Learning how to make money blogging takes time and dedication. You won’t turnover your first crisp $100 in a day. You’ll need both writing skills and business skills to manage your writing lifestyle effectively and turn a profit.
There are a couple of ways to go about making money with blog writing: start your own blog, or freelance write for someone else’s blog. If you start your own blog, you’ll get the maximum amount of freedom but will need a lot of business savvy to pull a profit out of it and a lot of tech skills to drive traffic to your site. If you freelance write blog posts for established sites, you get a chance to make a nice pay while learning the blog writing format in more structured environments. Both freelancing and starting your own blog are great ways to make money blogging.
You’ll need to learn a blog voice, which is usually less formal than academic prose and more structured than social media posts. What counts as “blog style writing” varies depending on the audience, but is usually fun, upbeat, and engaging.
Let’s go from process to cash in both your own blog and other people’s blogs, and learn how to start making money from a blog along the way. This post is structured to give you both the freelance/blog business advice and blog writing tips you’ll need. Every good blog writer is also a good businessperson.
Your Own Blog
1. Come up with an idea and brand.
2. Find a hosting service.
3. Write your first post.
Forget hosting sites. Forget dreams of passive income. Forget every buzzword you’ve heard. Start with an idea. Start with a brand. If you’re trying to figure out how to start a blog and make money, you’ll need to start with an idea beyond “I want to make money.”
Blogging is time-consuming, and requires the creation of massive amounts of content, often while working full-time in another position, at least at the start. It’s definitely possible to be a full-time blogger, but it takes a lot of runway and momentum to get there.
The best tips for blog writing are simple: find the intersection of what you love, what you know, and what you want to read. If you don’t love it, you won’t work hard enough to make it happen. If you don’t know it, you’ll get outpaced by people who are more qualified. If you don’t want to read it, don’t assume that anyone else will. You might be able to overcome knowledge with a lot of love, or even love with a lot of knowledge, but pay attention to those three things.
There are a hundred hosting sites out there, like WordPress, Blogger, and SquareSpace. Don’t get caught up in sites that promise to be “blogger friendly” or “optimized for blogging.” As we’ll get into later, such sites may not be the best when it comes to scaling your blog and instituting revenue streams. You want a solid website builder that also allows you to blog. Don’t worry too much about your first hosting platform--just find something free. The option of premium plans later is fine, but nobody should be signing you up to pay for blog writing to start.
Scaling and Writing Process
In under an hour, you can come up with an idea, find a hosting service, and write your first post. As you probably know, a single post on the backlinks of the internet and the deep space of Google won’t exactly drive traffic or revenue.
Looking for writing a blog tips on the internet is a great way to start. Comb through a few pages to get a general layout of the advice, and then build a plan. When looking at blog examples, writing is key. Pay attention to the way paragraphs are structured, the way sentences sound, and the length of posts. Most blog posts come in short form (500, 1000, 1200 word counts), but longform posts are starting to gobble up the front page of Google (3000 word counts). Searching for blog writing examples will help you figure out what your content should look and sound like. Break the rules, of course. But know the rules so that you know what you’re breaking and how to do it creatively.
Tips for writing a blog post:
- Create a catchy title that makes people want to click
- Structure the article with an introduction, conclusion, and main points
- Write snappy, original prose
Tips to writing a blog can be helpful, but you won’t be able to weasle your content around the internet if you don’t have content--and a lot of it. When you start, try to get to a dozen articles as quickly as possible. Get those dozen articles up, and you can put the brakes on a little bit. You won’t need to produce ridiculous amounts of content until you’re turning over a large audience. For the first months of your blog, a dozen articles can function as a great platform for new visitors. From there, one quality article a week is sufficient to engage your growing audience.
Revenue Streams for Your Own Blog
To make money from blogging, you’ll have to find a way to monetize the site. In many minds, learning how to create a blog for free and make money works like this: write some great content, drive huge amounts of traffic to your site, and then set up some ads. You might run Affiliate Links with Amazon, or Adsense with Google. And of course you’ll leverage some native advertising (marketing content that looks like source content) to inflate those clicks.
Truth is, the revenue opportunities for most blogs on affiliate links and banner ads are pretty minimal. Most ads will run on a PPC system, meaning you only get paid when someone clicks the ad, not just for traffic. Conversion rates vary, but you could easily be looking at only 1 click per 1000 views. Even if you get 10,000 people popping by your site every day, you might make only a few dollars in ad revenue. Now, don’t be taken aback by that--a few dollars a day still comes out to $100 a month. We can get that first hundred with ads yet!
The blogs that make money have found a way to monetize traffic, but you don’t have to think in terms of ads and clicks. Can you make money blogging? Yes, but you’ll have to play the long game. Monetizing a blog isn’t about redirecting your audience to advertisers, it’s about connecting and tapping into things that they love. You’re blogging about something. Offer a service or skill, create a product, or sell someone else’s product that’s related to your blog.
If you’re writing a comedy blog and you begin to rack up hits, chances are that a few of these people work near the industry, and a few of them might be interested in comedy writing. You can use blog writing to turn contracts for comedy writing. If you’re writing a blog about literature, writing, or SEO, offer your services as a freelance writer or consultant. A blog doesn’t have to generate ad revenue, and in fact, ad revenue can make your blog look less professional.
Someone Else’s Blog
1. Build your portfolio and angles
2. Identify marketplaces and clients you want to work with
3. Send your first round of pitches
Instead of crawling up from the bottom with your own smattering of content and brand-genius, you can also freelance write for other people’s blogs. The advantage of this is that other blogs can afford to pay you already, and you won’t have to nickel and dime advertisers for months to gain momentum.
When you’re first getting started, make a blank word document and begin brainstorming. You’ll need to collect together a portfolio and figure out some angles that you want to work. What have you studied? Do you have degrees in anything? What is your work experience? Polish your resume, and begin pulling together writing samples. If you want to write blog articles, maybe you have an old essay from college that you can dust off and touch up as a blog post. Maybe you’ve got some journal entries? Compile a list of everything that could go into your portfolio with a little bit of editing (don’t commit to massive rewrites or to original content just for your portfolio).
Once you’ve got some ideas and some articles that you can use to pitch, you’ll need to identify where and who you want to work with. If you’re truly new to the freelance game and don’t have strong work samples, you may want to grind it out on a freelance market site--like Upwork or Freelance or Flexjobs. As for other clients, write for who you know. If you love music blogs, find some music blogs that take submissions. If you love comedy, find some comedy blogs.
Once you’ve gathered a portfolio and identified possible clients, send out your first round of pitches. Pay close attention to the submission and pitch outlines that each of these sites offers. Some places will want very specific things. If you need links to published work and don’t have that yet, add the links to those submission pages under a “future” section of your doc to remind yourself what you’re aiming for! Pitch away. Landing the first few jobs is always the hardest, so pay attention to the types of language and ideas that hit well with clients and repeat that process.
Finding the Right Clients
Upwork and Flexjobs are great freelance sites. In order to land clients, you’ll need a sparkling resume, good work samples, and a good pitch. Most jobs will require at least those 3 things. For higher profile jobs, in addition to those things, you’ll need links to published work that has your name attached to it.
There are three metrics you should be judging your freelance gigs by:
1. Do I love it?
2. Does it pay well?
3. Does it build my portfolio?
If a job satisfies any of these criteria, it might be worth doing. If it satisfies a couple or all of those points, it is almost definitely worth doing. When you start out, you’ll be looking for jobs that satisfy one of those three things. If you can make petty money and you don’t like it but you get your published work on reputable sites with your name attached, then it’s worth it. If you don’t love it and it’s a bit of ghostwriting that won’t add substantially to your portfolio, but it pays well, then it’s worth it. And finally--especially later in your career--if it doesn’t pay well and doesn’t build your portfolio, but you love it, then you still might need to do it.
Don’t lose yourself writing things you don’t love. Sure, some gigs pay the bills. But also go after jobs you love just because you love them. It will sustain you and help you remain a sharp, active freelance writer. Do some for them, but remember to write for yourself as well.
Revenue Streams for Someone Else’s Blog
If you work for Upwork, you’ll get paid through the site directly. The client puts money in escrow when they post a job, and then the payment releases to you upon successful completion of the job. The catch is that Upwork takes 20% of the cut for their services and verification. It sounds like a lot--and it is--but you can minimize this by simply factoring the 20% cut into your bids and income. Once money releases in the Upwork system, you can set up direct deposit right into your bank account. The money will get transferred monthly, twice monthly, or weekly, whatever works for you.
If you’re doing freelance work on your own, you’ll probably need PayPal to receive payment. PayPal is easy to set up and only takes a small fee (around 3%) of each transaction, so you keep most of the money that you make.
You can invoice directly through PayPal, though some companies might want you to create invoices outside of the system. “Invoices” sound super professional, but there are a ton of free websites that show you what they look like. An invoice mostly includes your name and company information (maybe just your name!), along with the company that you’re billing, the dates, and the costs of the goods or services. It also contains a “payable to” line that shows others where to send money. Don’t put bank account information on this line! Usually, if using PayPal, you’ll put the email address associated with your PayPal account.
Conclusions: Start my own blog or freelance?
Starting your own blog, as you’ve seen, requires an idea of your endgame--usually some sort of service to sell or product to partner with. If you’re a great writer who has another great gig economy skill, like coding,
If you write for your own blog, you have a ton of control. You decide when you write and what you write, and you are the quality control. If you like it, it gets posted, and if you don’t like it, it doesn’t get posted. No pitching to industry executives and content editors who will comb your content and offer feedback and suggestions. When you start your own blog you’re a lone wolf racing through fields of language with the wind at your back and the thrill of the hunt ahead. You get freedom, independence, and control.
If you choose to write for other people’s blogs, as a freelance writer, you get steadier paychecks. You get help deciding what to write and you get told when you’ve written enough. Your writing gets better as you’re forced to adapt to new projects and new clients with new expectations. Editors and executives will see your work and offer feedback which, if you can stomach it and accept it, will only make you a much better writer in the long run. When you’re a freelance writer you get to pitch and research new material every day, learning valuable adaptability and business skills.
The great news is, you don’t have to choose. Many freelance writers start a blog to market their own freelance business, and many bloggers use their blog to help land other freelance work. Starting a blog is a great way to begin to build your own voice and gain exposure.
You may not be able to rack up published articles with your name on them for a little while, so a blog gives you a link to put for pitches that want to see your work on the internet. Meanwhile, you’ll probably have a bunch of ideas for articles and material for writing a blog post that doesn’t fit in with your freelance contracts. A blog is a great outlet for the creative content writing that you aren’t getting to do in the freelance game.
Hopefully you’ve gotten some ideas for how to make money from a blog. It takes time and patience, and while you’re making some money you’ll be honing your writing craft at the same time. Start a blog and start freelance writing at the same time to maximize those income sources!