Making Money At Your Blog

‘How do I make money at blogging?’ It’s probably the most frequent question I get.

Making money blogging? Not to start, sorry.

Making money blogging? Not to start, sorry. You will definitely put more into it than you get out of it for awhile.

Think of blogging as being a musician. At first, you play a lot of free or really really cheap gigs. With experience, you get paid. Some people reach the elite ‘rock star’ level but there are plenty of others making their living somewhere between starving artist and Lady Gaga. And that’s probably going to be you. But first, you have to play a lot of free gigs.

If you can’t blog for a year without getting a dime, move on friends. You don’t have the stamina to last in this industry. We need to do the web equivalent of playing in subways with our guitar cases open before someone gives us a paying gig. (Hey, I like this music analogy, maybe I’ll stick with it!)

Here is how people make money at blogging:

1) Advertising
You have probably noticed ads on websites. Someone pays for those! When your website has enough traffic, someone may want a spot on your website. You have some options here:

a) Sell/make them yourself. You can have your own rate sheet, usually in price per 1000 impressions or per click. People are not paying a lot for this. Trust me, I used to try to sell ads on a newspaper website for $150/month and had little success. Start small. Let’s say your blog has 20,000 hits/month and you charge $1 per 1,000 impressions for a small banner ad, that’s legit. You can always raise your prices as better offers come across your table.
b) You can join an ad network. Let’s say the idea of selling ads makes you ill. There are plenty of ad networks you can join (think Google Adsense or Blogher). The pros? They do the selling and all you do is display a snippet of code on your site and keep doing your thing. The ads magically appear and occasionally, you get a check. The cons? They keep 90ish% of that revenue. (And Google Adsense is especially stupid because they will only mail you a check when you make $100… which will take you forever to do. I don’t recommend it!)

Note: The first company that asks to advertise with you might be something sketchy (like in my case, lots of payday loan companies wanted real estate on my personal finance blog). Accepting ads is a dance of balancing the happiness of your readers and your capitalist tendencies. So record a cheesy pop vocal hit once in awhile but keep your core base of fans happy with your innovative music.

2) Paid writing gigs on other blogs/websites

People who like your writing will want you to write for their websites. Starting rate seems to be around $25/post for shorter posts. You can find plenty of paying blog gigs at Problogger’s job board but many people want resumes and at least six month’s experience. (See what I mean about doing your thing for a year before expecting a paid gig?)

3) Affiliate products

Notice how some bloggers recommend books or products? These usually have tracking links and, say,after you click on the book and buy it from, that blog author gets a kickback. It’s a lousy 3% but hey, for not having to do much, it’s kind of nice.

Different products/websites have different affiliate programs you can link into. There are some big players in the space like Commission Junction and Amazon Affiliates.

4) Selling your own products

After awhile you’ll notice that you may have enough material for an ebook or an online video course. Putting this together and selling it is something experienced bloggers do a lot. Clearly by selling your own stuff, you get to keep the most money.

So are there mysterious ways bloggers are making money online? As you see, not really. What they are doing is getting really proficient at blogging then taking that knowledge and using it to build their traffic (sell more ads), write for other websites, recommend products, and create their own products. 

Does it take time? Yes. Can you make money? Yes. Will it be a lot of money? Probably not… but at least not at the beginning. Can you do it? Absolutely.

Connecting With Other Bloggers

What’s one of the best ways to get more traffic to your blog and get better at blogging faster? Being friends with other bloggers.

Blogger friends you know in real life can be a great resource. But let’s say you don’t know any bloggers or, more specifically, you want to talk to other food bloggers to get more specific ideas for your blog called All Mac and Cheese All The Time. (Are there ‘mac and cheese’ blogs? Actually yes there are several!)

Like any relationship, you don’t want to meet bloggers and begin immediately leeching on them. You have to build up a rapport first before you ever ask for a link to your blog, advice, or any other blog-related favor.

Stage 1: Hey I’m Here

The first thing you want to do is let a blogger know you are reading. Yes, part of connecting with other bloggers involves reading their blogs. (If you thought you could get out of this without showing any interest in other people, sorry.)

In this stage, you are simply reacting to another blogger in a way that they notice.

One way to do this is to leave a comment on their blog. Here’s a blog called ‘From Away’ that I commented on:

Key to blog commenting 1) Read the post, 2) Be sincere, and 3) If you want your face to appear, go to and register your email for a free account.

Key to blog commenting 1) Read the post, 2) Be sincere, and 3) If you want your face to appear, go to and register your email for a free account.

As you see, I left a pertinent comment (not just ‘Nice post’) and I linked to my blog in a non-obnoxious way. So if you follow a few blogs and leave comments over the course of a few months, the blog author (in this case Jillian) will get to know you by name and sight, even though you two have never met.

Don’t comment on *every post a blogger does though, makes you seem desperate. Play it cool, dude, you are courting these bloggers.

In the social media world, you can do this by replying, commenting, or liking their blog post. They’ll start seeing your name or Twitter handle and say, “I wonder who this person with fabulous taste is.”

Stage 2: Hey I’m Sharing Your Stuff You’re So Cool

Once you’ve been making yourself visible to the blogger, it’s time to take your relationship to the next level. Now you have to share their stuff to your network.

Here’s my cousin Celina sharing a blog post:


My cousin Celina liked my blog post and shared it with her Facebook friends. Awww. That 'Awww' is how bloggers feel when you share their stuff.

My cousin Celina liked my blog post and shared it with her Facebook friends. Awww. That ‘Awww’ is how bloggers feel when you share their stuff.

So yeah, if you’re a blogger, you can share a link to another blogger’s post on your Facebook page, on your Twitter account, or on your own blog. They’ll notice the traffic spike… and if you do it in a way that associates your name with said traffic spike, they are going to like you. (P.S. The iStockphoto use was completely intentional. If you read the blog you’ll see what I mean.)

Stage 3: Hey Can We Talk Sometime?

So you are becoming something of a blog groupie. You’ve been reading comments, you’ve been sharing their stuff. You have asked nothing of them. This is the way true friendship works people so good job!

Over this time in your blog reading, you are probably going to powerfully connect with a few bloggers because you like their stuff and end up liking them as people. When I think of this, I think of my relationship with J at Budgets are Sexy and Kelly at Almost Frugal. Love them!

Now that you are contacting your bloggers directly, there are any number of things you might want to do with them. You may want to interview them for your blog, or ask them some blog advice… you could want any number of things from them actually.

As a blogger, I get pitched at least once a week (As a former daily blogger, I was pitched way more back then). Here’s a fairly typical email I got last week (Think of this as ‘how not to do this’):

When you contact your new blogger friends, don't do this. Remember it's about relationships people!

When you contact your new blogger friends, don’t do this. Remember it’s about relationships people!

Here’s the thing, even if you do ask for a favor in that first email, at least the people you are talking to will know who you are because you have gone through the first two stages0. What I’m showing above is an email version of a cold sales call. Don’t do this unless you want to face more rejection then acceptance.

If your message is personal and you’ve actually done the thing you are asking the other person to do (like your Facebook page, leave a blog comment, etc.) then you are much more likely to at least get an email back.

Stage 4:  Hey Let’s Do Something Together!

Here’s what’s weird, you are actually going to make friends from blogging. Yeah, like Phil from London who is now one of my best friends… I met him from my blog. Cool right?

If you’ve been corresponding with a blogger, reading their stuff, etc. it might be really cool to do something together. Maybe you do a podcast or guest blog on each other’s sites for a week… It’s up to you really. And now that you are friends with this blogger, you can combine your powers and get more done. More could mean more traffic to your blog but it could also mean more interesting topics/kinds of content, more opportunities to sell your product(s), or other versions of more… In our case, Alice and I got an awesome place to stay in London for three weeks last spring.

If you blog long enough, you will get to this point of having blogger friends. But remember the internet is like real life. You wouldn’t go on a first date and immediately ask the person to be your boyfriend. You wouldn’t go to a job interview without looking around a little at the company’s website. Do your homework and build relationships in the blogosphere and you too will have a great blog that many people you don’t yet know will get to see.

Writing Your First Three Blog Posts

So if you have your blog set up, the only thing to do now is write! Which is great but also can be terrifying.

three-blog-postsWhere do I start? People have asked me. Well, you have to start somewhere.

Think of these first three blog entries as your start. They’ll set the tone for you.

If you are a super planner, you may enjoy figuring out topics way ahead of time. Here’s how I do that.

But if you just want to get through these first three blog posts, pick three days you want these to publish. (Setting a deadline in your mind will force you to produce.)

Write three blog entries (one of each) about the following:

Post 1: An Introduction Blog

I am going to do something that’s a bit embarassing for me. I am going to link here to my very first blog entry back in 2007:

I cringe when I read it but hey, you got to start somewhere. (Wow, I was trying so hard!) But in any case, I set the tone for my personal finance blog in that short five paragraphs and you can too.

Think about answering the following questions in that first post:

Who are you?

What’s this blog about?

Why should I care? (If I was a complete stranger reading your blog, why should I read?)

Now you don’t need to be curing cancer here. This is a blog. You just need to have a unique voice, even if it’s a topic people are already talking about. Sure blog about your life but take a step back from it and think about making the stranger care. Whether it’s eeking out a life lesson, being funny, or showing how-t0s, think about making each blog post useful, personal, and having one topic.

Post 2: An Expertise Post

Now that you’ve introduced yourself, it’s time to show a bit of your topic. Don’t try to talk about *everything* you know about; just take a small topic and address it with confidence. Here are some ideas based on some blogger points of view:

Carpenter- Why You Shouldn’t Be Scared Of A Nail Gun
IT Person- Setting Passwords Even I Can’t Hack
Grocery Store Bagger- Why Paper Bags Are Better Than Plastic

See what I did there. We all have cool perspectives and if you just think of what people ask you about or the most interesting parts of your day, you’ll have plenty of ideas. But just start with one topic. As you see, these are narrow. You’ll use your other ideas for other posts.

Here are three examples of ‘expert’ posts I’ve written:

Post 3: The Other People Post

In this third post, you truly show your range by involving someone else. The idea with involving someone else in your blog is getting people to realize it’s not all about you you you. Also, having other people’s perspectives helps you come up with fresh content.

There are plenty of ways to involve other people in your blog:

  • Interview someone (a regular customer for your business blog, a fellow knitter for your knitting blog, etc.)
  • Ask a question over Facebook or Twitter and summarize the opinions you get. (This is a bit difficult to explain but here’s someone doing that as an example:
  • Write down a list of links to other blog posts you’ve been reading and what you like about them. (Bloggers call it a link roundup sometimes.)

If you want to see some examples of involving other people on this blog, here are some I’ve written:

Congratulations, you’ve written three blog entries! Now schedule them to go online the days you’ve chosen (or sit down on those days and publish them). You’re a blogger now!

If you master these three kinds of posts, you’ll no doubt have more than enough ideas to keep your blog going.

Stay tuned next week for ‘Connecting With Other Bloggers’.

Having fun? Join us for 30 Days of Blogging, a fun free virtual event. Sign up here!

What Blogging Software Is Right For You?

There are plenty of great reasons to blog. Whether you want to position yourself as an expert in your field, drive traffic to your website, or eventually generate a flexible side income, blogging has something for you.

The first question people usually run into is a technical one. I ran into it myself. (‘I just wanna write! I don’t want to think about website stuff.’ Yes, I actually said that once. And look at me now!) But even if you don’t turn into a web developer or nerd, you need to set something up so you can blog. The good news is there are some good options, many of which don’t require too much effort.


Option 1: Wordpress

Wordpress is the biggest blogging software out there. Most everyone I know who is making money at blogging uses this software.

It’s a bit confusing because there are two versions of Wordpress. is a free service where you can create an account and start blogging in minutes. Your domain though will be You also have some restrictions which, quite honestly, you won’t care about when you first start blogging. But when you start having hundreds of posts and start running out of disc space or want to install forum software, will limit you. is the same software but you install it on your own domain (the site you are on runs on software). Once something is on your own domain, you can totally geek out and install whatever templates and other nerdy stuff you want. Like I said, you don’t care about this when you start but you will care about it if you stick with blogging for awhile.

If you are on the fence, start a free blog at and, if and when you get serious, move the posts to on your own domain. Wordpress has export and import tools and the forums will talk you through this. Or you can have a nerd do it for you. In any case, we recommend this to people who are moderately serious about blogging or think they will be someday.

Examples:, the blog you are on right now!


Option 2: Blogger

Blogger is owned by Google, which can be attractive in its own way. But everyone I know who’s started with Blogger has eventually got frustrated by lack of features or run out of space. People who immediately come to mind are Give Me Back My Five Bucks and Budgets Are Sexy who started out on Blogger and moved to Wordpress (the .org software on their own domains).

A pro for Blogger though is you can log in using your Google account and because of its tie in with Google, some have mentioned search engine benefits. Also it is very easy to set up.

This guy and his commenters love Blogger and seem to have some reasons:

Examples: Official Google Blog (of course, right?), Post Secret


Option 3: Tumblr

Out of the three, this is the most ‘out there’ option. Very image driven, this software is mainly used by media companies and 13 year old girls. I saw online someone say Tumblr is like a cross between a blog and a Twitter feed, featuring more frequent shorter updates.

I will say though if you have a photo blog and don’t want a huge array of decisions you need to make about style, etc. as you set up, this is a good option.

Examples: NPR, Downton Abeyonce (a fun combo of Downton Abby pictures with Beyonce lyrics)

Are there more options than this? Of course! Do I want to overwhelm you? No. All the above options are free to start and using them will give you an idea of what you may want so try it out. Because waiting to pick the perfect blogging platform is one more thing that is going to keep you from blogging!

Stay tuned next week for ‘How To Write The First Three Blog Posts’!

For those of you interested in starting a blog or improving the one you have, join us for 30 Days of Blogging. This fun free event is something productive we can all do in March. Sign up here!

Adventures In Microdata (Or How I Got My Face On Google Search Results)

You’ve probably noticed if you’ve done a Google search recently that sometimes, when you look for something, you see some faces. Like this:

OMG it's my face... on the Google!

OMG it’s my face… on the Google!

What about these people? Are they more famous than you? Does Google like them more? As one of these famous people, I can tell you: No. In a few hours you too can enjoy the fame (and ok, the extra website traffic) of having your face on Google. It’s a tale of microdata and rich snippets. So pull up a chair, sit back, and I’ll tell you the tale that got me here.

You need a Google+ profile… with the right info:

Google needs to know I am connected with so I tell them I have an email address with that domain and I am a contributor to that website.

Google needs to know I am connected with so I tell them I have an email address with that domain and I am a contributor to that website.

Summary: Nicole Ouellette (this Nicole Ouellette) is the person connected to Breaking Even.

You need an author page on your website (a place where someone can find all your posts) and you need to insert some author data on one of your blog posts. Wordpress has a plugin to insert data on a post and the software you use might have something like this.

Summary: Nicole Ouellette (that name in the code) is an author on this site. 

Finally you need to go to the Google Rich Snippet Tool and make the two things talk to each other:

Hey Google, I wrote this blog. Are you picking up the data I added to it?

Hey Google, I wrote this blog. Are you picking up the data I added to it?


Sometimes you may have to put your Google+ profile link in:

Here you go, Google.

Here you go, Google.

You can also go here it turns out:

Summary: Nicole Ouellette on this website is the Nicole Ouellette in the Google+ profile.

A day or so from now, you’ll get an email:

Google emailed me, I'm famous!

Google emailed me, I’m famous!

So did my life entirely change since doing this? Not really. I mean I can still go to restaurants without being mobbed but now that I’m revealing this, who knows what’ll happen…

While it won’t alter your life significantly, you have to admit, your face on Google is pretty cool!

[schema type=”person” name=”Nicole Ouellette” email=”” ]

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