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How to make money blogging: Five steps

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(Read caption) A student uses an Apple MacBook laptop in his class in Palo Alto, Calif. If you are interested in blogging for money, there are plenty of ways to do so, but it requires a lot of work.

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While starting a blog can be fun and help others, it can also offer you an income. But by no means is this a get-rich-quick business. If you want to create a site that makes real money, be prepared to put in countless hours of work.

As your blog gains popularity and credibility with readers, your articles will start to rank higher on search engines, which would likely result in higher site traffic. And more visits could mean more money if your blog is properly monetized.

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Here are some common ways to monetize your blog.

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Affiliate marketing

With this type of marketing, you can earn a commission for every product you refer a reader to. It basically works like this: let’s say you apply to an affiliate program and get approved. You’d then mention a product in a post and link to the online store featuring the product. If a reader clicks on the link and buys the item, the program will give you a piece of the sale.

One popular example is the Amazon Associates program. Once you’re accepted into the program, your commission could range from 4 to 8.5%, depending on how many products are bought in a given month (the more sold, the higher your rate). So helping to sell $4,000 worth of women’s shoes, for example, could mean $160 to $340 in revenue.

Direct advertising

If your site is getting lots of traffic, it’s prime real estate for advertisers. You can generate income by putting direct advertisements, such as banner ads, on your blog.

One way to do this is by signing up with an advertising service, such as BuySellAds, where you can sell space on your blog. How much you earn from direct ads ultimately depends on the average number of views per month that your site pulls in.

Display advertising

Or you may choose to use display advertising, which follows a different revenue model. The most popular option for bloggers is Google AdSense, as it’s relatively easy to implement and free to use.

It works like this: advertisers choose which keywords they’d like to advertise on. For example, an online florist would likely choose to buy an ad that contains the keywords “flower pots” or “gardening tools.”

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After you install AdSense on your site, it automatically displays relevant text and image ads based on the topics of your blog posts. So if your blog happens to be about planting roses, the site will likely display the advertiser’s gardening tool ad, instead of something unrelated.

When a visitor clicks on the ad, the advertiser will pay you a fee; this is known as the “pay-per-click” system. The average cost-per-click (CPC) is how much an advertiser is willing to pay for a click on the ad. This depends on how valuable the keyword is to advertisers, who bid on keywords to determine the price.

Your AdSense earnings depend on how many page views your site gets, plus the ad click-through-rate (CTR), which is how often readers click on the ad. For example, if your site gets 1,000 views month and your CTR is 2%, with an average CPC of $2, you’ll make $40 in Adsense revenue a month.

Video blogs

Video blogs (or vlogs) are not only fun to make, but also potentially profitable if you get a strong following. Building a loyal viewership by consistently uploading engaging clips is vital to your success.

Joining YouTube’s partner program is a popular monetizing strategy among vloggers. Once you produce and submit a video, Youtube places ads inside or near the video, and you’ll earn revenue every time someone click or views the ad. Payments are then made through a Google AdSense account.

Electronic books

An electronic book, or e-book, displays your expertise on a topic, increasing your credibility with readers and potentially increasing your income.

With smartphones and iPads exploding in popularity, more and more people are reading content online. In fact, the percentage of adults reading e-books increased to 28% in 2013 from 23% at the end of 2012, according to Pew Research.

There are a few places you can sell your e-book. One is through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform, where your e-book will be available to buy via Kindle devices. Other options include PayLoadz, Lulu, Smashwords and BookBaby.

So how much money can you really make blogging?

Well, in a recent survey of 1,500 readers, ProBlogger.net found that roughly half made less than $99 a month from blogging, while about one in five made between $100 and $499. Less than 10% made between $1,000 and $9,999. And those in the top income brackets have been blogging for at least four years, according to the site.

Remember, blogging isn’t a get-rich-quick business; it’s more like starting a company from the ground up. While a few people make enough money doing it to quit their full-time jobs, the majority of bloggers only earn enough for the occasional fancy dinner.