Free ebook: How to Make Money Blogging

If you missed the How to Make Money Blogging series, or you’d like to be able to print and read the series as a whole without having to be on your computer, or you want to save it to your e-reader to read later, you can download a free copy of How To Make Money Blogging.

Know of someone you think it might be a help to? Feel free to share the link or print out a copy and give it to them.

You can also download my free free Time Management 101 ebook, if you’ve not done so already.

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How to Make Money Blogging: Q&A

Here are my answers to the questions you all asked in the comments of last week’s How to Make Money Blogging post:

Anyway you could talk about how you deal with negative comments/criticism? This has gotten me really discouraged lately. -Jenae

I’m so sorry you’re dealing with negative comments and criticism, Jenae! Unfortunately, the sad reality is that if you have a blog that is read by more than a handful of people, you’re probably going to get some negative comments. I’ve met some of the most wonderful people through blogging, while at the same time, I’ve had to learn to develop thick skin for those very frequent comments and emails from people who don’t like my blog.

There’s no way to please everyone; it’s just a fact of life. And when people can hide behind an anonymous identity and say whatever, some people feel comfortable saying very harsh things–things they would likely never say to your face.

One thing that has really helped me is to remember something Dave Ramsey said at his EntreLeadership conference: “You are not accountable to those you don’t have a relationship with.”

I have many real-life friends who I see on a very regular basis who read my blog. If they come to me with a concern about something I post, I’m going to take it very seriously, pray about it, examine my heart, and seek the Lord to see if I am in the wrong.

If, however, some anonymous person posts or emails a comment bashing decisions or choices we’ve made or criticizes something I post about, I try to remember to just let it roll off my back as I know that they are only seeing a snippet of my life through my blog.

And I try to use negative comments and criticism to remind me of the need to extend grace to others. I want to be a cheerleader and an encourager to others–even if I don’t always agree with them. I want to “find the good and praise it”.

Early on in your blogging career when you were trying to take every opportunity to get your blog out there, how were you able to chase every lead or network often and still have a family life?

I have chosen to put the blogging aside for most of the day and only work on it at night after my children go to bed. But I have found that it leaves me little time to network because this is also when I write my posts, not to mention spend any quiet time with my husband. I also fear that I’m losing some valuable networking opportunities. So, do you have any advice on how to balance it all when one is early on in their blogging?

If you choose to have your priorities in order, you will lose valuable networking opportunities. However, the value of putting your husband and family first far outweighs a lost networking opportunity.

I’ve had to learn this lesson the hard way. As I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve had seasons where I completely overextended myself and my marriage and family suffered as a result. It breaks my heart that I made wrong choices; I can’t get those days and hours back. But I can learn from the past in order to forge ahead into the future in a more God-glorifying manner.

My advice is to continue to strongly guard your priorities and let the blog take a backseat. However, talk with your husband about what may be a good balance for you. At times, we’ve set aside an evening each week for me to go to a coffeeshop and write. During other seasons, I’ve gotten up earlier than the rest of the household in order to write. Naptimes have also been great blocks of time for blogging, as well.

Once you determine what works for your family right now, set specific goals for your blogging time. Make writing a priority, but see if you can also carve out 15 minutes a day for networking. Perhaps five minutes for commenting on other blogs, five minutes for networking via email, and five minutes for networking via Twitter. Or, you could just choose one of these per day to focus on.

Set the timer and work as fast as you can during the designated time. Five or 15 minutes might not seem like much, but if you stay focused, you can accomplish a lot in that timeframe. A little bit of focused work each day can really add up over six months’ time.

What are the tax implications for blogging? My husband has worked as a consultant in another industry and all of those ‘small business’ fees add up. Since you are self-employed, at what dollar amount do you have to start reporting your income to the IRS and filing paperwork? -Amy

You need to report every dollar earned to the IRS. However, some states don’t require you to pay taxes until you reach a certain threshold of income earned. In addition, there are many deductions you can take when you are operating your own business–even if you just operate it as a sole proprietorship.

I’d heartily suggest that you keep blogging income completely separate from personal income. Set up a separate bank account and funnel all money earned through that account. This makes it so much easier to track income and expenses–and prevents co-mingling of funds.

For more information on tax implications of running your own business, I’d highly recommend sitting down with a local accountant.

There are already so many blogs out there about motherhood and saving money. It seems like this is already so saturated that it would be difficult to stand out or earn money. Do you have any suggestions about how to pick a topic and maybe about areas that are not so saturated? -Jennifer

Honestly, I don’t believe there is any blogging market that is truly saturated–except the market of bloggers who are trying to just mimic other bloggers instead of following their own passions and finding their own voice.

When picking a topic, think less about what areas of the blogosphere are “saturated” and more about where your giftings and passions lie. Focus on writing about what you love, what you’re interested in, and what unique experiences you’ve had in life that give you a perspective others might not have. When you do something because you love it, you’ll be enthusiastic about it and that enthusiasm will breed energy and excitement among others.

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How to Make Money Blogging: 5 Ways to Use Your Blog as a Springboard to Earn Additional Income (Part 2)

Two weeks ago, we talked about teaching an online class and writing an ebook as two ways to earn money indirectly through blogging. Here are three additional ideas:

3) Accept Speaking Engagements

If you love public speaking (or want to grow to love it!), you can make a fairly good side income through accepting public speaking engagements. If you don’t have people beating a path to your door offering to fly you to their event and pay you to speak, never fear, you just need to work on getting your name out there and building up a reputation as a highly sought-after speaker.

Depending upon your blog’s topic, you could offer to speak at local events for free in order to build your portfolio. Or, you could offer a class through your local community center for a small fee per sign-up. If the class is well received, you could offer it on a regular basis or teach the same class in nearby towns, as well.

If you hope to be asked to do more speaking opportunities, you could set up a page on your blog that outlines details on what speaking engagements you accept, past speaking experience, testimonials, future speaking engagements, and how people can contact you about possibly speaking at their event.

As an added bonus, speaking engagements can put your name and blog name in front of dozens or even hundreds of people who haven’t heard of you or your blog before, helping to grow your blog and widen your audience.

4) Become a Freelance Writer

Blogging has opened up a few doors of opportunity for me to have extra paid writing gigs on occasion. It’s been a great experience, as well as extra cashflow. While it’s been a long time since I’ve sought out such opportunities, I know that there are many available–especially if you are a gifted writer.

If you want to do more freelance writing and are having trouble finding opportunities, contact small local parenting magazines across the nation. Many of these accept articles and pay up to $25 per article. Best of all, since these are local and state publications, they don’t ask for exclusive rights. So, hypothetically, you could spend a few hours on one article and pitch it to 100 different small publications. If even 10 of them run it, you could make $250 off it. That’s certainly nothing to sneeze at!

Again, in most publications that you write for, you can include a bio with a link to your site. You might not get a lot of traffic from it, but it will more than likely send at least a few new visitors to your blog.

5) Offer Consulting Services

Many companies are taking notice of bloggers and realizing that we are much more adept at online marketing and social media than they. They want to know how they, too, can grow their business through blogging and social media. As a result, there are numerous companies who are more than willing to pay bloggers to give them tips and pointers–or even to take over their social media presence for them.

Consulting jobs pay well–often upwards of $50 or more per hour–but they are more difficult to get. Usually they are the result of networking and pre-established relationships.

My biggest tip is that you don’t sell yourself short or work for free. Sometimes companies expect bloggers to offer consulting services for free, just because, well, you’re a blogger. If a company comes to you and asks for advice on something that’s going to require more than 15 minutes of your time to help with, write back and let them know you are more than glad to consider helping them and your fees are $XX per hour (charge at least $20 to $25 per hour, if not more, to make it worth your time).

Your time is valuable and, unless it’s a ministry or nonprofit or some other company that you have strong ties to, don’t give them free handouts. This only hurts all bloggers when companies have the idea that they can get hours of consulting services from bloggers without paying. They wouldn’t expect to hire a consulting firm without paying them, so they also shouldn’t expect the same or similar services from bloggers without paying.

Bonus: Write a Book

As I’ve dipped my toe into the world of book publishing this year, I’ve learned many lessons. One of which is that getting your book published is not as hard as many may think. If you’ve built up a strong blog audience, have a social media presence, are passionate about your subject, and are a decent writer, you can likely get a book deal.

However, don’t do what I did and just accept whatever book deal a publisher offers you. I learned that the hard way. While my publisher has been excellent to work with, I wish I would have gotten my agent first before signing the book deal. There were a lot of little things I knew nothing about and having an agent to help me chart these never-before-navigated waters would have been invaluable, as well as saving me some headaches and hassles later. But oh well, live and learn right?

My advice? Come up with some winning book ideas and then get a great agent. You’ll not only have an advocate and a go-between for pitching your book idea to publishers, but you’ll have someone to hold your hand and cheer you on through the process.

This is the final format post in this series on How to Make Money Blogging. If there are lingering questions you still have or topics you’d like for me to delve into deeper or explain further, leave a comment or email me. If there are enough questions asked, I’ll do a follow-up post next Wednesday.

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How to Make Money Blogging: 5 Ways to Use Your Blog as a Springboard to Earn Additional Income (Part 1)

Not only are there many ways to earn income directly from blogging, but blogging also opens up a host of other ways to earn money indirectly. Here are five ways I’ve used my blog as a springboard to earn additional income:

1) Teach an Online Class

I taught my first online course back in 2006–way back when I was just learning about online marketing and blogging and really didn’t have much of a clue what I was doing. That first class was successful, so I taught another and another and another. Not only did I learn so much through teaching (and hopefully imparted some helpful information to my students!), but it was a great source of side income to supplement our family during a lean season.

With just a few simple tools, you can teach video or audio courses online. Or, you can put together a package with video and/or audio plus a course handbook like Carrie’s Grocery University.

Consider what are your areas of expertise and what questions you are asked most as a blogger and then see if there’s a way you can turn these ideas into a marketable online class. Offer the class very inexpensively the first time around as you learn the ropes, ask other bloggers to promote the class for you (you could write a guest post for a few blogs on a relevant topic and then link to your class in your bio), and make sure to include testimonials from those who have gone through the class on your sales page.

2) Write an Ebook

Writing and selling ebooks is one market that is untapped by many, many bloggers–and there’s tremendous potential to earn a few hundred (or even a few thousand dollars!) each year by selling ebooks.

In the early days of blogging, selling ebooks was the bread and butter of our business. As our business has grown and our income has increased, I’ve moved away from selling ebooks, but I’d still highly recommend this to other bloggers–especially if you don’t mind dealing with the occasional difficult customer service issue.

There are a few things you must know about successfully selling ebooks, though:

::You need to write on a relevant, practical topic. The best-selling ebooks are those that tell you how to make money, save money, lose weight, cook better, get organized, or somehow practically improve your life. Unfortunately, an ebook comprised of poems is probably not going to sell well.

::Your cover and salespage are everything. You can write a killer ebook, but if your cover is cheesy and your salespage is pathetic, it probably won’t sell. Hire a designer to do your cover (it’s worth the expense, I promise!), and make sure that your salespage has a clear-cut call to action, includes specific details on why someone should buy your book, and has testimonies to back up your claims.

::You must exhaust every marketing possibility. People need to see things again and again and again in order to consider buying. Write guest posts, get every blogger possible to review your ebook, run ebook giveaways on dozens of blogs, and find every other creative free way to get your ebook out there.

If you are planning to write an ebook, I heartily recommend Sarah Mae’s ebook, How to Market and Sell Your Ebook. It’s packed with helpful information and advice and is worth every penny. Also, be sure to read her article on how to sell $20,000 worth of your next ebook.

To be continued next week…

How have you used your blog as a springboard for earning additional income? Tell us in the comments!

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How to Make Money Blogging: The Pros and Cons of Joining an Ad Network

We’ve talked about affiliate marketing and private advertising as ways to make money blogging. Another income stream to add to your blog is to join an ad network.

Ad networks are basically advertising brokers. You offer the advertising space on your blog and they try to sell the space for you. If they sell the space, they take a cut of the sale (usually 40-50%).

Some people love using an ad network. Others haven’t had such great experiences. Here are a few of my thoughts on the pros and cons of joining an ad network:

::Pros::

Ad Networks Require Little Effort

Instead of private advertising where you have to do all the legwork of selling the ad and setting up the ad, when you join an ad network, you do nothing but sign a contract, put some HTML code on your sidebar, and then get checks.

Ad Networks Usually Earn You More Than Private Advertising or Affiliate Ads Do

How much you make with an advertising network will vary widely. I’ve heard of people making as low as $1-$2 CPM (per thousand pageviews) or as much as $15 to $20 per CPM.

However, remember how I said last week that you could charge $0.50 to $1 per CPM for selling private advertising? Well, that’s very much on the low end for ad networks. From what I’ve researched, most people make $2-$4 CPM on average with most ad networks. If you’re just starting out selling private advertising and haven’t had enough demand to warrant raising the price, you will very likely make more with an ad network than you will with private ads.

Ad Networks Often Sell More Than Just Ads

While the revenue from sidebar advertising can be good, the revenue from other advertising opportunities is usually much better. I don’t accept sponsored posts, but I have done a few underwritten post series (such as my Christmas Gift Guide & Giveaways series).

My Christmas series paid very well and I never would have gotten that opportunity had my ad network not made the phone calls and coordinated the details to close that deal. Since they are working with multiple bloggers, they are able to attract advertisers with big advertising budgets–something I’m not usually able to do on my own.

::Cons::

Ad Networks Give You Less Control

I shied away from joining an ad network for a number of years because I wanted to have control over what ads showed on my sidebar. Every single ad network I talked to was unwilling to let me have control over what ads showed on my sidebar.

I finally discovered that Federated Media would give me a say and joined their ad network early last year. While some unapproved ads have slipped through the cracks on occasion (due to hiccups with their ad placement system), they have been exceptional about removing any campaigns immediately if I request it. From what I’ve heard, most ad networks are not always so compliant.

Ad Networks Can Be Difficult to Get In With

It took me a number of months and persistence, plus a kind friend giving me a shoe-in, before I was able to get in with Federated Media. The best ad networks often have a long waiting list and few openings.

Things to Consider Before Joining An Ad Network:

::Will they offer you a guaranteed CPM rate? Most ad networks that are actively “courting” bloggers are new or struggling. They’ll make you all sorts of great-sounding promises, but very few are willing to back those up with a guarantee in writing. If an ad network will only guarantee you pay of around $2 or less per CPM on average, you will probably do better to just stick with using Google Adsense on your sidebar.

::What are the terms of the contract? Is it an exclusive agreement that would bar you from being able to run private ads or affiliate ads? If so, don’t agree to it. How do you get out of the contract? Have these details in writing ahead of time so you don’t get stuck in some bad situation.

::Will you have control over the ads they run? If you run a blog on healthful eating, you probably don’t want McDonald’s Big Mac ads running on your sidebar. Sending mixed messages to your readership is a quick way to lose your integrity. Make sure that the ad network promises in writing to remove ads you deem to be inappropriate for your blog.

::What do other bloggers in the network think of it? One of the best ways to determine whether or not a network is right for you is to go find other bloggers who are a part of the network and ask them how it is working out for them. You might find that what the ad network reps promised you on the phone is entirely the opposite of what bloggers in their network are actually experiencing. Firsthand knowledge is priceless and could save you a huge headache.

Are you a part of an ad network? If so, I’d love to hear your experiences–both good and bad!

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How to Make Money Blogging: 5 Tips for Selling More Sidebar Ads

Last week, we talked about how to maximize your affiliate earnings. Today, we’re delving into a another way to make money blogging — by selling sidebar ads.

While selling sidebar ads yourself does require more work and effort, it can really pay off in the long run. Plus, it’s a great option for blogs in every genre. And if you don’t want to use an advertising network because you don’t have as much control over the ads they run (we’ll talk more about advertising networks soon), selling sidebar ads yourself allows you to have complete control over what is running on your blog at all times.

Here are five tips to help you sell more sidebar ads:

1) Make It Obvious

You know the number one reason most people don’t sell as many sidebar ads as they’d like to sell? Because they aren’t making it very obvious and conspicuous that they even offer advertising in the first place!

Most people aren’t going to take the time to dig through your site and try to figure out how to advertise on it. In fact, some people will never even realize there’s an option to advertise unless you clearly let them know you have advertising spots for sale.

Put an advertise tab in your header that links to your advertising page. This page should include details on your traffic (advertisers typically want to know pageviews and unique visitors), your demographics, a few details on your site, advertising options, advertising prices, and testimonials from former (or current) advertisers. You could do an elaborate downloadable media kit like Michael Hyatt has, or just stick with a simple page like Life as MOM has.

Whatever you do, make a compelling case for why someone should advertise on your site. Don’t be bashful; a potential advertiser needs to know clearly why advertising on your site is going to be a great thing for their business.

2) Run a Half-Priced Special

If you’re just getting started offering sidebar ads, get things off with a bang by offering a half-priced special on your sidebar advertising. Write up a post highlighting this special pricing and approach companies you’ve worked with to run giveaways in the past letting them know you are offering a limited-time advertising special.

With some effort and enthusiasm, you should be able to get at least a few advertisers to bite. And once you have a few signed up to advertise, you’ll find it’s usually easier to find more advertisers — especially if you make it obvious that you offer advertising (see point 1).

3) Offer Discount Packages

It’s great to start out with selling simple sidebar ads, but people will be much more interested in all-inclusive discounted advertising packages. For instance, instead of just selling a sidebar ad for $25 per month, offer a three-month package that includes a sidebar ad, a post write-up about the company, a giveaway from the company, and a text link in your email feed — all for the discounted price of $150 total.

If you want to take this idea a step further, put together three different package levels at three different pricing points. A potential advertiser might not want to pay for your top-tier advertising package that’s $500, but they will be more apt to go for the $150 package versus just paying $25 for a simple sidebar ad.

You can also offer discounts for advertisers who purchase three months’ or six months’ of advertising at a time. Not only will the discount appeal to them, it will save you time and effort in having to go out and secure another advertiser for that slot every month!

4) Throw in Some Extras

You know how fast food restaurants always try to upsell you? Well, you can do the same thing with your sidebar advertising — only you can do it for free! Think of other options you could throw in to seal the deal such as: a free mention of the company on Facebook, a free mention on Twitter, and/or a free mention in a blog post when they purchase a sidebar ad.

5) Keep Your Advertising Spots Filled — Even If They Aren’t Sold

Want to know one of my biggest sidebar advertising pet peeves? When people have a big blank box on the sidebar that, instead of being an ad, says “Advertise Here”.

This screams, “My advertising space isn’t valuable enough for people to want to buy so I instead have this big blank box!” That’s not the message you probably want to convey to potential advertisers.

Put the advertise tab in your header that links to your advertising information page and link to this in a small text link underneath your advertising spots, but don’t have a big blank box. If you don’t fill all your advertising spots every month, either replace the empty spots with an affiliate ad or give a free ad to a friend.

How Much Should You Charge?

How you price your advertising will depend upon many factors — your blog’s traffic, your blogging niche, where the ad will be placed, how many ad spots you are selling, and the demand. I always encourage people to start out with lowball prices and gradually move up from there.

Advertising is usually priced per thousand pageviews (CPM), so I suggest starting with $0.50 – $1 per thousand pageviews and working up from there. This means that if your blog currently gets 10,000 pageviews per month, you could start out charging something like $10 per month for a small 250×250 sidebar ad that is located near the middle of your sidebar or higher. As your traffic increases and the demand for sidebar advertising increases, you can slowly raise this price.

I’d suggest selling no more than six to eight sidebar ads maximum. If you have too many ads running, their value decreases. It’s easier for you and better for the advertiser if you have a few higher-paying, larger ads on the sidebar than a bunch of small ads all over the place.

If you’ve sold advertising on your blog, I’d love to hear what has and hasn’t worked for you.

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