The Blogging to Make Money Conspiracy: Why So Many Bloggers Fail to Make Money with Their Blogs

I’m going to get a little personal in this post.

Not about my personal life but I’m going to pretend it’s just you and me sitting in a quiet bar enjoying whatever libations you like. I’ll have a dirty martini with blue cheese stuffed olives please.

Going through the history of this site it started off strong. I was banging out posts left and right because I knew I had to get a jumpstart on this “how to make money blogging” niche. After a bit I slowed down a little and focused on writing much meatier pieces of content.

After that, I stopped.

I didn’t quit on the blog but I set out on a mission.

From the beginning this blog was meant to go hand-in-hand with its sister health blog, Thrive/Strive and follow its progress. But as I continued to see blogs in other niches and people curious if you could make money with them I started up a couple of other blogs.

You see, it’s very easy to make money blogging when you talk about how to make money blogging. I’ll get into that a bit later in this post but for now, keep that in mind.

What I had to find out is what it takes to make money in other niches.

Why?

Because that’s how my mind works.

I see all of these people around me wanting to start blogs but they want to do so around things they enjoy. Plus, many of them think that they can’t start a blog on how to make money if they don’t have a blog on how to make money.

Sneaky side note: Go through the history of many how to make money blogs to see how they began. Don’t be surprised if a lot of them started as something else and when they got some traffic they pivoted over to the how to make money stuff. It’s hard to find some that actually have blogs in other niches that do well.

I created blogs in the following niches:

  • Personal finance (pretty similar to how to make money)
  • Homesteading
  • Beauty and fashion
  • Women’s interests
  • Productivity

I didn’t go full out on these blogs because I have clients and my own projects but I wanted to dip my toe in the water to see what it’s like.

Along the way, I learned a few things. It’s these things that have almost stopped me in my tracks. I’m sharing these things because some of you are fighting a losing battle. You are trying to create a lifestyle using a game plan that just isn’t going to work for you.

I don’t say this to discourage you. I say this to open your eyes to a better way.

Making Money in Different Blog Niches

I touched upon some of this stuff in my post on the 7 different blog niches that make money but I want to take a different angle here and expand upon some of the points.

A lot of the blog advice that you read (even the stuff that I provide) comes at you as a one size fits all kind of thing.

While a lot of advice is general enough it can work for your blog, not everything will apply.

Different Strokes, Different Things to Do

For example, if you run a fashion blog…wooooooooooo you have a long ride ahead of you.

The fashion industry is a completely different beast.

While I can get away with just writing on a site like Obstacle.co and building it up, fashion requires you to step up and create an actual brand that people attach themselves to.

Writing a blog can sometimes be akin to writing in a journal. Over time when you make more and more money you want to think about your overall brand and building a strong one.

With a fashion blog if you aren’t hitting with a strong brand from the beginning then you are in trouble. If you are running it solo and you are throwing your personality out into the world then you are in trouble.

I can write as many fashion list posts as I want but the majority of the audience is simply going to browse Instagram and Pinterest looking at pictures. They don’t care as much about the words.

You really have to buckle down and get creative with how you bring people to the site and in all honesty, most people aren’t up for that.

Make Money Early and Quick, Then Evolve

I’ve always been against ads as a way to make money on a site but that has changed recently. While I still can tell you that long term ads aren’t going to help you that much if you are really looking to scale your revenue, what they can do is provide you with a quick jumping off point.

One of the biggest struggles with starting a blog is making money with a blog. If you can get over that first hurdle everything becomes a little bit easier.

Because I have super high goals with my projects (millions each year) I kept on looking at the long term plan instead of the short term steps.

If you can get a blog up to 100,000 page views a month (depending on your niche this isn’t that hard with Pinterest) and then get into an ad network like AdThrive you will make between $600 – $1000 a month.

That’s a decent start and that is only with ads. Scale that up to 500,000 page views a month (!!!) and you are looking at $3,000 – $5,000 a month.

making money with blog ads

This is where things start to get interesting.

I’m going under the assumption that you aren’t making money any other way.

Because you are making money that takes a little bit of the financial burden off of you, you can start to think of other ways to make money with your blog. You know how to write content that generates page views and those page views are bringing in revenue so that allows you to start thinking about how to expand.

Maybe you start to invest more time into affiliate marketing and talking to your list. Maybe you start talking to your audience to discover their problems so you can create a product. The point is when you already have money coming in, it makes the rest of the journey a bit easier.

Using this logic I have no problem with throwing up ads on a blog as a starter kit. However, I won’t do it unless the ads are going to bring me money and are quality. That’s why I go with ad networks like AdThrive or Mediavine.

They only accept blogs that do at least 100,000 page views a month (AdThrive) or 30,000 pageviews a month (Mediavine) so it takes a little bit of work to get there. For me, there is no reason to waste my valuable ad space on ads that are only going to bring me $10 a month.

Much better off letting your readers focus on your content.

Again, I’m not saying throw ads up on your site on day 1. Take the time to build up your traffic, understand what makes your readers tick, and then hit them with ads.

You Have to Become a Maker

Most people won’t like this one but from what I’ve found it is essential. Ads will only take you so far and depending on your niche, affiliate marketing can only take you a little bit further.

If you really want to reach that level of fuck you money, then you need to become a maker.

That means making your own products.

These could be books, courses, seminars, physical products (don’t really scale as well), worksheets, songs, images, or whatever.

With a few exceptions, every blogger that I’ve come across that does over $50,000 a month does so because they have their own products. This is important because some of you jump into niches where coming up with a product is almost impossible.

Remember how I talked about the fashion niche? Coming up with a product that sells there is really hard unless you decide you are going to start a clothing line.

If you are happy with $2,000 – $5000 a month then you can just stick to ads. If you are in the right niche (cough how to make money cough) and you get enough traffic you can do decently well with affiliate marketing pushing that total up.

However, if you want to go next level you need a product of your own.

“I don’t know what type of product to make.”

That’s a completely different conversation to have but look around and see what others are offering.

Confirmation Bias Is Strong Everywhere

I stopped a lot of my activity because I was stuck in a dilemma. I could keep on writing what I usually do and coasting along or I could really find a way to help bloggers become successful.

Many people that are successful selling self-help type of stuff base their products on their own experience.

Not experiences, just experience.

This is important to understand because when confirmation bias occurs it begins to create a feedback loop.

What is confirmation bias? Here is Wikipedia’s definition:

Confirmation bias, also called confirmatory bias or myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities.

So let’s say you’ve created a blog and after 18 months finally got it up to $10,000 a month through affiliate marketing. Because you see this as a success you tend to advise people that this is the way to go and you go out looking for other pieces of evidence to validate this.

The problem is that this isn’t the only way to go and in fact, this could be (I’m not saying it is) the slowest way to make money with a blog in a niche.

If you’ve only grown one successful blog and have done things only one way then that is what you are going to teach. This is how most bloggers that teach others how to make money with their blogs go about things.

Find a couple of students and teach them your one way. That means more people sign up the next time and the next. You just start to snowball your success and then all of the new people think “wow, I can make that much money as well by running a blog I love in whatever niche I want.”

It’s the route I could’ve easily taken with Obstacle.co. It’s the safe and smart route because it has a high chance of success. People will pay you to teach them how to make money.

But as you can tell by the income reports I didn’t go this route. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment but something kept telling me to keep searching.

You see, I want to be the default person that people go to when starting a blog.

I want you to recommend me to all of your friends. I want you and everyone else to believe that I have the keys to unlocking this great blog mystery and that’s hard to do if I’ve only been successful with one blog.

I want you to put your trust in me because I’ve shown you that I’ve done it multiple times in multiple industries using multiple techniques.

Again, I’m an anomaly so maybe I only think like that. I don’t have to go this route.

If you want the easy bake recipe to making money with a blog then just do this:

  1. Write about different ways to make money and show people your experiments (How to make $100 a month with survey sites)
  2. Continue to link to your post about how to start a blog which uses affiliate links to a web host provider (How to start a blog)
  3. Once you have a 1,000+ people on your mailing list create a small product that talks about just one part of how to make money online (build a mailing list, affiliate marketing, sales funnels, course creation)

Stick to that formula and you’ll be golden. I’m stupid for not sticking with it. That’s just how I roll I suppose.

You might be stubborn like me and want to write about something else. You aren’t the only one. There are thousands out there like you so what about the people where the advice doesn’t work as well?

They may:

  • give up on blogging because things aren’t working out
  • go spend money elsewhere in constant search of the solution
  • continue to blog and get nowhere

I think about the people that have been struggling to get their blog off the ground or make any money. These people haunt me.

And that brings us to now.

Change the Game by Destroying It

For 10 months I can’t tell you the number of blogs I’ve studied. I’ve looked at how they’ve grown, their social media tactics, what type of products and services they offer, and overall just how they do what they do.

Over time you start to see the difference between the A, B, C and F players.

People don’t like it when I say that building a blog is easy.

I can understand why. I should probably say it a bit differently.

The steps that you need to follow to build a successful blog are easy to understand.

It’s the execution that gets people.

When I give someone advice and they don’t follow it I get really upset. Not at the person but myself because somewhere along the lines I’ve complicated things.

People want to make money with a blog but they want to do it their way.

Whatever the hell that means.

If you could start making $2,000 a month with a blog and I could show you how would you follow those steps or would you say that you want to do things differently?

That’s what I’ve been struggling with the past couple of months. Is there some Universal framework that allows people to choose whatever niche they want, write however they want, and still make awesome amounts of money?

No.

There are a couple of different paths you can take but there isn’t an infinite number. If you study enough successful blogs you’ll see that they all do the same 2-3 things to make it to where they are at.

None of these paths are particularly difficult. What I’ve found, from working with clients and talking to others, is that the difficulty comes from feeling that you are ready.

It’s easy to hype yourself up before doing anything but if I told you to start reaching out to X bloggers would you or would you wait a month or two thinking you need better content?

What Are the Different Paths?

So I mentioned that the successful bloggers have taken different paths and you’re probably screaming at me telling me to tell you what those paths are. Fine, fine, I’ve had enough martinis so I’ll spill the beans.

Path 1A: Collaborate With Bigger Bloggers

I’ve found that a lot of bloggers hate going this route because they would just rather work by themselves and wait for the money to roll in.

I can understand that but picture this scenario:

  • You open a new ice cream shop and are getting very little traffic
  • There is a big time pizza shop just around the corner so you hit them up asking if they would mind giving away coupons for your shop and they agree
  • Now the big time pizza with the big time audience is sending you their audience
  • You now get to serve ice cream for the rest of your life

You can build your own audience in solitude or you can get a boost from another blogger. Which one sounds more reasonable?

So how do you make this happen? There are a ton of ways but some of the easiest ones are interview bloggers, write guest posts (although not as successful as it used to be), or do challenges with them.

There are more ways than that but that is just to get the ball rolling.

Sometimes all you need is just a little bit of momentum to really get things moving. If you get a link from a bigger player then that can lead to links from even bigger players.

The snowball effect takes place.

Path 1B: Conquer Social Media

This one is a bit trickier but if you can master a platform that already has millions of people on it then you are in a good place.

I’ve seen bloggers rely completely on traffic from Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook to fuel their growth and when you’re starting off there is nothing wrong with that.

In fact, I love Pinterest as a starting off point for growing your blog. It is absolutely amazing.

However, you never want to become dependent on a single source of traffic in the long term. Bad things can happen.

As of July 2017, Thrive/Strive receives over 300,000 page views from Pinterest alone. When you start to mix that with Google and Instagram traffic you have a good thing going.

If you’re looking for a way to grow a blog quickly using Pinterest and making money with ads then check out my blogging course, Blog Revenue Engines.

If you do go down this path then work on mastering one platform first. Don’t spread yourself out to every platform thinking it’s going to work because it won’t.

Why Not Both?

Excellent question and the answer is you should work on both!

The issue that many (okay most) bloggers have is that they don’t get good at either path and sit around wondering what is wrong. Eventually, they give up while watching others continue their success.

It’s a sad sight to see.

Every single successful blogger continues to grow because they have mastered both paths. They knock it out of the park with social media and continue to get other bloggers to link to them.

They’ve become fine-tuned machines that continue to churn out awesomeness.

There is no other way around it. You can’t do things your way. This is the way.

Sure, you can put your spin on things with branding and whatnot but these are your options.

Simple.

1,001 Other Things

If you pick one of these paths are you good to go?

Haha noooooooope.

There are still 1,001 things you have to do with your blog and these are things all bloggers must do:

  • Have compelling content
  • Have a compelling sign up offer
  • Become a promotion machine
  • Be consistent with everything

Those are just 4 things and those 4 things could be broken up into a 100 smaller things.

It’s easy to say “I’m going to master Pinterest” but still fail because you can’t do everything else on the list.

When you take a step back you will see there is a lot that goes into making a successful blog. It’s very overwhelming if you think about it all at once.

You don’t have to master all of the steps at once but at some point, you will need to learn and understand all of them. Why do you think there are so many different courses on blogging?

  • Pinterest
  • Building an email list
  • Sales funnels
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Branding

The list goes on.

If you are trying to start an awesome blog which course do you choose first? If you learn about sales funnels first then what happens when you have an awesome funnel with no people in it? If you learn about Pinterest what happens when people are hitting your site but they aren’t subscribing?

When it comes to learning all of these things it seems like you have three options:

  1. Buy a lot of different courses which can be very costly
  2. Gather up all of the information across 100 different blogs and try to make sense of it
  3. Stumble around in the dark and hope that it all clicks

To be honest with you none of those options sound very appealing. When I looked at those options I knew there had to be another option and so I did what I usually do and solved a problem for everybody.

First, why did I feel like this was a problem worth solving? It really comes down to empathy. I’ve talked with 100s of bloggers over the past year about their struggles with blogging and why they want their blog to succeed.

Let’s be honest, working for someone else can be demoralizing (assuming you’re lucky enough to get hired). The dream isn’t to run a successful blog. The dream is to live the lifestyle that you want and it just so happens that you believe a blog can make that possible.

You grow attached to that dream because you’ve seen others achieve it. How devastating is it for people that can’t make that dream happen?

I don’t even want to imagine.

How crappy of a feeling must it be to feel like your success is just one course away but that course costs $799 that you don’t have?

I don’t even want to imagine.

Instead, I created something.

Say Hello to the Billionaire Blog Club

I thought about the problems that all bloggers face and I put them all into one site.

  • Want to collaborate with other bloggers to that you can grow your blogs together? Check.
  • Want a way to promote your blog and social media postings to help gain more exposure? Check.
  • Want to learn all of the aspects of blogging (SEO, social media, content generation, email list building, etc.) and just want to pay one price? Check.

Blog Revenue Engines is everything I wish I had when I started blogging.

Forget spending thousands of dollars on different courses. Forget looking for a community of people just like yourself who are trying to start a successful blog. Forget not knowing what the next steps are.

Blog Revenue Engines is the blogging course that cuts right to the chase on how to build a blog that gets hundreds of thousands of pageviews each month.

Does every blog need to be like this to make money? Nope.

Some people are trying to create Brand Business but that’s what Dare to Conquer is for.

Blog Revenue Engines is about starting a blog. Scaling it up quickly. Making money. Exploring a new world.

It’s my solution to what I feel are the challenges to creating a successful blog.

It’s ambitious. It’s crazy. It’s me.

It’s meant for everyone that just wants a blog that does well.

It’s 100% possible to make money with a blog. You just need a lot of help doing it and a bit of guidance.