One of my biggest struggles lately has just been mental – I am having trouble getting myself to actually create content or really do anything with my blog. It could be so many things – overwhelm, too many ideas or goals, lack of results which feels discouraging, not making any money, even a feeling that maybe I’m not doing the right thing / have the wrong goals. It’s tough but I am sure many beginners go through these challenges.
If your niche doesn’t allow you to promote or build premium products (anything over around $100 per unit) then think about getting a solid mix of offerings and building it up over time. I remember Darren Rowse saying that initially Amazon Associates was a really small source of income but over the years it has really started to add up. Think eBooks, affiliates, consulting, books, etc. and you’re starting to build an income stream.
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.
Find something that other people are interested in, too. If you choose to write about Himalayan basket weaving for men, you probably won’t have many readers, and you’ll have a hard time earning any income. Try to find something that combines your interests with things other people also care about. For my main blog, I write about money advice. I’m a personal finance nerd but, fortunately, there are people online looking for that type of information, too.
Thank you so much for this helpful post! I have been researching how to make a successful blog for a month or so and have found many of your posts very helpful! It is my goal within the next year or so to have one up and running! I’m currently working more then full-time hours but live my job; just want more freetime. I think with some hard work I can make it possible.
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.
Have in-depth knowledge in your niche? Package it up into an ebook and sell it on your blog. I'd generally advise against selling it (at least exclusively) on Amazon or Kobo, as you'll probably be able to charge much less. If you've already built up a solid audience, you can probably change anywhere from $5 for a very short one, all the way up to $39+.
Track current trends - What stuff is in the media right now? It's good to pick a topic with longevity (you don't want something that will fall out of fashion), but if you can piggy-back on a trend early on, you can quickly establish yourself as an expert on it before anyone else. Searching #journorequest on Twitter shows what kind of people/topics journalists are currently reporting on

Thanks for sharing all this useful and relevant information Jon. The most interesting and surprising lesson was the one where you mentioned that spending a lot of time on social media outlets doesn’t really help. I also specifically liked how you set the tone about the fact that you’re not just a blogger and that you’re an expert…etc. This is some confidence needed to be successful in anything.
Hi, of course a freestyle blog can be profitable, you have to research the market that your audience is interested in. So what topic(s) (read: niches) do you write about. Do some research in Google and see if any ads pop up. If none, that topic is probably not a very good one. The key is to write great posts, provide great content, build an email list and research what your list is interested in (hint: use polls to check that out, let’s say if you are considering to become an affiliate for amazon and you want to promote cooking books, just an example, you could ask your subscribers to go to a poll you created about what books they love to read, and add cooking books as one of the options, plus several others, to make it more attractive, promise that they can win a reward or so, a free product or free service or even $25 will take them to your 1 minute poll). Also: learn about doing keyword research in Google keywords tool. And learn a bit about SEO done the proper way. Now don’t think you learn this in a week. It can take many years to master this art, but at least a year, if you study like crazy. Make sure your content is great, over deliver in great content, so people LOVE to subscribe to your list, offer a freebie that they will LOVE, and to find out what they would Love you can do a poll in your blog post(s) to research various interests your readers have. Then see if there are affiliate programs for that. Before my reply becomes longer then Jon’s article, I think I leave now, but you get the point…. go do your homework kid 😉 Good luck with your booming business! Believe you can do it, because you can, but you need to work hard, and learn the art of building trust and offering what your readers and subscribers Love…. Woohoo, go do your research now!
Great information altogether, but my main question still hasn’t been answered. I think I have Pinterest figured out and my traffic is gradually growing. I haven’t reached 5000 views per month yet but right now it seems like I will get 1000 page views in August and I started Pinterest mid-July with 0 views. I’m sure could be better, but not too bad either.
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.
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.
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