When people consider the idea of making money online, one of the most appealing ways is using a blog. After all, a blog gives you a way to talk about the things that you are passionate about and you have the chance to attract an audience with similar interests. At the same time, there are many different examples of people who have successfully made money in this field.
For that matter, you can find examples of highly successful blogs in just about any topic that you can imagine – so, what’s not to love?
But, none of this answers whether you can really make money with your blog. Just from glancing online it’s easy to see that there may be many success stories out there but there are also a lot of sites that simply don’t ever get a lot of traffic.
So, we’re going to take a look at exactly what’s involved with using a blog to make money, along with just how realistic the technique is.
Creating A Blog
For the most part, the term blog just refers to a website where content is regularly updated. For example, a person running a blog might post something new a couple of times a week, although there is a lot of variation in this frequency.
The nature of a blog means that you can basically create one on any topic you can imagine. Often, people choose to focus on their passions, especially in cases where their passions are also tied into products that people may want to buy. For example, there are blogs about camping and ones about the outdoors, along with many blogs about food, fashion or beauty.
At the same time, there are also blogs that specifically focus on products. Some of these may be broad, like a blog on supplements or on healthy food. In contrast, other blogs may be much narrower, such as one on tablets for kids or one on shaving products. The options really are endless and there are many topics out there with a lot of potential and relatively little competition.
The process of creating and running a blog is also much easier than most people assume. You don’t even need to know the first thing about creating a website because most website builders nowadays are fairly simple and don’t rely on coding. Likewise, there are lots of plugins and tools out there that make the process easier still, even for complete beginners.
The end result is that you can create a good looking website with very little knowledge or experience. But, creating the blog is just the first step. You still have to make money with it.
Actually Making Money With A Blog
There are a lot of different ways to make money with a blog but, for the most part, these can be broken down into two very broad categories. Each of these has its own advantages and disadvantages, as well as complexities that you need to be aware of. However, both directions are legitimate and are used time and time again across many different sites.
Making Money With Ads
Ads can seem like a particularly appealing way to make money from a blog, especially at first. Perhaps the biggest advantage of ads is that you can earn money without needing to manually promote anything. This also means that your approach for making money isn’t going to affect your content in any way.
This method can be especially appealing for sites whether there isn’t a natural link between the topic and products. For example, webcomics often rely heavily on ads (like the example below), as there are relatively few products that would be suitable to promote.
In most cases, ads fall into two general categories, PPC or PPV. Those terms stand for Pay Per Click and Pay Per View, respectively. With PPC ads, you get paid based on how many people actually click on them, while PPV just focuses on how many people see the ads.
Of the two, PPV may sound like a better deal for making money, especially as people often don’t click on ads. However, you do earn less per view than you would per click with PPC ads. As such, you do have to have a considerable amount of traffic to make the process actually worth it.
At the same time, ads can be extremely annoying for customers. Often, you’ll find that visitors to your site actively run ad blockers and if you have too many ads or bad ad placement, you may find that some people stop coming to your site.
It is possible to make money with ads on your site and this can work well if your traffic is high enough. However, if you have fairly low traffic, you’ll often find that you aren’t making much money at all.
It’s also important to note that it can take a lot of time, along with trial and error, to optimize ads on your site. For example, you have to consider where your ads are placed, along with how many they are and their relationship to the rest of your content. This is especially true for PPC ads, where you are trying to get people to go to the ads.
On a side note, it is also possible to manually advertise for ads. For example, I’ve seen some larger blogs offer to host ads for a fee. This technique works a little bit differently and can be relevant if you are trying to avoid having lots of ads on your site. Nevertheless, success in this area still comes down to traffic. So, it isn’t even worth considering this direction unless you already have a successful site.
The other alternative is to sell products on your blog. Now, there are a few different things to consider with selling products. The first of these is simply the type of product you are going to sell.
In some cases, there is a natural fit between websites and the products they sell. For example, a site on Steampunk clothing and accessories naturally lends itself to selling those products. Likewise, a site on brewing beer can easily be used as a way to promote various products that you need to successfully make beer.
However, sometimes it can take more work to figure out products to promote. This is particularly true for personal blogs, as this type of blog often doesn’t naturally lend itself towards any products.
Before you look too hard at the products that you want to sell, you need to consider whether you are selling physical or digital products, as well as whether you are selling your own products or ones that someone else is created. As you can probably imagine, your decision here is going to have major impacts on your site as a whole.
Let’s take a look at the physical versus digital debate as an example.
In both cases, you need to set up eCommerce if you want to sell the products. There are many variations of doing so, depending on the type of product you’re selling. But, as a general rule, you need a way to get people to pay and to actually deliver what they order.
Needless to say, this is a lot simpler if you’re dealing with digital products. With physical items, you have to worry about shipping the products out and also managing stock. That can get complicated fast, especially as items can sometimes get damaged in the mail and you’re likely to have some people wanting refunds for various reasons.
You also have to balance supply and demand, which creates additional issues. The entire process becomes more even more complicated if you’re physically making the products, rather than just reselling.
One way around some of these challenges is a process called affiliate marketing. Now, with affiliate marketing, it doesn’t really matter whether your product is physical or digital because you aren’t the one directly selling it. Instead, you end up acting as an intermediate.
The basic idea is that you use your blog as a way to promote what other people are selling. You do this through affiliate links. For example, the image below comes from the end of a review on a Playmobil kids toy.
The ‘Buy It Now’ button in the image is actually an affiliate link and it takes the visitor to the product page for the item on Amazon. If you were to click on that link and then choose to buy the product, the person behind the review would earn a commission.
Typically, affiliate commissions end up being a percentage of the total price for that product. That level of profit might seem like a disadvantage, as you do earn more per sale when you sell your own products. However, affiliate marketing tends to be much easier to scale up, as the amount of work you need to do per sale is low.
After all, you don’t have to worry about eCommerce, customer service or returns. Additionally, people are much more likely to buy items from sites that they trust. For example, most people would be hesitant about buying a toy from a random blog but they would be more comfortable making the purchase from Amazon.
Over time, affiliate marketing can be a powerful tool and the amount you earn from commissions can add up pretty quickly. One reason for this is simply that you can promote multiple products on your site. You can even sell items from more than one affiliate program if you want to.
The popularity of affiliate marketing also means that there is an extensive range of companies out there that offer affiliate programs. This means that you can find at least one program for pretty much any type of product that you could imagine. In many cases, you might be able to find dozens of different programs, each with their own rates and selection of products.
There is also one other advantage of affiliate marketing.
With affiliate marketing, you often end up promoting products that people are truly interested in. You can even target your site so that you’re reviewing products that people are already seriously considering buying. Likewise, you may end up reviewing types of products that people are already interested in, like the earlier example of toys for kids.
It’s easy to see how promoting products like this can make sales relatively easy. In fact, with a blog you’re often reviewing products that your audience is likely to be interested in. It’s certainly simpler to make a sale this way than to try and talk people into buying a product that they may have never heard of previously.
Being Successful With A Blog
As you can see, there are a few different ways to make money from a blog and people often end up picking the approach that works best for their particular site and topic. In some cases, you might use multiple different ways of making money, such as doing affiliate marketing and selling a product of your own (like an eBook), or doing a combination of affiliate marketing and advertising.
But, regardless of your decision when it comes to making money, you still need to create a site that generates traffic. Achieving this isn’t extremely difficult and you can have a lot of success simply from writing good content. Nevertheless, you do need to have some idea of what you are doing, especially when it comes to SEO and picking good affiliate programs.