From Blog To Business – Even You Can Do It

People start blogs for all kinds of reasons. After all, there are no entry barriers for blogging — provided you have some time, motivation, and the right tools, you can be up and running in no time at all.

Most people start their blog just as a fun hobby. But that doesn’t have to be where it ends. With a bit of know-how, it’s more than possible to turn a blog into a business. That’s a journey that many bloggers have been on in the past. Just think of all those famous bloggers who rake in thousands each month; they all had to start somewhere!

We won’t lie and say that it’s easy to build a full-time income via blogging from scratch, but it is doable. And the process becomes even more manageable for bloggers looking to build a side income rather than giving up their day jobs. 

In this post, we’re going to run through essential information you’ll need to know about how to turn a blog into a business, including common revenue streams that bloggers typically incorporate and some tried-and-tested tips that’ll put you on the path towards success. If you’ve decided that 2024 is the year that you’ll finally monetise your blog and start collecting those checks, then this is the article for you. 

To begin, let’s take a look at three of the most popular ways to monetise a blog. 

Create an online course

Interest in online courses has ballooned in popularity in recent years, especially in the post-COVID era. According to IBIS World, the industry has enjoyed a CAGR of 2.6% between 2018 – 2023, leading to a valuation of £4.2bn. And that’s just in the UK. Worldwide, the industry will hit $185.20 billion this year and will be worth a whopping $257 billion by 2028.

What’s the takeaway from these staggering valuations? People love taking online courses. And if you thought this only applied to higher education distance learning courses, think again. In an age of self-improvement, web users are looking to enhance their knowledge in a near-endless number of subjects, including fitness, creative hobbies, DIY, arts and crafts, cooking, and wellness.

You’ll need to have specialist knowledge to create and host an online course, but if you’ve got it, then you’ll have an excellent opportunity to build a passive revenue stream. After all, aside from minor updates, once the course is live you won’t need to do all that much beyond promotion, answering student questions, and collecting the cash.

OK, maybe it’s not that easy. Plus, putting together an engaging course that offers real value to buyers can be tricky. The good news is that it’s certainly doable, and there are plenty of online tools that can make structuring and hosting your course a breeze.

Let’s run through the key steps you’ll need to take. 

Step One: Come Up With an In-Demand Topic

This is arguably the most important step. If there’s no demand for your course, then there’ll be no buyers. On the other hand, if your course topic is too popular, then you’ll have to compete with a host of other course suppliers, some of whom may already be well-established in the field.

The trick is to find a course subject that is in-demand, not overly well-served, and which is in line with your expertise. This will naturally be relevant to the overall theme of your existing blog posts, but will likely be focused on a topic that’s more niche. For example, if you host a travel blog, then you may create a course about how to make money as a travel guide.

Step Two: Create Learning Outcomes

People’s time is valuable. Before they agree to sign up for an online course, they’ll want to know what’s in it for them. For instance, what kind of knowledge and skills will they have upon the completion of the course? 

Putting together learning outcomes will show potential students what they can expect from the course, but it’ll also help you put together your course content. Ultimately, having robust, measurable learning outcomes is good for everyone.

Step Three: Create the Content

This step will probably be the most time-intensive part of the process. It’s not easy creating engaging, valuable content. Thankfully, you’ll already have all the information you need. If you’ve based your course on your own expertise — as you should — then all the content is already in your head. You’ll just need to sift through your knowledge, pick out the parts that are appropriate for the course level (beginner, medium, advanced), and then figure out ways to deliver that content in an engaging way. It’s best to present information via a variety of mediums including text, videos, and images.

Step Four: Launch, Pricing, and Attracting Students

Once you’ve put together your course, it’ll be full steam ahead to launch. There are dozens of course hosting plugins that will allow you to host your course on your blog, especially if it’s a WordPress website. Heavily advertising your course on your blog, utilising your email marketing list, and building interest on social media can all help to attract students. 

There’s no set answer for how much you should charge for your course. It depends on a variety of factors, including the demand, the level of expertise you’re providing, and how much money you realistically wish to earn. Seeing how much others charge for similar courses can be a good starting point. 

Once you’ve launched, you’ll need to actively engage with students to ensure satisfaction. It’s also recommended to update the course from time to time in line with subject developments. 

Brand Collaborations

Working with brands is probably the top way that bloggers make money. After all, it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement: the brand gets exposure to the blog’s audience, and the blog owner receives financial compensation (or freebies in some cases). 

You can begin making money from brand collaborations pretty soon after you’ve launched your blog, even if you don’t have a large following. But there’s a caveat to this, and that is that you probably won’t make much money. Signing up for an affiliate programme can be a good way to bring in the pennies, but unless you take a sophisticated approach to brand collaboration, then you’ll be looking at actual pennies. They say every little helps, but when it comes to turning your blog into a business, that’s probably not true. It’s best to focus on high-value brand collaborations if your goal is to build a worthwhile side income.

So how do you do this? First, understand that there are two ways to make money through brand collaboration. 

Blog Affiliate Programmes

The first is to sign up for a blog affiliate programme. With that, you’ll include a link to a brand’s product/service on your blog and receive a small commission should a visitor make a purchase. The most famous blog affiliate programme is Amazon Associates. A great number of bloggers use this programme due to its non-existent entry requirements (any SFW blog will do) and the wide variety of products available on the platform, which make it relevant for just about every blog (Amazon sells everything). 

Other popular blog affiliate programmes include those of big-hitters such as eBay, Shopify, and Etsy. If you operate a blog within a specific niche, then look out for smaller blog affiliate programmes — smaller can often mean better relationships with brands that make more sense for your blog content.

Sponsored Posts

So that’s blog affiliate programs. The other way to earn money via your blog through brand collaborations is by hosting sponsored posts on your website. This is just what it sounds like: posts that have been paid for by a brand. They typically involve the promotion of the brand in one way or another, though the posts don’t have to be overly fawning — they can just be informative and an honest reflection of your experience using the product/service.

Sponsored posts come in a number of shapes and sizes. Brands may offer a freebie in exchange for a post. That can be good, because well, who doesn’t like free stuff, but it’s not going to put money in your bank. Some brands may even offer nothing other than exposure on their network, and that’ll be of even less value.

The way to make real money from sponsored posts is to, first, focus on building your audience within a specific niche. That’ll make you attractive to top brands since they’ll know that a significant chunk of your readership could well be a potential customer. The other is to be selective about the sponsored post opportunities to take. It can be better to turn down low-value opportunities because, in doing so, you’ll be protecting the reputation of your brand, which will pay off later down the line. Remember that any sponsored post you accept must be highly relevant to your blog’s niche and your readership. Hosting low-quality, minimally-relevant posts can impact the relationship you have with your audience. 

If you’re not getting the kind of brand opportunities that you’d like, then take a proactive approach. Put together an information pack about you, your blog, and your audience, and send them to brands directly. You never know what might come of it.

Sell Products On Your Blog

Selling products on your blog is perhaps the most effective way to make money via your website, and is arguably the most straightforward. It’s easy enough to add an eCommerce plugin to your website, and once you have, you’ll be able to dress up your available products in any number of ways, accept payments, and automate the shipping process.

The challenging part is coming up with the right products to sell, as well as getting people to buy. There’s an endless number of products to sell via your blog, such as products you’ve made yourself (think: artwork), services (think: SEO help), or third-party products (think: items relevant to your niche). Digital products are particularly popular with bloggers since they offer a passive revenue stream (once you’ve created them, you’ll have endless copies) and the shipping process is all done via the internet.

Selling products from day one of your blog can be effective, but it’s less likely — and even if you can generate sales this way, it’ll likely take a while. The more effective method is to build your audience before you begin selling. Your visitors will be much more likely to buy from you if there’s already an established relationship.

Some bloggers create their blogs entirely with the intention of selling products later down the line. It’s all about following the right sequence. First, you produce and publish quality content. Next, you slowly but surely build a large, loyal following. Finally, once you have that audience, you launch the business side of your blog — in this case, the blog’s store. 

If you take this approach, then your visitors won’t be buying from another stranger on the internet; they’ll be buying from someone they feel that they “know,” because they’ve been following your journey for months or even years. 

Keep in mind that your audience won’t buy a product just because of who’s selling it. The items, whether digital or physical, still have to be good and offer value, so taking a professional approach to selling products on your blog is key. Your product pages should contain as much information as possible, be reasonably priced, and be in line with the overall theme of the blog. 

Building a Profitable Blog: Tips For Success

We’ve run through three business ideas for blogs, all of which can help build a sizable side income. But only if done correctly. To increase your chances of success, keep the following tips in mind:

Set Targets

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Set short-, mid-, and long-term targets for your business.

Take it Seriously

A grand doesn’t come for free. Think like a business owner, not a blogger. 

Ongoing Promotion and Engagement

All businesses continually engage with their customers, make improvements, and promote their offerings. Do the same, and you’ll be on the path towards success.