Profitable Niche Blogging? Absolutely!

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Yesterday Darren Rowse wondered if the only bloggers who were earning a living from their own blogs were “make money online” bloggers. To be honest, I used to wonder the same thing myself. As the owner of a network of niche blogs, I can tell you it’s very difficult to monetize this network with advertising. Unless you’re selling courses or ebooks, it’s not so simple to earn money with a writing blog.

Freelance writers don’t have a lot of disposable income. They don’t reach into their pockets to buy impulsively. Private advertisers want their ads on high profile blogs and most freelance writing blogs aren’t high profile. I’d be lying to say the first couple of years trying to monetize this blog weren’t frustrating.

Two Things Every Profitable Blog MUST Have

After two years, FWJ began bringing in about a thousand dollars a month. Not too bad, right?  The problem is, I was looking to earn a full time income. I knew that wouldn’t happen without two things:

  1. Content
  2. Traffic

At the first BlogWorld I went to Jim Kukral‘s session about making money with blogs and he said something I never forgot. If you blog ten pages of content and use a click-based form of revenue such as Adsense, and each page earns ten cents per day, you’ll earn about $30 at the end of the month. If you put up 100 pages of content and each earns ten cents per day, you’ll earn about $300 at the end of each month. If you put up 1,000 pages of content and each page earns ten cents per day, you can earn $3,000 at the end of the month, and so on and so forth. Put up 4,000 pages of content, and you’re a six figure blogger.

Of course, those numbers mean nothing if no one visits my blog. So Instead of monetization, I focused on content and traffic.

Content

As soon as I began putting a full time effort into this blog (and blog network) it took off. My challenge wasn’t only to post content, I had to post good, relevant content…the kind that makes people want to come back for more. I love talking about writing, but it’s hard to write about the same thing every day for five years without sounding redundant. No one wants to read crap.

I read every comment posted here. I ask questions. I take it to Twitter. I learn what interests you the most, I read news and other blogs related to freelance writing, and I do my best to stay current so I can always remain relevant. I talk about the things YOU want to talk about and the things on my mind…and it works.  As I posted more content my page views, traffic and yes, revenue began to rise. I hired other bloggers to write on even nichier freelance writing related topics, and turned this blog into a network in order provide even more good content to the freelance writing community. All that work is paying off.

Traffic

Traffic is more of a challenge now than it was five years ago. At that time, I was only one of a very small handful of bloggers who rocked the writing niche. Nowadays there are dozens, if not hundreds, of freelance writing blogs on the web. Let me rephrase that, there are dozens of really GOOD writing blogs out there.

Thankfully my hard work paid off. I’m able to bring thousands of visitors each day, but I have to stay on my game. In addition to continuing to post content each day, I spend a couple of hours a day visiting blogs and the various social networks to continue to build relationships with freelance writers. I also analyze my traffic stats each day to learn what’s bringing you here and what’s driving you away. Traffic is enjoying a steady rise.

Monetization

In the past year my profit has grown, so much so that I don’t need to take on any writing, blogging or social media clients if I choose not to. After I built up a loyal community, I learned their wants and needs. I analyzed their demographics. I experimented with different types of ads and learned this community were more clickers than buyers. Affiliate advertising doesn’t always do well at this network but click based advertising is being very good to me. Still, a girl can’t live on Google alone. I began to reach out to private advertisers, and they began to reach out to me. I now enjoy a profitable mix of affiliates, clicky ads and private clients. Adsense, my second highest earner, looks to break $1000 for the first time ever this month.

It’s been said by a few freelance writing bloggers that I can’t care about my  community and still want to earn money with my blog, but I disagree. I can absolutely do both.  I mean, why not earn money talking about what I love each day? If I didn’t care about my community, would I be doing this for five years? Why does it have to be selling out to earn from blogging? Why does money automatically disqualify a blogger from caring or offering good content?

You can be a niche blogger and earn good money

“Make Money Online” bloggers aren’t the only ones who can earn a living from their blogs. I may not pull in as much as John Chow or ShoeMoney each month, but I can support myself on this blog’s earnings — even after I pay the other bloggers and technical person who help to keep this place going.

I learned that to make it blogging for myself, I can’t rely on anyone else to get it done for me. I have to work at it every day, even if it takes years. Profitable blogging doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes it takes five years. Are you patient enough to wait it out?

The other day I realized that I can stop blogging today and this network will still continue to earn enough for me to draw a salary and pay the other bloggers. Perseverance definitely pays off.

Still think you can’t monetize your niche?

What questions do you have regarding blogging and earning money?

Comments

  1. Thanks for this post… it gives me hope!

  2. I agree with you! You can have both! I am a niche blogger. I blog about travel and mainly travel to France and Italy. I have been around for three years, and for most of that time, only focused on my blog as a part-time venture. I recently quit my day job to focus on the blog and freelance travel writing on a more full-time basis. I participate in lots of social media outlets and slowly, steadly, have seen increases in both my traffic and revenue. And while my site traffic and income aren’t on par with yours (yet!), I do believe with focus and attention, it can and will be. I’m glad to know it is possible.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Great post. I’ve been following you on Twitter for a while, but now that I’m looking to bring in revenue from writing, it suddenly clicked and so did I. Thanks! Glad you’re doing so well.

  4. Sorry, got to this post through Todd Rutherford, @PublishingGuru on Twitter. All my other praise and thanks apply to your post.

  5. I agree. This post gives me hope too, and it’s a great mini-lesson about monetizing a blog. Great info, and maybe I’ll start working on one of my niche projects that I’ve let dissipate.

  6. I’m wondering what you’d recommend for someone who simply CANNOT put a full-time effort into their blog?

    I spend at least 10-15 hours per week blogging, reading blogs, marketing my blog through social networking etc. But I’m also a full-time student, work part-time and freelance on the side. I want to make more money from my blog but I’m not sure how if I can’t put a full-time effort into it?

    Thanks,
    Amber

    • Hi Amber,

      Before 2009 I didn’t put a full time effort into this blog network but still averaged about $1000 per month. The key is to keep it going. Even if you can only post once a day, be sure to update regularly. Plus use SEO (without it reading like you use SEO), tag your posts, and work diligently on bringing in traffic. If you only have a few hours each week to devote to your blog, write content ahead of time and schedule it to appear each day. Hope that helps?

  7. Ditto Amber. That’s one of my questions, too.

    Also, you say that as soon as you put a full-time effort into the blog, it “took off.” Can you elaborate as to what that means? (for example, During the course of six months, did your income triple? or maybe you were making $500/month within two months? or some such scenario?)

    I’m interested to know because I *could* drop a few extra money-making jobs I have to devote a more concerted full-time effort to my blog, but I wonder how long it would take to replace that income? If I felt that in 3 months, I’d be making xx amount of money, I’d be more likely to go for it. I know there are no guarantees, but I’d love to have a realistic assumption to go on.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Mary,

      Before last year I spent most of my time blogging and writing for clients and, at one point, even working at a full time telecommute job. I only had a few hours each week to devote to this blog network. When I found myself without full time work, I concentrated on doing everything I could to make this blog more profitable. I worked the whole day writing content, researching advertisers, building relationships that can lead to traffic and revenue, and analyzing everything that goes into running this blog.

  8. It is difficult to monetize a writing blog. There isn’t a set of products that freelancers will automatically buy. It takes work, but as you have demonstrated, there are ways to make it work for you. I have seen my own blog ricochet from thousands a month to hundreds than back again. Making money as a blogger isn’t easy, but it is worth it.

    • It’s absolute worth it, John. Advertisers are as feast or famine as freelance writing clients so it’s always a hustle. By the way, I’m so happy to see you back in action at PoeWar. It’s one of my favorites.

  9. I’d also love some advice on upping the ante and making more money on my blogs. I love blogging, but I barely pull in pennies per month. I took Darren’s course last April which was a HUGE help, but I would love more advice on the entire world of blogging.

    • Thanks, Jeanne. Check out Blogging for a Living. Jennifer Chait talks about earning as a freelance blogger while I discuss earning on your own blogs. I’ll do my best to address everyone’s questions.

  10. Bravo! Your questions just reminded me of what really is my blogging problem.
    You see, I’m a Philippines citizen but for some weird reason, foreigners, especially Americans, are the ones who give me traffic.
    That would mean I’d have to have more foreign and American friends (which would be easy if I live in the US). It seems I’m in a trap, doesn’t it?

  11. I’d like to know more about bringing in traffic. Do you have a previous article or suggestions to give or of places to look that I could get more information on that? I post to facebook and digg each time I blog, but I only have about 50 or so steady visitors :(

  12. Thanks for such an encouraging post! Some days are indeed frustrating, but then I remind myself of the reasons I started my blog, the progress it has made, and the awesome freelancers I have been fortunate to connect with. Patience is key!

  13. It’s amazing how saturated the internet is these days with blogs. I think “niche” is the key, as is creativity and uniqueness to separate yourself from the crowds.

  14. All, I actually posted this on the wrong blog in the network – It was supposed to be part of the Blogging for a Living blog. After I realized my mistake I didn’t want to move it because I already Tweeted out the link. Please stay tuned to that blog for the answers to your questions.

    Thanks!

  15. Matt Demers says:

    Thank you for not giving us advice on how to pull in traffic, but rather trumpeting your own accomplishments, as usual. Really helpful, coming from a blog about freelance writing.

  16. Thanks for this post- it was very encouraging.

  17. Deb, I bet you can pull in what John Chow and Shoe are pulling once you have been at monetization as long as they have.

    People don’t realize how much of anything turns out to be simply time in the saddle. Show up every day, do your thing, progress in inches, the competition blooms and fades. I’m sure of it. If I weren’t I’d have packed it in by now.

  18. Thank you so much for this post, Deb. It’s taken me a long time to commit to developing my own blog, and it truly helps to have someone like you as inspiration. Looking around the net, I too thought the only people making money were the “blogging for money” folks. Just like the only way to do marketing online was to market “how to market online” courses. I’m glad to know there is a way to follow my passion and earn a living… At least eventually. Until then, keep writing the world.

  19. I think the same people who thinks bloggers should not be making money from their blogs are the same people who thinks it is ok to get music for free. It is unfair to expect people to give content away for free. I think I do not have this problem is that I have advertising on my site from day one (adsense). No one’s feelings are hurt that “change the rules” on them by putting up advertising later.

  20. I can’t imagine a tougher niche to try and get into and make money from (how to make money). I have blogs in several niches and make a full-time income from my sites. Most of them are on home improvement niches. ;)

  21. Where can I get info on “click based advertising”. I have a growing niche blog network, but no money coming in because I have only recently retired from a job career that kept me busy 14+ hours/day. For the past three months I have been preparing my dream (photographer/writer/journalist/blogger/webmaster) occupation for commercialization. I fully realize I need outstanding content from multiple sources. My other questions are: 1.)Can click based advertising draw in enough advertisers to make a site profitable? 2.)Will product reviews on blogs really make the site money? Is the click based advertisements the only real income a niche site can develop?

    I hope you will answer these questions. I am wondering if this is just a waist of my time.
    .-= KEITH BIRMINGHAM´s last blog ..Camera Equipment =-.

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