You want to start a blog but you're not sure if it'll ever make money, right? Well, it certainly can and it doesn't have to take years to happen if you've got the right strategies in place! But it takes a lot of learning and unpaid, invested time upfront to really make it work.
But man, when you get that first check...*fireworks*
I started this blog in March 2015 and earned my first $236.57 in June 2015 from ad income (Sovrn) and sponsorships (Sverve, now Activate by Bloglovin'). It's rather small when you think of actually depending on that income but it quickly accelerated into a full-time, passive income less than a year later!
(Real Quick: For transparency's sake I want to establish that this income was earned that month but not paid out until later. Some companies pay on a 30-day, 45-day, etc. cycle.)
Let's talk about how you can do the same.
First things first, make sure you have a backup plan if you have financial obligations that need to be met. None of this blogging for profit stuff happens overnight. I personally worked as a Virtual Assistant and freelancer before I made the plunge into full-time blogging.
Okay, let's get into the details!
Pssst You can watch the video below or just scroll down for the text version of this post. And don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel!
How I Started Earning Money as a Beginner Blogger
There were so many factors to getting to that first check but here are the main ones that really made a difference.
1. I prepared my mindset for business
While I haven't always had the perfect strategies, AllisonLindstrom.com (formerly Frugal on the Prairie) has always been a business to me. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty or weird about trying to monetize from Day 1 because you're just playing a different type of ball game from them. It's okay to have profit on the mind!
My blog started producing a full-time passive income (this does not count my freelancing) less than a year after starting it. I credit that to a lot of things but mostly to having my eye on the ball before I even hit Publish.
I educated myself on all the different ways I could money as a blogger so that I knew what my future blogging business model might look like.
2. I determined my main niche then listened to my audience
Your readers know what they want.
It can be hard deciding what you really want to write about. I think I had almost 5 different categories at first. I wrote about what I really love (I still do- follow your passions!) but I also listened closely to my readers and analyzed their responses to my content.
What posts did they really like?
What did they sign up for (i.e. which subscriber incentive)?
What are they not interested in?
What are their pain points?
How can I help solve their problems?
I also think it’s incredibly important that you choose a narrow and specific niche. It’s no longer good enough to be a general “lifestyle blogger” or “mommy blogger” simply because there are so many people that are already doing that!
Here are 160+ blog niche ideas to get you started with your brainstorming process, so you can figure out what niche you want to go with.
UPDATE: As of January 2019, I have a couple of thousand students that are in my paid blogging courses. I've also had tens of thousands of bloggers come through my free courses and resources. Here are the top 5 broad blog niches I see them choose for their blogging business.
3. I actually started the darn blog
If you're interested in starting a blog, I have a step-by-step tutorial for setting up your domain and hosting here, which can be a headache to figure out if you've never done it before! I highly recommend and use Bluehost for my hosting! (<---That's an affiliate link but girl, I never recommend something I don't love or use ;)
"Fear of failure."
That's the #1 reason my blogging students say they waited too long or still haven't actually done much with their blog!
Let's just take a moment and talk about how brave you're being, putting yourself out there online for other people to see. Depending on your content, you could also have very controversial topics and open the door for mixed feelings about the blogosphere.
Yes, you will probably run into a few meanies. But you'd run into them even if you weren't blogging because this beautiful world is just really messy sometimes. Embrace the fear and go start your blog so you can make a difference.
4. I connected with other bloggers
Bloggers help bloggers. We may have our fair share of copycats and high school moments but we are primarily composed of driven, passionate people who just want to help each other and their readers.
Reach out to a blogger you admire and give them a genuine compliment. Ask them if they'd like to have a Google Hangouts or phone call brainstorm session. Connect with these people because in a lot of cases, they're the only socialization we get as work-from-home entrepreneurs.
5. I wrote a good collection of posts
You wouldn't invite a large group of people to a house you hadn't moved into yet, would you? Before you start promoting and inviting people to your blog, make sure you have a solid collection of articles to keep them occupied once they arrive.
I believe I started promoting and inviting when I had somewhere around 20-30 posts written. As you write more, you'll have more to promote which means you may get more traffic. It all goes hand in hand.
6. I changed strategies when what was working for the crowd just wasn't working for me
Oh, Google AdSense, how you disappointed me. I obviously wanted to monetize early on but nothing ever seemed to click with them. Either the ads weren't showing properly or there was a glitch somewhere (human error, I'm sure...). Eventually I threw in the towel and said, "This is working for everyone else but not for me. Time to try something new."
Enter Sovrn! Sovrn is an ad company that doesn't have a minimum pageview requirement. It's a Godsend for newbie bloggers because we're still just trying to get our ducks in order and don't have anywhere near 100k pageviews/month yet (which is what a lot of larger ad companies require).
If something isn't working for you or your business, try something else. Don't worry too much about everyone else's tactics. You are your own rockstar.
Because you absolutely can. There is a lot of sweat and tears (I've lost count of how many times I've been rejected from a business or crashed my site) but it is so worth it once you hit your stride.
Special Note: This post isn't about bragging but about showing others that yes, you can make money from blogging. Everyone's journey is different. There are bloggers that may move faster than you or others who may fall behind you. Just focus on your own journey, kick a little blogging bootie, and you'll start to see the results before you expect them. :)