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.
Success in every facet of life is based on who you know and not what you know 🙂 The secret is to start connecting with more people, if you build your network wide enough you’ll meet someone who can help you, no matter what it is that you are trying to achieve. Some meet these influential people more quickly by complete luck of the draw, others need to keep plugging along longer. The system works either way, and whether or not it works better for others is irrelevant, all systems in life work better for some than others.
This post was so good that I had to sit in my car and keep reading after I left work, here in the garage. Ha! What caught my attention is the funnel analogy and the webinars. Starting with the expensive first, then offering the less expensive. Brilliant. Also, I want to do webinar but am not sure how to get started. But dammit if I’m not going to think of how to move in that direction! Thanks for the kick in the butt, Jon! 🙂
I mean, of course I’d come up with suitable content for Forbes should they wish to publish me, haha, but honestly we’d be happy with guest posting on even mildly popular travel blogs. The problem up to now, as I mentioned above, is that nobody wants to let us guest post, they want us to pay to do a sponsored post since our blog is attached to our business. If my blog was MexicoMike.com instead of http://blog.geckorockresort.com/ then it wouldn’t be an issue, but as soon as anyone sees the name of our business they incorrectly assume we’re loaded 🙂
Indirect Income – later on in my blogging journey opportunity has come for ‘indirect’ income streams. As my blogs and profile grew as a result of my blogging I was able to sell my services as a speaker and consultant and was offered the opportunity to author a book with the publisher Wiley. Later I was able to start an event for bloggers which also made money. None of this income came directly from the blog – but rather it came ‘because’ of my blog.

Advertising is easy to start, making it a popular income stream for many bloggers. However, it’s not nearly as lucrative as it once was and it requires a lot of traffic to be truly profitable. Also, it runs the risk of frustrating your readers (ever been on a site only to be assaulted by the ads?) and making your site look cheap and unsophisticated. Therefore, it’s not a top recommendation of mine.


Quality content is content that people can engage with and find useful. Your content should help readers and bring them value. Your blog needs to have interesting, helpful content that people would be willing to recommend or share with their friends. The format, structure, layout (and, of course, the writing itself) will all determine the quality of your blog.
It’s always great to learn from the best (=Jon)! The idea of the Minimum Viable Funnel was a real eye-opener, I have a product idea and will definitely test with the MVF if it flies. Actually, I did it with my other blog in the past (wasn’t even aware of the concept, it just happened…). It saved me from a huge disappointment and effort. Only one person bought the product so there certainly was no market for that! And refunding the money to that one person didn’t break the bank!
Hi Sam! I love your site. We should definitely connect. I’m a school counselor and recently launched a site for parents to address pertinent teen topics. Like you, I struggle with the ultimate service I’d eventually offer on my site, but Ramsay’s idea is a great start. He’s absolutely right that people are looking for fresh content for their sites! Best of luck to you and I hope we can collaborate.
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
Once the course launches, they are ready with their wallets. The course is priced at $100 (probably undercharging here, but it’s your first course and you are nervous) so some of them balk at buying it, but 100 people do end up buying it and you make $10,000 (minus processing fees). That’s the same amount you made from your advertising and you are in control of everything! Even better you don’t have to wait 30-60 days to get paid.
Our friend Bobby realized that soon after he started his blog. His site wasn’t making any money at the time, so he needed to find another way to bring in some cash. That’s when he started reaching out to other businesses offering his services doing the things he’d learned from blogging (Facebook ads, writing online content, social media strategy, etc.).
With a business account, you’ll have access to Pinterest Analytics, as well as the ability to create “Rich Pins.” You can also pay Pinterest to promote your pins with a business account, but that’s definitely not necessary. We experimented with about $50 worth of promoted pins before figuring out we could make our pins go viral on our own, without the help of ads.

Use a contextual ad service. Once your blog contains high quality content and has begun to attract an audience, you can make money using Google Adsense, WordAds, or any other contextual ad service. These automatically generate ads in the amount, size, and placement you specify, matching the ads chosen to the topics you write about. The more readers who click on the ads shown on your site, the more money the advertisers will pay you.
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.
If you want a more concrete answer than that, we’ve found it takes even our smartest, most dedicated students 3-6 years to make enough money from blogging to quit their jobs. And that sounds like a long time, but so what? 3-6 years to be able to work from anywhere in the world, take a vacation whenever you want, and probably have passive income until the day you die?
Please let me know if there is anything that I have missed in this article or if you still feel a little bit confused. I really like learning about what problems you’re facing and will do my best to help you out if I can. Also, if you know of an effective way to make money in the early days it’d be great if you could share it. Please leave a comment below and let me know.
As always, a fantastic post Jon. Have just shared on G+ with the comment that you are simply the best at what you do. I love your style, and the practical advice is invaluable. I was particularly interested in your downplay of using twitter, FB etc to hope to grow your blog, but what you said makes total sense. As someone who is building an author’s platform prior to publication, I’d been hesitant to sell products, but no more. Thanks so much for your inspiration.

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?
One example is this: since our blog is a sub-domain for my wife and I’s boutique beach resort, nobody seems to want to touch me as a guest blogger. I get the same response every time “you’re commercial and so you’ve got to pay for a sponsored post”…and while yes, we are commercial and not a private blog per se, we’re a tiny family run business and 95% of private blogs are striving to be commercial, whether they’re associated with a company name or not.
I’ve been building online businesses and e-commerce websites since 2000. I would never in my life start a new website with a “free” blogging or “free” website platform. If you do, within months your website is going to start growing, and you’re going to have to switch to a paid platform anyway. You will have thrown away all that time (and lost money in the process).
Hi Sam! I love your site. We should definitely connect. I’m a school counselor and recently launched a site for parents to address pertinent teen topics. Like you, I struggle with the ultimate service I’d eventually offer on my site, but Ramsay’s idea is a great start. He’s absolutely right that people are looking for fresh content for their sites! Best of luck to you and I hope we can collaborate.
When an up-and-coming band auditions to be an opening act, do you think the more famous band cares where they have played? Not really. All they care about is the strength of the audition. If the up-and-coming band is good, they get the gig. If they suck, it doesn’t matter where they played or how good everyone else says they are, they get a polite no.
Create a schedule for one month full of topics and the dates they will be published. I like to make sure I have a good variety of topics covered each week on Making Sense of Cents. For example, I don't usually like to have a week full of making money ideas. Instead, I like my posts to vary between making money, saving money, life improvement, and so on.
However for many people who are always prepared everyday carry is about having everything you might need in an emergency or for general use on you at all times. This will often include a light source (torch), a pocket knife, some small tools & rope it’s quite amazing how easy it is to carry all these things with you in your pockets, on your keys or in a small bag.
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.
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).

Great post, thank you! I found this to be very useful. I have just got into the Pay Per Click method and it is a great way of building a passive income. Due to my niche, I have found it difficult to source good affiliate networks, but just today I have revisited the accounts I set up on Link Share and CJ, to my surprise they offer a good range of affiliate programs, many of which cater to my niche blog topic :)
I don’t think enough can be said for working a part time job. In this last year I finally set out to claim my stake in the internet world after years of saying “maybe tomorrow”, and your blog was one of the big ones that helped me devise a strategy for going forward and putting my ideas into practice. Because despite all my ambitions, I didn’t know what to do – originally I wanted to move forward with 2 blogs and expected to get to 1000 subscribers in a couple months, but I know that’s not really realistic now.
Don’t get me wrong I have made many mistakes along the way but once I knew what I was doing it became a lot easier and more enjoyable. Many of my friends have emailed me or called me to find out more about “What Jamie Does”, but it can be a little hard to sink in at first as to how you can actually make a real income from running a successful blog(s). Therefore I have decided to create this guide for my friends, family, email subscribers and anyone else who wants to start doing “What Jamie Does”.
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