When I first started my first blog back in 2014 it was to help hold me accountable as I paid off my credit card debt. While I had learned that people do make money from blogging, it wasn’t my focus. I thought if later on in the future I could make a couple bucks, then great, but right now I really just need the accountability.
People who start a blog with the sole purpose of making money usually burn out pretty quickly, they also don’t make money. So I want to give you five quick tips of how not to start a money making blog.
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Yes, ads can bring in some money, but it usually not a ton, especially in the beginning. Because how much you earn with ads depends on how much traffic your site has, in the beginning, you won’t have a ton of traffic to your new site.
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Even more established bloggers with tons of traffic will likely tell you that ads are not their top revenue source. And in order to become an established blog with an audience, you need people to be able to find, read, enjoy, and share your content.
Your audience can’t do this if you plaster your entire site with ads. If someone gets to your site and all they see is a wall of ads they aren’t going to bother looking for the content.
While a few ads are okay and won’t completely alienate the reader, more ads are not worth (literally) what they would cost you in the relationship with your audience.
I currently have an ad at the top of my content, one in the content, one below the content, and one in the sidebar. And honestly even that feels like it’s too much sometimes. So just keep in mind you need to find balance between serving your readers, and earning a small (very small) income from ads.
Like I said if you going to blogging just to make money, chances are you’re not going see a return on your investment or your time. People that are blogging just to make money are very obvious and it is very apparent when you get to their site and start reading.
Believe it or not, there are ways to make money that serves your reader rather than just serving your bank account. Ultimately, to be successful as a blogger you need to be serving your readers first and focusing on how much you’re earning second or even third.
An email list is essential. Why? Because it gives you a direct line of communication with your readers. The truth is you can’t control if people see your social media messages, or regularly go to your blog to see what is new. But you can control the information that you send them and ensure they get it by landing in their inbox.
Additionally, social media algorithms could change tomorrow requiring you to completely change your marketing strategy. However, you can always send out an email to the people on your email list.
You can serve them directly and let them know about products, free or paid, that would help them, ones that you could still be paid as an affiliate for. You don’t have to be skeezy to make money blogging. But you do need an email list because it’s one of the easiest and best way is to serve readers.
This is also a do as I say not as I do, while I started my first blog in 2014, I didn’t start my email list until mid 2015. Yikes. Also, if you’re concerned about cost, there are email marketing services that do allow you to have an email list for free up to certain number of subscribers.
Another way to not start a money making blog is only talk about yourself. Because people do you love narcissists. Don’t get me wrong, while you should talk about your experiences on your blog, you should be talking about them in a way that shares a lesson and can teach your readers something.
This is different from just talking about you for the sake of talking about yourself and the things you’ve done. People relate to failure because we all fail, if you got a story about how you failed and then succeeded, or failed and learned something, or stumbled your way through and figured out a better way to do it, that’s the way you should be sharing your experiences.
My final tip for how not to start a money making blog, is to ignore the blogging community. Be it Facebook groups, twitter, or a mastermind group, ignoring all that is going to make your road to becoming a big successful blogger more difficult.
You can learn so much faster from other people who’ve been in the same position you’re in. Not to mention you also learn about tools that can make your life blogging so much easier and save you hours of time.
A lot of the things I’m using right now and strategies I have in place, I would never heard of if not for the help of others and hearing how they do things.
So get involved in the community, it is not only going to help you learn faster, it will help you grow because bloggers like helping each other out. This includes helping to promote each other to each other’s audiences.
Lastly, chances are most people in your life won’t understand what is is you are trying to do when you say that you are blogging, so having an online community of people to talk all things blogging is amazing and can make all the difference.
At the end of the day, while you may want to make some money blogging, that can’t be your number one priority. Your number one priority has to be serving your reader and helping others, it is the only way you’re really going to be successful long-term. To review, here is how not to start a money making blog:
Bigscoots (hosting) is the hosting service I use. The customer service has been fantastic. When I moved my Squarespace site to wordpress, I had a lot of questions, they had the answers. When I screwed up a few things, they were able to help me fix them. They have been awesome to work with and I highly recommend using BigScoots for hosting your blog.
Hosting starts at just $3.55/month, which is excellent considering how amazing their customer service is.
Bluehost (hosting): When I started blogging, I hosted my blog on Bluehost as it seemed the most recommended hosting service. Bluehost worked just fine when I was starting out but I outgrew it. When I needed help I was able to get it, though it wasn't quite as personable as BigScoots, that being said Bluehost can be a great option to start.
Convertkit (Email marketing) I started with MailChimp, quickly left, went to Aweber, and finally settled on Convertkit. I love how easy it is to use. It makes confirming opt-ins and delivering content upgrades (like worksheets) a snap. I use the WordPress plugin and then just choose what form I want on each post and page.
One thing that makes Convertkit stand out from other email marketing services is that they don't count subscribers twice. Most other email marketing tools count subscribers on each form, so if a subscriber subscribed to more than one form, they are counted more than once. Since pricing is typically determined by the number of subscribers this could drive up your costs significantly.
Making Sense of Affiliate marketing (monetizing your blog): Michelle is an affiliate marketing maven. She regularly makes over $50k a month from affiliate marketing. I bought her course at the end of Nov. 2016 and mid-December 2016 while I'm still working to implement everything I've learned, I've already seen an increase in my affiliate marketing income. She really knows what she is talking about and the Facebook community that accompanies the course is a terrific resource. Learn more about Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
Elizabeth Stapleton is the founder and voice behind Less Debt More Wine and ElizabethStapleton.com. She is a Pinterest marketer, online entrepreneur, and recovering attorney whose writing has been featured on Entrepreneur.com, The Huffington Post, The Penny Hoarder, Budgets Are Sexy, Credit Sesame, and Magnify Money. Additionally, she has been quoted in articles on Business Insider, Student Loan Hero, and Nerd Wallet.
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