How To Start Writing a Blog For Money (in 2020)

On this site, I’ve gone over several ways to make money online. In this post, I’m going to cover ways to write blogs for money… and more.

One of the ways to make money blogging is affiliate marketing, the basics of which are covered HERE. However, this is not the only way to monetize your blogging skills.

If building out a website isn’t where you want to start, I’ll make a couple of recommendations on other ways you can use your writing skills and knowledge to make money online.

Writing a Blog on Medium for Money

If you don’t wish to set up and build out a website (the affiliate marketing route), you can write up articles to post on Medium. You do this by joining Medium as a partner, setting up a Stripe account with them (if you don’t already have one), and start writing.

It’s simple and easy to get stated, and you don’t have to worry about paying for advertising or getting your site ranked in the search engines to get traffic. Medium has its own internal search engine which readers of this site will use to search for whatever topic they are interested in.

Like the affiliate marketing side of the equation, content and content niche is king. You’ll want to create great articles that are useful/helpful to the reader, which will hopefully build a following, assuming you target a niche that is of interest to others.  While you can make money being a generalist, you’re less likely to build a dedicated following, which can do wonders for your viewership (and monetization).

To make decent money, you will need to write content that people spend time with (more time = more money, in the Medium payment algorithm). In order to maximize your article’s readership, you’ll want to get your articles curated.

Getting curated can be a challenge.  Your article must first attract the attention of the Medium algorithm that is used to automatically “thin the herd” (so to speak) of the many articles submitted daily, down to a reasonable number that the editors can read through.

If you pass the ai’s qualification of a quality article, it will then flag the human reviewers to have a look.  Only after  they deem it worthy of recommending, will your article get curated (featured on a main page). That’s where the money-making magic happens – not that getting curated is necessary to make money (it’s not, but it helps).

To keep the money-making potential in perspective, those making the most money are getting multiple articles curated daily. That is a lot of work. Consider that less than 10% (actually, around 7.5% so far in 2020) of all writers on Medium hit the $100/month mark.

On the positive side of the earnings potential, the top authors over this same time frame have earned from $17,126.40 (March, 2020)  to $23,488.16 (January, 2020). No indication in the report whether it is the same author.

Also, 64-67% of all writers on Medium have earned money. No indication of how much, beyond what I’ve previously mentioned, so that runs the entire span of one penny through the aforementioned $23K+. But at least a majority do see something.

If you like to write, and can write well, you can make money on Medium. I’m not trying to talk you out of it, if the idea appeals to you. I just want to tell you the whole story. As with affiliate marketing or anything else, how much you make comes down to your abilities, work ethic, and tenacity.

Pros:

  • You can make passive income.
  • There is potential for a good income, if you are a good (and prolific) writer.
  • No need to build out a website to monetize.
  • Initial payout could be pretty soon, especially if your article gets curated.

Cons:

  • Income consistency is likely a large variable.
  • Effort to income ratio seems pretty high.

My personal take: This is a good way to make some extra cash on the side, for those that like to write. However, if you are looking to build up a passive income stream to potentially replace your job, I think there are better ways to invest your time.

While creating a replacement income on Medium is possible, the sheer amount of work involved in making a living at it is pretty darned high. Putting this same level of effort into building out your own niche website, can potentially be a much better $$/effort scenario. It may take longer to see the first paycheck going the website route, but the potential is much higher, IMO, when you own your own online business and build it properly.

Further, the livelihood you build up from all your hard work cannot be impacted at the whim of a company policy (note that Medium recently “changed the rules” on how they pay out, which did impact many). As an affiliate marketer, you can be impacted by rule changes within affiliate programs (see my Amazon Affiliate Update, as one example), but you are not limited to just ONE affiliate program.

Conclusion: Medium is legit. I’d rate this one as “worth a try” to those who love to write, and would like to make a bit of cash on the side.

[If you are interested in affiliate marketing, and are looking for a good platform to try it out for free, please check out my Wealthy Affiliate Review.]

 

Writing a Top 10 List For Money

If you have a talent for creating unique and interesting top 10 lists, Listverse may be for you. Even if you don’t get paid (you can be published without getting paid), your writing would gain a lot of exposure. Let me explain, using verbiage I pulled directly off their submission page (best way to ensure accuracy):


“Listverse does not pay for submissions. If you submit a list, you are freely donating it to the site for publication if we select it. However, if you send in excellent content that the readers love, you may be selected to join our team of paid Listverse writers.

Before submitting your list make sure it is proof-read and edited. Lists that lack novelty are less likely to be accepted and all lists must conform to the highest standards of the English language. Lists that don’t comply with our terms and conditions and our author’s guide will be rejected without consideration.”


Also, they only accept submissions from the following countries: US, UK, NZ, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and South Africa, so its not available to everyone.

In order to make money with Listverse, you’ll need a PayPal account, as this is how they will pay you, assuming they select you to write for them. Just be sure your submission is interesting, and at least 1500 words. You can submit an article HERE.

Pros:

  • High pay-out per article (I can’t confirm this, but in my research I came across information that claims $100/article).
  • Lots of exposure if you get published, even if you aren’t selected as a writer for Listverse, which is good for your writing resume’.

Cons:

  • Likely a high difficulty level in being selected as a paid writer, thus most would be doing this just for the fun of it, or for the writing exposure.
  • One and done. I’m open for correction on this one, but I don’t believe there is any passive income potential with Listverse. It’s pay per article.

Conclusion: Listverse is legit, though getting paid for your submission would be a challenge. It’s definitely worth a shot if you have a knack for writing “top 10” lists. Try it and see what happens. Just understand that you are likely donating your material to Listverse for free, and it’s no longer yours once submitted.

 

Submit an Article to The Penny Hoarder

Do you have a unique and fun idea how to save or earn money? You can try pitching your idea to The Penny Hoarder. Payment is negotiated (rather than per article or per word, as with other models), assuming they accept your article.

Odds of getting published really depend on how well you write, and the quality of the idea (and whether someone beat you to it). If you get published, and have a website you’d like to reference in the article, you can negotiate that, as well.

Types of articles they are looking for (as of the date of this post, check the link provided, above, to see if it has changed):

  • Success stories and unique job ideas.
  • Eating/travel/life on a budget.
  • Step by step smart money guides.

If you have a knack for this sort of writing, you can make money with The Penny Hoarder.

Pros:

  • The Penny Hoarder is a well-established site, with a large community.
  • If you get published, you will get a lot of exposure.
  • If you have a website, your published article can be used to drive additional traffic to it (traffic is the currency of any online business.

Cons:

  • You’ll have to be a pretty decent writer, with a unique idea, in order to make money. Easier said than done.
  • Pay per article (getting paid is good, but residual income is king).

Conclusion: The Penny Hoarder is a legit, well-established site. If you feel you can contribute something unique and fun, there are benefits to getting published, beyond the payment for the article.  And for those who have a business website, getting published can assist in driving traffic to your site, assuming you negotiate the inclusion of your link.

 

For The Really Prolific Writers Out There…

If you are a true writer at heart, and love to tell stories – or even have a great “do it yourself” idea you’d like to publish in the hopes of making money, why not try publishing it with the largest online book seller on the Internet? As you can see, there’s quite a bit of interest and information about doing just that.

While this is not exactly an idea that completely matches the topic of writing a blog for money, it’s still a way you can monetize your writing skills online (just not in blog form).

For those who want to create a passive income from their writing, and are willing to invest a good deal of time in creating something special, why not write a book and publish it via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing?

Your choices of what to write about are only limited by your imagination and knowledge. If you can write a novel, non-fiction book, or even a ‘how to’ booklet, you can publish it on Amazon.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is the publishing direction of the future.  And Amazon doesn’t limit you to digital product, either, which is great, because many people still prefer a physical book.

It is easy to publish a digital book with KDP. Publishing a digital product  allows for higher profit margins, while selling at a lower price than the paper counterpart.

A few tips :

  • Get a proof-reader. This may seem obvious, but many will try to do it all themselves – with varying degrees of success and professionalism. If you are going to sell an e book or novel on Amazon, treat it as the business it is, and be professional… do what the professionals do, as much as possible.  There are plenty of free-lance professionals that will do this, without breaking the bank.
  • At the very least, get a second opinion/feedback BEFORE uploading (more is better). We all have different filters, and perceive things a bit differently. It helps to get a second set of eyes to spot anything potentially problematic (or perhaps difficult to understand for those not as knowledgeable as you on the topic).
  • Make sure you understand all the submission criteria before you start writing.
  • Carefully target the title of your book. Don’t create more competition for yourself by naming it like other books in your niche that are selling well. The title is what will grab a potential buyer’s attention.
  • You’ll discover that using low competition keywords in your title can help your book get noticed on Amazon. A keyword tool designed for selling on Amazon can be helpful. I go over a couple of them in this article. If you’re going to make this a side hustle (or a way of life), make the best of it. A book that doesn’t come up in Amazon searches will not sell, nor will a book that comes up 10 pages down in a crowded niche.
  • Carefully research how to create a proper listing for your book. Spend some quality time on this, as it is critical to go from click to purchase. People READ the descriptions – sometime very carefully. Attention to detail is rewarded.

Of course, you need a KDP account to get started. If you already have an Amazon account, you can log into KDP using the same credentials. If you don’t have one, it takes little effort to sign up.

Pros:

  • Easy to publish your book.
  • Good potential for passive income.
  • Amazon can print a paper copy of your e book, if you wish. There is a cost associated, but it takes all the printing headaches off your hands if you wish to sell paper & digital product.
  • LOTS of traffic on Amazon to tap into.
  • Your book is copyrighted immediately upon upload, and all rights to it  are yours.
  • You don’t have to write a novel to make money. A small ‘how to’ (or the like) eBook can be profitable, if appropriately targeted and well-written.
  • If you can get a solid number of good reviews of your book, is like printing money (well, not quite, but it is the gold standard on Amazon).

Cons:

  • Let’s face it, writing a good book isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it.
  • Lots of competition in most niches. You’ll need to be creative.
  • Bad reviews can kill the profitability of your book.
  • A lot of work is involved, and even a quality book can fail (low or no sales). A good product does not guarantee success, though it certainly is the starting point.
  • Amazon gets a cut (you knew there had to be a gotcha somewhere 😉 ). Of course, its worth it, as the platform provides the potential you would not otherwise have of publishing and selling your book.  You keep up to 70%.

Conclusion: Of course its legit. It’s Amazon. For the truly gifted writers among us (or even good writers), this is a great way to publish your work. KDP provides a huge audience of potential buyers, handles everything for you after you upload and list it, and its a great way for a writer to simply and quickly (quickly, as in after you write the book) create a passive income.  They are currently offering free tools to help you get started.

 

Closing Thoughts

These are just a few of the ways you can make money with your writing, but it’s far from a complete list.

If you do a bit of research, you’ll find plenty of ways to freelance your writing skills – for blogs or freelance.

To become a freelance writer for many publications, you’ll need references. In the digital era, a body of online work you can give them can make or break you. Every option, above, can potentially be used as a part of your resume.

If this topic is of interest to you, let me know in the comments.  I’d be happy to expand on this list.  There are many more options available.

Happy writing!

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16 Comments

  1. You have shared several good options on how to start writing a blog for money in 2020, so if I only wanted to choose one of these how would I narrow down which one is the best choice for me?

    Jeff

    • Hi Jeff,

      Personally, I think the best option for cashing in on blogging would be affiliate marketing. Everyone has something they know well, and can share that knowledge to help others. In the process, they can refer people to the best products in that area, making a commission on those referrals. It does take quite a bit more work to build out a website, but if you like to write about your passion, it seems more like fun than work. Everyone wants to make money doing what that love. That’s a win-win-win (the last win is for readers that can learn from you about the topic and the best best related products).

      If you don’t have the gumption to build a website (my recommended program, Wealthy Affiliate, makes this easy… though it’s still a good bit of work), and only want to write an article now and then to try to make money on the side, Medium isn’t a bad way to go.

      It all depends on what you’re looking to do.

      Thanks for the question.

      Steve

  2. I never knew about most of these sites before, and if you are getting into affiliate marketing, it allows you to not completely start from zero.

    This is a great read, and I have bookmarked this article to refer to it later if I am interested in any of these sites later in time.

    Thank you for sharing!
    -Joseph

    • Hi Joseph,

      Thanks for leaving a comment. Glad you found it informative.

      You made a good point. If you were to create articles to post on Medium or elsewhere, you could always use them later if you chose to go the affiliate marketing route… assuming you still own them.

      All the best,
      Steve

  3. Hi, Steve,

    Thank you for your honest opinion.

    I personally think that investing your time into something you don’t have full control over is a bit risky.

    Like in this case, Medium exists today, but there is no guarantee it’ll be there tomorrow.

    Don’t want to look negative but what if the worse scenario happens?

    Well, it might be not the end of the world but you’ll still have to start elsewhere from scratch building your portfolio.

    • Hi Natalie,

      You’re right. If Medium disappears, you’re income does, as well. Or, as I mention, if they decide to change the pay-out rules again, it could negatively impact you.

      There’s always risk, but I prefer the ones where I have the most control. 😉

      All the best,
      Steve

  4. Hi there, thanks for this review, I have come accross Medium before but didn’t really commit and I am glad I didn’t. the effort needed is simply too high for a business model that is not really sustainable. i would rather be develping my website for me to have total control over in the long run. thanks for taking tome to share your experience on this article.

    • Hello, and thanks for stopping by.

      I agree 100%. The same time put into a website (which you have control over, as you said), can reap much greater rewards for your time (we like that at Reclaim Your Time). However, if all you want to do is post a few articles to see if you can make money, Medium isn’t a bad idea.

      I don’t know about you, but I doubt I could keep up the pace necessary to make a decent income on Medium. Writing a decent article takes time.

      All the best,
      Steve

  5. Ivan

    I knew about Medium publishing but I had no idea that you can get paid for writing there. Also, Kindle publishing is a great idea and I’m definitely interested to try it out day. I have a blog site for now and it’s doing very well, which is something you could add to your already awesome list here. In any case, thanks a lot for a great source of information. Much appreciated.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Ivan. I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment.

      Kindle publishing is the route I’ll be going when I complete the book I’m working on (okay, IF I complete it… I have a lot on my plate at the moment 😉 ).

      Congrats on the popular blog!
      Steve

  6. Satz

    Great info…Penny hoarder was new to me, I must say a few things on Medium. If you’ve already built up a good-sized social media following, there’s good news: you can take your audience with you to Medium. So you basically have a built-in audience with no effort on your part! You can link your Medium profile to your Twitter and Facebook IDs. Medium will then figure out which of those users are also on Medium and connect you with those people automatically.

    • Thanks for sharing that. If you have a following to pull over, you certainly increase your potential earnings on Medium.

      That’s a great catch! Appreciate the assist.

      All the best,
      Steve

  7. Hi Steve!

    I am a writer and I have published several books on Amazon. It is indeed not easy to get noticed, and only recently did I learn about using the right keywords on Amazon.
    I know Medium, and I am subscribed as a reader. I thought of submitting articles, but I write a lot of content for my own websites and then I am also working on a new book, so I think Medium is not going to happen right now, but well, who knows … maybe one day I find time.
    I have heard of the Penny Hoarder, but the other platforms are new to me.
    This article was very informative for me. I also checked your article about keywords on Amazon. What tool do you suggest to research keywords for Amazon?

    • Hi Christine,

      Thanks for stopping by. Congratulations on the published books. That’s quite an accomplishment.

      As far as a good research tool goes, I’d recommend Helium 10, if all you need is a tool to help you with keywords for Amazon. You can sign up for just the “Black Box” tool for $37/mo (or $370/year). I use it frequently for my Amazon business. It’s a product research/keyword tool. It’s one tool in the Helium 10 suite.

      I believe the affiliate special is still in effect, so you can go through this site (there is a link on this page) and get either 50% off your first month, or 10% off every month (I believe the 10% off applies to the annual fee, as well). This article also goes over some of the differences between the Helium 10 and Jungle Scout.

      Jungle Scout is also very good, but costs more than Black Box, alone, as it’s a suite of tools. In your case, it sounds like Black Box is the best fit.

      Good luck with the new book!
      -Steve

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