Updated: March 25, 2021
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 A LOT of money – (I am updating this as of March 2021, and this is more true now than ever). 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.) So if your burning questions was “is blogging REALLY profitable?” the answer is a resounding YES – it sure can be!)
- Bogging for profit is a ton of freaking work. I know there are 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 freak’s sake… but I want you to notice that she’s still working.
Starting a blog for profit is kind of like that; you have to be willing to work (almost) this hard, at least at first. I’m not exaggerating. I don’t ever want anyone to accuse me of telling them that starting a blog would be easy money.
But has all that work been worth it?
Oh, you better believe it!
(THIS POST PROBABLY CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. OUR FULL DISCLOSURE POLICY IS REALLY BORING, BUT YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.)
It’s pretty easy to get sucked into 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, without giving it any thought – so the writers 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.
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 blogging for a profit with your eyes open – ok?
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. (Taking a few blogging courses is necessary, in my opinion.) 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. (But so does going to a job you hate – to earn half of what you’re worth. Choose your hard!)
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!)
(This free tutorial on starting a profitable blog walks you through the MANY important steps beyond setting up hosting. I created it to help women who want to stay at home with their kids start a profitable blog the right way – You can check it out here.)
So how am I qualified to give my opinion as to whether or not blogging can be profitable?
My blogging journey (thus far) looks like this:
- 8 years ago (ish) I followed one of those “how to start a profitable blog in 5 minutes” tutorials.
- 8 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? Nope. Is it profitable? Nope.)
- I gave up. And wasted the money I had invested. (about 90 bucks.)
- 5 years 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.
- In my second full year blogging I grossed over 6 figures. (There are expenses + taxes to be taken out, of course, but that’s still very profitable blogging!)
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.”
How does my blog make money?
There are loads of ways for a blogger to monetize their site, and I personally have chosen 3 revenue streams to focus heavily on.
I monetize with ads – so for every page that someone views, I earn passive income.
I also monetize with affiliate links – sometimes I link to Amazon or to an ebook I liked, and if the reader clicks on that link and makes a purchase, I earn a commission. (I actually have an affiliate marketing course that teaches you how I do this). This doesn’t cost the reader anything more than it would cost them in the store!
Lastly, I sell an ebook that I’ve written (it’s about how to get traffic to your blog with Pinterest). Products that you create – ebooks, courses, printables etc… these are BIG earners for blogs.
This year I’m working on sponsored content. This is sort of like advertising, but it’s a full post paid for by a brand.
You can also set yourself up to sell services from your blog – but that’s harder because it will never be passive!
Related: How do blogs make money?
A few FAQ’s about starting a blog for profit
Can I blog about ANYTHING I want and make great money?
EErrrrr – that’s a hard first question.
It has a whole bunch of sides. CAN someone make money on ANYTHING online?
Can YOU as a beginner, make money writing about ANYTHING?
Not so much. I love this post about choosing a niche (the topic you blog about) that will actually make you money.
Can I 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 – it’s that old saying… takes money to make money! (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 squat in a home for free, on the good graces of a friend, perhaps.
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 homeowners.
If you stay in your friend’s home, they legally own the structure 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.
I would just start with a super cheap host, like Bluehost. That’s what I started with. Down the road, you will likely upgrade to a more expensive host, but by then your blog should be paying for it.
If I spend a little to set up hosting … how much MORE is it going to cost me before my blog becomes profitable?
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 knew 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 (successful) blogging buddies have also spent AT LEAST that much 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. Remember, blogging for profit is work!)
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 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 understand what it takes to start a profitable blog, because the internet world is filled with “8 minutes to a profitable blog” tutorials. (Unlike this free tutorial, which assures you it will take a decent amount of effort and walks you through the steps.)
I believe that there are three big reasons that some bloggers struggle to earn an income from their blogs:
1 – Bloggers view their blog as a hobby and therefore they won’t invest in it. I hate clichés, 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 – they don’t know what to do to make money. A profitable blog is a resource for others, a profitable blog is not an online journal.
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 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 never make ANY money.
You need to present something useful, something inspirational, something that can change or encourage. You need to offer answers to questions + problems. You need to make your blog about the reader. Period.
How SOON can I make money blogging? How long does it REALLY take?
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/able to put in. It will depend on how well you can take criticism, how much you can afford to spend on courses, how much of a self-starter you are.
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 where I did almost nothing.) I believe, if you do it right, you may start to see a profit as soon as 4-5 months in. It will not be much. But it will grow. You will probably 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!)
It took me 9 months of hard work to replace my part-time day-job income.
Ready to start a profitable blog?
I might joke about working from home in my PJs – but in reality, I put on real pants every day.
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’m a stay at home mom – and 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.
But don’t miss that… blogging is 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.
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?