Monetizing Your Blog and Making Money Online

Last night, I was asked to speak at the Atlanta Bloggers Meetup about monetizing blogs with Tom Royce (real estate and profit blogger). Monetization of blogs is a hot topic for obvious reasons as many bloggers are looking to generate extra income online through their blogging efforts. With over 120 people showing up to this bloggers meetup in Atlanta, there were a lot of attentive eyes all headed in our direction as we tried to unravel the basics of blog monetization. Here is a recap of what I went over last night.

The Truth About Making Money With Blogging

To start things off…I jumped right into the truth about making money online.

You Don’t Have to Blog About Blogging or Making Money Online

I think a lot of bloggers get tunnel vision when looking to make money online by thinking they have to start a blog on that subject as those are the only bloggers that ‘appear’ to make any money. The reality is that most of the money made online through blogging is made outside of that niche and the most profitable bloggers I know…do not blog about blogging at all. You go to their sites, make them money and leave because they provide a valuable resource but don’t talk about income.

When you are looking to make money online, you read blogs on that specific topic. Just because that is what you are reading…that does not mean it is the only way.

You Do Not Make Money Off Of Just Blogging

A lot of people make the beginning mistake thinking they can throw up articles with a couple of ads and the traffic will bring them money. That is not true! Blogging is your leverage to reach an audience. Once you have reached that audience, your resources need to generate income outside your posts through resources for people that are ready to buy. This comes in the form of affiliate revenue, your own products, etc. Blogging is leverage…not the means.

Diversification Of Income Streams

In my blogging world, I like to have as many income streams as possible (that work obviously) to keep the percentage of my income low for any one monetizing outlet. It is much easier to build up multiple smaller streams over time than it is to be 100% reliant on 1 monetization method. What if that one method you are using goes away one day?! You are sunk! If you have multiple other income streams all feeding your blog, that 1 that went away is not as big of a deal.

  • Your Own Products
  • PayPerClick – If payouts are high enough to warrant the screen real estate
  • Affiliate Advertising
  • Email Lists
  • Free Products
  • Direct Advertising
  • Speaking Events
  • Consulting
  • you get the idea…

All of these are worth testing over and over again on your blog so you are not leaving any money on the table as you grow your audience and spread on the web. By diversifying the way you make money online, you can realize bigger gains that are easier to achieve.

The Biggest Mistakes I See Bloggers Make

I went into the basics of how I make money on my blogs, but I think the more important part of that conversation is the mistakes I see beginning bloggers make when they are trying to generate income from their blogging.

They Do Not Attract A Buying Audience

To make money on your blog, you have to tailor your content towards an audience that is ready to spend money. Without this…you are not going to make a dime. As you start to generate your content with the goal of making money online, you need to target a specific reader. Are you selling a product or service on your blog? Then you need to generate content that solves the problems of the person you think would be interested in your products and services. Are you promoting other products and services through affiliate advertising? Then the same rule applies…

Even if you are using PPC campaigns, you still need a reader that wants to visit an online store to purchase a product so they will actually click that link.

They Do Not Have An Email List

Aweber is cheap…stupid cheap…and it makes you more money down the road in blogging than you could ever imagine. This world still runs off of email and it is your job to capture every lead you can on your blogs. If you are not building some kind of email list, then you are not making a significant sum online. Your email list is the key into your readers lives to keep them coming back to your blog, products or services.

The example I gave last night was this: Last year I released the Ramped Riding eBook on Bike198. When I released this $10.00 eBook, I sent out an email to my thousands of newsletter subscribers. Now…do the math in your head of 10 * x,xxx = $$$. The power of your email list is the leverage you have to making money online. Without it…you are solely relying on RSS and search engine results which are both low converting avenues in your blogging.

Start your email list…provide something that will make someone want to subscribe to that email list (free eBook, extra content, etc.) and then provide valuable content to that email list on a consistent basis and you will have a money making machine.

Aweber even has a trial where you can try their service out for a buck…you can beat that.

They Beat One Method Into The Ground And Stop

Blog monetization is a never ending testing process. Just because you found something that is working ok, does not mean you stop testing…sit back and relax. There are always ways to improve conversions, there are always more methods to test. If you want to make more than just lunch money online, you need to continually test your income streams and try out new ones. Just throwing up one way of making money online and then stopping is going to keep you in the pocket change arena.

They Give Up

Blogging is an action sport. You are not going to make riches overnight and there is no easy answer. The biggest reason I see people not make money on their blogs is because they just give in and give up. The persistent and the ones that are not afraid to keep going after failing are the ones that make it in the end. If you are not willing to do that…you are not going to make anything by blogging online.

Overall…Making Money Online Is Freaking Fantastic

While I was giving this talk with Tom at the Atlanta Bloggers Meetup, my pocket kept vibrating with emails telling me about affiliate commissions and eBook sales. When it was all said and done, I made a nice profit even after dinner, valet parking, gas and my time and it had nothing to do with my talk. While I was talking about blog monetization, my blogs were still running and delivering on what I was talking about.

There were some great questions asked and I am really glad I took this opportunity. I find that when I give the most back…I get the biggest feeling of satisfaction.

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Tom Royce March 4, 2010 - 9:01 am
Folks, Giving the talk with Robb last night taught me one thing, even though I already knew it. Robb Sutton understands both the mechanics and psychology of making money online. I have been doing this for years and I learned a few things from him, even as I was on stage with Robb teaching a great group at the Atlanta Blog Meetup. Now go re-read this post again. He has laid out the philosophy of making money online for you in one blog post. Read Rinse Repeat.
Robb Sutton March 4, 2010 - 12:14 pm
Thanks Tom! It was fun getting up there for awhile and fielding questions. We had two unique perspectives and that made for some cool conversation.
Todd @ Home Construction & Improvement March 4, 2010 - 9:11 am
Rob, Great advice. I've been blogging about 4 years now and I can finally say I make a good amount of money from it. Not at a point to quit my day job but more than some people make working full time. Diversification and not quitting are the most powerful tools when it comes to making money online. Keep up the good work!
Robb Sutton March 4, 2010 - 12:15 pm
Awesome Todd! Pretty soon you will be able to say bye to the 9-5...the trick is getting to the point that you feel comfortable doing that.
Bryan March 4, 2010 - 9:45 am
Content to pull in buying audience makes so much sense yet is easily overlooked. I admit that I need to start developing a list for my site and really need to look at Aweber. I've probably blown it off long enough.
Robb Sutton March 4, 2010 - 12:28 pm
You really lists are still king even if we wish they weren't.
Bryan March 4, 2010 - 1:38 pm
Ok, I signed up for Aweber. Building my first list now.
Julius Kuhn-Regnier March 4, 2010 - 11:07 am
Great point Robb. I think most people focus too much of monetizing their blog but there are a whole lot of other opportunities that you get you money too, e.g. as you've mentioned consulting or speaking at a conference.
Robb Sutton March 4, 2010 - 12:29 pm
I know freelance writers that pick up 5 digit paying jobs off of their blogs. The possibilities are really limitless.
DJ Wetzel March 4, 2010 - 11:21 am
Most important phrase in the whole post "Blogging is leverage…not the means." If you begin your blog and expect to generate huge sums off of advertising you are crazy. In fact, a lot of blogs that I read have no advertising at all, zero, and still pull in loads of cash. Leverage and diversify. Great words from you Robb! Thanks as always.
Robb Sutton March 4, 2010 - 12:30 pm
I know some blogs like that too. They attract the right traffic and then sell to that traffic through trust and value. Just like any other business would.
Srinivas Rao March 4, 2010 - 11:37 am
Robb, This is one of the best things I learned in my conversation with you. There are so many p potential income streams. I've made about $1200.00 in the last 2 months because I didn't depend on traffic to create income. I went out and looked at consulting. I'm going to also get involved with Toastmaster and our local chamber of commerce another place where potential business can be found.
Robb Sutton March 4, 2010 - 12:32 pm
That is a prime example of the business is out have to go out and find it. Everything is not just going to magically hit because you throw it online. Great job.
Samuel March 4, 2010 - 12:24 pm
"My pocket kept vibrating with emails telling me about affiliate commissions and eBook sales" Dude there is no feeling like this! I have to shut my Blackberry off at night otherwise I will get no sleep. You and Tom did a great job last night. I'm glad I was able to make it.
Robb Sutton March 4, 2010 - 12:39 pm
It is a pretty cool feeling. I was starting to wonder if everyone was thinking..."why is he checking his iPhone so much?" was because I was making money! was a fun night.
Havana March 6, 2010 - 9:53 am
Robb, you did an incredible job on Wednesday. I felt so bad for the folks who couldn't make it! I'm glad you wrote this post so at least I could send this link to them. I'm very impressed and I am SOOO happy to hear that blogging has allowed you so much freedom. You go, Robb!
Robb Sutton March 7, 2010 - 8:30 am
Thanks Havana! It was a lot of fun.
Shirley March 7, 2010 - 5:27 pm
It's just surprising why someone would start a blog on making money online whiles he has not made any, just to make money online himself. Very surprising indeed. Hope you are doing great, Robb :).
Jenny March 23, 2010 - 10:49 am
Hey Robb, I know I'm jumping on the comments a little late - you definitely did a great job and I think later this year at the Atlanta Bloggers Meetup we're going to need a "Part 2" to the topic. Again, great job!
Robb Sutton March 24, 2010 - 7:20 am
Thanks Jenny! I had a blast doing it. Hopefully I'll be able to help out in some other way in the future as well. The group is really growing.
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