If you are blogging and are enjoying it, the idea of going pro is likely appealing to you. After all, who wouldn’t want to earn their living doing something they love, especially when it can be done almost anywhere a wifi connection can be found?
But the truth is that turning a blog, even a popular one, into a full-time income is tough. Competition is stiff, the landscape is uncertain and even if you can find a path to success, it’s uncertain if it will still be available tomorrow. It’s no wonder that there are entire communities dedicated to exactly this problem.
Fortunately though, there are many different paths that you can take to monetize your blog and, eventually, turn it into at least part of your full-time job.
But while there are too many to count or mention in one article, especially when many approaches are really combinations of other schemes, there are some methods that have been used more often, and with greater success, than others.
With that in mind, here are five of the more popular ways of going pro with a blog, including who they’re right for and what the perils of that approach might be.
When most people think about going professional with a blog, or any website, they usually consider advertising first.
Advertising is the easiest approach, requiring, theoretically, little more than adding a few blocks of code to a site and attracting the clicks.
However, there are a lot of perils that come with advertising. First, a site has to be reasonably high-traffic and targeting valuable keywords for advertising to generate any revenue. Second, it’s not right for all audiences. Finally, advertising requires a great deal of effort to make work, including optimization of the ads themselves and, most likely, doing some sales work to ensure the highest level of revenue.
That being said, if you have a site that is a good candidate for advertising, it’s a powerful way to earn money and, best of all, is more passive than most approaches, meaning that the amount you earn isn’t as closely related to the amount you work, meaning you can earn at least some revenue when you aren’t actively working on your site.
If you aren’t a good candidate for advertising, for example if your site doesn’t get enough visitors or isn’t in a good niche for expensive keywords, you may be able to sell your time.
This works particularly well if you’re in a niche where you can be considered an expert and there is demand for your expertise. It can also work well even with small websites that get little traffic, so long as there’s an ample supply of interested customers.
That being said, since consulting is literally selling your time it is time-consuming. It won’t leave much time for blogging and you’ll likely have to charge a high rate to compensate for the fact you can’t work many hours out of the day.
Also, this approach doesn’t pay if you aren’t working so any time you’re away from the job is time you’re not earning money.
3. Paid Writing
If your blog does well enough and your writing is solid, other sites may consider hiring you to write for them.
Paid writing can be very rewarding as it involves getting paid to do exactly what you love and it’s also a great chance to spread your name and reputation on line.
However, the pay for articles for a new writer is such that earning a living at it would require writing an almost insane amount of content. Though your rates will likely rise as your reputation and history improves, making a living at it is going to first require a lot of tedious writing for very little money.
That being said, if you can survive that and beat out some stiff competition, paid writing is a great way to have a steady income and do the part of blogging that most bloggers have the greatest love for.
4. Paid Content
Many bloggers find that the easiest way to earn money from their site is by offering content that their readers can only access if they pay. This can include member’s sections of the site or downloadable content such as ebooks that are only (legally) available to those who pay for them.
However, not every audience or subject is right for this kind of monetization and you have to make sure that you have a presence where people will want to pay money for specialized information you provide to them.
Of course, selling copies of content or access to content is also difficult due to copyright infringement and the fact that, if the demand is there, many will simply share your work for free.
If you have a good subject and a good audience for this approach, it can be a very compelling way to earn a living as it is more passive than most models and can actually help solidify you as an expert, unlike advertising, which many consider to be annoying or degrading to a site.
5. Public Speaking
Finally, though this method is less common, more and more bloggers are earning a living (or part of one) by taking up public speaking. This is because being a blogger, especially as you become an expert and a celebrity in your niche, can make you someone that people want to hear speak or see in person. That, in turn, can translate to a career touring the world speaking.
And this can be very compelling. Not only can it be a solid revenue stream, but it can be a great way to see the world. However, it’s also very difficult money to earn.
Unless you are a huge presence that can command an agent and large speaker fees, you’re going to spend much of your time either traveling to conferences or working to get the next deal. This type of work takes a deep toll on relationships and one’s personal life. Doing it enough to make it a living, even a meager one, means being away a lot and that can be difficult on yourself and those around you.
So this isn’t for every person nor is it right for every site, but for many it’s a great way to earn some of your income and travel. However, for most it isn’t a long-term strategy as it can be difficult to keep up, both personally and as a business model.
In the end, if you want to earn money blogging, you’re probably going to have to take a job where your blog plays a critical role in what you’re doing. If you’re a consultant, a public speaker or even doing paid writing, you’re earning money directly from your blog, but instead are earning it because of your blog,
Your blog is your promotion and a big part of your online identity. That makes it important to keep it up and part of your job to do so, even if it isn’t directly what earns you your revenue.
So whatever path you choose, you’ll be able to blog more and be able to legitimately say it’s part of your job.
That may seem to be a small consolation, but when you consider how many bloggers consider that a dream, it’s a major feat.