So you’ve been blogging as a hobby for a while now, but have recently started thinking ‘how do I take things to the next level?’ The good news is that if you have an established site with a loyal readership and a decent amount of traffic, you’ve already done much of the hard work. Starting a blog, putting yourself out there and gaining a following puts you in a prime position to level up.
Even if you started your blog as a way to express yourself or to connect with like minded people, moving things forward and making money is possible. Maybe it was your goal when you first started. Either way, making an income from doing something you love- something you are already doing anyway, is freaking awesome!
I started blogging in 2015. Back then, I had no idea you could make money with blogging. I did it because I loved it. But within a year, I was making a steady income and now I am a full-time blogger. And let me tell you, I loved blogging when I was making nothing but I love it even more now that it allows me to stay at home and work for myself.
Deciding to turn your blog into a business does come with some key mental shifts though. First, you have to understand that some, maybe even you, will think you are a sell out. You are not. If you are providing your audience with relevant information and helping them, you should not be ashamed with being compensated for your work. Heaven knows I spend way more time blogging than I ever did at my regular full-time job.
Second, if you want your blog to be a business, you have to treat it as such. That means dedication, planning, and sometimes, investing. You can skim along by the seat of your pants when your blog is a hobby but once you decide that you want to make money, you have to think and act like an entrepreneur.
Third, it will be more important than ever to be mentally strong. There will be ups and downs, wins and setbacks. You will want to give up. Often. That is business. But if you learn from your mistakes, and persevere when things are slow going, you can successfully make your blog into a business that consistently brings you an income for years to come.
Here’s how you can go about it:
5 Ways To Turn Your Blog Into A Business
1. Look For Monetization Opportunities
First things first, you’ll need to find ways to monetize. There are a number of methods for doing this, and implementing a few of them is likely to yield the best results.
First, sign up to Google Adsense, as displaying a few ads on your blog allows you to earn a small amount for every click with no additional hassle to you. Plus it gets your readers used to seeing ads on your site.
Second, there are a number of affiliate programs you can get involved with. Amazon Affiliates and Skimlinks are just two that cater to just about any niche. And there are thousands more out there. So do some research and decide which ones would work best for your blog and your readers.
Third, search for sponsored post websites, and add your site to their database to be considered for sponsored work. Many will have restrictions, such as a minimum domain authority or traffic level, but many do not. Especially if you have a really impressive Facebook page or Instagram account. If you do not meet the requirements, keep working at it and apply when you have reached their thresholds.
As well as seeking opportunities for sponsored posts yourself, when your blog reaches a certain level you’ll often find that companies will contact you directly and ask if you’d like to work with them. Be sure to have a clear contact page with working contact details to be able to do this. A media kit is also recommended. If you don’t know how to make one, there are templates on Canva that you can use.
And lastly, it is never too early or too late to start thinking about creating your own products to sell. Those can be either digital or physical. Selling your own products is by far the most time consuming of all the monetization strategies. Especially up front. But it may also yield you a larger and a much more sustainable income.
2. Improve the look of your blog
Improving the aesthetics of your blog can help your blog look more professional, to readers, affiliates and sponsors. And that can help you to not only monetize but to convert readers into buyers too. Customizing your site may be difficult, especially if you are technically challenged. But have no fear. You can find full templates on sites like Etsy which are easy to install and will make your blog beautiful without having to do any coding yourself.
It is easy to love your blog and sometimes we can be very defensive about it’s design. It is important to get non-biased feedback from others to see if your blog’s purpose is evident, it is easy to navigate and it looks aesthetically pleasing. I highly recommend using a service like userbob to get real insight from random users so you can hone in on your message and visual aspects of your blog.
3. Get organized
If you want to blog for money then it’s important to be organized. This includes maintaining a schedule, checklists for repetitive tasks, and ensuring you’re meeting any deadlines you set for yourself and/or by companies that you are working with, just to name a few things you need to stay on top of. Running a successful blog entails many moving parts and requires you to wear many different hats. The more streamlined and organized you can make all of your processes, will help you to keep on top of things and make it much easier for you to be able to contract out certain tasks in the future.
Don’t forget to include things like site maintenance to your schedule and checklists. You’ll want to make sure things like photos and your posts are backed up in case something goes wrong. You can find the cheapest vps service to do this without breaking the bank. Trust me when I say that having backups is vital to keeping your business up and running 24/7. Anticipate and be prepared for downtime and/or loss of information and you will minimize income loss exponentially.
Get a planner, an app or an online system, like Trello. It doesn’t matter which you prefer as long as you use it. Personally, I like to write things down old school in my bullet journal. Being organized will help you make the most of your time and will help you turn your blog into a business much faster as well as be able to scale easier.
4. Be consistent
If anyone asks me how I was able to take my hobby blog to business, my answer is always this: consistency and perseverance. That’s it. As simple as that sounds, it is actually quite difficult when you are self-employed. It’s easy to get distracted. It’s easy to give up without someone above you pushing you forward. And it’s super easy to get complacent and lazy. Believe me, I know.
The internet is all about fresh and new. That is why you must consistently be putting out new content. In the form of posts, emails, products and social media. You can not disappear for weeks or months at a time and expect to pick up where you left off. Make a commitment to yourself and your readers to show up every day in some way and you will be rewarded monetarily.
If you struggle with content creation, check out my ebook here.
5. Register as self employed
Finally, once your blog is earning money then the tax authorities will want to know about it. You’ll need to register as self-employed so that everything is above board, and from there you fill in a tax return once a year. Get into the habit of saving 20% of your profits as you earn them so that you can pay your tax when it’s due.
I know many of you are weary about claiming your income, especially if you earn very little. But trust me when I say, you need to claim your income and it can actually be beneficial if you do. You know all those courses and plug-ins you have bought? Write-off. That conference you went to? Write-off. Laptop, microphone, planner? Yeah. Write-off. But don’t rely on me, ask a professional accountant.
You are far better off to claim and pay a little tax now then get caught 10 years from now and have to try and find all of your deductions plus pay late fees. I’ve seen it happen. Don’t think it can’t happen to you.
Turning your hobby blog into a business is not easy or fast for most of us. But following the above simple steps will get you on your way to earning a consistent income. If making money from your blog is your dream, start taking the steps today. Your future self will thank you.