Can you make money blogging? Will you get rich? Does it lead to the same illustrious career as, say, a biz-tech nonfiction book writer?
No. No. And mostly.
The best way to get rich blogging? Write a regular blog about how to get rich blogging, offer webinars about it, charge people $799 to attend. Tell people how to write a blog and host webinars.
Otherwise, the odds of you getting rich from this are about as good as you getting rich as a singer or actor.
Because the amount of time and effort you’ll put into everything else but blogging — marketing, promotions, PR, programming, design — is about the same amount of time and effort you’ll put into anything else you want to do, like starting your own company, selling a product, or launching your singing or acting career.
No, Seriously. Can You Make Money Blogging?
Okay, yes. You can make money at blogging. It’s not a lot, but there are ways to make more money than others, but some are easier.
Let’s say you have a fairly popular blog, netting around 10,000 visitors a month. It’s taken you a couple years to get to this point (which, if you thought you could get there after a couple weeks, forget it). There are a few options open to you:
- Banner advertising. This is the easiest option, and the first one most people think of. It’s also the lowest paying, because you’re trying to get visitors to click through the ads. Even if you had a 1% clickthrough rate (which would be awesome), 10,000 visitors would equal 100 clicks. And at $.05 per click, that’s $5 — “cheeseburger money,” as Jason Falls calls it. What’s worse, you’re constantly trying to fill space, and end up spending a lot of writing time selling instead. There are advertising services I’ve seen that will place ads for you, but they’re still struggling to get advertisers to buy in. Think of it this way: In the late 90s and early 2000s, banner advertising was all the rage, and was how a lot of Internet news sites were trying to make money. The fact that they’re not around anymore should tell you something.
- Google AdWords You make a few cents on an impression, and several cents on a click-through. You’ve got the same issues as banner advertising, although you’re not chasing down advertisers. It’s more passive. The more traffic you get, the more impressions you get. I have one friend who paid for his son’s college with the banner advertising on his site, but he wrote on it every day and promoted the bejeezus out of it.
- Affiliate sales. A definite possibility. Of course, this takes a lot of social media networking (more than the actual writing), because you need for people to trust you enough to click through your ads. But I know a few people who do it, and they make pretty decent money this way. Not quit-your-day-job money, but they can eat cheeseburgers every day.
- Product reviewer. This is the least likely way to make actual money, even worse than banner advertising. BUT! it’s a great way to get cool stuff, because companies are always looking for product reviewers. They’ll send you a product, or passes to their business, and ask you to write up a review (this is called blogger outreach, and is becoming a staple of marketing/PR people). If you’re a mother of young children, you may be able to sample a week’s worth of new diapers in exchange for a writeup. Or you get to try a family-friendly restaurant for dinner. It won’t put cash in your pocket, but it will pay for the occasional night out or get you something useful. As a travel writer, I occasionally get to take little mini-vacations around the state. You can’t accept money for reviews though, since that would be unethical, but you usually get to keep the product.
- Ghost blogging. This is the biggie, the one and only way you can definitely make money blogging. On the downside, it’s not your blog. You’re writing for someone else, and your name will never be seen in public. On the upside, you’re a professional copywriter, and you can demand professional copywriting wages. In fact, of all the blogging jobs I know, this is the easiest way to make a full-time living. (My company, Professional Blog Service, is a ghost blogging agency.) However, it also means you have to be a very good writer. Good writers get good money. Okay writers get okay money. And beginning writers get beginning money. Still, if you know what you’re doing, have a decent grasp of the English language, and can spell all your words correctly, you’ve got a good chance at becoming a ghost blogger.
Ghost Blogging = Ghostwriting
Ghost bloggers are basically ghost writers. A ghost writer is a writer who works for someone else and publishes their work under that person’s name. They’re never seen, never heard from, and they moan about the injustice of it all. They’re ghosts.
A ghost blogger makes their money by being marketing copywriters, only they’re specifically trained to write for the web. They know the SEO requirements and tactics, but more importantly, they can write SEO copy so well that the reader still enjoys reading it.
While there are still only a few people doing it, it’s a growing field. That’s because blogging is important to search engine optimization (SEO), but now content marketing — using content to educate your customers and sell them on your product’s benefits — has become the watchword of 2013.
In fact, given all of Google’s algorithm changes over the past couple of years, and the importance their placing on written content, 2013 is going to be the year of the writer. If you’re looking for a field to break into as a writer, this may be it.