the single most important reasons why we were able to achieve success so quickly is through our efforts on Pinterest.
As you can see, we average about 200,000 views/month just from Pinterest alone.
And we only got REALLY good at Pinterest because we chose to ignore all other platforms and REALLY focus in on Pinterest.
It wasn’t until we felt that we had really mastered Pinterest that we moved on to Google SEO and other platforms.
How Do I Choose a Traffic Source?
There are tons of different factors to consider here, including:
- Competition (how difficult it is)
- Demographics of most users (is the average user going to be interested in your blog)
- And so much more!
Let’s look at the 5 most popular platforms and some basic pros and cons to each.
If you don’t know what Facebook is then you should probably not try to become a professional blogger because you’ve been locked away from the internet for the past 15+ years.
Recent algorithm changes have made it VERY difficult to get visitors to your posts through Facebook, and there has been a major shift towards video content and live content on the platform recently.
- Lots of users
- Facebook ads are amazing right now if you sell products
- Facebook groups are great for building a community but good for driving traffic
- Content needs to be viral in nature to win (shocking, compelling, emotional)
- Not really great for posts anymore and more focused on video
- Content “dies off” after a while and does not last forever
Google is similar to Facebook in that it has high competition and very expensive ads, but it is a search platform.
- Lots of users
- Content can stay at the top of search forever meaning you will get consistent traffic month after month when ranking
- Google traffic is some of the highest quality traffic on the internet. Some traffic sources have lots of users but the traffic is lower quality. Google traffic is probably the best of the best.
- Insanely competitive and very hard to rank
- Takes a long time to see good results
- Requires lots of networking with other bloggers (could be seen as a pro if that’s something you enjoy)
Instagram is the new heavyweight social media platform that almost everyone I know uses. Very popular in the blogging community.
- Insanely high user base
- Images and videos are the names of the game on Instagram and it can be a GREAT platform for some niches like travel and fashion that are visual in nature.
- People want to look at pretty photos on there and are hard to get off the platform without ads
- Competitive AF. Takes a lot to stand out on there these days
Keep in mind that Instagram also has a much younger audience than most other platforms, so if your target market is baby boomers, your efforts are going to fall flat on this platform.
YouTube is a different animal entirely compared to the other platforms. It has its own community and even YouTube celebrities if you can believe that.
- Large user base
- Content can stay at the top of search forever meaning you will get consistent traffic month after month when ranking
- The competition is much lower because people hate getting on camera
- Can help build trust can help generate a lot more sales and has worked out very well for us with our YouTube Channel.
- More men than women on the platform so if your demographic is women it may not be the best
- Have to be comfortable getting on camera
- Video editing is a skill and can take a lot of time to master
Last, but certainly not least, is our favorite traffic source for bloggers: Pinterest.
Pinterest, like YouTube and Google, is also a search engine, so that means content will stay popular and search over a long period of time.
Perhaps the best part of Pinterest is that most bloggers and marketers don’t understand it and underestimate its potential, which means that competition for traffic is MUCH lower.
The platform is structured in a way that the whole point of the content shared is to click through to your posts.
- You can get traffic quickly
- It’s not as competitive as other sources
- Content stays searched for a long period of time (so the work you put in now benefits you later on!)
- The traffic is free
- It’s easy to get people to your blog posts!
Another factor to keep in mind is that the majority of Pinterest users (more than 75%) are women, so you’ll want to consider that if your audience is primarily male.
If you’re interested in learning more about using Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog, you can take our free 4-day Pinterest Marketing eCourse.
Raise your hand if you get too many emails!
We know you probably have a SERIOUS aversion to writing and sending emails to your readers. That’s a common notion amongst most new bloggers, and Alex and I were no different when we started.
Well, it’s time to shift your mindset because I’m here to tell you that you CANNOT afford to think this way as a blogger!
Building an email list should be one of your TOP priorities as a blogger, regardless of whether you’re a new blogger or you’ve been at it for years.
The truth is, the vast majority of people won’t buy products without knowing a little bit about you first.
We even ran tests to track our links using ClickMeter to determine where the majority of our purchases were coming from. As you can see below, most of them were coming from our email lists:
An email list is one of the most valuable assets you have as a blogger. Here’s why.
Emails Help Build Trust with Your Audience
Emails provide a way for you to reach someone’s personal inbox on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis as you so choose. It’s another way to connect with your reader, and you can generally get a lot more personal with someone through an email vs. a post.
People that randomly land on your website are generally referred to as “cold traffic.” This means that the person doesn’t know you yet and it’s going to be much harder to make a sale from them.
On the other hand, “hot traffic” refers to people who know and trust you on a level that makes them much more likely to buy your products.
So how do we turn a “cold” buyer into a “hot” buyer?
Well, you need a way to connect with your audience on a more personal level. One of the best and easiest ways is through a sequence of emails.
Good sequences are designed to provide a bunch of free value (content) upfront to help build trust with your audience before asking for the sale.
How to Get Subscribers on Your Blog
Other than writing awesome blog content, you’ll need to take a few additional measures to turn your readers into subscribers.
Step 1. Create a stellar lead magnet.
A lead magnet is just a fancy term for a “freebie” or other incentives that you offer your subscribers in exchange for their email list.
This can be a free guide, video, or tips or any other type of free content that you think your audience would be interested in.
You can also take it to the next level and turn it into an eBook or online course.
Step 2. Add opt-ins to your blog.
Next, you’ll want to add opt-ins to your blog so that people can sign up for your email list to get your freebie.
You can do this through forms (as seen below):
And through landing pages, which are external pages that you can link throughout your blog.
You’ll need additional software to create customizable opt-ins. Here are our favorite options for various types of opt-ins:
The two examples that we provided above are set up through ConvertKit and LeadPages.
Step 3. Create an email sequence.
Lastly, you’ll need to create your first email sequence to send to your subscribers.
An email sequence is a series of emails that are set up to automatically send to your new subscribers.
This sequence can be however long you want and as many emails as you want. We recommend starting with a 4 to 7-day sequence in the beginning.
You should start out by introducing yourself to your audience and explaining what your blog is about.
Your additional emails should provide some free and valuable content to your audience that helps educate them on topics that you think they are most interested in.
One of the best investments you can make for your blog is to invest in a good email marketing service to store your emails and send emails to your subscribers.
- Best Paid Email Service: ConvertKit (what we use and recommend)
- Best Free Email Service: MailChimp (free up to 1,000 subscribers)
The first step to actually making any actual money with your blog is to recommend relevant products to your audience.
By relevant, we mean products and services that your readers actually want and need.
But before you can do this, you have to figure out what the heck your audience is looking for!
In the beginning, Alex and I searched high and low for great products to recommend to our audience. We even created our own weight loss product that we thought was AWESOME.
We put our hearts and souls into it, and guess what?
No one bought it…
The problem was that we assumed what our readers wanted and needed and we were flat out wrong. We also assumed WHO our target audience was and we were wrong on that count as well.
At the time, we had already built up a small email list and a decent following from our Pinterest traffic.
If we had just straight up ASKED our audience what they wanted, we would have saved weeks of wasted time and money.
The problem with making assumptions is that they are always biased because you can’t be objective. Your big fat opinion is always going to get in the way.
The funny thing is — there wasn’t actually anything wrong with our product. It was a great product.
But our marketing message was entirely wrong because we didn’t know what the biggest problems our audience wanted to be solved (or who they even were) until we ASKED them.
Upon asking, we learned that the most active readers in our audience were middle-aged women struggling to lose weight.
Not only that, but we learned specific details about HOW they were trying to lose weight and how they were currently failing (i.e. what we could HELP them with).
Once we figured that out, we repackaged our product, changed our message, and DID get to watch the sales start rolling in!
How Can I Find Out What My Audience is Interested In?
There are a variety of ways you can do this depending on how established your blog is.
1. Email Them
The best place that you can ask for feedback from your readers is through the emails that you send.
The best way to get this kind of feedback is to just directly ask a question at the end of your email(s).
It can be something as simple as “P.S. What’s the biggest problem you are currently facing with [insert blog topic here]?”
We asked this very question in our first email and were SHOCKED at how many responses we received. From the hundreds of email responses, we were able to learn exactly what the biggest issues our readers were facing when trying to lose weight.
2. Ask for Comments
If you don’t have an email list of subscribers yet, the next best place to get feedback is through comments on your posts.
This follows the same principle as above. At the end of your article, ask your readers a question and then tell them to leave their answer in the comments below the article.
If your theme doesn’t come with a great design for native comments, make sure to install a good comment plugin like wpDiscuz to make people more likely to use your comment forms.
Make sure to also emphasize that you’d LOVE to hear from them!
3. Build a Community Group or Ask in Other Groups
You can also ask for feedback on ideas in Facebook community groups. The best-case scenario would be to post questions in your own community group.
For example, we have a free Facebook community of bloggers that I have asked many questions relating to new product ideas and other questions for general feedback.
Here is an example of a question I posted in one of our support groups asking for feedback to improve our paid courses:
It does take a lot of time and effort to create an established community group, so another option is to search Facebook for community groups in your niche.
Just be careful to read all community group rules before posting questions because some have strict rules on what you can post.
The first thing that we see most new bloggers do is rush into throwing up ads on their blog to try and make money blogging fast, and rarely this works out. That’s really not how to make money blogging, that’s how to get frustrated at blogging truth be told.
More often than not, the reality of ad earnings is often very far off of many people’s expectations.
When we started our health and wellness blog, we initially tried putting Google AdSense ads all over the website.
Then our first week of earnings came in…
We made $2.93.
I couldn’t believe it. At that rate, we would be able to buy one chipotle a burrito (and a half) per month with our blogging income.
My first thought was, “Why in the world would anyone bother with ads?”
Well fast forward to today and things are a little different.
We now earn $3-4,000/month in ad revenue with our health and wellness blog for two reasons:
- Our blog gets over 300,000 views/month.
- We have partnered with a premium ad network.
Ad networks are middlemen between high quality advertisers and publishers/bloggers.
A premium ad network will require certain minimum traffic levels for your blog, but they also serve up better ads on your site and generate more ad revenue.
We chose to partner with AdThrive, and they also set up the ads on our website for us.
Our advice on ads for newbies: Wait until you’re getting a consistent amount of traffic to your blog and look into partnering with a premium ad network such as AdThrive or one of these competitors:
If going at it alone with regular ads you will probably hurt your site more than help posting ugly ads and not making much money from them!
Sponsored posts are posts in which you can get paid to write and publish an article for someone (featuring their company in the article) on your blog.
An example is this post by my friend Alexis on 7 Ways Your Credit Score Effects Your Future. You can see it was sponsored by Lexington Law and she probably got paid pretty well for the post.
We personally did not use sponsored ads as part of our blog monetization strategy, but we wanted to include it because a lot of other bloggers do.
Sponsored posts might be right for you if you…
- love to write
- can find good opportunities that fit with your niche and your audience
- want to build relationships with other companies and brands in your niche
- want another way to diversify your blogging income
Sponsored posts might NOT be right for you if you…
- face a lot of time constraints — it can be very time-consuming to find good opportunities and complete the required work
- have your heart set on passive income — you’re technically still trading your hours for dollars here
- want more control over your blog content
Some bloggers, like Michelle from Making Sense of Cents, make upwards of $10,000+/month from sponsored post opportunities.
It will take a LOT of time and effort to get to this level, but it’s something to consider if you need to make some side income to cover some of your blogging expenses.
A good way to get started learning more about sponsored posts and the opportunities available is through Michelle’s course, Making Sense of Sponsored Posts.
How Liesel Made $2,879 in Her First 6 Months of Blogging
While ads and sponsored posts weren’t a part of our early blog monetization strategies, we wanted to show you an example of well they can work for some new bloggers.
One of our students and new mothers, Liesel, started her website on pregnancy and motherhood at laborteen.com.
Liesel didn’t start with high expectations and dreams of thousands of dollars per month.
She began blogging because she wanted to earn an extra $200/month to hire a maid!
Liesel told me, “If I could write an article that could provide some benefit to someone out there and make their experience less scary, more informed, and less like a rollercoaster ride…I would be happy.”
Lastly, she was also driven by the desire to spend more time at home with her newborn.
These driving forces led Liesel to find us and through our Pinterest strategies, she was able to generate 28,893 page views in her first month of blogging.
With this traffic and through our course strategies for ads and sponsored posts, Liesel was able to earn $2,879 in her first 6 months of blogging!
Liesel is now working on increasing her blog traffic, improving her affiliate marketing strategies, and creating her own course.
More details on these topics in the next sections!
Affiliate marketing is selling someone else’s products or services.
For example, when someone clicks this link to Bluehost and signs up for hosting we get a commission from it (Note – you should only recommend products you use and believe in).
Why Start with Affiliate Marketing?
There are benefits and risks to every method of monetization, and affiliate marketing is the best place to start monetizing a blog for a variety of reasons.
1. Less Risk Involved
Affiliate marketing comes with a lot less risk because you’re testing out established products with proven sales pages rather than creating your own from scratch (and guesswork).
After our first product failed, we went back to the drawing board and decided to try selling an affiliate product first before creating another one.
We had a lot of popular yoga articles on Pinterest, so we found a yoga product that we thought would be a great fit for our audience.
After creating a yoga email opt-in (like the one we talked about) and a sequence of yoga emails, we made some sales!
SUCCESS!!! We weren’t total failures!
2. It Will Teach You How to Sell
Once we started making those initial sales, we were able to continue improving our emails and our selling process to boost our sales.
This was a massive trial and error period of testing out different opt-ins, different emails, etc. to improve our conversion rates.
Here is a fun little walkthrough of some of our past failed opt-ins, most of which just never converted enough subscribers into our sales funnels…
Perhaps the best part about starting with affiliate marketing is that it will teach you HOW to sell so that you’re not left clueless when you do decide to create your own products.
Now, there are some downsides to affiliate marketing as well.
You have no control over some aspects of the selling process, including the sales price, how you’re allowed to promote the product, and other factors.
That being said, it’s still a fantastic way to determine how your audience likes certain products and services, and it prepares you for the time that you feel ready to sell your own products and services.
How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing
It’s important to set the right expectations when you’re beginning to get your feet wet with affiliate marketing.
Lower-priced products will be much easier to sell but will also bring in the lowest earnings.
On the other hand, selling high-priced affiliate products can help you earn over $10,000/month, but they are MUCH harder to sell.
It’s best to diversify your offering of affiliate products to test out different products and ways of selling those products.
One of the easiest ways to get started is through the Amazon Associates program. You can receive a small commission by recommending Amazon products in throughout your articles where relevant.
This is a relatively easy way to earn anywhere from $50-$500+/month because Amazon is already a very trusted platform.
To sell higher-priced affiliate products, you’ll need to create a related opt-in and email sales funnel.
You can start looking for some affiliate products to promote on these popular affiliate networks:
Just make sure to read over all rules, terms, and conditions before promoting products as these differ by company and also to look over the FTC rules on affiliate marketing if you live in the U.S.
This is the final frontier and it’s important that you take this step at the RIGHT time — after you have learned deeply about your audience and successfully sold one or more affiliate products.
The yoga product that we were promoting through affiliate marketing earned us about $5 per sale.
Even if we could sell 10 products per day, that only amounts to $1,500/month. Which is great, but it’s certainly not enough for us to live off.
The thing is… We just needed to confirm that we could actually sell a yoga product to our audience.
At this point knew the following…
- Our audience loves yoga.
- More specifically, they are highly interested in using yoga to lose weight.
- We have a working opt-in and sales funnel successfully selling a yoga for weight loss product.
The next step was simple: create our own product on yoga for weight loss and replace that in our funnel.
And thus, the Yoga Fat Loss Bible was born.
Just like that, our $5/sale turned into $37/sale overnight.
When you create your own product, you control the product price, sales page, marketing, and more, which allows you to master how to make money blogging and take your business to levels you never dreamed of!
After finding success with this, we simply replicated the process with a weight loss product.
Now, we do want to be clear about something.
When we talk about “replacing” an affiliate product with our own, we do NOT mean copying the affiliate product in any way.
The only reason to create a new product is if you think you can create one better for your audience. Nobody wants a cheap copy-cat of something that’s already good.
We discuss this process in more detail in Six-Figure Blogger, which is our course on creating and selling your own digital products and services.
Here comes the really FUN part!
You’ve got a system that works, and you’ve made some sales. Now, it’s time to optimize your sales funnel to maximize your conversions $$$!
This is a two-part process that includes learning how to drive more traffic to your sales pages and learning how to sell better to those visitors.
More specifically, you need to find new and creative ways to drive more traffic and generate more revenue. Some examples of ways to do this include:
- Outreach to other bloggers
- Start an additional traffic source
- Add additional products
- Optimize your opt-ins and landing pages to increase your conversions
This is the really fun part of blogging and the place we are finally at with BOTH of our blogs.
Learning How to Make Money Blogging can change everything…
Just to illustrate the power of this optimization phase, the graph below shows our blogging income from both of our blogs since we started. The blue line marks the point where we finished our last course.
The revenues before this point mostly grew from the addition of new courses that we created, but everything after that point has been scaling and optimizing the ways that we sell our existing courses.
It takes a while to get to this point, but once you are there, it’s incredible and really fun to help your revenues grow!
Optimization is fun because the sales process can really be broken down into a simple equation.
Sales = Traffic x Conversion Rate
Let’s illustrate with an example.
- Your conversion rate on your sales page is 1%, so for every 1,000 visitors on your sales page, you make 10 sales.
- Now let’s say that you add a few testimonials to your sales page and include a couple more in your email sales funnel.
- That bumps your conversion rate to 2%, which means that you have just doubled your sales (1,000 visitors x 2% = 20 sales).
- Not let’s say that you start working on Google SEO as an additional traffic source and are able to get an extra 1,000 customers to your sales page.
- That doubles your sales again (2,000 visitors x 2% = 40 sales).
You can see how adjusting your traffic or factors that influence your conversion rate can translate into an immediate increase in sales.
Some factors that impact conversion rates include:
- Adding testimonials
- Improving page speed
- Making changes to your sales page
- Making changes to your sales funnel
- Other marketing changes
This part of monetizing your blog is REALLY fun because you can often see immediate improvements in your sales when you make positive changes.
Now, the reverse is also true. In the past, we have made what we believed were positive changes only to have really negative impacts on our conversion rates.
When this happens, you have to reverse the changes and go back to the drawing board. It’s a trial and error process, but you will learn a LOT about sales and marketing in the process!
If you have reached the end of this article, bravo! Hopefully, we have been able to shed some light on how to make money blogging.
We would love to hear about how you’re trying to monetize your blog and what problems you might be facing. Please feel free to leave us a comment below this article and let us know if you have any questions that we can answer!
Alex has been a professional blogger since 2016. With a business degree and the expertise he has attained over time, he has grown two blogs to 6 and 7 figures, Avocadu and Create and Go. He’s an entrepreneurial adventure junkie who loves to teach bloggers how to achieve success. Read his inspiring story on how he went from broke and frustrated to $100k/month blogging in 3 years.