How To Make Money From Blogging – Including Lessons Learned & Mistakes Made

“Do people actually make money from blogging?”

This post is coming to you live from Puerto Plata. The resort that I’m at is pretty lively in the evening time. As you may know, after a few drinks everyone becomes best friends by the bar. Every night I find myself hanging out by the beach bar and meeting interesting characters.

When you’re meeting new people there’s the standard questions that you usually get. Where are you from? What do you do?

Asking someone what they do is fairly common in our society. At most parties it’s often the first question asked. It’s pretty annoying to be honest.

I usually say something ridiculous for the fun of it. I’ll often say that I’m unemployed or I’ll make something up. I told one couple how I ran a personal finance blog.

Once I managed to explain what a personal finance blog was I was hit with an instant question:

“Do people actually make money blogging?”

Usually when someone thinks of a blog they like associate it with a celebrity gossip site or some useless personal site on the life of your pet dog. Over the years, many blogs have been sold for millions and bloggers have gained high amounts of exposure in other forms of media.

People actually do make money from blogging. I’ve met many bloggers that do it full-time and make far more money than they did in their previous career.

How do people make money from blogging?

Promoting products.

Promoting products is pretty standard on personal finance blogs. You can promote anything from bank accounts to credit cards to online dating services to the products of your friends. When you promote a product you often earn a commission on every purchase that comes from your site. If you have a decent reader base or a loyal base, you can easily promote new products that you feel would benefit them.

The obvious caveat with promoting products is that you might be tempted with promoting something that you don’t care for just because of the financial incentive. This is where those that want to make money from blogging need to be careful.

What do you promote to your readers?

Freelance writing.

There’s a reason that I wrote a detailed piece on how to find a freelance writing gig. I’ve been doing freelance writing for almost two years now. Writing articles for other bloggers is a steady source of income for anyone that wants to earn money from blogging.

The main benefit to freelance writing is that you can focus your energy by writing on a topic that you’re passionate about and not worry about the design or the backend stuff. The setback is that you get paid per article and don’t have the opportunity to create passive income through Adsense or affiliate marketing.

Launching products.

Launching information products online seems to be a booming business. Many bloggers (myself included) have launched a product or at the very least considered doing so.

When you launch a product you’re in charge of everything and have the potential to earn steady income. The challenging part is trying to convince readers to actually spend money on your product.

Advertising.

There are many ways to make money through advertising on blogs. You can sell text links or banner ads for a flat monthly rate. This is a common option because it’s steady money and only requires you to place an ad in the sidebar.

Then you can twist things around and make money from advertising by setting up deals for other bloggers. You make the connection between the advertiser and the blogger. When the money goes through you take a commission for yourself.

Those are a few of the ways that I’ve seen my blogging peers make money through blogging. I’m not going to turn this into another blog about blogging post. I just wanted to address how people make money blogging for those that are interested in starting an online business.

Did you know that you can actually make money from blogging? The best part is that starting a blog is easier than ever before.

11 Lessons I’ve Learned From Blogging

 

Lesson #1: You have to be consistent.

We all have that friend on social media who’s quick to share links to their new podcast or YouTube video only to disappear after a month when they’re not a famous influencer.

This is annoying and I hate to be the one to mention this, but you have to be consistent. You have to find a way to show up even when you don’t feel like it. Nobody else will do the work for you. You have to deliver or else people will forget about you. It’s easy to be motivated for a few weeks or a few months. Can you stay focused for a year?

How do you stay consistent?

  • Find ways to reward yourself. Can you treat yourself?
  • Think of the worst case scenario. Do you want to be stuck at that shitty job for another decade?
  • Jump into a topic that you’re actually passionate about and can focus on.
  • Focus on small actions. We all want to go big. Sometimes it’s important to just tackle what’s in front of you. A small action like editing a post, pumping out a few words or sharing a social media post can go a long way.
  • Don’t bother if you’re not serious. This is a bit harsh but please don’t waste your time if you know that you can’t commit.
  • Stop thinking that you’re going to hit it big. Most people will give up when their second podcast episode doesn’t go viral or when they don’t become famous on YouTube.

Lesson #2: You need a unique message and story to stick out.

“I’m going to tell people about how hard I work.” — said by every delusional athlete online.

Zzzzzzz.

Nobody cares about how hard you work.

It’s getting tougher and tougher to stick out these days when it comes to creating online content.

You’re fighting for the most important currency in the world: attention.

How do you earn and keep someone’s attention? Your message has to be extremely unique.

Believe me, this annoys me more than anyone else out there. I wish that having a normal story was enough.

How do you stick out?

  • Have a compelling angle on a popular topic.
  • Tackle a unique topic.

Ask yourself this when creating content:

“Would this catch my attention if I was scrolling through social media?”

Be honest with yourself. If your idea is boring or not that exciting then people won’t care. We crave something different. The good news is that different doesn’t always mean better. It can just be different enough to catch some attention.

Lesson #3: You have to become friends with people in your field.

This whole “networking” thing can feel pretty slimy. I hate even using that word. You can’t do this alone though.

How do you “network” with people in your field?

  • Go to events. Get out of your house and attend events in real life.
  • Apply their material for results. An easy way to get someone’s attention is to be a case study for them.
  • Be active. Show them love on social media.
  • Don’t ask for stuff. Stop asking for things! I get annoyed when someone publishes their first blog post and they email me asking for a link or a share. Try to be useful first. Then you can ask. Stop begging and harassing people to promote your stuff.

Lesson #4: You have to deliver your message across multiple platforms.

When I first started blogging in 2008, I only relied on Google for traffic. I didn’t do any email marketing or social media. Facebook was just starting. I had a fake name and used it to keep in touch with people that I met on vacation. Now Facebook ads are a huge market.

The good news is that now you can find a platform that works for you and focus on it.

  1. You can write content for a blog if you’re a decent writer.
  2. You can make videos for YouTube if you love to explain things on video.
  3. You can start a podcast on iTunes if you’re a fan of conversations.

You have no excuses.

How do you deliver your message across different platforms?

  • Divide and conquer. Learn how to use one platform before you try to get on the next.
  • Double dip. When you create a video, you can post it on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Tik Tok. You don’t always have to create new content. You can rely on one piece of content and then slice it up.

Lesson #5: You have to pay attention to SEO and algorithms.

“Build it and they will come.”

I heard that phrase a lot about a decade ago. Now you have to build it and promote it ruthlessly if you want anyone to find you.

You have to know what every platform is looking for. The good news is that most of us are just guessing. All we can do is try to pay attention to what’s work and what’s not working.

Lesson #6: You have to get good at email for marketing reasons and for follow-up.

“I suck at email.”

I told a friend that once and he kindly reminded me that I had no choice but to get better at it.

Follow up is everything. Get decent at replying to messages. I hate it when I try to help someone out and they can’t even acknowledge that they read the message.

Lesson #7: You have to know when to invest in yourself.

There will be times where what got you here won’t get you there. You have to change what you’re doing. You have to invest in yourself.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for saving money. I just know that you don’t want to slow down your own growth because you were too cheap to pick up a lunch bill or to attend an event.

You have to spend some money today to make money in the future. Read up on investing in yourself so that you don’t stay in the same situation forever.

Lesson #8: Keep on doing cool shit in real life so that you have something to talk about.

You can’t just write and document if you have nothing going on in your life. You have to live. Go on trips. Step out of your comfort zone. Take some damn risks.

Nobody wants to get lectured by some robot who sits at home. If you want to get better at writing and social media, you have to actually live. The more experiences that you go through, the more stories that you have to share.

This year I wanted to find a new angle so I found a way to turn coffee into cash.

Sometimes an idea may seem silly to you (going rock climbing, taking a dance lesson, etc.) but it could be interesting to the rest of the world.

“Don’t ever decide for yourself that videos about you or the things you like to do won’t be compelling to anyone else. Let the market decide. Trust me, it’ll be honest with you.” — Gary Vee

Lesson #9: Be transparent. Readers dig personal and emotional content.

We love real content. The world has enough useless motivational quotes.

Trust me, it seems strange to talk about a breakup or a struggle, but people love this kind of work.

Share what’s actually happening. Look at this this way, if something is an issue for you then it’s likely also an issue for someone else out there. We all struggle.

Lesson #10: Stop buying courses and chasing the next big thing.

Growing a business gets overwhelming. There are no quick fixes. You don’t need to spend a fortune on courses or “proven income systems” when you’re first getting started. You just need to start. Then you can worry about slowly investing in the business.

Focus on creating content and sharing your message. Keep on trying to grow. See if you even have anything worth pursuing before you buy some expensive program.

Lesson #11: Find a way to make money.

How will you make money? Will you sell books? Will you promote products? Will you be a coach?

Think of how you’re going to make money and make it happen. This is something that I struggle with. You need to find different revenue streams.

Here are a few options for making money:

  • Advertising space.
  • Selling coaching.
  • Selling courses.
  • Writing books.
  • Freelance writing.

You have to figure out how this business will bring in money. If you don’t bring in any money then you have a hobby. There’s nothing wrong with a hobby, but hobbies don’t pay the bills.

Those are the lessons that will help you grow your new business so that you don’t waste time or money. I believe that life’s too short to work at a job that you hate. We live in the best time in history for making money.

On the flip side, I’m not here to sell you the dream. I have to stress that blogging/working for yourself/self-employment isn’t for everyone. You might be better off staying at your current job.

9 Biggest Mistakes I Learned From While Blogging

 

Mistake #1: Not being focused enough.

I get distracted very easily. I jump around between projects. I try to do many different things at once. I go from writing a blog post to working out to finding BJJ technique videos to watching a pro wrestling match.

This is how my mind operates. I always have too many things going on at once.

What’s the expression?

Jack of all trades. Master of none.

I spread myself too thin. I get cool social media photos from all of the interesting things that I do. I never master anything though.

Part of the problem with getting distracted also refers to my social life. It’s easy to get yourself into trouble when you live in a trendy part of town. Okay, for me it’s easy to get into trouble. I love going out. I love having people over. I lose focus easily.

Mistake #2: Doing useless stuff.

“Are you inventing things to avoid doing the unimportant?”

I have this sticky note above my desk. I still do a lot of useless things.

What are examples of useless things that I’ve done?

  • Sometimes I write articles on random topics.
  • Take on projects that aren’t going anywhere.
  • Get distracted with social media.
  • Scroll Twitter for hours.
  • Research completely useless topics.

The thing with working online is that it’s difficult to separate between work and wasting time.

I’d like to think that I’m pretty efficient. I don’t really follow any sports (aside from MMA) and I don’t watch much TV. I just do useless stuff.

Mistake #3: Not being consistent enough.

Everyone tells you that consistency is key. You can’t get in shape if you don’t stick to a diet nor can you save any money if you don’t follow some sort of plan.

We all know that we need to be consistent in what we do. It’s just extremely difficult in the moment to remain consistent.

I haven’t been consistent enough. I go through bursts where I write like crazy. Then I disappear. I promote like mad. Then I start working on something completely irrelevant.

Mistake #4: Not jumping on new technology.

I waited forever to get on Instagram or to start a YouTube channel. I never created a Facebook page for Studenomics.

It’s a big risk to jump on a new technology because it’s impossible to calculate your ROI. You don’t know if this new social media app will even be popular in a year or so. You don’t know if it’s worth spending so much time on something that you barely understand.

You also have to really put yourself out there. It’s not easy to put videos of yourself up for the world to see. It’s not easy to build a decent Instagram account.

I didn’t become totally confident with putting myself out there until the last few years. Getting into pro wrestling and getting into better shape has helped me.

In a random story, I tried to jump on Periscope when it first came out. My goal was to do a nightly “scope” for my followers on Twitter. I was on that app promoting hard until I realized that nobody joined Periscope. That app just died off.

Mistake #5: Not learning from others.

I’ve been in contact with some of the brightest minds. Some of my friends on Facebook have extremely popular blogs.  I’ve done nothing with their information and help in many cases.

I don’t know what to say. I’m not sure if I’m afraid of success or if I just hate bothering my friends.

Mistake #6: Not finding the balance between promoting and creating.

How much should you promote your work? How much time should you spend on creating?

I’ve never mastered this skill.

Does anyone have the answer? Please let me know.

Mistake #7: Not creating a clear product to sell.

I’ve written books and promoted affiliates. I’ve never fully launched a product that I stand behind.

Does this make sense? I feel like one needs a successful product to stand behind. Something to promote and sell. Something that everyone knows them for.

I really wish that I had created a course or clear product sooner instead of waiting around. I’ve read every article on the topic, listened to podcasts, and researched this stuff to death. I just take forever to get things done sometimes.

Mistake #8: Starting unrelated projects.

I started a blog called The Property Dude in 2013 for no reason. I could’ve just written more about real estate on here. I could’ve just written a book on the topic. I didn’t need another blog under my belt.

I also didn’t have the energy or time to be working on a new project. The blog went nowhere and the domain eventually expired. Just another unrelated and useless project.

Mistake #9: Not investing enough.

As an entrepreneur it’s easy to justify every expense as an investment. It’s also impossible to know how much money you should be spending on investing in your brand.

How much money should you spend on improving yourself? What about advertising? Graphic design?

I don’t feel that I’ve invested enough in Studenomics and everything that I do online.

What can you learn from my mistakes?

“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” — Otto von Bismarck

It’s always easier to learn from others than it is to make your own mistakes.

Find a clear path to where you want to get.

What exactly do you want to do? Figure this out.

The world absolutely doesn’t need any of the following:

  • Another blog on starting a blog.
  • Another useless motivational quote.
  • You talking about how much gratitude you express (way too much pandering online).

What exactly do you want to do? Find someone who has done it and try to think of a similar path that you can take.

Work on one thing.

Are you working on multiple projects? I always work on way too many things at once. I want you to try to work on one project. Once you have a successful blog, podcast, YouTube series or whatever, then you can leverage that to grow your next project. This beats trying to grow five random projects at once.

Find one thing to work on. Decide if you want to freelance or start an online business. Then see this goal through. Don’t move on to the next thing until you experience some level of success (financial or popularity-wise). Don’t give up before you get good. Try to actually master something.

Set time for everything.

A friend mentioned that she sets time blocks for everything that she does. I just kind of do whatever I want to do and write late at night.

I suggest that you try to find time for everything. Set a date and time for specific tasks.

For example, let Monday be the day that you write while Tuesday becomes the day that you promote all day.

You need some sort of plan because hope isn’t a game plan.

Steal from everyone.

See what’s working for others and steal.

We all borrow from each other. Put your own spin on it. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. You just have to make it spin faster.

I summarize my thoughts better in my article on what I wish I knew about starting an online business. All you have to know is that everything has been done already. Try to think of how you can do it better or how you can differentiate yourself (faster, easier, more entertaining, etc.).

Help people get results.

The whole point of blogging and creating content for the web is to help your audience get results. When they get life-changing results, they’re going to want to promote you and your work. Nobody will promote you just because you’re a nice person or because you wrote an article where you shamelessly pander.

1 thought on “How To Make Money From Blogging – Including Lessons Learned & Mistakes Made”

  1. I like freelancing but it’s a bit nerve-wracking worrying about insurance and other things like that. The income is steady and it can lead to bigger and better things but you have to put a lot of effort into it.

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