You Can’t Make Money Blogging

Ah shit.

I know this one has already pissed people off.

If you’re one of those types that only reads the headlines then you might be fuming right now. Especially if your whole business is based around teaching people how to make money with blogs.

In that case, should I be pissed at myself?

If you have gotten this far already then let me say one thing:

You can’t make money from blogging.

Yep, I said it again.

I’m sorry to crush your dreams, but at least you can be happy with the knowledge that your new online friend (me!) was honest with you. Now before you go off to research how to make money selling iguana eggs I want to tell you something else:

You can make money from building an audience that loves your brand.

Wait, what? Isn’t that what blogging is? Building an audience and getting people to love your brand?

No. Blogging is just writing and publishing. That won’t make you money.

It does play a part, but you don’t make money because you blog.

You make money because in some way you are providing stupidly awesome value to people that are willing to pay for it.

How many people have you paid in your lifetime for something they wrote? I’ve never given anybody money after reading something they wrote. I don’t think I ever will. I’m excluding books because I pay people for those before I get a chance to read them. I don’t get a free book and then pay the author afterwards.

I have given people money that have a blog. It’s just that I gave them money because I purchased a product of theirs. I’m sure I’ve indirectly given some people money by clicking on one of their affiliate links as well.

I’ve never handed over my money because someone blogs about a topic.

Change Your Mindset

I’m telling you all of this because you need to change your mindset.

Instead of thinking about how your blog can make money you need to think about how you can provide awesome value to whoever is on your site right now.

I’ve seen too many hopes and dreams get crushed because someone saw someone else making crazy money from a blog and figured that’s what they needed to do. Unfortunately, they always miss the things that really make the money.

Notice I didn’t say you need to think of how to get more traffic or people to sign up to your mailing list.

How can people get more value from your site?

Every time you think of your site this question needs to pop up into your head.

Your Audience Is Your Money

When you have an engaged audience that is when you can make money. I like to call this audience your tribe and you can only build a tribe when you provide them with some value.

No value, no tribe.

Wondering how you can build a tribe of people that are fully engaged with everything that you do? Then check out the free Cultivate Your Tribe email course.

I’m ready to start growing my tribe!

You might’ve spent the past couple of months wondering how to get more traffic to your site, but is more traffic going to make you more money? It’s possible if your revenue model is based around advertising, but you probably shouldn’t go that route.

During the first 90 days of Obstacle.co’s existence, the site received almost 16,000 pageviews. This isn’t many. That isn’t many for one month, but it was just the start.

In those 90 days Obstacle.co helped make me over $8,000. There is no advertiser on the planet that would pay you $8,000 for 16,000 pageviews. Maybe $16, but not $8,000.

Let’s play a fun numbers game.

You have a site where advertising is your main source of income. In this scenario, you need a hefty amount of visitors to make decent money from advertising so I’ll pretend you get 1 million pageviews a month. That’s pretty freaking huge.

Seriously, that’s a ridiculous amount of traffic.

In total, your ads are paying you $10 CPM. That means for every 1,000 pageviews you get $10. Running the numbers it looks like you are going to make $10,000 in a month from ads. That’s not too shabby at all. I would love $10,000 in my pocket.

However, I’m sure you know how hard it is to get up to that 1 million pageviews summit.

For most sites, it takes years to get there. You don’t want to think in years, you want to think in months.

With advertising, you are also reliant on constantly finding advertisers, hoping you can continue to charge a good amount for ads, and praying that your traffic doesn’t decrease. You also don’t want the advertisers to lower their rates.

You’re making money, but it really isn’t in your control and can disappear at any time.

When Google Adsense first came out I was completely dependent on it. I was making a healthy income from it and then one day it was gone. Google said that I manipulated clicks, but that wasn’t the case. When this happens you can argue, but they usually don’t listen. Adsense stopped being a stream of revenue for me.

Poof. Gone just like that.

Back to the fun numbers game…

Now let’s run my ideal scenario. After a couple of months on a site you are able to get 1,000 email subscribers. They subscribe and stay subscribed because they love the value you are providing.

They are truly engaged.

You decide that you want to make a course that helps them out and so you begin to tell them about the course and they get excited.

Once the course launches they are ready with their wallets. The course is priced at $100 (probably undercharging here, but it’s your first course and you are nervous) so some of them balk at buying it, but 100 people do end up buying it and you make $10,000 (minus processing fees). That’s the same amount you made from your advertising and you are in control of everything! Even better you don’t have to wait 30-60 days to get paid.

You aren’t hoping that a company renews for another month. You aren’t reliant on traffic. You are simply reliant on your own abilities to produce value, present that value, and ensure everyone is happy.

Do you think it is easier to get 100 people to buy something from a pool of 1,000 or to get 1,000,000 pageviews?

This is why I say your tribe is your money.

If you really want to have a go at this online money making thing then you need to focus on value.

Are you constantly providing people with value in some way? Once you nail down that part then you can start to work on the other things like content marketing and social media promotion.

The Rat Race

I see too many aspiring bloggers jumping into the game today with the wrong mindset. They see that a popular blogger pushes out an income report where they make $7,000 from advertising and they want to go that route because it looks easy.

If you think about it, the logic is pretty sound:

  1. Start a site
  2. Slap ads on it
  3. Get a lot of traffic
  4. Get paid

However, as a blogger you have a choice between getting paid today or getting paid 18 months from now.

Fighting for traffic and eyeballs is a losing game. It causes you to try to pump out a ton of content that is mediocre and not useful at all. It wears you down and you begin to question why you even started to blog in the first place.

Too many people start off blogging trying to fully understand everything that is needed for success. I am going to let you in on a little secret:

The only thing needed for success is the ability to produce awesome value.

There are no fancy tricks. No SEO hacks. Nothing else is needed. You create awesome value and you promote that value out into the world.

Value + Tribe = Money

You make money by building a brand. This brand attracts a tribe because they know that your brand is going to produce value in their lives. Put those things together and you start to make money.

Blogging just to blog won’t make you the money that you want. If your aim is to make an extra $50 a month then sure, go ahead and write about whatever, slap some ads next to the content and call it a day.

But you want more than $50.

You want enough to cover the lifestyle that you really want.

Being in control of your lifestyle is awesome and to do that you need to be in control of how you make money.

So maybe I was wrong before when I said that you can’t make money from blogging. Technically I guess you can, but when people think like this they always take the wrong approach. To them, more content means more money so they just write content to write content.

They aren’t concerned about value. They are just concerned with trying to get more content because to them that means added potential for more Google traffic. Sure you’ll end up in more Google search results, but what good does it do if they are all on page 2?

When you create value you aren’t reliant on Google or any other search engine. The flipside of that is you will find you get way more traffic because you focused on value. Go figure. You ignore trying to please Google and you end up pleasing Google anyways.

How to Really Make Money With Your Blog

There are a number of ways your blog can help you make money, but some are better than others.

If all of them make you money then how could some of them be better than others?

Hm, let’s see if we can use a poor analogy here. Let’s pretend that you like to make friendship bracelets. You seriously love to make them.

While making one you find that you’ve run out of thread. No worries though because you can just go into your closet and get more. In fact, this is a magic closet that has an endless supply of thread. You can make as many friendship bracelets as you want and never worry about having to stop.

How great is that?

Why Ads Suck

Now let’s pretend that you get all of your thread from a supplier and one day the supplier decides to stop delivering you threads. That means no more bracelets.

Or maybe the supplier starts to give you cheaper material so your bracelets aren’t as good anymore.

There is nothing you can do because they are the ones that supply you thread. You can go looking for another supplier, but this one gives you the best deal even though it is a shitty deal.

Why Products and Services Rock

Now let’s pretend that you’ve decided to build a machine that can make all of the thread that you want. This machine can make red, blue, and green thread.

That means you can make as many friendship bracelets as you want because you control the machine.

Want more colors? You create another machine that does yellow, orange, and purple.

Nobody can stop you from making friendship bracelets.

It’s awesome.

Supply and Demand

When you focus on building an email list you are giving yourself free reign to make as much money as you want.

You can write a small ebook and tell your list about it and they will buy it. You can tell the new people on your list 6 months from now about it and they will buy it.

Want to diversify? Create a course. Tell your current audience about it and they will buy it. Tell your new people 6 months from now and they will buy it.

Want to diversify? Offer coaching to a limited group of people.

It’s your blog. You can control the supply and demand as long you control your list and how you make money.

I know this sounds way more involved than using ads, but it really isn’t. You’ll have to put just as much work in to get awesome traffic to make money from ads as you would to build up a list to make good money right now.

Of course, offering products and services doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive from using ads. You can do both, but what I see happen is that when you start to make $5 from ads you try to figure out how you can make even more and that becomes your focus. The tactics you use to boost your ad revenues are often the ones that prevent you from building your list and promoting your own products.

Are you going to open a restaurant where you let 10 different vendors sit in the front and talk to all of your customers before they get a chance to sit at their tables?

No matter what you do you make money from your audience. You don’t make money from your blog.

The question then becomes do you control the money source or do you allow someone else to?

Blogging Is the Catalyst

After all this talk you might be asking yourself should even bother starting a blog. You most certainly should! Blogging is the ultimate gateway to making money because it opens yourself up to the world.

Every day we are constantly fighting messages from millions of brands that we do not care about. Blogging helps you to build a connection to people that those brands can’t.

Every day we are looking to find solutions to the problems we face. Blogging helps you provide those solutions for people.

If you’re starving how much are you willing to pay for a pizza vs paying to see an ad for pizza?