This is one of those posts that people in the blogging scene think about writing after they’ve had a couple of drinks but never get around to it.
Lucky for you, I have a nice drink here on my desk so I figured I might as well take the time to write this.
Today we are going to answer the question can you really make money blogging?
Before we begin I want to give you some background on myself.
I make money online a couple of different ways but blogging is the gateway.
It’s how I get my audience.
In fact, that’s the main reason to blog: to build your audience.
If you can remember that the money is in your audience then you are good to go.
This blog is obviously about how to make a living blogging and online business so that should set off some alarms for you already because the bloggers that make the most money are the ones that teach others how to make money blogging.
I like to think I’m a little bit different.
I run over 13 brands in different niches. Here are some of them:
People often wonder why I run so many blogs and the reality of it is, I do it to learn how different niches can effectively make money. And not just how to make extra money. I mean real money.
You see, if I’m going to teach others how to make money blogging I can’t give them generic advice that I think applies to all niches because that’s dumb.
(Note: Just to quickly put my money where my mouth is and show you that I’m not about generic advice, check out the Blogging Master Workshop where you’ll see my philosophy of blogging in full and learn the NEW framework for building a 6-figure blog.)
It’s no coincidence that when you come across a blogging course with testimonials, all of the testimonials are from other bloggers that happen to start blogs teaching people how to make a lot of money.
Where are the testimonials from the bloggers that started a blog on knitting?!
I’m getting off track…
We got tired of the income reports that other bloggers do.
You know the type.
I made this much money but I’m really not going to go into detail about how I did it.
I’m in a number of blogging-focused Facebook Groups where people like to share their income reports. Usually, it’s people just getting started with blogging and they want to share an income report to generate more traffic.
It’s a viable strategy.
Unfortunately, many times I come across income reports that are just false.
Here’s how it usually goes down.
A blogger will make a crazy claim like how they made $500 in their first month of blogging. Now, this isn’t impossible, but you better know the game pretty damn well to pull this off.
In many cases, the blogger will show Awin income.
What’s Awin? It’s an affiliate marketing network that has some great advertisers in it. If you’re going to start a blog and want to get into affiliate marketing, it’s definitely one of the networks you should consider.
Awin also has a referral program where you get $30 for every blogger that you refer to their network. There’s a catch, though.
You only get the $30 AFTER the person has made $20 through affiliate marketing from the advertisers in the network.
This is quite challenging because many people just give up on trying to make money with blogging so the odds of you getting even one referral that makes $20 is pretty slim.
If you’re claiming $450 of income from Awin that isn’t through affiliate marketing then that means you are saying that 15 people have signed up to Awin through your link AND made $20 in revenue that month.
What happens if the people you refer don’t make $20? You don’t get any money. Simple as that.
So when a blogger is claiming that Awin is going to pay them $XXX, it usually means they hope that one day they see some of the referral money.
You can see why this is a problem, right?
New Blogger Problems
As a new blogger, you come across this awesome income report that makes you believe all you have to do is get people to follow a link and sign up.
It makes blogging seem way easier than it is.
When you find out it isn’t it can make you feel dumb. How could that other blogger figure things out but you can’t? It’s not fair!
The reality of the situation is that the other blogger hasn’t figured it out either. They’re just blowing smoke up your ass in the hopes that it works.
Sure, it gets them a bit of extra traffic but after that? Not much.
It’s a sick game that bloggers play so the big question becomes…
Why Do Bloggers Lie About Making Money?
When you get caught in the web of reading income reports you begin to feel like every other blogger is making money blogging.
The fact of the matter is, most of the bloggers that share income reports only do so once they are successful. People often don’t check to see how long the blogger has been blogging or what path they took to success.
They just assume that they should be achieving such success right away as well so they fake it till they make it.
(Note: I dive deeper into this problem with income reports in the post Screw Your Income Reports.)
The problem with faking it is that you aren’t genuine and being genuine to yourself is one of the few things that will separate you from other bloggers.
You’re not going to write about stuff that is so unique that no other blogger has written about it. Your voice and being yourself is the only thing you have to keep you separate from everybody else.
Why bloggers feel the need to show they’ve succeeded right away is beyond me. Maybe it’s because so many how to make money bloggers tell people how easy blogging is.
You just need to sign up with Bluehost (don’t sign up with Bluehost), install WordPress, and write about whatever you are passionate about!
I wrote 403+ Blog Niches That Get Good Traffic and Make Good Money because I got tired of answering the question of why someone’s blog wasn’t making money.
I’ll never tell you to follow your passion because your passion might not lead anywhere.
If you’re going to start blogging to make money then you might as well take the obvious route to making money.
The Hidden Pattern Behind How to Make a Living Blogging
There’s a pattern that some bloggers might think is hidden but it’s in plain sight to me.
It goes like this:
- Blogger starts a blog around a popular topic, let’s say organization
- The blog picks up traffic because people love organization
- The blog makes some ad money due to how much traffic it gets, usually from Pinterest
- The blogger releases a Pinterest course explaining how they get so much traffic through Pinterest
- The Pinterest course makes them more money than the ads so now they create a blogging course
- Now their organizing blog isn’t so much organizing as it is how to make money blogging
What’s funny is that the blogging course the blogger creates doesn’t tell you to follow this path. Instead, the course gives you generic advice about finding a passion, writing for your audience, and taking your time with things.
The blogger gets more people to sign up for the Pinterest and Blogging courses so then they get to write a new income report with even more money which brings in more people and the cycle continues.
100s or 1000s of people end up taking a course that doesn’t help them with their blog because their blog isn’t teaching people how to make a living blogging.
The best way to make money with a blog is to pretend you make money with a blog and sell people on the idea that you can teach them how to make money blogging.
But don’t do that. It’s not ethical and you’re better than that.
The next best way to make quit your job type of money is to find a topic that a lot of people love and then write kick-ass content around that topic. From there you can go with ads, affiliate marketing, services, or your own products.
The key though is you need to have a topic that people are actively searching for and are willing to pay money to learn more about.
It’s great if you want to help people fight depression, but you aren’t going to make money with it.
For Thrive/Strive I found that yoga is a huge topic that people are passionate about. I’ve gotten 100s of thousands of pageviews to my posts on yoga.
That’s great! But it’s not.
I don’t have a yoga course. I don’t teach yoga.
Making money from yoga is pretty damn hard for me unless I start a yoga clothing line. Yoga is great for traffic but terrible for money, even if you’re using ads.
So what did I do? I switched over to writing more about the ketogenic diet. People are passionate about that as well so I created a membership site around keto and wrote a book and I made about $500,000 from that.
When you read income reports or look at blogging courses ask yourself if the blogger is telling you to do what they do. If they aren’t, then why not?
Why aren’t they saying:
You need to start a mom blog, get traffic, and then create a Pinterest course.
Maybe it’s because they don’t want to take a step back to see what they did themselves. Nobody proudly proclaims they make money teaching other people how to make money.
I’ll do it right now for you.
I proudly proclaim that I make a lot of money through my courses that teach people how to build online businesses.
Feels good to get that off of my chest.
Yet, the bloggers earning 6 figures are doing it by teaching other people how to blog. Do you think they really care that’s how they make their money?
If you could make $180,000 a year sitting at home or wherever and just writing some blog posts, would you do it or would you say you’d rather make $8,000 a year talking about parrots?
I spend a ton of time creating free resources for people to learn about blogging and starting an online business because I want them to fully understand what it takes before they even think about committing any money over to me.
The fact of the matter is, there are different journeys you can take to building a successful online business.
Some are a lot easier than others and as long as people know that then they can make well-informed decisions on what they want to do.
I do this because I’m trying to build a lifestyle for myself and my family that will allow us to enjoy life.
You probably want to do the same.
So don’t worry about if other bloggers are lying about making money. Worry about if you’re lying to yourself about whether or not your business can succeed.
Easiest Way to Make a Living Blogging
There is a tried and true formula for making decent money with an online business (yes, blogging is an online business) and it’s hiding in plain sight.
Ready for it?
Audience X Offer = $$$$$
Find a problem that people are willing to pay money to solve and create an offer (like a digital product – course, ebook, etc) and then go find the audience that wants to solve that problem. Your blog can help you with that.
I know you don’t want to hear that because that doesn’t sound easy at all but it is direct.
Too many people get starry-eyed thinking about this awesome online business that they’re about to create only to find that they don’t want to put in the work or effort. And it’s easy to give up because you can start a business with practically no money.
Probably because the people that inspired them made it seem like a cakewalk.
At the beginning it’s not but over time it definitely gets easier as long you are doing the right things.
And that’s the truth.
Can You Really Make Money Blogging?
Yes, but it’s probably not as easy as some people try to make it seem.