I didn't start blogging to find a way to make money. I did it, because I love writing. But at a certain point in exploring a passion, you have to ask: “Can I make money doing this? Can I find a way to monetize my passion?” Yes, you can.
Freelance writing and book publishing traditionally doesn't make a ton of money (unless your last name happens to be “King” or “Rowling”).
So we writers have to be inventive with how we support our families and keep the water on. Or settle for being starving artists. But these days, there is a third option: blogging.
You can do what you love, find ways to monetize it, and then use it to fund other less lucrative passions, like writing a book. That's what I'm interested in.
The question is: Can you really make a ton of money with a blog, like all those “gurus” say?
Sure you can. And no. You absolutely cannot. Allow me to explain…
How to make a buck with a blog
I was surprised when the pennies turned to dollars without much effort on my part. I've since decided to save up my earnings and finally get a Kindle.
This is what blogging can do. It's a fun little perk, but is it enough to quit your job and pay the bills? Well, no. Not in and of itself. But it is just one strategy among many in how people can make money online.
Here are other ways people make money online:
- Affiliate marketing: Selling other people's products for them and earning a commission on each sale. My Amazon story is an example of this. I'm also starting to see some fruit from promoting other products I believe in, like 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.
- Product sales: Sell your own products (eBooks, webinars, iPhone apps, whatever). I'm working on a few of these myself. The trick is delivering value and only giving your community what they want.
- Advertising: If you have decent traffic, you can sell ad space. (I've just started exploring this, but so far it's been fruitful. Recently, to jump-start my advertising, I offered a 50% discount on Cyber Monday.)
- Market your own services: If selling stuff makes your skin crawl, you can use a blog to build an online presence and brand and then use it to land consulting or freelance services. (I've had several people contact me about things like writing an eBook, SEO, and other topics I've written about.)
When I started placing Amazon links on my site, I was amazed at how quickly I started earning commissions. Then, I started promoting other products with higher returns.
And that's when it became fun. When I would get emails in the middle of the night, informing me I had earned $10 here, $50 there — without having to lift a finger.
This led to a startling realization: You really can do this; you can make money with a blog. Without selling your soul. So what's with the “no” part?
The gurus are wrong
The gurus say this is easy. They say you'll make money fast. Just like they did. But that's not true. At least, it's not probable.
The reality is making a full-time living online is hard. Not impossible, but hard. This is why they call it “work.” You're probably not going to make six figures with a blog. Not right away, anyhow. But that's not to say you can't make decent money.
I know people who make $20,000-$40,000 (USD) per year, which is nice, but nothing noteworthy. Even Darren Rowse, founder of Problogger.net, said he had to work very, very hard to make $36,000 his first year as a professional blogger, which is hardly stop-the-press kind of news.
In other words, there is no magic bullet. No success-over-night story. And if there is, you shouldn't count on it. It takes work.
I don't know about you, but this was a relief to me. I'm not interested in get-rich-quick schemes; I don't believe they're the smartest way to accumulate wealth. All the millionaires who remain millionaires practice something better:
Get rich slow.
If you want to succeed, you should play the long game, also.
So what do you do?
This brings us back to the beginning, back to writing for the love of it and using blogging to supplement your passion.
I'm not interested in being the next professional blogging success story. I just want to find ways to make my blog pay for itself. And I'd like to earn a little extra money to make the hours I invest into blogging worthwhile.
And if you're a blogger, this should be your bare minimum, too. Even if it's a passion project, there is no reason why your blog shouldn't be able to eventually pay for itself. And then on top of that, your life.
My goal is to find creative ways to help others — ways that people are willing to pay for — to give me the freedom to do what I really love doing: writing. Without having to worry about paying the bills.
[specialbox]If you're looking for a comprehensive guide to getting started with making money blogging, read: Problogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income. And this book has been helpful, too.[/specialbox]
What about you? Isn't it time that your blog became your patron? Share in the comments.