Last week, we talked about how to (more than) double your blog’s reach in a year. I shared a bit of my personal experience about how I went from getting about 11,000 views a month in March of 2013 to averaging over 93,000 views a month for the last 3 months of the year. Of course I also shared some tips and ways that you can make it happen on your blog as well, and we will continue to share more tips for growth throughout the year to help you reach your blogging goals!
Today, I thought it would be helpful to talk about blogging income. Something that every one feels weird talking about, but I feel like it’s helpful to share, so that you can know what is possible, and be able to set realistic goals for yourself and not sell yourself short.
For the backstory: In January of 2013 I wasn’t making any money on my blog. Not one penny. I was determined to start earning and had the goal of starting to earn some money before 2014, though I had NO IDEA what number to shoot for. Vaguely in my mind, I set a goal of reaching $500-$1,000 total, by the end of the year, but thought even that might be overambitious.
By December 2013 I had brought in over $5,000 total. Averaging $1,000 a month for the last 3 months of the year.
So again, HOW does this happen? I’ll tell you, because I want you to be able to do this too!!! No gimmicks or tricks, just a lot of hard work and time.
- Get Your Own Domain – This is a great starting point, because it sets you apart and makes you look like a more professional-blogger instead of a hobby-blogger. Many brands expect you to have your own domain before they will even work with you. Also, when you start to build your page, you want to build up views, pins and SEO traffic for the domain that you will have for the rest of your blogging career. Choose your blog name and domain wisely!
- Install Google Analytics – GA is a great tool for tracking the growth of your blog. Many brands ask for numbers specifically from Google Analytics before they work with you, as GA is one of the most accurate. Your stats on GA may be a little bit lower than what you have seen on other stat-counting websites, simply because GA doesn’t count spam clicks. It’s a good thing to install ASAP so that your growth will be charted from the very beginning and you won’t have to wait to get those numbers for a sponsor or brand when asked in the future.
- Focus on Getting Your Page Views Up First – Before you spend too much time stressing over money, try to get your stats and page views up to a good level. This will allow you to put all of your energy into one thing at a time, and when you do start earning blogging income it will be more at a time instead of just a few dollars here and there. Personally, I waited until I was getting 700-1,000 views a day, before I started pursuing monetization. A few earning opportunities presented themselves before that time (and I took them!) but I didn’t actively try to start earning until I had my stats in a better place than I did on January 1st. This took half the year, but it was so worth it to me! Instead of bending over backwards for a small sponsored post or cluttering my site with ads that were earning me pennies, I was able to slowly start bringing in sponsored posts and ads, when my stats were high enough to make it worth it.
- Paypal – Set up a paypal account specifically for your blog. Though some companies allow direct deposit, most will pay you through paypal, so having it already set up will put you a step ahead as you start to earn. It can also be a good idea to set up a separate bank account just for your blogging income. This will help you track your blog earnings, so you can report them on your taxes at the end of the year. Then you can transfer the money to your regular account at the end of the year!
- Join Sponsored Posts Communities – There are some wonderful websites out there that connect bloggers with brands that are seeking to hire bloggers for sponsored posts! It’s great to join several of these companies (it’s free to join) and keep a look out for opportunities that are relavent to your blog and your readers. I may go months without getting an job from one or two of them, which is why it’s nice to have the others to fall back on! A few of my personal favorites (where I have had the most success) are Izea, Linqia, Sverve and Social Fabric. *Some of these are referral links, which means I may be rewarded if you sign up using my link*
- Hire Me – Create a “hire me” landing page. You can call it whatever creative name you choose, just have a space on your blog that shares your stats and what sponsorship opportunities you are looking for. You can even include how much you charge! Always have a contact email address on this page as well. This makes it much easier for brands to contact you personally with opportunities. The nice thing about working this way, is that you typically get paid faster, and you build a relationship with the brand directly (instead of through the groups/communities mentioned above). Make it easy to find your information and easy to contact you and you’ll start getting people looking for what you have to offer! You can see an example of a ‘hire me’ page like this on my personal blog.
- Adsense – Google Adsense is a wonderful tool, and it is MUCH easier than selling adspace on your blog. There is a waiting period after you apply, but once you are accepted it’s pretty smooth sailing. You simply add the code to your site, and start earning money as people click the ads. It can be fickle as different days the ads will be worth more, but it’s still a great (and easy) source of income. I love it when I can come home from a day at the beach with my kids and see that I’ve earned a couple dollars in ad sales while we were playing. It’s definitely a cool feeling! You can block certain types of ads or URLs from displaying ads on your site, so they should stay as family-friendly as you want them to be, which is a really nice feature. I was nervous about getting some X rated ads on my site and not realizing, but as long as you are careful with your settings that shouldn’t happen.
- Ad Space – I’ve only recently begun to sell adspace myself, but it’s something that many bloggers do quite successfully. Basically you charge people to have their image/button in your sidebar. Passionfruit is a program that helps make selling ad space easier. I’m currently in a trial period with them, so I will have to update this as I get more experience with them. I do know lots of bloggers that have had a very positive experience with them, so it’s worth looking into! As far as pricing, take a peek at what other bloggers your size and in your niche are selling and price accordingly!
- Post Frequently – Don’t rely on sponsored content to carry your blog. You still have to post lots of stellar non-sponsored content to keep the readers coming! Never stop working on your blog’s growth, even when your numbers have doubled and tripled! The majority of the content on the site should be regular, non-sponsored posts, with only a few sponsored posts sprinkled in the mix. Yes, we all need to earn money, but you will lose your credibility with your readers if you post exclusively sponsored content.
- Be Picky – Only accept sponsored posts/ads that you can honestly endorse and that you think your readers will enjoy hearing about. Sponsored content is still content going on your blog, so it also needs to ad value from the readers perspective. This might mean that you have to turn down some hefty paychecks, but keeping your credit as an honest blogger will help you in the long run as you endorse other brands that you truly believe in. Your readers will know they can trust you and your sponsors will know that you deliver the results they want!
- Don’t Lose Yourself – Never sacrifice your voice, or quality writing style for a sponsored post. Advertise for the brands in unique stories that flow with the feel of your blog. This means more exposure for the brand, and your readers will enjoy reading it, instead of skipping over it because it feels like a “commercial”. Becky has some great tips about writing sponsored posts, if you need some help getting started.
- Monetize Social Media – You can monetize social media through Izea, Blogher and Sverve. These companies pay you for tweeting, posting Facebook Statuses on your page about their brand or even pinning! You can also advertise a “social media shout out” option on your “hire me” page.
- Start Treating Your Blog Like a Business – Be professional in all your interactions and always post quality content. If you don’t take yourself and your blog seriously, neither will brands. Every tweet, Facebook status and blog post represents you and your brand as a blogger. You don’t have to lose your voice, but make sure that you are always using proper grammar, capitalization and so forth.
- Don’t Sell Yourself Short – Know your worth, and don’t settle for less. There will always be brands asking for you to advertise them for free (or virtually free). Don’t feel obligated to take those opportunities. Some times people will try to guilt you into working for free, but don’t do it! Take opportunities that you believe in, and that are giving you a fair price.
- Don’t Stress or Obsess – Continue working on your blog and being proactive about it’s growth and it will come. Sometimes there are things that have to be changed, and there is always room for improvement, but you don’t have to achieve perfection before you start to earn money.
As you can see, it’s a long process to go from $0 a month to $1,000 a month, but it’s also a very do-able one! Hard work and effort pay off in the end.
Please, do not get discouraged if you have not reached this type of income yet. Keep striving for your goals, and making the changes necessary to get there. It does take a lot of hard work and sacrifices but it can be worth it, if it’s helpful for your family and you can do it without stressing yourself out.
If you found this helpful, be sure to check out the series I did on my personal blog, where bloggers (anonymously) shared their stats, monthly income, where they were making money and other tips for every one to learn from! You can read those posts and see their numbers here and here.
Do you have any income goals for the year? Which of these are you going to work on first?
Want to take your blog even farther and turn it into a full blog business? We’ve got you covered! Check out our best selling book Blogging on the side: Where passions meets profit.
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