The Truth About Making Money Blogging

The Truth About Making Money Blogging

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make money blogging waysAs 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:

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? (asked by Nick Stewart and Justin from Mazzastick)

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:

 

traffic generation cafe on google analytics

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.

Affiliate Products

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

Not too long ago we talked about the page that makes the most income on my blog – my “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:

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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

PayPal Donations

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!

Membership Site

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.

Marketing Takeaway

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!

ana hoffman make money blogging

traffic generation cafe comment below

Google+ Comments

88 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. Wow! This my first time to your blog and I am impressed with the candor of your writing.

    My frustrations with blogging are perfectly echoed by your and your readers. I got up this morning, made myself a cup of coffee, and sat down to the computer determined to find some answers about becoming more successful at blogging. I typed “the truth about making money by blogging” into Google.

    Your website was number one!

    You must be doing something right. :)

    Thank you. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    • Ana Hoffman

      Glad to hear Google is doing something right – listing my blog for “making money blogging” topics, Patrick. lol

      Look forward to seeing you around.

  2. Thanks for this post Ana – so nice to see someone putting their stats out there. Being able to compare our own with something is helpful. It’s hard to look at your own stats and know where you’re really at.
    I have pretty high numbers of visitors and pageviews on my site – but also a very high bounce rate, and low number of pages viewed per visitor.

    My site started as a hobby, and has grown kind of higgeldy piggledy over time. I’m starting to make a little money with it – and your site and great posts are a real inspiration and full of useful ideas and information showing me what I can do!
    So thank you for all your posts – and keep them coming . I hope your blog continues to grow together with your income from it – it’s well deserved!

  3. Glad I read your comments and reading your posts. I am a newbie (ish) and finding it hard to make money from blogging, so for now I am seeing blogging as a way to build up my profile on the web and in the process learn as i go along. All good and yes, it is a long haul business. Take special care

    • Ana Hoffman

      I just hate it when some bloggers make it sound so easy, Ntathu.

      It’s achievable, but certainly takes time, patience, and sticking with it.

  4. Hi Ana,
    I appreciate your transparency and honesty about your experience. I have found doing JV’s with other marketers to be very lucrative.

    As you said, it takes time and consistency and the option to quite must be removed from your thoughts. I, like you have those days, but I just keep going, as you do

    Its not the event that defines you, it is the person you become in the process

    Thanks for all you do,
    Jeff Faldalen

  5. Wow, so jealous right now of you 3.62% bounce rate! Mine’s in the upper 70s right now.

    I guess I have to deep link more!

  6. Moon Hussain

    Hey Ana,

    I hear you! I think you are doing well earning around $2k with your blog. I do think it comes down to building relationships and leaving lasting impressions so people will buy things FROM you and your products.

    Blogging is hard work–that is, if you want to make money from it.

    • Thank you, Moon. Building relationships is definitely important in any business and blogging in particular.

  7. Oh, wow, thank you, Ana, for sharing this info with us. You’re so very inspiring!

    I’ve been running only Adsense on my blog for two years and making almost nothing even though my traffic is high. However, I wouldn’t have known just how much I’ve been missing in potential revenue without a comparison!

    You’ve motivated me to get off my lazy duff! Thank you, thank you, thank you! :)

    Steph Miller

  8. First of all, I wanted to say thank you for the informative posts that you give us – I like the fact that you’ve made it transparent so that we can see what’s going on. I think that a reason for your success on the resources page is that you’re NOT pushy at all about it. You don’t bean us readers over the head with the nerf bat of what you’re selling… and it’s honestly refreshing. I hope you break 2K soon!

  9. Ana,

    You have spoken out really, just as a blogger. Your stats are great and your income is just good. A lot of difference between great and good, of course.

    I would seriously say that a blog would never earn you money to be able to run a full time income. Of course, you can sell affiliate products and stuff. But the real money does not come from your blog. Your blog is just a portfolio where you display your talents and stuff.

    So you tell people that you can do great blog audits, that you write cutting edge posts, that they can trust you on products that you have used and recommend and so on.

    And then you make real money by offering your services, getting high paying clients (I have got a couple of them and I am doing good), and so on. And for all these the trust is earned from your blog.

    So ya, it all takes quite lot of time and effort. Still since the competition is too tough, I can only say that successful bloggers are on the right track.

    Cheers,
    Jane.

  10. Ana,

    My stats are definitely not as good as yours but I do know one thing that we all bloggers agree on and that is monetizing your blog is really hard and it will only become harder. I totally agree with you that those who are already here and established their presence have an advantage while the rest of us we will just need to put a lot of time and dedication to it.

    I do have a full time job. Managing my blog and working at the same time is really difficult some times but I’m glad I still make some money off and on though incomparable to yours. After blogging for more than a year, I don’t really care too much about the financial returns from it but rather the things that I’ve learned and applied it on other projects that are bearing some fruits now :)

  11. I won’t be repeating myself here Ana as I sincerely believe that Alex and Mavis have pretty much said what I wanted to. Nonetheless, it is commendable that you share your experiences and speak wise words, such as staying away from Infolinks and related crap. The only thing that I do not agree much, judging from “some comments above” is that you can not make a decent amount of money without your own product. Maybe on a later stage we can discuss about this, but I think that it is not true…

    On a side note, Consultations is really a good income producer and I agree with you that one should provide these type of services with proper experience. In a way, potential clients look for “signals” that you in fact are someone who can solve a problem they might have. Your website in this case serves as proof of that. You are doing an awesome job… As for your stats, they look great.. I wish I had a bounce rate of 40% let alone 3, lol. BTW, congrats on your PR

    • Thanks you! Thanks also for your comment. Of course you can make a success, even without your own product. However, if you have a really awesome product of your own you can really make a killing! :-)

      Consultations can definitely produce good income, you have the experience.

  12. Dr. Bob Clarke@Network Marketing Part Time

    Pat, Pat, Pat on your back! This is the first time I’ve seen transparency taken to this level, and I’ll tell you what…

    It only makes you appear more valuable, more powerful and more professional than your competitors (if that’s what you wish to call them).

    It doesn’t matter what the actual money figure is.. what matters is that you had the courage and willingness to share it.

    Some people fear appearing weak by telling it “like it really is”. The reality is that most bloggers (and online marketers) are searching for those that can help them in real life situations, not some fantasy world where everyone makes 6 figures and live happily ever after.

    Congrats, Ana. Let’s hope you’ve started the next wave of transparency on the Internet!

  13. Great post Ana! Your bounce rate is crazy!! 3%? I’ve never seen it that low before.

    I never understood the donation button people put on blogs. To me it looks like they are begging too much for money. That’s from bloggers who have been blogging less than a year.

    The same goes for putting Adsense on a new blog. The goal should be to keep readers and not drive them away for a few cents.

    I’ve tried a couple posts that mention an affiliate product. I got some clicks and no sales. Maybe my audience isn’t ready for those products I promoted.

    Have a great holiday weekend!

    • Thanks for a great comment, Benny.

      If you offer a lot of value for free, I think it is okay to have a PayPal button, for what it’s worth.

      It could be as you said, your audience might not be ready for it.

  14. Panda update mostly affects the websites that draw most of their traffic from search engine, Arfan. Since my traffic is very well-diversified, I don’t think I’d be affected much even if somehow Google found my content to not be that original – also a big stretch.

    My bounce rate looks great in the shot; however, my suspicion is that something is not right there, I’ll need to double check my settings.

    And thanks!

  15. Thanks for the tip. The frustrating part about blogging is that you really have to commit time and effort to it especially the link building part and market your blog on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. I guess, what makes it difficult for me is that I do not have the privilege of time to concentrate in promoting my blog since I also have another life outside of blogging that pays the bills. I find your article very motivational and it inspires me to think that there is chance for me to actually get something for my blogging efforts. Hope I can learn more about the backlinks building and all that ranking stuff because nowadays it is not just the quality of writing, it is more of how you can achieve good ranking to get noticed. Thanks for posting.

    • You are very welcome, Donna, and you are right: quality writing without any eyes to read it is quite useless.

      Getting your content in front of your potential readers, like through search engines, is definitely something worth putting some time into, since once your site is ranked for a number of keywords, it’s easy to maintain those rankings with occasional links.

      I can only imagine how hard it is to blog with a full time job; my hat goes off to you.

  16. I am just a newbie blogger and till now i didn’t earn anything from blog however i am making money by my SEO services. BUu I want to make money through my blog. I impress with this long post. I love your line you used in this blog post as “If you managed to gain that trust within six months”. I am quite impressed with this line because I too think that Trust is thing that works everywhere.

    • Sounds like a good start, Atish – we all have to start somewhere, don’t we?

      Thanks for coming by!

      • Yes Ana, We need to start from somewhere. Initially money doesn’t matter in blogging. You know one of the guy(I don’t know who is he) was keep clicking on my adsense and in this way my adsense disabled. Even I reported Google for this invalid click activity. Now I think I need not to do hurry. I just start Blogging for my passion , for my choice. And every one knows that if we have immense passion in our work then money come to us naturally.. by the way I downloaded the book you have written. Now I will read it today. thanks for writing a book that helps newbie bloggers like me. One more thing You look beautiful.

        • Hi Atish

          Competitors can sometimes do silly things to mess around with our efforts. When blogging becomes a passion instead of a job, the results happen. I hope you enjoy the book!

          • Good news..!!! I got back my adsense account. Google returned me. I have appealed for this.
            By the way book is reallly very informative. I m enjoying it

  17. Ana,

    First of all, thanks for the links! :)

    My opinion has been for a long time that “strait blogging” is one of the hardest ways to make money. It can be a long term thing. I have played with just about all of these methods and and blogging might be the hardest.

    The solution is what you hinted at. A blog should be part of a bigger picture. Simply blogging and throwing up some adsense will never make any real money. (I am not an adsense fan either)

    But when you combine blogging with affiliate marketing, offering services, email marketing or numerous other methods it becomes quite a powerful tool.

    It is your trust platform. You give away a ton of quality good info (like you do) and people come to respect you, then when you have you quality products people will KNOW they are quality.

    Blogging is great, blogging can be fun (sometimes), blogging certainly can be profitable -even if you are not a “big boy”. But IMO until you reach those nosebleed heights of blogging it needs to be something you do as “part” of a way way to make money or…. (actually and/or) accept that it will take a long while to make real money.

    Thanks for a great post. (I am a big fan of transparency)

    Have a wonderful weekend and a great 4th of July!

    :)

    -Steve

    • Thanks for visiting, Steve. You are right, those different tools do combine well. Quality info and honesty are also important for establishing trust with your audience. Happy 4th of July!

  18. High traffic doesn’t automatically translate into income, Wayne, that’s for sure.

    You are absolutely right about my Google Analytics – something is wrong; there’s no way my bounce rate can be that low.

    I haven’t had a chance to look into it before publishing this post, but I definitely will. Sounds like I might need to reset everything, like you suggested.

    How’s your membership side of the business going?

    I use “ReplyMe” plugins to let my commentators know I answered their comment.

  19. Mike

    Hi Ana, just dropped to say hi. This post needs more publicity because it’s content are great. Bloggers truly need the advice and tips here to succeed. No one is no-all yet. Have a great day!

  20. OK now it’s just getting wierd! Seriously, get out of my head!

    I was just toying with writing a post very similar to this, in fact I got as far as the first sentence, which went something like this:
    ‘The Truth is that you CANNOT make money blogging. The only way to truly make a real income from blogging is to have your own product. Of course most bloggers have no clue what to create – so they make a ‘how to make money blogging guide’ and thy sell it. And the cycle continues…. ”

    I really enjoyed this article Ana, especially because I honestly feel that you and I have unwittingly travelled very similar paths – and as a result I can learn so much more from your ideas.

    Looking at your stats I have to say that your average page views are incredible and speak volumes for how well you do interlink old posts AND make them relevant.
    I have an average of around 1.6 up to 1.9 at best, I have not seen a 2 for a long time now. My average time on site is also lower, although at no stage have any of these stats effected how much money the blog makes me (or doesnt as thecase may be)
    I agree that there is a seasonal change or something going on, because although I have been less active in the blogosphere of late, the traffic drop is more than what it should be.
    Last month I had 12,054 uniques (not sure about absolute uniques, obviously less) and now as I type this, I have 9,900 uniques for the month.
    Definitely losing traffic -but interestingly enough – still maintaining a 5-10 sign ups a day average.
    As for the list – I am not quite where you are (around 1400 atm) but then I did take a while to sort out what it was I was doing.

    Thanks for this post Ana – truer words were never spoken.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Alex and thanks for your comprehensive comment. Having your own product is ultimately the best way to go about it. Your stats are pretty impressive.

  21. Usman

    Hi, Ana!

    I just saw you blogging good but never bother to comment much on your blog, but I just saw it growing good day by day.

    Well you’ve compiled a nice list of articles here, also its good that you got a donation usually people don’t get, but that depends on the amount of traffic you get as well.

    Best of luck.
    Regards

  22. Wow, I love all these great ideas you post! There really is no shortage on how to make money on your blog, and I liked how you opened up your biz and showed us how and what you’re doing. Thanks!

  23. BIG pat on the back Ana. This is the first time I’ve seen anyone really letting their readership in on how much they are making (other than the big guys like Trey Smith and Jeff Walker etc who glibly tell you they made $500k or $1m with a product launch)….. seems to me though that they are the guys we need to look to and they are Creating their own product. I have a friend who regularly makes $2k pcm on her site with NO blogging – doesn’t even update her site. She has her own product in the Teaching English Market and she sells from a static page. She rarely emails her list even. I know you’ve talked about yourself creating a product before and I feel pretty sure there are lots of us out here who would invest in it. As Justin says, the only thing stopping him is time….. well me too….. I’m thinking my first product might be about time management ;-) Basically IF I prioritise the money making element then I’ll be creating a product… so why the heck aren’t I doing it!!!! Kick up the bum for me. The other thing is that a lot of Mummy Bloggers seem to be picking up lots of writing work because they are blogging – I suppose this falls into the consultancy/other business bracket… Lots of food for thought though.

    • I think we tend to focus too much on “busy things”, Fiona, like networking, writing posts, etc. forgetting or ignoring the fact that we started doing this for a reason – to make money.

      I don’t know what else I can do to make myself sit down and start creating a product, other than just waking up one of these days and saying: today is the day! :)

  24. Hey Ana,

    What a fantastic post! I just wanted to give you a pat on the back for total transparency.

    Spot on. Making money blogging is very hard. It takes a lot of patience and hard work.

    Congratulations on your success! Let’s keep going, my friend! :)

    All the best,
    Mavis

  25. A lot of people think you get rich quick or something. Start a website and they assume it is easy money. There is money to be made, but it’s not easy and it don’t come rolling in. It does require time and work. Depending on the site, you might make more or less, even nothing. Anyway don’t give up and keep plugging away.

    • That’s true, Ray. There are so many variables, but hard work and ongoing learning will pay off in the end.

  26. Hey Ana,

    If you are strictly referring to the “blogging/SEO/internet” niche, than yes, making money online is hard. I believe this is one of the most competitive niche on the internet (that is pretty logical because everyone in this niche has good or very good knowledge of internet marketing, SEO and so on).

    However, your theory does not apply for other, let’s say “untapped” niches, which are much easier to be successful in. I’m not saying it’s overnight success but there still are accessible topics out there. Unfortunately, I haven’t found an accessible topic that I would also be passionate about. Blogging about something you don’t like really sucks. Therefore, here I am struggling to make it in the “blogging” niche.

    • Of course it is easier to make it in an untapped niche – for that very reason. However, even if it is easier, it will not work overnight. It requires work, dedication and learning.

  27. Hey Ana

    Kudos for the transparency and the honesty.

    I think the problem for a lot of bloggers and monetization is that they start out building their blog and assume that once it gets busy/popular/well known that they’ll be able to monetize automatically.

    Ideally, you need to have a goal on how you’re going to generate revenue from Day 1 so that you can be working towards it from Day 1.

    I also think that most people when they come to monetize their blog will automatically turn to either Adsense of Affiliate Marketing. I’m not a fan of either – I think if you’re truly committed to generating revenue via your blog you need to either create your own products or create some kind of consulting/service.

    It’s interesting you mention the Membership ‘premium’ content model – I do this on my bass guitar site. And it works – but it’s hard work. And that work is unrelenting – you have to repeat it week after week.

    What might be a better way is to create a ‘fixed term membership site’ – say a 3 month course, or a 6 month course that teaches a certain skill, or a set of related skills. And then you can ‘launch’ that every year – or have it set up on Autoresponder and have it for sale permanently.

    The hard part with the fixed term membership site is creating the content for the course – the upside is that once it’s created then you have an asset that you can sell for ever. (True story – I created a course that I sell once a year. It’s a comprehensive 30 week course, and it costs around $75 a month for 7 months. Last year I got 50 students. This year I got 65 students – this year all I do is send out an email every wednesday and answer a few questions via email. That should make interesting math for your readers!)

    Again, kudos for your honesty and transparency . If more people were that honest perhaps the ‘make money overnight’ expectation of a lot of newbies would be tempered more realistically.

    Paul

    • You mention some great ideas here, Paul and yes, all of those take quite a bit of time to set up and create and market. Once set up, though, it becomes residual.

  28. Hi Ana

    Wow, what a brave and open post! So much value in there and I’m definitely going to try some of your ideas. I just wanted to add to the discussion a little, as I almost closed my site down after 6 months of struggling to figure out how I was going to make enough money out of the effort I was putting into my it (it’s a magazine site). So I decided to run affordable workshops on topics that are relevant to my audience. Now that I’ve got credibility and a good name for running valuable workshops, the next step is to turn the workshops into online workshops and training tutorials so I am now coming full circle.

    I realise that this is not classically making money through my blog, but the training didn’t exist before the blog (which I run as a magazine site), and the blog and newsletters are my only marketing tool, so for me it counts :-) I think the reason that I’ve been able to do this so effectively is because we now have a really strong community around the site.

    Thanks
    Julie

    • Hi Julie

      It absolutely counts and congratulations on those achievements. People love online workshops and tutorials, so I am sure that will be a huge success.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  29. Hi Ana,

    I have also been struggling to monetize my blog, but what’s been the best way for me, by far, is my product reviews. I haven’t written many, but every time I write one, and I do my best to write a detailed one, I get a few sales. I usually don’t get much sales for the standard banners in the sidebar. And, I haven’t been as successful “selling to my list”.

    I have thought a lot about what you’re saying when it comes to delivering other types of services, like consulting. I know many people who are earning their money this way, and they get the customers via their blogs. So, that might be something I will do in the future.

    Thanks a lot for sharing and being transparent, it’s helping alot.

    Jens

    • Thanks for stopping by, Jens. That seems to be the nature of the blogosphere. Glad you found it helpful.

  30. Hi Ana,
    Thanks for linking to me in your post. That was totally unexpected. I am glad that you shared your traffic and income because it gives me something tangible to use for my own blog. 2k a month is no small feat in the world of blogging. That is cool that you got a basket full of goodies delivered to your home. I’ll take food and drink over money, well maybe.

    I started my blog in January 2011 and probably wasted a good month on fooling with new themes and tweaking designs.

    I dropped infolinks after you told me about the SEO problem plus the click earnings were minimal at best. I have gotten two donations through PayPal as well and I’m on the fence about dropping that.

    Adsense earns me about $7.00 per day and I got one advertiser for a month at $100 and also commission on a HostGator sign-up this month and two sales of my eBook.

    I asked the same question on a forum back in February if blog traffic drops during the warm months and the answer from many was no. My traffic has stayed the same at 100 visitors a day with a high of 499 for the day this month.

    My e-mail newsletter list is dreadful. I only have 25 subscribers.

    This is probably the best post that I have read on making money blogging. The next time someone asks me how to do it I will send them to this page.

    Ana, you are at the top when it comes to information on blogging. Thank You.

    • Thanks for the kind vote of confidence, Justin. Yes, coffee and cookies sure lift the inspiration levels!

      Based on your stats here, it would seem that you are definitely on the up, so keep doing what you are doing, drop what doesn’t work and celebrate the small victories!

      :-)

      • Hi Justin – Just took a look at your “Living Harmoniously” post…. great stuff AND you seem to have a good sized readership. I think Ana uses the MaxBlogPress Subscription Magnet on this blog to help get signups (correct me if I’m wrong Ana) – Just thinking that with the numbers looking at your blog it might be worth considering investing the $149 to increase subscription rates… maybe. Just a thought. F

        • You said it, Fiona.

          I do use Subscribers Magnet on my blog and do know that it increases the subscribers numbers significantly.

          I do appreciate you checking Justin out – I think his blog has a lot of potential, and looks like you second that.

  31. Huge pat on the back Ana for an incredibly transparent article, something that so many folks are scared to do, especially when they’re blogging about ‘traffic’. Also, the fact that you’re willing to admit you at times feel like giving up is another testament to your sincerity, which impresses the heck out of me.

    Personally, I make all of my money ‘indirectly’ on my blog. It’s all consulting/coaching/etc. Although, like you said, this does take time, the $ is quite lucrative, and I find it fun.

    One question I have for you Ana is this: How much is your goal to make monthly? If you don’t want to answer, I understand, was just curious.

    Continued success to you, again, this was a wonderful piece of work.

    Marcus

    • Thanks, Marcus.

      In my particular situation, I don’t really need to make a full-time income off my blog, but as you can imagine, won’t turn it down either.

      My goal is to move away from doing so much consulting and thus directly trading time for money to more passive forms of income, and if I make close to $5K per month that way, I’d be happy.

      I know it’s a realistic number, just might take a while to get there.

      Good to see you in my neck of the woods.

  32. Hi Ana,

    Thanks for this informative and interesting post. I feel before becoming affiliate of any product or service you should make sure that it belongs to your niche or else your readers are not going to bother about it at all. Like if you’ve a medical blog and you’re promoting “Market Samurai” then your readers won’t even look at that link.

    • Thanks for commenting, Riya. Well, Market Samurai fits into any niche since it is keyword research software which everyone should use to research their keywords. It is not limited to any specific niche.

  33. Ana

    First off I think its amazing what you have accomplished in such a short space of time. Being a fairly new reader here, I just made the assumption that you had been around for quite a while.

    Thanks for giving us a snapshot of your roadmap, and sharing your perspectives.

    • You’re welcome, Jackie. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been around forever, and at other times it feels like yesterday. :-)

  34. Thanks for stopping by, Stacey. Many online entrepreneurs complain about lower traffic during holidays and I have noticed too that business is quieter then. Of course, when we don’t post, we can also expect lower traffic. :-)

  35. Thanks for stopping by, Ken. I agree with advertising of products / affiliate links that you have tried and tested. Glad you have not had a drop in traffic. I think you may have a point about the fact that I have been posting less! :-)

  36. Hello Lou

    Always nice to “hear” from you.

    You have a great blog and of course you can only go up. It takes time for a blog to start making money, but it is worth waiting for.

    Thank you for the kind donation!

  37. Pat, Pat, Pat ;) Seriously, though, Thanks for the transparency.

    I have a comment about your membership option for premium content (feel free to edit/delete this comment after you read it because of its nature)

    If you decide to continue going the route of offering premium content, you might want to find some other means than what you are using right now. With your current setup, it is not hard for someone to get to your “premium” content for free if they really wanted to, since the content is still cached in google. Just an FYI.

    • Good point, Sam.

      As I said, I really never thought this through thoroughly; just acted upon what seemed to be the most obvious choice.

      If I ever decide to go that route, I will definitely do appropriate research first.

  38. Ana – I have incredible respect for anyone that can make make four figures a month via a blog. As you indicate, it’s hard. The easiest way to monetize a blog may be: 1) as a promotional and credibility building vehicle for a consulting business; or 2) as a prospecting and link building tool for a company with products for sale. Heck, even the major media companies have a challenging time monetizing their content. Online display advertising is available for a CPM of under $5. That is a lot of eyeballs (1,000 views of the ad) required just to earn $5. And if a page is cluttered up with too many ads, the click thru rates will be so low that advertisers won’t renew.

  39. I have noticed the opposite and have seen steady traffic gains of 6-10% month over month since January Panda update. Even with my PR reduced to 0 now it doesn’t seem to affect the amount of traffic coming into my site.

    As someone who has tried nearly every program to make money online, my only limitation is time. If you put the time in you can pretty much monetize from several different sources and ways but like any business it takes extreme dedication. There no boss telling you what to do so you need to have the discipline to set goals and focus on them. It is far too easy to get distracted by everything that goes on online, which can only take you further from your goals.

    • Justin, without dedication it becomes nearly impossible to succeed. It saddens me that so many people are forced to give up on blogs when they don’t succeed soon enough.

      Glad your traffic has not been affected!

      • Thanks and I find it is always very hard to juggle my work / home life balance and then fit my blogging enterprise into the mix without one or the other suffering.

        • Isn’t that the truth…

          I don’t mean to sound anti-feminism – but then again, I am a woman, so I am allowed :) – but I think you, men, have even more pressure to perform on a professional level, so I can only imagine how much harder it is for you.

          • This is where I am lucky, I always knew I just wanted blogging to be a hobby. I have no pressure / demands to make X money or be a failure. I just have fun and experiment. Do I want to try and break the elusive 5 figure per year mark, of course. But I won’t be quitting my day job anytime soon and have no intention to. Blogging is only my hobby and part time gig, even though it is now an Enterprise and I hired staff it is still a fun hobby for me.

            I am not looking to try and be the next Darren Rowse or Chris Brogan or even Chris Pirillo for a reference in the tech blogging field.

  40. Mike @WebTrafficGeneration

    Hi Ana,
    This your post on making money with blog is true. I think building relationships with your reader is the first approach. Take for instance, there is a blog owner that I trust and respect so much. She owns clickandnewz. Do you know that whatever product reviews she does, I find myself always placing orders willingly.

    This is because, over the past few months, I have benefited from her coachings, advice, free offers and healthy blog posts. She always made my day just like you. Buying any product you recommend is an indication that it will work for me.

    I’m sure no respected blogger wants to dent his/her reputation. It’s easy to mar but very difficult to build. I’m glad you shared – thanks!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Mike. Trust is so important, and yes, it can easily be ruined by promoting something that is not of good quality.

  41. Hi Ana,

    First off, I’m giving you that pat on the back. :D I’m a big believer in transparency because not only does it help people to trust you when they see you’re real, but they feel comfortable asking you questions and learning from your experiences.

    “Those who run a long race win – that’s the nature of this business.” That about sums it all up right there, Ana.

    Making money directly from my blog is not the number one way I earn money online. It’s my homebase, my hub. But when I do make money from my blog it’s through doing product reviews or case studies of products that I use.

    Thanks,
    Peggy