This post may contain affiliate links. Click here to read my full disclosure.
Starting a hobby blog is easy. You choose a domain, decide on a topic, choose your blog host, and BOOM…you can start writing.
But transitioning to a full-time money-making business requires a lot of work.
In the beginning, when I first started writing, I was doing all the wrong things.
First of all, I was spending way too much time in Facebook blogging groups. You know the ones where you share, comment, and pin each other’s posts?
These groups are a massive waste of time and actually work against growing your community. The only groups you should participate in that share each other’s work are those that are closely related to your niche.
For example, if your blog is about parenting, you wouldn’t want to share a bunch of pins on Pinterest related to cooking and fitness and fashion.
Imagine the Pinterest bots’ confusion. They can’t figure out what your site is about if you’re doing #allthethings!
How to Start Making Money with Your Hobby Blog
If you want to turn your hobby blog into a business that actually produces a healthy income, you’re going to have to focus on just a few things.
What to Focus On
1. SEO is King
There are a few ways to make money blogging, but there is no doubt that nailing down an SEO strategy is the #1 way to increase your blog income.
How can I do that, though, Melissa? I’m so glad you asked!
SEO increases your traffic from Google which increases your ad revenue, but the real gains come from affiliate marketing revenue.
Listen to me carefully: You do NOT need 10,000 pageviews to earn thousands of dollars on your blog!
For example, I’m an affiliate for an online dermatologist that pays me $10 per signup. As someone who uses Christian Healthcare Ministries in lieu of traditional health insurance, I have to save money whenever I can.
So I recommend using an online dermatologist, and I shared a review of Apostrophe, the skincare company from which I get prescription tretinoin (Retin-A).
$10 per sign up doesn’t seem like a lot of money. But I’m converting at a rate of 22% for Google SEO traffic.
Last month I had 1,043 visitors to my Apostrophe review from Google, so when the month closed and 233 people had purchased using my coupon code, I earned $2,330 from this single affiliate!
Remember that it only pays out $10 per sale, so when I first started my relationship with them, I wasn’t expecting that I would earn over $2,000 from this one affiliate in a single month.
The key to my success was ranking in Google for multiple terms related to this company and negotiating a coupon code specific for my followers.
I have earned over $6,000 this year from this single affiliate program, and we’re just getting started!
Key Takeaway: People searching for coupon codes and reviews online have a very high intention of purchasing the product.
2. You Need an Affiliate Marketing Strategy
You can purchase all the courses in the world, but if you don’t actually implement the strategies, you’re never going to make more money.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner is a blogger who has nailed down the perfect affiliate strategy. She earns over $100,000 per month on her blog. She teaches her methods in her course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
I am a student of the course, and I will say that I wish I had waited to purchase it until after I purchased Stupid Simple SEO.
Only now am I starting to really increase my income, and I can’t credit Michelle for that. SEO was the answer.
But if you’re itching to spend money on a course that teaches you about affiliate marketing, including which programs to apply for, check out Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
Amazon Associates is a good place to start, but it is not going to pay the bills. Since they reduced commissions, I’m only earning at a rate of approximately 2%, which is simply not good enough.
You need to find your niche and start branching out with different products that you believe in and are passionate about.
Key Takeaway: Don’t sign up for affiliate programs that have nothing to do with your brand or mission. Consider taking a course to learn about affiliate marketing only after you’ve nailed down your SEO strategy.
- 6 Steps to Increase Affiliate Marketing Conversions
- Affiliate Marketing Success Stories
- It’s Not Personal, Karen…I Just HATE Multi-Level Marketing
3. Choose the Right Ad Network
When I first started blogging, I signed up for Google Adsense and installed the script on my site.
Over the next 12 months, I earned a total of just over $300 from ads. It was basically proof of concept. I was getting pageviews. People were visiting my site, and I was excited about that, but I wanted more.
Mediavine is my favorite ad network, but they’ve just increased traffic requirements from 25,000 sessions per month to 50,000 sessions per month.
It’s getting more competitive in the blogging world, and Mediavine is positioning itself to be a very exclusive partner, much like Adthrive (who requires 100,000 pageviews to join).
Don’t get hung up or discouraged by the struggle to reach 50,000 pageviews. Just keep showing up and writing great content for your audience, and you will get there!
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
I launched Perfection Hangover as a personal finance blog which turned into a personal development blog that turned into a blog that supports women chase their dreams and crush their goals.
I’ve found that my audience is looking for support and encouragement and someone that they can relate to.
Don’t get caught up in the one thing. I know we’re supposed to niche down and focus on one or two topics.
But listen to your audience, and whatever is converting, double down on that. If you have no idea what your audience wants, survey them!
You can send an email to your list or simply write a blog post with a link to a free survey site like Survey Monkey asking what your audience values most.
I promise if you just ask, they will respond and tell you everything you need to know.
If you want to turn your hobby blog into a business, you have to start thinking like a CEO.
And if you haven’t started your blog yet, check out my free tutorial on how to start a blog. You’ll save 65% on hosting through my referral link, and I’ll even send you my bonus video tutorial to help you get started!
I’ve done all the things! Girl, I’ve washed my face. I’ve trashed everything that doesn’t spark joy. I’ve walked the baby steps. I’ve cried. I’ve prayed, but my perfectionism has really held me back.
Perfection Hangover can be crippling. Stop comparing yourself to others and start living your best life! That’s why PH exists! I want to encourage you to take control of your money, your blog, and your business.