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How to make money by becoming a blogger

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

How to make money by becoming a blogger

Making money by blogging while you’re traveling in a van isn’t as difficult as you may think, but it does take time. The key to making money online as a blogger is to create content that people want to read, optimize for search engines and share and engage on social media. 

Similar to making money by writing books, the person suited to be a blogger is someone who enjoys writing or teaching others how to do something. A successful blog is one that answers questions that people have. As a blogger, your job is to find out the common questions people have and find solutions to their problems.

My Experience

I haven’t really blogged before per se — ie a blog being a site that begins life mainly out of personal interest. VanLifeIncome.net is my first.

I have however, built several revenue-generating websites on WordPress that some may consider a blog, but are really more business-orientated ventures such as news sites, e-commerce sites, directories, small business and Amazon review sites, some of which have a ‘blog’ element.

The key for any of these in terms of generating revenue was keyword research and selecting the appropriate source of revenue. Overall, the majority of my income came via Adsense or Ezoic (I wanted to be very passive in terms of income). A also had an Amazon-focused review site and one that earns money through affiliate CPA offers (Cost Per Acquisition). 

I sold most of my sites recently to invest in passive income streams. I have 3 remaining, one of which is a ‘news’ site that is horribly out of date by about 6 months yet still generates +$100 per month as I carried out a lot of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on it over several years. These sites will probably be sold as I consolidate my income streams.

If you need to make money right away, blogging isn’t for you as it will take time.

A few pros about becoming a blogger

The cost of becoming a blogger is relatively small

All you need is web hosting and a domain to become a blogger. A domain will cost you around ten dollars, and hosting is a fifty or less per year. You can use WordPress as your content management system, which is free. Throw on it a free theme, and you’re good to go.

Alternatively, you can get a blog and free ‘domain’ on some sites, however these domains are not really your own, they are difficult to remember and generally unsuitable for building a brand which is what you’ll be doing.

You can choose any topic that you’re interested in

If you enjoy hiking, then start blogging about hiking. If you enjoy cooking, start a food blog. You are in total control over the topic that you write about. 

When deciding on your topic, you’ll need to think about your aspirations. If it’s primarily for income, it’s best to think about this in advance – how do you intend to earn money? Will it be from ads or affiliate programs or something else? Is there enough people interested to make it profitable?

One thing to be aware of is Adsense policies as this will likely be one source of income. Be wary of anything related to mature content, politics, gambling, drugs, violence, weapons and copyrighted content. Stick to their rules about ad placement.

Blogging requires minimal technical skills

As a blogger, WordPress is super easy to use, and there are all kinds of tutorials. You can search Google or YouTube and find all the answers to any WordPress questions you might have. If you can use Facebook, you can set up and run a blog.

Yet, whilst fairly simple to get started, WordPress is highly flexible, used by some of the most popular websites in the world to build their communities.

If you need help getting your WordPress site setup, there are lots of gigs on Fiverr that can assist. This is recommended if you’re not a techie as setting up hosting and WordPress for the first time (and possibly the only time you’d ever have to do it!) can be tricky for some people.

There are multiple ways you can monetize a blog

You can sell advertising, display affiliate offers, or even sell things such as eBooks and courses. One of the easiest ways to get started is via Adsense, however you’ll need to make sure your blog complies with their policies and has a decent amount of quality content. 

The great thing with a blog is that there are a ton of ways to make money if you’re willing to do a little research. These will vary depending on your niche and aspirations.

A few cons of becoming a blogger

It can take Google a long time to send you traffic (& thus, a long time to earn money)

It may take six months to a year before you see any substantial traffic from Google, and that’s only if your site is search engine optimised (SEO) with quality content that people are actively searching for. If income is a priority, you should do some keyword research beforehand and select ‘low hanging fruit’ keywords to target. 

Only once you have traffic can you start earning money. And very often, any payments are paid several weeks later.

You are probably reliant on Google for all of your traffic

Sure, some people use social media and YouTube to drive traffic to their blogs, and there are people using Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo as their search engines, but the reality is that in most cases, Google is what sends traffic to blogs. 

So, if Google comes up with an algorithm change that knocks your blog down in the rankings, you’re going to receive a lot less traffic. It happens all the time, and there’s not much you can do about it. Incidentally, Youtube is owned by Google too.

You are at the mercy of Google

Google sends you traffic. Youtube sends you traffic (Google owns Youtube). You use Google Analytics and your site is monetized primarily by Google Adsense.

Yes, you are at the mercy of Google!

Try to diversify your traffic sources and income streams so it’s not all Google. And for reference; most smaller publishers (ie bloggers) who use display advertising via Adsense (or other solutions such as Ezoic) will find that 80-90% advertising fill still comes from Google.

At one point, I had a site earning around $100 per day via programmatic advertising and header bidding (a service whereby lots of different networks are pulled together and bid in real time for the display, including Google). The site got banned by Google who said it was not compliant due to thin content (think of a directory with very little unique content).

The result was 90% drop in ad revenue overnight. Actually; it was worse than that – Adsense pay around the 24th of the following month so  you can loose as much as 7 weeks revenue if the ban comes around 21st of the month as they simply stop the ads and all payments (including those from the previous month). In my case I lost around $4,500 as I got hit middle of the month.😭 On top of that, if you don’t have any backup already in place, you’ll loose more time trying to find something.

That’s how much of a monopoly Google has when it comes to smaller publishers and advertising! And, they’re not known to be the easiest to talk to or get a straight answer out of.

The good news is that if you’re compliant, you shouldn’t have a problem. 

You need to write a lot of quality blog posts to be successful

You’ll likely need hundreds of blog posts to make a living blogging. You aren’t going to publish ten posts and see a flood of traffic within a week.

For most kinds of personal blogs, you’ll need to write hundreds of high-quality posts and engage with your audience before your site will begin to see some traction. For others,  a dozen or so can get you started. I spent several weeks writing posts in my spare time before putting this blog live. Why? Because I wanted to be sure there was a reasonable amount of useful content before sharing anything; nobody wants to come to an empty blog.

It’s usually faster to create revenue from a product or information-focused site/blog than a personal one (unless you’re great on social media and can also become an influencer!) eg a ‘review site’ – usually an Amazon review site purely because you have such a selection under one roof. A review site is where people provide opinions and reviews on products and it will usually generate revenue faster and with less content, especially with good SEO and keyword research. This is because the visitors have “purchase intent” and this is what most advertisers pay the big bucks for and/or converts directly as affiliate purchases.

Depending on your format, it may only be semi-passive

Think about the type of blog you create and try to make at least some of it ‘evergreen’; ie. content that will be as useful, relevant or interesting in a year as it is now.

For example, if your blog is  in the style of a journal or ‘follow my journey’, think about how you structure it and the posts so at least some of it remains relevant in months or years to come.

Conclusion

Blogging is one of the few ways to make money online that you can do truly on your own schedule. If you decide that you want to blog while traveling full time, you can. Just remember that it’s not going to make you an income overnight, and you must be willing to put in the hard work. 

The amount you can make is completely down to how much useful content you’re able to produce, and how ‘smart’ you play it in terms of planning (especially keyword research if you’re taking it seriously!) and monetisation. There are bloggers that earn nothing and others that earn hundreds of thousands. Which one will you be?!

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