How to make money as a blogger

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By in Make Money. Updated August 2016.

Fancy giving blogging a shot? We show you how to get started, plus tips on how to turn your blog into a serious money magnet!
how to start a blogCredit: Helt Enkelt Blogging has become incredibly popular in the last few years, particularly amongst young people, which is why brands from all over the world are desperate to get involved with blogger communities!

Whilst blogging isn’t the easiest way to make a quick buck, the great thing about it is that anyone can do it – all you need is to have something interesting to say and enough patience and dedication and you could build yourself a crazy amount of followers. But ever wondered how it is exactly that bloggers make their dough?

We’re here to show you the ropes on how to turn your blog into an online space that brands will want to throw hard cash at.

Check out our extensive list of business ideas for you to try at university – get your entrepreneurial juices flowing and bring in some cash!

Getting started

how to start a blogCredit: Helena888 – Favim.com
Getting started with blogging can seem like a bit of a minefield, as there’s so much to consider and so much information out there it can get overwhelming – particularly if you’re not the techiest of people.

It’s important to be aware at this point that while blogging is for anyone who wants to give it a try, it requires a certain amount of dedication and a self-starting attitude to actually see a cash return. Turning your blog into a money-maker also takes time, so it could be months before you’re able to start earning from it.

However, there are ways you can get your blog off to a great start that will speed up the money-making process, and we’re here to show you how!

We’ve split the process of getting your blog up and running into 7 simple steps to make things easier.

  1. Decide what to blog about

    This can either be the easiest part or the hardest part of starting your blog. If you already know what your interests and passions are, you’ll already know that this is what will define your blog.

    The most important thing at this stage is to choose a niche to own and call yourself an authority in – the biggest mistake many new bloggers make in such a crowded blogosphere is to start a blog without trying to do something interesting or offering readers something different.

    For example, if fashion is your thang, rather than decide to become a run-of-the-mill fashion blogger, why not combine your love for fashion with your big-hearted concern for the environment by creating a blog that focuses on environmentally conscious clothing lines instead.

    You can keep readers up-to-date on the controversy surrounding high street fashion outlets and their connection with sweatshops whilst channeling your love for design (bonus tip: controversy is always good for pulling in readers).

    Originality goes a long way in this game! Particularly nowadays, where there are literally millions of fashion bloggers out there, so what can you offer that they don’t have covered already? Find your niche and own it.

  2. Get your blog set up

    coding geeksOk, so this is the technical bit that’s best handled by our website-building expert and Save the Student Founder, Owen.

    Owen was nice enough to put together a fantastic guide on how to build your own website here, and the process is exactly the same for blogs.

    Have a read through this, and we’ll meet you back here at step 3!

  3. Design the look of your blog

    Now for the fun part! Although, we really can’t stress how important this stage of the process is. The look of your blog can have huge implications on your readership – you want to create a platform that looks good, is easy to read, and makes readers want to return.

    WordPress have an insane amount of templates or ‘themes’ for you to choose from – 2,500 to be exact! Take your time to decide on one that suits both your personality and the topic of your blog (and therefore your readers too).

    Our main tips here would be to opt for something clear and simple, with space for large images and easy-to-read fonts (bonus tip: Comic sans and Courier fonts are a serious non-no!).

  4. Start writing valuable content

    write valuable blog contentSo now you have your blog looking smart, it’s time for the challenge of putting together some words that will be easy to read, interesting, valuable and make readers thirsty for more. Oh, and it also needs to be well written without spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Easy peasy, right?

    Think carefully about what you want to write about before you get started, and note that the ‘Dear Diary’ days of “Oh hey, this is my blog and I’m gonna tell you about things I like” are well and truly over.

    Unfortunately, readers of your blog aren’t really interested in who you are (well, they are to an extent, but this alone is not enough), essentially they’re interested in what you can offer them that will make them more knowledgable/ better dressed/ better at life/ a better cook, etc.

    As depressing as this may sound, this is the way the blogging industry works – and the quicker you start thinking this way the quicker your blog will succeed!

  5. Set up blog-related social media accounts

    As with any business nowadays, you’re not likely to get noticed if you don’t have social media accounts.

    We recommend setting up pages/accounts for your blog on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and even LinkedIn (you’re essentially your own business anyway, right?) and get designing these accounts in a similar colour scheme/theme to your blog so it’s consistent and easy to recognise.

    Start by adding everyone you know to get yourself off to a good start – new readers will come in due time!

  6. Get to know the blogger community

    fingersThe next step is to make yourself known to those blogging on similar topics as yourself. Despite the obvious fact you’re coming on the scene as a direct competitor, you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised by how supportive the blogger community can be.

    Many bloggers even have a ‘links’ page on their site that they use to link to loads of their friends within the community (in return for a link on your own blog, of course!) which will help a lot with your SEO (that’s ‘search engine optimization’ – aka how likely your blog is to pop up in google searches).

  7. Pull in your readers!

    Ok, we get it, this is about as easy as saying “Ok, now go and bring me some lumps of pure gold” right?

    It’s true that attracting more readers and followers takes time and you’ll need to work hard at it.

    Don’t worry though – we’ve got some great tips on how to pull in more readers further below. Never say we ain’t good to ya!

How bloggers make their cash

Take-cash-onlyNow we’re on to the interesting stuff – how bloggers rake in their cash! It’s worth knowing first of all that monetizing a blog is something that takes time and relies heavily on you having a decent following.

Therefore, it’s important that you put effort into building your readership, and that’s done primarily by providing valuable content. The more followers/ readers you have, the more attractive you are to advertisers – simple as that!

It’s also worth understanding that making money as a blogger entails having multiple streams of income from different sources and through different means, as opposed to from one source.

You might not be too impressed at first by some of the figures you see online (we’re normally talking pennies), but that’s the nature of monetizing a blog – the more readers and clicks you get, the more your pennies will grow into pounds!

  1. Affiliate links

    limp hand shakeAffiliate links are links that you can weave into the text of your blog that allow you to make a small commission every time one of your readers clicks through to a site and spends money.

    The links will lead readers to the website of a brand, and the money you receive is to say ‘thanks’ for sending some of your lovely readers to their site (or being ‘affiliated’ with the brand, so to speak).

  2. Ads

    You can bring in some dough by simply offering space on your blog which brands can use to advertise to your readers.

    For example, ‘banner ads‘ are what you call the ads that run across the top of the page, and ‘sidebar ads’ are (you guessed it!) the ones that run down the side of your blog content.

    Brands will normally pay you at a rate of PPC (pay per click) meaning you’ll get a set payment for every one of your readers who click the ad, or CPM (cost per thousand – M is Roman numeral for thousand FYI) meaning when a brand offers you a set payment for every 1,000 ‘impressions’ their ad gets, or how many times they see it.

    As mentioned, the rates of PPC and CPM can seem low, and quite often they are low – but the more readers you acquire, the higher the clicks (and renumeration) will be!

  3. Selling newsletter space

    newsletter space for saleCredit: nathan esguerra – flickr
    It’s also an option to charge a brand for either advertising space within or a mention in your weekly/monthly newsletter (if you have one!).

    However, you’ll need to build up a pretty decent sized mailing list for brands to consider this.

  4. Advertorials and sponsored content

    ‘Advertorials’ are when a brand contacts you and asks you to write a blog post on something closely related to what they sell.

    So for example, say Adidas was bringing out a new swimwear line, and your blog was a popular women’s sport fashion blog. Adidas offer to pay you a set payment in exchange for, say, 500 words plus 4 images of their products in your blog post. They’ll even throw in a couple of affiliate links so you can earn some extra cash on any clicks, and to top it all off you get to keep the swimmy the sent you!

    Advertorials are the easiest way to make money fast, but in order to be approached, you need to be worthwhile to a brand. That’s where having an strong, niche audience comes in handy (because readers of a women’s sport fashion blog are way more likely to want to buy something from Adidas’s new line than readers of a generic fashion blog, get it?).

  5. Social Media posts

    posting on social media Credit: Nan Palmero
    If you have a strong social media presence (in fact, some people make an entire blogging career just through Instagram alone!) then you’ll be very attractive to brands.

    You can charge per post/ re-post and the fees can be surprisingly high. You’ll just have to work hard on building your followers first – your ‘social proof’ or how many people follow you on social media, is seen by brands as proof that readers will like what you post about them, too.

  6. Guest blogging

    Occasionally, members of the press or even brands who have a blog of their own will get in touch if you’re a particular authority on a certain topic, and ask you to make a little cameo appearance on their website.

    For example, if you’re particularly knowledgeable in cooking on a budget, a newspaper might get in touch and ask you to contribute some budget-friendly recipes to their cooking magazine.

    This is where establishing your niche and honing it comes in handy! Become an authority in your topic and the opportunities to make cash will eventually flow in.

  7. Working with an agency

    pimp up your cvBelieve it or not, blogging has become so popular in the world of advertising that agencies exclusively catered to pimping out bloggers to big brands have popped up all over the shop.

    Working with an agency can be lucrative and offers you security, but you’ll need to have a really decent following to be scooped up in the first place.

    Agency fees are also incredibly high, meaning only the biggest brands will be able to afford working with you, and smaller independent companies will be scared off. Depending on the kind of blogging business you’re aiming for (to use the example of ethical fashion blogging again, signing up to an agency would probably prevent you from working with small independent designers), so this may or not work to your advantage.

  8. Sell digital products

    If you have skills or advice to offer, another option is to charge a fee for access to ebooks, video tutorials, courses or workshops.

    In order to make this option work, you need to be able to show you’re extremely good at what you do or that your content has proven to be incredibly valuable, which isn’t easy.

    It can be pretty difficult to convince online communities to pay up, as there’s a tendency for people to think everything online should be free of charge. Worth a try though, right?

Remember that in becoming a professional blogger you’ll be expected to start declaring your income to the tax man. If your blog is your only income, you’ll be able to earn £10,800 a year tax-free with it (£11,000 from 2017) thanks to the national tax-free personal allowance – read our big fat guide to freelancing for more info.

How to make more money with your blog

bathrichFirst and foremost, the key to ensuring your blog generates as much cash as it’s capable of making is to build your readership as much as possible.

The larger your following, the more valuable you are to brands, as they’ll see you as an influential figure (dubbed ‘influencers‘ in the blogging world) meaning they’re likely to shell out more cash to work with you.

Earn more by increasing your readership

how to make more friendsIf something happens in the news that’s related to your niche, get involved. This is what we refer to as ‘news jacking‘ and it can work a treat in getting you some great exposure!

For example, say you’re a food blogger who focuses on Paleo dietary cooking for those who suffer from gluten intolerances (there’s your niche audience right there!).

A report is released in the news that states research has found that gluten is much worse for our health than previously thought: the bread and pizza-lover’s world collapses, but now’s your chance to shine, since you’ve been preaching this on your blog for ages! (disclaimer: this report is entirely fabricated – we don’t know anything about the benefits of Paleo).

Use this news story as leverage to promote your blog. Get on social media and say your bit (using multiple appropriate hashtags, of course), get involved in discussions and even reach out to journalists to say you’re available for comment. If you’re really great at owning your niche, the journalists might even come to you!

Similarly, creating viral content will help you reach a new market and in turn increase your readership. Again, we understand that this isn’t so simple!

The key to creating viral content is to tap into controversial or much-discussed topics related to your niche blogging field (as you can imagine, quite often this also involves news jacking, as mentioned above).

As this is your niche, you’ll be passionate and opinionated about it, and so be able to post an opinion that people want to read and share with their mates – in turn pulling you in a whole load of shiny new readers!

Use your blog as a money-making stepping stone

stepping stone to universityCredit: Steppingstone.com
Using your blog to promote your own business or even land yourself a job is another (albeit indirect) way to make more cash with your blog. If you’re one of the growing number of students starting their own business or are selling something online, your blog is the perfect platform to promote what you have to offer (although don’t go in too hard or you’ll put readers off).

You can also use your blog as a sort of online profile to build your credibility that will ultimately get you a good job. Think of it this way: your blog is like your own small business in itself, and by showing potential employers that you can do this successfully, you’re showing that you’ve got an entrepreneurial mind, and know how to achieve success with it.

Are you a pro blogger and got some tips to make more cash that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear ’em! Feel free to comment below or get in touch with us.

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