8 Ways to Make Money With a Blog (And the Major Mistake You Should Avoid)

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Figuring out how to make money with a blog is hard.

There are a few reasons for that.

The first reason is that, if you have to figure it out, then you’ve never done it before, and there’s a lot of information that you don’t have.

The second reason is that there really isn’t one right answer — even though there are a lot of wrong ones!

But the third reason is the real clincher: if you pay careful attention to everything that successful, money–making blogs are doing, you will probably get the wrong idea.

Here’s what I mean…

So many revenue opportunities

If you carefully survey the world of successful bloggers, you will find a variety of revenue generating opportunities.

Most of these opportunities can be grouped into 8 categories…

  1. You can run ads on your site — either by contacting advertisers and selling ad space directly to them, or by using a network to place ads like Google’s AdSense.
  2. You can promote affiliate products — either by offering a few targeted products from marketers whose work you trust, or by cranking out related offers that you grab from a site like ClickBank.
  3. You can sell information products — ranging from simple $17 ebooks, all the way up to $2000 training programs.
  4. You can write guest posts on sites that will pay for them — usually, in the range of $50-$200 per post (sites like FreelanceSwitch or Smashing Magazine are just two examples).
  5. You can offer your services — this includes web design work, being a virtual assistant, or many other freelance jobs.
  6. You can sell physical products — this includes everything from nutritional supplements to hot dog carts to electronics.
  7. You can offer consulting or coaching services — either as one–off sessions or as long–term mentorship programs.
  8. You can sell printed books and all that goes with it — many bloggers use their blog as a platform to get a book deal, public speaking opportunities and so on. For example, I used my blog to help create my book, Engagement from Scratch!

Most successful bloggers employ a combination of these activities.

They’ll run some ads, promote some affiliate products, and sell their own services and information products.

Many newcomers look at larger sites and try to replicate this strategy, but they are missing a very key piece of information…

Just because a popular website makes money a certain way, doesn’t mean a new website can do the same thing!

The major mistake you should avoid

Most of the revenue generating activities that I described above aren’t profitable enough (and sometimes aren’t profitable at all) for the vast majority of websites.

There are two reasons for this.

The first reason is lack of sales volume.

When you’re selling something cheap — whether it’s a $17 ebook, an introductory consulting session for $47, or an ad on your site that earns you $0.13 per click — you have to sell a lot of it in order to make a significant amount of money.

Don’t get me wrong, you can make good money selling cheap things — but only if you have hundreds of thousands of visitors to your blog.

In other words, it’s a good strategy for the Probloggers and Copybloggers of the world, but probably not for you and me.

The second reason is margins.

There are costs involved in anything that you try to sell.

It could be the cost of creating your information product or membership site, it could be the cost of printing and mailing your books, or it could be the cost of marketing your product or service.

For a lot of the revenue opportunities that I described, the costs are just too high for you to make any serious money — again, unless the volume is enormous.

Not all products are created equal

Most blogs get the majority of their revenue from one or two sources.

For example, on my Firepole Marketing blog, the only profitable things we sell are our training program and high–priced consulting services.

Most bloggers have a similar experience. There are usually one or two products that bring in the money. Everything else is just a small addition.

We also do a bunch of other things that we know aren’t profitable: promoting affiliate offers, writing guest posts, offering single consulting sessions, and writing books. We do these things because these activities help us sell the stuff that really makes us money.

But what if you don’t have time for all the extras? How do you cut through the fluff and find one or two money makers?

Here’s what you need to know…

Making money with a small audience

If you want to make money with your blog, then you need to decide which path you’re going to follow.

Are you going to do it by selling cheap products and services to a huge group of people? Or will you sell high–priced offerings to a small group?

They’re both viable options in the long run, but in the short run, selling cheap services to a huge group of people probably isn’t practical … especially if you don’t have access to a huge group of people.

Let’s look at an example.

Say that you want to make $100,000 per year. Depending on the price point of your offering, here’s how many sales you would need:

  • If you’re selling a $7 product, you’d have to sell 14,286 units
  • If you’re selling a $27 product, you’d have to sell 3,704 units
  • If you’re selling a $97 product, you’d have to sell 1,031 units
  • If you’re selling a $297 product, you’d have to sell 337 units
  • If you’re selling a $997 product, you’d have to sell 101 units

If you’re just getting started, which path do you think is easier? Finding 14,000 new customers? Or finding 100 new customers?

Even though the price is much lower, you still get the idea — to make a significant amount of money selling something inexpensive, you’ll have to sell a huge quantity. Most websites struggle to get 14,000 visitors, let alone 14,000 customers.

This brings up three final questions…

Three questions to consider

First, you need to ask yourself, “How long can I afford to wait to reach my goals?”

It’s very possible to make money with inexpensive products and ads, but it will take you a lot longer to build an audience large enough to support that. If time is of the essence, then a smaller group of customers paying you more money is probably a better option.

Second, if you decide that higher–priced is the way to go, then you need to ask yourself, “What offering and what price is a good fit for my audience?”

Not every market is looking for a $997 individualized coaching program. Maybe charging $97 a month for group coaching is a better fit. You’ll have to do some research and decide which higher–priced offering is best for you.

Finally, you need to ask yourself, “Who can put my message in front of potential customers?”

If you’re brand new, then you probably don’t have much influence.

That’s fine.

You don’t need to be an influencer, you just need to connect with them. There are already people out there who have the attention of your target audience. Get to know them and you’ll have the perfect path to paying customers.

Whatever path you choose, remember that you need to do what works for your situation and your circumstances … and that’s not always the same as what works for someone else.

Danny Iny (@DannyIny) is an author, strategist, serial entrepreneur, expert marketer, and the Freddy Krueger of Blogging. Together with Guy Kawasaki, Brian Clark and Mitch Joel, he wrote the book Engagement From Scratch!

46 Responses to 8 Ways to Make Money With a Blog (And the Major Mistake You Should Avoid)

  1. Mena says:

    Thank you for this Helpful post.
    it will help more as i’m moving on with my blog.

    Mena

  2. It’s impossible to expect to generate money from a blog on day 1, but it is much more important to have a plan to generate money from a blog on day 1. Many people fail to realize this, and they’d be much better off creating a long-term strategy for generating income rather than going after what’s easy yet ineffective right away.

    • Danny Iny says:

      Yup, absolutely – the key is to have a plan that makes sense. It’s not just that most people don’t realize they need a plan; they also lack the expertise to create a plan that will actually work…

  3. Jeff Goins says:

    Great article, Danny!

  4. Tram Tran says:

    Thank you for the great article. Now I know where to write for. ;)

  5. Tracy says:

    Good tips. Putting pricing into terms of finding 100 customers vs. 14,000 is very eye-opening. Definitely something to think about as I continue with my site. Thanks!

  6. Andrew says:

    Danny

    My aim is to offer my own products/services ranging from free to $997. Several are set-up in the lower prices and I have plans for the larger ones.

    It just takes time to get to the stage of having them all in place.

    Andrew

  7. Oscar says:

    It doesn’t not work only blogging I found that this tips works for everything else. As I’m moving on with my corporate site … knowing this tips will help in every aspect of my future adventure… Thanks a lot… Awesome stuff.

  8. Interesting post, but while it’s true that you have to sell fewer products at a higher price point in order to achieve your target income, that’s not the only factor that’s at play.

    Suppose you dedicate hundreds of hours to putting together an extensive training program that you’ll sell for $497 (versus a smaller version that could have sold for $47, but put together in a few hours). But what if your larger program is a flop (maybe readers aren’t willing to pay that much, maybe it’s on the wrong subject, whatever…)?

    You’ve invested tons of time to make no sales, when running a smaller program would have allowed you to quickly figure out what works and what doesn’t before launching your next, more successful product.

    Personally, I believe larger, more expensive products are something you should work up to as your audience and your understanding of their specific needs, interests and desires grows. Instead of blowing everything on a big product that might not pan out, use smaller products to test ideas that can grow into something larger, even if they aren’t as profitable at first.

    • Dani says:

      I’m with Sarah, maybe building up to a higher cost product. Thinking that lower cost products may be a better way of testing out the waters. Although I do know some brilliant people that can knock out an amazing high cost product in hours not weeks. I’m in the process of developing a few things and this article helps a lot.

      • Danny Iny says:

        I’m glad I could help, Dani. I’d love to know how one would go about creating a high-priced product in hours (in my experience, even the low-cost products involve a lot of work!); unless they’re selling services, of course. :)

        • Dani says:

          ha! I’m a Creative Admin Consultant ( VA ) for a few larger than life infopreneurs. Can’t give out their secrets but I can tell you they do it ALLLLLLL the time. Then again they are the same people who can write a book in a weekend. Most of them delegate almost everything they do while they work on these products. That helps.

    • Danny Iny says:

      Very true, Sarah – I’m not saying that people should spend months and years building a product without validating demand – on the contrary, but in that case the inexpensive product isn’t really a moneymaking thing on its own, it’s just a way of validating that demand.

      It’s also important not to understate how much work goes into creating even an inexpensive product, if it’s good – it is a lot of work, and so there’s a very real question as to whether the time will be justified in terms of returns.

      Does that make sense? Am I off base here?

  9. Tracy says:

    Danny,
    I will soon be putting together a services package, so your article will help me direct my efforts in the most appropriate direction. Perhaps a combo of both higher and and lower priced services is best. That way, all prospective clients in my market are covered, I don’t simply jump to a high price service, nor do I start low with a low priced service and suddenly surprise my readers by jumping to a much higher price point.

  10. Tracy says:

    More time than I have ;) .
    Perhaps, it’s definitely something to think about. However, considering my target market most likely doesn’t have a lot of extra $ to invest, I personally am probably better off starting low, then working my way up as my audience grows.

  11. Mikko says:

    Thanks for sharing these good ideas and two good “warnings”. Reading this gave me new inspiration to develop my money making ideas.

  12. Tony Goddard says:

    I guess the article lays out some good and sound business economics – not just for blogs but for anything you are planning to sell. The tips given are very helpful for someone new to the subject. From a personal point of view my blog acts as a ‘loss leader’ it attracts visitors who then go to my business pages and pay for consultancy – the blog acts as a shop window.

  13. Thanks for your Information bro, it’s new information for me. Before this, I make money just from AdSense and affiliate marketing.

  14. Hadian says:

    Thats right, but before we make money from blog, we need to make that blog nice for visitor. :-)

  15. D.J. Rony says:

    It is always better to sell one $300 product than 10 products of $30. I think I will go with this tip. Thanks for the simple descriptions. New bloggers should maintain that in a steady way.

  16. YFS says:

    This is really nice and helpful article. I like the “So many revenue opportunities” part.

  17. Robert says:

    Like any business, building a money making blog requires hard work and dedication. It’s definitely a ‘work in progress’ and if you keep at it, I’m sure results will come!

    I certainly hope so! lol!

    Thanks.

  18. Lea says:

    Great info. You got me thinking.

  19. Leah says:

    The fundamental flaw of this article is that conversion rates are strikingly different based on price point — no matter how engaged your audience is. Even if they LOVE you, the number of people willing and able to shell out for a $7 ebook will be remarkably higher than the ones willing and able to shell out for a $1000 program.

  20. Agatha says:

    What’s your overall take on Google ads within a blog post? I’m a money expert and primarily use my blog to give free content and drive additional traffic to my site. I am not sure where I stand on Google ads…do you think they can cheapen a blog and make it seem less authoritative?

  21. Great post and good advice. Thanks for sharing your insight!

  22. Sergio Felix says:

    Hey Danny,

    I’d hunt for those 101 clients no matter what.

    Have you ever had 10 clients underpaying you and all yelling at you (for any reason) all at the same time?

    I’d rather sell one person a $997 product/service rather than selling 10 products at $99.7 and you don’t have a clue how crazy they are going to be.

    Great article.

    Sergio

  23. Danny, you’ve convinced me. I have decided to start selling helicopters on my site. Seriously, the math is indisputable. The rule of big numbers comes into play in everything from sales to fundraising. How many $20 donations does it take to equal a million-dollar gift? 50,000! Perhaps a diagnosis of campaign spending, too. Get 49,000 friends to contribute and your candidate might have a chance.

  24. Excellent post. There is a fine line in how much and what type of advertising to use. Be careful about looking spammy. In my experience from the perspective of the operator for the blogs I created, and from the perspective of a consumer of the blogs I have followed, it is better to sell your own higher value content. Paid per click ads simply do not generate that much revenue in the context of how many people they turn away from your blog.

  25. Glenn says:

    Super post Danny,

    A real insight into what you can do to monetize your website, guess it’s about setting the right balance – and of course not selling yourself short!

    Thanks again,
    Glenn

  26. Dan says:

    Great article Danny.

    Sometimes it’s easy to get swept up in long term strategy and forget about how we’re going to make money in the short term.

  27. Pam says:

    Awesome post. Thanks for the sound advice.

  28. Aruneetu says:

    Thanks for giving me such a good knowledge about blogs.

  29. I had earned a lot from sponsered reviews, thats the main source of income from my blog, because adsense pay quite low and a paid post pays a nice money regularly.

  30. Taran says:

    Thanks for sharing great ways to make money from blog.You have shared such nice info.

  31. You can increase the value you get from your customers by increasing their lifetime value. It’s NOT very easy for a new kid on the block to sell a high-ticket product. However, starting with a lower priced (entry product) can open the door for more sales provided you over-deliver with your initial product.

    You can offer things like membership programs that help you make more repeatedly from the same client. And because they don’t have to dole out a huge amount all at once, you stand a better chance of getting them on board. $97 per month for a year is close to $1200!

    How many people can dole that out at once no matter how great your product is? However, they can be kept for a year if you have the right fit and a great product (albeit with some level of attrition).

  32. Taran says:

    These are really awesome ways to make money.Thank you for this Helpful post.

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