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Isn’t trying to make money blogging in 2020 a bit…late?
People were asking that very same question in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017…right up to NOW and the answer is always the same: No!
It is absolutely possible to still grow a thriving, money-making blog in this day and age – the market isn’t full, it’s just different.
Blogging in 2020
I started blogging in 2017, and even three years on, the blogging landscape is very different. Go back another 10, even 5 years, and it’s another story altogether.
These days, blogging is much, much more competitive. The days of simply writing down your thoughts in 500 words, hitting publish and maybe sharing a pin once on Pinterest are looooooong gone.
Honestly though, making money blogging is more challenging, but still well within anyone’s grasp these days. That is if you put in the groundwork.
Blogging in 2020 requires you to be:
- Focused on providing top-quality value to your readers
- Able to wear many hats, from email marketing to social media management
- Good at adapting to algorithm changes, new industry best practices, and changes in competition
- Highly creative and business-focused
- A critical thinker and able to look at the big picture all at once
If those things sound kind of daunting, don’t worry. Blogging for all its many challenges remains one of the best things I’ve ever stumbled across.
It lets you be in total control of your business, your finances, and your future. It lets you connect with people all over the world, and have writing about things you’re really passionate about be your full-time job. Pretty cool, right?
So, let’s jump in. Below, I’m revealing the ultimate four-pillar system to making money blogging in 2020.
You got this.
The Four Pillars of making money blogging while staying your authentic self
1. Be Of Service
To be able to monetize your blog, you need to be of service to your readers.
Everything you write, everything you plan, publish, prepare, should all be done with the question “what’s in it for them?” in mind.
How are you adding value to the lives of your readers, beyond simply providing an entertaining story? Whether you’re going for advertising income or planning on selling your own products (more on both to follow), you will constantly be jumping from post to post unless you’re honing in on what you are offering your readers.
How do you know you’re being of service?
If you have an email list already, send out a survey asking your readers what they need help with.
If you are on social media and have a following, ask your followers there. You could also look at your Google Analytics and see your most popular posts, and audience demographics.
If you are a totally new blogger, look at the big-name bloggers in the niche you’re looking to break into. What do they do well? What do you notice about their posts? And most importantly, what’s missing? What could you add that offers value not currently added to that niche?
2. Think about the bigger picture
Where many new bloggers trip up immediately is by jumping straight into the deep end without really thinking about the bigger picture.
Rather than trying to pump out 3 or 4 posts a week on whatever topic related to your niche you can think of, take a step back and take this opportunity of having a blank page to really plan out the direction of your blog.
Do you want to monetize it for traffic? For affiliate products? To sell your own paid products?
Map out your mission statement, your niche and main topics (plus sub-topics), and rough out a content plan for the next 3 months with your goals in mind. It will take longer to be in a position where you’re actually publishing content, but taking this time to plan will really pay off when it comes to making money with your blog.
3. Build your email list from day one
It can be tempting to just try to publish as much content as possible in the beginning in an attempt to get your page views as high as possible. I get that, and it’s not a terrible plan – but it does mean you often end up neglecting something very important.
Your existing audience! Whether you’ve got 100 visitors to your website or 100,000, those are all real people that are interested in what you have to say who could be convinced to part with their money if you put in the groundwork to build trust, confidence, and – you guessed it – be of service.
Sign up to an email marketing service from day one (I have always used MailerLite which is actually free for your first 1,000 subscribers, so there’s no initial investment – use my link to sign up and we’ll both get $20 credit, yay!). Think of a lead magnet you could offer your readers such as a mini-course, a short ebook, a cheat sheet, or even a webinar invite, and add that to your popular posts.
Once you’ve got people subscribing to your email list, make sure you actually do something with it (something I seriously neglected for months and took a long time to recover from!).
The absolute best resource for all things email marketing is Kate Doster. She publishes phenomenal free content, and her paid products are worth every penny. I have this lady and her genius Email Marketing Fairy templates completely to thank for helping me revive my heavily-neglected email list, so I can only imagine what her guides can do for someone dealing with a new and enthusiastic list from the start.
Sign up to get 2-years worth of email marketing ideas and get ready for your mind to be blown. Thank you, Kate!
4. Make every post count
Some bloggers completely rely on ad revenue for their income, which can lead to some posts being published for traffic that just don’t fit with their overall niche. When you see it, it’s jarring. I saw a personal finance blog publish a list of booty workouts…
Other bloggers are dabbling with affiliate advertising but haven’t done their research about what products could actually be of service to their readers so the whole post just seems kind of spammy and like a bad sales pitch.
To find your groove, think about making every post count. That doesn’t mean jamming money-making opportunities into every post, but it does mean thinking to yourself, will this post:
- Bring me more email subscribers?
- Inform my readers more about X affiliate product?
- Increase brand awareness and trust?
- Drive more traffic to my paid products?
Don’t just publish posts to meet your desired publishing schedule. Make them great, make them fit in with your bigger picture, and make them count for you and for your readers.
That, my friends, is my four-pillar system to successfully monetizing your blog WITHOUT feeling like a sleazy scammer and WITHOUT constantly jumping from point to point just to make a few dollars.
With these values in place, you can build a blog designed to bring value to your readers and rewards for your efforts, all at the same time. So now, the details. How can you actually make money blogging?
Ways to Make Money Blogging
Most bloggers make money from their websites in a few different ways. These largely fit under the umbrellas of:
- Advertising income
- Affiliate income
- Sponsored posts
- Paid products
When you first start off blogging, signing up for an ad network really isn’t worth your while. You’ll make pennies and clutter your website with ads for no reason. I’d recommend focusing on creating great content, building your affiliate strategy, and even working on some quality paid products all while letting your traffic build in the background.
Once you reach a certain level, you can start thinking about signing up for more premium ad networks where real money is to be made. These include:
- Monumetric (10,000 page views per month required)
- MediaVine (25,000 sessions per month required)
- AdThrive (100,000 page views per month required)
I’ve been with MediaVine since 2018 and love everything about them. The passive income is obviously a huge bonus, but so is the community they’ve created and the support they provide for improving your SEO, page speed, and UX amongst other things.
I first had my eyes opened to the real power of how to make money blogging with affiliate marketing by Michelle at Making Sense of Cents. She was earning $50,000 a month purely through affiliate marketing before she launched her hugely successful course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing – which sky-rocketed her income to well over $100,000 a month. Gulp.
Affiliate marketing is essentially a method of earning commission from companies for referring customers to them. It applies to almost every blogging niche, and many companies have a program you can sign up for.
Michelle’s course was actually the first ‘big’ course I invested in for my blog, and it showed me early on how valuable the right paid products can be. You have to put in to get back.
Within 2 days of finishing the course and implementing some of the top strategies she suggests in her course, I’d made my first AND second affiliate sales – no joke. Michelle’s course showed me what I was doing right, but more importantly, it highlighted areas I had completely neglected to address on my blog. Michelle shows you how to seamlessly include affiliate links without ruining the integrity of your voice as a blogger, and that’s absolutely key.
I would argue that in 2020, there are more opportunities to make money blogging with sponsored posts via social media, namely Instagram. However, I’m sure there are many bloggers out there that would strongly disagree and are still making a great income witt sponsorships both on their websites and on their social media.
A sponsored post is normally where a blogger will partner up with a brand and write a review, guide, or useful article that links back to the service or product said brand provides.
If your mission for your blog aligns perfectly with a brand, it can be a great way of reaching that brands audience, promoting a product you love, and adding a new income stream to your website.
Be careful, though. I personally know a lot of bloggers who sell links on their websites to low-quality SEO companies and honestly, that just isn’t for me. A successful blogger is an authentic blogger, so take care to find partnerships that are really right for your values rather than just getting the easy money.
Finally, there are digital products. If you get this right, this is one of the best ways to stabilize your income and see real growth.
Paid products could be things like:
Publishing free content on your blog is all well and good, but a course can break down a topic step by step, in-depth, and that level of effort requires being paid for the time and knowledge you put into something like that.
If you want to go down the route of offering digital products to monetize your blog, use the four-pillar system to find something that is valuable, that serves your audience, would be something your current list can’t turn down and is totally in-line with your website (so if you’re a gardening blog don’t suddenly start selling a book on parenting advice!).
Quick-fire top Blogging Resources:
Hosting on Bluehost
I’ve used Bluehost as my hosting provider for every blog I’ve ever started (there’s been a few of them!) and have never had any problems. For full disclosure, when my page views reached over 60,000 I switched to BigScoots which makes my site faster and therefore better in Google’s eyes. For new bloggers, however, Bluehost is a cost-effective hosting option that gets your site up and running in minutes. Check them out here for hosting packages for $3.95/month with a free domain included.
Pinning with Tailwind
I use this tool to schedule pins from others on Pinterest, which seems to be a key component to a good Pinterest strategy. I’d highly recommend signing up to the Tailwind free trial and seeing what it does for your blog – it’s also affiliated with Pinterest which makes many bloggers feel more confident that using an automation service won’t be penalised by the platform.
Proofreading with Grammarly
Beautiful Themes with Restored 316
This year I switched to the Restored 316 Captivating theme and I love it – so functional, easy to customize, and all around the best UX I’ve had when it comes to themes. They have a number of elegant, minimalist-inspired themes to pick from and look great. If you’re going to make one investment for your blog to start out with, a beautiful theme that looks super professional is a good place to start.
Note: these themes do require you to have the Genesis Framework, which is a one-off investment that you can then use on as many blogs as you want. I took the plunge a few years ago and it instantly improved my site speed and how well I can customize my site.
So, what next?
If you haven’t signed up to my free start-a-blog course yet, I highly recommend starting there. I take you step-by-step through choosing a blogging niche, actually starting your website from scratch, how to get a vault of high-quality content within days, more monetization techinques to make money blogging, and more – all for free.