How To Make Money With A Blog Part 1 – An Introduction

February 2, 2015

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

It’s the most common second question I get asked.

In fact, I was just having a discussion with two friends yesterday that started like this:

So what exactly are you now?

My response: I’m a professional blogger and I also do coaching and consulting for online businesses and individuals who are building businesses with blogs.

This is inevitably followed by Question #2 – So how in the world does someone make money with a blog?

0203_Money_Blog_PinterestAnd there it is. THAT question. The thing that confuses so many people, and I can definitely understand why.

Blogging started out as a sort of “online journal” where people could share their thoughts on different subjects and today there are all these weird people (like myself) doing it full time.

So in an attempt to answer this question, I’ve decided to start a new four-part series on how to make money with a blog. If you read this series from beginning to end, you will not only NEVER ask this question again, but will also have some actionable strategies for going out there and making some money with your blog (or future blog).

If you already have a blog, you will learn how to think about Blog Monetization in a strategic way that will help you increase the amount of money you are making.

That’s what I plan on delivering to you in February, and trust me – there’s gonna be a ton of value in this content. But first, I need to reveal something to you. Are you ready?

The truth – and most bloggers don’t like it

I’m going to start off by saying something that most bloggers won’t like. Are you ready for it? Here goes . . .

A blog is NOT a business

keyboard-typingThere, I said it. Here’s a fact – most bloggers will never make $1 from their blogging efforts, for the simple fact that blogging is not a business.

Yes, there are some people who get paid to blog, but that’s not running a business. That’s a job.

Allow me to put it into perspective.

A blog is not a business, but a platform around which you can build a business (or multiple businesses).

A smart entrepreneur will seek to build a blog that’s a part of a bigger goal. Lets talk about how it all works.

The Three Essential Circles Of Monetization

When I started my Become A Blogger University to teach my students how to build a business with a blog, I knew that there was one course that I needed to create before any other.

That course is called Blog Monetization 101.

In that course, I taught something that I learned from one of my Mentors – Gideon Shalwick. I call it the three essential circles of monetization, as illustrated below:

3Circles

This concept emphasizes the fact that you need three essential components to be able to build a blogging business.

  • AUDIENCEAn Audience

This is really where your blog comes in. In order to make money from a blog, you have to actually have people who visit your blog. It doesn’t matter how awesome your content is, if nobody sees it, nobody will know that you have anything of value to offer.

The fact that I have a Biology blog that I’ve built over the last few years to where it gets over 60,000 people visiting it in a month means that I have an audience to which I can provide value, and if I do things in a smart way – I can make money with it.

  • Trust

This is something that is earned over time. Here’s the thing – You can have millions of people visiting your blog on a monthly basis, but if they don’t trust you, they will never buy what you’re selling and you will never make a cent.

However, if you are constantly creating high value content that helps your audience accomplish their goals, you will earn their trust and they WILL buy what you’re selling.

Caveat: Even if your audience doesn’t trust you, if you are getting a TON of traffic, you can still make some money with ads. However, you won’t be able to realize the true potential of your blog without the trust element.

  • servicesOffers

Alright, lets say you have a significant audience (or are building an audience with your blog) and your audience trusts you because you always deliver value, you still aren't going to make any money if you don’t offer a way for them to buy SOMETHING.

This is something that a lot of us are uncomfortable with – selling. However, when you look at selling in the right context, you will see that doing it the right way is a way of providing even more value.

Once you have these three essential circles, you’re on your way to building a very successful business. You’re essentially landing in that “sweet spot” and that’s where the magic happens.

The Offer Secret

When many of us think about selling, we get the picture of the “sleazy car salesman” who’s sole purpose is to get you to drive away in a new car, whether or not it’s a good fit for you regardless of your financial situation.

But here’s the beauty about building a blogging business the right way. If you can build your blog to where you have a HUGE audience that trusts you completely, you don’t have to make huge offers to make lots of money.

OfferSecret

In other words, you don’t have to be that pushy salesman that always does the hard-sell. In fact, you hardly have to sell at all. Just let people know about the offer and that’s it.

A perfect example of this would be Social Media Examiner – the worlds largest online social media magazine, run by Mike Stelzner and his awesome team.

SocialMediaExaminer

Since they have such a huge audience and produce such high quality content on a regular basis, they don’t have to do a ton of selling.

In fact, they offer 2 main things that drive most of their revenue: An in person event in the beautiful San Diego, California called Social Media Marketing World (sidenote: I’m speaking there in March. You should come) and an online event called the Social Media Success Summit.

That’s not a whole lot of offers, but because of the size of their audience and the amount of trust their audience has in their content, it’s more than enough to build an extremely successful business.

Five Ways To Make Money

Ok, so we’ve gone through the theory. Now lets make it Practical. Lets talk about the Offers part of the three circles in more detail, because that’s how you actually make money with a blog.

There are many ways to make money with a blog. However, my goal is not to create an exhaustive list, but to show you the five ways I believe are the best ways to do it. Here goes:

EmailMarketing#1: Affiliate Marketing  

This is one of my favorite ways to make money with a blog. In essence, you are promoting someone else’s product or service in exchange for a commission.The beauty is that you don’t have to create the product or provide the service yourself.

You just make thoughtful recommendations and make money as people buy.For an example, check out my post on Aweber vs. GetResponse.

Whenever someone signs up for service from that post, I get paid, and of course – I smile.

#2: Advertising

This is one of the easiest ways to make money if you have enough traffic. It’s relatively easy because all you do is adadd code to your sites, then ads are automatically displayed and you get paid as a result of either ad views or clicks.One of the very common ways most bloggers get started with this is by using Google’s Ad network called Adsense.

It’s the main monetization strategy I use for my Biology blog and is responsible for about $1,000 in monthly revenue on a blog that I haven’t touched for more than a month over the last 3.5 years.

To learn more about how this works, check out this guide on how to make money with Adsense written by Dan Morris.

digitalproducts#3: Create and sell your own digital products

This is my absolute favorite way to make money online with a blog. Since you’ve been building an audience and they trust you, they will be more likely to purchase something you’ve created.

Also, once you’ve created your digital product and set up in the right way, whether you sell 1 or 1,000 doesn’t make a difference in how much you had to create. It’s all digital and that’s a beautiful thing.

This can be as simple as an eBook or an all out training program/membership site like my Become A Blogger University.

#4: Create and sell your own physical products

cassandre's_productsThis is my least favorite way to make money with a blog but it definitely works.

My good friend Cassandre Beccai has built her blog about natural hair and uses it as a platform for selling her natural hair products.

The reason it’s my least favorite way to make money is simply because it takes much more work and you have to deal with inventory and a bunch of other details that I don’t like to think about.

But for someone like Cassandre, it’s perfect.

#5: Providing services

This is a way that most people can get started with relatively quickly because what you’re selling is not something you’ve already created.

handshake-(2)It’s a service that you can provide based on almost any type of expertise.

Whether you’re a Plummer, blogger, writer, coach, consultant, or website designer, people will pay for what you have to offer, if you position your service well.

So there you have it – An introduction to how to make money with your blog.

But it doesn’t end there. There’s a lot more coming. Here’s what I’ll be covering in the next 3 posts in this series:

  • Article #2: Your Money Map – A strategic way to taking the right kind of action that will make you money.
  • Article #3: How to optimize your blog to make sales.
  • Article #4: How to use teaching to sell.

These posts will go live on the next four Mondays. If you’d like to get email notification when the next post goes live, click below to sign up to my email list and you’ll also get access to my 10 hour Blog Business Blueprint.

Yes, Please Send Me Access!
Lastly, this series is from my Blog Monetization 101 course inside my Become A Blogger University. If you’d like to join the university and get access to the entire course + relevant resources, click here.

Question for you: Do you have a blog? If so, I have a few questions – What’s the blog about? What’s The URL? Is it a business or a hobby? I know, a lot of questions but I want to get to know you a little better as I plan out this entire series.

Related Posts

33 Comments

  • Jeff says:

    Great article. Monetizing is so important, because otherwise it’s hard to have enough time to devote to the blog. My wife has a blog that she’s been working on, but she doesn’t feel comfortable monetizing until it is more polished, but she hasn’t had enough time to get it polished. That’s the difficulty we’re having now.

    • Andre R Boone says:

      Hey Jeff, wishing you and your wife success!

    • I would tell her not to wait. Monetization is something that’s learned best through experience. It’s all at how we look at our blogs. If we’re building a business, we need to set up the structure of the business.

  • Emily Learing says:

    I’m a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Registered Play Therapist and I write blogs about the emotional health of children. My blogs are tailored to reach parents, grandparents, child care providers, or anyone who is interested in learning how to promote emotional health in children. My blog is located at http://www.encompassmh.com/blog. This website is the site for my business, as I run a private practice and write the blog because I enjoy writing and want to be able to provide resources not only for my clients, but for the general public as well. My favorite part about my job is blogging, speaking publicly at conferences for child care providers, and helping parents or child care providers/teachers to improve kids’ classroom behaviors. In the future, I’d love to do more writing and presenting and perhaps less direct hands on with clients, since I think that I can help so many more people this way.

  • Gloria says:

    Hi Leslie,
    I volunteer for The X-Man Foundation and I have created several blogs to promote their campaign ‘Don’t text 4 X’. Spokeswoman Valetta Bradford started The X-Man Foundation after her five year old son Xzavier Davis-Bilbo was struck by a distracted driver in the confounds of a school crosswalk for Lee Elementary in Milwaukee, WI.
    I have never met Valetta Bradford but through the magic of the internet (Facebook) I have been collaborating with her on several ways to promote this campaign and we are striving to take ‘the Story of X’ to a national level which has already happened once before when Xzavier was featured in ‘From One Second to the Next’ by the legendary director Werner Herzog for the ‘It Can Wait’ campaign.
    We are always looking for ways to raise funds and we have reached out to several corporations for sponsorships. I have dedicated the rest of my life to this cause because fatalities on our roads are now caused by distracted drivers using cell phones and the usual drunk drivers and hazardous road conditions. We believe that by holding Xzavier up to the nation will help change the attitudes of distracted drivers more than warnings because every determined distracted driver feels like the warnings are for the other drivers and that they can handle it. I am sure that meeting Xzavier and his mom Valetta will be a profound moment in my life when that meeting finally occurs.

    Here is a few urls;

    http://thestoryofx.wordpress.com

    http://thexmanfoundation.wordpress.com

    http://captainxhasamom.wordpress.com

    Thanks for all you do. I appreciate all the info.

    that Lady down in Texas

    http://thatladydownintexas.wordpress.com

  • Kashonia Carnegie says:

    Looking forward to the series Leslie – great idea

    Yaro Starak once said: Think of your blog as if it was a magazine you’d buy from the newsagent – only an online magazine. Even though I’ve had a gap of many years since I began to learn all of this and now when I’m planning my “online magazine” it’s something I’ve always remembered and gives me a great mental model around which to plan my blog.

    Kashonia
    http://www.CreatingHappinessToday.com

    • Andre R Boone says:

      Hey Kashonia, I stopped by your page. It’s very inviting to me. I enjoy encouraging people that I connect with and intended on blogging about my many trials and triumphs.

    • Kashonia Carnegie says:

      Thanks Andre,
      As you’d have guessed by reading my home page, I’m currently writing up a (FANTASTIC) workshop on creating happiness in our life. All based on scientific research but presented in a fun-filled down to earth way. It will be by far the very best thing I’ve ever done.

      Once I launch the workshop, I’ll then start promoting the workshop and also focus fully on my online “magazine” – “Creating Happiness Today” – following all of Leslie’s suggestions : – )

      Kashonia
      http://www.CreatingHappinessToday.com

    • Andre R Boone says:

      Looking forward to your launch!

    • That’s a good way to look at it Kashonia. That Yaro guy is one smart cookie 😉

  • Kashonia Carnegie says:

    Congratulations on 60K visitors a month to your biology blog – that’s fantastic.

    And I love your biology blog as an example because it’s in an area that’s not teaching people how to make a million dollars in 24 hours. (Although I actually saw Frank Kern do that very thing once -$1mill+ in 24 hours – back in about 2008)

    But I was just thinking, based on your model above you certainly have the audience and the trust factor there – big time. But you’ve said yourself that the main source of money from that blog is $1000 per month in advertising. In addition you have your $27 book.

    Now sure $1000 per month just from advertising makes for a great hobby, but it’s not a full time income.

    So is it really possible for a topic like your biology blog to make a full time income?

    And if so, will you be talking about this over the next few weeks? I guess you could use it as a platform to sell coaching in biology

    Kashonia
    http://www.CreatingHappinessToday.com

    • Think about it this way – I’m making $1k/month on something I’ve spent a month on over the last 3 years. It’s definitely possible. In fact, I think I can make more money on that blog over the long term.

  • Andre R Boone says:

    Hey Leslie! I’m looking forward to the upcoming blogs and podcast. I have not yet started blogging. I finally narrowed down where I’d like to focus. I’ve been listening to your your shows on SoundCloud. You’re an inspiration. As are everyone of you that has taken time to comment. I don’t have a url yet, but I will visit your sites. I’m trying to get a few blogs in the bank before I open a page.

  • Andre R Boone says:

    Hey Kelita, I visited your blog. I think comments should be welcomed and social media should lead readers back to your site as well.

    How did you add the video to your blog?

  • Awesomeness Kelita. Wishing you all the best on this journey.

  • We all have a long way to go, but the key is that we’re taking action. Keep it up 🙂

  • Jennifermeria says:

    Nice articale

  • Azhar Ahmed says:

    This is true the income might be very very low in the beginning of few months, but gradually as you started posted Articles on daily basis with better search engine optimization solutions keep your blog and articles on top of the search engines. Collecting cents to few dollars on daily basis from your content will make one day this amount enough to boost your passion.

  • Chad Flinn says:

    Hi Leslie, Do you see much income from your study guide from you biology site?

    • Depends on the month. I usually get a few hundred dollars/month. However, I’m doing a terrible job at promoting it because I’m so busy focusing on Become A Blogger, my coaching and consulting.

    • Chad Flinn says:

      Well I appreciate the work you are putting into all of us. You are an inspiration and a wealth of information. I love the attitude of guys like you and Pat Flynn who are genuine and so open with how you are doing it.

    • Glad to be able to provide value to people like you Chad. Thanks for the encouragement 🙂

  • WHAT IN THE WORLD? Did you just say you have 10 kids? You are a saint. I don’t know how. But that’s awesome. Realistic goals are going to be necessary. There’s only so much you can do. And yeah – YOU ROCK!

  • […] for last week, and I commented on each of them individually. Please start this week by reading the finished discussion: there are some great ideas there. I definitely learned some new things, and I think I was able to […]

  • Eric Bronson says:

    This was a great article. As I do not have any product to sell, and I am not much of one for advertising, the best route for me, if I choose to take it, would be to affiliate with some other business or organization.

    My friend Tim writes a bee blog in association with a related segment he does at his radio station. Unfortunately, that has been sold and will soon be playing Vietnamese music. He also owns a microbrewery, and I am sure that a blog will continue in support of that.

  • >
    13 Shares
    Share4
    Tweet4
    Pin5
    Share