How to Plan for Your Blog So You Actually Make Money

How to plan for your blog so you actually make money

If you’re like me, you decided to blog because you loved writing, and you felt that you had something important to say.

And maybe at the back of your mind (okay, let’s be honest, the front of your mind) you had an idea that you wanted to make money, too.

You looked at the income reports from successful bloggers, saw that they were making thousands of dollars from their blogs, and thought, Hey, that would be nice.

The thing is, those successful bloggers aren’t some special alien breed. You, yes you, normal, everyday you, CAN make money from your blog. If you plan it right. Here’s how.

1. Decide how you want to make money.

There are lots of ways to make money with your blog, including…

  1. Selling affiliate products/writing sponsored posts
  2. Selling your own products and services.
  3. Running ads.

But wait…

HOLD ON A MINUTE

Before you go picking one of the monetization strategies, really stop and think about you, who you are, and what makes you feel all jazzed up and excited about life.

Often, bloggers choose a monetization strategy based on what they think is the easiest, or on what OTHER PEOPLE want, instead of based on what makes them feel all happy inside.

So let’s take a look at the different monetization strategies for a sec.

1. Selling affiliate products and/or writing sponsored posts

Do you love talking about other people’s products and how much they’ve helped you?

Are you constantly sharing resources with people?

Do you feel happy when you think about creating product tutorials and reviews? If so, selling affiliate products and writing sponsored posts may be your thing.

You can even sell affiliate products without a blog – just write really great social media updates.

However, if you’re not into writing reviews and tutorials, you may want to look elsewhere.

2. Selling your own products and services.

So this one is a bit huge. Let me break it down a bit.

Products can be anything from physical products (i.e. selling your art) to digital courses, to ebooks.

Services can be freelancing services, coaching or offering therapy, doing VA work, and so much more.

If you want to sell your own products or services, think about what you love to do.

Do you love creating things? If so, you may want to open an Etsy shop.

Do you enjoy teaching lots of people at once? Then you might want to create an online course or membership site.

Do you love working with people one on one? How about coaching?

You don’t need to know your exact strategy right now, just ask yourself some of these questions.

For example, I started my membership site, Have Your Cupcake about 7 months after I started blogging. I knew that I wanted to teach, but I didn’t know my audience well enough to understand what that teaching would look like.

After blogging for awhile and building relationships, I had a better handle on where my expertise and my audience’s desires matched up, so I could create a learning experience tailored for my community.

And because I started blogging with the knowledge that I wanted to sell courses, I was all set up to make it happen.

3. Ads.

Ads may seem like an easy way to make money in the beginning. Just fill your sidebars with ads, and you’re good to go.

But the reality is, Google Adsense brings in very little money per click, and by putting them up there, you are inviting people to leave your site to go buy whatever they were looking at online earlier. Plus they clutter up your site.

If you want to use ads as your main source of revenue, I suggest building up your audience to 20k plus page views a month, minimum.

For a detailed breakdown of the different ways to make money from your blog, check out Melissa’s post on The Nectar Collective, 11 ways to make money from your blog.

Another helpful way of looking at monetization is to think about your business archetype. Fizzle put out a incredibly helpful podcast on this topic, which you can find here.

Here’s a quick and dirty list of the archetypes:

  1. The Teacher
  2. The Thought Leader
  3. The Mediapreneur
  4. The Freelancer
  5. The Coach
  6. The Artist
  7. The Maker
  8. The Curator
  9. The Engineer
  10. The Retailer

Learning about these archetypes will give you deeper insight into who you are and how you can use your blogging superpowers to make money.

2. Choose a focus and stick to it.

So…now that you know how you want to make money, it’s time to start building momentum with your blog.

In order to do that, it is very important that you choose a focus.

Why do you need a focus?

Because without a specific focus, readers won’t have a reason to come back to your blog. If you are all over the place, people might come and read one post and then never come back. And you don’t want that.

The good news is, there are lots of ways to find your focus, including by:

Topic
Audience
Angle
Voice
Delivery Method

For more on this, read my post Why It’s So Hard to Find a Focus for Your Blog (and How to Do it Anyway)

3. Set milestones for yourself.

So…you know how you want to monetize, and you know what your focus is. Now it’s time to create milestones for yourself.

What do I mean by milestones?

Milestones are specific dates when you want to have a certain goal accomplished.

I will cover 2 types of milestones here – creation milestones and growth milestones.

Creation milestones

Creation milestones are content that you want to create, whether that’s blog posts, courses, etc.

When I started my blog, one of my first milestones was to offer a free course in the second month of blogging. I knew that I wanted to eventually get paid to teach, so I set a goal for myself to start teaching early on, even if it was free.

I got 30 people to sign up for my first free course, Define Your Blog Voice in 5 Days.

Then, 3 months later, my milestone was offering a larger course. I did The Blog Makeover which had 300 participants in its first round. (Altogether, ove 2000 bloggers have done the course so far.)

After that, my next milestone was creating a paid membership site.

See how that worked?

No matter your money making method, create milestones where you can do a small action, and then lead to larger ones.

For example, if you want to make money through affiliate marketing, maybe your first milestone is creating a thorough tutorial post for one of the products you are selling.

The next milestone might be making a 5 day, in depth course on the same product.

If you want to write sponsored posts, your first milestone might be writing a free post about a product you really love.

Your next milestone might be contacting that company and getting free products to review, and the next one would be to actually be paid for a sponsored post.

Growth milestones

In addition to setting goals for what you are creating, you also want to have goals for how much growth you want to see in your blog audience.

You can set growth milestones for:

  • Number of followers on social media
  • Number of people on your email list
  • Number of page views per month
  • Number of buyers

Don’t get too caught up in the stats, but do set goals for yourself and try to reach them by a specific date. That will help you stay on track.

Check out this epic post on how to actually make money from your blog!Click To Tweet

4. Understand the different parts of blogging how they work together

When people say to me, Oh, you’re a blogging coach. Isn’t blogging just writing? I want to laugh.

There are so many different parts of the blogging process, including…

Writing and design
Social media
SEO
Email marketing
Your offers

If you want to monetize, it’s important that you understand how each of these pieces fits into your larger marketing plan.

Here’s a handy graphic to give you an idea of how these things can work together.

Blogging as part of a content marketing plan

In brief…

  • Your blog posts are there to build traffic, authority and trust, and to get people interested in your email opt-in freebies.
  • Your email marketing is intended to deepen your relationship and show readers what you have to offer, so that they can make an informed decision about whether they want to become fans or customers.
  • And social media is there to get eyes on your blog and to build relationships.

You need each of these components in order to grow your audience and eventually monetize your blog.

5. Make yourself the CEO of your blog.

I, like so many bloggers, am a thoughtful and emotional person. And it’s SO easy to see my blog as a part of me. But that kind of thinking is exactly what prevents most bloggers from building successful blogs.

When you see yourself as the CEO of your blog, you stop looking at it as a part of you, and a measure of your worth as a human being, and you start seeing it as a separate thing – an engine to build relationships and grow an audience.

As the CEO, you need to…

Set specific goals

Take the milestones from step 3 and break them down into specific, achievable goals. Then hold yourself accountable for making them happen.

Be strategic

Don’t just write any post that comes to your mind. Plan ahead. As I wrote earlier, know what your milestones are, and plan your blog posts and other content accordingly.

Feel your emotions but don’t let them dictate your actions

If you told your boss at work that you were feeling sad and didn’t want to come in, what would she say? She would probably tell you to get your butt over there and do your job. When it comes to blogging, you need to treat yourself the same way.

Even if you don’t feel like it, do it anyway. That’s the only way to grow.

Want to make money from your blog? Think like a CEO.Click To Tweet

6. Talk to your audience and learn how to best serve them.

When it comes down to it, making money comes from giving people what they want.

How do you do this? By talking to them. Survey them. Interview them. Talk to them on Twitter. Ask them questions on Facebook.

Write your posts based on what you know they really care about.

When you do that, you will notice your readers coming back for more, because they know you care about them.

This also helps tremendously in deciding what to sell to your audience. If you have a deep knowledge of their struggles and desires, you can create or sell something that they will absolutely love to have.

7. Build strategic relationships with other bloggers.

One of the best ways to grow your blog audience is to get in front of larger audiences. You can do this by building relationships with other bloggers in your niche.

My friend Andrea Beltrami of The Branded Solopreneur and I recently did a mini course together, in which she told the audience and me that she wrote a list of 20 people she wanted to build relationships with in the coming year.

Then she shared those people’s blog posts in her own blog. She tweeted their stuff like crazy. She purposefully built relationships with them by being generous and showing them she loved their stuff. Now a lot of those bloggers (including myself) are her friends and advocates.

Make relationship building – both with your audience and with other bloggers – a part of your plan. It will be more than worth your time.

To watch the mini-course and hear Dre explain her whole strategy, click here.

8. Create blogging success habits, systems, and routines.

A money making blog is built one day at a time, through specific habits that will help you grow your audience and meet your goals.

What habits and routines can you commit to doing every day or every week?

Create blogging habits in the areas of:

Self-care – What will you do to keep your spirits up so that you can keep creating on a continuous basis?
Promotion – Create systems and habits for promoting your blog posts.
Relationship building – What consistent actions will help you build relationships with your audience and with other bloggers?
Content creation – Decide how you write and create the best, and make it an automatic habit.
Data analysis – It’s important to check your stats regularly and evaluate how you are doing. Decide when and how you will do this.

When you commit to doing these habits, systems and routines regularly, you will build your blog on a daily basis.

What routines do you do that build your blog on a daily basis?Click To Tweet

9. Plan when and how to invest in your blog.

Ah, investing in your blog. Such an uncomfortable topic for so many.

I believe that if you want to make money from your blog, you need to invest money into it.

This may sound woo-woo, but when you invest in your blog, you are telling yourself and the universe that you believe in what you are doing. And that has powerful ripple effects.

Aside from all that, though, there are areas where investing has a HUGE pay-off.

A few of the big ones include:

Going self-hosted.

Aside from not seeming legit when you have blogspot or wordpress in your blog URL, going with one of those platforms limits your monetization options. Just shell out $10 for your own URL, and less than $100/year for hosting. Trust me, it’s worth it. Want to know how to set up a self-hosted blog in a snap? Read this.

Social media automation.

If you are serious about building your blog and making money, don’t waste your time manually repinning and posting, when you could be spending that time creating and planning. Think about it. The CEO of a business doesn’t spend hours a day on social media. Neither should you.

Coaching/courses

When it comes to learning how to blog, there is tons of free information out there.

However, if you invest in a coach or in blogging courses, you will be able to figure it all out much more quickly. It took me 4 years to get my shit together and build this blog. That’s 4 years that I could have spent growing my audience. Don’t make the same mistake.

If you’re interested in joining the best blogging membership site around, click here.

10. Don’t feel bad about selling.

Many bloggers (including myself) get so caught up in providing free content, that we actually feel bad about making money. We want to make money, or at least we think we do, but we feel guilty about asking people to pay us.

Look. You are spending hours and hours building your blog, writing incredible content, building relationships, etc. Why shouldn’t you be paid for it?

If you feel weird about selling things, consider this – would you go to your day job without being paid for it? Of course not. And you are probably working just as hard at your blog as you have at any day job. You deserve to be compensated. You really do.

If you feel bad about selling, do it anyway. You aren’t forcing anyone to give you money, or to click your affiliate link. They are only doing it because they believe that what you provide is valuable and they want to give back.

How to plan for your blog so you actually make money

That was a lot, so let me recap. To plan to actually make money from your blog, you need to:

  1. Decide how you want to make money and make sure it fits you and who you are.
  2. Choose a focus and stick with it.
  3. Set milestones for yourself.
  4. Understand the different parts of blogging and how they fit together.
  5. Make yourself the CEO of your blog.
  6. Talk to your audience and learn how to best serve them.
  7. Build strategic relationships with other bloggers.
  8. Create blogging success habits, systems, and routines.
  9. Plan when and how to invest in your blog.
  10. Don’t feel bad about selling.

Making money with your blog takes time and effort. But you can do it.  I promise. Just start with step #1 and go from there.

  • Sue Anne Dunlevie

    LOVE this post, Daniela. Being your own CEO is such a great reminder – sometimes you get stuck just writing blog posts and not thinking strategically.

    Looking forward to our training class on the 9th.
    Sue

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks Sue! You always help me think strategically, btw. And I am pumped for our class on the 9th as well!

  • This is a helpful framework, Daniela! Thanks for sharing.

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks, Julie! I’m glad you found it helpful!

  • This is really helpful. I’m in the process of figuring out where to take my blog next year. Thanks for sharing so many useful tips.

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks, Christine! I appreciate your comment! What are you doing to figure it all out?

      • I’ve signed up for some courses to learn about social media and photography while at the back of my mind I am thinking about the blog’s objectives for 2016. I’m also doing a lot of reading. As far as progress goes, it’s all still up in the air!

  • Daniela Uslan

    Thanks, Cheryl! What is your focus? What helped you find it?

  • Daniela Uslan

    Thanks Robin! It seems like you already are investing in it!

  • Daniela Uslan

    Thanks Jamie! I’m glad I could help.

  • Daniela Uslan

    Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Daniela Uslan

    Thanks, Linda! Looking at archetypes is hugely helpful. You will love the podcast by Fizzle for sure!

  • Daniela Uslan

    That’s great, Eileen! Automation has helped my Pinterest process SO much!

  • Daniela Uslan

    Hi Gina,

    Thanks for your sweet comment. I am so glad you found me through Twelve Skip! Thanks for saying I think out of the box. That’s my goal! I appreciate your comment on the CEO thing as well…I may just have to write a post on that as well!

  • Daniela Uslan

    Thanks so much, Krista! I am so glad we found each other in Dre’s Facebook group!

  • Daniela Uslan

    Thanks, Kerstin! I really appreciate your comment. I still need to work on that whole delegation thing…it’s on my to do list for 2016!

  • Daniela Uslan

    Thanks, Revina! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Just take it one step at a time!

  • Monica Bruno

    What a great, thorough post, Daniela. I know I work on my blog as many hours as I did when I worked in an office. I like the idea of selling my own products, like my novel, and perhaps I can create an eBook or some type of challenge for my readers. Most importantly, I think it’s all about building relationships, whether it’s with other bloggers or our readers. It’s also about giving and being generous. I’m so glad I joined your membership site, Have Your Cupcake. It’s the best investment I’ve made so far for my for my blog.

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks so much, Monica! I am so glad you are a part of Have Your Cupcake!

  • Gabriela Baumgartner

    Very interesting article. It is amazing how many things I learned since I joined your group! I love your blog, very helpful information! Thank you!

  • Amanda

    This is like the most amazing blog post on monetizing your blog I’ve ever read!! I shared it with my FB groups and will be sharing it with my email list. Thank you!!!

    • Daniela Uslan

      Aww thanks, Amanda! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • Tunisia Jolyn

    Another excellent post! You make it extremely clear and focused on how to do these things efficiently and practically without all the fluff. I really enjoy your website. I look forward to learning more in the future.