The Beginner’s Guide to Making Money Online with a Blog

OK, so there are a million and one different resources out there explaining how to make money online. Many of them are vague and repeat some mantra similar to “Follow your passion.” That’s all well and good, but that’s not very specific. I know the real trick, and I’m willing to share it with you. I’m going to break it down into 10 easy steps. Here they are:

1. Pick a niche that you’re knowledgeable about.

Some people might say this is your passion, but I say it’s just something you know a lot about. If you like it – that’s a bonus. If you know a lot about accounting, but want to be a pro pool player, you can blog about both. If you suck at pool, blog about accounting until you get better at pool.

2. Build content for that niche.

I find that this formula works really well:

  1. Write ten (well written) articles that focus on that niche. Make insightful posts (especially ones that are controversial). Controversial posts get a lot of readers and inbound links.
  2. Write two articles about your self and why you’re an expert in that niche. This will connect your readers to you. I find that if you put a photo of yourself on those posts, the traffic is much higher too.
  3. Write four guest posts similar to the original ten articles you wrote for the niche. It really helps if you ‘sum up’ the original ten articles across the four guest posts and link back to them.

3. Make a space online to publish that content.

This space can come in many forms (Facebook fan pages, Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress, etc). I prefer WordPress, but you aren’t limited to just that platform. If you don’t know anything about making websites, just start a website at WordPress.com and start publishing content. When you build that space, please, please, please change the default theme to something your readers will enjoy.

4. Schedule content for release.

The twelve articles you already wrote should be scheduled to come out on a regular basis: 3 a week for four weeks. It’s important to remember that these will not be your only posts, but they will make up the meat of your content. You can always post what you had for dinner last night, or some breaking news. Those ad-hoc posts are what give your blog a personality.

5. Drive traffic to your blog from related niche sites and blogs.

You should send you guest posts out to everyone in your niche once a week, so you have one guest post each week for four weeks. Those guest posts will be INSTRUMENTAL in generating traffic to your website. Make sure you also regularly comment on those peoples’ blogs as well. If they have a top commentators widget for their blog that doesn’t have “nofollow” attached to it, try to make it onto that list.

6. Use social media to build a following.

Use the following social media sites to drive traffic and build a following.

  1. I recommend you start a twitter account specifically for the blog. This will allow you to monitor that blog’s specific following as opposed to mixing them in with your main account. Use your main account to promote the blog if you have enough followers. You want to build your twitter followers as much as possible so that when you release new content on your blog, they’re getting it in their twitter feed.
  2. Start a Facebook fan page and promote the site to all of your friends. Use the same principles as you did with Twitter. Facebook’s traffic is much higher quality that Twitter, but a much lower volume. It’s harder to get fans, but when you do, they convert well.
  3. Submit every article that you write to Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon. Be sure to try and get them dugg as many times as possible, so ask all of your friends to digg/redd/stumble it.

7. Interact with your users.

Be sure to comment on your blog and respond to every @reply on twitter. Engaging users keeps them interested and makes them feel important (because they are!). Whenever someone comments on your blog, respond to them immediately – especially if they have something insightful to say.

8. Monetize.

Most people want to monetize their blog right away, but that’s a really bad idea. Ads tend to drive people away when they’re right there in their faces. My number one rule about monetization is: keep advertising off the site until 1000 unique hits a day. While you’re working your way up to 1000 uniques a day, try some LIGHT contextual advertising with affiliate links to products you talk about. Definitely do not do more than one affiliate link per post. That may even be too much, depending on your audience. Don’t do step 9 until you reach this point.

9. Get sponsors and have a contest.

Why did I say “don’t do step 9 until you reach [1000 uniques a day]”? Because you’ll have almost no chance of getting sponsors until you reach this point anyways. You can also host your own contests and eat the cost, but if you do, your investment and risk increases significantly. Do contests for other blog posts about your blog, comment contests, twitter contests, etc.

10. Repeat steps 2-10 once a month until you can move on to your true passion.

Using this method, you can usually spend about 2-3 days at the beginning of each month writing your posts that really build the meat of your blog. You can the slow release that content over time to give you a little more freedom. Be sure to fill in some of your posts with bleeding edge current news throughout the week.

Conclusion

This guide is a really basic way to make money from a blog, starting at concept, all the way through success. Many of these steps are expounded upon on my blog. There are definitely some great advanced concepts for driving traffic and building incredible blog posts. Write what you know about, give value, and be responsive. Notice that I didn’t even mention making money until step 8. If you jump the gun, you’ll piss off your readers, and your site will never take off. Have any questions? Put them in the comments or email me.

This has been a guest post by James Thompson of jtGraphic.


64 thoughts on “The Beginner’s Guide to Making Money Online with a Blog”

  1. Brandon says:

    Interesting guide, but maybe you should expand further on the different kinds of advertising people can do.

    1. jtGraphic says:

      Thanks for the input. The biggest point is that monetization should really almost be last on the list. Drive content and users first.

      1. @ Brandon

        Will you please tell us more about different kinds of advertising.

    2. It’s got a few good points to it.

  2. Nice post!

    Posting content to other reputable sites (like WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, etc) will build that trustrank needed to ranker higher organically.

  3. Ugwu Uche says:

    Great post one of my favs on Johnchow

  4. Diabetis says:

    I really hate it whne people copies something o the internet and then claiming it as theirs. Can you think fo sothing else?

    This has been posted a hundred times before!

    1. I hope you have links that you can send to John of where else this has been posted before you start accusing people like this.

      1. jtGraphic says:

        I promise you that this was 100% original.

    2. John Chow says:

      Yes please post a link to where you saw this article before. Thank you.

      1. I like how the person never returned to answer your question. Shocker.

    3. Harry says:

      Oh you read John Chow for the amazing information and not just to spam your way onto the top commentators list? Oh no, wait…

      John Chow is like a magazine, 5 minutes of ok cool. It serves it’s purpose, but you’re confused about that purpose.

      1. I do not think that this is copied article yes we read similar meaning posts too often but however this posts got some kind of freshness.

  5. Jean says:

    I especially appreciated the advice on waiting to monetize the blog. I’m not too keen on the idea of posting what I had for dinner last night though. :) Then again, if I ever start a food blog, I’ll give that idea a try.

  6. John Cho says:

    Good summary for beginners. When I first started off in the web business, I made the mistake of going for the high paying keywords, these were also niches which I literally had no knowledge of like car insurance. Don’t make the same mistake.

    1. Haha- I remember the mesothelioma craze quite well. What a mess that was.

      Insurance/mortgage keywords pay very well, though. If you can get good content out there and localize it, it’s possible to make some money there still.

  7. Garen says:

    True it makes it a lot easier to write about stuff you have an interest in. I made that mistake before, and my blog sucked as a result. It really makes it hard to write if you don’t care about the subject.

    Weebly is also a good place to start a blog at, also is an authority site, too. I try to stick to using a bunch of of social media, and most importantly be social and add friends.

  8. Boris says:

    John,
    Very helpful content. Thanks! What do you think about including links to other blogs? Whe you help others, they might help you back….
    Best regards,
    Boris

  9. Noel says:

    Thks for sharing these guidelines. They are very useful for newbie like me. :)

  10. this is an informative post

  11. Good tips, indeed.
    But time is also one key factor to blog success. Time and persistence to be precise.

    1. jtGraphic says:

      Very true. You won’t be a rockstar after just a month – it Might take a year or two.

  12. Very good post. I’d say it definitely all starts with picking the right niche. You don’t necessarily have to be knowledgeable or passionate about it, but it does tend to help. You just need to do enough research to find a niche with profit potential and that you can continue to write content around.

  13. Although these kind of posts have same meaning every time. But nice to read your posts as this one have few good new things which we can use immediately.

  14. Wynne says:

    I am learning a lot from your posts John. This guide on effective blogging is right on topic.

    One question though that has crossed my mind more than once… I’ve heard several well known bloggers talk about doing guest posts on other people’s blogs. That’s great, I accept that this is a massive way to spread your reputation and get some good anchor text / PR juice back to your site.

    But if you are relatively unknown, then surely there is a transition period between being a complete dweeb to being significant enough to be considered to write for someone else’s blog?

    I’m thinking there should be another step in around 5 and 6 where you network with other bloggers and talk about the possiblity of exchanging guest exchanges on eachothers blogs?

    I’ve continued this theme on my own blog and linked back to you… how to make money with blogging.

    1. Sharninder says:

      Networking with other bloggers is always a good thing but guest posting doesn’t really require one to be friends with a fellow blogger or have a really big blog to be considered. That is why this method is so effective. Write a good post relevant to the blog’s audience and you’ll almost certainly get something out of it.

  15. proson says:

    I don’t quite agree on “monetize later”. It is about the layout of your blog. you can actually start monetizing in day 1. I mean what the purpose of the blog?

    make money right? So if you don’t get this right, you will spend too much time writing contents but your blogs will still not making money.

    If you want to make money, you need to have a proven strategy, a plan, a working system NOT a BS that just copy what others 100 bloggers said on forums…

    Ads won’t drive people away if you know how to put them wisely and effectively.

    1. jtGraphic says:

      It’s very tricky though depending on how you drive traffice, because for instance: digg users haaaate ads.

    2. Sharninder says:

      Yes, it all depends on the niche and the blog. Regular readers of tech blogs, for example, are quite used to advertisements and are almost tuned to block them out mentally. Ofcourse, the ads should never be out of place and should blend in.

  16. Paul B says:

    You went to the trouble of writing a decent guest post and then linked back to your own website with the anchor text “my blog” – school boy error.

  17. Alex says:

    Getting 1000 uniques a day didn’t seem very hard on my other site, but it seems quite a lot more difficult on a blog.

  18. Andrew says:

    If you are wanting to blog, I think point 1 is very important otherwise you will quickly lose interest. But you will also need a monetizable niche to blog about.

  19. Nice to have everything on one page – thanks for this detailed and concise guide

  20. Dom A says:

    Thanks for the article – I really found it a good read and very informative.

    There is a lot of hyperbole and what I call ‘shortcut advice’ on the Internet which is often less than useful, but you have produced a clear and concise overview of how to make some money with a blog.

    We are about to get started with a blog on our site, so I will reread your article once more to be sure we are doing it right.

    Thanks again!

  21. For monetize, i think it is also great to monetize a blog even tough the visitor is below 1k per day.

  22. Good read, I swear I’ve read entire ebooks that are 50+ pages long that give the exact same information, but just drags on forever. This is the only guide you really need, to all bloggers that procrastonate, stop reading the same thing re written over and over again, just do it!

    1. There is a ton of info that says the same thing. The biggest thing for many people is just to get off their butts and take action.

  23. Cash Genie says:

    It is a nice post but I believe that it is really difficult to make money via blog. People need to get really lucky and get good back links and all.

    1. jtGraphic says:

      The real key is making sure you don’t try to make money off of your users until you’ve built a relationship with them. If you can build a relationship with 1000 people, you can monetize. If your blog isn’t full of affiliate links and ads it’s much easier to build that relationship. You’re right though – becoming super successful takes a little bit of luck and a lot of patience.

  24. If your ultimate goal is to make money then you should make it (monitizing) as one of your top priority..not the last…
    You should treat it like a business if your goal is to make money, and if its your business then you will for sure will make it a top priority….
    But having said that you should not forget about other crucial stuff such as the design, content, blah blahhh…

    1. jtGraphic says:

      Many businesses don’t make a profit in their first or second year, so that they can build a loyal customer base and then pay attention to monetization.

  25. fas says:

    The writing 12 articles bit and then doing randow ramblings seems to be the key.

  26. No monitization till 1,000 uniques a day! My rule is none until 100 uniques because most blogs NEVER get anywhere close to 1,000 visitors a day.

    1. I just very recently hit that on one of my latest blogs. What do you normally monetize them with? I’m getting about $150-ish for about 1k uniques each day.

  27. S Ahsan says:

    Some KickAss Tips! Now that makes me feel like an average blogger , arg!!

  28. I really like the idea of putting all the work into 2 or 3 days at the beginning of the month. For beginners especially, this makes the whole idea of blogging far less daunting.

  29. Full guide, thanks. Can you tell me how you can bring a lot of visitors from search engines, I am always trying different ways but until now never gets results

    1. jtGraphic says:

      It really depends on your niche, but that’s what the guest blogging is all about – backlinks get you authority, which gets you search traffic.

  30. Good post! But i think traffic from search engines is more beneficial as compared to social networks.

  31. Gregg Zban says:

    John,

    I like the way you laid everything out in order. This is a simple, easy to follow, guide to making money online with a blog. Well said as usual!

    Gregg Zban – marketer, coach, and entrepreneur
    The Guru Hub

  32. Steve Roddy says:

    I got some good take aways. But, I thought that if you submit every post to Digg, Stumble, or Reddit that it will hinder your site long term making it look like spam. True or False?

    1. True. To an extent.

      And you *won’t* get to the front page of Digg, SU, or Reddit with content we have all seen.

      I will submit my own sites to SU, but not Digg or Reddit unless it is incredibly innovative. Both communities have a hate for “blog spam.”

  33. From my experience, the most effective use of your time is in the relationships that you build with your readers. There are sooooooo many blogs now, it’s tough to find genuine people that are committed to serving the niche they are in with quality help and info. If you can do that on a consistent basis, you are well onto your way making money in that niche.

  34. My successful blogs have a great reach- but only because the average posts takes, at the very least, an hour to create. Most will be 2-3 hours.

  35. Jeffrey says:

    Looks like everyone is on the same page of the same book. The cover of that book being “Social Media”

  36. Free Picks says:

    thanks for tips, facebook bring lot of traffic, where twitters gives you nthing

  37. thanks .for these great tips

  38. Robinsh says:

    The mega bloggers like you were there behind my decision for running a blog, it is great for beginner bloggers that they are getting continuous support from the blogging leaders like you and all for free.

    Thanks for your efforts targeted peoples like me who are unexperienced in the field of blogging.

    ” Lady leaders in your business “

  39. FS says:

    It is a nice post, you have your points here.
    I do read many similar posts like this before. I believe you need more than that to make money via bloging.

  40. mrloo says:

    a thousand uniques a day seem to be very hard on my site, i have been blogging for a while but never reached that a thousand a day. I know one of the main reason why my blog did not really do well is because I don’t have a schedule posts.

    My blog is about travelling and I have lots of articles to blog about my travels but I never post them. Can you believe that I still have few travel stories that I need to post and they are two years older?

    This arctilce of John gave me inspiration again to focus on my blog.

    Thanks again for this wonderful article… :-)

    I wish someone can visit my blog and what I can do more to improve it. thanks in advance. :)

  41. Thanks a lot for awesome, interesting and useful article! keep it up, good job.
    Kim

  42. Great post – just starting a new site, so I am working my way down from Item 2.

  43. To me, the biggest challenge is persistence. Write something that you are passion about is definitely essential.

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