If you want to learn how to make money blogging in 2020, you need to ditch the cookie-cutter advice you’ve been reading.
“Expert” bloggers tend to give you generic advice like write about your passions, stay consistent, form good writing habits, and create great content.
The hard truth is, it doesn’t have to take you years – there’s just a lot of bad advice out there.
To make life-changing money from your blog as fast as possible, you need to start thinking like a CEO and developing systems to scale your blog like a startup, not a hobby.
I’ve worked for high growth startups, and some of the best CMOs, VPs, and Growth Marketers out there. And what did I learn?
Most blogging advice is harmful, not helpful.
You’re sold the dream of passive income and the ability to make money online while you sleep, all while 95% of bloggers still fail. And yet, these “experts” that started over 10 years ago are the only ones profiting the most from blogging.
So I started this blog in January 2019 to track my progress as a brand new blogger using everything I learned in the startup world.
Here’s the first thing I learned – you need to focus less on writing and more on creating systems to scale your blog at startup speed.
Remember, you’re a business owner, not just a blogger.
There are a lot of things I wish I knew before I started my blog. I hope this post helps give you some fresh ideas.
Using the tactics I outline below, I started generating $35k/month by month nine.
And as you can see from my Blog Income Reports, I’m currently making over $80k from this blog.
This guide covers SEO, keyword research, content marketing, WordPress, and affiliate marketing so that you can make more money blogging this year.
Let’s get started.
Before anything else, you need to learn how to start a blog. The first step is getting web hosting and a domain name. I recommend Bluehost as it’s the #1 recommended host by WordPress and has more than enough features to do everything outlined in this guide.
ou can get started with Bluehost for $2.95/month (63% off) with my link.
This article is all about making money this year – I won’t give you a vague list of options like affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, online courses, or advertising.
Instead, we’ll focus on scaling your blog like a startup by choosing your niche, scaling your content, and monetizing your blog to make $10,000/month in 90 days.
Let’s scale your new blog like a startup.
There’s a reason that 95% of bloggers fail, and it’s not why you think.
The current myth is that bloggers fail because they aren’t “passionate enough.”
“Push through failure to succeed,” they say.
Google “why bloggers fail,” and you get the same answer from the #1 result: bloggers fail because they aren’t passionate enough.
I officially reject this notion.
The real reason bloggers fail is the same reason that any business fails: it’s not profitable.
Take my passions, for example.
I’m passionate about a lot of things – drumming, flying airplanes, traveling, astronomy, distance running, personal development, Detroit-style pizza, etc.
However, if I wrote an endless amount of blog posts about one of these topics without making any money, I’d burn out 100% of the time.
Additionally, some bloggers claim, “I’m not in it for the money” or, “It’s just a hobby.”
Hobby bloggers are just new bloggers that don’t know how to make money yet. In any creative digital field – whether it’s design, web development, photography, copywriting, or video editing – there are beginners and experts.
And since most bloggers start as beginners by writing about a passion and try to figure everything else out later, they’re destined to fail.
Plus, blogging advice is outdated, written only to rank on Google, and encourages a generalized approach to appeal to the broadest possible audience.
Bloggers don’t fail because of a lack of passion (they have that in spades).
Bloggers fail because they can’t transition from blogger to business owner.
So they choose a non-lucrative niche targeting a low-value audience. New bloggers forget to leverage networking and connections to their strategic advantage. And they don’t have enough market demand to scale traffic.
I want you to succeed.
Before launching your blog, it’s crucial to choose your niche based not on passions, but three business factors: audience budget potential, professional leverage, and market demand.
To offer a valuable product on your blog, you need to solve a pain point for your audience. That’s obvious.
As a blogger, you should deeply understand your audience’s challenges so that you can offer the most in-demand solution. Check.
Start by looking at niches where you’re a member of the target audience yourself. This way, your domain expertise shines through faster.
But don’t think that after you’ve gotten that far, you should open up a generic list of 100 niches and narrow it down that way. Watercolors? K-Pop? Travel? Good luck with that.
What is the #1 most important factor when choosing your blog’s niche?
How much your audience is willing to spend.
It’s that simple.
Let’s break it down.
So in this example, let’s say you’re planning to start a blog in the home design niche.
Your blog topics may pull in different readers. Visitors could include professional interior designers, college design students, and even stay-at-home moms who want the latest home decor inspiration.
To monetize this niche, you would create a new blog and move your readers down the sales funnel:
Nothing is wrong with this approach – this tends to be what most bloggers do, and it can earn some passive income after a couple of years of building your audience.
But is it a lucrative audience? Stay-at-home moms, college students, and a few professionals with an average salary?
Here’s the secret.
By changing just one word in your niche, you can increase your blog’s income potential by 200x.
All you do is change “home design” to “retail design.”
Let me explain.
By adding a B2B component, you just shifted your audience from individuals to businesses and increased your blog’s income potential by 200x.
Think about it this way. If you’re selling to large businesses instead of individuals, you make more money for two reasons. The first is that they have more funds available. Second, it’s not coming out of their own pocket.
Here’s the good part: while the B2C “home design” monetization stopped at a $300 course, the B2B “retail design” niche doesn’t just stop there.
After you build your professional brand, you become known as a B2B design expert. This influence allows your price to jump from a $20 affiliate commission or a $300 course – to a $5,000/month recurring consulting service.
Understanding your audience’s pain points isn’t enough.
To 200x your revenue potential, your audience needs to be in a lucrative B2B niche and pay a monthly recurring basis.
To recap, when choosing your niche, rather than worrying about your passions and getting thousands of passive, low-value site visitors, focus on closing 2-3 high-value clients.
With this approach, I hope you’re beginning to understand why I truly believe you can make $10,000/month in 90 days with a new blog.
After uncovering a lucrative audience to provide value to, the next step is to discover the strategic advantages you may have over others.
To build a truly successful blog, you first need to build influence. And to build authority, you need to step outside of your comfort zone and leverage your connections, professional experience, and everything at your disposal like never before.
You will also be performing a lot of outreach to make new connections.
Outreach includes building relationships so you can guest post on authoritative sites in your niche. These posts give you get relevant, high Domain Authority (DA) backlinks for SEO, which is still one of the best ways to rise in the Google search rankings. And according to Broadband Search’s recent Internet statistics from 2019, Google process 3.5 billion searches per day – or over 40,000 every second. There’s plenty of traffic to go around.
And when you’re just starting, you may not have many connections or published content out there. You might say: “Why would anyone feature me?”
Leveraging your background helps tremendously.
For example, if you’re a photographer, you might have a base of clients, contacts from local meet-up groups, and even know photography influencers that you met in the past. If you can leverage these contacts in the future, you can accelerate the growth of your blog.
Before you get started, you need to do some research and see if people search for the topics you want to write about – and they are monetizable.
The two main types of monetizable keywords are “best” list posts and “how-to” guides.
These two main types of keywords have the most affiliate marketing revenue potential.
For example, in the case of the “best” list posts:
When people are searching for the “best” something, they are looking for long-form guides recommending products that are written by bloggers. Most of these will have good affiliate programs to join and promote.
In the case of “how-to” guides, these could be:
These how-to guides are long-form tutorials packed with high-quality content. These are also good for adding affiliate links.
Once you understand your leverage and passions, take your chosen niche, and come up with the top 10 keywords to target.
With GrowthBar, you can do your keyword research right while you’re searching on Google.
Here are some strategies to keep in mind when it comes to keyword research.
If your top 5 keywords have search volumes of at least 5,000, this shows that there is interest in these topics. Here’s an example of my target keyword in this blog post:
After that, look at the keyword difficulty score (a number from 0 to 100 on how difficult it will be to rank for the keyword).
If your keywords have difficulty scores of 80 or higher, the competition may be too fierce for you to make an impact.
Shoot for target keywords with over 2,000 monthly searches and under a 50 difficulty score so that you can potentially get more traffic with less competition.
Another way to view competition is to use an SEO tool like Ahrefs to see search engine results page (SERP) data. Specifically, look for the Domain Rating (DR) of the first page results and the SERP position history.
If the top 10 results all have a DR over 70, your new blog with a DR of 0 is not going to get on page one, thus getting no traffic.
However, if you see a website with a DR under 50 on page one, that’s a good indication that you can outrank them over time with quality content.
Lastly, if the SERP position history hasn’t budged over the last six months, that means that positions #1 – 5 have stayed in the same spot. In these cases, the competition may be too intense for that keyword.
To recap, when researching your blog’s market demand, shoot for topics that have keywords with:
To summarize, focus less on writing and more on keyword research – every single blog post needs to target one keyword.
Make sure to choose your niche based on audience budget potential, professional leverage, and market demand.
Find an audience that you’re a part of and understand their challenges personally. Up-level that audience to make sure there’s a B2B component to 200x your revenue potential. Leverage your network, job experience, and everything else at your disposal. And make sure your niche has market demand.
Because in the end, passion doesn’t create money; money creates passion.
Ready to get started? Try Bluehost for $2.95/month (63% off) with my link.
What if I told you that your blog’s first 90 days has nothing to do with your blog and you won’t write a single word?
What if the secret to scaling and making money blogging doesn’t include blogging?
What if everything taught about growing a new blog has limited your growth?
Remember: you’re a business owner, not just a blogger.
From days 0 to 90, you shouldn’t be focusing your energy on writing first drafts. I won’t give the same old, outdated advice. I refuse to talk about how to write about your passions, follow an editorial calendar, writing habits, writing consistency, (or anything about writing for that matter).
Instead, we’re going to scale your blog like a startup and build credibility in your niche faster.
One big way to do that is to get writing help. Instead of writing every single first draft yourself, you can use a service like Fiverr to find freelance writers. There are plenty of writers that provide blog post writing services so that you can spend your time editing, publishing, and link building
By using this system for the first year after launch, my blog received over 5,000 backlinks from 1,000+ domains and a +74 Domain Rating (DR) increase.
Most importantly, I continued to see huge year over year gain in traffic:
If you’re a blogger that wants to focus on writing, consistency, passion, and habits, you can stop reading here.
But if you’re one of the like-minded people that’s serious about growing your blog like a CEO (and not a hobby blogger), let’s start monetizing.
Before you start building relationships with other bloggers and influencers in your niche, you have to understand one central theme. You have to provide value to others. Don’t go into the process of building a relationship just thinking about what you’ll get out of the deal. First, you need to focus on the benefits you’ll give others.
Ask yourself: what value are you providing in the relationship?
The first step in pitching is understanding your value and what you can do to help. This information will be vital in your initial email outreach strategy.
First, create a targeted list of sites.
Once you understand the value you can provide, it’s time to start building your blog outreach list. This list should be a simple spreadsheet with five columns: Website, Name, Email Address, Status, etc.
To begin populating your spreadsheet, look up the target blog’s monthly site visitors and Domain Authority (DA) by plugging their URL into an SEO tool like Ahrefs. Aim for blogs with a Domain Authority of 50+.
Remember, the higher the DA, the stronger the partnership potential, and the more SEO impact you’ll receive from the relationship. To save time during your search, find an article like this one with the top blogs and websites accepting guest posts in 2020, with Domain Authority scores.
Once you’ve pared down your list of blogs based on the criteria above It’s time to find the right person to contact.
First, use LinkedIn.
Start by filtering your search results by the blog’s company page, then within the company, search for people by using terms like: “Content Manager,” “SEO Manager,” “Editor,” or simply, “Content.”
After you find 2-3 potential contacts, connect with them on LinkedIn. 2nd degree LinkedIn connections are better than 3rd – and if you have a mutual contact, even better. Don’t spend too much time on your connection message either, often your text gets buried or comes off as spammy.
Once you’ve reached out on LinkedIn, use an email tool like Hunter.io to scan the blog for email addresses. Even if you can’t find the contact’s exact email address, Hunter.io shows your email structure, such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Add this contact information into your spreadsheet.
Valuable blogging relationships provide content and links. Once you have a list of 50-100 potential contacts and have reached out on LinkedIn, it’s time to start your email outreach.
You can scale your guest blogging strategy by using an email template to start the relationship while asking to guest post at the same time.
Here’s a sample template thatThat’s it.
By using a guest post email template and knowing how to start an email greeting, you save time and scale your process by starting a relationship and pitching a guest post at the same time.
Once your contact responds to your email and says they are interested in a guest post, you need to pitch the perfect topic.
There are four main criteria for the perfect guest blogging topic pitch:
Once your topic is accepted, you can move onto the heart of your guest blogging strategy.
In January 2019, I conducted a guest blogging experiment. My goal was to contribute as many guest posts as I could within 15 days to measure its impact on my site’s SEO metrics and traffic.
Here were the results after 15 days:
The results were clear – guest posting on high DA sites still greatly impacts a new blog’s SEO. With 65% of marketers saying that link building is the toughest SEO tactic to master, it can also be the most rewarding.
That’s why I recommend launching a blog with 5 “pillar posts” – long-form, SEO-optimized articles built for inbound links. Add statistics, infographics, and case studies to making linking easier.
Even as my blog ages, I still aim to contribute at least one guest posts for every post I write for my blog.
Remember, when you’re first learning how to make money blogging, focus more on the business and relationship side of things and less on writing.
However, the content quality of your guest posts is important. Make sure to properly use headings, paragraph text, and links to your content. Follow the guest post guidelines closely and use one of the best grammar checker tools if you want to improve the quality of your writing.
There are a lot of options when it comes to making money blogging – affiliate marketing, ads, online courses, one-on-one coaching, consulting, sponsored posts, selling physical products, etc. Some of these income streams require more traffic than others.
That’s why it’s essential to plan your future revenue-driving strategy with the right forms of monetization at the right points in your blog’s lifecycle.
For example, if you just created a new travel blog, it doesn’t make sense to put ads all over your site. Those tactics require hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors to make good money.
Similarly, you shouldn’t start affiliate marketing and cram a bunch of links everywhere at the beginning either. Generating affiliate marketing revenue can also require thousands of visitors to make a single sale.
Yes, you can eventually get a place where you’re generating “passive income” with affiliate marketing, courses, ad revenue, and digital products, but that can take years.
What if you want to start making money from your blog to quit your job in 3 months?
The good news?
The most lucrative form of blog monetization can be used from Day 1 and doesn’t require much traffic.
Your perfect blog monetization timeline will focus on maximizing revenue in each stage of your blog’s growth.
There are four distinct areas of focus:
It may seem counter-intuitive to start with consulting if you’re a brand new blog without much traffic. However, because you’re building relationships and treating your blog like a business, you can land high-end clients from day one.
This post will first focus on days 1-90 and how to perfect your high-end sales funnel to make money blogging from the start.
Ready to get started? Try Bluehost for $2.95/month (63% off) with my link.
Your sales funnel will be comprised of 5 primary areas leading users down the path to your end goal of a high-end $3,000+ consulting offer. As you scale up traffic, you can focus on lower-priced offers like online courses, affiliate products, sponsored posts, and digital downloads. However, the most lucrative way to monetize a new blog is with an expensive offer from the beginning.
It’s a simple balancing revenue act as you grow your traffic. The newer your blog and the less traffic you have, the higher your price needs to be to compensate:
Low Traffic x High Price = High Traffic x Low Price
Here are the five steps to get prospects down your sales funnel:
For a brand new blog, all that you need is your first five blog posts, a one-page opt-in “freebie,” an email platform and list, and a consulting page.
I’ll repeat it: you’re a business owner, not a blogger.
Think about all those local business websites that look like they’re straight from 1996 – auto mechanics, financial services, real estate sites, etc. They might be lucky to get a few hundred visits/month. But their website is bringing in revenue because they’re filling a need in the market and providing a solution with high-end services.
Your blog must have a service that fills a need in the market from day one.
The early focus of your new blog isn’t to write a bunch of blog posts that no one will find. Instead, focus on having just five high-quality pillar posts, a consulting page, and a dialed-in sales funnel. Your sales outreach will do the rest.
As we discussed, when choosing your niche, you need to have a dialed-in sales funnel with the end goal of converting $3,000+ sales to business clients.
From day one, your goal to make money blogging should be driving traffic to your consulting page. This page needs to be in your top-level navigation, and include keyword research around the terms that your high-end business clients type into Google.
Make sure the page has a professional picture of you and easy ways to contact you.
Your Home page, Start Here page, About page, and blog posts should strategically link to your Consulting page. Also, when contributing guest posts, you should add a link to this page in your guest author bio. Here’s what mine looks like with links in bold:
Adam Enfroy is a content marketing consultant and blogger. He lives in Austin, TX, and writes about how to blog like a startup at adamenfroy.com.
When building your sales funnel, you need to use email marketing software coupled with an on-site email opt-in tool to generate the most email subscribers.
What’s the magic formula?
ConvertKit is the best email marketing tool for bloggers.
It’s great for a few main reasons:
Think about it. If a sales professional was trying to close a $3,000 deal, what kind of email would they send? It would be a text-based email based on a healthy relationship, not an impersonal, image-heavy marketing email.
In unison with the email platform, OptinMonster is the best email opt-in tool out there. It’s a WordPress plugin that you can easily integrate with your blog (and ConvertKit) to generate more email subscribers.
With OptinMonster, you create different types of opt-ins, including exit-intent pop-ups, sidebar opt-ins, and even forms within your blog posts themselves. I have one exit-intent pop-up, one sidebar opt-in, one on specific pages, and one at the end of blog posts.
Bloggers are making money in all kinds of ways. Successful bloggers can make over 7-figures/year, while other bloggers might be generating no income at all. A goal that many bloggers tell you to shoot for is $2,000/month in recurring income within one year. However, with my monetization strategies below, I made $17k of monthly recurring revenue in the first 90 days.
So let’s start monetizing your blog.
You’ve chosen your blog’s niche, outsourced your content, and planned your blog monetization timeline. It’s time to learn how much money you can make blogging in 90 days.
Before you tackle this plan, you will need:
Once you have these covered and launch your blog, your 90-day blog monetization plan can begin.
You’ll notice that this plan to make money blogging consists of almost 100% outreach.
Since you have your original content, sales funnel, and blog posts published, you maximize impact by building relationships and getting backlinks.
The main outreach targets include influencer relationships, your professional network, your high-end client personas, and blogging communities.
It’s time to scale your blog like a startup in 90 days.
Let’s earn some real, life-changing money blogging.
Goals: Begin influencer outreach, get five guest post topics approved, get 2nd tier professional connections, join communities on a blogging platform.
Goals: Get the first two guest posts published, get approved to contribute five more guest posts, outreach to high-end B2B client personas.
Goals: Outreach to high-end B2B client personas, get two more guest posts published, begin link network.
Reminder: this blog post covers the first four weeks to help you make money blogging. If you want a free 10,000+ word email course, a 7-Day Blog Launch Checklist, and your full 90-day plan to make $10k, you can sign up for my email list below.
To recap how I want you to think about how to make money blogging, look at it this way:
To earn $10,000 in monthly recurring revenue from your blog, you either need to:
A. Sell 200 affiliate marketing products at $50 per sale every month. Or B. Close 3-4 high-end consulting deals. Which is easier? The affiliate marketing option may require 25,000-50,000+ monthly site visitors; the consulting option only requires a little expertise and a sales funnel.
Ready to make money blogging? Try Bluehost for $2.95/month (63% off) with my link.
Yes, you absolutely can make a living blogging and it can be very lucrative. However, the harsh truth is that the vast majority of bloggers do not make enough money to support themselves. I launched this blog in 2019 and as you can see in my Blog Income Reports, I make over $74,000 per month from this blog.
If you’re just starting out, it can take a little bit of time to start accumulating an income. During the early days, bloggers should offer consulting and coaching services to earn a higher income in exchange for their time. Since traffic levels are low at the beginning, turning those visitors into customers with a higher-priced offer makes the most sense.
After you have some steady consulting income rolling in and traffic levels increase, bloggers can then add affiliate links, digital products, and ads to their blog.
The amount of money that bloggers make varies widely. According to a ProBlogger Report, earnings per month are broken out as follows:
1. Almost 38% of bloggers make less than $10.
2. 10% of bloggers earn between $10 and $99.
3. 17% of bloggers earn between $100 and $499.
4. 7% earn between $500 and $999.
5. 9% earn between $1,000 and $9,999.
6. 4% earn $10,000 or higher.
Yes, bloggers must pay taxes on their income, regardless if they’re an LLC, S Corp, or sole proprietorship. Different income streams require different tax liabilities.
For example, if you sell products on your blog, you need to collect sales taxes only if your customer lives within your tax nexus (in the US, this is typically the state you reside in). Most ecommerce platforms take care of these calculations for you.
If you generate income from affiliate programs, the companies you are promoting treat you as a 1099 independent contractor.
No matter your entity type, you need to use accounting software and keep a good record of your books for tax season.
The short answer is no, you don’t need an LLC to run a blog. You can start out as a sole proprietor and include your income with your personal taxes. However, once you start making a sizeable income, there are tax advantages to creating an LLC or S Corp.
Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post is the world’s richest blogger. She founded her company in 2005 and now makes over $2 million per month from her news website.
Another wealthy blogger is Michael Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch. He brings in around $800,000 per month from his technology blog.
By selecting your niche based on market factors and B2B components, you 200x your blog’s revenue potential.
By scaling your content strategy and outsourcing aspects of your writing process, you 200x your backlink acquisition and Domain Authority (DA).
Finally, by choosing the right high-end blog monetization strategies from Day 1, you can make life-changing money as a blogger within 90 days, not five years.
Using these tactics in the first year of my new blog, I started making $35k/month by month 9, got 7.1k backlinks from 1,000 new referring domains, increased my Domain Rating from 0 to 73 and my traffic from 0 to 250,000+ readers/month.
I hope this article helped you learn how to make money blogging in 2020. Join my email list for my full 2019 blog income report where I highlight how I made $203k in my blog’s first year.