So you have caught the blogging bug and want to make money blogging.
You’ve seen that people can actually make money with a blog. You’ve seen how awesome it is to be your own boss, enjoy the freedom of working from home, and you’re ready to take a leap of faith and dive all in.
We LOVE that! We love your ambition, your determination, your drive, and your dream!
But we definitely want you to be ready for the challenge that blogging is, too. While it IS totally possible to make a full-time income from blogging, like we do, it’s also a LOT of hard work to get to that point.
It’s not as simple as just publishing articles and you’ll magically get a paycheck, but honestly, once you understand what it takes, it IS totally doable, for anyone.
Below, we’re going to break down the exact framework we used to grow our six-figure blog and teach you step-by-step how to make money blogging.
These methods are tried-and-true, straightforward, and successful for everyone and every niche.
Let’s get workin’!
How to Make Money Blogging in 2021
Before we dive in, let’s have a quick talk about starting a blog in the first place. Towards the end of this article, we’ll get more in-depth, but for now, let’s just make sure you’re thinking about the three major game-changers of building a successful money-making blog.
1) Choose A Proven, Profitable Niche
Let’s put a little disclaimer here: if you choose a niche just because it’s profitable, you’re far more likely to quit blogging entirely before your site has a chance to prove itself.
Passion often has a correlation to success when it comes to blogging.
Everyone has a topic that they are passionate about and can likely make money when done correctly. We know many bloggers who make money with topics on everything from horse training, personal development, to talking about coffee (yes, really)!
You’re not likely to get the idea to start a blog one day and have a domain and site built by the next, without doing some research first.
You might be SUPER interested in, I don’t know, the color variation of tomatoes as they ripen. But the fact is, you’re going to very hard-pressed to find enough people who are also interested in that topic to get enough of an audience to start earning any money from it.
BUT, there is a HUGE market for sharing gardening information and having a site dedicated to successful tomato growing, or perhaps even just discussing the many different varieties of tomatoes…well now we’re getting somewhere.
Do some research to see if your passion can be turned into something that WILL turn a profit AND keep you feeling like you’re on fire day after day.
(THAT is the real secret behind making money blogging, in all honesty.)
2) Build A Self-Hosted Blog
You need to have a self-hosted website.
Sure, that sounds like a totally point-blank, zero-tolerance statement.
Ten years ago, heck even five years ago, you could maybe get away with having a site on a shared platform like Blogger, getting some followers, and working your way through some tricks to get some money coming in.
Maybe you had some companies reach out through social media, or something like that, and it just sort of fell into your lap as an income stream.
Not so in 2021.
Nowadays, there are a ton of people out there blogging, big corporations have started to have a “blog” section on their websites to better connect to customers, and it’s harder than ever to find anyone blog on the internet to find who you want to follow.
But that’s exactly WHY you need a self-hosted site. This gives you THE MOST control over your site and its content, and that is absolutely CRITICAL if you’re going to turn your blog into a money machine.
The reason it’s so critical is that you cannot make money if you can’t control your own content! On a self-hosted site, YOU get to make the rules of what can be in an article and what can’t, where it goes, how much you promote it (and what you promote within it), etc.
Shared hosting can sometimes restrict what you’re allowed to talk about; it’s THEIR platform after all.
So in short, if you want to make money blogging you MUST have a self-hosted website, and we always recommend using WordPress as the editing platform for the best ease of use. Getting your site built, designed, and ready to publish is an entire process, but once it’s done you’ll be smooth sailing with little effort from there out.
2) Create A Monetization Plan
When you first start out planning your blog, at the very beginning, you’re going to have about 5,000 ideas of how you could make money.
You’re thinking about how you could get companies to pay you to review their products, or how you could make t-shirts with cool sayings and sell them. You’re thinking about writing ebooks (or hard copy books), or public speaking engagements, getting paid for TV appearances, and even being paid just to put your face on someone else’s products as an endorsement!
These are all great (and valid) ideas, and seriously, there are hundreds of ways to make money through your blog.
But I want to focus on the “big 4″ to keep you laser focused and what is proven to work time and time again.
Alright, let’s go through these, one by one.
I’ll even tell you which blogging niches do best for each monetization method. 😉
Perfect for food and lifestyle blogs.
The fastest and easiest way to make money on your blog are display ads. These are ads you see in the header, sidebar, in context, footer, etc. of a website.
Each impression or click you get on those ads from your readers you get paid a small amount.
In order to make a great amount of money with display ads, though, you are going to need a boatload of traffic.
We’re talking hundreds of thousands of page views for a couple of thousand dollars a month.
You have a few options for getting started with display ads on your site.
You can start with Google Adsense, but we don’t recommend it since they pay so terribly.
These are premium ad networks where you will get paid much better.
Perfect for personal finance, health and wellness, and niche blogs.
More difficult than ads but another incredible way to start making money with your blog quickly.
Affiliate marketing is when you partner with a brand, company, a product that you either personally use or your audience would find value in.
You promote a product or service through blog posts, social media, or YouTube and get paid every time someone either purchases or converts (sign-up).
Payouts can range anywhere from $0.25 up to hundreds of dollars depending on the product or service you are promoting.
Many times companies will have their affiliate program directly through their website but there are also affiliate networks that host and manage many affiliate programs in one place.
Our favorite affiliate networks:
Perfect for just about any blogging niche.
By far our favorite way to make money blogging.
We have had months where we make over $30,000 from sponsorships alone!
You can think of a sponsorship like Nike and Lebron James. Lebron is an ambassador of Nike.
When you partner with a brand/company on a sponsorship you are essentially doing the same thing.
Some call this influencer marketing. Once you have an audience built up and have gained their trust they are much more likely to trust you.
Some brands see this as a gold mine.
Sponsorships can include things like:
The options are endless and the more creative you can get when reaching out and working with brands the better.
Just like affiliate marketing, there are many influencer/sponsorship networks to start with:
- Blog Meets Brand
- Acorn Influence
- Bloggin Mamas
- Find Your Influence
- Social Fabric
Perfect for more advanced bloggers that know exactly what their readers want.
One of the most profitable ways to make money blogging is by selling your own digital products and services.
Things like eBooks, printables, courses, worksheets, binders, etc. can all be created and sold to your readers.
The key to being successful in selling your own products or services is asking your readers exactly what they want/need and creating it for them.
A good way to understand your readers a little better is to run a survey once in a while. Or even just send them an email saying,
“Hey what’s going on? What are you struggling with? How can I help you today?”
Once you understand your readers like the back of your hand creating products and selling them to your avatar can be very lucrative.
BONUS – FREELANCING
Perfect for new bloggers to earn money fast and learn the ropes.
A really excellent way to make money online is by offering up freelance services.
These can include:
- Graphics design
- Administrative work
- Customer service
- Facebook group management
Lots of options to choose from and you can easily make anywhere from $10-$30/hour based on your experience.
A great place to look for this kind of work is right in Facebook groups, job boards, Upwork, Freelancer, and WeWorkRemotely.
How To Make Money Blogging Step-By-Step
1) Choose The Right Blogging Niche
This is honestly the make-or-break point for every single blogger as they start their journey, but not for the reason you might think.
It’s not going to be the wrong niche if you decide to start a blog about raising your new pet puppy, thinking you’re going to sell every dog product under the sun to new and inexperienced puppy owners who need a fast way to clean carpets and a little more sleep at night.
It IS going to be the wrong niche, however, if you hate puppies. No matter how much income potential there is, if you utterly despise the topic and have no passion for it, you’ll never see things take off.
But there are some specific questions you’ll want to vet out before you make a firm decision on what your blog will be about. Let’s look at each one.
We highly recommend Niche Site Academy as your go to source for growing a niche site.
1. Is there money in the niche?
Let’s think in terms of earning by affiliate marketing for this question.
Is there money to be had recommending puppy products to new adopters, or baby gear to brand new parents? Absolutely. The number of products out there that you could review and recommend is almost limitless, with more coming down the pipeline almost daily.
But what about that example we used earlier, blogging about the different color shades of ripe tomatoes?
There *might* be money in that niche if you put a spin on that topic and, say, review those different varieties of tomatoes that give those unique colors and you can sell seed packets or plants through gardening companies that sell online. So it’s not impossible to find a way to blog about how much you love the different shades of reds to purples that tomatoes may come in, and still make some money from it.
But there’s more to consider than just “is there money to be had,” so let’s keep going with these two examples.
2. Do you have experience or expertise in the niche?
This one is a pretty simple thing to understand: you can’t expect to successfully blog about what products are best for newborn babies if you’re a 12-year old boy that obviously has never been a parent before. You’re really just going to be taking stabs in the dark no matter what you do, and it will likely show in your content.
You can’t expect to sell people on why they should buy one tomato variety over the other if you’ve never grown a garden before. This is also going to be evident in your writing.
Passion for a topic and the opportunity to make money in the niche only go so far if you literally have no clue what you’re talking about.
3. Is there enough demand?
Baby gear is a VERY high demand niche because babies are born every day. You will not find it too hard to get new customers making affiliate purchases through your site on a regular basis!
A blog that discusses, I don’t know, the mating habits of red squirrels, on the other hand, probably isn’t exactly a high-demand topic.
You might be able to make an absolute killing, selling high-end (i.e. expensive) binoculars, outdoor gear, cameras to capture those, um, special moments, etc. The affiliate commissions from those could easily stack up to a nice number per customer.
The problem is that very few people are going to be THAT into squirrel-watching, so while one customer alone might earn you, say, $100…I’d be surprised if you get more than 1 or 2 customers per month if that. So you’ll likely never earn what you’re hoping to, just because there aren’t enough potential customers in that market.
4. Is it a passion of yours?
Listen, I’m glad you love squirrel-watching. The GOOD news about that, is that your passion, your absolute fascination with that topic WILL SHINE in your content.
THAT is invaluable when it comes to making money blogging. If a reader can FEEL your emotion, your intensity, your excitement about something, they’re far more like to feel those things themselves. THAT is where the cha-ching comes from.
If you’re not a parent or your kids are teens and you’re SO OVER BABIES…good luck.
Unless you’re an absolutely incredible (fiction) writer, your writing about why one car seat is safer than another, or why these 5 bedding sets are perfect for an adorable elephant-themed nursery will likely come across quite dry and fact-based. Readers will be able to tell that you’re writing this content purely to write it, not because it’s something you’re truly passionate about.
5. BONUS — Is it not too competitive?
So running down the list, let’s say you’ve checked that:
- your niche can make money,
- you’ve got some knowledge and/or experience with the topic,
- there’s a respectable potential reader/customer-base, and
- you’re passionate as all get-up about it, so you chose…
Personal finance as your niche.
Awesome! We love personal finance. 😉
But we can also tell you from personal experience that it’s a HARD nut to crack. The internet is almost over-saturated with personal finance sites, or other niches that crossover with personal finance topics (think coupon/budgeting sites, frugal living sites, some mom blogs, etc).
So while a HUGE number of people are eager to make purchases that promise to help them save money, get their money in order, or even make money, the likelihood of any one of those customers finding you is slim. It’s just plain statistics.
So IF you can choose a nice that meets all those criteria of potential, expertise, demand, and passion, AND there are very few other sites that touch that niche, well then you’ve potentially struck a gold mine.
Some niches that are quite in-demand but relatively under-trafficked might be certain diets (think of how paleo, keto, gluten-free, etc have only more recently been gaining ground), high-end coffee and related products, muscle car care, etc.
2) Treat Your Blog Like a Business From Day One!
Choosing the right niche is great, but you won’t magically start making money just because you started writing about a high-demand topic like baby product recommendations or personal finance.
You also won’t ever see your blog make money if you take every dollar your blog earns and put it into your personal account.
If you want to grow your blog into something that earns you a full-time income, you MUST treat it like something that already generates a full-time income.
By that, I mean that no successful business has ever gotten that way by not keeping an eye on the books, being particular and intentional with decisions, and always doing things with the future and growth in mind.
Your blog should be no different.
Doing things like keeping track of your income, paying yourself AFTER expenses and taxes are covered, and setting aside cash to fund future expenses (like renewing your domain and hosting, tech upgrades, hiring out certain services, etc).
3) Create Epic Content That Has a Purpose
Let’s go back to that baby product blog for a minute.
If you’re going to write a story about “the one time my kid threw up in their car seat on a road trip” and that’s the entire article…all you did was make the internet bigger. You didn’t provide much value to your readers; if anything maybe you grossed them out with your level of detail and now they’re gone for good.
But if you stick that anecdote into an article in just a couple of sentences because you’re putting together a list of the easiest to clean car seats, well NOW you’re creating some content that has MASSIVE value to those new parents out there!
The MAIN goal of EVERYTHING you put out on the internet should be aimed at solving some major problem or struggle that your reader has.
In the above example, your readers are parents who want to avoid car seats that are a headache to clean. Your article reduces their research time and gives them a “shortlist” to make their choice that much faster and easier.
But more than just providing value and solutions to your readers, although this IS your main goal, your content needs to have a purpose FOR YOUR BUSINESS.
Think about these possible purposes behind a piece of content:
- Writing content that builds trust with your readers. The hope here is they’ll trust you enough to hop on your email list.
- Writing content that gets more eyes on your brand. Think of Scary Mommy articles that often go viral on Facebook. EVERYONE knows their brand. The more eyes that see you, the more that potentially decide to trust you, the more that potentially become customers at some point. You could also write content that’s SO GOOD that other bloggers in your niche want to share it with their audience. This also gets more eyes, from their audience, onto your brand and some theoretically will come to love you!
- Writing content that gets you sales. This might be a list of recommended products or a post that “sells” why they should buy your product. If your readers trust you, they’re likely to buy. If they’re new, from a viral post or from a different blogger’s site, they may have found your product and like it more than the competing product they saw first!
If you’re not sure if your content has a purpose, then read it out loud when you’re done writing it.
When you finish reading (to someone else is ideal), ask the question “what’s the takeaway?” If you can’t answer that question, call it a rough draft and revisit with a little more intention behind your writing.
3) Monetize Your Blog the Right Way
The big disclaimer here is that there is no ONE “right way” to monetize a blog, regardless of niche.
But there are some good moves and some not so good moves, based on your niche, your blogging experience/knowledge, and your traffic.
THAT is what we mean by monetizing the right way — choose the right income-generating method based on the highest likelihood of success.
If you started your blog yesterday (good for you!) and you’re thinking “oh, ads are passive I’ll slap a bunch of those up” then good for you for having ambition but realistically you’ll probably make about $5 all year that way, if that.
Ad value is typically gauged as per thousand views. If the rate is, say $5 per thousand views, and you’re only getting 10-100 views per month, you’ll make about $0.05-$0.50 per month at that level. BUT keep in mind that you’re NOT NECESSARILY going to make even $5 per thousand views with the ad agencies that might accept brand new blogs — they typically pay VERY low, and usually only per click, not per view.
On a baby products site, as we discussed above, maybe you offer an affordable “registry coaching” session to new parents, to help them vet out products and make the best decisions for THEIR specific situations, not just what all their friends or (often inexperienced) baby store employees recommend.
The key to monetizing the “right way” is this: your blog is a BUSINESS. A true (and soon to be successful) business is not going to run on nothing but free offerings (i.e. your content) for 3-6 months.
That’s no way to fund a business, but it’s a great way to get into debt, fast.
4) Focus on Serving Your Ideal Customer via ONE Sales Funnel
First, some of you might be wondering “what IS a sales funnel?”
In short, it’s a logical progression through everything your offer that encourages a potential customer to pay for one offer after another.
Here’s an example of a super short sales funnel:
- You go to a dealership to test drive cars. That’s the “freebie” that they offer.
- The dealership readily continues to give you brochures and information for free (like your blog posts do), that continue to educate you on what they offer, and to “warm you up” to the idea of just one or two models.
- You become completely convinced that you NEED one of those cars in your life. You return to the dealership and lay down that cash.
What this illustrates in terms of a funnel is this: cold –> warm –> hot. This reflects what we’ll call the “temperature” of your customer’s desire for the offerings along the way.
Now that’s a pretty simple funnel with only 2 step (free test drive –> purchase). There are add-ons along the way, maybe little “boost offerings” at the end like undercoating, extended warranties, oil change packages, etc, but that’s a little bit different.
In blogging, in contrast, you’ll likely eventually have multiple products along your funnel. The idea of having ONE sales funnel is to help avoid confusion about what you’re offering, keep them logically purchasing the next thing after the next thing, and to make it super clear what problem of your readers it is that you’re going to solve.
A blog funnel may often look more like:
- A reader finds your content, loves it, and decides your freebie/opt-in looks valuable to them, so they sign up for your email list.
- Now that they’re proven at least a small level of trust in you, you can use your emails to further discuss or send them to blog posts about your first (lower-priced) product. At some point, they decide hey, this IS something I could use, and they buy it.
- After they’ve bought the lowest-priced product with you, they’re made aware of the next level product that builds on their knowledge (with your first product) to increase their success/results/knowledge/etc. This could be one or multiple smaller products along the way, like a mix of ebooks, templates, etc. or it could be courses, seminars, etc. Think of this as the rungs of a ladder, where each product makes another “rung” on the way up, and as the rungs go higher so does price. The number of rungs on the ladder (i.e. steps in the funnel) are up to you.
- The final step in any funnel — the top of the ladder — whether it’s in step 3 or here, is your highest-end offering, the “ultimate purchase,” if you will, that you want your ideal customer to come to complete.
If you’re in the blogging niche, for example, maybe your freebie is a list of top affiliate marketing products for each niche, you sell ebooks and courses along the way, and your final product is high-end, personalized blog coaching 1:1 that runs at $2,000 per month.
Your funnel should be clean, straight, logical, AND very valuable to your customer so that once they get started along the way they’re more and more likely to purchase the next thing — almost an irresistible urge that they MUST have your next product.
Every product in your funnel should be so good that your customers don’t question that the next product will be just as valuable. Thinking of it in reverse, every product that comes before should be a logical step to the higher priced “rung” on that ladder.
(A free personal budget template won’t get people to buy an ebook on gardening, for example. But a free budget template that helps you plan your gardening budget for the year MAY be a logical step into an ebook that helps your reader decide what to plant and how much of each, which means they’re getting a free tool to help plan for what your book helps them decide on. They are specialized products and more closely related, so they flow together well.)
The goal here is NOT “how many things can I sucker people into buying so I can make money blogging.”
The goal IS to offer HIGHLY VALUEABLE products that HELP your readers. The more you truly focus on serving their needs FIRST, the more likely you are to get the sales you’re after anyway.
5) Utilize Email Marketing
Did you notice the little mention of discussing your products in emails within your sales funnel?
If you’re NOT going to use email marketing with your blog, you’re going to be missing out on a LOT of that big-time success you’re clearly after.
The reason for this is that you’re missing the opportunity for people to permit you to dive more into their private circle, their fiercely-guarded email inbox. This is a magical little place in the internet world reserved for keeping up with family and friends, maybe business or work-related communications that directly affect a person’s livelihood, and those discounts and promo codes from store that we all love to save money with.
Using email marketing is critical for building trust and continuing to “raise the temperature” of your customers towards your product offerings. You’ll be sending regular emails, written as if you’re talking directly to one person whose success or happiness you genuinely care about, and making them feel seen. That is a powerful thing when it comes to sales funnel success.
The other purpose of email marketing, as commonly seen with “sign-up to receive…” pop-ups or opt-in boxes (like ours, made with ConvertKit) is simply to get more eyes on your content, more often.
If someone lands on your site ONCE, because they found you through Google, they’re quite unlikely to ever remember what your site is about, the name of it, etc. They are more likely to never find their way back than not.
BUT, if you’re advertising a great freebie or offer that ends up with them giving you their email address and permission to nudge into their inbox, now on a regular basis they can be reminded of you, your blog (brand) name, what you’re all about, etc.
Now you’re not relying on mind-blowingly incredible content and a freakishly memorable brand name to be found again, you’re simply counting on a highly enticing freebie to get permission to remind them about your brand and your offerings on a very regular (i.e. weekly or so) basis.
As they say, there’s money in the list, and they’re right. This is why!
How Much Money Can You Make Blogging?
Well the long story short in all of this is that you can pretty much make as much money as you want to with blogging.
If you’re dreaming of making a million dollar a year business out of your blog, and completely changing the way people feel about a certain topic, then with a lot of work and some serious focus, you’ll also get there. It just might take a little longer than you’d like, but it’s completely possible with enough hustle and drive behind it.
The large majority of bloggers only make about $1,000-$2,000 per month from their blogs, give or take. The GOOD news with that, however, is that a big portion of those bloggers are also doing so around day jobs, kids, and life in general. If they can find the time to rustle up that money, you can too!
There are single parents out there who have started their blogs as a side hustle with only a few hours per week, but eventually quit their day job to blog from home, work 20-30 hour weeks, and makeover 6 figures per year from their site. Now THAT is a great example of dedication and following your why!
Follow the process and the concepts above, take it a day at a time, and you’ll be making money from your blog in no time.
Just remember to show up, shape up, and NEVER give up.
How to Make Money Blogging FAQ:
Can you make a living blogging?
Everyone has the potential to do so, but not everyone will.
What it comes down to is your grit, your drive, and your determination to make it happen.
If you’re planning on spending 5 hours per week working on your blog, and that’s the max you ever spend, don’t plan on it being a full-time income. They aren’t hiring for jobs that make full-time money at that kind of hours, so don’t expect your self-built business to offer it either.
Show up, every day. Do the work, whether you feel like it or not. Have patience and know that it’s just going to take some time to make that money start flowing in. But it CAN become your full-time income, and if you put in the work it WILL.
How do beginner bloggers make money?
This is the cool part about blogging as your income — the amount you make is heavily correlated to how much work you put into it.
If you’re a very beginner blogger, have no idea what you’re doing, and don’t put many hours in each week, you’ll make little to no money for quite some time. Even $10 per month might seem like a hard to reach goal.
If you show up, take courses to fill your knowledge gaps, do the work, and continually learn and improve on your strategies, you might well be making $1000+ per month by the end of your first year blogging, if not sooner!
How much money do bloggers make?
Just like with beginners, even experienced bloggers see a huge variation in income.
There are at least a few bloggers that make millions of dollars per year (i.e. 6 figures per month), but most are in the 4-5 figures per month category, which is still a very respectable income.
The income level also often heavily relates to your niche. Certain niches are simply more profitable than others.
Search for other bloggers in your niche that publish income reports on their blogs to get a better idea of how much money YOUR niche could make.
And remember, even in spite of whatever you find, with enough drive and creativity the sky is the limit!
Do bloggers pay taxes?
Why of course they do!
If you’re making money blogging, and you’re above the “hobby” levels as set forward by the Small Business Administration, then you’re legally required to claim blog income as earned income on your tax filing each year.
The specifics of what taxes you’re responsible for (income, sales, self-employment taxes), etc. are best left to the experts, so be sure to consult a (business) tax professional to make sure you’re collecting and paying the proper taxes based on YOUR products, expenses, and income.
Do I need an LLC for my blog?
No, there is no requirement to have an LLC for your blog. The decision to start one typically comes down to income amount, tax considerations, and personal preference.
This is another place where talking to a tax professional comes in handy, since they can advise you based on your particular situation, since an LLC (or S Corp) may offer some tax advantages after reaching a certain income level.
Who is the richest blogger?
Final Thoughts on Making Money Blogging
While this article has hopefully motivated you to go running after that amazing, incredible income potential that blogging offers, we want to end it with some more practical advice that you can take a look at daily:
Believe it to achieve it.
Saying “I’m going to start a blog and quit my job” is great, but if you don’t truly feel it in your gut that you’re GOING to make it happen, then good luck.
If you feel it down to your very core, that this is your thing, and that this WILL work, and you’re DETERMINED to make that dream come true, well then it’s only a matter of time before it does.
Believe in the potential, but more importantly, believe in yourself.
YOU HAVE what it takes. YOU CAN do the work. YOU ARE going to make your dreams come true, one step and one day at a time.