How to Make Money Blogging in 2021: The Complete Guide
The idea that you can make money blogging sounds like a dream. Not only do you get to work independently and skip the 9-to-5, but you can also blog from anywhere in the world about the topics of your choice. While it involves hard work, it’s perfectly achievable for anyone, including beginners, with the right strategy.
The first step, of course, is to create a blog. After that, you’ll need to grow your blog’s audience so that you can ultimately earn money from it.
Whether you’re simply looking for a side hustle or want to make a living from blogging, this comprehensive guide will walk you through actionable steps on how to start a blog, how to build your readership and grow your blog. Then, you’ll learn about the robust tools you can use to turn your website traffic into money.
How to make money blogging in 10 steps
Choose a profitable niche
Scale your blog content
Build a reputation
Promote and grow
Advertise within your blog
Offer paid subscriptions
Become an affiliate
Write sponsored content
Provide consulting services
How much money can you make blogging?
Before we dive into the steps to make money blogging, let’s talk about how much you can actually bring in.
How much money can you make as a beginner? Earning a full income as a blogger is more realistic than you might think. Finance blog Millennial Money reports that after just 2 years of building traffic and subscribers, bloggers can make upwards of $100,000 annually. Even within just the first year, bloggers can easily make an extra $500-$2,000 per month.
Let’s look at a few examples from this study of successful bloggers:
As you can see, there’s a wide range of incomes you can earn as a blogger. But aside from the numbers, there are a few important takeaways to remember before you begin:
Making money blogging is realistic for anyone.
There are several different ways to make money blogging.
Successful bloggers tend to use many of the same strategies to make money.
Let’s break these ideas down further and discuss what, exactly, these strategies are.
How to make money blogging, part 1: Build your online presence
Before you start making money, you’ll need to start a blog and grow your audience. Think of it this way: more traffic to your blog equals more money.
For that reason, earning money begins with choosing a strategic blogging niche and spreading the word about your blog. Here’s how to do it:
01. Choose a profitable niche
If you’re just starting a blog, you're probably asking yourself, What should I write about?
Before you dive into writing, you’ll need to choose a niche. Pick one overarching theme for your blog so that you can hone in on a particular field and attract a targeted group of fans.
When selecting your niche, it’s important to start with your passions - after all, you’ll be dedicating lots of time and effort to this subject. But if you’re serious about making money blogging, you also need to think about subjects that people are interested in reading about, and that will ultimately be financially viable.
With that in mind, there are three questions you need to ask yourself when choosing a blog niche:
What are my interests?
Who is my audience?
Which topics are profitable?
Question 1: What are my interests?
In order for your blogging efforts to be sustainable in the long term, you’ll want to write about something you’re genuinely passionate about.
Likewise, consider your level of professional experience. If you have no prior connections to your blogging niche, you’ll have a harder time establishing yourself as a credible source of information in that industry.
On the other hand, if you have work experience, educational background or connections in a particular field, you’re already prepared to write blog posts about those subjects and will have an easier time building trust among your readership. Take a look at these blog ideas - they'll jumpstart your imagination.
Question 2: Who is my audience?
If there’s demand to learn about your niche, and if you offer knowledge or information that satisfies an important need, then readers will flock to your blog. Use the subjects you’re interested in to think about what kinds of readers you might attract.
Then, think about the kinds of problems people face - and the solutions they’re seeking - within those fields. That way, you can create a blog that centers around targeting these groups and providing them with the answers they need.
Question 3: Which topics are profitable?
While you can blog about nearly anything, some blog niches tend to be more profitable than others. To anticipate whether you can make money blogging with a particular niche, consider the opportunities for sales in that subject area.
If you’re creating a cooking blog, for instance, an article about the top kitchen appliances is a great opportunity for promoting affiliate links or placing ads. If you’re thinking about writing a digital marketing blog, you might consider opportunities to sell e-books or offer consulting services.
Types of blogs that make money
Several types of blogs can be profitable if you know how to manage them strategically, but here are the most common:
Business and marketing blogs
DIY and crafts blogs
Nutrition and food blogs
Whichever niche you choose, it’s important to think about the monetization factor from the very beginning and set goals for making an income from your blog. This will ensure you build a strong foundation from the get-go.
If you’re still stuck on what niche to focus on, these blog examples can help provide guidance.
02. Scale your blog content
Now that you’ve selected your niche, it’s time to start creating content. As you begin, keep in mind that the strategy behind your articles is just as important as the writing itself. Your articles, of course, will involve a lot of writing - but they’ll also involve a great deal of research and planning.
On top of that, you’ll want to upload new content consistently and frequently without compromising on quality. Here’s what you should know as you start creating and scaling your content:
Choose the right topics
Just as you selected a strategic blog niche, you’ll also want to choose strategic topics to write about. The best topics must accomplish two things:
They address the needs of your target audience and offer them a thoughtful, actionable solution.
They target keywords with high search volumes - a number that indicates how many people are looking up a given word or topic during a selected time frame (typically one month). The idea here is that the higher the keyword volume, the more interested people are in that topic. When your articles provide a thorough answer to people’s search queries, the more likely it is to rank on search engines - which, in turn, will bring people to your site (more on that later in Step 4).
Writing headlines is also an important step you don't want to forget. Be sure to accompany all of your blog topics with catchy titles. The catchier your blog titles, the more likely it is that people will click to read the content.
To reach your initial goal to get more site visitors, you’ll need to post fresh content frequently. Aim to publish a minimum of 3 to 4 new posts per week so that you maximize organic traffic.
On top of that, you’ll want to publish regularly. Don’t release a huge batch of articles one week, only to publish nothing the following week. Instead, create an editorial calendar and plan a consistent publishing schedule ahead of time. This will signify to Google that you run a healthy, active blog.
Distribute the workload
As you consider how to make money blogging, remember that you’re not only building your online presence; you’re also sharpening your entrepreneurial skills. You’ll soon realize that creating upwards of 3 posts per week is a lot to handle alongside business management.
Still, don’t let that slow you down. Consider getting extra help as you launch your blog so that you can scale your content quickly. You can do this by:
Outsourcing some content to freelancers so you can scale your content quickly.
Opening up your blog for other bloggers to publish articles to your site (a great free option for you that also gives publicity to the guest contributor).
Whichever option you choose, the bottom line is that you structure your workload in a way that enables you to focus on business strategy as well as writing.
03. Build a reputation
Once you’ve created a large amount of strategic content, the next step toward making money blogging is to establish yourself as an authority in your field. These tips will help guide you:
Try guest blogging
Start by expanding your online presence, particularly in the writing and blogging world. You can reach out to online publications in your niche and pitch ideas for guest posts. Remember to send a link to your blog alongside your pitch as evidence of your experience in the field.
To find guest blogging opportunities, browse your favorite publications to see if they publish content by outside contributors. Here are some publications that accept guest writers, with links to their Contact Us or Contributor pages:
Alternatively, if you follow any bloggers in your niche, you can search for their name online and see where they’re getting published. That will point you toward sites that are accepting guest content.
From there, you can pitch an idea to a writer or editor over email or via LinkedIn. If you already have a relationship with them on Twitter, you can also pitch them ideas there. These are two of the most commonly used social media platforms by professionals, and they’re often an effective way to reach people in the online publishing world.
Don’t be discouraged if your pitches aren’t accepted right away. That’s a perfectly normal situation for many, and your pitches will be accepted as you improve your outreach efforts. Besides, the more content you have published, the more you’ll build up your reputation - and the easier it will be for you to get published in the future.
If you’re lucky, some publications may offer you payment for your contributed content. This is already a great start when it comes to making money blogging. That said, even if guest posting doesn't compensate you financially, it’s still a great opportunity to network with others in your field and start growing your readership. With enough experience, you could eventually land your own guest column.
Guest blogging also comes with the benefit of providing backlinks to your own blog, which boosts your SEO. This is important because it makes your site more visible on search engines like Google, thus directing traffic to it. Read this article for more tips on SEO for bloggers.
Collaborate with experts
Another way to establish your credibility is by working closely with other experts in your field. This will give you more exposure and help you build an audience.
Begin by reaching out to professionals within your blogging niche - this could be a successful guest writer you follow or the editor of your favorite publication. Ask if you can conduct an interview with them, either as a guest post or for publication on your own blog. While this may seem like a bold request, people in this position are often happy to give interviews since it also increases their exposure.
Likewise, you can cross-promote other bloggers in your industry. Give their articles a shoutout on your social media posts and blog, and engage back and forth with them on Twitter. Chances are they’ll start reading your content as well and return the favor.
04. Promote and grow
At this point, you know that the more people read your blog, the easier it will be for you to earn an income from it. For that reason, growing your website traffic is an important stepping stone for making money from your blog.
Before we dive into how to promote your blog, keep in mind that marketing your work is an ongoing effort. You should promote your site alongside all other steps, from the very moment you publish your blog. Even as your readership grows, marketing your site will be just as crucial to its success as the blogging process itself.
Here are some ways to spread the word and build your popularity:
Optimize for SEO
As mentioned earlier, SEO is critical for getting your website on Google. If you want people to find your blog, one of the best ways to do this is by creating content that ranks on the first page of organic search results for relevant queries. For example, if you’re creating a baking blog, you’ll want to appear in the top results for queries such as “birthday cake recipes” and “carrot cake recipes.”
To do this, you should not only strive to create the most informative blog posts on the web, but you should also optimize these posts by using strategic long tail keywords - a specific type of keyword that targets your precise audience.
While this might sound intimidating, finding these keywords is actually quite simple for beginners to learn, especially with the help of certain keyword research tools. These types of blogging tools - which includes Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs (pictured below) and more - point you directly to the terms you should include.
If you’re completely new to SEO and keyword research, it’s worthwhile to set aside some time to take a quick online SEO course, many of which are available for free. Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO is a great place to start.
You can also take a look at this blog post checklist to make sure you’ve covered all the SEO basics, from keyword research to image optimization and more.
Create a newsletter
Another way to drive traffic to your blog - and make money as a result - is by making an email newsletter to promote your content. This will ensure that people who find your blog will come back to read future posts.
But how do you get people to subscribe to your newsletter in the first place? Here are some ideas:
Create lead magnets: People are much more likely to sign up if they’re offered something valuable in exchange. Commonly known as “freebies,” lead magnets are just incentives that you offer in exchange for a subscription. Your offers might include a free e-book or guide, a complementary slide deck or online course, or a coupon code for your online store.
Create opt-in forms: Opt-in boxes typically take the form of pop-ups or slide-ins asking readers to subscribe. Because they’re hard to ignore, they tend to grab the attention of site visitors more so than static text. You might choose to create an opt-in form that directly tells visitors to subscribe to your emails. Another route is to make opt-in forms that highlight your lead magnets and that ask visitors to enter their email addresses in exchange for the free reward.
Build a social media strategy
If you didn’t promote your articles on social media, you’d be making a major blogging mistake. Social media marketing, like SEO, is a great free way to get more exposure.
Not only should you share a link to your blog on your personal channels, but you should also consider creating separate social media accounts dedicated to your blog. Try creating a Facebook business page so that you can promote your blog on Facebook, as well as dedicated business accounts on Instagram and YouTube.
Once you do this, grow your audience even further by content to accompany your articles. For example, make Instagram and Pinterest posts that feature images or infographics, and then link back to your blog articles within the posts. Likewise, you can repurpose your blog content as YouTube videos, and then include a link to the relevant article beneath each video.
Expand your reach even further with different types of creative content formats. Post informative how-to videos on your site, and share your insights by hosting a podcast or webinar. The more varieties of content you create to promote yourself as an expert in your field, the more likely people are to discover your blog.
While you should initially offer this content for free in order to build your audience and drive traffic to your blog, you can eventually start charging as an additional source of revenue. Keep this in mind as you think about how to make money from your blog.
How to make money blogging, part 2: Monetize your content
Once you have strong content strategy and a growing online presence, you’ll probably be wondering how to monetize a blog.
To start making money with your blog, you’ll want to use tools to enhance your website as well as resources like company partnerships and affiliate programs. Here are some ideas:
Advertise within your blog
Offer paid subscriptions
Add affiliate links
Write sponsored content
Provide consulting services
Now that you’ve set your blog up for success, here’s how to earn a profit using the methods above:
05. Advertise within your blog
One way to make money blogging is to add Google AdSense ads to your blog posts - and generate income as a result.
What, exactly, is Google AdSense? It’s a program that allows you to place ad spaces on your site. Google then fills those spaces with advertisements that are relevant to your blog and site visitors. You, in turn, earn money when those ads are viewed or clicked.
This is a popular and lucrative advertising program that lets bloggers turn their website traffic into money. You have the freedom to choose your preferred ad sizes, shapes and placement, allowing you to optimize for clicks while maintaining a non-intrusive browsing experience for visitors.
If you decide to go this route, there are a couple tricks that will help boost your earnings:
Create high-quality content: Even if your goal is to make money with your blog, you should always prioritize the quality of your content. If your content is strong, you’ll get traffic. And when you get traffic, your blog becomes an attractive space for advertisers.
Find lucrative keywords: As you’re doing keyword research for your blog posts, keep an eye out for transactional termsthat might interest advertisers. These include keywords that could potentially result in a sale, like “Best DSLR cameras” or “How to take professional photos.”
Choose ad style and size strategically: The visual appearance of your ads can be the determining factor in getting clicks. You need to make your ads visible, but you’ll also need to ensure they don’t annoy the reader. For the best results, use ad colors that are part of your blog’s color scheme,but contrast well with the background. Tools like Bannersnack are a great option for customizing your ads’ design.
A/B test your ad placement: When it comes to making money using ads, not all ad space is equal. The same ad can perform differently depending on where it’s located - for instance, at the top, at the bottom, or on the side of a page. Conduct A/B tests to figure out which ad spaces get clicked on most, and use the results to inform your ad placement moving forward.
You can also add an ads.txt file to your blog. While Google AdSense is the biggest provider, using ads.txt gives you the flexibility of connecting with ad providers other than Google.
06. Offer paid subscriptions
A second tip for how to make money blogging is through creating and selling subscription plans. This lets loyal readers buy access to exclusive content.
Of course, some of your content should remain free - after all, readers will want to explore your blog before deciding whether to buy. But you can supplement the freebies with in-depth posts that offer exclusive insights subscribers would be willing to pay for.
To pique your readers’ interest, be sure to give them a preview of each exclusive post, and then ask them to subscribe to continue reading.
A similar, but slightly different, approach is to offer paid memberships to your site. You can reward members with a variety of perks, including access to webinars, downloadable resources, and free blog content.
07. Sell merchandise, e-books and more
Another profitable option is to sell products directly through their site. To do this, you can open an online store that takes visitors directly to your products. This lets you sell items related to your blog niche or personal brand.
Keep in mind that your products don’t have to be physical; many bloggers opt to sell digital goods as well.
Here are some options for the kinds of items you can sell:
Webinars and virtual events
T-shirts, stickers and merchandise with your blog logo
Handmade crafts and other goods
If you run a fitness blog, for example, you might sell branded sports equipment. If you manage a travel blog, on the other hand, you might try selling digital travel guides for download.
08. Become an affiliate
Remember when we looked at how much bloggers are actually making? Their expense reports show us that nearly all top bloggers use affiliate marketing as part of their monetization strategy. There’s a good reason for this: affiliate marketing is a relatively easy source of passive income.
Affiliate marketing essentially means that you make money blogging by promoting other people’s products. This involves adding affiliate links to various products or services within your posts, throughout your site, or across your social media accounts. When your site visitors click on those links and make a purchase, you’ll earn a commission from the sale.
To find brands to partner with as an affiliate, browse the web for affiliate marketing programs that can connect you with different products or companies. Some of the most popular programs include:
CJ Affiliate: Connect with widely recognized brands and earn commissions by promoting their products.
ShareASale: Build profitable partnerships with brands across a variety of sectors.
Amazon Associates: Promote products sold on Amazon and earn up to 10% in associate commissions.
Affiliate marketing is an effective strategy for both professional and personal blogs, so take the time to try out a few different platforms to find the one that works best for you.
09. Write sponsored content
As your blog grows, you might even find yourself getting approached by companies who’d like to sponsor you. The company will compensate you for each post you create, as you’re essentially advertising their products to your audience. Often, these gigs come with extra perks, like free products from the company for you to review.
These posts tend to take the form of product reviews or other demonstrations of how you use a company’s products or services. A good practice is to recommend products you truly believe in so that you retain your readers’ trust. In addition, look for partnerships that enable you to create a series of sponsored posts across an extended period of time. This ensures a recurring source of revenue.
To find these opportunities, you don’t need to wait around for companies to find you. Take initiative by reaching out to the top organizations in your field and inquiring about sponsorship options. Be sure to explain why the brand would benefit from the collaboration. For instance, tell them about your number of monthly visitors and what they stand to gain from reaching your audience.
10. Provide consulting services
The final way to make money blogging involves harnessing all the knowledge you’ve gained as a professional blogger. Using your blog as a portfolio, offer your own expertise as a service and promote yourself as a coach or consultant.
Depending on your field, you can either work with individuals or act as a consultant for companies. Many types of blogs, from marketing to nutrition and design, are a natural stepping stone for a full-fledged consulting business. For instance, you might build on your blogging experience to become a digital marketing consultant or a food coach.
To start, try offering services to individual clients, and entice them with special packages and discounts. You can also branch out into group services, such as conferences and public speaking events, webinars and online courses. If people find that your blog offers genuinely valuable insights, chances are they’ll be happy to pay for one-on-one advice that’s specifically tailored to their needs.
Earn a living by creating a blog
Writing a blog isn’t just a hobby; it’s also a way to make money and live on your own terms. As you’ve seen, there are a multitude of ways to turn your website traffic into cash. Follow these tips to grow your audience, build your reputation and make your content profitable. With a combination of quality content, business smarts, and professional monetization tools, you’ll be well on your way to earning revenue from your blog.
By Rebecca Strehlow
Small Business and Marketing Expert