Anyhow, the good thing is I think we can very reasonably expect a warning before anything like that happens. Enid Hwang (one of Pinterest’s top honchos) recently spoke at the AdThrive Summit and shared that Pinterest does penalize/look down on/treat any differently an approved API partner (like Tailwind) than it would someone who is manually pinning — this has been known for some time, it was just nice to hear them reaffirm it (any conjecture beyond that is merely a rumor).
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:
If you want to be famous or reach a wide audience, you will have to choose something slightly broader and work hard to make the best content for that topic. A subtopic relating to fitness, finance, or relationship advice is likely to reach the most people. Consider specific but broadly applicable topics such as managing money in college, or a marriage counseling blog.
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 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.
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.

Your newsletter is all yours. Unlike with social media websites like Pinterest and Facebook, your newsletter and email subscribers are all yours, and you have their undivided attention. You don't have to worry about some social media algorithm not showing your content to your readers, as they are your email subscribers so you aren't fighting with anyone else to have them see your content.
After reading through this post, I’m punching the air. Makes sense! But the thing is I write short stories, reviews, articles and the like on my blog. I’ve a little more than 500 subscribers and I’ve read every available material on getting traffic and making money. I only wonder how it applies to me since subscription to my blog is trickling in at a very slow rate 🙁 Anyhow, this is another great post from you, keep it up!
The reason this section is called “Great Content” is because your content really does need to be of a high standard. Everyday millions of blog posts are published on the internet and with so much competition for our limited attention spans you really have to be creating blog posts people are going to want to read and perhaps even share on social media or on their own blogs.
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.

Affiliate marketing is my absolute favorite way to make money blogging. I love it because it can feel quite passive. You can create just one blog or social media post, which can potentially still earn you money years down the line. Now, you will have to maintain the post and keep generating traffic to it. Still, with affiliate marketing, I can relax a little and enjoy life more, all while knowing that I am earning a great living promoting products that I use and enjoy.
These three factors will determine the amount of money you make. Estimating exactly what you will make is pretty difficult, but a high traffic blog on the right topic has the potential to bring in several thousand dollars every month. Of course, many people earn less than this, and some earn even more. In fact, it has been estimated that some top AdSense publishers earn nearly $2 million per year just from AdSense.
If you’ve spent a lot of time writing that week and just need a break from working on a post, it may be a productive way to spend an hour or two but I personally think your time could be better spent elsewhere. (This isn’t to say that you can’t find success utilizing this method, I just don’t see many/any people doing it and reporting back that it’s really helped them).

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.


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.
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.
You always share valuable messages with your readers, Jon. Sharing your wisdom and what you’ve learned from your experiences is appreciated. I still recall one of your suggestions in your original April 2014 version of this post to begin by offering services. I followed your advice and learned loads of insight from conversations with clients and referral sources. It’s interesting that you mentioned your success with guest webinars in the original post and with hosting webinars on your own site in this post. Hmm… It may be worthwhile to think about growing blogging businesses by speaking more often with your current or potential audience. ~Keri
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.
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.
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
You are man of kind. I do blogging since 7 years ago. I didn’t earn much like others. The reason behind i didn’t gave readers value. I pushed them to click my advertising. That’s silly. But, now, i understand that readers need something useful for their life. I called it human to human approach. Not human to machine, like the way i did. E Since months ago, i read your blog everyday. Just like a breakfast at Tiffany.
Jeff, first article of yours I’ve read. Excellent stuff! I’m following Michelle as well and am floored at the potential. I’m starting right now to implement all your suggestions. I’ve not yet set up my website email, but hey, one bite at a time, right? I’m looking forward to making a contribution to the interwebs. At this moment, by site is a blank slate, but I have several posts written in Google Docs of which to choose from. Cheers!
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