I’m not sure what the exact statistics are, but I’m certain most bloggers don’t make much – if any – money from their efforts. It’s a shame too. After all, you were so energized when you first launched your blog.
Perhaps you were inspired by the stories of successful bloggers. People like Yaro Starak, John Chow, Darren Rowse, Leo Babauta and other rock-star bloggers who “work a few hours per day from the comfort of their home, and earn a six-figure income.” Maybe you read their stories and thought, “wow, that’s for me.” Now, here you are, six or twelve months down the line, and still, you have little to show for your efforts.
I know how you feel. I’ve been there myself. I launched my first blog, Small Business Branding in 2004 when blogs were just starting to become cool. At the time, like most new bloggers, I worked a full-time job and devoted most of my spare time to building my blog. I wrote good content, did the SEO thing, networked with other bloggers, did link exchanges, created a podcast, interviewed other bloggers … the whole nine yards (almost).
And my efforts were somewhat effective. I developed a small following of about 400 daily readers. I earned top five positions on Google for various search terms related to small business marketing, and at one point, the site garnered a PR6 Google page rank (it mattered more back then). I also scored a brief mention in Entrepreneur magazine as one of the “cream of the crop” marketing blogs on the Internet. Not a huge deal, but I was proud of it at the time.
Still, despite those good things, after nearly two years, I was earning less than $200 per month from my blog and still stuck in a full-time job that I hated. I was past the point of disenchantment. “Why invest all this time and energy,” I thought, “without getting anything in return?” I was so discouraged that I eventually sold the blog to Yaro for a couple thousand dollars (if you’re interested, the case study is here) and moved on to something else.
Yaro spent the next couple years growing the blog’s readership and building revenue up to about $1500 per month. He then sold it to someone else, and although I’m not sure of the exact price, I’d estimate it was at least ten times what he paid me for it (smart guy, that Yaro). By then, I had moved on to create Solostream and was doing very well with that project.
Yet, despite my success with Solostream, as I watched Yaro turn Small Business Branding into a respectable profit center – something I was unable to do – I couldn’t help but wonder and analyze what it was that he did right and I did wrong.
Why Most Bloggers Don’t Make Any Money
As I said earlier, my limited success with Small Business Branding is not unique. In fact, I’d guess many bloggers would be happy with the modest results I did achieve, even though – after two years of effort – I still was unable to create an income that supported me financially.
So, why is it that most bloggers don’t make any money? Why is it that you invest much of your spare time creating content and doing the things you think you should do to achieve success, yet you fail to earn any meaningful financial return on that investment?
There are several reasons, but I’d say they all boil down to just one thing. It’s the one thing I failed to do with Small Business Branding, and it prevented me from turning it into a profitable, self-sustaining enterprise. It’s the one thing I DID do with Solostream that turned it into a profitable venture that I was able to sell for a six-figure price tag.
It’s the one thing Yaro DID do that earned him more than 1000% return on his investment in Small Business Branding. It’s the one thing that Yaro and other profitable bloggers consistently DO that earns them a six-figure income from their blogging activities. Are you ready for it? Here it is …
Money-making bloggers don’t have a blog. They have a business, and they treat it like a business.
Money-making bloggers have a different mind-set when it comes to blogging. See, most people who launch a blog do just that. They “launch a blog.” They don’t start a business. Money-making bloggers may have started out the same way (or not), but at some point, they evolved their perspective to start thinking about their blogging as only one part of a complete business model.
How to Start Making Money With Your Blog
Treat your blog like a business. Maybe you’ve heard that advice before, but what does it really mean? The answer is much more simple than we often make it out to be, because when you boil it down, an online business – or any business – has just two key elements. They are:
- Something to sell – products and/or services.
- People to buy those products and services (for more than your cost to produce).
Think about it this way. How would you run a profitable sandwich shop? First, you’d make some tasty sandwiches, then you’d get some hungry people through the door to buy those sandwiches. The more sandwiches you sold, the more money you’d make. Each day, you’d focus your energy on two main goals:
- Make some tasty sandwiches.
- Get as many hungry people into the shop as possible to buy them.
Every profitable business follows this same basic model; a model best described by famed copywriter, Gary Halbert, who posed this question to a group of his students:
“If you and I both owned a hamburger stand and we were in a contest to see who could sell the most hamburgers, what advantages would you most like to have on your side to help you win?”
After his students offered their list of advantages, Halbert said he’d want just one advantage. “The only advantage I want,” he replied, “is a starving crowd.”
Brilliant. Simply brilliant.
Find a starving crowd, and feed them.
As simple as it can be stated, that’s your business model. And if you begin to look at your blog as merely a tool within that business model, you’re well on your way to a money-making venture. After that, the only thing left for you to decide is:
- Who is your starving crowd, and what are they starving for (your niche)?
- How will you feed them what they’re starving for (your product or service)?
Be willing to offer something in exchange for money.
As part of a business discussion, that’s something that shouldn’t have to be said. But when it comes to bloggers, it does need to be said. We’re so accustomed to giving away ALL our stuff (our information and content) that it feels abnormal to actually accept money for it.
That’s no way to run a business. Back to the sandwich shop example, it would be like giving away free samples all day long without ever accepting money for any of it. Free samples are a great way to attract an audience and show them how good your stuff is, but it’s worthless if you don’t follow that up with a paid offer for the full sandwich.
What might you sell? Start with what you have already. I’d be willing to bet you have at least one blog post that – with a little extra effort, ingenuity and guts – you could expand into a complete report, video tutorial or small ebook that you could sell. No, it may not make you rich, but it will get you started building a profitable information products business.
Here’s a savvy business idea to help get you started earning money.
Imagine if you were to create a series of special reports on various topics within your niche, each available for, say $10.00. They would basically be expanded blog posts or maybe even a combination of multiple blog posts.
Think it sounds unrealistic? It’s not.
Joan Stewart offers 52 special reports available for $10 each. I recently purchased one titled “How to Write ‘How to’ Articles That Position You as an Expert.” It’s 13 pages, and a little over 3400 words. For comparison, the blog post you’re reading right now is just over 1500 words.
Joan also includes a list of about 30 “additional resources,” most of which are affiliate links to related products and services. So Joan makes money not only on the report itself, but also on the affiliate offer if someone buys from her link.
The final word.
Joan’s example is just one of many in a sea of potential money-making ideas for bloggers. There are plenty more out there if you just start looking for them. The first step, however, is to view your blog as a smaller part of an overall business model. Treat it like a business. Then find your hungry crowd and feed them. If you do that, you’ll be well on your way to being a profitable business owner rather than a broke, frustrated blogger.