Friday, August 30, 2013

How to Make Money Blogging: The Literary Mercenary's Guide

As an author there is no feeling that can compare with knowing I've really affected a reader. Knowing someone out there went to bed with gooseflesh crawling down his back, or had to choke back tears at the end of one of my tales gives me the rare satisfaction of a job well-done. There's a tricky thing about job satisfaction though.

You can't eat it.

You can't pay rent with compliments, you can't get your car fixed with admiration, and you sure as hell can't barter professional pride for medical services. For that you need cold, hard cash; something writers are notoriously short on. Fortunately if you have the ability to put words on a page in an order that people find interesting and thought-provoking, then you have the ability to run a blog. If you can run a blog, then you can start getting paid.

Click, Click, Boom!

Have you ever wondered why there's advertising everywhere on the Internet? Because if a website has ads on it then someone is paying when those ads get clicked. It could be your favorite dating website, an online TV streaming site, or even your favorite webcomic; nothing is free. As long as the site has Google AdSense though, and a decent amount of website traffic, it's going to make enough to pay its bills at the end of the month.

What's Google AdSense?

Google AdSense is one of the most popular advertising machines on the net today. It's also the one that's operating right here as you read. It also might be giving birth to Skynet, it's hard to tell. The way it works is that you sign up for an account, and based on your website you either get approved or told to go work on your numbers. Mostly if Google believes your site has enough content and enough regular views to make you a viable advertiser it will approve your account and give you a number. Once you have a number you can let Google read over your posts and pick out keywords to choose the right ads for your page. For instance, in this post right here, chances are good there are a lot of ads about getting a degree in a creative field, getting your book published or finding other writing jobs. I'm not psychic; Google saw what I was talking about, and then matched the ads accordingly.

So How Do I Get Paid?

That's up to you, kimosabe. Once you have an account you could go to any website that supports AdSense (,, and are just a few I can mention off the top of my head) and start creating content. For every ad click you get you'll be given a fee, from a few cents to a dollar and change. So if someone comes to my page and clicks an ad for getting a graduate degree in creative writing I'll have .50 in my account. If that happens 1,000 times in a given pay period (30 days or so), then that's most of a rent check Google will be sending me a few weeks after the end of the month. Every click gets the creator one step closer to making more tasty, tasty content for you.

Is That The Only Way?

Of course it isn't the only way. In fact no writer should ever put all of his or her chips on one method of getting paid. That's how you go from somebody to nobody in the space of a torn page. While Google AdSense is great, blogs have a couple other tricks up their sleeves.

The first is merchandise. If you have a webcomic, or if you've written a book (Goodreads has a comprehensive list of my titles right here for those who are interested) then a blog lets your audience know what you have for sale. Exposure can translate directly to fans, and fans will purchase things you have for sale to support you and keep your career going.

Additionally, if you don't like requiring people to click ads then you can seek out a website that offers PPM (per-per-thousand, even though it looks like it should be millions). Yahoo! Voices does this (and I can vouch for them, with an archive of over 300 articles on various topics at this link), for instance. The way this works is that you write an article on some topic, and for every 1,000 hits you receive cumulatively, you earn a fee. That fee ranges from $1.00 to $2.00, so it's important that you have a lot of content, popular content, or better yet both.

Any Other Tips of the Trade?

Well, the only thing I can testify for certain is that bloggers need readers just like any other kind of writer. Sure you might have a catchy title, or become a short-term sensation, but if you don't have a core readership then you don't have a long-term solution for earning income. That's why your content has to be actionable, entertaining, informative, and preferably evergreen. Making fun of Twilight's been popular for years now, but the series is done to death, its fan base is moving on, and with it goes the high search volume, and all of that lovely traffic you might have had.

For more updates and handy solutions, as well as to stalk what I'm doing and where I'm going, follow my author page on Facebook or join my train over on Tumblr. Lastly, don't forget that the Literary Mercenary runs on Google AdSense.


  1. For some strange reason your ads are trying to convince me to buy Eucalyptus Plantations in Brazil.

  2. For me, your ads are selling golf supplies. Odd.