Sometimes I shake my head in disbelief when I think about what I’ve done in the past three years since starting this blog. While I jumped into personal finance blogging back in 2012, I never would have expected how much my life would change in such a short time period. I’m excited about it all and I have blogging (and my sheer perseverance) to thank. I’ve made money from blogging before, but just in small amounts. It was never enough to break the bank, but this time has been different. Very different!
If you remember, I quit my job over a month ago in order to pursue blogging full time and running my WordPress maintenance and support business. I love both of these things equally, but this blog was the catalyst to jumping off the full-time job gig and diving into the world of self-employment. I really couldn’t have done it without Debt Roundup and the network of people I’ve met over the years. I started this blog to share my story on how I got out of debt, but it’s so much more today. I wanted to show you how starting a blog can change your life and expand your opportunities to make money!
Starting a Blog is Just the Beginning
Over the past three years, I’ve met a number of people who blog for a living and really enjoy it. While saying that, there are millions of other bloggers that don’t make anything from their blogs, but still enjoy it. You have to know what you want from your blog and how to take it. Don’t ever think for one second that just starting one will get you more opportunities to connect and make money. That’s not how this works at all. As with anything, blogging takes work and dedication. There are long hours and constant battles. There are ups and downs as there is with life. Get used to it!With blogging, you only get out what you put in! #blogging #hardwork #hustle Click To Tweet
While I’m extremely biased in how one should start a blog (I’ve really been blogging for over 11 years), my word of advice is to just start one. Immerse yourself into the blogging world and see if you like it. Don’t do what I do so often and get paralysis through analysis.
There are a number of ways to start a blog and so many different platforms. You can go with WordPress.com, Blogger, Ghost, SquareSpace, Wix, and many others. You can also go all-in and pick WordPress.org (which is self-hosted) and get the most bang for your buck. I’m biased towards self-hosted WordPress because that’s what I’ve used over 11 years. I’ve tried others, but I don’t see many things comparing to the flexibility I have with WordPress. If you want to make money blogging, go with WordPress.
Since I work with bloggers and business owners on a daily basis, I can’t tell you how many times people have said they wish they would have started on WordPress. They end up having to pay someone like me to transfer them over from another platform and their blogs can suffer in the short-term while this happens. That’s why I suggest starting out on one of the best. You can’t make money without spending a little, right?
As an FYI, you can get started on WordPress for about $50 for the year. That’s just how much hosting costs for a year. Well worth it in my opinion.
My Opportunities to Make Money Have Grown
Oh, this blog has really helped me out over the years. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to buy our house last year. This blog helped me build up our savings account fast enough for a 20% down payment. Without blogging, it would have taken me a few more years to get the needed down payment.
The real power of blogging lies in the connections you make. I’ve met some awesome people in the blogging community, but the real impact is within the personal finance community. We are a tight-knit group of bloggers. We talk on a regular basis, have a very active Facebook group, and even have an annual conference in different cities around the US.
I can honestly say that without the community, this blog and myself would be nowhere. I might be earning money from my efforts, but I wouldn’t have been able to quit my job last month without them. I provide a lot of my blogging services to the personal finance blogging community. I’ve built a reputation of quality service at a good price. These are my clients and I support them each and every day.
The Financial Bloggers Conference was really the game changer for me. I’m a pretty private guy with people I don’t know, but when I went to my first conference in New Orleans, I broke out of my shell. This is especially true when I went to the conference in Charlotte this year. I really broke out and promoted myself, my service, and connected with like-minded people all day long. I rarely went into my hotel room except for a change of clothes and sleep. I’d call that a successful conference by any means.
Let me try and break down how my opportunities have grown since starting this blog and growing it over the years. Many think you can only make money from a blog with ads, but that couldn’t be furthest from the truth.
Offering Freelance Services
When you become a blogger, you start to write and you do it quite often. Some will take notice and might ask you to write for them. I got into freelance writing a year after I started this blog. Someone wanted me to write an article for their site based on a topic I knew well. Over time, I started writing articles for Yahoo Finance and the Huffington Post. After I did those articles, other businesses started reaching out to me in order to write regularly on their sites.
While I don’t freelance write as much as I used to, there are still a few writing jobs I will be starting soon. I do get paid to write these articles on other sites and that just increases my chances to make money. I know many bloggers who make a killing writing articles. Heck, there are two great courses you can take to show you how to do it. One is how to make money freelance writing in 30 days or less. Another is about getting paid to write for blogs.
My freelance service offering has expanded greatly since the conception of this blog. I started freelance writing, but have moved into the more technical area. I help bloggers get started, keep their blogs running, security, maintenance and support, and a number of other things. This is where I thrive as I’ve known the back end of blogging for a long time. I’m technical by nature, so offering these services suit me well. This is what I hope to expand in the future as well.
If you’re a blogger who needs help, please reach out to me. I’d love to be of service. If you need someone to look after the back-end of your blog, then let’s chat. It’s what I do for a number of high-profile bloggers.
Working with Brands
Did you know you could make money working with large brands and companies? While I knew it was possible, I’d never seen it happen until I started this blog. Brands want to work with people who are connected to their community and focus on their mission. Since this blog is money related, I’ve worked with a variety of brands to expand their mission and get their information to the their target market.
When you grow your traffic and presence in the blogging community, you can get chances to work with some great brands out there. They might reach out to you directly, but many of them use PR firms. If you feel extra punchy, you can pitch them yourself and ask if you can promote their service and mission.
The pay varies greatly depending on the service you’re providing them. I know some people have made a few hundred dollars, while others can make upwards of $20,000 connecting with brands. This is all possible when you start a blog and grow it over time. It doesn’t happen over night, but don’t think it can’t happen to you.
If you start looking to work with brands, there are opportunities to become brand “ambassadors,” which are those who promote the brand and their mission. They immerse themselves in everything the brand does and they speak highly of them. If you become a brand ambassador, you can earn good money and you get to work with companies you really admire.
This is somewhat similar to working with brands, but it’s done in a very different manner. Affiliate marketing is a way to earn money by getting your readers to sign up for a service or purchase a product. The good thing about it is you can choose which companies you want to work with.
I have a good selection of affiliate relationships with companies I use and trust every day. I try to promote services and products that I use and know well. An example is Personal Capital. They have a free money management system, which I started using a few years ago. I still use it every day to manage my money and my investments. I choose to promote them to my readers because I like what they do and I believe their free service is extremely useful.
Yes, I do get paid when someone signs up for an account and meets certain criteria, but that’s not why I promote them to my readers. I think people can and will benefit from using it and I was promoting and using them before I had an affiliate relationship with them. That came later.
If you know of a company that you use and trust, then see if they have an affiliate program. You can get paid promoting it, but only promote things you really believe in or have at least tried. Don’t promote everything under the sun. I wouldn’t promote a payday loan here or some random like makeup. That’s not the mission of this site, nor the topic. Those would be poor choices. You’re in control of what you promote on your blog, so get out there and do it.
This is probably one of the easier ways to make money with a blog. You can get started easily with Google Adsense, which will pay you when someone clicks on an ad on your site. It’s not lucrative for most sites, but I do work with some that make upwards of $20,000 per month just with advertising. Having said that, they bring in a lot of traffic to make that amount.
All-in-all, ads on your site will bring in the least amount of money compared to the other ways of making money, but it’s still income you’re receiving. Putting up ads doesn’t take much time or effort, but you can get paid from it.
If you’re thinking about starting a blog and want to put up ads, then do it in the beginning. I’ve heard way too many bloggers get started, build up their audience, and then introduce ads later. This is extremely off-putting for most regular readers. If you’re audience expects to come to your site and not see ads, then you put them up, you can lose some trusted followers. If you do it in the beginning, they won’t be any wiser to the fact. They expect those ads to be there and most become “blind” to them over time anyway.
This list is by no means comprehensive. There are many other ways to increase your chances to make money with your blog. You can sell physical goods from your blog. You can sell downloadable products as well. You can use it to create a personal brand, which can lead to speaking engagements. I know many bloggers who have switched their blogs over to more of a personal brand and it’s worked well for them. Some have even used their blogs as ways to get media coverage on national television shows. There are a number of ways to make money from your blog, but you have to work for it.
Blogging Has Changed My Life
Starting a blog hasn’t just grown my opportunities to make money, but it’s changed my life completely. I used to be in a job that I slowly fell out of love with. I got burned out over the years and it was time to move on. Instead of looking for a new job, I created my own and this blog was certainly the beginning.
I’m not going to sit here and say that everyone who starts a blog is going to do what I’ve done or make a living on their blog, but you can’t know until you try. The money it takes to start a blog is a small investment compared to what you can get out of it. Remember, you only can get out what you put in. Don’t expect a blog to earn you money if you don’t work hard at building up the content, marketing it, connecting with an audience, and networking with other bloggers. It doesn’t work that way. Sorry to burst your bubble!
Blogging is a constant struggle, but it’s worth it in my opinion. As I help new bloggers get started every day, I see so many with awesome missions and goals. I wish all of them the best and I hope they can use their blogs to change their lives. Not everyone is going to make it in the blogging world, but as long as I can encourage those who want to get in, then I’ve done my job.
I’ve seen how blogging can really change someone as I’ve been that someone. Many don’t understand blogging and think we just sit around in our pajamas slapping the keyboard. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We work just as hard as others (maybe even harder) and many of us make a difference in the lives of others. I’m cool with that and glad of the opportunities I’ve found with blogging.
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