Everyone who earns money from their blog has a story about their first sale. Here is how I made first revenue of my blog. My blogging story.
Making money blogging is a dream for almost every beginner. But, it is totally possible.
Until that point your kind of flying blind, not sure if what you’re doing is working.
I remember the day clearly; it was over five years ago in August 2014. I had just started my blog a few weeks prior. One day I opened my email inbox and found a notification that I’d received a commission of $65. By the end of that very first month of blogging I earned $125.
Even though I had limited knowledge at this point about blogging and monetization I was able to earn quick income. I spent time studying what popular blogs did and mimicked what they did. It was an experiment more than anything.
I tested different skills and strategies from different blogs, and I used the strategies that worked with this blog.
If you want to start monetizing your blog and making good money with affiliate marketing, then you’ll need to build a reputable blog.
This post will help you replicate the fast success that I achieved. You’ll learn everything that I learned that helped me earn my very first blog income, into the six-figure full time income this blog generates today.
Now, hitting these kind of numbers your very first month isn’t guaranteed, but with consistent hard work, and taking action on this information in this post you’ll increases your chances of achieving success quickly.
Laying the Foundation for a Profitable Blog
Below you’ll learn the complete blueprint for making as much or MORE than I did in your first 30 days as a new blogger.
As a new blogger there’s a lot to learn. When I started my journey online, I started by subscribing to popular blogs and seeing what they were doing. I learned about building a successful blog from the lessons they learned and the mistakes they made.
When I first started I had no idea what a domain name was, or how hosting even worked. But, I pushed through and made $125 my very first month online.
Deciding to start my blog was one of the best decisions I ever made. But before I started, I made a plan.
These are the five main questions to consider before starting a blog:
- Why are you starting a blog?
- What is your niche?
- What’s the best blogging platform?
- How do you design a blog?
- How do you build traffic?
We’ll go into each of these questions in depth below:
Why are you starting a blog?
There are millions of different reasons to start a blog. My main motivation was to make money. I wanted a passive income stream that would allow me to make money as I slept.
But, not every blog is monetized either. Some blogs exist to share your thoughts with the world, to get clients for your freelance business or agency, or to build a big enough audience to get a book deal.
If your goal is to learn how to make money blogging, then you’ll want to ensure you have a path to monetization from day one, as there are all kinds of ways bloggers make money. I decided that I would monetize my blog via affiliate marketing and Google AdSense.
Before you move forward, answer this question: why do I want to start a blog?
Keep in mind that it’s imperative that you add value to the lives of your readers. Even if your goal is to make money, you should still be providing something useful.
These are the most common ways to provide value via your blog:
- Solve your reader’s problems
- Entertain and make them laugh
- Speak to their beliefs and make them feel understood
- Teach them how to do something new
- Help them accomplish their goals
If you make your blog all about serving and helping your readers, you’ll find they come back again and again. You build trust and become an ally to whatever they’re trying to achieve.
As a result, reader engagement increases across the board.
For example, when I made my first blogging income of $125 I only had around 30 page views per day. But, I was able to make a sale, because I was always focused on adding value to my reader’s lives.
There are multiple routes to monetizing your blog, but these are some of the most common:
- Create and sell online courses
- Join an advertising network like Google AdSense
- Create and email list and sell digital products, courses, and eBooks
- Create sponsored blog posts
- And more
What’s your niche?
A lot of bloggers who are just starting out find it difficult to choose a niche. The biggest fears are choosing the wrong niche, or being afraid to box themselves in.
As a result, a lot of beginners jump from topic to topic never really finding their focus. This not only slows your success, but it makes it more difficult for readers to stick around.
With so many blogs and websites out there, most people come to blogs for a specific purpose. By starting with a narrow niche you give your readers a reason to stick around. Plus, it’s easier to become an expert in a small niche. In time, you can grow your reach by expanding out to related niches.
But, what exactly is a niche?
Your niche is basically the topics you write about. It encompasses the market your blog is in, the audience you speak to, and your unique voice.
The big four niches include:
- Health. Anything related to improving your health, living longer, reducing stress, and more.
- Wealth. How to earn more money, start a business, grow your business, save money, and more.
- Relationships. How to get a girlfriend, improve your relationships, become a better leader, and more.
- Hobbies. This includes any type of hobby niche like golf, pet ownership, preppers and survivalists, learning an instrument, and more.
You can drill much deeper into each of these respective niches as well. For example, this blog is in the digital marketing and make money online niche, which falls under the larger wealth niche.
For another example, let’s say you want to start a blog that teaches people how to get back in a relationship with their exes, that falls under the relationship niche. Or, how about a blog that shows people how to lose fat and gain muscle, that would fall under the health niche.
For this blog, I chose a topic I was knowledgeable and passionate about. I can talk for hours and hours about digital marketing and building websites without running out of things to talk about.
It’s important to choose a niche that you’re knowledgeable about and also has an existing market. As fun as blogging is, it’s a lot more fun when you’re writing for an audience.
If you’re totally stuck choosing your niche, then make sure you read our guide on selecting the perfect niche.
What’s the best blogging platform?
There are a ton of different blogging platforms out there. Spend a little time Googling and you’ll find a ton of different opinions about which platform is best for building your site.
However, most top bloggers will use a self-hosted WordPress installation. Not only is this approach free, but it provides you with a ton of advantages like:
- It’s completely free. WordPress is free and open source. Besides a domain name and hosting you can build out your new blog with very little money invested.
- It’s easy to customize. WordPress has a massive theme and plugin library, you can build virtually any kind of site and add any feature you desire.
- It’s SEO-friendly. WordPress makes ranking in the search engines easier, which is very important for bloggers.
- It’s beginner-friendly. Even if you’ve never built a website before, you can create a professional WordPress site in a single afternoon.
I use a self-hosted WordPress installation here on this blog. Self-hosted means that you’re responsible for your own hosting and domain. For this blog I used Bluehost to host my site and this gave me a free domain name.
Beyond a solid host, you must come up with a unique and memorable domain name. If you don’t have a domain name in mind, then spend some time writing down every possible domain name and then check for their availability.
For my blog I settled on Woblogger.com. This domain speaks directly to my niche and lets readers know that this site will primarily be about blogging. Plus, this domain includes a keyword in the URL, so it helps with search engine rankings.
What WordPress theme should you use?
The great thing about WordPress is that there are thousands of themes to choose from. WordPress themes are how you customize the appearance of your site. You’ll find a massive library of free themes, however it’s recommended to opt for a premium theme.
Premium themes are packed with additional advanced features that make it much easier to grow and monetize your site. Plus, most premium themes aren’t that expensive, so it’s a worthwhile investment in the future of your site.
So far, I’ve been very satisfied with this theme. I get emails from readers all the time complimenting the design. Plus, because of this theme the average visitor duration is over 4 minutes and the bounce rate has decreased to 12.5%, which is a very low bounce rate for most blogs.
How do you start building traffic?
Even with the perfect niche, domain name, WordPress theme, and well-written content, you need traffic if you want to succeed.
Getting reliable search engine traffic is one of the most important parts of blogging. You want your voice to be heard. The only way to do that is to build an engaged audience.
A lot of bloggers quit too early, because they don’t get enough traffic. It hurts to put so much work into your blog, only to have no one read it.
I remember when I first started this blog and was only getting around 30 visitors per day, so monetizing via Google Adsense would not work. Instead, I switched up to affiliate marketing and could monetize my site quickly, even with a small volume of traffic.
Here are the two main ways to start building traffic to your blog:
1. Create high-quality content
They say that “content is king”, but this isn’t 100% true, instead the phrase should be “quality content is king”.
There’s a lot of debate about what makes content high-quality, but keep the following points in mind as you write:
- It aligns with search intent and attempts to be the best resource possible for a given keyword.
- It’s formatted for the web and is easy to read and digest.
- It’s typically over 2,000 words
- It educates, entertains, or helps solve your readers problems
2. Start link building
Once you have a bunch of quality content created it’s time to start building backlinks. Building backlinks does take a lot of time and effort.
But, it’s the only way to improve your search engine rankings.
If you target low competition keywords, then some of your content should start ranking naturally. But, to compete with higher competition keywords you’ll need to backlinks to help you rank.
The first thing you should start with is internal linking. This is the process of linking your blog posts together. This helps to improve readability and keep people on your site longer.
To get started building high-quality backlinks for your site, make sure you dive deep into this post.
How to Become a Successful Affiliate
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to monetize your site.
But, what is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is when you earn a commission from a product that you recommend. In the case of blogging you’ll place affiliate links across your site for products you use. When a visitor clicks on one of your affiliate links and makes a purchase, then you’ll receive a commission. You can learn all about the ins and outs of affiliate marketing in this post.
Understanding how affiliate marketing works is great, but what does it take to become a successful affiliate?
Anyone can achieve success as an affiliate and learn how to make money with affiliate marketing, but it’s not easy. It takes time and consistent hard work to get the results you’re after. Regardless of the person, these three traits will help you succeed:
- Thirst for knowledge
With these three traits I was able to make $125 at the end of my first month blogging and continue to scale those profits upwards ever since.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of how you can succeed with affiliate marketing for beginners:
Target a specific niche
The niche you choose will determine what kinds of products you can recommend and how much money you can make as an affiliate. For example, with this blog I write about all kinds of digital marketing topics and I promote all kinds of products, tools, and resources under that umbrella.
For example, if you want to start a travel blog that shows people how to travel around the world on a budget, then you can earn a commission by recommending travel gear, flights, hotels, Airbnb stays and more.
By targeting a specific niche you’ll be able to focus your efforts, which will lead to more sales and help you make money as fast as possible.
Here are some tips on finding your niche and the perfect blog topics to write about.
Find a high-paying affiliate marketplace
There are all kinds of affiliate networks out there. The best place to find affiliate products is through marketplaces like Clickbank, ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, Affiliate Window, and Rakuten Marketing. In fact, I made my very first sale through the ShareASale affiliate network.
Spend some time going through each of the affiliate networks above. You can sort by market to determine if the niche you’re blogging about will be able to be monetized via affiliate marketing.
For example, here’s a quick look at some of the affiliate categories featured on the Clickbank marketplace:
If you want to monetize your site via affiliate marketing, then you’ll want to ensure there are actually products you can promote and earn a commission from.
Join the right affiliate programs
Another great way to find affiliate products is by joining individual affiliate programs within your niche. Often, these programs can have great payouts and even recurring commissions. Look for affiliate programs that offer a higher commission rate than others.
For example, let’s say you’re starting a blog about pet ownership. Your blog will cover everything about raising a happy and healthy dog in a small apartment.
A quick Google search uncovered a ton of affiliate programs like PetSmart, TruDog, Fitbark, and more.
You can also research your competition to see what affiliate products they’re promoting and then join those very same networks.
Choose the best-selling products to promote
A popular and trusted product will always sell better than a product that no one knows about. For example, let’s look at Amazon.
This smart home camera has over 15,000 reviews and a nearly perfect 5-star ratings.
You can bet that this product has a very high chance of selling well. There’s social proof built right into the product with the high number of reviews and great rating.
While here’s an example of a product we might not want to be an affiliate for.
Although it could be a great product, there’s only a single review at 4-stars. This low level of social proof won’t work in your favor.
For another example, let’s head back to Clickbank. Here’s a quick look at the self-defense category:
On Clickbank you’ll be able to see how much money you can expect to make per sale. Plus, you can sort by ‘Gravity’. This is how Clickbank ranks the quality of the offer. The higher the gravity of the product the more affiliates like you are making, and the better the product converts.
Choose products with a high price point
It is possible to generate an income recommending products with a low price point. But, you’re limiting your ability to make money with your website. The better course of action is to choose products with a high price point.
With this approach you might make less sales overall, but you’ll end up making more per sale. This ensures that you only need a smaller percentage of your audience to convert in order to make a good income with your website.
When you’re reviewing or recommending higher priced products you’ll need to demonstrate the value of what you’re recommending. Make sure you answer the following questions about the product or products you’re recommending:
- Is this a product that I’d use and feel comfortable standing behind?
- Is the general consensus of online reviews positive?
- Is the price point high enough to justify promoting?
- Is the commission rate high enough? Or even recurring?
Build an audience through trust
There are all kinds of affiliate websites out there on the web. But, the most successful ones have taken the time to build trust with their audiences.
Without trust your visitors will not buy anything you recommend.
Think about it as if you’re a trusted friend and advisor to your audience. They’re essentially taking your word for it in purchasing what products you recommend.
Many people who make to make money with affiliate marketing are just looking to make a quick buck. They don’t really care about their audience and you can tell.
But, how do you build trust with your audience?
Glad you asked. Here are three ways you can build trust for the long-term:
1. Create quality content
You should learn everything about the products and services you’re promoting. This will give you access to in-depth information your competitors might not be providing.
By painting an honest picture of the things you’re recommending, you’ll build more credibility and trust in the eyes of your readers. They know that products and services aren’t perfect, so by highlighting the flaws they’re actually more likely to buy.
The quality of your product reviews will make or break your affiliate success.
Nothing will help build your credibility more than a well-written, informative product review. When you think about a product review, it’s you endorsing the product. You’re giving them all the information possible about the product, and what you like about it. Your goal is to demonstrate how you use the product, how it benefits your life, and why your readers would enjoy the product.
If possible, include a “how-to” aspect of your review content. This shows your readers how to use the product and will tangibly explain the benefits of purchasing the product.
It’s not enough to simply throw up a few links here and there and expect the money to rain down.
You need to tell your readers why they need the product, how to get it, and how to use it. When a reader comes across a review-style post, they’re in the research phase, so your post should take them through that process, so they’re ready to buy.
2. Learn about your audience’s pain points
To make money as an affiliate, you need to understand why your readers are considering buying the products you’re recommending.
What pain are they trying to diminish? Or what problem are they trying to solve in their life or business?
The better you understand how the product you’re recommending fits into the lives of your readers, the better.
You’ll be able to craft higher-converting product reviews with this information.
Plus, by showing a deep understanding for your reader’s pain points they’ll trust you more, because it shows that you deeply relate to them.
3. Invest in a quality design
One of the big trust indicators is the design of your site. If your site is cluttered, hard to use, has a low-quality theme, and filled with ads it will not inspire a lot of trust.
A lot of website owners overlook the importance of an easy-to-use website. The moment a visitor lands on your site they’re making micro-judgements about whether they should trust you.
A site that places a focus on the reader experience above all else will see higher conversions. Think about the sites you deem trustworthy and do your best to mimic their designs.
Earlier I mentioned using a StudioPress theme. These themes are high quality and allow you to create a professional website right out of the gate. Just purchase, install, and upload the theme and you’ll have a high-quality blog ready to convert visitors into buyers.
Don’t Give Up on Your Blogging Dreams!
Affiliate marketing and starting a profitable blog takes a lot of work. Most bloggers give up before they’ve given themselves a chance to see any real results. Often, success will happen just after the moment you’ve given up.
By following a plan that works (like the one outlined above) it’s not a matter of if success will occur, but when. With daily execution, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. Try to accomplish one task that’s related to your site every day. If you stay consistent and put in the effort, you’ll start collecting payments before you know it.
In the early days of your blog it’s important to regularly monitor your statistics. The only way to make steady progress is to measure and track what’s working. For example, maybe you have a roundup post titled “Best Podcast Software for Beginners”, by studying your data you’ve found that two of the services you promote convert way higher than the right.
This tells you that your audience finds these software solutions more valuable, so you could create even more in-depth content around these tools.
However, when you’re just starting out, it can make sense to focus on a single affiliate product at a time. This allows you to promote this product, then analyze the data.
This will help you answer questions like:
- What products are converting the best?
- Does my audience prefer one product over the other?
- What kind of content is converting the most sales? Is it single product reviews? Best of roundups? Or something else entirely?
Once you’ve found what works you can continue to publish similar content and maximize that strategy until it isn’t as effective.
Can You Earn $125 in the First 30 Days With Your New Blog?
The short answer is, yes!
Most new bloggers dream of becoming successful affiliate marketers. Waking up every morning to notifications of sales being made while you slept.
I started my blogging journey with affiliate marketing to achieve that same dream.
The results I generated were because of consistent effort and following the plan outlined above.
Making money with your blog requires two things. First, a proven plan. Second, daily execution of that plan.
Before you jump in and build your blog spend some time looking through all of your competitors. Study successful bloggers to see what they’re doing differently. Note how their blogs are structured, how they format their content, and the types of products they promote.
Here’s a quick overview of how you can earn your first $125+ from your brand new blog:
- Create a high-quality blog that looks professional and trustworthy.
- Write high-quality content that’s some of the best in your given niche.
- Sign up for high-quality affiliate marketplaces and niche-specific affiliate networks.
- Promote affiliate products that have a history of selling well.
- Get targeted traffic with proper onsite and offsite SEO.
By now you have everything you need to get started building a profitable affiliate blog, making your first income online, and getting on the path of long-term success. With a solid work ethic you’ll soon be able to publish a profitable blog income report.
Please share your thoughts and successes in the comments below. I love to hear reader success stories, especially about generating your first income online. If you’ve found value in this post, then please share across your favorite social media networks.