There are lots of guides about how to make money blogging, but here’s what makes this one different:
I’ve taken three different blogs to over $1 million per year. In fact, the blog you’re reading right now has made a total of $6.7 million.
And in this post, I’m going to give you a step-by-step case study showing you exactly how I did it, starting from nothing, along with my step-by-step guide for beginners trying to get started.
Let’s jump in.
In a moment, I’m going to show you a general framework you can follow to start a profitable blog from scratch.
But first, let’s jump into the specifics of how to make money blogging, including real-world examples you can study and learn from.
Here are the top 7 awesome ways to make good money blogging:
1. Online Courses and Workshops
Here at Smart Blogger, we make most of our income from online courses and workshops — over $1 million per year — but we are far from the only ones. Most of the people making a lot of money from their blogs are doing it through online courses.
Ramit Sethi reportedly crossed $10 million dollars in annual revenue with his suite of premium courses:
And it’s not only business or wealth focused topics that are doing well. You can find successful blogs on just about any topic monetizing with online courses. For instance, the popular interior designer Maria Killam has quite a few courses and workshops in her catalog:
Online courses and workshops can bring in one-time payments or, depending on your model, recurring payments via subscriptions.
2. Books and Ebooks
Quite a few writers have parlayed their blogging success into a major publishing deal. Mark Manson, for instance, published a post called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck in 2015. Millions of readers later, he got a book deal with Harper Collins and went on to sell over 3,000,000 copies in the US alone.
3. Affiliate Marketing
If you’d like to create some passive income streams from your blog, one of the best choices is affiliate marketing — recommending the services, digital products, and physical products of other companies in exchange for a commission.
Here at Smart Blogger, we make more than $100,000 per year promoting affiliate products, most of that coming from casually recommending products we love like SiteGround (affiliate link) and Elementor (affiliate link).
But there are lots of other examples too. For instance, John Lee Dumas of EOFire made $710,835 in affiliate income last year. Digital Photography School has reportedly made over $500,000 in Amazon Associates commissions from promoting photography equipment:
With so many companies offering referral programs to help spread the word about their product or service, the number of different affiliate marketing opportunities is enormous.
Normally, we’re not big fans of selling ads on your site. You need roughly a million visitors per year for the large ad networks to take you seriously, and affiliate marketing is almost always more profitable and just as passive.
That being said, some niches like recipes, fashion, and news are hard to monetize through many of the other methods mentioned here, and they get LOTS of page views. In that case, putting a few ads on your site can make sense as a supplementary income source.
For example, here’s a screenshot of a 2016 income report from Share the Yummy:
Normally, you make money by joining a network. Nearly anyone can join Google AdSense, for example, and you can later grow into more selective networks like Mediavine and AdThrive.
5. Speaking Gigs
If your blog takes off, and you start being recognized as an authority in your space, you might be surprised by how many invitations you get to speak at conferences. And it’s amazingly profitable. I typically make a minimum of $10,000 per speech and it can go as high as $100,000 when you count product sales resulting from the speech.
Not bad for a 60-90 minute talk. 🙂
While this certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, doing a bit of coaching or consulting is an online job that can earn you a surprisingly nice living, even when your audience is small. I don’t do consulting anymore, but the last time I did, I charged $1,000 an hour with a six-month waiting list.
But I’m not the only one. Going back to Maria, again, she’s been quite innovative coming up with ways to do design consultations by photo and email, currently charging $1,275 per room:
You can make this work in almost any space. You just need to know what you’re doing and be confident in the value you are providing to clients.
7. Selling Freelance Services
The next step up from consulting is to actually do it for them.
Typically, you’ll make more money freelancing than with anything else, but it’s also the most draining and time intensive. That being said, I’ve seen bloggers make six-figure incomes with no more than a few thousand readers on their blog, essentially using their blog as a lead mechanism to get clients.
It’s so profitable, even if successful bloggers continue to do it. For example, Elna Cain continues to sell her freelance writing services:
If you’re a freelance writer, designer, photographer, programmer, or other service provider where your skills can be sold digitally instead of you having to be there in person, you might want to consider it from day one. All you really need to get started is a contact form for clients to reach out to you.
Okay, now for the fun part. Let me show you the framework I used to become an honest-to-goodness millionaire…