If you are like me you've seen a lot of headlines online about making money blogging. Who doesn't want to make additional income doing something they enjoy that is time and location independent, right?
But is it for real? Yes. Very real.
What can you do with this extra money you are making on the side?
-Pay off student loans
-Pay off debt
-Save for a home
-Pay for a private school for the kids
-Buy a new car
The opportunities are endless.
Before we go any further I promised proof that I know what I am talking about so below is a screenshot from one of my Adsense accounts in regards to a site I launched in 2014. Below is the launch and 90 day earning summary for one site I launched last year that focused on food:
What would it feel like if you had an extra few hundred per month?
I'll tell you. It feels awesome.
We live in a great time in history. The internet can work for anyone.
If you get a blog setup and are willing to put in the time and effort, it can become some serious income. Many bloggers we work with make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. (Here is another example from SuperMommyClub.com).
Here we go:
To setup a Blog you need a host (where the site lives) and a domain name. Setting up a blog nowadays is super easy and costs very little - especially with the host we use - BlueHost (To help I've put together a more thorough step by step walkthrough here: How to setup Wordpress Blog on Bluehost :) )
For Your Domain Name - Pick something easy and memorable. This doesn't have to be a premium one word dot com but it does have to give people an idea of what you are about when they look at it.
Hosting- There are a lot of hosts out there but I'm a big fan of BlueHost. They are super affordable (like $3.95/month) and have great support. A host is where you website and content will "live". It's where the actual files are located that people will access - articles to read, images,etc.
With Bluehost you are going to be able to install Wordpress ( a blogging platform) at no additional cost. The reason I recommend Wordpress is because it is so easy to learn and there is a lot of documentation online and on YouTube if you get stuck or need training. Plus you can find amazing themes already prebuilt for around $50 on ThemeForest.net instead of spending $2,500 to have someone build it from scratch.
(To help here is a technical link I put together to help you step by step the entire way: How to setup Wordpress on Bluehost :) )
Adsense can be a gold mine for bloggers because as soon as you get signed up and approved, is starts running advertisers. All you need is a gmail account, personal info and a bank account.
You can sign up here: www.google.com/adsense
The key for Adsense is placement. Remember a lot of people are browsing on their mobile phone and ads on the top or sidebar don't get shown. Make sure you put ads in the middle of your web page like this:
This is a free Google tool (you can signup here )and extremely powerful. It is how you will measure exactly how many people are going to your website. By using this tool you will know how many people are going to your blog, where they are coming from and what they are reading plus a ton more data. Use this to your advantage - if you know people are most interested in your blogs on home improvement, write more home improvement blogs, etc. The more you provide that your readers want the more they will read. Below is a screenshot from one of our sites that has over 1 million visitors per month.
Just a heads up, these tactics are for advanced users. Those who have setup their blog, have content and are ready to go.
A lot of websites and individuals write content (blogs, articles,etc.) and publish them but have no idea how to put them in front of people who will actually read them. They just go out online and get lost in web space. I've found a lot of success in finding a niche that you understand and can be an authority in - moms with toddlers, car enthusiasts, adults with ADD,etc. and use that as your starting platform.
The next step is to then find people that would most likely be interested in what you are writing. Social media is a perfect tool for finding potential readers. Here are some of my tips for the ones I use:
-Join Facebook groups who have individuals that would be interested in what you are writing about and share your articles there.
-Reach out to Facebook page owners with topics and followers that would be interested in what you are writing about and try to get them to share your content across their pages.
-Start a Facebook page and start running "like" ads to build up your followers. (Great info from AdEspresso here). We believe in this - we currently have 100 Facebook pages we run with over 15 M fans! (Link to pages).
-Look for group boards you can join that have followers that you can pin your content too.
-Create a Pinterest profile and pin high quality content that will attract the type of people that would love to read your blog. We have over 200k followers for our site LifeAsMama.com that caters to moms and I currently have over 996k followers on my personal profile of people that are into the stuff I am.
What are you waiting for? It's your time.
There have been a lot of smart men in history. One of them, an economist named Vilfredo Pareto, was smarter than most. He understood a principle in business that has stuck, and continues getting repeated year, after year. That rule is, of course, Pareto's rule, or Pareto's Principle.
In short, he defines a phenomena that states only 20% of the effort you put into your business is going to produce 80% of the results. In other words, the 80/20 rule. The reason this principle has stayed so popular is because it can be applied to just about any area of your life, business, or relationships.
A company applies the rule to their business' product sales line. By doing so, the company knows that 80% of their sales are going to come from 20% of their customers.
The same company also knows that, in terms of human resource problems, 20% of the employees are going to present 80% of the problems.
Another example from our hypothetical company would be customer complaints. A business manager will know that 80% of the customer complaints are going to only be coming from a small 20% subset of their customer base. 80% of the company's production comes from 20% of the employees.
The rule has been used in business because it can easily be adapted to just about any situation. It also gives a fairly clear view of what needs to be focused on, and what requires the most attention inside of a company.
While it is a good way to evaluate yourself, your business, and your life, it's not always foolproof. That means you shouldn't necessarily rely on the Pareto principle for every aspect of your business, rather, you should be using it to determine the small subsets of your business where you're going to see the biggest returns.
So how can you apply this powerful, time-tested rule in your own business?
While the rule applies to just about every industry, when it comes to building an online business the rules are a little bit different. Look at different, hypothetical scenarios so you'll know what to expect, and be aware of the areas you need to focus your efforts.
20% of the marketing and promotion efforts you do for your business are going to bring in 80% of your visitors.
As you build out your blog, or website, you're going to start gathering natural, organic traffic. Once you start focusing more on marketing your business, you'll start to see patterns. If you create 10 different email proposals to reach out for guest posting, you'll notice that 2 of them tend to get a better response. Take those 2 proposals and turn them into templates that you can send out to other blog owners.
20% of your visitors are going to make up 80% of your total sales.
From your marketing efforts and build up your traffic, you'll begin to notice that 20% of your visitors will make up the sales that you produce. It may not happen the first time your visitor arrives, but, on average, you'll be able to convert 200 people out of 1,000 into a sale at some point in your sales funnel, if you've planned it out to efficiently produce for you.
20% of the pages on your website are going to be responsible for 80% of your traffic.
Whether you've designed the content to funnel traffic into certain parts of your site, or it happens naturally, 20% of the pages you create, or blog posts you write, are going to be responsible for 80% of the traffic you receive. Sometimes it happens because a post, or page gets shared across social media. Other times, it happens because you've designed the content as a sales funnel.
20% of your customers are going to make up 80% of your customer service issues.
Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. If you sell 1,000 products, you're going to end up receiving around 200 customer questions, concerns, or complaints. Of those 200, 20% of them -- or 40 -- customers are going to require more of your time than others.
It doesn't matter how you break it down, either. Pareto's Principle is endless, meaning that you can apply it infinitely to any area of your business. Mastering the principle is going to be crucial to being successful in anything you do.
What I mean by that is this. If you have 1,000 readers, 200 of them may purchase from you. Of those 200, applying the 80/20 rule again, 20% of them -- or 40 customers -- are going to make up the largest portion of sales.
You can go on, and on, with the different scenarios and figure out how to apply Pareto's rule to each. The point of this post is to make you aware of the principal, and show you how it relates to building an online business.
It's not a hard, fast rule, but it applies to brick and mortar businesses, online businesses, and can be applied to any aspect of your life -- helping you find a good balance.
This isn’t meant to be a long list. In fact, I’m keeping it short intentionally, because there are just a few high impact pieces you need to set up your blog to become a great resource for others and a business earning income.
Here are the only tried, tested and approved plugins we use on Moving Mountains:
Akismet is the best plugin I’ve found for fighting comment spam. It’s always the first plugin I download when creating a new site with comments. There really isn’t much to set up, but you do need to register for a free token on their website to enable the plugin.
The image below is a snapshot of the settings page and the number of spam comments Akismet blocked. Over 119,000 spam comments!
There are many SEO plugins for WordPress, but in my humble opinion, Yoast Wordpress SEO is the most powerful, all-in-one plugin you can get for free. You can set up everything from blog post titles, social media and sitemaps.
Most of what you need to do with Yoast is a one-time setup. I recommend this Yoast Setup Guide from Tom at Online Media Masters. He’ll walk you through each step of setting up Yoast for your WordPress blog.
This little plugin is easy to install and all you have to do is activate it. When you share a post on Facebook, it’ll automatically make the image in your post the featured image on Facebook. Quick, easy and super helpful!
You can use this plugin or install Google analytics directly on your site. Either way, you’ll want to have Google analytics before you start blogging. It’s free and essential for tracking your blog’s growth and visitor information.
If you’re hoping to build recurring visitors to your blog, you’ll need to get them on your email list. Mailchimp is free for collecting and emailing up to 2,000 people and it’s easy to use.
Once you set up Mailchimp, LeadPages is a great program that allows you to create opt-in boxes at the bottom of your posts and in the side column of your blog. You can also create popups like you see on the bottom of our blog. Want to host a webinar? You can do it. Want to create an amazing place for people to download your ebook? You can do it. Super easy and very, very valuable.
The online marketplace is the way of the future, especially for entrepreneurial types ready to ditch their 9-to-5 jobs and two-hour commutes. Many people assume they need to start a popular blog to make money online, and that is one option. But monetizing a blog takes time. Unless you really enjoy writing, you’re better off looking at other opportunities better suited to your skill set.
Here are 10 ways to earn easy income online without starting a blog.
Whatever service you’re selling, there’s probably someone on Fiverr who’s buying. Fiverr is a unique marketplace where users offer their skills or expertise for five dollars. Clients hire professionals for voiceover work, keyword research, Photoshop editing, career advice, logo designs, mobile app development — the list goes on.
Think about what services you can provide quickly and correctly, then create a free profile and gig listing. You can also upsell clients with add-on features after they make the initial five dollar agreement.
The Fulfilled by Amazon program allows you to sell products to customers around the world, which Amazon will package and ship for you directly from its warehouses. You’ll have little overhead, since you don’t have to handle inventory and only pay for storage space as Amazon fills your orders.
Get started by finding a product that’s popular on Amazon, then order it in bulk from a site like Alibaba.com to resell.
Amazon will pay you a commission just for referring people to its products. You sign up for a free Amazon Associates account, then use custom links to ensure you get credit if someone uses them to buy Amazon products. Here’s a look at the commission rates on different items.
You can write about your favorite products on a blog or personal site, or you can share the links on social media. The goal is to educate your audience about products that would be of value to them, then get them to buy using your affiliate links.
This is another Amazon program, but it focuses on “hits,” or micro tasks, that you complete quickly. Thousands of people power the Mechanical Turk marketplace by working on small segments of many projects. For instance, if someone submits a 60-minute transcription project, 10 people will transcribe six minutes each, rather than having one person take the entire assignment.
Tasks on the site include data entry, writing short paragraphs, taking surveys, and countless other options. Daily earnings range from a few dollars to $100, for those willing to hustle.
Udemy keeps a percentage of your profits, but promotes your course within its user base so you still end up making decent money. I started using Udemy about three years ago and earn a few thousand dollars a month from four courses.
Fifty-three million Americans make some or all of their income from freelance or contract work. You can work as a part- or full-time virtual assistant, or take on client projects as a writer, programmer, web designer, accountant, business consultant or several other capacities.
If you’re new to the freelancing game, create a profile on bidding sites like odesk.com or elance.com. Strategize before you start bidding to make sure you’re taking on projects that pay well. You’ll also want to set up a portfolio site to make it easy for clients to find and hire you directly. Thanks to intuitive themes from Themeforest, powered by great hosting from Bluehost, you can easily have a portfolio site up and running in no time.
Have a knack for homemade crafts? Sell them on Etsy, the international marketplace that’s taken the DIY craft world by storm — and has earned some entrepreneurs serious dough. Sign up for free and test your best products in your own Etsy shop.
Craigslist — it’s so much more than Missed Connections. You can start a profitable side business by advertising your freelance services or selling restored furniture on local Craigslist sites. You don’t have to deal with shipping if you sell locally, but sharpen your negotiation skills before you enter into any Craigslist transactions. People can be brutal when looking for a bargain.
Thanks to the ever growing number of blogs and news sites, good photography is in major demand. If you’re sitting on a repository of great photos, or are willing to shoot some fresh ones, you can earn money selling your snaps online. Sites like Envato, Shutterstock, and iStockPhoto and apps like Foap all buy photos. And you don’t have to choose just one — you can license the same photos to multiple sites.
This is one of the largest online art marketplaces and home to a passionate art community. Sell your art on the site or promote your work to get commissioned for new pieces. Check out this great resource from The Abundant Artist on selling through DeviantArt.
There’s no limit to what you can sell online. Whether you’re a designer, an accountant, or you’re just really good at making wine bottle art, you’ll find a niche on the Internet. By thinking beyond blogging, you can create multiple streams of income. And before you know it, you’ll never need another 9-to-5 again (unless you want one, of course).
You’ve taken the leap and started a blog to make a little extra income. You chose a template, added your bio, and now all you have to do start writing the content, right?
Before you hit publish on your first post, some important planning needs to take place. If you want your blog to be a long term success it’s time to ask yourself the tough questions. Use this seven point checklist to plan the future of your blog and make the most of every article you publish.
(If you want to jump ahead and get started with your own blog, you can follow complete step by step instructions here: How To Setup A Blog In 10 Minutes Or Less )
One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is not setting goals. Short and long-term objectives will help keep you motivated when you just don’t want to write.
What are you trying to accomplish? Do you want ad revenue, traffic, social shares or all of the above? Set realistic goals and a time frame in which you can achieve them, starting with one month, six month and one year goals. For example, if your goal is to increase traffic, aim for 50 or 100 visitors the first month. Then, set incremental increases for long-term goals.
Most people set goals for what they want to achieve, but never give a second thought to what they’re going to give. What are you willing to do to make an extra $100, $1,000 or $2,000 per month from your blog? Is it worth that extra hour of sleep in the morning? That hour of TV at night? Write out exactly what you plan to give to accomplish your goals.
For example, maybe your goal is to commit 1-2 hours every day to writing. Growing that writing muscle is extremely important for maintaining your blog.
Setting aside time for building relationships is another way to give. Spend 30 minutes each day commenting on five other blogs or building relationships through email outreach and social media. This is an easy and measurable way to be sure you’re staying on track.
One question you’ll undoubtedly be faced with early on is who are you really writing for -- yourself or your audience?
We’ll talk about this more in the near future, but here’s an example of what this decision looks like: You enjoy posting recipes of dinner meals but see your audience clearly enjoys breakfast recipes more. Are you going to respond to what they want, and post more breakfast recipes, or continue posting dinner recipes?
This is really a question of whether your blog is a passion project or a money-making project. If your blog is a passion project, and you want to treat it like a journal, it doesn’t matter what readers want. BUT if you’re treating this as a side business, you have to be willing to listen to your audience.
Once you know who you’re writing for and what you’re hoping to accomplish (I’m going to assume it’s for your audience and to make money), it’s time to decide on your niche.
There are hundreds of new blogs being created every single day. Competition is becoming much more difficult and so is your ability to stand out. When clients ask how how broad to go with their blog, I always tell them it’s better to be good at one thing then average at lots of things. An average blog is not going to get noticed and not going to build a loyal readership. Stick to one niche for now and you can always choose to go a different route later on.
Here are some examples of niches: DIY, recipes, gardening, hair and beauty, social media marketing, travel, etc. If you need more ideas, just check out the Pinterest categories list.
To really understand a specific niche, researching the competition and finding where the holes are can be extremely helpful. Evaluating your competition gives insight on how you can stand out and gives you a dose of reality on what’s already out there.
WARNING: this step can turn into a huge time-waster! Set a timer for an hour and only give yourself that much time to do research.
Start with the sources of traffic to your blog. If you’re creating a blog around food or fashion, it will be Pinterest. If the blog is business-focused, it may be LinkedIn, etc. Search for your topic and see who your competitors will be. What are they writing about? What do people like about them? Dislike about them? The comments are a great place to find this information.
Next, use a tool like Buzzsumo to find what content does well in your niche. Just put your competitor’s URL into Buzzsumo and it will give you their most popular posts based on the number of shares.
Now it’s time to plan your initial content. No specific posts yet, just the main topics you’ll be writing about. I call these content categories or “buckets” that each of your posts fall into. More than likely they’ll be in the category column of your blog.
Choose 3-5 categories to start with. On one of my blogs I started with marketing, social media, productivity and branding. From there, I added more categories over time.
Yes, it may sound crazy, but I promise it’s the only way to keep going. I’m sure you’ve started a project before and seen how much easier it is to continue with a group vs. working alone. Blogging is no different. Here are a few places you can start.
Featured image by Jeff Sheldon via Unsplash.