Some very good advice here!
I thought I might try and add to it. In 2009/10 I was at the point of being (more or less) a full time professional blogger with a web-industry site, compassdesigns.net
This is what I learned on the way.
There are several ways to leverage a website to generate revenue, but before any of them happens you need traffic. The fundamental way to attract traffic is to have compelling content. Most often it is content in the form of "text". SItes such as journal-types, or training-types fall into this category. People used to (and still do) try and use a blog to sell an ebook. This isn't really that effective these days, and you'd be better off putting all that content into the website. A great resource for the idea of traffic through content is Content Marketing Solutions from Copyblogger
- spend an afternoon reading that site.
There are other forms of content, think images, video, but generally content in the form of copy is the most common.
Once you have compelling content, people will come to your site to read it. Generally, the more specific your niche, the less content you need. My site was getting in the order of 2,000 to 4,000 visits a day. Obviously, you might well be in the "sailing niche", but you could be even more specific than that. Generally, the conventional wisdom is you give 90% of your best content away for free, i.e. put it up on the website.
As has been previously mentioned, it's a significant amount of work to get to this point where the traffic and revenue are meaningful. You are splitting your time between generating content, SEO
, marketing and business partnerships. The other thing is a blog needs constant care and attention. Fall off this regimen and traffic falls off fast (as you can see above!)
So, you have created your compelling content, and are starting to get 100-500 visitors a day, then what.
In order of amount, here is how you can get an income:
1. Affiliate placements, most effective when you have an email list along with your site.
2. Offline services associated with niche (speaking/training, etc)
3. Membership site for exclusive content. If your stuff is good enough, you can charge for it.
4. Highly targeted advertising. You'd be seeking out specific companies to advertise on your site.
5. Automated advertising (Google Adsense), hardly worth it.
One last thing, don't be too fast to try and monetize the blog. Get the loyal traffic THEN start putting ads on. To give you some idea, I was blogging for about 2 years before I started placing ads on my site.
One last thing, you are not going to get anywhere with a clumsy site and doesn't look so great. It's well worth spending a hundred bucks or so right away to use something like Wordpress with a professional template.