Welcome to part two of our journey to make to make 500 dollars a month blogging.
In today's installment, we are doing to discuss how to make money with a blog.
If you missed the first installment of our experiment, make sure to check out: Starting a Blog: Journey to Making $500/Mo Online.
Now just a heads up, this post will probably feel like taking a drink from a firehose, especially for beginners. However, we have a lot to cover, so I will do my best to break everything down. Since everyone reading this will have a different level of experience with this information, if you are feeling overwhelmed or don't know where to start, feel free to leave a comment below.
So, without further ado, let us jump into the blogging deep end!
How to Make Money with a Blog
The very first step in building a profitable blog, it to create a blog business plan. The vast majority of bloggers launch their sites with what I would call the ‘Field of Dream's plan; if you build it, they will come. “They” being traffic and money.
Many blogs start of as a hobby, where the owner may pen their personal experience or discuss their passion or hobby. These bloggers may be fortunate enough that their hobby blog attracts enough interest and readership that then can turn their hobby into a money-making venture.
However, this approach won't work for our goal. If you recall from our last post in the series, we have just six months and a 1000 dollar starting budget to make money online. This is going to require that we be extremely deliberate in our approach.
Everything we do, spending money, crafting posts, investing time, etc., must explicitly serve our purpose to make money.
To pull off our task, we must create a business plan that spells out exactly how we plan to make money with the blog. Which, of course, brings up a vital topic to discuss, how the heck do blogs make money anyway?
How to Monetize a Blog
When it comes to making money with your blog, the possibilities are virtually endless. The massive money-making blogs that get all the press usually use a combination of methods. However, for the sake of brevity, we will cover the most common ways sites make money.
A full discussion on how to monetize a blog is beyond the scope of this discussion, but here is a quick overview.
- Display Advertising. If you have spent any time visiting websites, you have likely come across display advertising. Advertisers place ads in blog posts and articles online, and often on the sidebar or other locations of a website. Website owners may make money each time one of these ads is seen or if a reader clicks on the advertisement.
- Affiliate Links. Think of affiliate links like getting a commission for recommending a product or service. If someone clicks on your affiliate link and makes a purchase, you get a portion of the sale.
- Sponsored Posts. A sponsored post is when a brand hires you to write a post to recommend their product or service to your readers. Brands will often engage bloggers to discuss their company to spread the word about their brand.
- Donations/PayWall. If you have ever visited a website like the Wall St. Journal, you may notice they only let you read a snippet of the post, and you have to subscribe to read the rest, which is a paywall. Donations are kind of like a paywall, yet you are reliant on the goodness of strangers to fund your blog.
- Sell a Product/Service. This is simple; you sell a product or service on your website. Blog owners routinely sell eBooks, courses, consulting services, technical work, or creative works like art or jewelry.
Note: If you would like to learn more about how to monetize a blog, check out our guide to Google Adsense alternatives.
With our new plan, we have six months to make $500 a month, we also only have a 1k budget. So, we need to start making some money fast, like yesterday. We will need to invest money in marketing and growing the site, and a thousand bucks only go so far.
Plus, the blog will incur some operating costs, hosting, email providers, etc.
Additionally, I would like to make more than 500 a month, so I'm going to need some cash to toss “fuel on the fire” if you will. Our plan really dictates how we will choose to monetize the website.
Let's Break it Down
Making money with display advertising requires a lot of traffic. The most accessible form of display advertising is Google Adsense, which pays so little most new bloggers don't even bother with it. The next step up in the world of display advertising is premium networks like Monumetric, MediaVine, and Adthrive.
- Monumetric requires 10k monthly page views to join their program. A new blog starting can hit 10k in a few months with hard work and determination. Monumetric pays exponentially better than Google Adsense and is generally the first ad network bloggers join.
- MediaVine requires 50k monthly sessions to join. A new blog could hit those levels in a few months if they worked in beast mode and had some money and skills to toss at the project.
- Adthirve requires 100k monthly pages views and is the hardest of the ad networks to get approval for. A new blogger could reach these kinds of levels in 9 months to a year with a high volume of publishing and lots of promotion and marketing of the blog.
We plan to limit our labor to 8 hours or less a week, so out of the three ad networks, Monumetric is our only real shot of getting into an ad network. We worked with Monumetric previously on another website, and they can pay competitively to the bigger networks. However, their customer service and onboarding kind of sucks.
I have had friends qualify to join Monumetric, and it has taken them two months or more and countless emails to get ads set up. So even if we manage to hit 10K monthly sessions in our first month or two, it's doubtful we can get ads generating enough money in time to reinvest and grow the site to $500 a month before our time runs out.
TL: DR Ads require tons of traffic to install and make money, and we don't have time for that.
Display ads will play a role in our long-term goals, but won't be our priority in the first six months.
Similarly, donations/paywall and sponsored posts both require a large volume of traffic. A brand is not going to pay a new blog with hardly any audience or readership stacks of cash to promote them. Relying on donations or a paywall leaves too much to chance, and if we are going to launch a second site, I'm “in it to win it.”
So, our only real shot at making quick cash is affiliates and/or selling our own product. Selling a product/service is an extremely compelling way to make money from a blog. However, I do not have the time to build out a product/service for this experiment.
We will need to revisit a product service down the road when cash is rolling in.
That leaves us with affiliates, recommending products and services to our fledgling readership is going to be the fastest way to make money. Unlike display ads that require a large volume of traffic to earn cash, we can start generating revenue with affiliates almost immediately.
Our plan dictates our business model; we will use affiliates to generate quick cash to reinvest in the site and grow traffic until we can get into a premium ad network or launch other forms of monetization.
Blogging for Money
Now comes the fun part; we have a basic plan in place and know how we expect to make money. There are two approaches we can use to move forward. We can decide what niche/topic we want to blog about and then find the best affiliates offers for that niche. Alternatively, we can choose what affiliate products we want to promote and use that to dictate the type of blog we wish to launch.
Since I have some sense of what products and services treat customers well from running Your Money Geek, I will use the later to determine what niche site to launch. However, for those that wish to build your blog based on your preferred niche, we will be sure to discuss options for the former.
In our next post, we will cover the fundamentals of affiliate marketing and then the best affiliate offers for beginners. This might sound like putting the cart before the horse, but recall, we need to be very explicit in everything we do.
Knowing how we plan to make money, who we expect to target, and what offers we wish to promote will influence how we establish the website and set up our processes.
Stay tuned for our next post!