Born of the Internet age, blogging (short for "web logging") is one of the newer and more popular venues for freelance writing.

We've all heard a lot about the possibilities open to bloggers - a potential audience of millions, infinite creative control, our own bylines and possible financial rewards, such as corporate sponsorships-and these have captured the interest and imagination of many of us.

make money online blogging

The truth is that it can be a challenge to be a successful blogger. One needs consistency and a knowledge of marketing and web design to make a living or a comfortable extra income from this popular medium.

One reason for this is the competition arising from the low barrier to entry. Anyone with access to the Web can start a blog. Sites like Blogger, LiveJournal and even Facebook offer free webspace to anyone who cares to sign up. The result is the millions of blogs online today, all of them free to read and browse, many of them literate and witty, and a few of them wildly popular.

No matter how expert you are in any field, be it foreign policy or IT or nutrition, this wealth of free content makes it difficult to charge for access to one's writing. After all, there are thousands of other bright and engaging writers giving away similar material.

For this reason, your main sources of revenue are probably going to be advertising and whatever paid products you can fit onto the site. Fortunately, the options for placing ads on your blog are numerous.

Google's AdSense is the most obvious choice, and it provides targeted advertising that pays you directly for each click, based on the content of your page. Although the fee per click is low, many people are more likely to click on an ad than to purchase a product. Even Apple's own iWeb, which has come with every new Mac over the past few years, has a built-in AdSense feature to take advantage of this advertising medium.

The "double-edged sword" of Web advertising is that the most effective advertising is also the most obtrusive; advertising that blocks content until the user clicks on it, either to make it go away or to visit the link, has the highest potential of annoying visitors. This can lead to an old lower overall reputation for your blog, and on the Internet, reputation is one of the largest determinants of traffic. Driving more traffic to your blog, of course, will make advertising on your blog more effective.

For this reason you will want to find a compromise between heavy advertising and light traffic or light advertising and heavy traffic. The instant responsiveness of the Internet can work in your favor in this regard, as you can ask your readers how much advertising they find acceptable.

Reader connectivity is an important feature of all blogs, and it provides a viable form of visitor feedback. It also allows you to develop personal connections with your visitors, the kind of connections that build loyal audiences.

So how can you make money by blogging? The opportunities are many:

1) You can sidestep the issue of advertising entirely by offering premium content exclusively to subscribers. For the reasons discussed above, the premium content will have to be highly desirable and something that your readers are confident they will not be able to get anywhere else.

An alternative is to create a physical book or an e-book that contains advanced content and instruction and offer it for sale on your website. You can even compile some of your previous blog postings into a physical book, as a large number of people may be willing to pay for something they can hold in their hands.

Another option is to go the route: make your archives available to those who are willing to watch a short full-screen advertisement. Or you can ask for donations and rely on your visitors' willingness to support content they find valuable.

Of course, advertising, premium content and physical books will be worthless if people aren't interested in what you have to say in the first place. Therefore, you want to abide by the following simple rules to make your blog popular:

1) Write about something you're interested in or care about

2) Write consistently and on a regular schedule (preferably daily)

3) Read, comment and post on other blogs

Contrary to popular belief, you should probably not take what you feel will simply be a "hot" moneymaking topic and start from there. People read blogs because they provide a personal, in-depth source of information on topics that traditional media outlets gloss over or ignore.

If you can provide in-depth viewpoints and analysis on a regular basis for your readers, with a minimally intrusive but still effective revenue system based on either advertising or subscriptions on a topic that you are interested in and passionate about, then you, too, can become a successful blogger.