There's a lot of information out there about ways to monetize your blog, but what is it really like for an average blogger who wants to earn money from their website content?
Of course, not everyone wishes to become a professional writer in order to write full-time. Some people just want to stay home with their kids while sharing opinions or thoughts they're passionate about. Others simply want to create something tangible that will help other people solve problems or improve themselves. Whatever your goals may be, if you have a passion for writing and would like to see your work published somewhere then blogging might be right for you.
In this article we'll take a look at whether anyone makes money by blogging — and why so few succeed when millions try!
According to research conducted by Google AdSense over half (52%) of all adult Internet users read blogs every month. But only 5% of those readers visit more than once per week. That means that less than 1 percent of U.S. adults reads blogs regularly. Of these regular readers, fewer than 0.5% contribute financially to their favorite sites.
So what happens to 95%+ of us? We spend our time reading articles, watching videos, listening to podcasts, etc., but don't get paid for it. And even though many blogs claim to pay writers for their posts, very few ever follow through with any sort of payment mechanism.
This isn't surprising considering that the vast majority of established blogs rely solely upon advertising revenue as their main source of income. The problem here lies within the nature of ad networks. They typically place ads on pages where traffic is already high, which means visitors aren't likely to click said ads unless they feel compelled to do so. This leads to higher costs per impression for advertisers, meaning smaller returns for publishers.
It also doesn't help that most big websites use cookie tracking technology to track visitors across multiple devices and platforms, which also limits potential earnings. It's no wonder that the top earning blogs in 2014 were mostly owned by large corporations such as Microsoft, IBM or Amazon. Even well-established publications with years' worth of loyal followers and contributors still struggle to generate enough revenue to cover operating expenses.
As far back as 2010, Forbes estimated the net worth of "The Big Six" media companies to be $2 trillion dollars combined. Compare that to the $200 billion spent annually on digital display ads alone, and you'll quickly realize that the gap between revenues and profit margins has never been wider.
Even worse, the biggest players in traditional publishing tend to heavily editorialize topics with little regard for actual facts, leading to widespread misinformation. So, instead of making informed decisions based upon scientific evidence, consumers end up being bombarded with useless products and services.
Many people dream of turning their passions into lucrative careers. However, according to statistics cited above, it looks like only a tiny fraction of bloggers manage to achieve success. Why? Well, because many aspiring authors fail to put together a solid business plan, build relationships with agents or publishers, or find a way to effectively promote themselves outside of social networking.
But fear not. There are plenty of ways you can learn everything you need to start generating cash today using free tools. Here are three great resources that show you exactly how to go about building a profitable blog:
1. Make Your Blog Profitable - A Complete Guide To Making Money With WordPress ($28)
If you want to set yourself apart from the crowd, you should consider learning how to turn your blog into a real business. You'll discover everything you need to know about running a profitable site, including:
Setting up your own domain name
Getting listed in search engines
Promoting your blog via social media channels
Building a mailing list
Creating passive streams of income
And much more...
2. Start & Grow Rich By Writing About What You Know ($19)
Writing books used to be considered the quickest route to becoming rich, but now anybody can publish a book without having to worry about printing, distribution, marketing, publicity, etc. If you've got valuable knowledge to impart, however, then writing a bestseller could prove to be the fastest path towards financial freedom.
That's why Michael Cheney created his ebook teaching others how to write a nonfiction book that sells. He covers everything from choosing topic ideas, structuring chapters, and formatting documents to creating killer titles and selling your book. More importantly, he offers practical advice on how to overcome common obstacles during the sales process.
3. Online Marketing Made Easy For Beginners [Broken URL Removed] (£12)
If you'd rather skip straight to the action, check out my guide detailing how to market a new author online. From setting up your profile on LinkedIn to promoting yourself on Twitter, Facebook and beyond, it shows you step-by-step how to maximize exposure. Plus, each chapter focuses on different types of audiences, allowing you to tailor your approach depending on your subject matter expertise.
For example, if you're trying to break into the world of children's literature, focus on crafting profiles that appeal specifically to young readers. Or if you're hoping to attract fitness enthusiasts, present yourself as an expert figurehead in your field.
To answer this question, let me first clarify that this statistic refers to affiliate marketers only. Affiliate programs allow bloggers to earn commissions by referring customers to relevant merchants. These merchants usually offer various kinds of goods and services related to the niche category covered by the blog owner.
Because of its simplicity, affiliate marketing provides a quick entry point for beginners looking to test the waters before diving headfirst into self-publishing. As long as you choose carefully, affiliate links can lead to significant income streams.
However, it's important to note that affiliate marketing comes with inherent risks. Firstly, your audience needs to trust your recommendations. Secondly, you need to ensure that your chosen merchant offers quality service and competitive prices. Finally, you must keep detailed records regarding referrals made, clicks received, conversions generated, etc. Failure to do any of these things could result in serious penalties.
On the flip side, there are several advantages to joining affiliate programs too. Not least among these is access to thousands of popular products designed to fit almost any budget. Also, since affiliates often receive commission payments directly into PayPal accounts, this eliminates the hassle associated with sending physical bank cheques to strangers.
Now let's take a closer look at the numbers behind the typical affiliate payout. According to Clickbank data shared by Mike Filsaime, the following figures represent annual incomes earned per product sold through affiliate links:
$20-$40k = 2.8%-4.6% commission
Between $41K and $50K = 4.7%-5.9% commission
Over $51K = 6.0%-7.3% commission
These rates vary widely from program to program, but they provide a good benchmark against which to measure future performance. Basically, bigger organizations earn larger commissions while lower paying merchants charge slightly higher fees to compensate for low conversion rates.
Smaller blogs tend to fare better than large ones when it comes to profitability. For starters, smaller sites are easier to scale up due to economies of scale. Additionally, smaller blogs are generally able to leverage word-of-mouth promotion techniques to spread awareness faster.
Here's another interesting factoid: the number of unique monthly visitors required to sustain an active blog depends entirely on the size of the advertiser base. Small businesses require smaller visitor counts compared to corporate entities.
Take, for instance, Amazon.com Inc.'s Whole Foods Market unit. When it opened in 2006, the company had nearly 300 employees serving a customer base comprising approximately 3 million shoppers per week. Yet despite this huge footprint, Jeff Bezos was forced to hire 100 additional workers to handle inventory management after opening its second store.
When comparing this scenario to smaller local retailers such as Dollar General Corp., Walgreens Boots Alliance or Target Corporation, which each employ roughly 30,000 people total, the difference is staggering.
Naturally, it takes longer for a small startup to gain momentum, but there are ways around this disadvantage. One effective strategy is to establish a presence on social media and gradually grow your subscriber count organically. Once you reach critical mass, you can begin experimenting with sponsored promotions.
You can also boost visibility by actively participating in forums, commenting on industry news stories and posting helpful comments elsewhere on the web. Eventually, you may decide to expand further by developing other forms of content, such as video tutorials, eBooks and white papers.
All of which brings us neatly onto the next section…
One thing is clear: the opportunities available to bloggers differ wildly from one person to the next. For example, some enjoy tremendous luck whenever they stumble upon a hot idea that catches fire overnight, whereas others suffer months of hard graft before seeing anything resembling return visits.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for budding entrepreneurs to capitalize on their talents regardless of personal preference. Below are four useful suggestions that can give your career a major kickstart:
There are a lot of people who have heard about the potential for making money blogging, but they don't really understand what it takes. So in this article we're going to answer two questions - firstly, "do most blogs make money?" And secondly, "how does someone go from having no income at all (or very little) into earning thousands per month with their own blog?"
In my experience there is a huge difference between those who earn money through affiliate marketing or by selling information products like e-books, and those who use Adsense advertising. The latter group tend not to put as much effort into building traffic and improving rankings in search engines and social media etc., so even if they get higher conversion rates than average, they still won't see high earnings unless they improve SEO significantly too.
So let's look specifically at those who use affiliate marketing, because these types of sites generally require less skill and knowledge, so anyone can start doing. They also offer greater flexibility when it comes to deciding which niche market to target, as well as being able to experiment more with content without worrying about running out of things to write about!
The key question then becomes whether affiliate marketers will eventually make enough to justify setting up a full time business themselves. It depends entirely upon your skills, resources and dedication, but if you want an idea of what kind of numbers other successful affiliates are generating, here are some stats taken from various sources:
Of course these figures vary quite dramatically depending on where you draw the line around'successful' and 'average', so feel free to adjust them based on the criteria that makes sense to you personally.
Also note that any number quoted below represents commissions earned before tax has been deducted. After taxes come off, the actual amount paid may be substantially lower than the figure given. If you plan to set up a blog yourself rather than relying solely on affiliate marketing commission payments, remember that you'll probably end up paying your hosting fees yourself, since there aren't any services available to help you out. Also consider outsourcing certain areas such as video creation, web design and copywriting. These tasks could easily be done over Skype using affordable freelancer websites like Fiverr or Elance.
According to the above research, just 0.5% of users of affiliate networks like Clickbank generate a positive cashflow each year. That means 95% of affiliates either fail to find success due to lack of hard work or perseverance, or else they simply take home far less than they deserve. But why exactly do most people struggle to make money? Here are some possible reasons:
Most people haven't got a clue about marketing effectively: This might include not understanding the principles behind effective marketing strategies, or failing to implement them properly. Some common mistakes include spending too much on flashy banners instead of written articles, ignoring email marketing altogether, or focusing purely on short term gain rather than long term profit. You can learn everything you need to know about Internet Marketing via our popular Free Video Training Course.
They choose inappropriate niches: Many newbie bloggers focus exclusively on topics they already enjoy reading about, or think visitors would love to hear about. However, the reality is that you need to attract lots of interested readers who are willing to spend good amounts of money on products related to whatever topic you're covering. For example, if you've chosen photography, aim to cover every area imaginable (e.g. cameras & lenses, lighting equipment, accessories, travel destinations etc.). There's plenty of scope to appeal to different budgets within each category, so don't limit yourself unnecessarily.
They try to sell directly instead of providing useful information: Blogs designed primarily to promote particular product lines usually suffer badly from poor conversions, especially if they give away valuable advice in return for clicks on links leading back to the vendor's site. On the other hand, if you provide helpful information relevant to your visitor's needs, chances are they will reward you with better results. To maximise your effectiveness, avoid trying to compete directly against established businesses. Instead, concentrate on helping existing customers solve problems, or offering unique solutions to issues that affect smaller groups. Give examples of real life situations that your audience can relate to, and explain clearly how your solution compares favourably to alternatives.
Not keeping track of analytics data: Without knowing what's working and what isn't, you cannot build on top of successes, nor modify campaigns accordingly. Don't rely on gut instinct alone, and ensure that you test all changes thoroughly while tracking statistics carefully. Most beginners fall down here for several reasons including not investing sufficient funds in testing/monitoring software, missing important keywords in titles, forgetting to add images, using bad quality photos in place of professional shots etc. By following proven steps, you'll save yourself months of wasted efforts.
Lack of technical ability: A surprising percentage of self proclaimed experts turn out to be complete newbies when it comes to programming or website development. Such individuals often believe that learning HTML code is enough to launch a profitable blog, whereas basic coding skills are essential to creating anything beyond a simple static page. Make sure that you hire competent staff to handle all aspects of your project, including graphic design, SEO, keyword optimisation, writing content and managing server maintenance etc. Failure to invest wisely in these areas will leave you open to serious security threats, downtime and lost profits.
Poor quality posts: Content is king, and nobody wants to read boring sales pitches. As soon as visitors arrive at your site, they expect fast access to engaging, informative material that adds value. If you don't deliver, they quickly click away to another site. Your best bet is to employ a freelance writer to create original articles and press releases, or pay a service provider to produce fresh content regularly. Alternatively, you can opt for a managed WordPress theme that includes editorial tools built right in.
These six points represent the main causes of failure among affiliate marketers, but there are others reasons too. For instance, low levels of confidence and motivation, or being overwhelmed by choice and complexity. Whatever the cause, there are plenty of ways to overcome obstacles and achieve financial freedom. All you need is a strong desire to succeed coupled with determination and persistence. Then follow these three easy steps to getting started today...
To illustrate this point further, let me tell you about my favourite story involving blogger Rob Nightingale. He was once struggling to keep his family fed after he'd spent all his savings on starting his journey towards internet stardom. His wife had recently become pregnant again, yet he didn't dare mention it to his parents lest they stop him. Needless to say, he wasn't feeling particularly optimistic. Nevertheless, he decided to stick with it anyway and focused on building a list of subscribers eager to receive regular updates about his latest projects.
After a few weeks, he noticed that his subscriber count had doubled overnight, and wondered if his campaign must have triggered a sudden surge in enquiries. Sure enough, when he checked Google Analytics he discovered that his daily newsletter now received orders worth twice as much as he'd ever made previously. Later, he found out that a friend of his had sent out a promotional tweet linking to his website only minutes earlier, and had ended up signing up to his mailing list.
It turned out that one person had tweeted something along the lines of "I'm looking forward to receiving Rob Nightingales next weekly update" and dozens of other followers were inspired to join her in subscription. When she signed up later on, she provided feedback to Rob saying that his emails weren't spammy or irritating, and contained interesting recommendations which helped her resolve specific queries she'd been grappling with. She added that Rob seemed genuinely passionate about his subject matter, and was obviously knowledgeable about what he wrote.
This sort of thing doesn't happen everyday, but it proves that if you treat your subscribers with respect, they will respond positively. Another reason why so many blogs never fulfil their owners' expectations is that they focus on monetising visitors rather than producing compelling content. Visitors rarely sign up to newsletters because they want to buy stuff, and if you send out unsolicited adverts they'll likely hit delete faster than you can blink. Focus on giving your visitors something worthwhile to read, and you'll reap rewards both financially and emotionally.
Obviously, the larger your subscriber base gets, the easier it is to remain motivated and driven. Yet size isn't everything, regardless of how big your bank balance happens to be. What matters is consistency and commitment. One way to stay on task is to establish goals that you can measure objectively. Once you reach a milestone, celebrate your achievement, and move onto bigger targets until you achieve success.
As mentioned, you shouldn't neglect the importance of SEO, although it's true that organic growth tends to occur naturally over time. Unless you're fortunate enough to possess considerable expertise in this field, you may wish to seek assistance from specialists who specialise in domain name selection, link management and ranking improvement.
Another tip is to divide your overall goal into manageable chunks. For instance, if you intend to publish five new pages per week, decide beforehand what level of detail you can realistically commit to. Will your text be restricted to 500 words or longer? Can you afford to upload pictures or videos? Do you want to perform keyword analysis yourself or delegate this responsibility to an expert? Set deadlines for each stage to prevent procrastination, and reward yourself for meeting them.
As the title suggests, today's question is whether or not it makes sense for me to start my own blog. I've heard so much about people making thousands from their blogging efforts, but what does "make" mean in terms of dollars earned per month? Do these stories have any basis in reality? Are there ways to increase the likelihood that I'll earn more than just $10/month?
The answer to all three questions is yes -- with caveats...
Blogging success isn't as clear-cut as it seems at first glance. There are very few people who will tell you they made millions through blogging alone. Sure, if you're talking about people like Seth Godin (who has his own product line) then he's probably earning enough to cover expenses. But most other self-employed writers, including myself, rely heavily upon freelance income streams such as writing gigs, speaking engagements, consulting work etc. And even if we were able to figure out an exact dollar amount that would represent our monthly earnings goal (which is unlikely), there's no guarantee that those earnings will continue into perpetuity. What happens when the next recession hits? Can you really plan for that possibility?
So instead of focusing on a specific number, let's talk about something else: How soon after starting a blog can you begin seeing profit margins approaching 50%, 60%, 70% and beyond? If you want to find out, keep reading!
One thing I've noticed among professional bloggers is that they tend to write infrequently. This doesn't necessarily mean every day, but rather once or twice weekly. Why the difference? For one thing, frequent posting allows readers to get used to your voice and style. It also helps build up anticipation for upcoming posts which increases engagement by attracting new visitors. The bottom line is that frequent updates help boost reader loyalty and retention.
But don't go overboard here either. Quality content takes time, especially if you want to offer unique insights or opinions. When you post too frequently, you risk losing credibility because people may think you're trying way too hard to sell stuff. They might even feel overwhelmed by it all. On average, it takes anywhere between 7 - 14 days for someone to read anything posted online.
It depends on several factors, but generally speaking, it usually takes months for a blog to become truly profitable. Some experts say that 6 months is a good benchmark while others claim it could take as long as two years. Either way, the point remains the same: You shouldn't expect immediate results.
If you set aside a small portion of each paycheck towards building exposure for your site, consider yourself lucky if you can break even after six months. That being said, since most blogs aren't built around selling products, it's entirely possible to generate significant revenue within six months provided you put in consistent effort over time.
To give you a better idea of how quickly a blog can turn profitable, I recently checked out several popular sites run by established authors. Over the past year, I compared the net worth of their main author page against the price of a book written under their name on Amazon. Here are some interesting observations:
James Patterson's website was launched back in 2004 and now generates $1 million annually. His books cost less than $20 on Amazon!
Stephen King hasn't published a novel since 2007, but his latest book is priced higher than any of his previous titles sold for combined ($40).
JK Rowling's Harry Potter series took almost 10 years to reach profitability, yet she still earns royalties every week. She wrote her first children's story in 1973, but didn't publish it until 1995. Her novels typically retail for $27 on Amazon.
What's common amongst all four cases above is that none of these mega stars spent a dime promoting themselves prior to taking advantage of passive marketing techniques. As far as I'm concerned, this means you should focus primarily on SEO and social media promotion strategies.
This is where things get tricky. If you're thinking of monetizing your blog using affiliate links, ads or paid services, here's a quick rule of thumb to follow: Your audience size must exceed 100k monthly visits. Obviously, the bigger the audience, the easier it'll be to hit this target. However, it's important to remember that larger audiences come with a tradeoff: Higher bounce rates. A typical blog visitor spends 3 minutes on your site, whereas a regular user stays for 30 seconds or longer. So if your average visit duration falls below 2 minutes, you won't see sufficient traffic to justify spending money on advertising and hosting fees.
Even if you manage to pull off amazing growth numbers, you will eventually encounter saturation points where advertisers stop paying attention due to lack of interest. At best, you'd end up having to deal with annoying banner adds and popups everywhere. Worst case scenario, you could lose ad space altogether as your popularity grows.
In summary, unless your blog attracts huge amounts of organic traffic, you'll never be able to depend solely on advertising revenues. Don't fret though, there are plenty of great free methods available that you can use to spread word about your site without worrying too much about clickthroughs. Once you grow big enough, you can always move onto more effective forms of direct promotion.
There's no denying that lots of talented individuals have managed to earn decent incomes from running blogs. But according to research done last year by Google AdWords, the chances that anyone will ever make money from their blog are extremely low. Only 0.5 percent of web users actually clicked on advertisements displayed on their favorite websites during 2011 Q4. Those figures are pretty dismal, but they illustrate why monetization schemes based purely on clicks are doomed to fail sooner or later.
However, it's important to note that the odds don't matter nearly as much as motivation. If you enjoy sharing your thoughts and experiences, plus you're willing to dedicate yourself to growing awareness in whatever area you choose, then nothing can stand in your way. After all, James Patterson had zero experience behind a computer when he started working on his first children's book. Stephen King couldn't afford college tuition when he began writing horror tales. JK Rowling hadn't even finished high school when she penned Harry Potter! All of us came from humble backgrounds and achieved immense success despite lacking formal training.
Don't believe me? Consider this famous quote attributed to Mark Twain: "Quitters never win and winners never quit." Even if you're convinced otherwise, wouldn't you agree that winning requires staying power?
Have you tried to make money from blogging yet? Tell us your personal opinion in the comments section below. Also please leave feedback regarding any questions or suggestions you may have. We hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. Feel free to subscribe to our RSS feed and follow us on Twitter. Thanks again!
Become CEO of your own lead generation software company, just follow our battle-tested guidelines and rake in the profits.