Our Simple Step-By-Step Guide

Do you shake your head in wonder at the mistakes you see people making with their homes, lawns or cars? Are you amazed that people are overlooking a wonderful new product, book or TV program?

These days we all can have our opinions heard and share our wisdom with the world. In decades past, only newspaper columnists and their ilk got to have a public platform, but now it’s open to anyone who launches a blog—something you can do in a matter of minutes virtually for free, assuming that you own a computer and have Internet access. You don’t even need significant computer skills to do this. And writing about an area of professional expertise or personal interest on an Internet blog could earn you income.

A blog isn’t likely to make you rich—most take in a few thousand dollars a year or less. But it can be a way to earn a little income doing something you enjoy, and there is a chance that your blog eventually could grow popular enough to provide a real income. One recent survey of women bloggers found that 6% earned more than $60,000 a year.

Here’s how to make a blog a moneymaker…

Focus Your Blog

Focus your blog on a topic that you know well and that interests a large number of potential advertisers. If you see a lot of ads for related products in the press, online or on TV, it’s probably a good topic.

Examples: A blog about golf, fashion or personal finance could become ­profitable because there are lots of companies advertising in these areas. A blog about poetry or philosophy might be emotionally rewarding, but it probably will never be a big moneymaker.

Once you have selected a topic, focus your blog further by targeting a specific niche area, ideally one that seems underserved by current bloggers. For example, a blog I founded called ChristianPF.com (now SeedTime.com) provides personal finance advice for the Christian community…and the site Tech50Plus.com provides technology advice for the baby boomer generation. But make sure that your niche will be of interest to a fairly large audience—otherwise your blog will have no way to grow. Rather than blog about gardening in Michigan, for example, you might blog about gardening in northern states.

Use WordPress

Use WordPress—a blog-creation and management service—to create your blog. It’s easy to use and the industry standard. There is a free version, which you can start with if you choose, but if your goal is to make money from your blog, it is worth paying for a “self-hosted” WordPress blog. Among other advantages, with a self-hosted blog you can sell ad space (more on that below), something you generally are not allowed to do with a blog hosted by basic WordPress. You can set up a self-hosted WordPress blog through services such as HostGator.com typically for around $10 a month.

Build a Following

In addition to posting articles on your blog at least once a week, visit popular blogs that cover topics related to yours and respond to their blog posts with well-reasoned, noncritical comments. Include your blog address as well as your name when you identify yourself in these comments. After ­doing this for a while, send e-mails to the people running these blogs and ask to write a guest post on a specific topic on which you are especially well-versed. If they agree (some will, some won’t even bother to respond), include a link to your own blog in this post.

Also, offer to write articles on your area of expertise for websites such as ­Huffington Post or any sites that cover your topic (look for a “contact us” page). Writing for well-read news sites can help readers find your blog—and help establish you as an expert on your topic.

If you have a following on social-­media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest, use these to publicize your blog posts.

Write Strong Posts and Headlines

When you sit down to write blog posts, try to write fairly long, detailed posts—think 1,000 words or more—even if that means you don’t write as many posts. There’s lots of information on the Internet—what’s missing is truly in-depth, reasoned thinking. If you provide that, there’s a good chance readers who find you will return again and again.

Don’t worry if you cannot write like Shakespeare—just write like you would speak. Most successful bloggers use a conversational tone, though there are exceptions.

If you are not certain what to write, write posts that answer questions asked by your readers.

Helpful: If you don’t yet have many readers asking questions, visit sites somewhat comparable to yours and skim the reader comments sections of recent posts—perhaps there are questions that spur ideas but that the author of that blog has not addressed.

Create attention-grabbing headlines for your blog posts. If you’re not sure what constitutes a compelling headline, scan the news and entertainment website Buzzfeed.com—the master of this.

Examples: Headlines that promise a widely desired result in a specific time frame—“10 Ways to Lose 10 Pounds by Next Week”…or that contradict the conventional wisdom—“Exercise Won’t Help You Lose Weight”—often get lots of attention.

After you’ve written a headline, reread it to confirm that it contains the keywords that someone searching for the information you are providing is likely to type into a search engine. If your post is about the dangers of reverse mortgages, for example, definitely include the phrase “reverse mortgage” in its title. Example: “5 Surprising Reverse Mortgage Dangers.”

If readers comment negatively on your article, don’t become defensive—some negativity is inevitable on the Internet. Instead, try to engage them in a healthy discussion. Blogs tend to be more popular when their authors are accessible.

That said, blog authors have the ability to delete reader comments. Certainly consider removing comments that are offensive or off topic or that include personal attacks on you or other readers.

Monetize Your Blog

There are three main ways to profit from a blog…

Sell your own product or service. For example, you might offer hourly consulting, an online seminar or a book about your area of expertise.

Helpful: Books can be inexpensively published through Amazon’s CreateSpace or e-published through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

Earn commissions. When you write a blog post that mentions a product, you might be able to earn commissions by including a link to a website that sells this product if your readers click the link and buy the item.

Examples: Amazon.com pays commissions that generally start at 4% (Affiliate-Program.Amazon.com)…CJ Affiliate (CJ.com) lists other sites that pay ­commissions.

Sell ad space. Sign up for Google ­AdSense. Google will find interested advertisers, and you will earn a commission each time one of your readers clicks on one of the ads. How much you might earn per day can vary from a few cents to more than $10, depending on how much ­advertisers bid.