What is a blog and how does it work? Can you really make money blogging? How much do bloggers make?
Over the years, I have received many questions about blogging. People want to know what is a blog, how they work, is it really a way for people to make money, and so on.
I completely understand all of the questions. While blogging has now been around for more than a decade, it’s still a fairly new way to earn money. I still have people give me funny looks when I tell them what I do for a living.
But, I didn’t really know what a blog was when I first started mine. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.
I didn’t know how people made money from blogs or anything else like that.
Pretty much everything I learned about blogging was through trial and error, and I made a lot of mistakes over the years, haha! Honestly, it’s because of those mistakes that I’m where I am right now.
My life has completely changed because of blogging. I was able to quit a job I didn’t love, I travel full-time, and I can retire pretty much whenever I want.
It’s funny to think about how far I’ve come, especially since I had no idea what blogs even were.
Back then, I also never realized that you could learn how to earn money blogging. I don’t think I even looked into it because that was never my goal when I first learned how to start a blog. I certainly never thought blogging would drastically change my future, but I’m so glad I gave it a shot.
I had so many questions when I started my blog, and I learned 99% of what I know the hard way – by making mistakes.
I know that many new bloggers probably have some of the same questions I had because I receive hundreds of emails a day from readers asking how to start a blog, how to make a living through blogging, and more.
Today, I’m going to help you by answering some of the most common questions I receive about blogging.
Some of the questions I talk about include:
- Is 2021 too late to start a website/blog?
- How do I come up with a blog name?
- What blogs make the most money?
- How do you design a blog?
- How many views do you need to make money blogging?
- How many blog posts should I have before launching?
- How do I get my blog noticed by Google?
- How long until a blog makes money?
- How do blogs make money?
- How do bloggers get paid?
I know that blogging can seem scary in the beginning, but remember that most other bloggers were in the exact same place you were when they started.
Blogging, just like any other hobby or job you start, takes time to learn what you’re doing. You have to do research, read about what other people have done, and learn as you go.
For some people this can be frustrating at first, but good things always do take time.
Blogging isn’t as easy as it looks from the outside. Even the most successful bloggers still spend time learning how to do new things. I am constantly signing up for new courses and learning from other people.
Even though it takes time and can feel difficult, blogging is something you can do. You can earn money blogging so that you can work towards living the life you want.
One of the reasons I love blogging so much is that you can do it all on your own time. You don’t have to learn everything at once. You can start your blog and grow it at your own pace.
While there is no 100% guarantee that you will be able to earn a full-time living by blogging, I know many bloggers who are full-time and are very happy with it.
Content related to what is a blog:
What is a blog? And your other top questions about blogging.
What is a blog?
Before we begin, I want to go over what is a blog definition and some other basic blogging questions.
A blog is a website.
Google’s definition of a blog is, “a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.”
A blog is content that is written on a website. It usually consists of articles, like the one you are reading right now.
What is a blog used for? Blogs can vary from person to person.
You may create a blog to journal, to teach on a topic, to sell something, to tell a story, and so on. There’s no exact rules about what your blog has to be used for.
What is a blog post? Blog posts are individual entries on a blog. Blog posts usually include text, but they can also have photos, videos, infographics, and more.
An example of a blog post is what you’re reading right now. There is a title, its own URL (that’s the web address), and text where I share in depth information.
Is 2021 too late to start a website/blog?
No, it’s not too late, and you haven’t missed out.
The online world is still so new, and each year there are new ways to monetize and grow your blog.
For example, it wasn’t until the past few years that companies and advertisers started realizing the value of online influencers, such as bloggers, and that means even more opportunities to earn money blogging.
Before that, companies mainly wanted to advertise with celebrities, but it is shifting to bloggers and other online influencers (such as Youtubers and Instagrammers!).
The online world is a huge place and it is just going to keep growing. Every blogger earns a living in slightly different ways, and everyone has a different message and story. Plus, there are so many different ways to earn money blogging, and the options have continued to change and grow since I started blogging.
Of course, because the blogging world keeps changing, there will constantly be new things for you to learn, but that will probably always be the case for managing any kind of business.
So, if you are thinking about starting a blog, today is the day. Don’t let your fears hold you back any further! You can find my free How To Start a Blog Course here.
How do I come up with a blog name?
Deciding on a name for your blog is probably one of the hardest parts of blogging.
Even if you know exactly what you want to blog about and have some articles written, deciding on your blog’s name may be stopping you from actually creating your website and launching it.
I don’t remember how I came up with Making Sense of Cents, but I’m glad I did. It is still catchy, and I receive compliments on it to this day.
Coming up with a blog name shouldn’t lead to stress, so here are my tips for deciding on a blog name:
- Make it easy. My blog name isn’t the easiest for people to spell, and even I sometimes jumble it when I’m spelling it. So, my top tip would be to make sure that your blog name is easy for people to type or spell out loud. I’ve seen blog names that are extremely long, contain words that are difficult to spell, and so on. Instead, you should make it as easy as possible for your readers to find you.
- Think about what you’ll be writing about. Think about the topics you want to write about, who your target audience is, and more, and then jot down descriptive words that are related to each. Brainstorming like this is a good way to come up with a blog name!
- Use a thesaurus to find similar words. If your first or second choices are taken or if you want to see if there are some catchier sounding blog names, using a thesaurus can help you with some new ideas.
- Make it catchy. You may want to think of something funny, use alliteration, or something else to make your blog name catchy and memorable.
- Use your name. If you don’t want something catchy and/or if you think you’re not creative enough, then just use your name. It’s super easy that way, and more and more people are starting to do this.
See, creating a name for your blog can be easy!
What blogs make the most money?
There are many different types of blogs that make money, and you can monetize nearly any kind of blog.
So, how do you determine what to write about?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. I always recommend creating a blog around a topic that you are passionate about, that you are an expert in, that you like, or something else along those lines.
This can make blogging feel fun instead of like a chore.
You can blog about several topics or you can blog about one specific thing, such as personal finance. For me, I cover a ton of different topics here on Making Sense of Cents. I talk about personal finance, life, travel, RVing, sailing, self-help, and more.
Some things that you may want to think about when choosing your blog topic include:
- What are you passionate about? I always recommend that you start by thinking about what you love doing. Perhaps it’s a sport that you really love, crafts, cooking, managing money, travel, or something else. Whatever it is, blogging about your passion is great because that will show in your writing, and your readers will enjoy reading your posts.
- What blogs do you enjoy reading? If you are thinking about starting a blog, I’m assuming it’s because you probably enjoy reading blogs yourself. If that’s the case, then you may want to think about which blogs you really enjoy reading and possibly blog about something similar.
- What are you an expert in? Now, you don’t need to be an expert in your blog’s topic to earn money blogging (more on that below in the next section), but if you are an expert at something, then this could be a topic that you blog about. There are many successful “How-To” websites because people love to learn new things through blogs. And, there is probably something you could teach (everyone’s an expert at something, even if you don’t realize that yet!). Think about the questions your friends and family are always asking you about, topics that you enjoy helping others with, and so on.
- What things do you like learning about? Like I said above, you don’t need to be an expert in a topic to blog about it. People LOVE reading blogs from people who are learning or trying new things. This is because everyone has to start somewhere, and people love following the journey and seeing how something is actually done. So, if you are learning how to earn money blogging, for example, that could be where you start your blog. You can write about all of your mistakes, talk about what you’ve learned, show how you have tried and reviewed different options, and so on.
To learn how to make money with a blog, your blog can be about anything and/or everything. It’s entirely up to you.
Below is a list of possible blog examples and blog topic ideas. The list doesn’t end here either. Choose one, all, or some. It’s all up to you.
- Small business
- Outdoor activities
- Fitness and health
- Inspiration and advice
- Electronics, and more!
That’s the beauty of having a blog – it can be about anything and you can still earn money from it.
There are a few topics I would avoid if you aren’t an expert, like blogging about legal issues, tax issues, or medical advice. You could get someone in a lot of trouble if you gave them the wrong information.
What is the best blogging platform to make money?
Your blog should be self-hosted if you want to earn money blogging. This is actually one of the first things you should do.
I recommend that you start on self-hosted WordPress (this tutorial will help you start your blog the correct way). I cannot say this enough, but I do not recommend Blogger or WordPress.com (you want the self-hosted version, which is WordPress.org – confusing, I know). Buying that $10 domain name from Blogger or GoDaddy does not mean you are self-hosted either.
Unless you self-host your blog, advertisers, companies, and readers will still know you are on Blogger or free WordPress, and that can look unprofessional. Plus, your blog can be deleted at any time and for no reason if you are using a free version, which actually happened to me. Even though you may save some money in the beginning, not being self-hosted can hurt your chances of earning money through your blog.
Seriously, just trust me. Go with self-hosted WordPress, and it will significantly increase your chances of monetizing your blog.
If you want further proof, take a look at my past income reports. You can tell that my blogging income didn’t take off until I switched to WordPress. That right there is a lot of proof that being self-hosted on WordPress is the way to go!
To recap, the positives of being self-hosted on WordPress through Bluehost include:
- Your blog will look more professional meaning you will increase your chances of making money online.
- You will have complete control over your blog.
- You own your blog, and it can’t be deleted for any reason.
How do you design a blog?
To create your blog, I recommend heading to my tutorial: How To Start A WordPress Blog On Bluehost.
After that, you will have three options when it comes to designing your blog:
- Designing your blog on your own
- Paying someone to design your blog
- Purchasing a premade theme (the quickest option and surprisingly affordable)
I usually recommend that a new blogger purchase a premade blog design, such as through Beautiful Dawn Designs. She provides great premade designs for just $45 and this is probably the easiest and quickest design option.
How much do I have to spend before I can earn money blogging?
When I first started my blog, I spent almost NOTHING on blogging expenses.
I spent less than $100 the first year and not too much more in the second year.
In fact, I probably went a few years when I was only spending about 1%-2% of my revenues on blogging expenses.
Now, some of my expenses include:
- My computer
- The actual blog (design, hosting, etc.)
- Courses, guides, and ebooks
- My email (newsletter) list
- Virtual assistant and editor
- Technical management
- Transaction fees
But, you do not need to spend money on all of these things to earn money blogging.
Learn more about my expenses at My Complete List of Monthly Expenses for a Multi Million Dollar Blog.
How many views do you need to make money blogging?
You do not need millions of pageviews per month to earn money blogging, but if you want to increase your income, it will be important to increase your page views.
Every blog is different, and it isn’t always the blogs with the largest number of readers that make the most money. That’s because once you understand what your readers want, understand how to effectively reach out to companies for partnerships, and know how to charge the correct rate, you can make a good income online in many cases, regardless of the amount of pageviews you receive.
But, if you want to increase your pageviews, here are my tips:
- Publish high-quality blog posts. Readers come back to blogs with high-quality and helpful posts. I recommend that your blog posts be at least 750 words, but more wouldn’t hurt either. The majority of my blog posts are around 1,500 to 3,000 words (this one is close to 5,000 words!).
- Be active on Pinterest. Pinterest is one of my top traffic sources. To increase your pageviews with Pinterest, I recommend creating great images, making sure the description and title of your images are catchy, pinning regularly, and only pinning long images. I use Picmonkey to edit all of my images and Tailwind to schedule them.
- Be active on other social media sites. Social media lets you interact with your audience more and can help you expand your audience. Besides Pinterest, you may want to check out Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, and others.
- Post regularly. If you want to earn money blogging, you should publish something at least once a week. Going for weeks or months at a time without a blog post can lead to readers forgetting about you.
- Network with other bloggers. You should look at other bloggers as friends and colleagues, not competition. This means you may want to interact with them on social media, reach out to them via email, attend conferences, and more. Of course, be genuine and give more than you take.
- Guest post. Guest posting is a great way to reach a new audience and helps build partnerships with other bloggers.
- Make sure it’s easy to share your content. I love sharing posts on social media, but it gets frustrating when some blogs make it more difficult than it needs to be. You should always make sure it’s easy for readers to share your content. This could mean making your social media icons easy to find, having all of the info input that is needed for sharing (title, link, and your username), and so on. Also, you should make sure that when someone clicks on one of your sharing icons the title isn’t in CAPS (I’ve seen this too many times). No one wants to share a blog post when it sounds like you’re screaming at them.
- Create catchy headlines. The title of your post is a major factor influencing whether readers click over or not. I like to use the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer to help me with my headlines.
- Learn SEO. SEO (search engine optimization) is not something I could teach in such a small section, but I recommend doing your research and learning more about what it is and how it can help you.
- Make it easy for readers to browse. If you want more pageviews, you should make it as easy as possible for readers to read your other blog posts. Readers should be able to easily find your blog homepage, categories, tags, search bar, and so on. Also, I recommend including links for related posts in every single one of your blog posts.
How often should I blog?
I recommend publishing a blog post at least once a week.
This is because consistency is important when it comes to blogging.
I started out publishing short blog posts a few times a week. Now, I try to do just one long blog post each week. I find that works best for me and Making Sense of Cents.
Others may decide to blog every single day, and some may try every other day. It all depends on what you would like to do.
How many blog posts should I have before launching?
I recommend simply just launching your blog with one blog post. You can continue to add more as you go.
I recommend this because you won’t have a ton of readers in the beginning anyways, so just getting started is going to be your best plan of action.
Too many people overthink this question, which just delays them from actually starting their blog.
What is the ideal length for a blog post?
The ideal length varies. I usually recommend that a blog post be at least 750 words.
For Making Sense of Cents, my blog posts are almost always at least 2,000 words, and I have written some huge whoppers (like this one) that are around 5,000 words too.
The ideal length for your article will depend on your niche, and the topic that you are writing about.
How do I get my blog noticed by Google?
For your blog to be found on Google search results, you’ll want to learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
You can sign up for The SEO Starter Pack (FREE Video Training) – Level up your SEO knowledge in just 60 minutes with this FREE 6-day video training.
How long until a blog makes money?
This is a hard question to answer, and it’s also one of the most common questions I receive.
As you can tell from my past income reports, it took me nearly a year of blogging to start earning a few hundred dollars a month from my blog. After two years of blogging, I was earning several thousands of dollars a month, which was all on the side of my day job.
I know some bloggers who were making thousands of dollars a month after just a few months of blogging. There are bloggers out there who began a year or two after me and are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. There are also other bloggers who aren’t making any money at all.
As you can see, blogging is not a get-rich-quick scheme and there isn’t a timeline for when you will start to earn money blogging. However, if you are serious about it, you never know what it may turn into.
It all depends on you, the effort you put into your blog, whether you have the time to learn how to monetize your blog, and more.
How do blogs make money?
There are several ways to earn money blogging, including:
I go in depth on each way monetization method here – How To Earn Money Blogging: Your Top Questions Answered.
How do bloggers get paid?
Many of you are interested in blogging, but you aren’t sure where the income actually comes from.
How does the money actually get to you?
You receive blogging income from whoever is paying you.
- If it is affiliate marketing you are providing, then you are paid by the company that makes the product or service. When someone buys something or signs up through your link, that’s when you get.
- If someone is paying you to place an advertisement on your website, then you get paid by the company who you are advertising for.
- If you are publishing a sponsored post, then you are paid by the company who is sponsoring that post.
- If you have display ads on your website, such as with Google Adsense, then you are paid by Google or by any number of other companies.
There are many companies and blogging networks out there that you can use to earn money blogging, and they usually pay you through PayPal or with a check in the mail.
What blogging ebooks and courses do you recommend?
It takes a lot of work to grow and build a successful blogging business!
If you want to earn money blogging, then you may want to look into buying ebooks and/or courses that will teach you about the topics that will help you become a better blogger from the very beginning. Plus, there are many blogging secrets that you just can’t find by searching the internet. So, by taking a course or reading an ebook, you will learn the exact steps to take to help you succeed.
I’m almost always taking new blogging-related courses because I know that there is always something new to learn.
Here are the ebooks and courses that I recommend for bloggers:
- Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I share my exact strategy and tips in this very informative online course. If you’re a blogger, then you NEED this course. I show you exactly how to make passive income from blogging, even while you’re sleeping.
- 21 Strategies I Used to Increase My Monthly Page Views from 17k to 400k+ in 10 Months. Lena Gott’s guide is full of great information on how to increase your blog’s page views. If you are feeling stuck or if you are a new blogger, check out this resource! Lena went from 17,000 monthly page views to 400,000 and shares all of her best tips in this guide.
- Making Sense of Sponsored Posts. I launched this course with my sister, Alexis of Fitnancials, in 2018 to help bloggers earn money through sponsored posts. Between the two of us, we earn around $20,000-$30,000 a month from sponsored posts. We teach finding sponsorship deals, maintaining partnerships, and how to always make sure that you are helping your readers.
- My favorite Pinterest course is Pinterest Traffic Avalanche. This course shows you how to get free traffic from Pinterest to your blog. You’ll learn about Pinterest SEO, how to set up Rich Pins, how to create viral content, how to make Pinterest images, all about group boards, and many other valuable Pinterest strategies.
- If you want to learn about Facebook ads, I recommend reading How One Blogger Grew His Blog to Over 2 Million Visitors In A Year.
The blogging ebooks and courses above will help you to create a successful blog. They will show you how to master Facebook, get crazy traffic from Pinterest, grow your blogging income, and more.
If blogging is so great, then why doesn’t everyone do it?
I hear questions like this pretty often. I also get a lot of people asking me, “If it’s so easy, why don’t you just start multiple blogs and make even more money?”
Blogging is not printing money.
It’s not a scam, and it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme.
Learning how to earn money blogging is work, and just like with all jobs – not everyone wants what you want.
And, for every successful blog out there, there are probably hundreds of bloggers who will never earn money blogging. While you can earn money blogging, not all bloggers will.
It would be like saying that 100% of people who start a business will see success. That is just never going to happen – businesses fail, business owners have a change of heart, and others just don’t find it enjoyable.
I know I am always talking about the positives of blogging, but I also like to mention how it’s not the easiest.
After all, if blogging was easy, then everyone would do it and everyone would make thousands of dollars a month.
But as you know, that’s not the case.
Not everyone is going to earn money blogging because it is WORK! Most new bloggers quit just a few months in. A few months is not enough time to see if your blog will be successful. It took me six months before I started to earn money blogging, and I only earned $100. Now, I have made over $5,000,000 from my blog over the years.
It’s funny/weird to think about what life would be like if I would have quit back then.
Just like you, I went from asking “what is a blog?” to where I am now. And, I’m constantly learning new things about blogging and that is one of the reasons why I enjoy it so much.
Once you realize that blogging is hard, you will be ahead of 99% of everyone else in the game. Don’t assume, like most people do, that blogging is easy money.
Starting a blog can be difficult. But, all bloggers start at the same point.
I remember being so lost when I first started my blog. I had to learn everything the hard way – it sure was difficult at times.
But, I have always really enjoyed blogging. I think that is so important when it comes to this type of business – you either need to have passion in your blog and/or passion in what your blog allows you to do in your free time (such as travel or spending more time with your family).
Have other blogging questions?
I have other blog posts similar to this one where I have answered many other blogging questions.
Please head to How To Earn Money Blogging: Your Top Questions Answered for answers to questions such as:
- How does a blogger network with other bloggers?
- What processes do you have with new blog posts?
- In what ways can I start making money from a blog?
- What is affiliate marketing?
- What are sponsored posts?
- What is display advertising?
- Can I create my own product to sell on my blog?
- Do you have to pay taxes on blogging income?
- Where do you get your photos from?
- Why do I need an email list for my blog?
- How do you think of ideas for new blog posts?
I was going to include all of those questions here but that would have made this blog post well over 10,000 words!
What other questions do you have about blogging?