In fact, blogging is the first introduction that many people have to the idea of running an online business. Sadly, it is not as easy as it first sounds to make money with a blog.
In order to turn a profit, you must find a way to successfully grow your audience and you must have a sound monetization plan too.
Traffic Counts in Blogging
There are, quite literally, millions of blogs online, but most of those blogs get only a negligible amount of traffic. Advertisers are not interested in being featured on blogs that get very little traffic.
To attract the attention of advertisers that pay well, you must have a solid user base. Advertisers use a range of metrics to determine which blogs are popular, including RSS feed subscribers, incoming links, and comments, as well as less reliable (but simple) indicators such as Alexa rank and Page Rank. If your site looks deserted and does not score well on those indicators, you will not attract quality advertisers or be able to join good affiliate programs.
So, before you try to make money with a blog, build up a good database of content and start developing your readership. Do not place ads on your blog at this point; focus on writing great content and getting people to comment, subscribe to your feed and share your content with their friends. Be patient and leave the monetization until you have a user base to monetize.
Good Monetization Methods
When you decide that your blog is ready to be monetized, gradually introduce some advertisements. Start slowly, and choose only relevant ads from quality companies. Do not use auto-playing audio or video ads, and stay away from pop-ups and pop-unders too. Some discrete buttons or skyscraper ads in your sidebar will not alienate your visitors, but intrusive advertisements will.
If you accept sponsored posts or want to start using affiliate links, do so sparingly. Clearly mark sponsored posts as such, and make sure that you post several high quality un-monetized pieces for each sponsored post that you run. Be transparent about the fact that affiliate links make you money, and only promote companies that you believe in.
One trap that many people fall into when they try to make money with a blog is that they get greedy and use too many advertisements. In the short term, they may generate some cash from their ads, but in the long term they alienate their readership and have to go back through the process of trying to build up a new blog so that they can make money once more.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Try to follow the same posting schedule for your blog each week. If you cannot guarantee that you will be able to set some time aside to write blog posts every week, simply write when you have time and save the posts as drafts in your blog. Schedule some posts so that your readers know that if they check back on a Monday or Friday afternoon (or another schedule of your choosing) there will be some new content for them.
A blog that posts on a consistent basis looks professional and well-maintained, and is more likely to get subscribers than one that follows a less consistent posting schedule.
Do not limit yourself to text content. Post the occasional video, infographic, or – if your niche lends itself to such content – meme. This content provides light relief and will be appreciated by your users, assuming that you do not over-use it. The secret to blogging success is to find a rhythm that ensures you are able to post consistently, and that your content is high quality.
If you want to make money with a blog, you must serve your readers first, because your readers will be more appreciative of any affiliate marketing that you do if you build up a rapport with them. Become a trusted expert in your niche, and enjoy the benefits of having an online community turn to you for advice about what to buy, and who to buy it from!