(THIS POST PROBABLY CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. OUR FULL DISCLOSURE POLICY IS REALLY BORING, BUT YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.)
Let’s REALLY talk about starting a profitable blog:
If you’re thinking about starting a blog for profit, there are some things that you should know going in.
IF you don’t take one single other thing away from this post, know these two things:
- Blogging is a LEGIT way to make ALOT of money. I make good money doing this, I had no experience when I started, and in the grand scheme of life, I started making money very quickly.
- Bogging is a ton of freaking work. I know there’s people out there who claim to be making a fortune in ten hours per week, but let me assure you – I am not. I work at LEAST 40 hours per week and often far more.
I’d like to start with this image of a woman – IN THE WATER, ON HER COMPUTER. This is a stupid picture:
Like, she’s on a holiday, she’s swimming, for goodness sake… but I want you to notice that she’s still working.
Starting a blog that will actually make money is kind of like that; you have to be willing to work (almost) this hard, at least at first.
It’s pretty easy to get wrapped up in the “How to start a profitable blog in 10 minutes and earn $5000 / month while you sleep!” articles that you see out there. But the thing is, those articles leave out some details – they do this on purpose, so that you go ahead and start your blog RIGHT NOW so they can earn commission on hosting sales. Many bloggers earn so much money from hosting sales with their how to start a blog tutorial that they hardly even need to try making money anywhere else on their blog.
Don’t get me wrong, you can make good money from blogging. I’m making GREAT money blogging, and anyone could do it! It’s just that there’s a little more to it than throwing up a website and watching the cash roll in. I want you to go into it with your eyes open.
If we’re having an honest conversation here – and I think we should – starting a profitable blog takes work.
Starting a profitable blog is hard.
(There I said it. If that scares you away, then blogging isn’t for you.)
No, setting a blog up isn’t hard. Not at all. Getting the technical part done and dusted is downright easy – even if you’re terrible at computers.
It’s what comes next that’s hard.
Writing and re-writing. Learning. Staying motivated when traffic drops 50% in three days (or staying motivated when you have yet to see traffic growth at all). Making graphics, figuring out social media, finding your niche, growing your audience, learning SEO. These things don’t just happen overnight. It takes time. And it takes effort.
I guess, based on my computer abilities, that I knew that blogging wouldn’t be easy but I just wish someone had been a little more HONEST with me about what it would take. I also wish, that the first “how to start a blog tutorial” I ever used had held my hand throughout the process a little more. (I am a classic victim of the how to start a blog tutorials that ONLY take you through step one – because that is the ONLY step the blogger needs to give you in order for them to make their hosting commissions.)
My blogging journey (thus far) looks like this:
- 3 years ago (ish) I followed one of those “how to start a profitable blog in 5 minutes” tutorials.
- 3 years ago I discovered the truth about “starting a profitable blog in 5 minutes” (You can’t. You can set up hosting and install a theme, sure. Is it a blog? Is it profitable? Nope.)
- I gave up. And wasted the money I had put into hosting.
- 1 year ago I started again, a thoroughly researched, more determined blog.
- I bought courses and threw myself into them.
- I gave up showering, cleaning, watching TV, surfing Facebook and all aspects of social life, and dedicated every spare minute to learning how to blog.
- 4 months in I started promoting my (ready for readers) blog.
- 6 months in I achieved 150,000 page views in one month and qualified to apply to the “better” ad networks.
- By 8 months in I was making a full time income from home: read my October 2016 Blog Income Report here.
- By my one year blogging anniversary I could honestly say that blogging changed my entire life, and it is one of the best things I have ever done.
But the truth about starting a profitable blog is that it is hard work. It is not a get rich quick thing, or a get rich easy thing.
But it certainly can (and should) be a “make a comfortable living, within a reasonable amount of time, thing.”
A few FAQ’s about starting a blog for profit
Can you start a money making blog for free?
Not really. (You can start a blog for free, but not one that will make you money long term.)
Sometimes, you have to invest. (Fortunately, starting a blog is pretty cheap.)
It is very important for your blog to be self hosted, if you want to earn an income from it.
Self hosted means you are paying to own your blog. And why do you wanna do that?
Imagine your blog is your home on the internet. You can either buy and own your home outright (and therefore all it’s contents) or you can just sort of stay in a home for free, on the good graces of a friend.
If you own your home, you can decorate it the way you want, you can run your own business out of it, and you can choose to build an addition (or many) to it if you want. There is a massive network of homeowners out there, and people catering exclusively to home owners.
If you stay in your friend’s home, they legally own the contents and they restrict the changes you can make in their home.
Plus when there is a power outage, the power company won’t speak to you because honestly – they don’t care. You aren’t paying the bill.
(On top of all this, you have a big sign that says “I don’t own this” on your lawn. Which, if you want to run a business from your home, is not ideal.)
You need to own your own blog and specifically, it’s content. If you want to make a profit, you need to be able to run your business from your blog. And you absolutely need that 24 hour tech support available to you.
If you have no interest in ever making a profit from your blog, you just want a hobby blog, or a newsletter blog for friends and family, and you don’t particularly care what it looks like, then a free platform is probably ok for you.
My blog is hosted with Siteground, and I love them because a) they are crazy affordable (You can get a 60% discount on their shared plans right here – that’s less than 4$/month!) and b) they have AMAZING 24 hour tech support that never makes me feel stupid for being computer confused. This is critical. And c) my blog has never been down with them. Ever.
So if you buy hosting and get started… how much MORE is it going to cost you?
Honestly there isn’t a good one size fits all answer for this question. It depends on what you can afford and what you want for your blog. I don’t think that you have to spend a penny more than hosting for right now.
But, if you aren’t willing to invest in blogging, it will take a long time for you to see a profit. (I would be willing to stake … a lot … on that, and I’m not much of a betting kinda girl.)
I will tell you up front that within a month of starting my blog I had spent over 600 dollars and I chose to see it as an investment, one that I might never get back. It was scary. I could have spent ten times that – but it would have been unnecessary. I will also tell you that my best blogging buddies have also spent AT LEAST that within their first months.
I will also tell you that I believe, based on my experiences so far (and the experiences of my bloggy friends) that if you are not willing to invest, you will either not succeed at all – or it will take you a very very long time. The money I have put into this blog has not only motivated me to succeed, but it allowed me to succeed, by learning (quickly) the things I needed to know.)
Investing in a blog education allowed me to bypass the years of trial and error that most bloggers experience on their way to success.
There are literally millions of blogs in existence already. Is there really room for new blogs to make money?
This was my number one big question. I am SO inspired by blog income reports and I love reading them. But they all made me wonder the same thing. Did these bloggers get lucky and find a crack in the wall holding back the millions of blogs out there? Or did they have a strategy and work their way to the top?
If there are already millions of blogs, will there be any ROOM left at the top?
The answer is YES, resoundingly yes, there is plenty of room for new bloggers to make money. (Not to mention that just because there are “millions of blogs” doesn’t mean there are millions of successful blogs. People who won’t invest the time, money and effort it requires are included in that “millions” as well.)
I actually think that the recent success of more bloggers paves the way for new bloggers – we’re joining a growing industry at the perfect time. More and more brands see the benefits of working with bloggers, more affiliate programs are being offered, more consumers are turning to bloggers as a the source of their information. Ad networks are getting more competitive.
So, in that case, why are there so many blogs that aren’t making money?
Yup. I have thought about this long and hard, especially since I have started to see a profit from this blog in such a short time. It’s because people don’t know the truth about starting a profitable blog, because the internet world is filled with “8 minutes to a profitable blog” tutorials. (These are designed to get you to buy hosting, nothing more. Just FYI).
I believe that there are three big reasons.
1 – Bloggers view their blog as hobby and therefore they won’t invest in it. I hate cliches, but it takes money to make money. You can not start a profitable blog for zero dollars.
2 – Bloggers are unaware, when they start blogging, how much work it is to start a profitable blog. These unsuccessful bloggers likely started their blogs believing it would be easy.
3 – Bloggers are totally oblivious to what a profitable blog is. A profitable blog is not an online journal. A profitable blog is a resource.
When I told my husband and my sister that I was starting a blog for profit they had the exact same reaction. “How are you ever going to make money writing about your life on the internet?!”
Well, I’m not. (And, likely, neither are you.) If you write 150 posts about how your weekend went or why you love your cat, (even if you’re an excellent writer) you will probably not make money.
You need to present something useful, something inspirational, something that can change or encourage. Period.
Ok, now you wanna know – how SOON will you make money blogging?
Honestly? This will depend on you. It will depend on how much time you can give your blog, and how much effort you are willing to put in. It will depend on how well you can take criticism.
I made my first cents (yes, you will start with cents. It will be thrilling.) 4 months after I started this blog. That includes one month were I did almost nothing. I believe, if you do it right, you may start to see a profit as soon as 4-5 months after starting. It will not be much. But it will grow. You will not make a full time income for a while. This is not a get rich quick thing.
It will depend LARGELY on what kind of traffic you can drive to your blog. Profitable blogs have readers. There’s no way around that. (If you are struggling with traffic, I LOVED – and by loved, I mean have read twice and will read again – Lena Gott’s Traffic Transformation Guide. She details how she went from 17k pageviews to over 400k pageviews in ten months!)
Are you ready to start a profitable blog?
I might joke about working from home in my Pjs – but in reality, I put on real pants everyday. And though there ARE months now when, if I didn’t have a baby, I could be blogging from the beach or from some exotic city… (truthfully, I so wish I had started this when I was younger. I would have been blogging from the beach then.)
But I do 90% of my work at my kitchen table. Because it’s real work, and not some hobby I have that allows me to live in jammies.
It’s my real work that allows me to stay at home with my baby, making a very decent income, and answering to no boss-man (or lady) but me.
Now you have all the information, and now you are ready to start a blog… and make it profitable. With your eyes wide open.
SO where to start?
2- Join my blogging mailing list! (As of 2017 I am only sharing new income reports with my mailing list!)
3 – Get on the waiting list for Elite Blog Academy. This is the blog course I took that made the biggest difference for me. It’s an investment for sure, but you can think about it for the next few months, and at least your name will be on the list. (And you’ll get the awesome free blog structure blueprint!)
New to Blogland and looking for other blogging tips? Check out the rest of this series:
How to Start a Blog for Profit and Work From Home
Choosing a Theme You Love
Creating Your First Blog Post in WordPress
5 Very Important Things to do Before You Start Blogging
WordPress Settings, Permalinks & Google Analytics
How to Install WordPress Plugins
7 Ways to Make Your Blog Look Less Like a “Newbie” Blog
Printable Blog Organization Binder
Affiliate Marketing: Can YOU Really Make Money With It?