One of the highlights of my 3 years as a blogger was the moment Robyn Lambrick’s email popped into my inbox on 7th January inviting me to give a 30-minute talk for Xtraordinary Women on
How to Build a Successful Blogging Business
I have created this resource for you to accompany my Presentation just in case you missed the live talk. My friend, Susanne Hobbach also videoed the talk live. You’ll find the videos at the end of the post.
You can find the Powerpoint Presentation on Slideshare at the following link:
I have built 3 niche websites over the last 3 years and achieved some successes (and failures) along the way. I’ve had moments, glimpses into the future as a successful blogger and I’ve learned what it takes to succeed in this business. (Hint: Inspiration. Work. Time.)
Read on for all the nitty-gritty details.
Affiliate Disclaimer: I make a commission for purchases made through links in this post.
Let’s start with the advice I learned years ago in Dr Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.
Start with the end in mind
Okay, I did a quick fact check and I see he said Begin with the end in mind, but anyhoo.. you get the idea.
If you can answer the question below, you’re ready to get cracking.
Why do you want to start a blog?
To get those grey cells working, sit down with a piece of paper and a pen and jot down the answers to the questions below:
- What’s your ultimate goal?
- Are you blogging as a creative outlet or hobby?
- Do you have an existing business you want to promote online?
- Or do you want to start an online business by creating a blog?
- Do you want to create an e-commerce site?
- Sell your own products online?
- Sell digital products?
- Or sell other people’s products or services online?
Set an Intention
Getting clear on your goals upfront can really fast-track your success.
But if you’re like most of us, you’ll probably flail around for the first 3 years, throwing everything at your proverbial blog wall and seeing what sticks.
It can take a while to find your groove. And that’s okay. Everything you learn along the way will serve you.
Follow Your Passion
As with any grand entrepreneurial endeavour, blogging starts with PASSION.
For some, that’s really easy. They know what they’re into and can’t wait to get the words out.
For others, there are so many things they’re interested in, they just don’t know what to choose.
And for others, it takes a lot of thought to come up with an idea.
It’s a good idea to come up with a narrow niche.
- This is a b r o a d niche: Moms
- This a narrower niche: Mom Bloggers
- This is a very narrow niche: Mom Bloggers who Homeschool their children
Here are a few prompts to help you get some clarity.
How to Find Your Niche
Choose something that…
- You can write about it for years to come
- Makes your heart sing
- You know a lot about
- Or want to learn about
A nice little technique to help get your creative juices flowing is to think back to when you were little.
Who did you want to be?
I notice for my 5-year-old, it’s been different things at different stages of his life.
A Ballerina at 2 (before he knew men are called ballet dancers), an Enduro Biker at 3, a Superhero or Ninja at 4 and a Scientist at 5. (Because they make cool explosions and stuff).
As a little girl, I dreamt of fame and fortune as a movie star, balanced by my dream of becoming a Playschool Teacher and years later I settled on Bestselling Author (still working on that one).
I secretly still hope some version of fame is in the picture. Oops, now the secret’s out.
Which childhood dream would you like to fulfil in your blogging career?
This is your chance.
You have a clean canvas.
But don’t sweat it. Don’t waste too much time over this step.
Your first site probably won’t be your last.
If you have no idea what your niche is and what you’re going to do with your website, I recommend you buy a domain in your own name and just
And understand it will take time.
How Do Bloggers Earn Money?
So if you’re thinking about blogging as a BUSINESS, I’m sure you want to know where the money comes from.
When most people ask me this question, they almost automatically end their sentence with, “through Advertising, right?”
Well… yes and no. That’s definitely not the only way and it’s not a way I choose to monetize my sites.
To simplify, I’ve broken this down into 3 main earning categories and then listed 3 ideas below each. (Does this simplify things or confuse you?)
If you’re into marketing and sales, you’ll probably be attracted to the marketing side of blogging. Many moons ago I was a Copywriter and I find my copywriting, some would say salesy style often creeps into my posts.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room, Adverts. You need loads of traffic on your site before Ads generate any meaningful revenue and I find them annoying and distracting. Who’s with me?
How it works:
You set yourself up with an Advertising Network. Initially, you can start out with Google Adsense but as your traffic grows, you can move to AdThrive, Mediavine, Media.Net, Viglink or Skimlinks etc. You then place ads wherever you’d like visitors to see them on your site and earn revenue per visitor or per click.
The good thing about advertising is it’s pretty passive income. You set up your ads and carry on blogging as normal and money pops into your account each month. Or trickles if your audience is still small.
If you’re googling to find a specific product or service or compare products and services, you’ll probably happen on an Affiliate Marketing site. Affiliate Marketers publish reviews for a living.
How it works:
Bloggers align themselves with companies that serve the same audience they do. These companies then pay them an affiliate commission for using or testing out their products or services and then writing a review, recommending their products or services.
Affiliate Marketing can be hugely lucrative (some companies pay handsome commissions) and can also provide a form a passive income. Write a brilliant review once and get paid for it over and over.
If you want to learn how to build niche websites and monetize them using Affiliate Marketing, I highly recommend Wealthy Affiliate. I’ve taken their first Online Entrepreneur Certification Course and have started on their Affiliate Bootcamp.
Those who have completed Affiliate Bootcamp are making the big bucks. Have a look at how Grace, aka Little Mama, is doing… 2018 Year in Review: $40K Thank You Wealthy Affiliate!
Join us at Wealthy Affiliate.
Anything that is sold on the internet is considered e-commerce (electronic commerce). So you could essentially be doing e-commerce if you’re selling on eBay.
How it works:
There are many ways you can conduct e-commerce from your website, here are a couple of common examples. You could set up a Shopify store on your site and market tons of different products. Or you could set up a WooCommerce store and sell your own products and services and Amazon products.
If you like creating new things. If you’re a good writer, speaker or come across well on audio, you’ll do very well by creating. Bloggers make their money mostly by creating.
Otherwise known as Blog Posts. They can refine their skills by creating rich Content or SEO Content, which simply means they’ve done their keyword research and included keywords in their content writing and meta descriptions.
If you have something to teach, online courses are definitely a way to go. The Course Creators I follow have made literally millions of Dollars selling their knowledge and experience.
eBooks are another clever way of repackaging and repurposing your content. You can sell your books on Amazon Kindle or directly from your site or give them away free on your website to build your following or list of email subscribers.
Another way bloggers earn money is through Influencer Marketing. Some of the ways, bloggers build their authority online is via:
- Social Media
- Link Building
- Creating a membership site
- Public Speaking (e.g. Ted Talk)
- Creating Courses and Webinars
- Publishing Books on Amazon Kindle
How it works:
As your authority grows online, companies start reaching out to you to offer you products or services to review and promote.
Here are 3 common ways to earn as an Influencer.
Lynne Huysamen of Kaboutjie is one of the best online influencers I know.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that Lynne has been one of my mentors and I am eternally grateful to her for teaching me how to turn my blog into a business. She has also given me incredible business referrals.
Lynne and I met online at Wealthy Affiliate but she lives in Saldanha Bay, about 150kms from Cape Town. I was so honoured that she accepted the invitation to my talk and made the journey.
Lynne and I make most of our blog income from Sponsored Posts, Lynne just makes a whole lot more than I do. 🙂
Thanks to Sponsored Posts…
- Lynne has a brand new LG washing machine and microwave.
- She’s been flown up to Durban to spend a night on a cruise liner.
- And so much more.
If you’ve been on Instagram for any length of time, you’ll have seen Instagram Influencers posting pictures of themselves enjoying life. It’s an amazing way to get famous online.
Instagrammers sell amazing lifestyles. They are often beautiful or highly sophisticated and you’ll find them flitting around the world to exotic places. They have massive followings and huge clout.
Instagram Influencers build themselves as a brand and in turn, brands sponsor them to do posts.
(Lynne is also an Instagram Influencer by the way).
YouTubers are very similar to Instagrammers except their focus is on creating amazing videos.
Lynne Huysamen is also a YouTuber by the way.
That’s the thing, most successful bloggers don’t just choose one route to wealth. They choose many or even all of the above.
Oh my goodness, I see my blog post is turning into an ebook…
Huge Thanks to Susanne Hobbach for taking these live videos:
This was a very useful article on how to build a successful blogging business. Many people think that blogging is dead, but you show that this is not the case at all. I think the concept has evolved these days from the early days, but that is to the advantage of everyone, from readers to the creator’s of blogs, to the companies that count on the bloggers to promote their products.
I like that you have also taken the concept to the people using old-school (but effective) avenues such as seminars. That is a great way to get one on one interaction going, answer questions, and get new bloggers into the market segment. Recording your sessions is also very effective because many can benefit from this.
Blogging is a tool that can be used for almost any niche or market segment too, as you say. People still want to read content, and if you add in video, you have another large swath of an audience that will want to hear about what you have to offer.
Anyone reading through this should be jumping up and down in anticipation of getting started. The platform you mention (Wealthy Affiliate) is one of the best out there also that I have found to get a solid start with a blogging business, they have helped many thousands of people over the past 15 years…
Have you been in the blogging business long, and what kind of success have you enjoyed? How long did it take to start making money from your blog? Thanks for this inspirational post!
Hi Dave, Thanks for your input. Really appreciate you saying that people may be jumping up and down with excitement after reading this post. That’s always an unwritten aim of mine. I’m passionate about blogging and I hope I can convey my enthusiasm to my readers.
I’ve been blogging for 3-and-a-half years. In my first 3 years, I earned $7,355.
In 2018, I averaged about $480 a month, earning $724 in my highest month. It’s all detailed in the last blog income report I published. Since then, I’ve had my best ever month. I earned $884 in April.
I’m very clear that to scale my online business and get to an entirely new income level, I need to create online courses. That’s my next step for sure.
Lauren, Thank you for sharing this amazing post. I am just getting started blogging and I am grateful for such an informative and inspiring read.
I was very impressed by your insights into how bloggers make money. I was not aware that the potential sources of income are so broad. You have opened my eyes to some possibilities I never knew existed. I had never even thought about writing my own ebooks or courses. The idea that someone might sponsor a post on my blog is still a bit mind-boggling to me.
I know I have a lot of work to do before I can earn an income from any of these ideas but You have definitely inspired me to keep plugging away at it.
Thank you, again.
Hi Mark, great to hear I could give you some new insight. You’re not going to sleep tonight when you realise the potential and opportunity that lies before you. There are so many different ways to monetize a blog and part of the journey is finding the way that works best for you.
I totally understand why the idea of someone sponsoring posts on your blog boggles your mind because I felt exactly the same way when I started out with this monetization strategy. I encourage you to give it a go. You can find my training on this here.
Very engaging read it was for me. Making one’s blog to a cash generating implant is a great feeling. Definitely, you have given an overview of the means to generate income through blogging and as for now, I’m still a rookie in blogging but already involved in affiliate marketing and its looking positive. I also agree with you that it makes a lot of sense for one to have highlighted one’s goal before diving into blogging and clearly spell out possible achievements even before taking the first stride.
Awesome, Ro. Sounds like you are on the track and very clear on your goal. All the best to you as you build on your Affiliate Marketing success.
This is an awesome guide and you have provided in-depth and detailed information on this article.
Being a full-time blogger for 2+ years still I got great insights from your article. How I wish I had found your article sooner when I first started! I had to go through the old way of trial and errors.
At the moment I am just focusing on writing quality content to my blog and I am not active on social media. After reading the “Influence” topic it hit me on my head. Indeed, it is always advisable to have multiple source of income. Going forward I am going to focus on Influencer marketing as well.
Gonna focus on Instagram and starting my Youtube channel is on my list now. After reading your article I realized in order to succeed online I need to move from AUTHOR to AUTHORITY in my niche.
I am sure this article is going to save a lot of people time and effort.
Hi Paul, I’m thrilled to hear you got so much out of this post.
Don’t stress about when you get this information. I also learnt through trial and error and sometimes that’s the best way to find your own path and your hidden genius.
Wishing you all the best as you build your Influence and Authority online.
I am a fledgling blogger myself and I have bookmarked your page.
I love writing and I have been writing for years. I hope to one day publish my fiction work and I being mentored by an author I much admire.
My blog is coming along nicely, though sometimes I find myself torn on which post is going up next. I have at least 3 in progress at any given time.
I will be going through your blog to see if I can pick up any gems that might help me grow.
Slow progress is still progress!
Thank you for all this information,
Ooh, Gwendolyn, I can hear that you’re acing this blogging thang! Your progress doesn’t sound slow at all. And it sounds like you have loads of ideas for content. What fun, to be spoiled for choice on which blog to publish next. I love those phases of writing. As soon as I get a chance, I’ll pop along and check out your blog.