Are you wondering if you can really make a blog into a business? Even if it's a personal or lifestyle blog, could you really make money from it?

I know it seems like everyone has a blog. How can you stand out? And how can you actually turn a profit from a blog? This post will dive into how you can make money, grow your following, and becoming a thriving business.

I started my blog for fun, after a rock climbing accident in 2011 that left me with too much time on my hands and lots of couch potato days. I started writing about the mundane things or what I found interesting, and I did this mostly for myself. But then I got sucked in. People started reading, I received comments, and suddenly I was obsessed: I could share things I loved and people cared?!

Quickly, I realized that if I put some time and effort into it, this could turn into something profitable. It took me years of trial and error, failure, but now I can confidently say this is my sole income.

I've been blogging for four years full time and I was recently featured in Business Insider on how I grew my blog into a full blown business that brings in income for both myself and my husband.

This blog is my passion. I can't wait to work on it every day. And I love seeing it grow. Sure, there are ups and downs – not everything I do works out. I've actually tried and failed before to make my blog a full time business. The lessons I learned helped me to establish myself and turn my blog into not just a struggling income, but a powerhouse that employs multiple people. And I was able to do this on my own terms.

Please know, it does take time, energy, and effort to turn a blog into a business. But it's something that is the biggest return on investment and one of the best decisions I've made in my life!

This did not happen over night. There was no luck involved. But if you make a plan, stick to it, work hard, and put yourself out there, you can make it happen.

Before we get into this… I know what you're thinking. “Helene, my blog is different. I blog about {insert topics}, can this work for me?” YES. That's the cool thing about blogging. Whether you want to turn a lifestyle, fitness, fashion, travel, etc. blog into a business, you can do it.

I hope this guide will help you realize that you can profit from your blog, not just in a significant way, but on your own terms.

You have to make the decisions that are right for you. I wanted a blog that let me have the freedom to choose what to write about. This means I had to sacrifice some income along the way. But this also allowed me to exponentially grow in other areas. You don't have to do it all. Focus on what you care about and keep hacking away.

Before we dive deep in this post…

  1. Start a blog

That's it. There is no reason to wait.

Now, let's take the leap from hobby to business blogging.

Why (I Think) Blogs Are Successful

We all have the same basic needs: to be happy, to feel included, and to live life on our own terms. I think blogs give us an outlet for a human relationship. We learn what works best, we find people with similar experiences, and have mutual understandings.

A blog allows us to share things about our life, passions, and curiosities that bring us closer to those we might not otherwise. These are people we can relate to, have similar values, morals, or help us take the next step. The internet is the best place to find exactly what you need. And if you can find it on a blog, and you even like the person behind that blog, it creates a valuable relationship.

Not only can you share your passion, you can also profit from what you share along with your expertise. You just need to do it strategically and with a little help.

My Blogging Start

Sometimes I look at bloggers that seemingly come up over night and think, “wow, I wish that happened to me!” But in truth, it took time. This can absolutely happen for you, but more often than not, it takes time and dedication. If you can stick it out, you can make it work.

I know that I wouldn't be where I am today – working full time with my husband, on this blog, if I didn't work every chance I got. I still had a full time job and on my lunch breaks, in the morning, in the evening, and on weekends, I would dedicate my time to pursuing my blogging goals.

At first, I started slow. I focused first on growing my audience and pageviews. Then, I took a few sponsored posts, I posted ads on my blog, and I even flirted with the idea of group coaching calls. The money started trickling in.

But I was also taking sponsored posts for things I didn't care all that much about. And I realized: if I wanted to create a blog that I personally loved, that could one day be my income, I needed to stop focusing on small things and start fine tuning where I could actually bring in income.

In this post I will share some of my personal anecdotes on making a real income, and turning your blog into a business. As well as tried and tested strategies that can work for you.

Currently, I receive 250,000 – 300,000 pageviews a month. Not only do these people read, they buy. I also have over 120,000 newsletter subscribers as well as social media followers.

Read More: What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Full Time Blogger.

What are your passions?

So often, I get emails from people who are scared to start a blog. They worry that people will judge them, they'll receive mean comments, or, worst of all, that it will fall flat. I'm here to tell you the truth: when you first start, for the most part, no one will care.

There is no wrong or right way to start a blog. When I started I used the free blog site, Blogger, and blogged every day. Most of the time my posts were 300 words long and read by a handful of people.

Now, I use WordPress and I am lucky if I post once a week. The posts are much longer, about 2,000-6,000 words. I learned that it's not at all about quantity, but quality posts that are helpful and unique.

As you start blogging you will start figuring out not only how you want your blog to look, you'll also find what topics you want to write about.

My advice is to just start writing. You will figure out things along the way. I know the learning curve seems steep right now. I promise you, as you go you'll learn more and more.

But please share quality content. This is why we blog, because we want to read something helpful, interesting, insightful. As one of the greatest quotes of all time from the movie Field of Dreams, “if you build it, they will come” goes, you have to first have great content. If your content is lacking the readers will not show up.

This should also carry over to your social media content. Using social media is a great way to bring traffic to your blog as well as keep your followers active and interested in you. Check out this guide to using social media to grow your blog.

Find Your Audience

Forget about niches. Focus on combining your passions with your audience's interest. If you can get people to read an article about cooking and an article about home decor than you can certainly write about both.

Take me for example; I write about blogging, social media, and…. here's the kicker, travel! I find that even though these interests are very different they also overlap. People have an interest in both. I don't believe in having a niche and it still works for me. I think that it can work for anyone. We are all multi-faceted people with diverse interests.

And in case you're wondering, yes, I still rank on Google (that means I come up in search results, aka SEO) when people search for me.

As you continue to write and share about your passions, whether it's one or many, you will continue to grow your audience.

But even more important than having a large audience, is having one that cares about you. That's why it's essential to stay hyper-focused on who your audience is.

I recommend writing out your “audience avatar.” Meaning, write down the interests, wants, needs, and demographics of your audience. This will massively help you write the kinds of articles they care about. And, as cheesy as this sounds, when they care they share. And buy.

A good way to better understand your audience is by paying attention to your analytics. What posts are they clicking on? Where do you get the most comments? I like to look at Google Analytics to get a better understanding of what my audience likes.

Inside of Analytics you can go to Audience > Interests > Overview to get some detailed information about your audience.

Give Them A Reason to Stick Around

One of the best things I've ever done for my blog was to create an email list. It started small and took time to grow. But even with a list size of 2,000 I was able to confidently quit my job after selling my first course.

I know that one of the best ways I'm able to make money is because of my email list. I can drive traffic to my site by letting them know about new posts, send them my favorite tools and products (and those have affiliate links where I receive a commission). Or encourage my followers to check out my social media or buy a product.

At the most essential level, you own your email list. When you establish your blog, your blog gets traffic, that traffic brings in visitors and you need a way to keep in touch with those visitors. You want to remind them that you exist.

Think about how many websites we might visit in a day! An email list is a direct line of contact between you and your followers and potential buyers.

So, how do you get people to actually sign up for your newsletter? Give them an incentive. This can be an exclusive behind-the-scenes, free checklist, access to a resource collection, personal stories, travel deals, you name it! Make this incentive relate to your audience's needs and wants and they will sign up.

Find Your Sweet Spots for Monetization

So far you might be wondering why I haven't talked about ways to make money. And if you're interested in a detailed guide check out this post on making money blogging.

There are so many different ways you can monetize your blog. But you have to do what works for you. While I do occasionally take sponsored posts, I know this isn't an area I care deeply about. I'd rather pick my own interests that I care about and pay for my skin care, clothes, and even travel. That's why I like selling courses

Depending on what kind of blog you have, and as you start blogging regularly, you'll figure out what areas work for you when it comes to monetizing.

Here are some ideas for monetizing:

If you have a lot of traffic try out display ads.

If you like working with brands and also don't mind reaching out, try sponsored posts.

If you enjoy sharing your talents, create an ebook or a course. Or, sell your services as a virtual assistant.

If you talk about something niche affiliate links work well. I also love this because this is passive income!

If you enjoy social media try social media promotion. You can promote products you use or things you love through affiliate links or sponsored social media shares.

If you have a dedicated audience… well you can do all of the above! But I think selling a product and/or referring to affiliates is helpful.

Regardless of how much time you have to dedicate to your blog, I suggest starting small when you start making money. If you suddenly have a blog covered in ads, dozens of sponsored posts, and are selling things right and left, people might back away.

I think it's best for most people to begin with affiliate links. This way, you can share the things you're already using. Places like Amazon, Commission Junction, Awin, Ebates, or just looking up online options for affiliate commission is the best way to start.

Remember, a blog is a lot like your online portfolio. People want to be able to come to your site and get what they need. So provide that, and also start sharing products and services that you already use as a springboard for monetizing your site. It will show that you're trustworthy, while also helping your audience.

When it comes to creating income from your blog you must know your audience. You have to know what their wants and needs are in order to align with their intentions and what they'll actually buy.

Check out this post on 11 surprising ways to make money blogging. I always recommend to diversify what you sell. That way you always have separate income streams and places to fall back in case something doesn't work out one month or the next.

Invest in Yourself

We invest in our education, health, and life, why not our blogs?!

It took me years to invest in my blog. I felt that I had to be making money in order to spend money. But looking back, I wish I spent money on my blog. I know that if I would have, I might have turned a profit a lot sooner.

Spending money on your blog does not at all mean you need to spend thousands or even hundreds. I like sites like Fiverr and Upwork to spend a little bit on blog design, graphics, or help.

Every single cent I have invested in my blog I've gotten back ten-fold.

I know it can feel scary to invest but if you take your time and do some research, you will find the tools, education, and information you need to make the best decision. If you want to move from hobby blogger to professional blogger, I highly recommend these things:

If you're interested, here are 15 things I think are worth it when it comes to investing in your blog. In addition, here are 10 tools every blog needs to make money.

When it comes to turning your blog into a business, I think the above strategies are your best bet. Are you ready to take the leap?!

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