Making money from writing is the dream for a large subsection of the planet’s population, and for many of us, throughout our late teenage years, the idea becomes captivating. Perhaps due in no small part to the number of TV dramas, films and books in which the central character is a writer, the idea of writing as a career is seductive to many. In reality, it’s much harder to make a lot of money from writing than Hollywood would have you think – and when you learn that, it can make you cynical about the chances of making money from a blog.
Blogging is to Generation Z what writing was, if not to the whole of the millennial generation, at least the older end of it. It’s something a lot of us willingly do for the joy of it, to the extent where we become highly dubious about the possibility that it could ever be an income stream. In truth, yes, people make money from blogging – but that doesn’t mean you will, necessarily. In order to have a realistic idea whether you’ll join the club of successful career bloggers, it’s necessary to be able to answer a few questions.
How will it make money?
It’s not something anyone wants to hear, but on the internet, people aren’t going to want to pay just to read your words. Most of the biggest newspapers on the planet have some form of paywall to make people pay for their content, and the primary impact of this has been to ensure that people will find ways to bypass the paywall. So you have to monetize the blog in some way, and this can come through selling ad space on your blog, or partnering with companies to write sponsored posts – or it can be by using the blog to sell additional services.
Those services can be niche e-books, consulting services or premium content, among other things. Premium content can include video posts or a live streaming AMA. In terms of e-books and consultancy, this will be a lot easier to monetize if you can market yourself as an expert in a field. As you might be becoming aware, though, this is something you can only really make money from once you have built up a following – and that’s hard work. You’ll need to establish the blog, steadily build traffic through good content and SEO, and demonstrate an ability to engage with your audience; and all of this needs to be achieved whether you are seeking partners or monetizing by yourself.
What is your niche?
As touched on above, your blog is going to struggle for income streams unless you can promote yourself as an expert in something. Deciding how niche your niche is will be a fine balancing act. For example, maybe your area of expertise is self-help. Now, that’s an incredibly broad niche and there are already many well-established blogs serving it – cracking the self-help niche can take forever and still see you drowned out by bigger names. On the other hand, winnowing down the area of expertise too far can leave you with a blog that’s hard to monetize at all – you may know all there is to know about how to ace real-estate broker classes, but you’re narrowing your market if you write about that.
Your blog can make money for you if you are writing about a subject people are interested in, in which you can tell them something they don’t know. Sticking with the self-help niche, a good sub-niche would be adult education. It’s broad enough to be interesting to a lot of readers, while not being oversubscribed to the point where you’re crowded out. Don’t pick a niche just because it can be lucrative – if you blog about something in which you aren’t interested, it will be obvious, whereas if you write about a pet subject, your enthusiasm will bring your words to life.
How does your blog look?
If you want to make money from blogging, then there’s no getting around the need for a good aesthetic. Particularly if you are planning on selling advertising space, it needs to be appealing to the eye in a way that looks professional. Watch as many tutorials on beautifying your blog as you can, take tips on photography from the likes of https://backlightblog.com/, and make it easy for viewers to tell what is part of the background and what’s part of the blog. Even if you’re not planning on selling ad space, though, it’s still essential that the blog comes across as professional – because if you’re not selling space, you’re selling yourself.
This makes it all the more vital to have a style guide to which you religiously stick – buffer.com has a good rundown of what that should look like – and a content management system that is up to the job. The bottom line in this, as well as all the other categories is: If you want to make money via your blog, you need it to look like you already do make money from it!