There are a billion ways to monetize your blogging brilliance. You may not be able to support yourself or family when you first get started (true in any business), but with perseverance and a little strategy, you can at least supplement your income and see what's possible.
Google Ad revenue.
You can add Google ads to your website. It takes a little patience to set up, but can give you an immediate return on your blogging bliss. Google: Google Adsense to set up an account and get started.
Google Ad Strategies:
-your audience needs to be the kind of people who click on ads. I built a website once for gamers. The website was a calculator that helped gamers gauge their risk in making different moves in the game. It was awesome. And useful. And gamers would pull up that site and keep it open all day. But they never once clicked on an ad.
Meanwhile, I put ads on a site for Republicans, and oh boy--they went nuts clicking for the whole 17 hours the ads were up. The (elderly) Republican leaders were trying to figure out how ads for Democrats ended up on their site! So they clicked and clicked and clicked to try to get to the bottom of things!! Whoops! Made about $25 before they realized I had the power to remove "the liberal blasphemy" from their site.
My most successful Google ad experience brought in about $100/month for several years (with almost no attention given to the website after the initial setup). The website was for a niche product, and customers were being driven to the website from other websites and marketing methods. People clicked on ads because they were in the market for a product, and the ads were generally related to their product search.
Ever wonder why someone is drinking a Diet Coke in a TV show? Product Placement! Coca Cola will make more money by influencing people to drink their product, than by telling them directly. Use Product Placement with Trade to get started. Want to get your hair cut, but can't afford the best salon? Ask the salon if you can do a trade--a blog post featuring your hair experience with links to their salon site, in exchange for a hair cut! Tip in cash, please!
Once you have a big enough following, you can ask for real money for these sorts of blog posts!
Offer blogs for SEO purposes to local businesses or businesses that hit your niche market (for a fee). Do a story about how awesome a company, service or website is--and include some helpful links to their website in the copy. It's really important that you link properly, or else your blog will come off as spammy, or it won't be effective for your ad client.
-When you're talking about a web design company, link the important words about their SEO services like this.
-Do not link like this: wakinggirl.com
-And don't bother to link like this: Waking Girl is cool.
Link the words that people would use to find the business in a Google search. That will indicate to Google that "Waking Girl" is a "web design company" and offers "SEO services."
Ask for a one-time fee or a monthly fee, or a set up fee + monthly fee (businesses will benefit as long as the blog post is up and traffic is coming to your website).
Run your own graphic ads on the sidebars, footers or headers of your website. Ask businesses or organizations to supply graphics that fit the space, and then charge a monthly, quarterly or annual fee for sharing your web space! Websites generally charge too much for graphic ads. Words are actually worth more than pictures in a blog. The only time an ad would be more worthwhile is if your EXACT readers should be the EXACT customers for the ads. So--if all of your single, mom friends in Mobile, Alabama are reading your blog, then a graphic ad for a Singles Speed Dating event for Moms in Mobile, Alabama would make sense. For ads, go for sponsorship. Who just wants to support you and identify with you to help you out and be a friend? Is there a Women's Crisis Center or a Church or a MicroLoan organization that speaks to you? See if they want to smack their logo on your website for a small monthly fee. If you really want to benefit the organization, take the time to write a proper blog post about them, too!
What to charge.
Google ads: Google will decide!
Product Placement: use this to trade whatever you can trade! Hair care, kid's activities, restaurants. Look for companies that have some extra time or product on their hands, and want to help you get started!
SEO: If you write up a full, engaging story on a business, that's worth at least $50. If you use some SEO, and target relevant businesses for your audience, that's worth as much as you can sell it for ($75, $100, $250). I prefer low set up fees with ongoing monthly fees ($50 + $5/month, and yes, you may pay for a year at a time).
Ads: $5/month to $500/month. Seriously--the sky is the limit. Try to give people both an ad AND an SEO blog post AND a product placement experience!
Important next steps:
Quantity! Go! Keep writing! The deeper you allow people into your life, the more valuable your blog will become.
Plug into your audience.
Seek out Facebook Groups that feature your target market. Who is your target market? People just like you! Find your people!
Check in with your sponsors.
Follow up regularly with anyone contributing to the cause; communication will help you find new ways to help, and that will ultimately boost your bottom line! :)
Blogs: the gateway drug to your new business.