In general, I don’t usually write about writing or blogging. I assumed that most of you weren’t very interested. However, I’ve received plenty of emails and questions lately about it, so I thought I would address how the blogging business model works as a way of bringing in income. And I know many of you are passionate about income, so we’ll touch on that aspect of it.
Making Money Blogging
Can you make money blogging? Sure. Although I wouldn’t say it’s easy money. The vast majority of bloggers don’t make much, if any, money.
However, if you pick the right niche, write great content, and are good at networking, you might just find yourself a pretty nice side income.
Although, be careful, if you pick a topic that you’re not passionate about, you’ll probably burn out quickly. On the other hand, if you pick a really obscure topic that you’re passionate about, but not many other people are, you probably won’t find it to be very profitable…. but you will have fun!
My Dollar Plan
From the beginning, I had plans to monetize My Dollar Plan and listed it as one of my goals, along with helping others learn about and find answers to personal finance topics and documenting all my finance ideas floating around.
The first few months I didn’t make much, but after six months I was earning enough to at least pay for the laptop I was working on. Fast forward a year, and I’ve found that the side income has grown substantially. Here’s how I did it.
Once you have an idea, there’s some setup work that you need to do to get going. Here is what I found to be the most successful start up plan.
- Web Hosting and Domain. Get a web hosting plan with a real domain name (for example, MyDollarPlan.com is a domain name); free hosting services like Blogger.com limit your future advertising options. Right now, I think the best basic web hosting option out there is at Lunarpages. With a 12 month commitment you can get hosting with 24/7 support for less than $5 per month. This also includes free domain name registration, which usually runs an additional $10.
When you sign up, it’s best if you can find a .com domain; however, many of the good names are already taken. A .net domain name will also work but I would avoid domains ending in .info, .biz, .us or the like. Lunarpages has a domain checking tool you can use during sign up to find available names.
- Publishing Platform. Download and install WordPress, the software that you will want to use for your blog. It does all the behind the scenes web work. And best of all, it’s free! If you use Lunarpages, they have a great installation wizard that walks you through setup.
- Design and Logo. I use a free WordPress theme. You can find lots of options over at the WordPress Theme Directory. I’m not graphically inclined so I have all of my logo work done by Logos for Websites. I highly recommend them!
- Start Writing. When possible, try to keep one idea per post. It’ll help your readers and keep you focused. Remember that people like to scan when reading on the internet; use header sections, bold words, and bullet lists where possible.
- Network. Once you start writing, you’ll want to network with other writers. You can do this by linking to their relevant articles, leaving comments at their sites, and using various social media outlets, like Twitter, StumbleUpon, and Facebook. In addition, writing guest posts for other blogs that are in your niche is a great way to get exposure. If you decide to write a personal finance related blog, I’d be happy to feature a guest post at My Dollar Plan, just let me know.
Once I launched my site, I spent some time focusing on writing great content, establishing a reader base, and networking. Once those were headed in the right direction, I turned my efforts to advertising.
I’ve experimented with various advertisers. Some are more successful than others; it depends on your niche and writing style. I’ve found trial and error to be the best way to sort through the advertisers. Here are some of the advertisers that I’ve used in the past:
- Adsense. Google AdSense is probably the easiest advertiser to use and was my very first one. I still use it today. You make money when people click on an ad that displays on your site. A single click can earn anywhere from a few pennies to a few dollars.
- Affiliate Networks. If you ever talk about products you use, you may want to check out Commission Junction. Affiliate sales pay you a referral fee for referring products or services. They have many well known and respected companies that you can sign up with, such as H&R Block and The Wall Street Journal. Other affiliate networks that I use are LinkShare and FlexOffers. A completed referral can earn anywhere from a few dollars to over $100.
- Text Links. Text links are an advertising option, however you could be penalized for using them by Google. The links can appear in your sidebar or footer, and provide a link to the advertisers site. Options are Linkworth and inLinks from Text-link-ads. These links can fetch anywhere between $10 to $100+ per link, per month.
- Display Ads. Many of the graphic ads you see in the sidebar are from advertisers who contact me directly. Be sure to include a contact page for people to email you. These ads typically pay based on the number of times they are viewed and can range from less than $1 to over $5 per 1,000 views.
- Paid Posts. I don’t do these, so I really don’t have any information to share about them other than I know there are always people contacting me to do these. I always want my readers to know that what they are reading is my thoughts and opinions and not that anyone paid me to write something.
- Personal Referrals. While this isn’t a traditional means of advertising, you can earn money from it. I often use my personal referrals for products when they offer a sign up bonus. The ING $25 Sign up Bonus is a great example. Referrals can earn anywhere from a few dollars to over $50 per sign up.
One of the toughest things for me in the blogging world is the technical expertise. I’m a personal finance junkie, not a computer whiz. I was lucky that my business partner is a computer programmer. Oh yeah, he’s also my husband!
It’s important that you know your strengths and weaknesses. If your weakness is computer stuff, like me, you’ll want to find someone you trust to help you navigate the technical stuff.
I hope that helps answer the questions you had about making money from blogging. I’ve found it very enjoyable, but like anything, it’s not for everyone. If you do plan to give it a try, good luck! Be sure to drop me a note and let me know how you are doing!
Now, back to our regular personal finance topics…