7 Reasons Your Blog Is NOT Making Money
I’ve had a half-dozen blogs over the past nine years, but I never made any money at it until I started this blog two years ago. There were a lot of reasons I wasn’t making money blogging back when I first started, but figuring out why was a pretty slow process.
So, in today’s post, I wanted to save you some time, cut through the crap, and explain seven reasons didn’t make any money blogging for seven years. If you are trying (unsuccessfully) to run a profitable blog, then I think you’ll find this helpful.
1. You aren’t getting much traffic
Let’s start with the most obvious (and most common) problem. Nobody’s visiting your blog!
While many articles about “how to make money blogging” tell you to “optimize this,” “sign up for that,” and “advertise such-and-such,” many seem to overlook the truly vital ingredient: traffic.
Really, as a blogger, your site visitors are your “customers” (whether or not you’re overtly selling a product) and without customers, you can’t make money.
So, if you’re currently getting less than about 3,000 page views per month (as a very low minimum), then focus all your time and energy on simply promoting your blog, rather than trying to “optimize” it to make more money. (Because, honestly, right now you ain’t got nothin’ to optimize… )
Need more traffic? Check out this article >> Three Steps to Increase Your Blog Traffic
2. You’re trying to defy laws of physics (and economics)
The honest truth is that there is only ONE way to make money, and that is to provide value to others. Earning money is always a negotiation of trading one thing of value (your time, entertainment, a physical product, etc.) for something else of value (such as money).
Sometimes this exchange is obvious, like when you buy a pair of shoes; other times it’s much murkier, like when a Youtube creator spends their time and energy creating an entertaining video, which in term provides value to Youtube because it attracts viewers to their site, which means that Youtube has something of value to offer to advertisers (exposure), so the advertisers pay Youtube to promote their products with ads, and Youtube pays the creators.
But, however the exchange of value is facilitated, just know that whenever money is being made, it is happening. Ignore this (or try to cheat the system) and your profits can never grow.
As bloggers, we generally offer helpful or entertaining content in exchange for people’s interest and attention. But since people aren’t actually paying money to read our blogs, we have to offer a secondary product in exchange for money. That could be providing a platform to advertise, products to our readers, or some type of service.
It doesn’t matter so much what it is (as long as people actually want it), but offering some sort of product is completely necessary — and keep in mind that some products are MUCH more valuable than others. Which leads me to my next point…
3. You’re pimping out your most valuable resource
We live in a crazy competitive world, with literally millions of blogs vying for readers’ attention. The fact that anyone is reading your blog is a miracle. I am humbled by this every day. (Thank you!!)
Through your hard work, commitment, and perseverance, you have won the trust of a small group of loyal readers. And then, what do you do…? You clutter up your site with distasteful ads. You degenerate your readers’ experience and “sell out” in a very literal sense.
Don’t take this too harsh: it’s “normal” and “everybody does it” so your readers probably aren’t particularly offended. BUT, that doesn’t mean you can’t do better. There are better offers you can provide to your readers, and much more tasteful ways to promote them. This could look like private sponsorships (where you’ve vetted the advertiser as a good fit for your audience and you have control over the ad’s appearance), or where you’re selling something yourself that you know will directly benefit your readers.
Just remember: The way to be successful isn’t to do what everyone else is doing (plastering their sites with ads), but to rise above and do much better than your competition.
Read this >> How Do Bloggers Actually Make Money?
4. You’re selling a commodity (and you didn’t even realize it)
So, speaking of what to sell, let’s talk about what NOT to sell for a moment.
In the world of commerce — the business of selling — there are two different sorts of products. One is called a “commodity” and is sold in mass quantity. Think oil, wheat, sugar, bricks, etc. These are markets where quality has been largely standardized and margins are very low.
The other type of product varies greatly from one seller to the next. Take wool coats, for example. You can buy a cheap coat from Walmart or Target (these cheap coats are practically a commodity), or you can spend a little more to buy one from Macy’s — where you have the option to choose which designer, style, fit, and color you prefer. Or, you can go another step further and spend thousands of dollars on one from Neiman Marcus. At that point, you’re paying not only for high quality and a beautiful style, but also for a scarce product, since there are many fewer of these coats available.
Generally, commodity markets have the lowest margins and luxury markets have the highest margins.
So… which do you think is generally a better business?
I hate to break it to you, but advertising space is a commodity. That means that if advertisers can’t be on your site, most don’t even care. They can just go be on a different site. And THAT means that they aren’t willing to pay a very high price for the opportunity to be on yours.
So: you’re selling your most valuable resource (your readers’ attention and trust) for a [literally] bottom-of-the-barrel price. Not really an ideal situation.
Here’s a suggestion for improvement: think win-win. What could you offer your customers that they would actually want? (Because they definitely don’t want those ads.) What could you sell that would be more lucrative for you?
The answer: literally almost anything.
At the very least, you could serve your readers *better* ads from private sponsors. Or affiliate offers for products your love and trust. Or you could create a product yourself, with your own readers in mind!
There are literally infinite options and opportunities, and falling back on using Google AdWords is one of the very worst. Don’t be lazy. Be better.
5. You’re not building relationships
Allllrighty. So, you get it. You need to provide something of value to make money. Took me a freakin’ long time to figure that one out. My next mistake? Being slimy. And pushy.
I had something I wanted to sell, so I thought I needed to market the crap out of it. Promote it everywhere I went. Sing its praises and advertise like there was no tomorrow.
Now, I’m all for advertising (because, honestly, it’s one of the most scalable ways to grow), but, honestly — people buy from those whom they know, like, and trust. People buy when their friends share, not when their acquaintances spam.
That means it’s essential that you get out there, meet people, talk to them, listen to them, and support them. Share what you’re doing in an honest way. When it resonates with people, they will ask for more information.
That doesn’t mean to not advertise. Adverts are great for reaching more people. But most people won’t buy until they’ve had some type of personal experience with a brand.
For example, maybe you meet Joe and develop a good relationship with him. Joe sees your ad, isn’t interested in your product himself, but still thinks, “Oh, good for my friend, she’s really getting her name out there and growing her business.” Later, Suzie mentions to Joe that she’s in the market for something, and Joe mentions your name. Maybe Suzie calls you right then… or maybe she forgets. But, later, she sees your ad, and that’s when she heads over to your website and makes a purchase.
Don’t underestimate how important it is to build relationships!
Read this >> I Built My Business By Building My Community
6. You’re impatient
When you’re blogging and not making any money, time goes slower than molasses. Three months of hopelessly writing to nobody can feel like ten years.
(It’s funny, because when I wasn’t making any money, I almost felt compelled to exaggerate how long I’d been blogging for. I felt like such a martyr, slaving away for nothing. I wanted sympathy! 😛 But once I did start making money, I wanted to minimize how long I’d been blogging for, “Well, I make about $1200/month with my blog — but I’ve only been writing for, like, 6 months!”)
With all the hype on Pinterest and titles like “how I made $60,000 my first year blogging” and “how I made $10,000 my third month blogging” it can be easy to quickly feel like you must be doing something terribly wrong, you’re wasting your time, and you should just quit now.
Cliche, but true… “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”
Here’s the truth: Blogging is not (by any means) the most lucrative business opportunity. It’s relatively easy (with a fair amount of work and plenty of patience) to earn a decent amount of money with a blog, but very, very few people actually get rich doing this. Blogging can, absolutely, provide a decent income with a lot of flexibility. It also certainly can be an excellent asset to a business. (A business that has a good blog — not just a “monetized blog.”)
But, the vast majority of bloggers never make a penny. And most that do make something only make a few hundred dollars. Turning a blog into a full-time income typically takes at least 6 – 12 months (and often much longer).
So, blog if you love it, and don’t blog if you don’t. Because if you don’t love it, then you won’t stick to it long enough for it to pay off, AND because you really might as well go do something more profitable.
7. You’re thinking [way] too small
If you’re trying to build a one-person show that eventually makes enough to support you, then you’re in for a long struggle. Most solopreneur businesses have trouble ever taking off, and even if they eventually do, they never fly high enough to avoid crashing every time they stall a bit.
Ready for an ironic truth? It can actually be a LOT easier to build a big, thriving business than it can be to build a legit, successful side hustle.
As cheesy as it sounds, it comes back to that quote: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
If you’re trying to build something small, then small you will remain. You won’t ever feel comfortable making the decisions that could take your business to great heights, and you won’t ever have the resources to invest either.
Read this >> A Step-by-Step Guide to Building an Online Business
Here’s a little example: Let’s say I want to build a blog that makes about a thousand dollars/month. Enough to really loosen up my budget and upgrade my lifestyle.
Well, since I’m only ever planning to make $1000/month, I definitely shouldn’t bring on board a virtual assistant to help me out, because that would eat up most of my potential profit (and, honestly, I don’t know if I’ll ever make anything at this — hiring could be a complete waste).
I also probably shouldn’t invest very much in advertising or a graphic designer, and, let’s be honest, I shouldn’t spend more than about 20 hours/week on this, because if it takes more time than that then I should just go get a second job.
Pretty depressing, right? But what if you had a different perspective, and were thinking a LOT bigger?
What if you wanted to build a business that earned $1,000,000/year? What would you do differently? Well, you’d know that you could potentially spend up to $999,999 this year before you lost a penny. You could hire an amazing PR company and advertising agency to promote your business. You could hire an assistant to help you AND a small team of people to create products.
YOU could focus on leading and let others do what they can do better than you. You could create something truly valuable, employ a half-dozen people, and make a neat sum of money in the process.
I’m not saying building a big, successful business is easy. It’s not. It’s a heck of a lot of work and nothing to be minimized. But here’s what I am saying: building a small business is a lot of work too. And if you can have $500,000 for roughly the same amount of work that it would take you to earn $5,000, then I think you know which makes more sense.
We’ve all got the same 24 hours in a day. Richard Branson, Oprah, Elon Musk… they worked 60 – 80 hours a week, just like many people who earn less than 1% of what they do. There is only one thing different about the mega-successful: they dream WAY bigger. And they believe in their dreams. They believe so strongly that they stay completely committed, and they are willing to invest. They believe they will succeed and they act accordingly.
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