The truth is, it's not as easy to carve out your space on the web and make a name for yourself as a blogger today, as it was back when blogging was brand new. And it takes a lot of time to build your audience to the point where it's successful. (The most successful, multi-million dollar blogs today were started around 2005 or earlier.) So it's definitely not something you can get rich quickly with, though many people do work on their blogs full time.
I will quibble on one point though, your comment about BBT getting 13,000 subscribers before launching even though you “had nothing but a coming soon page and an invitation to join our email list.” As I recall, you also had a freakin’ awesome video on that page as well that just made people yearn to give you their email address, even without knowing a thing about BBT. So that didn’t hurt, either. ; )

Building a Framework – Abby Lawson is a successful blogger and has written an ebook about starting a successful blog. It's FULL of amazing information, and it's affordable. She's a friend of mine (and we're in a mastermind together!) and I can honestly say that she knows her stuff! In her ebook, she teaches technical advice, how to write engaging content, networking tips, social media strategies, monetization tips, and more.


Affiliate marketing works in conjunction with several other online advertising mechanisms. This is the case because affiliates will often use these platforms for marketing purposes. Some of the mechanisms include search engine optimization (SEO), e-mail marketing, paid search engine marketing (PPC-Pay Per Click), display advertising, and content marketing. At the same time, affiliates can also appropriate less traditional advertising methods. An example would be publishing reviews of services or products.
One attractive feature of promoting digital information products is that the commissions tend to be higher than that of physical products; ranging anywhere from 10% to 50% or even higher. As an example, if someone is selling a digital information product for $500 with a 50% commission - you can earn $250 per sale. This is much higher than commissions on physical products due to the high profit margins.
The point that especially resonated with me was the patience factor. This blog/website business is a huge undertaking and your message served as a helpful reminder that it takes time to build. I’ve been frustrated by the amount of traffic since my launch in February, but your post reminded me to readjust my expectations and just keep investing my time and energy in this. Thanks for the helpful insight! For the next few months, my focus is on just building quality content and then I’ll figure out if there’s a way to offer a service from my site…still trying to come up with that!

Consider a free blogging service. Many people opt to create a free blog using popular services such as WordPress.com or Google Blogger. This is a good option for people who aren't familiar with web design, don't want to pay for their own hosting, or enjoy the ease and stability that comes with these services. These services do have limitations on how you can make money using them, however, so make sure your blog won't break the terms of service.
Some blogs are focused on getting paid to provide links to news articles, company stores, or other third party websites. The most financially successful of these range from the Drudge, a blog composed almost entirely of conservative-leaning news links, to Smashing Magazine, a site that provides advice and product reviews to help software developers.[5][6]
OK, I’m going to show my age…a couple of decades ago, the public relations profession was in trouble and thoroughly misunderstood. As a profession, it lacked luster. So, the pros (me among them, though I was a cub then:) worked on a national public relations campaign for public relations. It worked. Public relations became recognized as a true profession, though there were and still are nitwits that don’t get it.
I know many personal finance writers with blogs that track the financial mess they got themselves into. They don't have financial degrees, but they are doing very well for themselves and help many people with their experiences. Many times, readers just want to hear from you, follow a real person's journey, read about how a real person made it through a problem, and so on. This is a great example of why degrees are not always needed.
The time you invest to make any significant amount of money is the same amount of time it takes to build a course or other offerings. If you want to make good money with ads (in the thousands), then you need to get 100s of thousands or millions of pageviews a month. This takes time and in that time you could just as easily build up your mailing list, create an infoproduct and make thousands whenever you want.

Adsense is a contextual advertising network that places partner (business) ads on your website. It’s easy to set up—all you have to do is copy and paste some code given to you from Google in the places you'd like the ads to appear on your website. Google will then show ads from advertisers that are a match to the content on your website so that ideally your website visitors see relevant ads.
This is the strategy that most bloggers start with when looking to monetize their blog. However, keep in mind you're not limited to selling banner ad spots (which is generally an ineffective strategy these days). Consider other areas you could rent out: space on your pop-up box, social media headers, the "P.S." on your email newsletters...think outside the box (quite literally).
I know many personal finance writers with blogs that track the financial mess they got themselves into. They don't have financial degrees, but they are doing very well for themselves and help many people with their experiences. Many times, readers just want to hear from you, follow a real person's journey, read about how a real person made it through a problem, and so on. This is a great example of why degrees are not always needed.
This is the strategy that most bloggers start with when looking to monetize their blog. However, keep in mind you're not limited to selling banner ad spots (which is generally an ineffective strategy these days). Consider other areas you could rent out: space on your pop-up box, social media headers, the "P.S." on your email newsletters...think outside the box (quite literally).
I went ahead and joined the Amazon affiliate program, but even though I get numerous clicks, there haven’t been any conversions, yet. Because of this, I might get dropped, but you can always re-apply later. I just don’t have enough traffic, yet. If I had to do it all over again, I would not have signed up for a program with time limits so soon. It feels like artificial pressure. I have three other affiliates; all of them relate to my blog content.
If you aren’t part of an ad network then you are constantly searching for new companies to advertise on your site. This one was always a pain in the ass for me. I wanted to spend time making my site better, but if I ignored selling my ad space then I wouldn’t have money to continue to make my site better. You can join an ad network, but that means you are giving up a percentage of the revenue. Work hard to only get 50% of the money? Bleh.
Thanks for the update, Jon. I’ve been blogging for over 11 years. In that time I’ve seen a LOT of changes. In fact, the number one change is change itself. What used to work (Google Adwords, keyword optimization) is actually a way to lose traffic now. I’ve seen eBooks come and go, as well as video marketing, podcasting, and social media marketing. The secret is they all work, for the right message, and the right person. The hard part is, to find the right message for your brand/personality takes a lot of hard work, a lot of experimentation, and months/years of time. Thanks for laying it on the line. Blogging can be a viable occupation, just don’t quit your day job until you’ve found what works for you.
There is a lot of room for new bloggers, and there is plenty of room for growth well into the future. I believe that companies and advertisers are only recently starting to realize the value of online influencers, such as bloggers, which means that the blogging world will continue to grow well into the future and that opportunities for making money from a blog will continue to increase.
Be aware that many blog hosting services only allow their proprietary contextual ad service, and may shut down your blog if you use one not made by the host company. If you are hosting your own blog, you should research contextual ad services and choose one that shows appropriate ads. Some allow pornography or other ads that may not be suitable for your blog.
I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this one. I was blown away that you don’t have ads on your site. I have ads on my site and I’m reading along thinking your advice is to forget the ads and sell products. As a food blogger, my mind goes to e-cookbooks, actual hold-in-your-hand cookbooks, books on how to start a food blog and how to do food photography. But according to this post, those I should sell later…the cheaper products. I can’t think of what “services” I could offer, other than offering to come over and cook for them (not happening) and I’m not quite an expert at offering services of personally coaching someone’s food blog. Maybe I’m just too green for that 🙂 Am I missing the point?
Be aware that many blog hosting services only allow their proprietary contextual ad service, and may shut down your blog if you use one not made by the host company. If you are hosting your own blog, you should research contextual ad services and choose one that shows appropriate ads. Some allow pornography or other ads that may not be suitable for your blog.
Jon, thanks for this awesome post. My question is, what do you think of blogs who ask for donations or claim to sustain themselves by them? (Also books and products). But what do you think about the donation itself and if you´re pro-donation, when is a good time to start asking for it in a blog? Thanks a lot for your time. Hope some day I can meet you Im from and live in Mexico

To all the bloggers out there…STOP sucking up to the very small, elite and narcissistic group of self-proclaimed influencers out there. If you all stop treating them like they’re special, they will not longer by special and therefore some of us who aren’t in there secret society will be seen as knowing what we’re talking about too! This isn’t High School, grow up and read someone else’s blog already!
Jon, this is a great article. Thank you. As usual, you are full of useful information. I am new to blogging (just launched in March) and I initially started with the small e-mail list from my business website, which does not have a blog. I started a completely new website after realizing I was on the wrong platform altogether to grow an audience. I learned this thanks to the information you and other professional bloggers provide. You recommend affiliate marketing to monetize a small new blog, which are my exact thoughts for my blog. Do you have an affiliate program? If so I would love to promote your info on my site. Thanks again!
Be aware that many blog hosting services only allow their proprietary contextual ad service, and may shut down your blog if you use one not made by the host company. If you are hosting your own blog, you should research contextual ad services and choose one that shows appropriate ads. Some allow pornography or other ads that may not be suitable for your blog.
And so, I guess my question here would simply be–would a person who follows your blog about TV shows be interested in paying for a TV-related webinar you created? Would a person who follows your blog about vinyl record collecting want to buy an online course from you? Would a person who follows a travel blog you created want to call you up for coaching lessons?
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