There are many reasons to start a blog. One popular reason is to make money. When you do that, you treat your blog as a business model in its own right.
Many people try to earn money from their blogs. Some succeed. Others fail. And much of that comes down to your strategy, your niche specialty, and the plan you come up with to monetize your blog.
I received a question from a reader who is considering setting up a blog as an alternative to writing for revenue share sites. He asked to remain anonymous, so for the purposes of this post we'll just call him Joe. Here is Joe's question:
The Background and the Idea
"I am a 69-year-old American living in the Philippines. I have sampled some of the revenue sites and didn't like them. I think most people do a lot of work on these sites and get paid little for their many hours or work writing articles and commenting on other people's articles. I read where one said she could make more money part time in a grocery store.
I believe with a blog I could replicate what those sites do on my own terms. I doubt I could ever get as much traffic as these sites. I do know I could write my articles as well or better on my own blog, say, with a domain like myarticles.com or something like that with the word articles in it.
Were I to write articles on many different topics instead of a niche blog, would I have a chance to make $200-500 or more per month, or is my idea flawed?"
The Short Answer
First, let's just touch on the basics:
- Can it be done? Absolutely.
- Should it be done with a multi-niche blog? I would recommend against it.
- Multi-niche blogs can get too scattered if you're starting from scratch and if the niches aren't related. Large sites can seemingly cover everything because they have hundreds, if not thousands, of people creating new content for them.
- Your best bet is to choose one niche to start with -- something that won't lose your interest, and something you can monetize effectively.
The Domain Name
You absolutely do not have to include the word "articles" in the domain name for your new blog.
I would actually argue that it could hurt you. It makes the site seem more generic whereas successful blogs tend to focus on building a brand. Google also supposedly doesn't give exact match domains as much weight anymore just because of the keywords in the domain names.
I would suggest going with a niche-specific brandable domain name. You want a brand that will last, regardless of what Google's views are on keyword-rich domains in the next several months to years.
Blog Income Realities
It's important to understand that many bloggers who set out to make money with their blogs never do (or they earn very little). Blog income doesn't happen overnight. You have to build a readership. Pretty much any blog revenue stream revolves around readers -- eyes on ads, people to buy products, readers to convert into paying members, etc.
The $200 - 500 per month you'd like to earn is a modest goal, and that goes in your favor. It doesn't sound like you expect to get rich doing this. That said, even earning a modest (but reliable) amount from a blog can take time and a lot of hard work.
Choosing a Niche
Where you need to start is choosing a niche to blog about. This can be a topic you can cover with professional expertise, it could be a hobby, or it could even be something you want to learn about while you blog. They key is to focus on something. That focus is what allows you to earn more money from your blog.
- When you focus on a niche audience, you can spend more time identifying their needs and problems. That means you can monetize the blog through e-book or product sales that solve those problems. There's little point in creating something to sell if 90+ percent of your readers don't care about it.
- It's impossible for a single blogger to effectively market a blog to everyone. When you narrow down your niche, you can also narrow down the scope of your marketing plan.
None of this is to say that you can't write about more than one thing. But keep those things related, and make sure your posts will appeal to similar audiences. Don't waste time marketing to completely different audiences until you've figured out how to monetize your first.
Monetizing the Blog
In the end, what Joe wants to do is very achievable. But it won't happen overnight.
It starts with choosing a niche to specialize in. Then worry about the branding by choosing your domain name, creating a logo, and choosing your blog design. Focus on creating high quality content that solves your readers' problems or answers their questions. Then figure out how to get that information in front of them (blog commenting, social networking, guest posts, advertising, etc.).
After you've done all that, you monetize the blog. You can include ads from the start. Just don't expect them to earn much, if anything, until you have a significant audience. That takes time. But remember, ads aren't your only option. If you'd like to explore other blog revenue streams, you can start by reading my post on the topic, Make Money Blogging: 20 Blog Revenue Streams.
You have to decide if you really have the time to put the work in. Blogging isn't a path to easy money. It involves a lot of audience research, a lot of writing and editing, a lot of networking, and a lot of marketing.
If you decide it's not the right option for you after all, freelance blogging might be a good middle ground. You get paid outright for your content, so you don't risk waiting months to years to reach blogging income goals. That isn't an easy path either, but it might be a more direct option for reaching your goals.
Now I'll leave it to the All Freelance Writing community. Do you have any tips or suggestions for Joe? Do you have stories to share about starting and monetizing a blog? What would you do if you were in Joe's position?
Jenn has 18 years experience writing for others, around 13 years experience in blogging, and over 10 years experience in indie e-book publishing. She is also an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.
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