When I tell people that I blog for a living, most of the time they just smile and nod. I always thought it was because there’s some sort of stigma about being a blogger. But I think the truth is, many people do not understand how blogging works.
There seems to be a misconception that bloggers are people who go around reviewing things and assuming everyone wants to know their point of view. But once you understand that blogging has become a platform for teaching, then you can more understand how and why so many people love making their living from a blog.
Blogging is not what it used to be
There was a time when a blog was simply a web-log of people’s thoughts and experiences. Kind of like an online diary. And readers used to come and visit to hear the stories of the goings on in the lives of their favorite bloggers.
Some bloggers would make some money if they got lucky and got picked up and their posts went viral. Sometimes, they’d get free stuff and special treatment for sharing a positive review.
But that’s so 10 years ago.
In 2019, if you want to have a successful blog, then you can’t just be sharing about the time you got a hole in your favorite shoes. In a world where everyone shares every minute aspect of their lives on social media, nobody cares about the hole in your shoe.
Wait. I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let’s go back to how blogging works and then I’ll tell you how you actually could make a living sharing about the hole in your shoe.
how blogging works
There are a few basic things to understand, and we’re going to cover them in this article. But I’m not going to tell you how to do any of these things because in order to be successful at blogging you have to go all in.
That does not necessarily mean that you have to invest a fortune or that blogging will be your full-time job, but you do need to spend a few hours a week working on your blog. In order to make that extra work worth it, you need to understand how easily your effort can pay you back.
So I think the first hurdle to jump is getting clear on why you should start a blog by explaining what a blog is and how they make money.
A blog vs a website
A lot of people aren’t clear on the difference between a blog and a website, and that’s not surprising because you might hear people refer to a blog as a website or say they go to a blog on a website.
And the fact is that both are true.
A website might have just a blog or it might have a blog among other web pages.
To me, a blog is a type of website where articles are posted on a regular basis. So every time you visit a blog website, you’ll find something new on there. This is different from static web pages which do not get updated very often.
Since blogs have been around quite a while now, the terms blog and website are used pretty much interchangeably among people who use these words often. And, to many bloggers, their blog is their website with the other pages on their site supporting and leading out to their blog posts.
a blog post is an article
We can use the term ‘article’ to refer to a single blog post. Every blog post should have a purpose – whether that’s to inform the reader of something new or teach them how to do something new.
Of course, what is new to you may be different from what is new to me, but that’s just because we all have different life experiences. In today’s day and age, blog posts are one of the most frequently referenced free teaching tools online.
For most blogs, viewers to their site come to a specific blog post that they found through online searches or social media. Think about the last time you searched for a specific recipe. There’s a really good chance that you got your recipe from a blog post on an individual’s blog website.
Do you use Pinterest? The vast majority of content on Pinterest is created and published by bloggers. Sure there are some links to shops and even some spam, but most of what you see on Pinterest comes from blogs just like this one.
an article gets pageviews
Every time you click a pin on Pinterest or a link in Google search and view the content, your activity is logged (anonymously) as a page view for that website. The more people who read the article, the more page views that article receives.
If you read the article and continue to look through other articles, each additional article you read counts as another page view. All of this is tracked through Google analytics (among others), but a blogger does not see your name or personal info – just that someone looked at such and such pages on their blog.
For most blogs, it is common that the majority of viewers do not look at other pages or articles on their site. Which makes sense because successful blogs are answering specific questions. Once your question is answered, you leave the site.
Bloggers watch their pageviews no just for vanity, but because if no one is looking at your blog, then you can’t make any money.
pageviews generate income
In order for a blog to generate income, they have to do one of two things:
- Display ads
- Sell things
Advertisers pay bloggers to display ads for their products or services.
Often ads are served from an ad network who partners advertisers with blogs willing to show ads. However, it’s also possible that advertisers purchase space on individual blogs.
I know many internet users despise seeing ads on blogs, but bloggers make good money from those ads. And from our point of view, it’s a painless way to be paid for providing free content.
Blog authors sell their own products
A blog can be used to sell services and physical or digital products to blog readers. Services include things like coaching, creating graphics, and writing articles.
A digital product could be something you download and print out like a printable planner or journal, even artwork for your walls.
Sometimes digital files are full color digital books just like on your e-reader. Sometimes they’re a plain word document. There’s no limit to what you can try to sell in digital format as long as you keep in mind what your readers like and want.
On the other hand, some bloggers have physical products that they sell through orders received on their website. They may package and ship the item themselves or they may have it stored and shipped at a warehouse facility that also provides shipping service.
Blog authors sell others’ products
Many blogs make money by recommending products on other websites. This is called making affiliate sales. It’s basically getting paid a commission for products you recommend to your readers.
Many large and small companies offer affiliate compensation to bloggers. Commission rates vary from as low as 1% to 50% or more. Some affiliate offers are easy to be accepted into and others have a more extensive application process.
Another way to sell others’ products is to write sponsored posts. In this case, bloggers are paid by companies to use and/or review a product.
I know bloggers getting paid several thousands of dollars to work with a company. They not only use and recommend the product, but they might also create a recipe or project specifically for that product. Sometimes, they are contracted to create videos and social media posts using the product.
Before you start to think you have to sell out to make big money, understand that the bloggers I know profiting on these deals are working with brands they already use and love. They would have used them anyway, they’re just getting paid for it now.
So that’s how bloggers make money
Now back to that hole in your shoe.
While a personal diary style blog is no longer fashionable, you can still use your experience to show the reader how to fix a hole in their own shoe.
Any one of us could be merrily going about our business when we suddenly find a hole in our shoe. And, of course, it will always happen when we’re late for work and it’s raining outside.
Maybe this happened to you and you came up with an impromptu solution that saved your day. When you share your shoe solution, you can help someone else who’s stuck in that same bind.
As the reader learns how to fix the hole in their shoe, advertisements (based on their own web searches) are shown to them in between paragraphs of your article. They may or may not click on the ads – it doesn’t matter you still get paid.
By the end of the article, your reader is overjoyed to have learned a solution to their problem, but they still need a new pair of shoes. Here’s your chance to help them a second time, tell them about your favorite pair of shoes that are hole-proof (using your affiliate link, of course).
And that’s how blogging works.
Have more questions about blogging? Post them in the comments below.
I do understand the stigma you are talking about. I have faced it myself. I think someone needed to share what is blogging and how we earn, and I am glad it was you. I really loved how you formatted this article as a guide, and it will definitely serve as a handbook for new bloggers. I have bookmarked this article, and I will be sharing this within my network. I am really looking forward to reading more of your amazing work.