3 Types of Money-Making Blogs (and Which One You Need for Your Creative Business)
Do you ever feel like you're getting conflicting advice about how to make money with a blog? Join ad networks . . . but don't clutter up your site with ads. Focus on your audience . . . but write about something you love. Create products to sell on your blog . . . but earn truly passive income with affiliate links instead. You're getting confusing advice because there's more than one type of blog. Each blog type has a different purpose and a different way to make money---and that means they each need a different content strategy. Unless you know exactly which type of blog you have (or should have), you're going to feel like you're spinning your wheels because you're listening to advice that wasn't meant for you.
Which type of blog should you be focusing on? Let's break it down in this guide to the three types of blogs.
Your Guide to the 3 Types of Blogs (and How to Choose Which One Is Right for You)
1. The Hobby Blog
We're all familiar with one. This is the blogger who started a blog for fun and eventually grew their audience to a large enough number that they realized they could earn some cash from it. This is often what people think about when they envision blogging for profit.
What they write about: Literally anything they want. These blogs often have more personal content and don't focus on a specific niche.
Main income sources: Affiliate links, typically by promoting their favorite products, books, or clothing lines. Revenue from ad networks and partnerships with specific brands can also add up to a big chunk of hobby blogging income. Some hobby bloggers also have "hobby businesses"---small businesses or Etsy shops that they run more out of joy than out of profit.
Metrics that matter: Hobby bloggers rely on the size of their audience to fuel their affiliate sales and catch the attention of large brands. Most people become loyal to hobby bloggers because they feel like they know them on a personal level. Not only do hobby bloggers want to see a continuous increase in monthly pageviews, they also have to focus on growing their social media following as much as they can across several platforms.
What their blog life looks like: Hobby bloggers typically post several times a week to keep their pageviews high and offer more click-through opportunities on ads and affiliate links. They also spend time coming up with recipes/DIY projects/outfits (depending on what topics they write about), taking and editing photos (no stock photos for hobby bloggers---readers expect to see high-quality photos of your real life!), interacting with followers on social media and posting plenty of real-time updates, managing partnerships with brands and ad networks, and promoting affiliate links.
Best for: Anyone who wants a fun hobby or a creative outlet rather than a sustainable business. I want to say loud and clear that there is nothing wrong with hobby blogs. They're typically my favorite blogs to read! Hobby blogs can cultivate a strong sense of community and can give the blogger a fun sense of purpose. BUT. They aren't the smartest plan for anyone who wants to earn a full-time income online.
Why? Because it takes too much time and energy to turn into a sustainable business. The blogosphere is flooded with new hobby blogs every day, and it takes a loooooong time (and a significant investment) to create a blog with a large enough audience to generate any real revenue. It's an income stream that often results in hustle and burnout, two things I'd personally like to avoid.
Bottom line: By all means, start a hobby blog if you want one, and take steps to monetize it however you feel comfortable. But don't expect it to replace your day job without years of hard work first.
2. The Niche Blog
These blogs are the narrowed-down cousin to hobby blogs. These blogs go deep instead of wide, focusing on a very niche topic that they don't stray from. Niche blogs typically focus on being as informative as possible so they can rise to be the cream of the blogging crop in their specific area.
What they write about: Anything and everything related to their specific topic. The goal of a niche blog is to become the go-to resource for people who are interested in going beyond just surface info on a certain topic.
Main income sources: Ad revenue and affiliate links. Some niche bloggers may also choose to incorporate a paid guide or other passive income product as part of their revenue stream.
Metrics that matter: Niche bloggers need an audience if they want to earn any money, but their audience doesn't need to be nearly as large as hobby bloggers' thanks to the power of focus. While pageviews are a concern for niche bloggers, many of them can make a decent income without seeing the insane site traffic hobby bloggers rely on. Niche bloggers also place a premium on SEO since their blog health depends on Google seeing them as a reliable authority in their industry.
What their blog life looks like: It takes time to get a niche blog up and running, so the early days of niche blogging will be spent busting your butt to establish an authoritative website with quality content that publishes several times a week. However, niche bloggers aren't expected to get personal and cozy with their audience. That frees them up to outsource much of their blog work to guest posters further down the road. They can also continue to repurpose and promote past content, which eventually may allow them to post less often (a luxury hobby bloggers don't have).
Best for: Someone who's interested in a specific topic and who is willing to put in plenty of time and energy before earning any significant money. You have to truly love your topic to be successful in a niche blog, so don't start writing about personal finance or technology just because you think it's a niche that could earn some money.
Many niche bloggers eventually reject the ad-revenue model and monetize their audience through paid info products, services, or membership communities. This gives them one foot in the niche blogging market, and one foot in blog type #3 . . .
3. The Business Blog
A business blog is any blog used to promote a business owner's products or services. Unlike the other two models, a business blog isn't the business---it's a tool that supports the business. The business came first; the blog only exists to spread the word about the business owner's products or expertise.
What they write about: A specific set of topics that relates to their business services/products AND helps their ideal business audience solve a problem.
>> Not sure what to blog about for your business? Find out here! <<
Main income sources: Selling products or services. Some business blogs may also include the occasional affiliate link (because why not, right?), but you won't often find business blogs cluttered with Google ads or partnering with brands for sponsorships.
Metrics that matter: Business blogs can be successful without bringing nearly as much traffic as the other two blog types. (Trust me, my monthly pageviews are laughably low, and I earn a FT income!) The metrics that matter for business bloggers are newsletter subscribers and reader engagement. That's because it's easier to sell a product or service to people via email than through your blog or social media---and because conversion rates are higher, you don't need as big of a list to see substantial income. But building trust and rapport with your readers is super important. Shares, comments, and social media interaction is all vital to a successful business blog.
What their blog life looks like: Pageviews don't matter as much, which means business bloggers are free to blog as little as once or twice a month without losing revenue. It's a good thing, too, because their time is often spent actually providing the service/product they're selling! Business bloggers have the option to outsource most of their blog work once their business reaches a certain income level.
Best for: People who want a more stable online income. Earning your keep in the online world is always going to take hard work, but setting up an online business that's separate from a monetized blog can make it a lot less stressful. Hobby and niche bloggers are both prey to the whims of others: Google's algorithms, Amazon's affiliate policy, etc. But business bloggers are building their business on their own terms by monetizing their skills and knowledge. That's not something anyone can ever take away from you. Your business blog is just one way to spread the word about how awesome you and your business are.
But business blogs only work if they have a solid content strategy backing them up. If you're ready to get intentional about what your blog does for your business, grab your free content strategy cheat sheet!
Which type of blog is right for you?
You're the only one who can answer that. It all depends on your income goals, how much time you have, and what you want to accomplish with your blog. Can't decide? You can always have more than one blog for more than one purpose! There is no right or wrong answer here, so do some playing around in the blogosphere to find what works best for you.