How to make money online as a blogger or freelancer

So you’ve been online for a minute and you’re ready to find work and make some serious coins. But how? Where do you start? How to you make enough money to start paying bills? What do you sell?!

Breathe easy because you are not alone in wondering these things. A majority of my clients have asked me recommendations for finding work online and making money as a blogger.

Here are a few suggestions I’ve tried and succeeded with as a full-time designer and part-time blogger.

But first things first

Before you start reaching out for work, there are some things you should have together so you look professional. First impressions matter.

You need a website

This one is overlooked by many who want to start working online and may have a large following on social media. You need a website. Your Facebook page, or Instagram, isn’t gonna cut it fam. Your work needs a home.

Period. This isn’t up for discussion.

There are many platforms you can use to build a website including WordPress, Medium, Tumblr, and Squarespace (avoid sites like Blogger, Wix, and Weebly when possible).

When you create your website, setup the following pages:

  1. An about page with your bio and examples of your work, or press features
  2. A contact page with a form, or ways to reach you online
  3. A portfolio page with a gallery of places you’ve been featured, or work you’ve created

Bonus: if you’re selling services create a page with prices ranges for your services. This helps prospective clients budget around your services.

Try to keep your website template clean and minimal. You want it to be easy for people to find your work, find out more about you, and find your rates.

If you’re using self-hosted WordPress, check out my WordPress themes if you need a clean design that’s portfolio friendly. If you want to fancy up your template a bit, I’ve written a guide on how to do that for free that can be used for any website (other than medium).

READ: How to customize your website for free

Build a portfolio or media kit

You need a portfolio for whatever it is you’re trying to do. You don’t need experience working with clients (though that is nice for feedback, referrals, etc). You need to have some expertise in the industry you’re trying to work in.

If you’re trying to write for a fashion brand, you need a few fashion posts on your website as samples of your work. If you’re trying to get into logo design, you need a portfolio of logo samples. If you’re wanting to do product reviews you need a few posts, or videos, of product reviews.

Second, if you’re pitching to brands, you need a media kit, which is a list of stats for your social channels, your newsletter, your blog, etc. If you need a template or an example of a media kit, you can access Canva’s free media kit library here.

Be sure to have your brand logo and color palette ready to go. I can help you design both. Click here to hire me if you need logo design services.

Know your current stats

To do a media kit, you’ll need to know your website stats. Most brands require you to use Google Analytics. You can install Google Analytics pretty easily using Moz’s beginner’s guide to Google Analytics.

READ: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics by Moz 

Metrics you need to know include how many monthly views you receive, how long people stay on your site (average time per visitor), and some demographical information about your visitors.

How to make money online

Now that you’re site is setup properly and ready to represent you well online, here are some tried and true tips for finding work online and growing your online income.

Utilize your social networks

First, and probably most importantly, utilize the social network you’ve been building. Be sure to promote your work (writing, videos, design, art, etc) daily and preferably multiple time per day. That way the people who follow you know what you create and that you’re available for work.

Next, promote your services. If you’re available for hire, promote that at least once per day. You need to get comfortable pitching your services. Social media is the best way to see what types of pitches work well for your audience.

Then, use social media to find the contact information of editors, business owners, and brand managers. You’ll need this information for my next suggestion.

Get comfortable pitching

Then more you promote yourself online, you’ll notice more and more people referring you to people in their network. In order to get the job advertised, you need to master pitching.

Pitching is an art that will be crafted over time. But, in email (or private message—however THEY say you need to contact them), do the following:

  1. Introduce yourself
  2. Reiterate the job you’re looking for
  3. Provide a link to your portfolio/media kit
  4. Include previous experience (if available)
  5. Include price ranges
  6. Attach your media kit

If you’re a blogger looking to work with brands you should have an ask letter template ready. If a brand has not reached out to you formally, you can reach out to them using an ask letter instead of a customized pitch letter.

If you need a template, here’s a helpful guide by Amber of the Busy Creating Memories blog.

READ: How to write an Ask letter

How to make money without depending on client work

As a budding business owner online, you need multiple streams of revenue to consistently make money. There have been so many months where I have been unable to take clients but still needed to pay bills. So, let’s have an entry level discussion on other income streams for bloggers and freelancers.

Let’s talk about passive income

Passive income is mistakenly coined as the money that you make while you sleep. In truth, passive income requires a lot of work upfront for a greater long term payoff.

You make a product of some sort 1 time, and you sell it multiple times. My digital art is that way. I spent the time upfront conceptualizing each piece, testing the designs, promoting them, but I can sell them multiple times without having to create new pieces.

Some passive income sources to research include:

  1. eBooks
  2. PDFs and printables
  3. Digital Artwork
  4. Blog Ads via Google or another add source
  5. Affiliate marketing (discussed further below)
  6. Digital Design Downloads

Have you considered product sales?

If you have the means to design a product, or can afford to reach out to a designer, product sales are a great way to get some side income. You can have products designed with your blog logo, a catchy brand phrase, and more.

I’ve seen many amazing bloggers kill it with t-shirts, mugs, and more. If you need a site to sell your products on I’d recommend Etsy or Shopify. Both have built in audiences already, and provide you with beautiful shopping website templates.

If you want 40 free listings on Etsy to try out selling online, you can use my link here:

You’ve got to try affiliate marketing

If you’ve never heard of affiliate marketing here’s a basic example of what it is. Someone else created a product, course, or service. You sell the product, course, or service for them. Each time you make a sale, you get a commission of the payment.

The non-sleazy way to kill it with affiliate marketing is to promote service you are already using. Your website host probably has an affiliate program. Your newsletter service probably has one. Even Amazon will pay you to promote products from the site.

If you take the time to do your Googles, you’ll be able to find some cool programs for products you’re using from clothing to design. If you can’t find an affiliate program for a product you absolutely love and are already promoting, reach out the brand and ask. Be sure to attach your media kit to the email.

Also, if you decide to venture into the world of affiliate marketing you need to read the FTC’s rules (or the trade commission of your country) for promoting products on your site.

And then there are sponsorships

Another avenue to consider is sponsorships. While there are services that help pair you with different sponsorships, the best way to do this is to reach out to brands and ask if they’ll sponsor you.

You need to include your media kit, and be able to articulate what you bring to the table. Small, but perfectly niche, bloggers kill it with brands in this fashion. If you’re on Instagram, check to see if a brand is accepting promoters for new product lines.

I hope this guide simplifies the quest for making money online. Don’t get discouraged if things move slowly in the beginning. As you gain more experience, you’ll learn which income streams work best for you and your audience, and which are a waste of time.

If you have additional time you need to go over BlackFreelance’s checklist to getting started as a freelancer.

READ: The Freelance Checklist by BlackFreelance