It may have taken ten years but here we finally are. I’m putting pen to paper (or fingertips to screen) to answer that frequently asked question: how to make money with a blog for beginners.
Before we begin, let’s quickly deal with the uncomfortable truth: .making money from blogging and writing is not a get rich quick scheme.
Like so many things in the world, it takes time, work, patience and a touch of luck to be successful.
It also takes talent. But after ten years of doing this and working with bloggers all over the world, talent is the least of it. Perseverance, an interest in learning new skills and aptitude for change matters far, far more.
It also helps if you can write well, but more about that later. (Psst, while we're on the subject, sign up for our free writing skills course here.)
Not all bloggers use all of these techniques. Some use a mix, some use only one.
But here’s how you can make money as a blogger for beginners.
The quickest crossover from the print world to the online one is good, old fashioned advertising. It mimics what we know from the world of newspapers, television and even Facebook ads.
Once you’ve built up a reasonable audience on a blog, companies will pay to reach that audience and they do so in a number of ways.
Direct advertising includes what are called “banner ads” that use a photo or video. They are provided by the company in question and appear directly on the blog, just as they do in newspapers and magazines.
Following on from the traditional route is link-based advertising. Here, it’s the link to the other website that’s important, rather than the visual image of what we traditionally would think of as an ad.
Clearly, these links lead readers to the other website. But they also lead the search engines there as well.
What’s a search engine? Google, Bing, Yahoo and the gang all follow links around the web, just as humans do. It’s valuable to companies to have more links, and so they will pay bloggers to link to them.
Another way to work with links is to join an affiliate program. If you are recommending certain products, be they suitcases or holidays, you may be able to join their affiliate programme. If a reader buys the product or books a tour through one of your blog’s links then you will earn a commission.
Needless to say, it’s important to tell your readers about this and to only recommend things that are worth recommending. Did that seem like a dull and obvious sentence? Yup. It’s just that sometimes it’s worth saying the obvious.
Here, we follow the lead of celebrities, except on a much smaller scale.
Celebrities are paid to wear certain clothes, take selfies on certain phones and fly with certain airlines in order to increase the brand's exposure.
Instead of working on a one-off ad campaign, bloggers team up with companies they have plenty in common with and set up a more personal, long term arrangement.
Examples might include using only certain suitcases, or only going on certain tours.
In the travel world, this can work slightly differently with paid trips abroad. In this scenario, the destination will discuss in advance the message that they want to see emphasised. These are usually pretty broad, such as wanting to highlight the news that destination X is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Or perhaps that a new flight route has opened.
Bloggers link to their pages and tag their social media coverage with pre-agreed hashtags. They then provide reports on how many people interacted with the material and are paid a fee for this work.
Again, it’s crucial to be upfront about editorial freedom (keeping the right to say what you like) and keeping your readers aware. Oh, and only working in a way that suits your moral code to begin with.
Building a successful blog requires skills in several areas. Sometimes it’s possible to “monetize” these directly.
For example, selling images or videos created on a trip to tour companies or destinations.
There are also content aggregation sites, such as iStock, Adobe, Getty and Scopio, where you can upload your images and receive a fee whenever someone buys them.
Access to each of these programmes is different and you need to have all your photographic paperwork in order. This means model releases, property releases and full meta description information complete on every image.
Conferences take place the length and breadth of the world and they are usually crying out for good speakers. Sometimes, these are within your industry, such as the time I spoke at the Royal Geographic Society.
At other times, it can be for career fairs or team-building exercises for companies.
Why does this “count” as a way to make money for blogging? Because you’ve usually built up your credibility on your topic through your blog and that is why and where people hire you.
I also run my own course, Write Better, Right Now. This six week online course offers team support through fellow students as well as personal feedback all aimed at improving your writing.
It's not only directed at bloggers, we talk about how to improve every kind of writing. You can join the waiting list here or take a dip into our free mini writing course here.
See you there! Abi
Having built up an in-depth knowledge on both blogging and the topic of your blog, you are then in a position to charge for consulting on the subject.
In the travel blogging world, some bloggers charge to put together bespoke itineraries for their readers. Others advise tour companies on how they can improve their social media channels.
What is consulting? It’s a fancier, in-depth, personal way of hiring an expert to help you with your questions when you get stuck.
From eBooks to tours of the Himalayas, you can sell products directly through a blog. Many of us shop online now as it is. Buying something from someone we know as an expert makes sense to us and it’s easy to do so through a single click.
Fellow travel bloggers have designed tours for solo travellers, women, or travellers who love photography. Monica, of The Travel Hack, has designed and produced her own suitcase, for example.
In a way, all of the ways to make money from blogging boil down to one thing: using your knowledge to help other people. Teaching is a natural extension of this and covers a range of topics.
Yoga blogs may run yoga courses. Finance sites teach budgeting. Here, I run courses on how to write better to help people demystify the process and develop their own careers as writers.
With your blog as an ever-present portfolio, blogging can also lead to decent freelance work. Typically, this works best for remote work like writing and photography but a decent personal trainer can also arrange for freelance work through a well run, useful blog.
Most bloggers have a social footprint beyond their blog, with channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and so on.
YouTube has its own system whereby the creatives who upload videos can earn money directly through ads as well.
On the other platforms, the more typical arrangement is for companies to pay bloggers to send a certain tweet, Facebook update and so on. Then there is the middle ground, where the blogger decides the substance of update but the link or hashtag is branded.
Once again, all of these relationships should be disclosed, either directly or through the hashtags #ad, #spon or #gifted.
I have been using the Genius Bloggers' Toolkit for years. Why? Because it's such good value for money and includes more resources than you could ever hope to get through.
Quite seriously, the "bundle" contains 26 eBooks, 55 eCourses, five stock photo packs & templates, and access to one membership site and seven workbooks. I never plan to make it through everything, but I know that I'll get value from it. It goes on sale 2nd October and you can buy it here for only $97 (priced separately, it's worth $7395.27.)
Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more. Find out more.
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.