A reader recently asked me if there is a market for her blog and if she can make money with it.
I’m no fortune teller, but here are a few signs a blog will be popular and a few tips for making money with a blog idea.
Before you start a new (or another) blog, you need to think about your purpose for blogging. Do you want a popular blog? Do you want your blog to earn enough to pay the web hosting costs? Or, do you want to start a non-monetized blog to record your physical and/or emotional journey, which you’ll share with family and friends?
Before you start blogging, know thy purpose. Of course you can change course at any time – which is the beauty of blogging – but it’s good to have at least a sketchy idea about where you want your blog to go, be, and do.
Here’s my reader’s question:
“I want to blog but I would appreciate your input before I start. I want to write articles, voice my opinion, and hopefully people will comment. I will write about current news events and various other topics. Is there a market for this and can I make money with a blog of this type?”
I’ll break down my answer into two different answers – because creating a popular blog doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll make money blogging.
Will Your Blog Be Popular?
What topics or subjects will you cover – arts, sports, travel, entertainment, current events, health, local events, gossip, etc – or will you touch on everything? Do you have enough time to write about everything? Don’t forget that keeping up with reader’s comments can be time-consuming – and yet it’s a very important aspect of blogging.
In my experience, blogs with a narrow focus are more successful and easier to maintain (which is why I created a series of Quips and Tips blogs instead of one huge blog – but I learned that a series of blogs is very time-consuming!).
My most popular blog post is about sperm
The most important thing about determining the focus of your blog is to choose something you’re passionate about, that you could talk and write about for hours.
I created Quips and Tips for Couples Coping With Infertility, only to realize that I don’t want to immerse myself in the doom and gloom of being a childless couple or the depression that some women and men feel when they can’t get pregnant. Nor do I want to write endless articles about fertility. Yet, that blog is my highest earner (apart from October, which I explain below).
You need to create a blog based on your interests, hobbies, and passions – not on what can make money. If you can’t sustain your blog, you won’t make a dime.
If you can’t write, fake it
Do you have an engaging writing style and voice? Do you know how to write for online readers? Are you a bit more than interesting – are you edgy and quirky? Do you have a couple of hours a day to spend on your blog? Can you write a post every couple of days?
The bloggers who make money aren’t always good writers. If you can string a sentence together, you can create a successful blog (depending of course on your topic).
Pay attention to the details – such as your comments section
Another really important aspect of creating a popular blog is your comment section. I can’t believe how many blog posts I’ve wanted to comment on, only to jump ship when I realize I have to sign in via blogspot or wordpress.com. Don’t make your readers jump through hoops. Captcha is a hoop; use Akismet instead.
To figure out how successful blogs work, spend a few hours visiting different sites. Note their layout, design, topics, colors, etc. Don’t copy them, of course. Let your personality shine through your blog while paying attention to what works for other bloggers.
Set your blog apart
Yes, I think there is room for a blog that invites discussion about current events and topics. However, I think it needs to offer something different than what readers are already reading and commenting on when they visit bigger or local news sites.
You’ve seen The Huffington Post, right? If Arianna can create a highly profitable, popular blog that discusses events and topics, then so can you! But you need be different than HuffPo.
Do you know HuffPo published a book about blogging? It’s excellent – I blogged the most important tips in The Huffington Post’s Blogging Tips – How to Blog Better.
Can You Make Money With Your Blog Idea?
I don’t think it’s wise to start a blog for the sole purpose of making money. Better, start a blog on a topic you’re passionate about.
Organic search trumps social media
In my experience, the “money making” blogs are the ones that readers find when searching for a specific topic. By “searching”, I mean readers doing an organic search on Google for articles, products, or services that they need to use. And by “a specific topic”, I mean how do to something, how to make something, or how to solve a specific problem in their life right now.
For instance, my Halloween articles (eg, Book Character Costumes) on Quips and Tips for Life’s Ups and Downs are my primo money-making articles. Every October, my blog income skyrockets because people search for costume ideas and click on the links in the article. They are motivated to get that costume.
That’s how Darren Rowse makes so much money on his photography blog; he gets a ton of organic search results and his readers are invested in photography because it’s their hobby or profession. It’s a brilliant blog idea.
Will your blog earn $150 a day?
I honestly don’t know if a news blog can make money because I’ve never tried it. But, the HuffPo succeeded…which means it’s possible. On the other hand, many online magazines and newspapers cost publishers money…which means it’s difficult.
The only way to find out if you can create a popular blog and make money blogging is to try it. You have to give your blog at least a year to grow legs, and you have to be consistent about sharing your blog on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, offline, etc.
Here’s how my Quips and Tips blogs pay my bills: How Do Bloggers Make Money?
Be Careful About How Much Time You Spend on Social Media
In Social Media Is Bullshit, B.J. Mendelson describes why Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc do not work as a successful marketing tool for most small businesses (including blogs! If you’re serious about making money blogging, you need to treat your blog like a business).
In an interview with Jian Ghomeshi on Q CBC, Mendelson said one of the best ways for small businesses to gain popularity on social media is to entice other people to tweet or Facebook your links and products. This doesn’t mean paying others, it means creating noteworthy articles, blogs, products, and/or services.
I have over 8,000 followers on Twitter, and get almost no traffic from there. Even when I tweet a link every hour, I get almost nothing. Further, the traffic I get is from people who are surfing. They’re not looking for how to do something, which means they’re not clicking on ads.
Social media doesn’t work for me. It’s organic search traffic from Google that pays my mortgage and sends me on holidays to Jamaica, Hawaii, and hopefully Peru in a couple of months.
Phew – that’s my answer to the whole “will my blog be popular and can I make money with it?” question! I welcome your thoughts below.
Help for Writers and Bloggers
For more blogging tips, read Want to Blog, But Don’t Know Where to Start? 5 Tips for Newbies.