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From Zero to Hero: A Beginner’s Guide to Making Money as a Blogger

From Zero to Hero: A Beginner's Guide to Making Money as a Blogger

In March 2009 I sat in my home office with a blank computer screen in front of me. On the screen was a very empty WordPress blog page that needed some words. 

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I had decided to become a blogger that wrote, despite not having written anything of consequence for decades and only having discovered what a blog was a few months prior. 

The general topic for my blog had been chosen from a faint feeling that came from observing online human behavior. 

Intuition was the idea creator. And I was intrigued by the rise of a new form of media with the newly coined titular of “social media”.      

The no-brainer

Writing about social media was a “no brainer” because I had observed addictive activity on Facebook.

I realized that some screen-obsessed homo sapiens had handed their lives over to social media’s obsessive-compulsive disorder technology. The smartphone scrolling ecosystem sucked up a lot of attention and time.

In fact, nothing has changed since.

Except that the platforms are now intentionally designed by social and neuroscientists to be “tech crack” turning us into social media and smartphone junkies.    

Instead of Mexican drug cartels, we now have Silicon Valley cartels.   

With the category for my blog nailed, the next challenge was the topic. The words to fill the creative void would need to follow.  

I was at zero

But there was a current situation that couldn’t be ignored. 

I was an unemployed teacher who didn’t want to teach and was barely meeting rent. My old Mitsubishi had 300,000 kms on the clock and belched smoke from the leaking oil seals that seeped onto a hot manifold. 

My new girlfriend had taken pity on me and we had started living together. So the upside. I wasn’t homeless. 


In the middle of the chaos of my life, I had managed to wrangle some ideas into one idea of what was at the time just an actionable fantasy.   

Desperation or inspiration?

The germination for starting the blog lay at the intersection of desperation and inspiration. 

This included my current situation and…reading “The 4 Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss, diving into David Meerman Scott’s book “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” to discover his take on the role of content in an online social media blogging world and a burning curiosity about the rising social media platforms of Twitter and Facebook. 

I felt that it was much more than a fad as I watched people’s obsession with Facebook and remembered my teenage children running upstairs to fight over the computer to log into the now-extinct “MySpace”.

This forerunner became a no-runner and extinct because Rupert Murdoch had bought it for half a billion dollars and proceeded to destroy it because he didn’t know what he was doing. Mass media smarts don’t always equal new media savvy.

So…my intuition was at first the private whisper of, “There is something big going on here” to a worldwide roar.

The push

The final push to cross over the line to start was a blog post on Hubspot that was a slow lingering sentence buried in a paraphrased paragraph. 

“If you have an inkling of what you want to start a business on, start a blog”   

That’s why I sat at a desk struggling with turning intuition and an idea into a creation. Three hundred words later I had penned my first and very imperfect blog post. There was no business plan but just an idea to explore and write about social media and see where that went.  

Social media…trend or fad?

Timing is everything. A good idea at the wrong time is a recipe for disaster. Good ideas happen best when the time is right. 

Building something on a fad is dangerous as they pass fast. Creating something substantial on a rising trend is playing a long game of opportunity.  

A trend refers to a general direction or pattern of change, often over a long period of time. Trends can be seen in many different areas, such as fashion, technology, and societal attitudes. They often have a lasting impact and can indicate a shift in the way things are done or viewed.

A fad, on the other hand, refers to a temporary and short-lived phenomenon. Fads are often characterized by their rapid rise in popularity and rapid decline. They are often driven by hype or a sense of novelty, but they lack the lasting impact of a trend. Fads are mostly seen in pop culture, fashion, and consumer products.

In short, a trend is a long-term shift in the way things are done, while a fad is a short-term phenomenon driven by hype or novelty.

The intersection of two hot trends

Blogging was a hot trend 14 years ago that intersected with the other trend of a social media uprising that has now been partially transcended and evolved into short posts on Instagram, and even shorter videos on TikTok and YouTubers.

I was lucky. 

Playing at the intersection of the trends became an online side hustle that became my main hustle.

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The brain fart

That blogging brain fart happened 14 years ago when I didn’t personally know anyone in my home city or friends and family who even knew what a blog was. But ignorance is the second cousin to bliss.

Shortly after that first post, I managed to get a new job despite pushing past 5 decades and at a vintage that most companies will at first glance, laugh and then throw your resume into the trash can.

The writing continued late at night and in the early morning before starting my day job. It was an online side hustle that didn’t make any money for the first year. But I was learning and growing my traffic one reader at a time. And I built credibility through content and a Twitter following of over 550,000 followers.

The benefits of blogging beyond making money

You walk down the street and you see a restaurant with a line of people waiting to get a table. You are very curious and decide that if that many people are begging to get in then so should you. That’s called “social proof”.

And a blog can build that social proof and credibility, your personal brand and online credibility in several ways:

  • It demonstrates your expertise: By consistently creating and sharing valuable content, you can establish yourself as an authority in your field.
  • It shows your personality: A blog allows you to express your unique voice and perspective, which can help build a connection with your audience.
  • It helps you network: Blogging can help you connect with other experts in your field and build relationships with potential clients or collaborators.
  • It improves your search engine visibility: Regularly updating your blog with high-quality content can help your website rank higher in search engine results, which can increase your visibility and credibility.
  • It helps you to establish yourself as a thought leader: By discussing the latest trends and industry insights, you will be able to establish yourself as someone who is at the forefront of your field.

Overall, a blog can help establish your personal brand and online credibility by demonstrating your expertise, showing your personality, networking, improving search engine visibility, and establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field.

How do you make money from blogging?

My first blogging revenue introduction came via an email from Jonny (who lived in New Zealand and loved my blog) inquiring if I would run a workshop on social media marketing. So in essence I was being paid to teach. A bit ironic really. The next surprising gig was being paid to speak at a conference in Italy. 

So my blog monetization included speaking gigs, consulting contracts, workshops, influencer marketing campaigns and more.  

But there are also many other ways to make money from a blog, including:

  • Advertising: Placing ads on your blog can earn you money every time someone clicks on them.
  • Affiliate marketing: You can earn a commission by promoting other people’s products on your blog.
  • Sponsored content: Companies may pay you to write about their products or services.
  • Digital products: You can sell e-books, courses, or other digital products on your blog.
  • Physical products: If you have a physical product or merchandise, you can sell it on your blog.
  • Subscription model: You can offer exclusive content or perks to readers who pay a monthly or annual fee to subscribe to your blog and its premium content including a newsletter.

Here is another resource: 30 Proven Ways to Make Money Online Blogging with WordPress

Wrapping it up

It’s worth noting that in order to make money from blogging, you’ll need to play the long game. 

You’ll also need to have a sizable audience, a well-defined niche, a good understanding of SEO and marketing strategies.

Creating content that people like and want to read is a good starting point. Trying to work out what the world will pay you for is another thing. Then promoting, marketing and growing it from an idea to making money is vital to move from a non-paying side hustle to a grown-up main hustle.

But if you don’t start then it’s just another failed idea. So get started!

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