Do you have a knack for words? Do you research topics and share your knowledge with other people? Do you hate the traditional nine-to-five and desperately want to find a career with more flexibility and satisfaction?
If so, then you’ve probably thought about starting a blog.
Unfortunately, many people either take the plunge into blogging before they know how to make a living blogging or they worry that blogging will never generate a steady stream of income for them to live off of. Neither of these scenarios are great, but they can both easily be avoided if you learn how to set up and monetize a blog in a way that works to your advantage.
Getting Started with Blogging
So you’ve decided to start a blog: Now what? Well, before you start writing dozens of posts, you must make some critical decisions about your blog, including what to write about and how you’ll attract readers.
Select a Niche that Will Attract Readers
Before you start a blog, you need to decide your blog’s focus. This focus topic, or niche, should be what the majority of your posts discuss, which means it should be a topic you enjoy learning about or already know a lot about.
However, your passion alone won’t attract readers. Since you can only make money through blogging if you attract large quantities of readers to your site, you need to select a niche that you can write about and that will attract visitors to the site.
If you’re trying to decide on a niche, there are several great tools that can help. For example, Google Keyword Planner can show you words and phrases based on specific topics, plus it provides you with the monthly search volume and competition level for these specific keywords. Similarly, sites like SEMRush can help you research keywords and track potential completion within your niche. This information can help you determine a niche that will attract readers and (hopefully) bring in money.
Once you determine your niche, you’ll be able to generate headline ideas and start writing posts.
Start Promoting from Day 1
Selecting a niche and publishing your first post are just the beginning of your blogging journey. If you really want to make a living blogging, you’ll need to promote your blog and grow your audience from the very beginning—and that takes a bit of work.
There are several ways to promote your blog, but the easiest way to start is through social media. You can use your own personal social media accounts to do this or make accounts for the blog and start building your network. On your social media accounts, you can share posts (with relevant hashtags) and encourage your followers to share these posts as well. You can also use social media to connect with other like-minded individuals and build personal connections that may encourage them to support your blog.
Also, make sure you’re connecting with your blog’s visitors as much as possible to build that sense of belonging and genuine connection with them. When people leave comments, respond to them. If you see they also have a blog, read some of the posts and comment on them. You may find that these seemingly small connections can help your blog gain exposure and start promoting itself.
Monetize Your Blog
Once you set up your blog and attract an audience, there are several ways you can monetize your blog, which is how you’ll actually make money. While none of these will help you get rich overnight, each monetization method has its pros and cons. Once you understand how each one works, you can determine which monetization methods will work best for your blog.
Advertisements appear on almost every website out there. Believe it or not, you can actually make a commission by displaying ads on your blog. Connecting with advertisers directly is difficult at best, which is why Google AdSense exists.
With Google AdSense, Google handles all the legwork of obtaining advertisers for you. Then you simply insert the code on your blog to start running the ads. Google then bills your advertisers based on the agreed rates and site traffic and pays you monthly.
The best part? Google AdSense is completely free to use—you just need a Gmail account to get started.
Running advertisements on your blog can provide a small, steady stream of income, but it’s not the only way to monetize your blog. In fact, many people make money through affiliate programs.
With affiliate programs, you essentially make a small commission based off each sale you generate for another company. You generate these sales by promoting or reviewing certain goods or services, then including links to these items within your posts. It’s that simple!
There are affiliate programs out there for nearly any type of product, so chances are you can easily find some that work with your blog’s niche. Also, larger companies like Amazon offer affiliate programs, which can work for nearly any blog.
Although ads and affiliate programs can help you earn a steady stream of income, you can also put your own systems in place to monetize your blog completely on your own. This is especially true if you’re an expert in your field or can offer something truly unique to your readers, like training courses or other learning opportunities.
For example, if your blog has a moderate following and you’re providing quality content, you could try charging a monthly subscription fee that includes additional perks, like printable materials, exclusive content, or even virtual meetings. Similarly, you can use sites like Substack to generate paid newsletters that your subscribers can enjoy for a small fee. You can also create eBooks or online courses that provide your readers with additional ways to soak in your knowledge and apply it within their own lives.
Regardless of which path you choose, you’ll find that subscription services can really help you cash in on your readership, so you can make a living blogging.
Guest Posts & Backlinks
As your blog starts to gain serious traffic, strangers may start reaching out to you to see if they can promote themselves on your blog too. They may ask if they can provide guest posts (meaning content they write), or they may ask you to include links to their website within specific posts you have already published. Either way, you can charge people for these services and bring in even more money from your blog.
Some people hesitate on this step, and rightfully so. However, this can also generate income for you and provide your audience with new content to read if you do it effectively. Just make sure you scope out their business carefully before you agree to anything, and always read through their posts and check any links they include before you publish them to your blog. This will help you avoid scams or possible problems with your audience and your site’s SEO.
Try Your Hand at Freelance Blogging
Although the majority of people who make a living blogging do so by running their own personal blog, that’s not the only way to make money in this industry. In fact, a growing number of content creators are actually earning a living wage by freelance blogging.
Freelance blogging is when a client pays you to write blog posts for them. You can often find these clients through websites like ProBlogger or even through job postings on LinkedIn; it really just depends on the niche and type of client. You’ll probably need to find these clients yourself initially, and then grow your business from there.
In addition to writing blog posts for an individual client’s website, you can also make money through doing keyword research, editing, or building backlinks for clients. It really just depends on what your clients need and what services you feel comfortable offering.
In many cases, freelance blogging is a great way to get your name out there and build a portfolio. It can also help you bring in additional income while you slowly build up momentum with your own blog.
Make a Living Blogging
Taking the plunge into full-time blogging can feel very overwhelming. Many people, however, have found ways to really make a living blogging, which means that ultimately, you can do it too. Just remember to select a niche that will appeal to a fairly large audience, and then look for multiple ways to monetize your blog so you can start earning money. You won’t become a millionaire overnight, but you will get to eventually earn a living wage doing something you genuinely enjoy—writing.
Now that you know how to make a living writing, are you still not sure what to write about? Here are over 100 topic ideas to get you started!
Megan Glosson is a mother and freelance writer based Nashville, Tennessee. She enjoys writing on a variety of parenting topics, but loves taking on anything with a personal connection to her own life. When she’s not writing, you can probably find Megan building Legos or playing board games with her two adorable daughters. To check out more of Megan’s work or to contact her about freelance opportunities, visit meganglosson.com