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Tag Archive: How to Make Money Blogging

“I want to start a blog, but isn’t the market already saturated?”

Is the blogging market saturated?

Debby left this question on the Ask Your Blogging Questions Here post. It’s one I hear often and I thought it was high time I addressed it in this series where I’m answering your blogging questions:

So my question might be too pessimistic, but I am wondering if some of us are getting into blogging too late. Are there just too many blogs out there to really be able to get in on it all?

I have so many ideas, but then I do a little research and see that there are a ton of people already posting on these things. I feel like another blog is not needed.

So how do you make your blog something people need to read? The really successful blogs either look like they had money to put into it before making money or they have been around since the beginning. What are your thoughts? -Debby

Can I just encourage you, Debby? I don’t believe in any way that the market is saturated when it comes to blogs.

I know others disagree with me, but I hold to that statement because I believe that everyone has a unique perspective, everyone has a different writing style, and everyone has their own story. These three things will set apart your blog from anyone else’s in the world.

Think about book ideas and business ideas: there are millions of them out there. And yet, every week, many new books are published and many new businesses are started. Not all of them will succeed, but many of them will make a difference.

There are multitudes of amazing books and stories and business concepts that would have never come to fruition had someone felt like the book market or the business market was too saturated! In fact, some of my favorite books would never have been written and some of my favorite businesses would have never been started.

So remind yourself of this when you begin to feel like the market might be saturated. There is always, always room for new blogs, new books, and new businesses.

Is the blogging market saturated?

However, I want to give you four important words of advice to think about as you contemplate the possibility of starting a blog:

1. Don’t Blog for the Money

While I’ve written extensively on how to start a blog and make money blogging, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you have a purpose for blogging that is much bigger than making money.

I’m a firm believer in being smart and strategic. I think it’s wise to find creative win-win ways to make money that also help your audience out. But never, never, never start a blog just to make money.

You will crash and burn if you have no bigger why behind your blogging endeavors than making money.

When I first started blogging here on, there were quite literally no other blogs that I’d ever found that were matching coupons with deals. Pretty soon after I started, the idea caught on and soon, there were a number of bloggers covering deals at their local stores and sharing great online deals.

Because people found out that there was pretty good money to be made in this field — especially if you did a great job of it — more and more people jumped on the deal-blogging bandwagon.

I saw blogger after blogger start new deal blogs — some starting multiple deal blogs. Many outright said to me that they were really only blogging for the money.

A year or three later, the majority of the bloggers who only started blogging for the money had either shut down their blogs entirely or had confessed to me that they were exhausted, frazzled, and overwhelmed.

Blogging is hard work. Making a living from blogging is not an easy road. And when the frustrations and set-backs and discouragements come, if you’re not in it for a bigger purpose than making money, you’re going to have a hard time sticking with it for the long haul.

I love how blogging allows me to be able to work from anywhere!

I love that blogging allows me to pretty much work from anywhere! Today, I took my “office” to the skating rink and hung out with Kaitlynn while she had an intensive day of figure skating lessons and training.

2. Don’t Try to Be Someone You’re Not

You are the only you on the planet. The world needs YOU — not you trying to be someone else.

Instead of looking at other bloggers and thinking of how you can replicate what they are doing, be inspired by them and then go do your own thing.

Instead of trying to copy others, think about what you can do to set yourself apart. What unique perspective and life experience do you have to bring to the table? What ideas and subjects are you intensely passionate about?

Do not compare yourself to other bloggers. I repeat: do not compare yourself to other bloggers.

This is a recipe for discouragement and defeat or for pride. Whether it makes you feel better than or less than, either way, it’s not good for your heart. Save yourself the fallout and just stop comparing.

Focus on being the best version of yourself that you can be. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you, build you up, and challenge you to improve and grow as a person.

But also, give yourself grace and remember that you don’t have the same gifts, capacity, or calling as others do. And that’s the beauty of us all being unique individuals.

The 3 Most Important Things to Do After You Start a BlogFor more encouragement, read my post on the 3 Most Important Things to Do After You Start a Blog.

3. Don’t Over-Research

There’s a huge advantage nowadays over when I started blogging, because the public at large knows what a blog is.

When I first started blogging, most people hadn’t even really heard of this thing called a “blog”. So before you could tell them about your blog, you first had to explain to them what a blog even was! It was a weird phenomenon to many people and just didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

If you start a blog now, you have a big advantage because blogging is widely accepted and understood. But it also means that it’s no longer a sort of cutting edge thing.

Because of this, as you go to research topics and ideas, you’ll find that there really isn’t anything new under the sun. What your friends think is your personal brilliant idea has probably been blogged on dozens and dozens of times.

In fact, it always cracks me up when I post something simple — say about making your bed every day — and then get emails from people telling me that they read that idea in a book before and I really should give credit to the author I got the idea from.

Here’s the truth: there are really rarely many truly new ideas. While I’m all about giving credit where credit is due if I got an idea or quote directly from someone else, for most ideas, they’ve been shared so many times in so many ways that it’s basically impossible to say where an idea originated from. And often, I may have come up with the idea on my own, but that doesn’t mean that a thousand other people didn’t also come up with the idea, too, and write about it on their blogs.

I don’t say this to discourage you, but to just remind you that you can’t be concerned about only blogging about ideas that have never before been shared. Otherwise, you’ll be hard-pressed to find material to write on!

Just write from your heart, write what you’re inspired about, share what’s working or what’s not working for you. Share from your own life story and unique perspective.

If you’re going to hold something out as a brand-new, never-before-heard-of original idea, you probably should research to make sure it’s truly not been blogged about before. But otherwise, just be you as a blogger. Give credit to anyone you get ideas from, but don’t stress about always having to cite a source for everything — especially if the idea is something you just learned by trial and error.

Too much research can stifle your creativity. If you go out trying to search to see what else has been written about a particular topic, it can sometimes be more discouraging than helpful — as you’ll find that three or 30 or 300 other bloggers have shared a similar idea, but with better photos or graphics or storyline than you would have ever come up with yourself.

Instead of spending hours researching, I encourage you to spend a lot more time writing, editing, tweaking, and creating than you do researching. In the long run, it will be a much healthier decision for you.

As I’ve said before, “Stop collecting more information and, instead, go and apply what you already know.”

Don't Live Under the Belief of Lies

4. Don’t Let Lies Limit You

Do you feel like you just don’t measure up? That you’re not good enough? That you wish you could be successful and fulfilled in life but you’re met with failure and discouragement at every turn?

So much of the time, our unwillingness to act or our inability to gain momentum has to do mostly with the things we’ve let ourselves believe about ourselves.

It’s long been said that if you believe a lie for long enough, it can become a truth to you. So if you tell yourself for months and months that you’re not good enough, that you don’t have anything to offer, that you shouldn’t start blogging because you wouldn’t do a good job of it, then you’ve probably slowly started to own those lies and let them be believed as truth in your life.

Instead of embracing these untruths about yourself, start calling them out for what they really are — LIES! Then replace them with the truth: you have a unique story and purpose, you are enough, the world needs your gifts and talents.

Be you, bravely!

If you, too, struggle with living under lies and letting them dictate how you live, I encourage you to download my talk on the 3 Lies That Are Stifling Your Success & The Truth That Will Set You Free. I think it will really encourage you!


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The 3 Most Important Things to Do After You Start a Blog

Last week, I asked you if you had any questions on blogging or business. I was pretty astounded at all the questions I received. And it made me excited to see how many of you were interested in a weekly column tackling business and blogging-related topics.

My plan is to answer one question per week for as long as there’s interest and questions being asked. We’ll see how it goes!

Here’s today’s question, emailed in from Alyssa:

Currently, I am considering the possibility of starting my own blog. For the past several weeks I have done TONS of research. So naturally, I was really excited when I saw your post about asking you questions about blogging.

I haven’t been able to find much yet in terms of tips or suggestions for once your blog is live (like the first couple of months). It seems like there is endless information out there about the logistics of getting the blog off the ground and running. And then, there is quite a bit of information out there for different ways to monetize your blog and make your graphics beautiful.

But, what I haven’t found very much of is strategy for your first couple months while your blog is just getting started. I would be curious to see more information (from you in particular) about what you would recommend a brand new blogger focus on in that first few months.

Quality content is obvious, but what marketing techniques would you recommend and what strategies would you use for optimum growth? -Alyssa

Great question, Alyssa! And I’m guessing you’re not alone in wondering what some of the first steps would be once you’ve actually started blogging. {If you’re still in the thinking of starting a blog stage, be sure to check out my comprehensive post here on How to Start a Blog & Make Money Blogging.}

I thought about this question — and especially back to my early days of blogging as well as to bloggers who have started in recent years and what I’ve watched them do. With this in mind, here are my top 3 recommendations for what you should do after you start your blog:

1. Blog Consistently

This is a must. Do not, I repeat, do NOT, start a blog, put up a few posts, and then disappear for days at a time.

If you want to do this blogging thing well, if you want to build a successful blog, if you want to make money blogging, you MUST be a consistent blogger.

Now, this does not mean that you need to put a post up at 8:01 EST a.m. every day like my amazing friend and virtual assistant, Andrea, does. Though you are more than welcome to, if that kind of consistency is your thing.

The consistency I’m referring to here is that you show up regularly. That people know they can count on you. That you treat blogging like you do a real job — because it totally can become that with consistency.

This might mean that you post an in-depth post every other week. Or, it might mean that you post every day. Or it something in-between or something entirely different.

But whatever you do, be consistent about it. Perseverance for the long haul is the key to success in blogging.

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If you pay attention around here, you’ll know that I don’t always blog at the same time every single day. But I pretty much almost always blog every single day. You know that when you check in here each day, I’ll be sharing some deals, sharing some inspiring ideas, and maybe sharing a peek into my life, too.

You never know exactly what you’ll get or exactly when my posts will go up (because I’m more in the “blogging by the seat of my pants” camp), but you do know that, unless it is Sunday, I’ll be updating this blog every day.

I don’t always feel like blogging. I don’t always feel like showing up. But I show up every day because I love you all, because I’m committed to this blog, and because I know that staying consistent in blogging is one of the biggest keys to success for the long-haul.

Blogging consistently every single day is a habit I developed years ago and the rewards have been far beyond what I could have ever dreamed or imagined! I love this community. I love the amazing ideas shared. I love getting to learn from you. I love the encouragement I receive from here.

And our family is also grateful for the income this blog provides that gives us flexibility and the ability to pay cash for purchases, save for the future, and give generously.

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None of these things would have happened had I started blogging and blogged faithfully for a few weeks and then fallen off the planet for weeks. Start and stop blogging — where you blog consistently for a few days and then go long periods without blogging and then blog for a few days in a row and then go missing again — is a surefire way to sink your blog. People will only show up consistently if you also show up consistently.

I encourage you to consider carefully what you can realistically commit to in regards to blogging and the time you have available to invest in it. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Start out slowly — maybe committing to post 1-2 times per week, if that, and then gradually increase if you feel like that works for you. When it comes to blogging, quality content is almost always better than quantity content.

In addition, I encourage you to plan out post ideas for at least the first 6-8 weeks of blogging. This exercise will get your creative wheels turning and will help you to refine what your blog is about and determine whether or not you have enough content inspiration to write dozens and dozens of posts on those topics.

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2. Experiment Strategically

It’s good to have a plan in place for where you want to go with your blog, but in order to make traction and figure out what works for you, you’re going to need to do a lot of experimenting.

It’s easy to go into Experimentation Overload mode… where you’re trying lots and lots and lots of ideas all at once. However, this is not only a recipe for burnout, it’s also going to inhibit you from really drilling down and learning what is working.

So rather than trying to implement 33 new ideas in the first 3 weeks of blogging, pick 1-2 ideas. Set some goals for those ideas, map out a plan for experimenting with those ideas, and then get to work!

Keep focusing on those 1-2 ideas for at least 3-6 weeks. Keep tabs on how effective the idea is. Does it bring more traffic? Is it increasing social media engagement? Are you getting good response via comments or emails? Or whatever measurable ways there are to track it.

Also, consider personally if that type of writing or implementing that idea is fulfilling to you. Do you love it? Hate it? Or somewhere in between?

It’s important to remind yourself often that what works for one person won’t always work for another. And that what one person loves, another person will loathe.

Your sweet spot in blogging is where you find what you love writing about/working on that also brings traffic and engagement. However, please don’t compare your traffic and engagement numbers to someone else. Every blog is going to be different, just as every person is different.

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It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game and become so focused on that that you lose sight of what you love or why you started blogging in the first place. Remember that all the traffic and engagement and income in the world isn’t worth it if you’re miserable in the process.

Do what you love and what works best for you. Don’t worry about what works for someone else or how much traffic they have or how much income they are bringing in.

It’s also good to realize that a successful blog and business is constantly growing and experimenting and changing as technology and blogging and the online space changes, expands, and morphs. The day you get stuck in a rut and refuse to keep growing and experimenting is the day your blog begins to die.

Be willing to fail. Jump out and try new ideas. Change up the way you post. Experiment with different voices and writing styles. Try video blogging or podcasting.

Read books. Watch other bloggers. Learn from them and be inspired by them, but always remember that it’s most important to be YOU.

You have a unique story and perspective that no one else on the planet does because you are the only you in existence. So be you, bravely.

Be okay with breaking the “blogging rules” if doing so means you are staying true to yourself. Be okay with having less traffic or making less income if doing so means you keep your integrity or have your priorities in place. At the end of your life, you won’t regret it.
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3. Network Religiously

One of the best things you can do for your brand-new blog is to get to know other bloggers. Some ideas:

  • Join Facebook groups with other bloggers.
  • Leave well-crafted comments on other blogs.
  • Reach out to bloggers via Twitter.
  • Offer to write a highly-relevant and well-written guest post for a blog you love.
  • Use hashtags on Instagram and find other folks who are interested in the same things you are.
  • Comment on Facebook/Instagram posts of bloggers you love.
  • Join Pinterest group boards and re-pin posts from bloggers you love.
  • Write a blogger and tell them thank you without asking for anything from them.

Now, this list might seem really long and overwhelming… and it sort of is. Which is why I encourage you to just focus on the 1-2 networking-related goals like we talked about earlier.

You can’t do it all, but you can reach out a little. And a little bit of the right kind of reaching out can go a long way.

What do I mean by this? Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret.

Want to know the best way to develop relationships with other bloggers? Stop making it about yourself and what you can get from them.

It’s a huge turn-off to get pitches and requests from people again and again and again when they want nothing more than to just use you as a step stool for their own personal success and gain.

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Instead of networking with bloggers for the purpose of what you can get from them, start looking for ways that you can give to other bloggers. Promote their links. Retweet their posts. Send them encouraging emails just because. Tell them thank you.

Truly show that you care about them as a person, not that you only care about what they can do for you. Expect nothing in return.

Let me tell you, because it’s so rare that someone reaches out and says thank you and gives without asking for anything in return, I take notice of it right away. And that’s how some of my best friendships and blogging relationships have been formed.

I’m so over the whole “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” philosophy and I know how lonely and discouraging it can be when you are constantly hearing from people who are complaining or who wants something from you, that I am always looking for ways to serve, celebrate, and give to others. It’s so much fun and it’s so fulfilling. And bloggers genuinely appreciate it and often go out of their way to build a relationship with you as a result.

Some of these relationships have not only blossomed into deep friendships that have blessed my life in numerous ways, but they’ve also opened doors of opportunity that I never would have expected.

Bloggers: I’d love to hear what YOUR advice and recommendations would be for Alyssa. Tell us in the comments!


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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:


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.


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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