When I first started looking into how to create a money-making blog, there seemed to be endless amounts of resources available! There are so many pieces of advice and places to go to monetize a blog with just a quick Pinterest search. Sometimes it seems like there are more blogs out there about blogging than any other writing niche. What I didn’t really seem to find was a selection of posts about what the process of getting a blog going would actually be like. I found many how-tos full of affiliate links or income reports from people who were making pennies to a few dollars each month. The reality is that many of us fall in between the high-traffic/high-income blogs and the ones that are struggling to find any readers at all. Here is what you can really expect when you want to grow a business and get paid to blog.
I am just now at the end of my fourth month of blogging, and I thought it was about time to post some sort of update about how this whole experience is going. I don’t want to post the typical income report because I find those to just cause us to compare ourselves to other bloggers. I am by no means an expert, but I have learned a lot through my experience and I want to share my knowledge with any new bloggers out there as well as anyone who is considering starting a blog.
It is important to know that growing a blog as a business means that you will have to treat it like a business. It will take work, it will take time, and your growth may be slow to start with. All of that is ok! You just have to be ready, do your research, and have some patience.
*Please note, this post does contain some affiliate links. For more information please see sidebar.
(If you are looking for a how-to guide to actually starting your own blog, check out this page here for instructions.)
When you first start a new blog, it is important to have a brand, an identity, something to attract readers and make you relatable. My mentor in our wine business challenged our team once to write a list of five things that identify us. For example, I am – (1) a working mom and (2) Christian who loves (3) wine and coffee, (4) fitness, and (5) making lists. The majority of my content on my blog and social media pages all stems from this identity. That is my brand. I would challenge any new blogger to do the same thing! What are two to five things that you are really passionate about? It’s easier to create content when you narrow yourself in just a little bit.
If you are thinking about starting a blog, I shouldn’t have to tell you that content is important. You will need to have something on your blog that people want to read! One of the things to remember is that when you are writing to attract readers, you are writing for others. If you are just writing for yourself, you can’t expect people who don’t know you to want to read it. Your content should aim to inform, amuse, or inspire your target market.
Find a support Network
As with any business, networking is important! Find a group of other bloggers in your niche that you work with. The easiest way that I have found to do this is through Facebook groups and link parties. You can also use Instagram or Twitter to create “pods” or group messages. Find a group of people who will adhere to an agreement such as sharing links for everyone in the message to like, comment on, retweet, pin, etc. I have found that having a few blogging friends whose content you actually enjoy will make a big difference. You can share each other’s posts, ask for advice, and collaborate.
Great content and a small support network will only get you so far. If you want to draw readers in on a regular basis, you need to use social media for exposure. You don’t need to be an expert, just be active and be consistent.
My advice is to start with one, maybe two social media outlets. Having a social media profile that is not putting out good content is worse than not using it at all.
With all social media, engagement builds following. Things like follow loops will get you followers quickly, but those people will either unfollow you or will keep following, but not interact. To build an active and engaged following you need to engage first with others. Talk to people – comment on their posts, like their stuff, and listen to what they have to say.
Pinterest can be a bloggers best friend when used correctly. It is a big search engine full of content waiting for readers to find. I personally get 95% of my traffic from Pinterest, and I highly recommend reading “Pinning for Pageviews.” This ebook has a great strategy for using Tailwind to quickly and easily schedule your pins in bulk.
I have found Tailwind to be extremely helpful for Pinterest growth. I schedule some of my pins so that even when I am not actively pinning, my account is active. I also use the Tribes feature. Anyone interested can join my #managingmommies tribe here. This referral link here will get you a free trial of tailwind followed by a $15 credit which will buy you a second month.
You can learn more about Pinterest at Totally Mommed It’s Pinterest Unpuzzled
Instagram is a tricky one since you can’t post links directly. It is a really popular social media platform and is a fun way to engage with your readers and other bloggers. A lot of brands look for bloggers and influencers on Instagram because it’s the place where you can share pretty pictures of their products. On Instagram, engagement is really key to building a following. You need to be very active with others in order to be seen.
Toni at For You Son shares 7 Things to Start and Grow on Instagram
People go about Facebook in all different ways. I only use my personal page to post links because I feel like people are looking at too many pages and if you don’t have something fun and unique, no one will look at it regularly. There are other bloggers who have great success with pages or groups though. I post in groups that are for people in my target market such as mom groups, fitness groups, or budgeting groups. Be careful when you do this because many groups have rules against self promotion. You don’t want to go breaking the rules or you will feel the wrath of the internet.
Jessi over at The Coffee Mom has a list of Best Facebook Groups for Bloggers if you are looking for places to network.
Twitter is a great way to engage with other bloggers and brands. I have had less support here from the “average readers.” It is an easy to use platform though, so definitely worth looking into.
Ashley at Hello Nature Blog has a great post on 15 Ways to Grow Your Twitter Followers Organically
Stumbleupon is kind of a great mystery to me. It can be a really great way to gain traffic on content that does well for Stumbleupon. If you use it incorrectly, though, it will not work for you. Do a quick search to see if you can figure it out better than I have.
Link parties are another type of social gathering for bloggers. I have found them really great for little boosts in traffic, gaining comments, and making connections with other bloggers. Check out this post that I wrote myself on how to use link parties for your blog.
How do you make money as a blogger?
There are a lot of networks out there to connect bloggers to sponsored posts. Most of them are looking for bloggers with an already established following and will ask for your stats before approving you to work with them.Valued Voice is an influencer network that will help connect you with blogs who are looking for influencers. Linqia is a great one to use once you have a combined following of 2500 across all social media networks.
Heartbeat is a company that will pay you to post on Instagram. They do not have a follower limit, so anyone can join!
You can also send emails directly to brands. This is how I have had some success in getting sponsored posts. You need to be professional and ready to hear some nos in addition to being ignored frequently. Just keep trying, and you are likely to find brands that fit your blog.
Social media is a great way to build a relationship with brands that you love before reaching out to them. Follow companies that you like, engage with their content, and then they will already know you when you send them a message or e-mail asking to collaborate.
It is also worth keeping an eye on forums for bloggers. I have found sponsored opportunities on Top Mommy Blogs and Mom Bloggers Club. Mom Bloggers Club tends to be looking for either specific locations or large followings.
Jessi over at The Coffee Mom has a great post – Everything You Need to Know About Sponsored Posts
Affiliate networks allow you to make commision off of links that you share on your blog or social media. All of the companies have different regulations, so make sure to read through the terms. It is also important to make sure that you follow appropriate disclosure policies with everything that you post.
I have personally used each of these and made a small amount of money. In order to be successful, make sure that you chose networks that fit in with the content of your blog. You want it to seem organic and not just like you are trying to make money off of your readers. People prefer to feel like they are getting recommendations from a friend over being sold to.
I use Google Adsense for automatically generated advertisements on my site. The amount that they pay out is pretty small, but it’s easy to set up and then you don’t have to do any upkeep. The small change will eventually add up for no work at all.
My First Few Months
In my first few months of blogging, I have had a decent amount of success. Some people are doing much better than I am, but there are many more people who are not as accomplished yet. I have had a few guest posts on other sites, I have one viral pin out there (from this post), I have consistent pageviews everyday, and I have worked with a few brands on sponsored posts. I am still working on figuring out what works, and I think that will always be true. You never know what the internet will love or what will happen next. There is more in the works for Mommy: Home Manager, and I am looking forward to continuing to grow from here.
In Summary – The Reality
There are infinite resources out there for anyone who wants to succeed at blogging. The part that challenges most new bloggers is finding a way to connect with readers. That is the only way that you will build an authentic, engaged following. Remember that it takes time and effort, but if you enjoy it, then your work will all be worth it in the end.