Coming up on 4 years of blogging soon and I’m happier than ever that I started blogging in 2013.
Last month brokeGIRLrich brought in $667.10 and I made $315 from freelance writing – opportunities that come 100% out of starting this blog.
For the majority of the last year, I’ve been averaging a little over $500 a month in extra income from this blog and about $200 in extra income from freelance writing. Some months it’s a lot more and once in a while it’s a lot less.
I spent about 15 hours a week doing this extra, entirely on my own schedule. Since I’m working on a show in the evenings now, I usually put in about 3 hours a day in the morning when I wake up a couple of times a week.
I’m also really happy that all the blogs I read about making money blogging gave me a very accurate portrayal of how making money with your blog works and it felt like it boiled down to these three key things:
- It usually takes about a year to make anything.
- You need to post consistently, so people know when to come and read your blog.
- Write things that help people.
That being said, here’s how I started to make money with my blog.
I switched to a self hosted blog and set up my blog to run more professionally.
You can totally get the feel for blogging with a free platform. I started brokeGIRLrich on the free version of WordPress and blogged for about three months using that.
Once I decided I wanted to be able to do things like install Google Adsense and put ads in my sidebar, among other things, I realized it was time to find my own hosting.
If you’re interested, you can get started with Bluehost for just $3.95 a month right now and their package includes registering your domain name and help installing WordPress.
But back to the nuts and bolts of making money – step 1 – set up your blog with professional hosting so you can do whatever you want with it.
Build up your readership and social media following.
These are the metrics people are looking for when you start trying to make money.
First and foremost (which you’ll hear a gazillion times) is to write content that people want to read.
I’ve found there are kind of two schools of thought here. Some people are like publish only perfect content. Publish once or twice a month with a long, amazing post.
Uhhhhhh. I’m not one of those people. I’m on the other side of the fence. When you’re just starting blogging, just keep moving. Set a two or three times a week publishing schedule and always stick to it.
Some (or most) of your first posts are likely to suck. Learn from it, keep improving and keep going.
I still think some of my posts suck now. And some are really useful. And some I spend weeks researching and fine tuning and I really think I’ve nailed it and then barely anyone reads them. Conversely, some are crazy streams of consciousness writing that I knock out in 20 minutes after a long day at work that get picked up by USITT or Rockstar Finance and I’m like “really?”
So yup, just keep moving.
If anyone knows how to grow your Facebook following, you’ll have to let me know. I still kind of flummoxed by that platform.
Hootsuite is great for scheduling posts across your social media.
I also did monthly giveaways of personal finance books that fit in the theme of the month when I first started out, which helped me grow my social media followers.
I guest posted on bigger websites whenever one of them would let me.
Once I had 1,000 followers on Twitter and about 10,000 unique views a month on my site (about 350 views a day), I moved on to the next step.
Add a Work with Me Page and Build a Media Kit
This was actually super easy and kind of fun. I added a Work with Me page to the top of my site.
It included links to places I had guest posted (later on, once I started freelance writing, I included links to my bio on those sites too).
Then I used Pages (since I’m a Mac user, I’m sure there’s some Windows equivalent) to make a pretty Media Kit. I included social media and website stats, a little blurb about my site and it’s readers and a little about me.
I also included my rates.
I charge $100 for a sponsored post, $200 if I write the content and $20/month for sidebar ads.
These are the same rates I started with.
Once I finished my media kit, I added a link so it could be downloaded from my Work With Me page.
Join Sponsored Post Networks
There are several networks that partner with companies looking for bloggers to promote their products.
My first ever sponsored post was through one of those sites. I got paid $60 to write about Instant Rewards.
You can check out that post here.
Some networks to look into include:
There are a lot of other sponsored post networks, but most of them have higher page view and social media follower requirements.
Here are my guidelines to accepting a sponsored post:
- It has to be useful information for my audience.
- The post needs to be well written.
That’s really it, but it totally rules out a lot of offers. Some posts are written by non-native English speakers and make like no sense. Sometimes, if they’ll just let me rewrite it quickly, I might accept it, but when you do that through the networks, you don’t receive any additional income. You also need to know what you’re promoting. There were recently a ton of offers for posts about binary options. I think binary options are pretty sketchy.
Although everyone also has their own idea of what’s acceptable. Personally, I like playing poker. If a gambling company contacts me and let’s me write my own post that maybe includes a line about playing poker (responsibly – when you can afford to), I have no problem linking to somewhere you can go to play poker. Others might feel differently.
Sign Up with Affiliate Networks
Some people are so awesome about this, but I’m sort of still just learning affiliate income. That being said, I did sign up for Google Adsense pretty early on and Amazon affliates.
So Google Adsense has a $100 payment threshold, so it can take a real long time to make anything from it. I received my first payout 20 months after I first installed it. Altogether, I’ve only received two payouts so far – but it didn’t take any work on my part other than setting up a few ads.
I also installed VigLink, which automatically turns some links into affiliate links (so for instance, if I’m writing about Etsy anyway, it will see that and turn the word “Etsy” into an affiliate link). I’ve earned about $100 from that. It also pays out at a much lower rate.
I’ve made the most so far from Amazon, which make sense since that income is usually related to writing about something specific – so maybe I’d mention how much a book I was reading influenced me and then I can link over to Amazon for anyone who wants to buy the book. I believe Amazon pays out anything over $10 for the month and rolls over your money until you hit $10. I’ve made close to $300 from that affiliate source.
I was also raved about digit for a long time (because until the monthly fee I genuinely thought it was ah-mazing) and made $5 per referral. When I closed my account, it had made about $300 over the 2+ years I was referring folks. Now I rave about dobot and have made a little bit from referrals there too.
Make Sure Your Contact Information Is Easy to Find
Your Work With Me page should take care of this, but double check that your email address is easy to find or you have an easy to access contact box.
After about a year of blogging, I started getting emailed offers for sponsored posts and people looking for sidebar ads. Now the majority of my blog income comes from that.
I’ve also found more sponsored content opportunities from networking with other bloggers. A small group of us who started blogging around the same time all share with each other once a month who our sponsored post contacts are and how much they’re paying us. That group was super easy to put together – one of the women in it emailed about 20 of us and those of us who agreed to do it just enter the info in a spreadsheet she sends out once a month that all of us can access.
When I started brokeGIRLrich, my only goal was to make back the money I invested initially within the first 3 years (the length of the hosting package I paid for).
Let’s Break Down the Numbers
To set up brokeGIRLrich, I spent:
- Domain Registration (it wasn’t included back then) – $22.51
- Hosting – $286.56
- WordPress – FREE
- Technical Assistance installing WordPress – $5
- Blog Header Design – $80
brokeGIRLrich Start Up Fees – $394.09
- October 2013 = -$394.09\-$394.09
- November 2013 = $0\-$394.09
- December 2013 = $0\-$394.09
- January 2014 = $0\-$394.09
- February 2014 = $0\-$394.09
- March 2014 = $0\-$394.09
- April 2014 = $0\-$394.09
- May 2014 = $0\-$394.09
- June 2014 = $0\-$394.09
- July 2014 = $107.51\-$286.58
- August 2014 = $10.92\-$275.66
- September 2014 = $0\-$275.66
- October 2014 = $1.14\-$274.52
- November 2014 = $195.80\-$79.00
- December 2014 = $96.80\$17.80
- January 2015 = $305.26\$323.06
- February 2015 = $180\$503.06
- March 2015 = $100\$603.06
- April 2015 = $225\$828.06
- May 2015 = $303.08\$1,131.14
- June 2015 = $179.71\ $1,310.85
- July 2015 = $429.06\$1,739.91
- August 2015 = $0\$1,739.91
- September 2015 = $779.85\$2,519.76
- October 2015 = $754.25\$3,274.01
- November 2015 = $508.50\$3,782.51
- December 2015 = $777.23\$4,559.74
- January 2016 = $475\$5,034.74
- February 2016 = $637.40\$5,672.14
- March 2016 = $638.62\$6,310.76
- April 2016 = $132.47\$6,443.23
- May 2016 = $593.81\$7,037.04
- June 2016 = $685.75\$7,722.79
- July 2016 = $1,439.80\$9,162.59
- August 2016 = $900.90\$10,063.49
- September 2016 = $736.66\$10,800.15
brokeGIRLrich total income after 3 years (when I renewed my hosting for 3 more): $10,800.15
So not only did I nail that initial goal almost 2 years ahead of schedule, brokeGIRLrich paid for all her renewal fees in October 2016 on her own.
This isn’t to say it was super easy money to make, it was definitely work, but it was also fun. I mean, it’s my blog, I write whatever I want to write about. It’s also awesome because it forces me to keep learning about personal finance.
Altogether, blogging has been a win-win situation for me.