I learned this the hard way last year when I launched a new blog… it felt icky doing it but I convinced myself that it was part of growing and “getting outside my comfort zone”. I was promoting something I believed in, but it was too heavy handed because my focus was more on making money than serving my audience. I got my first unsubscribers that week… lesson learned. Not that I’ve sworn off selling, but I’m learning how to do it in a way that doesn’t turn people off.
These are some of the best I have read in a while Jon. Well, am a blogger in a relatively different online environment – Africa to be precise. Some things just don’t work out over here – ebooks no one buys them, mailing lists, no one joins them and very few people are willing to pay you to teach them anything. Hopefully, over time I will find the right formula to bissect this difficult market.
Think of new article topic ideas. I have a long list of over 100 possible article topics that I keep on my laptop as well as on my phone. I think of the many, many topics that you'll find on Making Sense of Cents through life experiences, reader questions, research and articles that I've come across (like if I see a crazy statistic that I find interesting, I'll then turn it into a long article), and so on.
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.
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.
Oh, wow! Just…wow! I knew the changes on this site would be phenomenal, but good grief, Jon! I’m nowhere close to where I should be, but this post will be my bookmarked ‘go-to’ when I need to remind myself of the most actionable process I should take as an ‘old newbie’. I know I need help, but this particular post is helping me to wrap my head around what I didn’t understand before. Thanks!
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!
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?
I would much rather go back to cleaning a gym than offering some crappy dieting product that doesn’t work. I know a lot of people reading this need to make a bit of extra income quickly, but it’s very important to not ruin your blog’s long term brand and image over a few quick dollars. Even if you have to work a basic entry job offline for a while it’s a much better option.
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?

Brainstorm keywords for each blog post. Keywords are the important words that relate to the topic of your blog, and specifically the new subtopic you cover each time you post. Choosing relevant keywords that people search for frequently will increase the visibility of your blog, attract more readers, and show them advertisements they are likely to click.
Just be aware that affiliate marketing with the wrong company can damage your brand. For instance, I started my blog w/ Blue Host because of Pat Flynn’s recommendation – which I am sure he was paid for. I am now on day 5 of my site, and e-mail being down, with NO estimate from Blue Host as to when it will be back up. As a consequence, I wouldn’t buy a thing he suggested or endorsed, because of my experience with someone he put his seal of approval on. Blue Host has a HORRIBLE reputation among the community, and I even wonder if anyone would “recommend” them unless they were being paid.
As usual a top knotch post full of excellent advice, very easy to understand and follow. Just studying your posts is an object lesson in how these things are done. I, like many aspiring bloggers, am very familiar with the glazed look that passes over people’s faces when I attempt to explain what my plans are! I think the primary problem is that we have been brought up to do business in a particular way. You make something therefore you get paid for it. Most business people feel there is something inherently wrong about a system where you provide huge amounts of valuable content free of charge and without obligation. The peception is that the model cannot be susstainable.

Hello Jon, the lessons are detailed and comprehensive. Frankly speaking, I have never read a blog post that carefully like today and I really benefit a lot from it. However, I still have a question regarding to this post, that is, if I am not an expert in any field, what kind of blog (topic for blog) should I start with and how to get enough traffic to my blog? I agree with you that we should not sell ads but should sell our own products or affiliate products via our blog. However, if I cannot teach others something and my blog doesn’t have enough traffic, how can I sell my products or the affiliate products to my readers? Anyhow, I will still focus on your blog and hope I will learn more valuable knowledge through your blog.


I learned this the hard way last year when I launched a new blog… it felt icky doing it but I convinced myself that it was part of growing and “getting outside my comfort zone”. I was promoting something I believed in, but it was too heavy handed because my focus was more on making money than serving my audience. I got my first unsubscribers that week… lesson learned. Not that I’ve sworn off selling, but I’m learning how to do it in a way that doesn’t turn people off.
Lets say, for example, that you refurbish and resell used smartphones out of your home. You could use a blog to attract visitors to your website where you list your current phones for sale. Your blog might cover topics about DIY refurbishing. On one level, it seems counterintuitive because you want people to buy your phones, but it also helps you build a brand and gain recognition. Social media guru Jay Baer explains the concept on Copyblogger:
Thanks so much Jon. I have been struggling to ‘get off the ground’ and am devouring your insight and knowledge. You offer such invaluable and proven information and are totally inspiring. I know I CAN DO THIS and will continue to soak up your posts as they come through. I won’t wast too much time now on Facebook and Twitter which I’ve been trying to get my head around. You see I am very new to everything!
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.
Sometimes I think we just need permission to do the things we love without having to make a living at it. So I'm giving you permission. I'm telling you it's fine for you to have a blog that gives you an outlet for your creativity, allows you to talk about things that are important to you and lets you stay connected to friends and family. You don't have to try to monetize your joy.
Lets say, for example, that you refurbish and resell used smartphones out of your home. You could use a blog to attract visitors to your website where you list your current phones for sale. Your blog might cover topics about DIY refurbishing. On one level, it seems counterintuitive because you want people to buy your phones, but it also helps you build a brand and gain recognition. Social media guru Jay Baer explains the concept on Copyblogger:

People who start to blog always thing of making money which tends them toward failure. In my opinion bloggers should choose the topic which interests them. They don’t think about making money. It’s about knowledge, try to learn more and don’t think about money stuff. There are many top blog topics to make money online but you can get success only with the topic you like to write on. Try to choose your topic for the blog. Making money is very easy, don’t think about it much.
This article has gotten my mind churning and working in so many new and exciting ways. Thank you for sharing your insights! You deserve all the success you’ve been having on your blog. I can’t wait to start putting these tips into REAL practice (not the “wow-I-feel-so-inspired-for-20-minutes-and-do-nothing kind of practice I so often fall victim to).
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?
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.
And one last note to add: in regards to being thoughtful and caring about other people, the best blogging day I ever had was when I wrote a post about a group in Africa- no affiliate marketing-nothing in it financially for me. That post was sent all around Facebook and helped my stats tremendously. I’ve decided to permanently promote the needs of the group as it focuses my giving theme to one area.
Allow readers to purchase your own products or donate to your cause through your blog. If you have an online store for selling arts and crafts, or you create T-shirt designs available through a clothing website, provide links to those sites. Including a PayPal button for quick, safe purchases or donations is a common way to monetize creative blogs, or blogs that provide free advice or assistance to those who can't afford it.
×