I have gotten more and more emails lately from folks thinking about blogging asking for advice on how to make money blogging. It is very difficult for me to answer each of these emails personally, so I figured I’d do a post about it today. (So if you’ve been directed to this post by me, you now know why!)
What you Should Know Before Starting a Coupon Blog
Can I be completely candid? Perfectly honest? When I hear someone’s wanting to start up a coupon blog and the first question they ask me is how to earn money, I cringe. I truly do not believe that in most cases it’s a good idea anymore.
With so many coupon blogs out there, the market is growing saturated (if it’s not already). This means you’ll need to work exceptionally hard to compete with the blogs that people are already out there reading. (Goodness knows a constant struggle I have is to keep coming up with content that’s a step ahead!) A better question than “how do I make money with a coupon blog?” might be “what different voice can I contribute to gain traffic and unique following?” I hope that this comes across in the nicest way possible – I don’t care to dash anyone’s dreams of blogging about coupons, certainly. But if your goal is to make money, you need to think about how exactly you plan on offering something different. Some newer blogs that are making traction are coupon blogs with a specific bent – for instance, a gluten-free coupon blog or a kosher coupon blog. Blogs that are working to build a niche within a niche.
So my challenge to you would be this: do a good soul search and ask yourself if you want to write a blog because you love writing and helping others or if it’s just because you need the cash. If you can honestly say it’s because you have a love of writing and sharing with others first, proceed. If you just need the cash, skip ahead – I’ve some additional thoughts for you, too.
How I make Money
As you know, I’m pretty frank about how I make money around here. To review:
- I serve and sell ads
- I have affiliate relationships (Amazon, Groupon, Coupons.com and so forth)
- On rare occasion, I write sponsored posts or host sponsored promotions
- On some occasions, I’ve landed freelancing clients & jobs via my blog
- I teach coupon classes
- And other odds and ends
You might be surprised to learn that I don’t get paid for my coupon matchup posts – arguably one of the most labor intense things that happens on the blog. That being said, I do work to build mutually beneficial relationships with the brands that I care about and post regularly. For instance, Fred Meyer didn’t pay me to do a holiday post, but they did give $900 in gift cards to deserving families in the community. Another one of my store partners regularly provides me with social promotion in exchange for writing about them. As a blogger, I find stuff like this provides value beyond compensation.
However, such brand relationships are NOT built overnight. A blog isn’t as simple as “if you build it, they will come.” It takes hard work, persistence, creativity, and a bit of luck, quite frankly.
As far as making money goes, this too will involve some experimentation and hard work. If I can offer a word of advice on the topic, it’s this: don’t promote something you yourself wouldn’t buy. Not only will it be a waste of time and effort on your part, it might well undermine the credibility you desperately need to foster with your readers!
Making Money from Home
At the start of this post, I asked you frankly if this is more an issue about needing cash. I do have some thoughts for you.
If you are passionate about couponing, might I suggest becoming a couponing instructor? Quite frankly, there seems to be a bigger need for this than blogs! You can certainly charge for coupon classes. For more information on this route, please check out my Coupon Class Posts 1, 2, and 3. You can also see how I’ve structured my coupon class fees for an idea of what’s worked for me. A word here – don’t feel guilted into teaching people how to do this for free! If you feel you want to, fine. But as for me, I give so much away here for free that I can’t justify additional time away from my family without charging. (Not to mention gas, childcare, and other expenses that go into my classes.)
Another route that not many people have tapped is becoming a contributor on an existing blog. Many bloggers are looking for help – people that can run to the stores and do price checks, build content, and more. I am not currently looking for contributors, but I did last year! Watch for open calls, or consider inquiring with some of your favorite bloggers when they might be hiring.
I once ran a series highlighting folks who worked at home and made money from it. If you missed that series, please head to my Post Series page and scroll down for the Work at Home features. There truly are many options of making money legitimately at home!
I still want to learn more about blogging
I’ve written quite a bit on the topic of blogging since it’s near and dear to my heart. Some of those posts:
- 30 Lessons I’ve Learned about Blogging
- Behind the Scenes at TCP
- Five questions you should ask before starting a blog
- Seven qualities of winning blogs
- Creating a mission statement and values for your blog
- Making inroads with other blogger
- Growing your blog
- Be Nice (Blogger etiquette)
- 6 ways to improve your posts
- The emotional cost of blogging
- Managing your time while blogging
I should also mention that I’m sometimes asked things by email that I don’t feel OK sharing such as can I help someone brainstorm a blog name or if I can share some of my contacts or if I can meet up for coffee. Please note that while I’m happy to share some things, others I consider proprietary. And maybe others? I should probably be charging you for my time as a professional copywriter/marketer to consult with you.
Beyond that, I HIGHLY recommend the blog Blogging with Amy for practical, step-by-step advice on how to start and run a money making blog.
I love blogging, and I’m so grateful I’ve found a path to work from home. But it wasn’t easy and I’ve said it before – it took 8 months before I saw my first check. It was $100. That is a lot of hours for $100! I hope that if you’re still considering starting that coupon blog you’ll start with a business plan and a realistic understanding of what’s involved.
Other bloggers, I’d love for you to weigh in. What advice would you give someone thinking of starting a blog for business? And if you are a reader of blogs, what are your thoughts about seeing new coupon blogs pop up – are you inclined to read them? Where do you feel there are gaps that new blogs could seek to fill?