As I read many blogs on a daily basis, I am surprised to see how few of them talk about how truly difficult it is to monetize a blog.
Sure, there are some great articles out there on HOW to do it.
Here are a couple that I've published:
- Make Money Blogging Secret: Starve The Ponies and Feed The Stallions
- 9 Untapped Ways To Make Money Blogging TODAY
Here's a guest post by Hesham Zebida of FamousBloggers.net:
And here are two posts by Steve Scott of SteveScottSite.com – I found these posts some of the most creative, yet realistic ways to make money blogging I've ever read:
Doesn't reading those article make you feel like everyone else is doing it just fine and all you need to do is follow these apparently simple ways to your own full time blogging income?
Well, the truth is VERY FEW bloggers are making that kind of money from their blogs.
Make Money Blogging Question
Last week, I ran a post, in which I asked you, my readers, what were the most burning traffic generation, SEO, general blogging questions you had for me (Ask Ana: What Would You Like to Know About Traffic Generation and SEO?).
Not surprisingly, one of the most repeated questions was on how to monetize a blog.
What is the best way to monetize my website and my email list? What are your biggest sources of revenue?
Nick, Justin, and all other bloggers wondering how on earth you are going to make any money after putting in hundreds of hours into your blog – here's what I REALLY think about making money blogging.
Traffic Generation Cafe Reality
First let me tell you a bit about this blog and where I am at with it, so that you can compare your own situation and see how far you've got to go and which road to take.
This is the first time EVER I decided to go all out and be completely transparent – a bit scary, but completely necessary to make my points.
Make sure to give me a pat on the back in comments for doing this. 🙂
My blog is one year old now – I started it in June of 2010.
My initial and consequent traffic generation techniques definitely worked: my blog rose very quickly in Alexa ranks (well… dropped is a better word here), search engine rankings, and overall brand recognition.
You mostly likely wouldn't be listening to me, if a blog on traffic generation didn't have any traffic, right? 🙂
By the way, to learn more about how I brought my blog out of the trenches into the light of being a recognized online entity, take a look at this post:
I have an email list – not huge after I did some email marketing spring cleaning not too long ago; it's about 2K right now, give or take.
Here is the state of my traffic as shown in this screenshot from Google Analytics – the numbers are for the past month:
By the way, my traffic has gone down about 16% in the past month. Might have something to do with the time of year or simply the fact that, instead of posting 5-6 times per week, I went down to 3-4 times per week.
If you noticed a similar drop of traffic in the past month, I'd like to know it – it'd be interesting to see if there's any correlation between our traffic levels and a vacation season. Let me know in comments.
So now you have a snapshot of where Traffic Generation Cafe is at the moment with traffic and other stats.
With all that, my monthly income at this moment doesn't exceed $2K per month…
If I heard a sigh of relief from you about now and a thought of “I guess I am not doing too badly” crossed your mind, then congratulations – you are doing just fine with making money blogging and should probably write a guest post for me telling us how you are doing it.
However, I have a feeling most of you are still reading.
Make Money Blogging and Trust Issue
Making money off any blog of any age requires loyal readership and trust between you and your readers.
If you managed to gain that trust within six months – great, then you can sell just about anything: affiliate products, your own products, services.
Truthfully, there are not that many monetizing options for blogs – we all do pretty much the same things. It all comes down to whether your readers will buy from you or the next guy – it all depends on you.
Let's talk about some of the most obvious ways of blog monetization and what you can do to stand out a bit more than your competitor.
This is, by far, the most popular way to make money blogging since most bloggers don't have their own products to sell.
And why not: it's easy, effective, and… SOOO competitive!
Yes, this most popular way is the most difficult one to profit from indeed, since everyone and their uncle are marketing the SAME products on every single blog!
This is where your connection with your readers comes in: your readers NEED those products – things like autoresponders, blog themes, etc, and they WILL buy it from someone. You just need to be sure it's YOU.
These are the things that I've done and observed other bloggers do that would potentially give you a competitive advantage over any other blogger out there.
Affiliate Product Reviews
This is definitely the best way to bring attention to a product you'd like to market.
Not that you are not already doing it… you just need to learn to do it better.
One of my favorite bloggers to watch when it comes down to writing product reviews is Yaro Starak of Entrepreneurs-Journey.com.
If I were ever looking to purchase any of the products he reviewed, I'd definitely buy them through him – that's how good and thorough they are.
It certainly appears like he's got his reviewing formula down and I have all the intention to sit down one of these days and learn from his reviews how exactly he does it and apply it to my own reviews.
Ranking on Google
Let's face it: reviewing a product is short-lived, meaning that as soon as you publish a few posts after your review, it'll be buried in the archives; UNLESS, you bring it back to life in a couple of different ways.
The best way to leverage your reviews for cash is to get them ranked on Google for any and all keywords connected with the product: mainly, the product name, of course, but also the “nature” of the product, as in Aweber is an email autoresponder, MarketSamurai is a keyword research tool, etc.
The best way to get ranked is to do some research on your competitors and their link profiles and then match and outdo their links.
I talk more about this particular strategy in this post:
I have to warn you though: ranking high on Google is not an easy feat, despite of what so many “SEO bloggers” will lead you to believe.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, Google will absolutely refuse to rank your review above your competitors – for whatever reason.
Don't give up though; keep building your links and, who knows, your review might see the light of day at some point.
Mention on Your “Tools” Page
If you don't have one of those on your blog, definitely do it.
This also happens to be a perfect place to collectively mention all of your product reviews instead of sending your readers directly to your affiliate product page.
Teach how to do something with the tool
NobleSamurai blog (the makers of MarketSamurai) and Thesis blog (Thesis is a very popular premium WordPress theme that I use at Traffic Generation Cafe) are the best examples of how to market products without actually selling them.
Their blogs are filled to the rim with great marketing information, tips and tricks, great technical advice, etc… that occasionally requires to purchase their products to accomplish.
Here are my interpretations of how to do the same thing on Traffic Generation Cafe:
- Link Building Tip: How to Do It the Smart Way
- MarketMeSuite: My Best Hands Free Link Building Strategy Revealed
- How Ana Got Her Twitter Groove Back
Mention in blog posts
Don't forget to casually mention your affiliate products and especially your reviews of them in a blog post every now and then.
Easy to overdo, but does encourage click-throughs.
Send an email to the list
A very obvious option… IF you have a list to email.
This is also a very touchy subject since all of us have been on dozens of lists that sell, sell, sell, and we are tired of it, right?
However, you are running a business, not a charity and your email list needs to understand that.
If you provide mostly value and an occasional “take a look at this great product” email (just try to make it sound less cheesy than what I just did), most of your list will be OK with that.
And if you get an occasional Unsubscribe after a product email, don't be too disappointed – remember, you are not building just a list, but a list of potential buyers.
Plus, as I mentioned before, your readers WILL most likely buy those products anyway; might as well do all you can to make sure it's you.
Enough with affiliate marketing; let's move on.
Consultations / Other Services
This is another very viable way to make money blogging.
A couple of caveats:
- You have to have ACTUAL expertise in some area of online marketing. Winging it just is not going to do it. That, in my opinion, requires running a successful business/blog/site of your own and give advice out of EXPERIENCE and not from all the books you've read and courses you took.
- It's time consuming: you are trading time for money. It's fine to do at the beginning stages of your online career, but it's good to have a plan to eventually switch over to more leveraged ways to make money, like passive product selling.
Other than that, it really can be a pretty good source of income.
Just noticed how long this post is running, but hope it's worth it in the end.
Let's wrap up though with things I've personally tried, but didn't work on my blog.
Not that you shouldn't test them for yourself – your situation might be different from mine.
Make Money Blogging Ways I Tried and Failed at
Yeah… Not matter how much value I provided, I got 2 donations ever for the entire month that I had the PayPal button displayed on my blog.
However, I must mention a very pleasant surprise I got today: a basket full of goodies was delivered to my door – all the essentials to keep me productively working: tons of coffee, cookies, and such… much NEEDED and APPRECIATED!
The basket was a gift from one of the commentators on my Ask Ana: What Would You Like to Know About Traffic Generation and SEO? post – Toni Dockter – I guess there's life on this planet! Your thoughtfulness is much appreciated, Toni!
Yes, I toyed with the idea of making Traffic Generation Cafe a membership site with premium content for paid members only.
Not that I entirely discarded that idea, but the biggest problem I am having is discerning which content to make premium.
What it comes down to is not what I think is the best content, but what my visitors are willing to pay for, and that's the tricky part.
Convincing someone to pay for content, however great it is, is not easy. In our day and age, the readers are not willing to spend to get the best, but rather work themselves to death staying up to all kinds of hours at night just to learn something for free.
Never tried, nor plan on trying
I am personally not a big fan of Google AdSense or any similar services for a blog like mine – to say the least.
The potential for making any significant amount of money with it is almost non-existent, and readers' intolerance to that kind of advertisement is high.
If you however do decide to try it, just keep this in mind: Google is paying close attention to the sites that use too much advertisement vs content.
So either keep your ad slots to the minimum and place them strategically (within content is the best location), or make sure your posts are long.
A word on services like Infolinks: I would definitely stay away from those services that place paid advertisement links within your content. I've read many an article lately about the presence of Infolinks affecting anything from search engine rankings to Pagerank – that's the price you don't want to pay.
For those interested in learning more: Google AdSense earnings.
Whoever lead you to believe that making money blogging is an easy or a quick thing never made a dime online.
Can you make money blogging?
Sure, and many great bloggers have proven it.
The problem is that they have a very unique advantage over us: THEY WERE HERE FIRST.
Being at a disadvantage could be a good thing though – very motivational.
It is to me, anyway.
I know that I am here for the long haul, despite the fact that I feel like giving up every other day – no, you are not alone in that either.
Those who run a long race win – that's the nature of this business.
So stop asking yourself if you are making enough money for someone in a business for X months or years.
Ask yourself how long you are willing to stay in this business to finally start making the kind of money you'd be happy with.
How's your making money blogging going – really? Comment to show me that you're alive!