One very popular and reliable method to make money online in your spare time is by creating and writing your own website blog. Blogging is an approach that works for most people because it's simply writing, and you don't have to be a professional writer to do a good job.
What are you passionate about? What do you love to do in your free time? Could you talk about a subject all day long and still have things left to say? Those subjects are going to be your best choices for a blog for one simple reason: you'll be able to create a lot of content about those topics and you'll enjoy doing it.
Blogging Pros vs Cons
There are both positives and negatives when it comes to creating and running a blog. They're quite easy to make and require very little technical knowledge to set up and run, so they're accessible to most people. They can be on any subject matter, and they can create a long-term passive income for you.
The best blogs that make the most money take time to build. I recommend publishing new content at least 3 times a week, and each post should be at least 1,000 words and some could be much more than that. You'll need to continue this pace of writing for years. It shouldn't take years before you start to see traffic to your website and even to start earning some extra cash from it. However, if you want to build a blog that makes a full-time living it can easily take years to build one.
Ultimately, most blogs that are created will fail for one simple reason: the creator stops writing new content. This failure could happen after a single article is posted or a year later, but all successful sites are continually updated with new content. For this reason, if you aren't willing and dedicated enough to continue this project long-term then you shouldn't waste your time with it. If you can stick with it though, it can be a very rewarding way to run a side hustle to make some extra cash and possibly provide a full-time income down the road. Some very successful bloggers can even make tens of thousands of dollars each month.
There are a lot of different ways you can create a blog. Most blogging platforms do not cost any money to use. However, your best options are going to be hosted on your own website and domain name, and the hosting and domain itself do cost a bit of money (about $10/month for hosting and $15/year for a domain name). Of all self-hosted blogging platform options, I highly recommend WordPress.
WordPress was used to build this website, and it's actually the only platform I use. It's not only useful for blogs though - you can create almost any kind of website with it, including e-ecommerce sites. I'm talking about self-hosted WordPress. There are two different versions, so don't get these confused. When you have your own domain name and connect it with a web hosting account that then has WordPress installed on it, that is self-hosted WordPress.
There is also WordPress.com, which can be used to create a WordPress blog without hosting and a domain name, but I really don't recommend using that version because it is extremely limited in capabilities and you don't retain ownership of your site.
With self-hosted WordPress (WordPress.org), creating a blog is almost as easy as writing plain text in a Notepad file. WordPress Themes control the overall look and design of your website, and much of it can be easily customized through a visual editor with a few clicks. WordPress Plugins add extra features to your site to give it additional functionality, like creating an XML Sitemap to provide to Google Search Central. Then you simply create new individual pages by providing the text and/or images for them.
Blog Monetization With Advertising Revenue
One of the easiest ways to start making money from a blog is with advertising revenue. Simple options like Google Adsense allow you to embed advertisements into your website in locations that you choose. Some of these ads pay you a bit each time they are viewed, although most pay when they are clicked by your website visitors.
After signing up with Google Adsense, you can simply embed some code into your site and everything else is automated for you so you can just collect a check each month. This type of advertising revenue also scales reliably so it can make a little bit for a new site with a small audience or make much more when your site grows bigger.
Advertising options like Google Adsense use the CPC, cost-per-click, payment model where you earn for simple ad clicks even if no purchases are made. Another option allows you to be an affiliate to refer sales on physical goods or even services. As an affiliate, you get paid only when you your website visitor clicks an ad on your site and then completes a purchase. While it's more difficult get paid as an affiliate, the earnings can be larger if you can refer a lot of sales.
Ultimately, the method you use to monetize your blog should vary based on your individual situation. It may be worth experimenting with both to see which performs best for you. Some niches will have a lot of advertiser competition and can pay hefty earnings through the Adsense CPC model. Some blogs may teach their visitors various activities that require different physical products to do them, so some of these blogs may be more successful promoting products to earn a commission as an affiliate.
Selling Your Own Blog Products
The most profitable way to monetize a blog is to sell your own products. This could be a physical product that you have created. It could be a service that you offer, or you can even create digital products. Exactly what you sell should heavily depend on what your blog is about and what will benefit or help your audience the most.
When you're selling physical products for someone else as an affiliate, you may only earn 4% - 10% on each sale. Digital product sales offer higher commission rates, but they're still usually 50% or less and won't be perfectly geared or branded for your audience. The point is that when you're selling for others, you make much less money.
Creating and selling your own product can be a lot of work and can sometimes require an investment too. With that said, it is NOT something that you need to do as soon as you create a blog. If you don't keep up with content creation or if your blog is simply not successful, then there is no point creating your own products to sell on that website.
If you want the potential to make money as soon as you create your site, set up Google Adsense. Then work to build your site to make it popular over time - make sure you build an email newsletter list once you start to see regular website traffic too (I'll discuss this in another post). Once you have a large audience, then you can put the time and/or money into creating your own product to sell. If you built your email list then you'll have an easy way to instantly make your first sales when it's done.