It’s very easy to get stuck on the start line when it comes to launching your first blog. I’d love you to just start and figure it out along the way. But there are a few rules to follow when it comes to the types of blogs that make money.
Now I’ve written about this before, and no doubt will again. It’s controversial subject to get right. There are two camps; in the first you can write about anything and in the second you have to write about a short list of topics. These camps are poles apart… and I’m stuck somewhere in the middle.
Groan. You want a definite answer – which camp is right? They both are! Just as long as you follow the rules…
The Rules To Making Money From Blogging
What is she on about? Two camps… rules? Is this the summer silly season. A fluff post written on a whim.
No I’m being serious here. Yes you can write about anything and yes there are some topics that are going to be way more popular. Plus the writing about anything comes with some caveats.
Rule #1 It has to be a topic with an audience.
Write away as much as you want about the mating habits of tsetse flies, and unless it suddenly becomes part of the school curriculum, the audience will be tiny.
A blog about Love Island on the other hand, could have a huge following of 15 to 25 year olds overnight, (with quite a bit of competition).
Competition isn’t a bad sign. It’s a good indicator your audience exists. It’s better to have an audience in a competitive market than no audience at all.
You can dream about finding a big audience with no competition but it’s a bit like chasing pots of gold at the end of rainbows. Eventually you have to accept reality.
Rule #2 The size of the audience limits how much money you can make blogging.
I once read a post from Neil Patel moaning how his audience size limits his growth. I can’t find the article, but you could say he’s big enough anyway, and should probably start taking a holiday or two.
He did have a point. The size of your audience does need to be big enough to fulfill your money making plans. Not all of us are that bothered about making as much money as Neil. (Maybe some day he’ll find some other priorities, but in the mean time, thank you for all the free stuff Neil). But just make sure your audience is big enough.
Rule #3 You have to know how it can make money.
What do I mean by this?
Let’s have an example. I enjoy yoga. It’s a topic I’m writing about a little on my new lifestyle blog. What if my blog was just about yoga?
It’s a hugely popular topic and I’m sure I can gain some traffic. But to make money from yoga the options are selling yoga clothing, mats and yoga equipment or creating yoga courses.
Now I’m not a trained yoga instructor, just an enthusiast. No-one’s going to pay money to watch me demonstrate the downward dog.
I don’t want to start a yoga clothing brand, (been there, done that, got the t-shirt), but I could make money from affiliate marketing. Affiliate links to yoga brands or just through Amazon Associates make about 5% per sale.
It’s not great income, but for some people this may be enough. It all depends on what you’re aiming for. Or how inventive you are.
You could set up a UK version of Gaia (or a German version, or Spanish version). Bring together groups of yoga instructors and sell their videos online via a membership channel.
It’s still blogging related plus you can create this type of site working from home. But it’s a big stretch for most people who just want to start a blog.
Rule 4# Write for your audience
Even with the best intentions, it’s so easy to go wrong with this one. I’m guilty of it! Especially writing for my lifestyle blog. I start writing about places I’ve been to and suddenly I’m full of nostalgia. Instead of writing for my audience, I’m writing about the things I love to do.
Does it matter? Yes. I’m sliding into a hole on my lifestyle blog where I’m writing about some really adventurous activities. I need to remember that most of my readers won’t have a climbing background. Showing off to them writing about “I did this” and “I did that”, isn’t very appealing. The key is to always write for your audience. Always.
Rule 5# Put your best self forward
We have book in our house called The Rules. It’s a humorous book about cycling discipline. Rule No 5 is “Harden the **** up”. A little coarse but I think it applies to blogging.
The “I transformed myself and you can too” format works for a blog and it can be really successful. In fact scarily successful when you consider so many of these blogs are playing fast and loose with the truth. It’s just that “I transformed myself and now I’ve had a really bad spell and I’m back at square one”, just doesn’t cut it.
I’m not saying be dishonest, but you do need to put your best self forward. Your readers want solutions and hope. They want to believe they can solve their problems – lose weight, find a perfect mate, get their life on track, because you have the answers. You can tell them how to do it.
If you can’t give them answers, there’s nothing in it for them. The format must be “This helped me and can help you too”. Knowing someone-else has the same problems will only cut it so far. Most people are reading blogs to find answers, so harden the **** up and supply them.
Rule 6# Make it personal (maybe)
In my book, this rule is contentious. There are plenty of really successful blogs that are totally impersonal. This rule is definitely a maybe!
There are some types of blogs where being personal is essential. Take this one for example. I write about my opinions. I need to put a piece of myself into this blog to build authority. Prove I know what I’m talking about. Demonstrate I have 15+ years experience of making money online.
But this blog could be completely different. I could just supply technical tips for blogging in a totally impersonal way and that would also work. It would just be a blog with facts and advice. I could tell you how to set stuff up and leave out my views on what’s best.
I think Rule 6# can be ignored. Just make sure you’re clear on why you’re ignoring it and be consistent.
The Types Of Blogs That Make Money
Okay let’s list them. I’m going to be brave and stick my neck out. Just note, this is not a complete list. If the type of blog you want to set up isn’t on this list, it doesn’t mean you can’t make money from it. This is a list of the most successful ways to make money blogging.
For example, travel blogs don’t make the list. That doesn’t mean you can ‘t make money from a travel blog, it just isn’t easy. To be authentic you have to visit the places you’re writing about. You have to travel a lot and that takes time and money.
A lot of the subjects I’m writing about on my lifestyle blog don’t make the list such as hiking, climbing and adventure. These subjects just don’t have the same explosive appeal.
This is my assessment. Your blogging topic needs to about something that really matters to a lot of people. Think about human needs, dredge up what you can remember about Maslow. If you’re blogging about a topic with wide appeal, that gives the answers to people’s fears about safety, health, finding a mate, raising a family or becoming a better version of themselves, you’re on the right track.
This is my list:
Personal Finance And Making Money
This can be frugal living, ways of making money or teaching people how to make money from blogging (just like this one).
Now that’s a bit of a worry. Are the only blogs making money, ones that teach you how to make money from blogging?
I’ve already written about the cheap trick of income reports. People start blogs, lie or exaggerate about their income, forget to mention they’re spending tonnes of money on advertising and tell people they have “the answer” to making money from blogging.
But assuming you want to be honest, (you have to live with yourself at the end of the day), legitimate blogs about personal finance are good ways to make money and easy to monetise.
Health And Fitness
If you had the answer to eternal youth, you would be the richest person on the planet. Health and fitness will always be big topics.
Health is an obsession of the human race, always has been and always will be no matter how unhealthy we all become. Tagging onto that is fitness with the added attraction that fit people look good, are perceived to be better at finding a mate… tapping right into Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Bingo! Health and fitness is a great topic that’s easy to monetise.
Diet And Nutrition
Snapping on the heels of health and fitness is the related topic of diet and nutrition. There’s obviously huge overlap but there are subtle differences in the audience.
A lot of long-term dieters are less likely to be keen on exercise and these two subject areas often have completely different audiences. Diet blogs have many different sub categories depending on the target audience. Bloggers in this category really need to know their typical audience.
Food And Healthy Eating
If you can come up with menus and take terrific photos of dishes, you’re onto a winner. Add in the extra kudos of healthy eating or even healthy eating to lose weight and you have a winning blog category.
Pinch of Nom is the best example of this type of blog.
DIY And Crafting
Making things just seems to be huge. It’s an area that hasn’t suffered at all from the changes to our modern lifestyles. If anything, Etsy and Pinterst have just exploded this whole scene.
If you love making things, can write how to guides, film video clips and take great photos of your creations, this is a really good option.
This does overlap with DIY and crafting but it deserves it’s own category. Home decor is big! Hardly surprising when you think about it. Most people have homes and are looking for ways to make the most of them.
This topic can be anything from DIY to high end interior design. They all have their place.
Beauty And Fashion
If you have style – rock it. Instagram will be your holy grail. It’s an incredibly tough sector, but if you have the personality the rewards can be massive.
For many people, a lifestyle blog where fashion and beauty are just part of the offering, is a much easier way to go.
When it comes to a lifestyle blog, you still have to follow all the rules and write about topics people are interested in, plus give helpful advice. The idea that it’s a lifestyle blog so you an write about anything is misguided.
There are some lifestyle topics that are huge right now, homesteading and survival (including prepping). Both are about self sufficiency, one driven by wanting a simpler, minimalist life and one by our basic instinct for security.
A plus about a lifestyle blog is being able to adapt as your find out which posts are popular. Write more about the stuff people want to hear.
This is the one where it’s really easy to go wrong. See Rule #5. It’s easy to lose track of who you’re writing for or lack a clear purpose.
The best way to make this type of blog work is to hit your readers with a mission statement on the homepage. “I will help you lose weight” or “I will build your self-confidence”.
It’s a terrific choice of blog if you get it right. All too often bloggers seem to wander off track and start dwelling on their own issues. It works if you stick to the topic.
For most people, parenting is the biggest challenge they will face. It’s a non-stop roller coaster from birth until Freddie finally leaves home.
There is so much riding in getting parenting right and no easy answers. It’s hardly surprising that Mom Blogs are so successful and continue to be highly in demand.
I’m still stuck between the two camps. Some types of blogs are easier to monetise but don’t be too hasty ruling out your own idea just because it doesn’t fit nicely into this list. It can all depend on why you’re blogging in the first place.
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