Is blogging a good way to make money? Yes, and today I’m going to show you how I earned my first $100 blogging online with a small blog.
If you want to make money blogging, I’m here to show you that it’s possible. Whether you’ve started your blog today, yesterday, or a year ago – it’s possible for you to make money from your blog.
I’m going to share the exact steps I took to help me earn my first $100 blogging.
- How to start a self-hosted WordPress blog
- How to become a full-time blogger
- Best affiliate marketing programs for beginners
How I earned my first $100 blogging: My story
Have you ever dreamed of quitting your job and making money from home doing something you love?
This was my dream. After I started working at my first job after graduating from college, I quickly realized that working in an office wasn’t for me.
I dreamed of having a job where I could work from anywhere and grow my income as much as I wanted.
But the truth is – I didn’t know how to make this happen. I was taught that if you wanted to make a good income, you need to get more education and network with others.
So that’s what I did. I made the big decision to quit my 9-5 job and go back to school.
And shortly after I went back to school, I decided to start this blog as a creative outlet to keep in touch with friends and family.
In the beginning, my blog was just a hobby. I shared tips on frugal living, current recipes I was loving, fashion inspiration, concert reviews, and photos from my travels. I wrote about everything under the sun.
Then one day, I was researching creative ways to make money online and discovered the concept of passive income. I was following a few influencers who were earning passive income and living the life that I wanted.
This included people who were getting paid to travel the world, people who could stay at home raising their family instead of working in the corporate world, and others who created a 6-figure business while going to school.
And what did they all have in common? … They had a blog!
So I thought to myself, “I have a blog – why can’t I earn passive income from my blog too?”
At the time, the influencers that I was following didn’t share how they were making money blogging, so I didn’t know anything about how to make money from a blog.
Did they just write blog posts and magically get a check sent in the mail each month? As silly as that sounds, I had NO idea how all of it worked.
Yes I had a blog, but it was just for fun, and I didn’t know how to start making money from it.
That’s when I started researching “how to make money blogging” so I could learn and apply the strategies to my own little website.
I discovered that there are TONS of different ways to make money blogging. Below are some of the most popular ways to monetize a blog:
- Display Ads – This is when you have display advertisements on your website, such as with Google Adsense.
- Affiliate Marketing – This is when you promote someone else’s product or service on your blog. You can earn a small commission each time a reader makes a qualified purchase through your affiliate link or referral code.
- Sponsored Posts – This is when a company pays you to write a blog post that features their product of service.
- Selling your own products – This is when you create a physical or digital product to sell through your blog.
I decided to start by focusing on display ads since this was a passive way to make money and I didn’t know anything about affiliate marketing, sponsored pots, or have the time to create my own product.
There are a few popular advertising networks that allow bloggers to make money by showing display ads on their websites:
- Google AdSense
Google AdSense is the most popular, but it doesn’t pay very much. Instead, if you want to make a good income from display ads, I recommend joining AdThrive or Mediavine.
More visitors = More page views = More money
This is what happened after I joined AdThrive…
- In my first month, I earned $124.54.
- In my second month, I earned $217.04.
- And in my third month… I earned $730.57!
In just 3 months, I made over $1,000 from display ads (using AdThrive) on my blog.
Keep in mind that I had no prior experience when it came to blogging…
- I was just blogging part-time as a hobby before I decided to actually learn how to make money from a blog.
- I didn’t have experience writing for a living (my office job was working in accounting)
- I didn’t have a following on social media (I was just learning how to use Pinterest to share my blog posts)
- Display ads was the ONLY way I made money from my blog at the time. I didn’t start using affiliate marketing, writing sponsored posts, or selling my own products until later.
If you think it’s too late to start a blog in 2022, it’s not.
In fact, it’s easier than ever to start a blog thanks to all the helpful resources available to new bloggers today.
The most essential step is to start NOW! If I could learn how to make money from a small blog, then you can too. I’ll show you exactly how I did it below.
Before we jump into how to make money blogging, first I want to be clear about a common misconception people have about monetizing a blog.
Blogging is not a get-rich-quick scheme
If you’ve ever searched Google for “how to start a blog”, you’ll probably find a TON of articles that claim it only takes 15 minutes to start a blog and make $1,000+ after a month.
While it’s true that you can set up a blog in less than 15 minutes, it’s extremely rare that you’ll make $1,000 in your first month of blogging.
Articles like this are SO misleading because they neglect to tell that you that it takes time and dedication to grow a blog into a full-time income.
If someone makes $1,000+ in their first month of blogging, this is likely because…
- They already have a large and engaged following on social media.
- They have a solid background in digital marketing, copywriting, and SEO (search engine optimization).
- They paid to get traffic to their new blog by using advertising promotions.
- They already have a successful blog and started a new one using the same winning strategies.
If you’re like me and had no prior experience with blogging, digital marketing, or social media, then there will be moments where you’ll feel alone, and it seems like no one is reading your blog.
Every blogger feels this way in the beginning and it’s natural to ask yourself, “Will this ever work?”. But you have to keep pushing yourself forward in these moments to stay motivated.
If you are not self-motivated, then blogging might not be for you.
I’m not saying that to scare you away, but it’s important to know that blogging is not for everyone.
How to make money blogging: How I earned my first $100
Below are the exact steps I took to make my first $100 from blogging. Yes, I made a lot of mistakes in the beginning, which is why I want to help you avoid the trial-and-error approach and get started on the right path.
These tips helped me to create a successful six-figure blog, which allows my husband and I to live comfortably on one income in an expensive city. If you want to get a jumpstart, you can click here to get started.
1. Set up your blog the right way
If you want to make money blogging, you need to set up a self-hosted blog.
Before I started this blog, I had a free blog. I quickly realized that using a free service had its limitations:
- When you use a free service, you won’t OWN your website or its content.
- When you use a free service, you’ll be limited in the amount of money you can earn from your blog.
- When you use a free service, you’ll have limited options to customize the design and layout of your blog.
Having a self-hosted blog allows you to have full control of your website. This means you can work with any display advertising service (such as AdThrive), add affiliate links to your website make money (affiliate marketing), do sponsored posts and brand collaborations, and sell your own products (if you choose to).
To set up a self-hosted blog, you’ll need to pay for web hosting (such as with Bluehost). Bluehost uses WordPress.org, which is the most popular blogging platform in the world.
While there are many web hosting companies to choose from, Bluehost is the #1 hosting company recommended by WordPress.org and it’s the one I used for Mint Notion.
I used Bluehost for 3 years and recommend them for new bloggers. It’s easy to use and their customer service is fantastic.
Once my blog grew to over 200,000 monthly page views, I switched to a different hosting company.
Why You Should Use Bluehost:
- You’ll get a FREE domain name (This is the address of your website. For example, mine is www.mintnotion.com)
- They offer 24/7 support which is great for new bloggers who might need extra guidance.
- It’s the best affordable web hosting company and provides you with the right foundation to make money blogging.
When you’re ready, you can click here to get started and choose your web hosting package.
I recommend the Basic package to keep the costs low when starting a blog. It includes everything you need to set up a professional looking website. I have a special deal with Bluehost where you can get started for just $2.95 a month.
2. Write content that people actually want to read
If you want to make money blogging, you need to make sure people visit your website. The more page views you get, the more money you can potentially earn.
How do you get people to visit your website? …You need to write content that they actually want to read.
How do you write content that people actually want to read? …You need write blog posts that solve a problem.
Think about who your ideal reader is. What is their biggest pain point? What are their fears? Why do they need help with?
People want to read content that helps them. When they visit your blog, they are thinking “What’s in it for me?”
For example, let’s say you have a travel blog for families in the USA.
- Potential Problem: A family is planning a trip to Las Vegas and they are not sure which hotels are kid-friendly.
- Potential Solution: You could write a blog post sharing the top 5 kid-friendly hotels in Las Vegas that are perfect for families.
This is just an example, but it gives you an idea of how to shift your mindset from writing for yourself, to writing for others and helping them find a solution to solve their problems.
Mistakes I made when I first started my blog:
- I wrote about a variety of different topics. My blog didn’t have a niche, I just wrote about anything that I found interesting.
- I didn’t know what SEO was, so my blog posts were not optimized for Google, which meant that no one was visiting my blog.
- I thought that if you just write blog posts, people will eventually come. (I couldn’t have been more wrong!)
- I didn’t have a monetization strategy in place. To be honest, I didn’t know how to make money from a blog.
After blogging as a hobby, I decided to research how to grow my blog traffic so I could make money from my website.
Here’s what I learned:
- Your blog needs to have a niche. (Writing about one topic or a group of topics can help establish yourself as an expert on the topic).
- You need to learn basic SEO so your blog posts can rank well on Google. (This helps people to easily find your blog when searching for things on Google).
- You need to have a plan on how you’re going to monetize your blog. (Are you going to use display ads? Affiliate marketing? Sponsored posts? Sell your own products?)
And the most important lesson that I learned is that you need to be willing to change and pivot your blogging strategy as needed.
It’s important to figure out what works and what doesn’t work for your blog. You can’t be afraid to change and improve your strategy.
While you can certainly write about whatever you want, if you want to make money blogging, then I don’t recommend this.
Because when you write about everything, you end up attracting no one to your blog. Instead, you need to focus on just ONE or up to 4 related topics.
To help me write better content, I decided to narrow down my blog niche to focus on topics that could help my ideal reader and also be profitable. These topics are money and travel.
3. Focus on driving traffic to your blog
Now that you’ve set up your blog the right way and wrote compelling content, it’s time to get people to visit your blog.
How do people find blog posts on the internet?
They search on Google, Pinterest, or find them on social media.
Learning SEO is how you’ll get your blog posts to rank high on Google. But it’s a long-term strategy and can take a few months before Google will trust a new website.
And when you’re a new blogger, you don’t want to spend a few months waiting around for people to visit your blog. Am I right?
Because if you have no traffic, you can’t make money.
That’s why I recommend focusing on both SEO and Pinterest to help drive traffic to your blog.
Pinterest is a visual search engine and it’s the fastest way to get FREE traffic to your site. And the best part is… you don’t need to have a large following on Pinterest in order to get people on your website.
This is what makes it so special and sets it apart from other platforms like Facebook or Instagram.
In the beginning, I reccomend just focusing on ONE social media platform to drive traffic to your blog. You can choose any platform you want, but Pinterest is the easiest platform to learn.
How to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog:
1. Set up a Business account on Pinterest
This is free to do, and it only takes a few minutes to set up. Click here to get started.
2. Complete your Pinterest profile
Here you’ll add a profile photo, your name (this can be the name of your blog or website), a description about your blog, your website URL, and email address.
Once your profile is complete, then you’ll create Pinterest boards. A Pinterest board is where you can save a collection of pins. Each board usually has its own independent theme or purpose.
For example, if you have a travel blog for families in the USA, you might choose to create the following boards:
- Family road trips board
- US National Parks board
- Family travel tips board
- Disneyland tips board
- Universal Orlando tips board
- California travel board
The boards you create will allow you to add pins that are linked to all the relevant blog posts on your website.
For each board, add a detailed description of what the board is about. This will make it easier for people to find your content on Pinterest.
The easier it is for people to find your pins, the more traffic your blog will get.
3. Create “click-worthy” pins to share on your Pinterest boards
A Pin is a bookmark that people use to save content they love on Pinterest. People can search for topics on Pinterest (using the search bar) and save the ones they like, or click on a Pin to visit the website linked to the Pin.
When you have a Business account, you can create Pins that link back to your blog posts to help drive traffic to your website.
How do you create “click-worthy” pins?
I like to use Canva, which is a free graphic design software. I didn’t have any prior experience with graphic design and Canva makes it SUPER easy to create beautiful, eye-catching Pins.
After creating a free account on Canva, click the “Create a Design” button and type in “Pinterest”.
They offer two different Pinterest Pin sizes: 1000 x 1500 px or 1080 x 1920 px.
I recommend experimenting with both sizes to see which Pins gain the most engagement on Pinterest.
After choosing the Pinterest Pin size you want, then click on Templates in the left-hand side bar and type in “Pinterest”.
This will give you a bunch of pre-made Pinterest Pin templates that you can use to create click-worthy pins that link back to your blog posts.
You can customize the font, color, and photo for each template based on your preferences.
If you want to use their premium templates, you’ll need to paid for a Canva subscription. This is what I do and it’s worth the small fee. But when you’re just starting, Canva offers tons of free templates to use.
Tips for creating Pins that people want to click through:
- Choose a font that is easy to read. Most people use Pinterest on their mobile phone, so you want to make sure that your text can be read on a small screen.
- Choose warm colors (red, orange, yellow, brown). These colors receive more saves and clicks than cool color shades (such as blue)
- Less is more. Pins that have a spare background usually receive more saves and clicks than Pins that have a busy background.
- Test different designs and call-to-actions on the Pin. For example, “10 essential things to know before traveling to New York City” will generate more saves and clicks than just writing “New York City travel tips”.
I recommend making at least 3-5 different Pins for each blog post. This can help drive traffic to your blog faster.
How I grew my blog to over 100,000 monthly page views
While there are many different ways you can earn your first $100 from blogging, I wanted to focus on monetizing my blog with display ads.
Below is a screenshot from February. At this time, I’ve had my blog for 1.5 years just as a hobby. I wrote about a variety of topics, but I was never consistent, and I had no idea how to make money from blogging.
By using these tips, I managed to grow my small blog to over 100,000 monthly pages views in just a few months.
- I created a consistent blog schedule for myself. Instead of posting whenever I felt like it, I was more consistent and wrote ONE new blog post per week.
- I wrote longer blog posts (1,000 – 3,000+ words in length). Longer blog posts are good for SEO. Google will see it as a more comprehensive article than something that is under 500 words in length.
- I focused on learning everything I could about Pinterest for bloggers. I used Canva to experiment with different Pin designs and paid attention to which Pins were driving the most clicks. With a Business account, you’ll get free access to Pinterest Analytics.
Then just a few months later, my blog received over 120,000 monthly page views.
Just by applying the right strategies, my blog traffic grew from 16,000 to over 120,000 monthly page views.
July is the month I signed up for AdThrive and when I earned my first $100 from blogging. This motivated me to continuing learning how to make money blogging.
I noticed that some bloggers who had less page views than me were making a lot more money.
This is what they were doing differently:
- They didn’t put all their eggs into one basket. These bloggers were making money by diversifying their income.
- They earned commission from affiliate marketing
- They were collaborating with brands and writing sponsored posts
- They were selling their own products (e-books, e-courses, printables)
I quickly realized that I couldn’t do this blogging journey alone. Instead of wasting time with the trial-and-error approach, I decided to invest the money I made into blogging education.
I was inspired by Michelle from Making Sense of Cents who was earning $1 million a year from affiliate marketing.
Here’s the thing – If someone is doing better than you, don’t be afraid to learn from them.
Blogging is NOT about reinventing the wheel. It’s much more effective and enjoyable to connect with other successful bloggers and learn from them.
I took her course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, so I could learn and apply her affiliate marketing strategies. In her course, she teaches you how she grew her blog from $0 to over $50,000 per month using affiliate marketing.
Her course is great for beginners who are brand new to affiliate marketing. By using the techniques she taught, I was able to grow my blog income to over $5,000 per month in just a few months.
If you already know the basics of affiliate marketing and want to improve your conversions, I recommend checking out Carly’s course, Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers. After I took this course, I was able to grow my blog income from $5,000 per month to $10,000+ per month.
Investing in blogging courses and applying the strategies I learned was a total game changer for my blog. Now I earn a good six-figures a year from blogging (and I only work around 20-25 hours per week).
But you must be willing to put in the work. No one is going to do it for you.
Here’s a recap of the main take-home points from this post on how I made my first $100 blogging:
- While some people earn money in the first month of starting a blog, it can take up to six months (or a year) before you start earning good money.
- Learning SEO and focusing on Pinterest are the best ways for new bloggers to drive traffic to their website. I took Stupid Simple SEO which helped me grow my organic traffic by 278%!
- If you’re serious about making money blogging, it’s important to invest in a blogging course to help you achieve your goals. Start off with one course, so you can take your time and focus on applying the strategies. I recommend Carly’s course, Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers.
- Don’t be afraid to change your strategy and try something different. Look at what’s working for your blog and what isn’t working. Pay attention to what other successful bloggers are doing. What topics are they writing about on their blog? How are they getting traffic? How are they making money?
Recommended Blogging Resources
Web hosting – Bluehost is the best affordable hosting company. I used Bluehost to start my blog and recommend them for new bloggers.
WordPress Theme – Resorted 316 Designs offers beautiful and professional looking themes. I currently use their Splendor theme and love how easy it is to customize.
Pinterest – Pinteresting Strategies is the course I took to help me improve me Pinterest strategy and grow my blog traffic.
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing – This course is great for beginners who know nothing about affiliate marketing. This helped me grow my blog income to $5,000+ per month.
Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers – This affordable course is great if you already know the basics of affiliate marketing and want to improve your conversion rate. This helped me to grow my blog income to over $10,000 per month.
Stupid Simple SEO – This course is the holy grail for learning SEO. Mike’s no-nonsense approach makes it easy to apply his strategies. This course helped me to grow my blog from 13,000 to over 49,000 monthly organic search traffic.
I started applying the strategies I learned in Mike’s course in April and just one year later, I was able to increase my Organic Search traffic by nearly 278%!