Could your (garden) blog make money?
As well as writing a gardening blog, I also teach blogging. I am often asked, especially by mothers hoping to work from home, how a blog can make money. I didn’t start the Middle-Sized Garden blog to make money from it – I wanted to have a creative voice in the world of gardening. And I wanted a record of what I did in the garden. This is why many people start blogs – and it may, ultimately, lead to a book deal or consultancy work. But if you’re hoping to make money directly from blogging about your garden (or your home, craft or parenting experiences), then you need to know three important things:
1) You may not be able to make money from a ‘free blog’.
There are a number of blog hosts, such as WordPress.com, Blogger.com, Tumblr.com and Wix, but they each have their own rules as to what you can do with your blog if you choose the free option. You may not be able to sell from the blog or take your own advertising. If your blog is successful, they may place their own advertising on it, which you may not like. You can change from a free to a paid-for site, but it can be complicated if you want to take all your past blog posts with you. But it varies from host to host (and over time), so check it out when you’re deciding where to get your blog from. If you have a free site, the site owners can take it down if they like.
2) You (probably) won’t earn much from advertising…
It’s relatively cheap to advertise on the internet, and most advertisements are only paid for when people click on them (it’s called Pay Per Click). You might only earn a few pounds a month. If you have thousands of readers, Google Adsense may bring in some ads, but it would be rare for a blogger to earn as much as £100 a month from advertising. £10 a month is more realistic! Some industries generate more advertising than others – perfumery, interiors,parenting and health would probably have more ads than gardening. Check out other blogs in your field.
3)….although you may earn more from ‘affiliate programmes’.
An ‘affiliate’ programme is when you write about something – say, I might write an article on The Middle-Sized Garden about fertilising my soil. I might mention a particular brand of fertiliser, with a link through to the fertiliser company. If any readers click through to the company, and then spend money on the site in the next 24 hours, I would get a percentage of that spend. Some bloggers do well on affiliate programmes – for example, if a book blogger is affiliated to Amazon, but I don’t have an affiliate programmes on my site, and don’t think I would make much money from it.
4) There are rules about freebies and ‘sponsored posts’
A fertiliser company might approach a garden blogger and suggest paying for the post about fertilising the soil, either written by one of their experts or by the blogger herself. This is a ‘sponsored post’. Google is very clear about guidelines for sponsored posts. You must say they are sponsored (or if a brand is linked to you in any other way). If you have received money – or free product, or hospitality – for writing about something, you need to say so. Most bloggers I know would do this anyway – your reputation, and your readers’ trust, depends on being completely honest and open about whether anyone has paid you to write about something.
4) But a blog can earn money indirectly.
If you make, say, pretty garden pots, or you recycle tins into planters, then a blog will probably attract more visitors to your Etsy or Ebay shop than you would get without a blog. Or, if you’re a gardener or designer, your blog will help your Google rankings. When someone puts ‘gardener + Dulwich’ into an internet search, the gardeners with blogs come up higher than those without. A blog can help establish you as an ‘expert’ in, say, gardening, interiors or parenting, and you may get a book deal or other work from it. Since I started blogging five years ago, I have seen many book bloggers turn into published authors.
If you’ve had a success story making money from blogging, do let me know. And if you’re interested in more blogging tips, then go to ‘How You Really Write a Blog’ on my other website, Write to Promote.
My next ‘How to Write a Great Blog’ workshop is in London on April 28th 6.30pm-8.30pm. Book here
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