Blogging can really pay off
For many, blogging is a hobby. For a lucky few, it pays the rent or more.
Bloggers often start sites, dreaming of finding an enthusiastic following – and the profit that goes with it, reported the New York Times.
Many times new blogs fall into simply a site visited by family and friends trying to be supportive. But other blogs can find unexpected success, commonly connected to writers’ passion for their subject and a strong desire to communicate what they know. Advertising, merchandising, offline events, book deals and donations also can be factors in catching that limelight, as can just pure and simple luck.
“My advice is to choose a topic you’ll never get tired of,” Stephanie Nelson, a homemaker who in 2001 started a blog, CouponMom.com, to circulate tips on how to save big by using coupons, said to the New York Times. “The first three years I made no money at all, so I had to love what I was doing to keep going.”
Today her site boasts in excess of 3.8 million visitors a month, enough income to support her family and even permit her husband to take an early retirement. Even years later, it is still a delight: “I’m still not tired of it,” she reported.
The blog draws its revenue in part from Google’s AdSense service, with the remaining half from firms such as Groupon and LivingSocial, which directly purchase ads. AdSense works by creating ads linked to words appearing on the site; for instance, the word “dog” generating ads about dog food.
With some Google ads, you may only receive cash if users click on them and the payment is pretty slim at a portion of a cent, while with other Google ads you get income every time the ad appears on a webpage. Fees are arrived upon through an online bidding auction for advertisers.
For Clayton Dunn and Zach Patton, of the recipe-based blog The Bitten Word, their 150,000 visitors a month translate to around $350 each month, with the money coming in from pay-per-click Google ads and from users clicking on links to recommended Amazon.com products.
“It more than pays for the groceries,” Dunn said.
If this seems piddly, there are other options out there. Jonathan Accarrino, creator of the technology news and how-to blog MethodShop.com, recommends contextual ads. These ads function by highlighting words that link to sites that push a related product or service, giving blog owners a percent of any resulting sales.
And Accarrino’s advice may be worth following: His blog rakes in six figures every year.
The system has worked for Darren Kitchen, whose website Hak5.org presents a video each week on computer hacking. Kitchen sells goods such as stickers, T-shirts, baseball caps and computer hacking tools to his 250,000 monthly viewers, making $5,000 per month.
There are also options outside the advertising world: You may simply ask for donations outright. Kelly DeLay’s site, The Clouds 365 Project – which features regular photos of cloud formations – makes between $200 and $400 per month by asking visitors to contribute. “People can be very generous,” DeLay said.
Also on the list is charging for content. Collis Ta’eed brings in a whopping $150,000 each month from his websites, FreelanceSwitch.com (practical tips for freelancers) and Tuts+ (technology-related tutorials).
How he did it: Largely by making his tutorials and e-books premium content. With 6.4 million visitors every month, it adds up fast.
“People will pay for content if you offer them something of value that is authentic and is generally useful,” Ta’eed said.
Last but not least is charging your following to participate in events you organize. This approach has paid off for Steve Pavlina, who pulled in $40,000 from weekend workshops that stemmed from his blog on personal development, StevePavlina.com. He also makes around $100,000 per month from recommending and then selling products such as speed-reading courses or heavy-duty blenders.
“I tell people if they want to start a blog just to make money, they should quit right now,” Pavlina said. “You have to love it and be passionate about your topic.”