At the end of 2012, I was exactly where you are right now.
I was sitting in my college dorm room reading up on blogging and wondering how the heck I was gonna make money from the thing.
Up until that point, I had installed Google Adsense on the website and made a grand total of $3 from advertising.
Haha, let’s just say prospects looked grim. $3 in advertising income was barely enough to take my girlfriend out for coffee.
Over the next few years, I grew the blog into my full-time job and discovered a TON about blogging along the way.
But, let’s back up a few steps. I didn’t actually start my first blog to earn money. My first blog was made up of a collection of thoughts, stories, and ideas that I had throughout high school.
It was hosted on WordPress.com and I used the subdomain “The Thought Hole.” This was in 2009.
Over time, that blog racked up over 200,000 views and over 100,000 in 2010 alone.
I’ve gone through my experience starting this blog in the past. Basically, I ended up closing it down at the start of college. I didn’t really see the point of keeping all these awkwardly written posts on the internet.
I also didn’t realize I could have made a substantial amount of money from the thing. Man, if I could go back in time, I would have kept this blog alive.
My next experience with blogging was when I launched my very first professional blog.
This second blog has been seen over 3 million times and has developed a strong base of consistent readers.
I’ve also started other websites, forums, and the blog you’re reading right now, which did over 50,000 views in 2016.
I don’t share all of this to brag. To be quite honest, I’ve gone through some major struggles. I simply want to show you what is possible.
I wish I could have gone back in time and told myself to be more confident. To dream bigger. To work day and night to understand blogging.
I would have gotten where I am MUCH FASTER.
Below, I’m going to share my knowledge with you out of the hopes that it accelerates your success. Hopefully, you’ll also come back and share your story with me.
Step 1: Will Your Topic Make Money?
As much as I’m an artist at heart, I recognize that you gotta make enough money to support yourself. That’s why I’m very realistic about the earning potential of any website I set up.
Let’s talk turkey.
There are two types of blogs:
- Informational/Educational blogs
- Entertaining blogs.
The best blogs do a bit of both, but if you’re just starting out, you’re gonna have to pick one of these categories.
Although you can make money with both of these models, your priorities are going to be different going in. Informational or educational blogs make money by using their content to attract an audience.
The content develops an initial relationship with the audience. The blogger then can monetize that attention with:
- Digital Products (courses, ebooks)
- Affiliate Marketing (selling other people’s products)
Typically, the blogger is an expert in what they’re writing about. Because the blogger helped a website visitor in a small way, that visitor is way more likely to spend money on their time or one o their products.
The main questions that you have to answer are:
- Target audience: Who wants to learn about this topic?
- Market size: How many people want to learn about this topic?
- Profitability: Are they willing to PAY to be helped with this problem?
Naturally, the bigger and more profitable markets usually have more competition.
Entertainment-centric blogs can also monetize with the above methods, though they also create physical products like card games, comics, a web series, or swag that they then sell to their audience.
I’ve never made a solely entertainment-focused blog, but from what I’ve seen, these are the questions you must answer:
- Genre: What emotions do you want to give your audience? Do you want them to laugh? Be outraged about controversial news?
- Distribution Medium: How do you want to tell stories? Written format? Comics? Video?
- Stickiness/Audience Retention: Will people want MORE of what you produce?
Most of the monetization strategy will be centered around continuing and heightening the emotions that you deliver to your audience on a regular basis.
For example, a cute plush toy that reminds them of a main character in a comic that you produce is a continuation the story that you created on the blog.
They can look at that plush toy and smile, or laugh. They might be reminded of a scene, or something silly the character says. You’re delivering MORE emotions to them.
Step 2: Get Professional Hosting (here’s why)
Below, you can see a screenshot of my early blog. It’s cringeworthy, but it did get traffic.
I made the mistake of hosting my very first amateur blog on wordpress.com. This was a mistake for a few reasons:
- Little control over website functionality
- Lack of primary domain killed branding opportunities
- Lackluster analytics about my website visitors
I now host my blog privately, which costs me about $4 per month. This gives me 100% control over my website. It also enables me to easily install Google Analytics and get a massive amount of data about my website visitors.
Most major hosting providers now include a WordPress install feature where it’s super easy to set up your website. It didn’t always use to be this easy, haha, so don’t take it for granted.
If you need help getting started, I’ve put together a short YouTube video that will show you how to set up your blog in 5 minutes or less. This is a live demonstration, meaning that I’m setting up an actual niche website in the video.
Once you set up your website, it’s time to talk about making a content schedule. This schedule will make sure that you stay consistent during your first two months of blogging.
A lack of consistency is the #1 reason why most people quit new projects. Whether it’s blogging or exercise, consistency is king.
Step 3: Avoid The Main Reason Bloggers Quit
The main reason that bloggers stop blogging is… they get bored. They’re not motivated. They think blogging is too hard or confusing.
At the very root, there is a lack of consistency in their work.
You need to put out content on a consistent basis if you want to become a professional blogger.
The best way that I’ve found to avoid falling into this major pitfall is to automate away the problem.
You can pre-schedule content to go out once per week for the next two months. That way, you’re guaranteed a certain level of consistency. This is super easy to do with a FREE WordPress plugin like Editorial Calendar, which you can see below.
Once you set up this system, you’ll be guaranteed consistency. You can then worry about other things, like learning how to monetize your blog, or you can even spend your time getting more traffic by writing guest posts for other blogs.
When I was starting out, I was writing three original blog posts every single week. This is the volume of content that you need to be putting out if you want to seriously accelerate your results.
Of course, not everyone is going to read these articles in droves, but you’ll learn A TON in a very short amount of time. You’ll begin to develop a library of articles that you can reference in future posts.
If you’re doing your job right, you’ll also begin to receive traffic from google, the way that THIS BLOG that you’re reading right now does.
Step 4: The Real Secret to Success
I can sum the secret to success up in one sentence.
“Learn as you go, and keep learning.”
When you’re just starting out, you’re going to encounter problems daily. You’ll still encounter problems on a weekly basis YEARS into the blogging process.
You have to google the questions, follow the steps, and fix the problems. No one is going to do it for you.
At first, I didn’t know how to start a blog.
I googled the question. I kept googling it. I learned about monetization, traffic generation, SEO, and more. I put those discoveries into practice and over time, they paid off.
At first, I didn’t know how to get YouTube subscribers.
I googled the question, read what info was out there, tried things out, and recently I got my first 1,000 subscribers for my primary channel.
At first, I didn’t know how to start or grow a podcast.
I googled the question, tried things out, and now the podcast has done over 80,000 downloads.
The pattern here is that you MUST be willing to learn, you MUST try things out, and you MUST put in the work.
No one is going to do it for you.
Hope this introduction to blogging helps. Feel free to leave any questions that you have below!