One of the most common questions that we get from our customers is how to start a blog and, perhaps even more so, how to start a blog that makes money! It doesn’t seem to matter if you’re looking to create an entire website based on your written content or if you’re just looking to add a small blog to your eCommerce store or the landing page for your SaaS business in order to gain a bit of traction through organic search, starting a blog can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before.
But you know what? Starting a blog isn’t hard at all! As long as you have a computer, a few ideas, and the information that we’ll provide in detail below, you’ll be well on your way to success.
In this article, or blog about blogging, for those who want to get meta, we’ll go over an immense amount of information, but we’ll divide it up and simplify it so that you can come out the other side as an expert.
- You’ll learn about what a blog should focus on and how you should decide on those topics before getting started.
- We’ll give you ideas on how to get started once you know what you’re writing about.
- We’ll give you some tips on what exactly makes a blog successful including a few tips and tricks on how SEO works.
- We’ll get down to the basics on how to put a great blog post together and also provide several ideas for those of you who’d rather find someone else to write for you.
- And finally, we’ll set you up with 20 different ways to monetize your blog once it’s up and running.
So, let’s get started!
What Should I Blog About?
It may seem like a silly question, but figuring out the topic of your blog is far and away the most important step in getting started. You should think about your blog as a magazine. You want readers to know exactly what sort of material is going to be encapsulated within each page. When we pick up a copy of Rolling Stone, we know that we’ll be reading about music in one way or another. An issue of People will most certainly be about celebrities and lifestyle. Home & Gardening will enlighten us about exactly what the title says and Motor Trend will educate on the newest cars and trucks.
You would be confused by a magazine that focused on cats one week, the stock market the next week, and running shoes the week after. It isn’t likely that you’d read that magazine as you are only interested in the topics every once in a while. You’d rather find a magazine that is laser focused on whatever it is that you’re interested in learning about. The same goes for a blog. If you don’t have direction and just start writing about whatever it is that strikes you on any given day, people won’t put in the effort to follow along.
Your blog should have focus!
To help you along the way, here are four general ideas for you to start thinking about when coming up with the subject matter for your blog.
- Hobbies – The best blogs are those that start as passion projects. Some of the absolute best listings that we see on Flippa are content sites that started just for fun and slowly evolved into revenue generating machines. If you’re excited to wake up each day and write about a topic, then your blog can feel more like a hobby itself than work. You can think of it as an opportunity to talk as often as you’d like and for as long as you’d like about your favorite topics without anyone being able to shut you off. Be it craft beer, social media, stamp collecting, or computer building, if you’re passionate about the subject matter, it will work.
- Local Subjects – Not all blogs need to be globally relevant and writing about a local subject can give you a great point of view and access that other people may not have. If you live in a town of 100 people, it might not be the best idea to focus on the local coffee shop as only 99 other people would care about that, but if you live in a medium or large city, there might be thousands of locals looking for relevant information about your local setting and millions of people who might be doing research for travel or business. Blogs about local restaurants and bars are obviously quite popular, but there are also opportunities to talk about local politics, schools, arts, architecture, shopping, or really just about anything.
- Anything You’re An Expert At – Sometimes we take for granted the things that we know really well. If you spend your entire work day dealing in a specialty – be it marketing, civil engineering, or deep sea diving – you are likely much more informed about that particular subject than the majority of the world and you are well equipped to blog about it. If you can be a voice of authority on a topic, that is a perfect place to get your start as you will be able to do a lot of the research and writing yourself, rather than needing to outsource any of the content, at least during the early stages.
- Something Related To Your Business – Are you starting a blog as an extra marketing and branding effort for your eCommerce or SaaS business? If so, your best bet is coming up with a topic that is tangential to whatever it is that you’re selling. You want to bring people to your blog who you can convert to a customer, so it’s important to focus on material that matters. If you sell candles, for instance, you might want to write about meditation, yoga, and the benefits of filling your home with wonderful smells. If you provide software that helps app developers, you probably want to write about new developments in computer engineering or updates on new phone technologies. The blog doesn’t need to be about your exact product – that would likely get boring and you’d run out of material. The blog simply needs to be within the same genre that your customers will be curious about and perhaps searching for on Google.
- Find A Gap In the Market – Just like starting a business, a great opportunity is filling a gap in the marketplace. This might mean finding a small, specific niche that nobody is talking about or it might mean finding a popular topic that simply isn’t being given the attention that it deserves. Sure, there are a lot of food blogs out there, but maybe yours will focus specifically on cuisine made from bananas. If you think it’s worthwhile and you find that nobody else (or at least not many other people) are talking about it, you might have stumbled upon a goldmine.
How To Start A Blog
Now that you’ve taken some time to think about what you will be writing about, you need to start your blog! Of course, there is no single correct answer on how to start a blog, but we’ll provide a few answers here along with resources on how to get under way.
Buy a Blog On Flippa
We would be remiss if we didn’t begin this section with a bit of self promotion. Flippa is bursting at the seams with revenue generating blogs that are available to acquire and run as your own and we’re really proud of that opportunity. Why would you purchase a blog rather than start your own? Well that’s easy – traction.
Let’s pretend for a moment that you dream of opening a pizza restaurant. You start looking around at locations, researching ovens and kitchen equipment, start speaking to ingredient suppliers, read up on marketing programs, etc. Then, amidst that research, you realize that a local pizza restaurant is actually up for sale. You take a look at the restaurant and they have pretty much everything that you’re looking for – a great oven, a similar menu to what you were thinking, great supplier relationships – and what’s more, they already have customers coming into the door – they have recognition! They have cash flow!
So, the option is yours. You can start your own pizza restaurant and work your tail off to make sure it becomes a success (let’s not forget, 80% of restaurants fail!) or you can purchase this already successful restaurant, the one that has hundreds of people coming in the door each month, the one that is already popping up of Google searches for “best pizza in town”, and just change things around a bit to make it feel like your own, maybe even add a few things to help make it bigger and better.
But enough with the pizza restaurant analogy. If you’re curious about all of the content sites that are available on Flippa, just click and we’ll press onward.
Start A Blog From Scratch
While acquiring a blog is a great opportunity, starting a blog from the ground up is the way that most of us begin the process.
The first step for starting a blog from the beginning, is choosing your platform.
There are a number of platforms that allow you to blog. There are all of the website building tools like Squarespace or Wix on the market and those have built in blogging tools if you’re simply using the site for that functionality, but we’ll save you the research effort – use WordPress. It’s our favorite.
WordPress is the go-to for successful blogging and this is for myriad reasons. First and foremost, it’s free. Yes, you might want to host it through another company like BlueHost and that will cost you around $10/month, but WordPress itself is absolutely free. Take advantage of this by getting everything up and running before you start paying for any fees. If this is your first blog, and we’ll assume that it is since you’re reading this article, it might take you a bit of time to learn your way around the system and design a beautiful website.
The second reason that we love WordPress is because it is SEO friendly. We’ll get more into SEO later in this article, but for now, just think of it as the way that Google let’s people find your site when they search for something. Better SEO = more traffic to your blog.
A third reason to love WordPress is the hundreds, if not thousands of plugins available. No matter what you are looking to create, there is a plugin available to help you do it. There are plugins to help you sell products, plugins to help you generate traffic, plugins to help you promote on social media, plugins to help you post videos. Their internal marketplace is easy to use and actually quite fun to search through as you never know what sort of tool you might find in there to help you improve your website.
What Makes a Blog Successful?
Hopefully by now the wheels in your brain have started to turn and you have a better idea on how to start a blog of your own. You’re thinking about what you want to write a blog about and you’re deciding if it makes more sense to start a blog from scratch or to purchase an existing blog on Flippa. So now the real question – what makes a blog successful? Is it really good writing? Is it an extremely exciting topic? Is it the best domain name that you can find? Is it cute photos of cats? What is the answer?!
Well, as much as it pains us to say this, there is no one right answer, not even cute cats. But there are certainly a few things that all successful blogs have in common.
Choose A Topic In A Small Niche
First of all, similar to what we talked about with topics, it’s about finding a good niche. This can mean a few different things, so we’ll lay it out here and let you decide which path you want to take.
Likely the first thing that comes to mind if you are wondering what niche to write about is something large and popular. Naturally, it makes sense to think that writing about politics, music, technology, or beauty tips would be a good place to set yourself, but in reality, these are far from the best places to start. While these topics are certainly evergreen and have an incredible amount of news and opinions that can be shared on a regular basis, if you choose a large niche, you’ll be competing with the biggest and the best. If you want to write about your favorite albums, you’ll be competing with Rolling Stone and Billboard. If you want to create a blog about new tech devices, you’ll be up against TechCrunch or even Microsoft and Apple themselves. Unless you have the ability to create dozens of articles every single day, as these large companies do, it’s unlikely that your little blog will get much attention.
So, what we strongly recommend is finding a small niche with a large following. On Flippa, we’ve seen some of the most incredibly niche sites come through that have the most amazing valuations. Sites about specific toenail fungi or website about underwater welding can often be far more valuable than a site about movies.
What you have to think about when finding your niche is decide if you’re simply looking to start a blog that makes money, no matter the subject, or if you are looking to start a blog that would be fun to create content about on a daily or weekly basis. If you’re just looking to make money, it’s all about finding a gap in the market and exploiting it. If you’re wanting this to be a bit more a fun hobby, think about the things that you like and break it down into subcategories so that you can create a site that is dedicated to a smaller niche within the niche.
Targeting Keyword and Content
When deciding what your blog will be about, it’s important to find something small, but also something that people are searching for. Writing hundreds of articles about something that literally nobody is searching for isn’t going to do you any good, while writing hundreds of articles about a subject that hundreds of thousands of people are searching for, yet not a ton of content is written, is great.
Use a free tool like Keywords Everywhere to search your ideas on Google or even jump onto Google’s own tools like their trends platform and get a better understanding of how many people are searching specific terms, what terms are related, and what the trends look like over time.
Beyond giving you a better understanding on a good niche, this will help you collect ideas for great keyword that can be used as you begin to work on SEO for your blog (we’ll tackle this a bit more below).
Regularly Post and Update
This seems simple enough, right? If you want your blog to be a success, be sure to set a schedule and stick to it. If you have the time, and the information is available, to write a post every day, go for it, but even just writing once a week will slowly result in a robust content site that will have over 100 posts after a couple of years. As long as those posts are of high quality material, you’ll be doing great and be well on you way to making a nice income from just a few hours of work each week.
This is the most important element of all. If you aren’t putting together well written, interesting content that answers the questions that people ask when jotting something into Google, nobody will visit your site – and if they do, they won’t stick around long. We’ll provide a few tips below on how to put together a good blog post with great content and that helps you show up in the search results.
Time is an extremely important part of developing a successful blog and is the one thing that you don’t really have to worry about (other than getting to work today!) The way that many of the search engine algorithms work to pick and choose what shows up in the first page or two of results is how old a website is. For whatever reason, an older website is considered more trustworthy. An older site has had time to gain a bit of traction, found some followers, had other websites link back to it as an authority, and overall just looks like something trustworthy.
Because of this factor, it’s always important to be patient when looking for your content site to become popular. Think of the first 6 months as your moment to build your blog while nobody is really looking, which gives you some leeway for making a mistake or two, and from then on, it’s your time to continue building and maintaining fantastic content.
SEO – What is it? How Do I Do it When Starting a Blog?
We’ve mentioned SEO a few times already with the promise that we’d get to it later. Well, here we are. Perhaps the most important thing to understand about starting a blog, particularly one that you plan to use to make some money, is SEO.
So, what is SEO? The acronym spelled out pretty much says it without the need for explanation: Search Engine Optimization. SEO is a method of techniques and practices that can be implemented to your website so that search engines will like it and display it when people are searching for the information that you provide.
We’ve all used Google before. We’ve used it hundreds if not thousands of times. Chances are, you came across this very post by searching for something on Google. If we did our jobs correctly, you were searching for something to the extent of “how do I start a blog?” or “start a blog that makes money”. If we really did our jobs right, you didn’t need to sift through hundreds of results on Google before you wound up right here, reading this paragraph. With proper SEO, this article should have popped up on the first page of the search results, maybe even as the number one result. Maybe.
And that’s the key. If you want to have a successful blog and you want your blog to have the potential to make money, you want to be on that first page of search results. Hence: search engine optimization.
What’s involved in SEO?
SEO is a matrix of information. There is no one right way to rank at the top of search engine results, but there are a combination of elements that should help you get there. That list looks something like this:
- Great, unique content
- Smart use of keywords
- Proper use of headlines
- Good meta title and description
- Alt text for images
- Good use of links, both internal and external
- Backlinks from other great sites
- A fast loading site
- Solid social media influence
- Site age
For the most part, each aspect of SEO listed above could take up an entire seminar if this were some sort of SEO university, and there probably is an SEO university out there, but don’t do that. There is so much free information on the web or videos on YouTube that you could get all that education piece by piece through your good old friend – Google.
Just for fun, here is the fastest lesson that you could possibly get on what we list above.
Content – Make sure it’s relevant to your audience, make sure it’s written in a way that is actually exciting to read as a human being, not just as a search algorithm, and make sure it’s unique. (Google will give you a big fat “0” if they see you just copy and paste information from elsewhere).
Keywords – We mentioned this above when talking about picking a subject for your blog. Same goes for each post. Be sure you are writing a blog about a topic and focussing on a specific keyword or key phrase that you think people will be searching for when they find you.
Headlines – Break your article in sections and give each section a title that hits your point home.
Meta Description – This is basically the summary that you might see when you are on a search engine. It’s a quick summary of your blog post, like reading the back of a book jacket.
Alt Text for Images – this is a text description of the images that you might insert into your post. All blog platforms allow you to easily add this information and it will add to your SEO.
Links – Search engines are like social workers, they like to see that you’re spreading the love. Link to some other favorite sites and link within your own site to other relevant content.
Backlinks – This is other sites linking back to your site. For instance if we were to hyperlink your website right here, you’d get credit for that as it means we think you’re worth it.
Fast loading site – Hopefully you know what this means. There are endless ways to make sure your site is loading quickly and working well for visitors.
Social Media – It won’t do much to have a Twitter account and put out a note once in a while, but it will help if you have an active Twitter account that gets retweeted on the regular.
Age – Building a great content site takes time.
A Few SEO Tools
You know what is great? You don’t have to be some sort of savant to get this done. There are tools, like with anything, that can help you succeed. In fact, there are probably more tools than you’d find at your local hardware store, so it can be tough to choose which ones you want to keep in your toolbox. There are quite a few that do the job, some cost money, some are free. Of course, as with most things, the free tools aren’t quite as expansive in terms of ability as they would rather you upgrade to their paid versions in order to open up their full power, but if you’re just getting started on your blog, oftentimes the free variation is good enough. Here are just a few SEO devices that we tend to use on the regular, but you can find many more if you do a quick search.
SEMrush is a tool that we love so dearly here at Flippa that we have actually integrated some of their metrics into our own platform. SEMrush is a platform that allows you to research keywords and topics and even weigh them against your competitors to figure out gaps in the market where you can win with great content.
Moz is another top platform, similar to SEMrush, that allows you to audit your site so that you can understand where you would be able to make improvements and also gives you a chance to research keywords and plan to better your blog in the long run.
Yoast is a great tool for our WordPress users. Download it within the WordPress plugins store and fire it up on your site to get instant readings on each post as to how to improve the SEO as you go.
Keyword Finder is a simple to use, free platform to run keyword searches in order to create a list of topics that you want to focus on when starting your blog, or just planning articles that might make some money for you.
Keywords Everywhere is fun as you can simply install the Google Chrome extension which will then show you related keywords and phrases directly on Google itself.
Answer The Public is one of the coolest keyword discovery tools on the market, and for the most part, it is free. The way that it lays out related questions based on a keyword to give you a hint on what people are searching for makes it really simple to focus your content based on what people really want to read.
Woorank is yet another SEO audit machine. Take a look and see if you like it.
Exploding Topics is a great source for those looking to be one step ahead of the game. Use this site to analyze topics that are beginning to trend so that you can be covering that information before everyone else.
Here are a Few Simple Tips and Tricks To Help You Out
Backlinks are one of the best ways to get your blog ranking within search and on its way to making money. There are plenty of scammy, hacky ways of attaining backlinks, but there are also plenty of easy, legal, ways to get backlinks that will not just help your SEO rise, but might give you some more brand awareness, naturally driving traffic to your own page.
One great way to get yourself some backlinks is to apply for awards! There are awards all over the internet for all sorts of things. There are overall ‘best blog’ sorts of awards and beyond that, there tend to be opportunities within your category. There are awards on major food sites for best food blogs. There are awards on major car sites for the best car blogs. Seek these out and apply. It will get you some recognition and, moreso, it gets you a link from a very high authority business.
Everyone is constantly working to improve their content and for the most part, don’t have the resources to do all of the work themselves. Even the largest companies will often accept a guest post from an expert in order to build their own content and typically they don’t have a problem with you inserting a link back to your own website within the article, as long as it is relevant, of course. Pick a few subjects that make sense for you to write about and start reaching out to content managers across the web to see if they’d be interested in having you create a post for them. Just be sure to always write something original as using the same blog post for multiple businesses is bad practice and also bad for SEO as Google takes note of plagiarism, even self-plagiarism.
There are a heap of directory sites out there that would spring into action if you asked them to feature you, especially if you wanted to trade a backlink for a backlink. If you write a blog about cats, find the directories that are rating the best cat blogs and see if you can get included in a post. It never hurts to ask.
This is a bit more helpful for business related blogs than personal or informational content site, but sending out press releases through PR Newswire or otherwise is a great way to get major news associations to print information about you, and hopefully include the link back to your own website. Just one press release can go a long way.
Pick a Few and Go Big
One opportunity within the catalogue of moving up the SEO ranks is to pick a few key words or key phrases that you think could do particularly well for you, like, for instance, how to start a blog that makes money, and write an epic, all inclusive, totally encompassing blog post about that topic in order to gain momentum. You can’t make every blog post the best blog post (thought that should always be your goal! Nobody wants to read boring blogs), but you can make a few blog posts better than the best. Figure out what you have a chance to rank for and go nuts with it.
Don’t Forget Product Descriptions
If you’re creating content surrounding an eCommerce business, don’t forget about your product descriptions! If you have 100 products, that is 100 opportunities to create compelling content and win on specific keywords. It’s important to have creative product descriptions when thinking about increasing your conversion rates, but it’s equally important to think about those descriptions for the top of the funnel, just attracting people to the page in the first place.
How To Write A Blog Post
Perhaps this is the crux of it all. You have started your blog and you understand how to find keywords, but how do you actually structure a blog post? Well, it isn’t too hard, but here are some quick tips.
Remember Grade School
Do you remember back in second grade when your teacher taught you about the five paragraph essay structure? You start with an introduction to your primary topic and within that same first paragraph you introduce three supporting statements for your primary topic. Each of the next three paragraphs expands upon those supporting statements. Finally, you conclude with what has been learned.
Writing a blog post isn’t all that different. Start with a main focus. Here, we’re talking about how you can start a blog. For you, maybe that topic is Why you should never wear shorts or Tomatoes – Fruit or Vegetable? Start off by letting the reader know what you’re talking about and while you don’t need to then list three specific supporting details, you can give a hint as to what you’re going to get into when it comes to supporting your thesis.
Spend time writing about those support elements in detail. Give each one space to earn merit. Finally, conclude your blog post with a summary of what the reader has learned. So simple a second grader could do it.
This is not a time to be Short
Creating content on a website is essentially the opposite of creating content on Twitter. 140 characters might work when you’re trying to capture an experience that you had on your lunch break in a moment in time, but when blogging, there is no reason to be that short. Of course, you don’t want to start meandering off-topic, but taking your time to explain processes or ideas in full will ultimately give you a more comprehensive site and also help search engines understand that this is a legitimate blog. You can almost think of your blog as writing chapters of a book. Eventually you’ll have enough content to publish a 300 page book, and there is a reason that people trust books – a lot of time goes into writing them.
Images and Charts
Images serve two purposes in a blog. For one, they break up the text and make your posts more visually appealing. As they say, “a picture tells a thousand words”, and including the write images or the write charts can reinforce what you’re writing about, helping people understand your message.
The second great purpose of images within a blog are that you can add what is called “alt text”. If you’re working with WordPress or any of the common blogging platforms, you’ll have the option to add alt text to each image that you upload. This is a verbal description of the picture that displays if there is an issue loading the image, can be used by the visually impaired to get an understanding of what you’ve included, and are also recognized by search engines when scraping for information, so this language is a perfect place to include reference to your keywords.
We’re going back to elementary school again. Google likes it when you write as you were taught – including sources! If you make reference to something interesting, create a hyperlink so that people can see what you’re talking about. If you quote a statistic or mention a famous historical event or refer to a book that you once read, link to that information. While it may feel a bit ridiculous, you should also include links to your own website. Perhaps you already have a great blog post on a topic that gets mentioned in passing while writing a new post. Link to that article as the circular nature will help you out in the long run. Be your own source!
Similar to images, headings help both in reading comprehension, breaking up the page into easy to understand topics rather than a long list of paragraphs, and they also help out with SEO. If you’re already blogging, you’ve probably noticed that you can set different headings to be certain size designations – H1, H2, H3, or just “paragraph”. This might seem a bit strange if you’re more used to typing a standard document that just lets you change the type point. It’s important to understand how to use these different headings as, again, it will help with your optimization if you organize your page properly and use keywords where appropriate.
Whoa. So meta. Have you ever searched for something on Google and noticed that there is a nice little sentence beneath the link title that summarizes the article? This is the meta description. If you don’t write one, Google will just take the intro line from the page, which might be gripping, but might not tell everything that you want about the article right up front. Any blog platform that you’re using will provide the option to write a meta description for your article. Here, in a rather concise sentence, you’ll want to both use the keyword that you’re targeting, and summarize what the article is about so that it attracts readers.
Starting a Blog If I’m Not A Writer
It might sound a bit odd, but you can definitely start a money making blog even if you aren’t a writer. Sure, it might seem a bit backwards, and to be quite up front, it might be tough at the beginning, but there are an incredible number of ways to get content for your site without writing it yourself. Some of these ideas might make sense for you even if you are a writer, simply because it’s hard to write everything yourself when there are only so many hours in the day.
Crowdsource Your Copy
No matter what topic you’re developing content for, if there are people who are eager to read about it, there are people who are eager to write about it. On top of that, people love getting recognition for their work and there is no better recognition than being featured on an amazing blog. If you have a social media presence either for your business or your personal persona, shout to the world that you’re looking for some experts. If your blog is already up and running or is attached to a business that already has customers, post about it on the front page of your website. There is nothing to be ashamed about. Just word your search professionally and don’t make it sound needy.
“We love our fans and we want to give them the opportunity to write about their favorite subjects for us!” opposed to “We really need help for our blog. Please email us.”
Lastly search around on Facebook, Reddit, or elsewhere that there might be groups of excited people who are already talking about your subject. This might actually be the best place to start as these people tend to be highly entrenched and enthusiastic.
Guest Posts From Struggling Writers
There are hundreds of struggling writers out there looking to beef up their resumes. They are applying for jobs that ask them to submit a portfolio and they don’t have a portfolio to submit. Seeking people out on LinkedIn or even craigslist could be a way to find folks who just want an opportunity to write and are willing to do it just for the exposure.
Alternatively, reach out to competitive websites, or perhaps websites that are on a similar broad category, but covering a different tangent. Like you, these people are looking to beef up their SEO by obtaining backlinks and might be willing to write an article for your website in order to have their link included. This sort of cyclical trade is quite common and a great, cheap way to get quality content without writing it yourself.
This is the most obvious way to get content, but we’re writing it last because the best methods are the cheap methods. There are always people who you can hire to do the writing for you and the most important thing to note is that you get what you pay for. Websites like Upwork or Fiverr are great places to find freelance writers, but it’s important to set your budget in order to find writers who will create content that is actually going to drive traffic, and perhaps more importantly, add quality to your website.
Don’t Steal Articles!
One tip before we move on on ways to monetize your blog – do not steal content. Beyond this being morally questionable, Google notices when a website is posting duplicate content and will penalize you for this in their search rankings. The goal here is to start a successful blog that can make you money, not to start a blog that winds up on the 100th page of the search results because it’s filled with plagiarized material.
How To Make Money With A Blog
You’ve made it! Well, almost. Don’t even read this section if you haven’t already started up your blog and gotten some great articles written based on what you’ve learned previously in this long and winding article. You should have at least 10 great articles written and posted on your site before you consider trying to monetize your blog. But once you do, and some traffic has started to grow (don’t forget, this takes time!) you can consider a number of options to start making a bit of money from your hard work. We’ll run through a myriad of different ideas on how to earn money with your content site. Some of these are easier and more obvious while others might take a bit more work, but the payoff could be large.
Integrating Google Adsense with your blog is probably the most popular means of starting to see cash flow into your business. The reason that this is so popular is for a number of reasons, but first and foremost, it’s easy! If you’re using WordPress, or really any of the major content platforms, there are integration tools that help you set up AdSense on your website with ease. It won’t take you more than an hour or so to get everything set up and running. Once you do have AdSense set up on your website, Google uses their own AI functionality to place appropriate ads on your site. All you have to do is keep on creating content that brings traffic and all of those hungry eyeballs to your pages who just might click on some ads.
2. Ezoic, Mediavine and other Ad Platforms
AdSense is so easy to integrate and Google is such a powerhouse name that people often forget that there are other, similar advertising tools on the market. The two largest competitors to AdSense are Ezoic and MediaVine and we often hear from our community at Flippa that content creators are actually able to make more money using this agency, or similar other ones, than AdSense. It takes a little more work to get things set up with one of these platforms, but the key word is a “little”. And the other key word is “make more money”. Take a look and decide if it’s worth the effort for you.
3. Amazon Associates / Affiliate Sales
Outside of advertising with one of the major platforms integrations, the most popular way that blogs generate revenue is through Amazon affiliate sales. If you’ve ever been on a website that listed out their top five favorite cooking pots or top 7 bluetooth headphones and they then had links that sent you over to Amazon to purchase the item of your choice, that blog is almost definitely an Amazon Associate and they will be getting a small percentage of the sale should you decide to go through with your purchase. There are actually dozens of affiliate programs out there, but similar to Google AdSense, Amazon is a juggernaut. Amazon sells virtually everything imaginable and they make it very easy to integrate their system with your website at which point you can just write your post and sit back while people, hopefully, start making purchases.
Even if you aren’t building a content site that is based on reviewing items or focussing on any sort of retail sales, you should set up an Amazon Associates account as it never hurts to insert a link here and there when you happen to mention an item that you could easily convince people to consider purchasing.
4. Other Affiliate Programs
As mentioned, Amazon does not have the monopoly on affiliate programs. There are several other major competitors and when Amazon recently cut their commission fees, those sites began to become even more competitive. You can see a list of some of those other sites on our blog from that fateful day when the Amazon rates dropped, but the other thing that you should note is that you can often forge a direct relationship with manufacturers or local businesses when you’re looking to promote certain goods or services and those relationship can be extremely lucrative. It’s important to realize this as it will also open your blog up to earning money not just from random items available at a local Target, Walmart or Amazon, but you can promote a local amusement park, a dentist, or a maid service. Nearly any business is willing to give you a cut of sales if you can prove that you provided the customer.
5. Sponsored Posts
You’d be amazed how many businesses would be happy to sponsor a post of yours as long as it is targeting the right audience or promoting their product. Opposed to the randomized ads from MediaVine or Google AdSense, you can reach out to business that you think might by synchronistic for your post and see if they’d be interested in putting their name on the page. For instance, if you’re writing a piece about cowboy hats, and that article starts to gain quite a bit of traction, perhaps there is a major country & western retailer that would be willing to pay to have their brand associated with that content.
6. Sponsored Site
The home page of your blog is prime real estate, especially once you start getting some fantastic traffic. While you might have a big banner ad sitting there for AdSense to use, consider getting rid of that and use it for a real, targeted advertiser. If you can find a business that is interested in displaying their name front and center on your website as a promoting sponsor, you can often charge thousands of dollars each month in exchange for the exposure as long as your visitor count is worth it to the advertiser.
7. Paid Content
Once your website starts to rank on Google, it becomes a powerful commodity itself. Even if you’re getting just a couple thousand visits each month, you can likely get people to pay a few dollars to write a post on your site that promotes their business and targets your audience. If your site is getting thousands or unique visitors, you can charge quite a bit. There is no set in stone way to decide what to charge, so you’ll want to do some research to be sure you aren’t asking too little or too much. Of course, if you are willing to allow sponsored posts, it’s a great idea to have your contact information readily available through a link in your website footer so that people can get in touch.
8. Create an eBook
You’re already writing and most likely you’re writing a lot, why not turn your best content in to a downloadable eBook that you can sell to your fans? This is a really common monetization technique. If you’re able to draw hungry readers to your site who are searching for specific, high quality content, you can tease them with all of your blog posts, but keep the real gems in an eBook. The best thing about a digital book is that you make it once and it can be purchased infinite times by infinite customers. If you charge just $5 or $10, this can quickly become a really nice passive income.
9. Guest Blog On Other Sites
Just as people might pay to post on your site, there are sites that might pay you to post on theirs. Many companies are constantly seeking out great writers to help them fill out their content schedule. If you’ve built yourself as an expert in a specific niche, reach out to some of the larger businesses who might be interested in your expertise. This can be a two headed monster as not only will you be able to offer your services as a writer for a fee, but you can include a link back to your own site, improving your own SEO.
10. Sell Merchandise
We know, we know, you aren’t building an eCommerce store. You aren’t in the consumer packaged goods business. The entire point of starting a blog is to make money on it’s own, not to work with inventory and shipping and customer service. But with all of the print-on-demand sites out there, like Printify or Printful, you can spend literally a single day just placing your logo or a couple of fun sayings onto shirts and hats and then just letting it do it’s own thing. You don’t need to pay for anything in advance, you don’t need to worry about shipping, you just spend a day setting up the service and that’s about it.
9. Drop-ship Products
Well, this is a bit more of becoming a full fledged eCommerce business than the idea above, but it’s still easy, requires no cost up front, and has someone else doing all of the heavy lifting. Companies like Oberlo connect seamlessly with sites like Shopify and let you pick and choose what you want to sell. Typically you’re going through lists of items available from foreign warehouses. All you do is set up the item as if it’s your own product, give it a name, a fun description, and a price. If someone places an order, everything goes through Oberlo. You just get a check.
10. Turn Your Blog Into A Podcast
You’ve already got the content, now you can take that content to a new medium, a new medium with plenty of hungry advertisers. It’s up to you how the podcast might work. For some, it might mean reading your blog posts in an exciting manner. For others it might mean bringing in friends or experts to discuss the content and expand upon the ideas that have been posted on your site. Either way, this provides another means of finding advertisers for your content along with additional customers.
11. Sell Your Expertise As A Consultant
This is definitely a phase three monetization technique. If you want to position yourself as a true expert, you’ll want to first be sure that your site is doing really well. Once it is, that’s your ticket. You are the owner of the #2 website on sunglasses! Or you are the writer of the top performing blog posts on “how to properly wash a dog.” There are businesses starting out every day, trying to figure out what their customers want or just looking for the right way to talk about their product. If you’re up there on the charts as the owner / writer for one of the top performing blogs on that subject, you can certainly sell your services as a business consultant and this can be extremely well paying, depending on the industry and the customer.
12. Sell Your Expertise As A Speaker
Again, if you’re the best at something, you’re worth something. Once you start ranking as a top expert at your given subject, rather than just speaking at a conference or a webinar because you’re looking to gain some followers, you can ask for cash. There are top rated bloggers who ask for upwards of $50,000 per speaking engagement. At a minimum, if traveling for a conference you can ask for your travel to be covered and for a daily stipend while you’re in town. Nothing wrong with a free vacation in exchange for a 30 minute speech.
13. Sell Your Photos
This depends on what your content site revolves around and whether or not you are taking your phone images to subsidize the content. If you are, then you can sell those images. Nearly any stock photo website allows you to create your own account and upload your best photos. Just be sure to tag them appropriately and you might start seeing some dollars coming in as people use your images on their own materials.
14. Sponsored Social Content
Presumably, you have been building an Instagram account, Twitter feed, Facebook page, TikTok profile, SnapChat personality, or who knows what else at the same time as you’ve been building content on your website. You may have just been doing this as a means of promotion, finding some users through fun hashtags and images or videos, but if you’ve grown your following to a decent size, there might be a chance to find some advertisers. Posting an ad on Instagram or elsewhere isn’t even seen as a negative thing these days, it’s pretty much expected. The going rate on Instagram is typically around $10 for every 1,000 followers, but this fluctuates as social media waxes and wanes.
15. Become an Influencer
Whatever this means to you, go for it. It might mean making money through product placement on your social media accounts. It might mean getting paid to show up at a conference or event. If you’ve made it to this level of popularity, you probably don’t need our help figuring out how to monetize your blog.
16. Sell Your Blog On Flippa
This is your exit strategy. You’ve worked for years (or maybe just months) and built a blog that makes a ton of money, but you aren’t interested in running it anymore. You’d rather sell your blog, take that money, and invest elsewhere. Maybe you want to buy a house or a car. Maybe you want to start a business that has requires some hefty upfront investment. Whatever your reason, the best place to sell your content site is Flippa. You can typically expect over two years worth of profit as your selling price, sometimes less, and sometimes much more.
Starting a blog isn’t very difficult and monetizing your blog isn’t difficult either. The tough part is taking the time and effort to build a successful blog that makes a lot of money. But, the first step is half the journey. Whether you want to start a blog from scratch or purchase a site from Flippa, be sure you pick a topic that excites you as this is a project that you’ll keep close and work hard on for quite some time if you’re looking to make it a real success.