Reality Check: A Blog Is Not A Business

A blog doesn’t make money. If one wants to make money, you don’t start a blog in order to do it. Here’s some real-talk about exactly what makes money – and how.

This post was originally written in 2010, but was updated in 2019 to freshen it up… because it is still a point which I find needs to be hammered home.

Today, I’m going to be the ultimate straight-shooter with you. Because this is something a lot of bloggers need to hear BADLY.

There are so many bloggers out there who’ve got it all wrong. I see posts from people complaining about how hard it is to make money with a blog. I see dead blogs from people who’ve given up. And I feel like I hammer this point time and time again, yet it is a one-man battle against a raging sea of entrepreneurial ignorance.

Here is the blunt honest truth about blogging for money:

Blogs don’t make money. Businesses make money.

A blog is not a business. All those bloggers who have failed to make money, who have been trying desperately to make more than a few bucks from all their quality blog posts… they all fail because they’ve missed one VITAL point.

… that blogging is not a business model.

Here are the steps most bloggers seem to take:

  1. Get an idea that sounds fun.
  2. Start a blog.
  3. Write a bunch.
  4. Scratch head because few people have seen what you’ve written.
  5. Get the bright idea to make some money with it.
  6. Throw Google Adsense all over the damn place, plus any other ad you can possibly scrape up. Use up all available white space and just PACK it with ads and affiliate links.
  7. Read blogs by people like me, get some ideas, never implement them, keep dreaming about making money from blogging, rinse, repeat.
  8. Write some more.
  9. Check Adsense. Wow, you made a dime. Let’s celebrate.
  10. F**k this. This is too much work for no pay. The gurus are lying, they’re all scammers, and everything sucks.

Sound familiar?

Here is the mistake: That blogger thought that the blog was the business. That if you build it, they will come. No, sir. That just isn’t true.

The days of chucking banners all over your blog and sitting back while the checks roll in are OVER. They’ve been over a long time. Very few people who start out today will get to that position because the whole world is trying. Even some of the big sites are looking a little desperate, if you ask me.

You might think I’m shooting myself in the foot with this post. After all, I blog about making money as a blogger, right? Why would I say it is so damn hard?

Because blogging can be the foundation of a VERY solid online business. The trick (if you even want to call it such a thing) is simple: Have a business backend to the blog.

A blog with a business backend (i.e. products to sell and a method to sell them) is the key to a six-figure income as a blogger.Click To Tweet

I Don’t Make Money By Blogging!

Nope. I don’t. I actually don’t blog very often. I only published 15 blog posts last year. Most of them weren’t even original and were revised and updated posts written earlier. Clearly, blogging isn’t the focus of my actions.

And while I don’t get into income reports for these reasons, I will say that the Blog Marketing Academy has generated over six-figures per year for almost every year it has existed (over 10 years now). And last year, gross income grew by 10% over the year previously. This is despite me publishing only 15 posts.

Clearly, I don’t make my money via blogging.

It is the business machine which sits under this blog which does all the work. All of it based on a business which provides solutions to a market who wants it in exchange for money. For me, my underlying business model is online training and coaching on top of a membership site model.

Blogging – this blog – is merely a marketing medium. But, much takes place that wouldn’t be very visible if one merely looked at this blog.

You will find that this is the case with most blogs that are generating good revenue. In most cases, they have a real business back there, selling real solutions. Sure, they may make some money with affiliate marketing (I myself generate about 25% of my income that way). Others may use banner advertising, but that’s not much of a business model.

If you’re not selling something, you don’t have a business.

If you’re already generating income online, then you already know this.

If you’re trying to use a blog to make money and aren’t selling anything there, then this message is primarily for you. It is 2019 now and it is time to stop playing by the old set of rules.

When you’re first starting out, we’re not “finding a niche”. We’re finding a MARKET and we’re establishing a product/market fit. For more on that, I highly suggest my guide on choosing a niche the right way. You can also grab a spot in my free workshop on niche selection.

When you’re first starting out, you don’t immediately launch into building a blog. No, instead you work on the foundation first. You can catch my 14 step plan to launch a brand new blog here. Building the blog isn’t until step 12 for a reason. 😉

You can also learn about the mechanics of the business machine which sits behind the blog… by seeing the exact business model.

If you’re not selling something, you don’t have a business.

Blogging is not a business by itself. It is only a promotional platform. And as long as we understand that at the beginning, you’ll be a-OK. 🙂

About David Risley
David Risley is the founder of the Blog Marketing Academy, a 20-year veteran blogger and online entrepreneur. His focus? Building a reliable, recurring business around his "lifestyle" and the lives of his students. He has this weird obsession with traveling in his motorhome around the country with his wife and 2 kids. David also likes to talk about himself in the third person. In bios like this one. Read his full story.
  • Rema Ramon says:

    Ok, I understand the point and it makes sense. The thing is, what is it that I am going to sell? The only thing I think I can do well is writing.

  • Kelara says:

    Wow, that was eye opening. I think I knew this but just didn’t act on it. Thanks for making it plain.

  • Demba says:

    David really got it, even if ths post was published almost four years ago.

  • Fnb says:

    How does one get the traffic necessary to start selling a product or service?

  • Pve says:

    I never ever imagined all the good things that my blog has generated to come my way.  
    Blogging for me is like brushing my teeth.  I think many bloggers start but fail to see that is needs to be one part habit.
    Many people diet and stop.  Blogging I guess is like that.  It takes action, work and personalization.
    pve

  • James Turner says:

    “100% right. Blogging is the medium to reach a large group of people quickly by providing something that either solves a problem or enriches their lives. Through that interaction and trust, you provide that audience with a product or service they actually need.” – Robb Sutton
    I totally agree with your comment. Blogging is more of reaching people and I don’t posting ads can profit.

  • Lucy says:

    I hear ya and have been working on it. Opened up a store on my site this month. We will see how it works out.

  • Thank you. Something all bloggers like me need to hear.

  • Just signed up for disqus and realized you replied! Thanks man. 🙂

    That's actually just my personal blog, not trying to monetize that at all. My niche is a Pokemon Trading Card Game site, http://www.sixprizes.com

    I got OIOPub on it this week and have one advertiser so far. I know you're busy but if you have any suggestions, let me know. Keep up the great work.

    -Adam

  • yourgiantwithin says:

    Wow, this post is so good I forgive you for your saucy language! I think you have pointed out what is wrong with most of the opportunities that open up for people daily, not just on the internet. People invest the minimum amount of required effort, sit back for about 30 minutes and wait to get rich and then when that doesn't happen they quit. It is one of the reasons that people are so skeptical about people they 'meet' online because they are not sure who is truly in it for the long haul. Or why people doubt their friends when they start network marketing businesses because again, they think it's the flavor of the month. So thank you for continuing to share life lessons and profitable blogging action steps for those of us to follow who intend to be around, delivering value and making real good money for a long time.
    Have a powerful week! Allegra

  • stevescottsite says:

    Interesting post David. Though I've done well in affiliate marketing, this is my first real foray into blogging. So I definitely have a newbies perspective.

    With that said, I've learned a few things which make it crucial to success with blogging:

    1) Have passion for what you're doing. The money should be secondary. If you're worred only about money…. It ain't going to happen.

    2) Have a purpose for each item you put on your blog. Too much stuff means your income generators get lost in the shuffle. Kind of like paralysis by over analysis.

    3) Create dedicated pages on your site which sell whatever service or affiliate offer you're promoting. Similar to #2, don't give people too many options.

    4) Give quality content away for free. Something people would REALLY pay to see.

    As I just finished my first month in blogging, I'm trying to put these points into practice. Most of all I'm trying to give away good quality before I would EVEN think of asking anything in return.

    Well, like I said, good post. Kind of reaffirms a lot of what I believe in.

    ~Steve

  • David says:

    Everyone simply needs more knowledge on how making money on the internet works. Perez hilton makes 6 figures a month off selling ads, but that is b/c he has 10 million visitors a month. Tim sykes makes 6 figures a month on 90,000 uniques a month, but that is b/c he knows how to monetize the traffic he has. I have a bunch of sites that rank for keywords and I make a decent income off adsense, but i know how adsense works.
    I guess my point is just everyone needs to understand better how to make money online. Then pick the strategy that makes the most sense for you. Im in your camp dave in the sense for most people, the best way is to use a blog as a marketing platform for your products and services.

  • birdsfan says:

    I agree David but I think there are also a lot of bloggers in fields who can't create a product and sell it as easy. For instance, I write a blog related to the Philadelphia Eagles. It's hard to think of a personal product to develop in this case. I don't see any other similar blogs that do it either.

    I guess that is just something you have to take into account when creating the blog.

  • MarketingWIthRick says:

    I have read the post and all the comments and this comes at an interesting point in time for me. I just started a blog at the beginning of February and I am chronicling my journey to make money online.

    This post is definitely a reality check for me. I know that it is going to take lots of work and I am okay with that. I know that this time failure is not an option.

    I am trying to build a relationship with my readers before I try to start making money from them.

    My only question is how long should I spend building the relationship before I start to recommend products that could potentially help their business? Any thoughts?

  • heatherporter says:

    Like all great trends few will master blogging to the level they need to become a success at it. It seems like now that blogging has become so accessible it is also time to start weeding out those who are not serious about sticking to a formula and really delivering great value (and not a lot of ads) to their readers.

    I love point #7 “Read blogs by people like me, get some ideas, never implement them, keep dreaming about making money from blogging, rinse, repeat.” If someone could bottle the “just do it” or “stop talking and take action” formula they would be very rich. Nice post!

  • Werner says:

    As with most things there is an exception. Heather Armstrong's blog 'Dooce' pulls in over $400k a year (before her book came out) – and she does not sell a product or service. It was all from corporate ad revenue as the blog gets over a million hits a month.

    Again, this is the notable exception.

  • ebusinessmom says:

    Thanks David for this awesome post. You are so right about this. Blogging can be so damn hard and yet lots of fun based on the niche market you're in, and whether you have a passion for it. I totally agree that making money with any blog is based on the back end. I love mini continuity programs.

    I have an entire folder of all the emails you've sent and little by little putting your recommendations into practice. Peace, love and much happiness to you David.

  • Well said, and great reminder David! It's so funny to see bloggers just focus on making money through advertising, while ruining the soul of their site. WHO CARES about an extra $25-50,000/yr in blog income from advertising when one can make hundreds of thousands with the backend business?

    Think bigger folks! There's so much money out there anybody can make at least $100,000 in SIDE income with just a little hustle. Give it time and dedication, and it will happen!

  • David Risley says:

    I found your post, Alex. 🙂

    Good job, Alex. And here's the thing…. this post was not written in order to say money can't be made with ads. It just isn't what it used to be. Most bloggers these days depend on Adsense. It is HARD to make decent money with Adsense unless you have either TONS of traffic or ultra-targeted niche with in-demand keywords. Now, if you're selling direct ad deals, then I would argue that you ARE selling something.

    You do what works for you. I, myself, make money with ads on my other blog, so I know it works. But, I'll pit direct product sales up against ad revenue any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

  • David Risley says:

    Haven't seen any such comment, unless Disqus flagged it in which case my assistant, Lisa, will need to evaluate it before it shows up live.

  • David Risley says:

    No, you can make money with a blog with no product. It is just harder to do it if you depend on ads alone.

    Even if you don't have your own product, you could also offer somebody else's as an affiliate.

    But, if Yaro teaches making money blogging and then states the importance of having a product to sell, then he is going his job. No false advertising.

  • David Risley says:

    If you wanted to be very literal about it, I guess you could say that. But, not the way I take it. Blogging is my business in that I have a backend to it, but it is all based around the blog.

  • Agent Deepak says:

    You said it man. This is the one thing I always try to tell other people but hell they ever listen.

  • matthewneedham says:

    David,

    You're spot on here. The blog is effectively a means to an end. Without a proper business plan (or at least an idea how the blog is going to make you money) then it's just a hobby / pastime.

    I myself don't make my income from blogging. I do it to stand out from the crowd of interim managers and consultants. Second income streams will come from my blog, but at the moment theyl just cover my expenses (which is fine at this stage)

  • Great! back to the drawing board. I have one website that has been going for 2 years and it is floundering. Google Ads is a joke and I have realised I need to create a product as a business. Now I get it. dont' rush in. Research first, then do it. I have started writing notes for ideas for a niche/s then underneath Product??? Product???

    I get it now:
    1. come up with a buiness idea
    2. research it's viability/popularity/potential
    3. setup a blog related to the business idea
    4. blog away while creating your product or service
    5. take note of visitors comments, questions that may generate product ideas
    6. once your product/service is ready for selling
    7. Sell!!! Sell!!! Sell!!!

  • rex666 says:

    Hi David,

    Been reading your blog for a while. Great stuff. I really liek your open honesty. Don't comment much but need to clarify this post. If, as you say, it's the business, or the product that makes money, then why are there hundreds of programs, including the top ones like Gideon and Yaro, and Darren Rowse advertising the 'make money' blogging spin. IN that case every potential blogger is being duped into believing that they can do it from the blog alone (to start off with anyway), (certainly from the outset.) I know Yaro says like you that you need a product to sell, but his course is labelled 'make money blogging.'

    So is it your belief then that you can't make money at all just by having a blog with no product behind it?

  • Eric says:

    @Robb @ David

    I understand what you mean and what I was actually referring to was the fact that even if you start a blog first and then create a business, you have to have the business in order to make money at all. If it was any other way, in my opinion, we'd all be making money from our blogs some how.

    This of course is just the way I see it and I am completely new to making money online especially with a blog. I am learning as much as I can and just expressing what I think about though I do see both of your points.

    You don't actually have to have a business first… You just need a business at all (obviously) in order to have an income from your blog.

    Although you can do ads or affiliate products but I see a lot of people who are really making it are selling their own products and that seems to be working quite well.

  • David Risley says:

    You must be a new reader. 🙂

    Yeah, for this blog, I have two programs, both listed under “Blogger Training” on the sidebar. The biggest one is “Blog Masters Club”, which just got relaunched but is currently closed to new signups.

    On my tech blog, PCMech.com, we do run some ads, but the backend is premium membership program attached to the blog.

  • Gretchen says:

    I couldn't agree more, but I'm curious – what is your business backend to this blog? Advice about blogs? What do you sell to make that 6-figure income?

  • David Risley says:

    True, however if you haven't evaluated the market as a business first, and have a plan in mind, then you could end up finding yourself with an established blog in a crappy market. Remember, not all niches lend themselves that well to a product offering.

  • David Risley says:

    Hehe…. well, sometimes you just have to be blunt as a spoon, I guess. 🙂

  • David Risley says:

    Yeah, I agree with Robb.

    Eric, I get your point. But, I just want to make sure you're not thinking that you have to have an existing business before you start a blog. Because that isn't true.

  • David Risley says:

    It is very easy to establish credibility and knowledge, though. Especially online.

  • David Risley says:

    Thanks, Luke. Perhaps I should offer a new product…. that phrase tossed onto a plaque. Then sell it for some price which ends in “7”. Sound good? 😉

  • David Risley says:

    Yeah, that is a weird niche. 😉 Very interesting, tho. First thing that comes to mind, quite frankly, is ad deals with companies trying to sell jeans. 🙂

    Some niche ideas really lend themselves to ads and not much else.

  • David Risley says:

    It is easy to find out what your readers desire: ask them. 🙂

    I'm not being snotty, either. Just run a survey. Plus, usually a blogger would be pretty in-tune with their own niche, so often times you can see gaps in other offerings and then fulfill them with your own.

  • David Risley says:

    1. Just develop a product and offer it to them. Make the product relevant to your content, of course assuming your content is produced with the strategy in mind to build an audience interested in certain things (see my post from a couple days ago)
    2. Much of this has to do with your brand and the level of “know, like and trust” you have with your clan. If you have a bond, they'll buy YOUR thing over the “competition” because they know, like and trust you.
    3. See the above. 🙂

    Not stupid questions at all. Actually, they are the RIGHT questions and I wish more bloggers would ask them.

  • Jared says:

    I agree with everything you have said, but would add 1 thing to it which I believe was stated before. A lot of people built a business after their blogs became popular. You do not necessarily need the business part first, unless you want to make money right away. I myself am not starting my blog with the intention of earning cash right away. I'll be writing about things I am passionate about and hoping it goes in a certain direction. If it does indeed go down that path, then I shall have a business built to start making the cash flow.

  • David Risley says:

    That's the key. If making money is a goal, I wouldn't start a blog unless you have some products ideas in mind.

  • David Risley says:

    Congrats. Yeah, membership sites and blogs go together SO well it isn't even funny.

  • David Risley says:

    Yeah, you have to find time to do both, if making money is a goal.

  • David Risley says:

    That's a great space to be in, Bill. Offline businesses can CRUSH it if they know how to use social media marketing (under which I would include blogging).

  • David Risley says:

    Thanks for the P.S., Erica. Yeah, not sure I'll do 1-on-1 ever. I won't rule it out, but it gets offly close to “time for money” for my taste. 🙂

  • Kevin says:

    Right on. I have a few friends that have been building web pages for years and trying to self sustain between corporate gigs or make side income while working 9-5 and continually failing. Inevitably they complain that they just want to put up a good site, they don't want to be “the guy that's always selling stuff” I need to be as blunt with them as I you are here. If your not selling something (product or service) you're not going to make money.

    Great post.

  • TwtrCoach says:

    Great article here David.

    I love it when you get blunt and just tell it as it is.

    Blog is not a business, but it is part of your business. Your business is your house, that is build up on several solid pillars/foundations. One of those pillars is your blog. And like you say we need one product pillar… and a business plan pillar.. just to mention some pillars/foundation that will assure we have house that will handle some rough conditions..

    I follow your principles in the Blog Master Club, so part of my goals is to build a solid foundation for my house…

    Cool new rotating header/logo by the way…

    Cheers.. Are

  • Robb Sutton says:

    I wouldn't agree with this.

    I would say you need to have a business plan (that can change over time). There are a lot of blogs that got popular and then the blogger created a business around that to see massive success. There is no specific order of events…but if you want to make money…you have to start thinking like a business owner and tailor your offerings that provide a real solution to a need your audience has.

    There are a lot of businesses that have a business first and use a blog to increase their income, but that is not how I did it.

    I created a blog to be apart of something bigger. Through that growth, I created a business plan and then saw success. I didn't have a business first.

  • aaronmielke says:

    Hey David…

    Remember that comment made by snobbyhops (me) during the BMC launch – “the thing that I appreciate most about you is you're *brutally* honest.” You said, “well I'm not really *brutal*”

    I think you just proved my point. Fantastic post.

    😉

  • You are right, David. I'm just a small blogger from the Philippines and I've realized that without thinking what I'm doing is a business, I will not make good money to quit my 8-5 job. For a start, I studied affiliate marketing and signed-up for affiliate products to promote in my Entrepinoy Bank site.

    BTW, thanks for offering Six Figure Blogger Blueprint for free. I enjoyed it.

    To your success,

    Eleazar Acampado

  • Alan says:

    Great post, but you know that 😉 I find building a business and blogging is like sculpting, Eventually, with imagination, hard work and guidance, you find the shape that works, but first you got to scrape a lot of shit off. Like the ads etc. Guilty! Thanks David, you are one reason I am still sculpting because I was going down that track of ads everywhere. Mucho gracias.

  • FriskyBoy says:

    Part of the problem also lies in credibility. In the realm of books or seminars on the subject, any people write for people exactly like themselves, except that they have achieved more success at it, so they have something to teach. What people are paying for in secret knowledge, what is not commonly known to everyone. One has to have this knowledge, and the credibility to back it up, before they have a viable product. Experience is the way to obtain this knowledge. For those dreaming of success on the Web, this leads to a vicious circle of frustration.

  • Luke Bream says:

    this is without doubt THE BEST post on blogging that I have read. And I read a lot of them. It's a crazy world. I have spent 15 years running a very succesful offline businesses which employed over 70 staff and yet the internet seams to suck us in and we forget all our common/business sense.

    It has taken me 5 months to actually wake up and start treating it like a NORMAL business.

    The following sentance from your post shouild be engraved on every bloggers computer screen

    “If you’re not selling something, you don’t have a business”
    .

  • Would you consider opening up a brick & mortar store without having anything (product or service) to sell whatsoever? Of course not. After paying for the startup & monthly running costs, you'd eventually go broke.

    A blog is fundamentally the same thing. The only difference – running a physical store location incurs a substantial cost (rent, utilities, construction, staff, upkeep, etc.) while a blog has the same itemization, yet very minimal expenses to start & maintain.

    Just because the barrier of entry is dirt cheap, does that mean you should approach the business any differently? If running a blog cost $500/week to do, how would this change your mentality? This is definitely worth pondering, don't ya think?

  • Gosh…David, I loved this blog! It is so truthful! The whole idea is truely behind the blog and where your goal is and how it's building! Not in advertising stuff! Thanks for sharing, this is truly wonderful! God Bless! Mona

  • so says:

    I don´t know exactly how to say this but Im´m going to try: David ¡YOU ARE THE MAN! So glad I joined the BMC

  • k9coach says:

    Stellar post!

    I have been in business for myself for a long time. I found blogging as a platform for my business, not as way to sit at my computer and think I was going to write random things on what I think about how it should be done and hope to make my mortgage.

    The funny thing is I look at my blog and as not “problogger” as it looks and as not by the rules as it is… too many plugins and so on, it makes money. People buy what I'm offering because I have a good product to offer. And it helps that people love their dogs! 🙂

    Anyway, I like to tell people the way it is with their dog instead of pretending it is some other way or simply what someone wants to hear versus what they need to hear. It has been a big part of what I call success. Thank you for stepping up in the blog world and helping people understand what they need to do if they really want to make money in the blogging world as well.

    It all is helping me to learn more about how to make it a really great business model rather than just an ok one.

  • Adam says:

    Interesting post man. I have a blog that is getting traffic, but I am just so sick of Adsense making me 5 cents per click that I am really trying to think of other ways to make money from it.

    I have been thinking about selling advertising space, but you are probably right that I should sell my own crap. I'm in a weird niche where I'm not totally sure what I could sell besides maybe t-shirts, but I'll think of something. 🙂

    Thanks for the inspiration Dave,

    -Adam

  • David… Thanks for pointing this out. Blogging is a platform for engagement, but you must have a real business providing products, services, or information to succeed. This is valuable insight and good to see coming from a prolific blogger like you. Keep up the great posts. …Howard

  • ericabiz says:

    Hi Chase,

    For me, having a product wasn't as important at first as building my audience.

    Once I had a decent-sized audience (for me, that was over 1000 subscribers on my email list), I started thinking about products. I didn't release my first product until my blog had been around more than 2 years, though I think it's safe for others to condense that timeline.

    Build an audience, find out what they want, then build that and sell it to them. A very nice way to make a living and have a happy, grateful audience! 🙂

    -Erica

  • Deacon says:

    This makes a lot of sense. Once I figured out a product I was going to sell, the blog just fell into place. Before i knew what I was gonna be selling, my blogs just floundered. They didn't get me anywhere.

  • Jeffrey says:

    Hi David,
    The concepts that you put forward, are easy enough to grasp for most anyone who places their faith in Blogging as a means to an end. The true challenge for those who have gained stability with their Blog, mastered tech where it relates to Blogging, and can manage content demands while wrangling traffic, is the conceptual design of popular products desired by their readers.
    Putting the backend together is just one more task in the Bloggers Day. I think most of us get the funnel idea!

  • Kelly Diels says:

    Robb, you're so right when you say this:

    “I do not know anyone that has made money on words outside of freelance writers and authors…and in those cases…they blog to solicit jobs.”

    I'm a writer. I sell words. I don't have a business card. I have a blog.
    It brings me business. Lots of it.
    But my business is not my blog. My blog is my platform; my blog is my calling card; my blog is my sales force. I LOVE MY BLOG.

    And that's why I give it thirty or more hours of my life, every week.

    Well that and I'm an attention junkie. I love my people so much.

  • Hi David,

    Loving the fire in this post and the new design is a lot easier on the eyes so congrats.

    David, you ARE going to make 6 figures this year, for most of us that's the dream, but for a lot of us that's the mystery, let me explain;

    1,How can people without good traffic or mailing lists of several hundred people actually make that amount of money?

    2,How can we produce a product that isn't seen as the same as all the others?

    3,How do you actually create a business for a blog that is getting readers?

    these may seem stupid and obvious questions to your or some other people, but I bet there are a ton of people here thinking exactly the same thing.

    Hope this makes sense and brother good luck when he arrives.

  • Okie dokie, Dave!
    Maybe there are failures in blogging because people don't know what to sell? I know that in the last week of the Blog Masters Club, I have been trained now to listen to ideas that have a product behind them when someone starts to talk to me about a blog.

  • Rhonda Hess says:

    Yes the business is the thing. And being an entrepreneur is the mindset.

    I can relate, David, about blogging great ideas that never get implemented. What if this great stuff we write actually was implemented! It would be a much happier and richer world indeed.

  • Pinar says:

    Well, I do see my blog as a business, in the sense that I use it as a portfolio. I am making money indirectly from it. I am a full-time writer so whenever I apply for non-fiction gigs, I have something to show. I am trying to gain a wider audience, which is essential because you know writers love being read.
    So after I do get my targeted traffic, why should I not be making money from it as well?
    Maybe I did get it backwards, starting a blog first and trying to monetize it later. But then again, it does get me gigs as a writer/blogger which do pay me and get me more audience.
    I also love the freedom of being my own editor. If you are not a writer, I guess it might be a bad idea to start blogging the way that I did. But for me, it is one of the best challenges ı ever had…

  • Dave says:

    Last week, when I launched my first membership site, I made as much money in the first few days as it takes in a month from advertising, affiliate payments, and sponsored reviews.

    It is a great feeling to finally promote my own product, built from scratch, and then see people appreciate the information and resources I've put together. I'm really excited to build upon it further, but I have to admit the marketing end is a lot more draining than I imagined.

    And I'll be passing along your message to the bloggers I work with, because I'm seeing the light and it's a heck of a lot more exciting then simply writing blog posts (no matter how much fun I have doing that).

  • I'm about to be comming upon the blogging scene slowly be surely, and to me, many bloggers don't have their own products because it's a lot of hard work to create a product.

    I'd love to create something of quality for my potential users, and will undoubtedly do so, but inbetween all the traffic building strategies, comments to make, and articles to write, I'm not sure where you guys find time to make these products.

    I get the feeling that having a product line in the beginning could be beneficial… but perhaps not possible?

    Thanks,
    Chase Brumfield

  • tommywishman says:

    David,

    You totally make clear why so many people aren't making money online. To looks pretty easy money, but they don't realize they actually have to work to make money. The have no clue what to do and start complaining without having done the right things.

    I'll redirect the next complainer straight to this article!

    Cheers,
    Tommy

  • Tad Wolfe says:

    Very good post David, you have to bring value to the market place in order to make money. That being information, a product or service. Blogging is a great way to market you and or services but it is only one piece of the puzzle.

  • ralph99 says:

    I get it. At least I have started having fun. Waiting for Blogmasters Club to go to the next level.

  • justinmatthews says:

    This is a great article for any blogger to read. I started blogging for fun and then started learning how to make money with it.
    I put up a few affiliate links but I don't expect much of them for a few months at least. I have some other business stuff in the wings, but I am working right now on getting my blog readership up so that there are some people available when I start to sell stuff.
    Fantastic ideas though, with all of the make money while you shower because you have a blog things out there it is nice to read stuff that doesn't shove a ton of BS at you.
    Thanks!
    Justin

  • Lars says:

    David this is a great post and I like the direct tone! I think it is really hard to do both (building traffic and creating a business back end at the same time. Maybe I actually agree with Leo that very different talents are required and I simply think most people just don't have both talents. I have build decent traffic (~350K pageviews per month) on my blog over the last year but unfortunately I fall into the category of people that don't get a lot out of the big effort….(just glad I have a well paid regular job!) I think I will consider changing focus a bit and see if posting less often for a time can buy me time to implement some business ideas. Thanks for the push I really think your blog is great!

  • That sounds very familiar to me. That's what I did for a long time wondering why the hell I couldnt get it to work.

    Now I'm focused on creating a book for marketing Chiropractic and have even taken some advice from Tim Ferriss and have gotten the lead singer for my favorite bands ever to do an interview for the book.

    So now I spend less time blogging and more time on products and marketing. The blog is just another marketing tool I use.

  • David Risley says:

    Thanks, Nick. And, I think that's great. At least you know WHY you're blogging and that's awesome. Not everybody wants to monetize it. This post is written for those who do, but are kinda kidding themselves on how to go about it. 🙂

  • Bill says:

    Look, nothing gets sold until you build trust with your buyers right? When is the last time in real life you met someone once and gave them money? Not very often I bet. This is why blogging is so great, it allows you to build relationships with your buyers like you do in real life. I help brick and mortar biz jump online and work with them to market their businesses using blogs. In most cases not one of their competitors are blogging so it immediately set them apart from the others, builds relationships with their buyers and makes them the xpert in their niche or marketplace.

  • Nick Johnson says:

    Really great post David.

    I've made it very clear that I don't intend on making any money from my blog itself. Sure, I've made some chump change from an affiliate link to a product that I actually use and believe in. My intentions on my blog is to use it as a medium to interact and engage with others that are in my same niche and that I may possibly do business with outside of the blog in the real world.

    I like coming to your site because I know you 'get it' and I appreciate your words of wisdom

  • ericabiz says:

    I understand why Dooce prints it all out and runs it over with her car. Cathartic!

    Yesterday was tops, man. I got some loony bin who called me every name in the book. Even “fat” and “dumpy”! What a riot. I mean, I have to laugh. I can't take these folks seriously or I'd probably end going crazy and living on some mountain in solitude!

    -Erica

  • David Risley says:

    You can't succeed in this business without pissing somebody off… or having somebody tell you you're going to hell. 😉

  • ericabiz says:

    Ha! Stumbled.

    It still amazes me how few bloggers really have a product line. The truth is that most bloggers don't have an entrepreneurial mindset. In fact, most have day jobs!

    They're also super worried about offending anyone in their audience (especially the few dingbats who send hate emails whenever you try to sell anything.)

    These days, I offend someone with just about every post I write–marketing or not–so I've stopped worrying about that one so much. 😉

    -Erica

  • David Risley says:

    Yeah, I know what you mean. The term “social media expert” is so shallow, and I usually find that those who call themselves that are…. lying.

  • John Paul says:

    Very nice, blogs are many things, but they are def not a business.. They are a great “tool” to build a business and make money.

  • Meg says:

    This is a great post to read. 🙂 I totally have never thought about trying to make money off of my blog, other than maybe an ad or two to help cover eventual hosting costs. (I'm still on a free platform, but reaching my limits, I think.)

    Since I know my blog won't make any money, I've been brainstorming ways to build a business using the blog as a front. (Pretty much what you describe here, only the blog existed before the business.) I have some ideas for ebooks and the like, I just need to work on filling them out more.

  • Dave Doolin says:

    Here's the other side: people that get the business part sometimes fail to understand that mastering the “blog” part is a year or so of grueling work.

    Another thing I don't get are all these social media experts with their suits and ties and 5,6 figure salaries working for who knows what companies posting articles all over places like LinkedIn… and they have traction whatsoever. No (or one) comment. No links.

    These are experts.

    They get paid a lot.

    Where's the “social?”

    Where's the engagement? Where's the traffic?

    Where are these folks making their ROI?

    I scratch my head.

  • David Risley says:

    Again, as I said to Leo above, this approach does work, but it is different than what I do.

    And, you're wrong in saying that quality content and your passion won't make money. That's just not true. Sure, you have to evaluate the marketability an possibly massage the concept (depending on the passion), but I have never started a blog I'm not passionate about. And I'm doing just fine. 🙂

    Both ways of using the blog are fine. Again, it is just a platform. You use it differently than I do, but either way can and does work when done right.

  • David Risley says:

    Yeah, agreed.

    Without a business plan, blogging is no different than sitting on the street corner and yelling at passers-by.

  • David Risley says:

    Great comment, Leo.

    I do take issue with a couple of posts, though.
    (1) I don't think Brian Clark and Problogger are wrong. I also tell people to write for people, not for search engines and I believe it 100%. It doesn't mean you ignore SEO, however, and there are ways of dealing with that after the initial post traffic dies down. But, keep in mind, your approach is very different. My approach to this business is about building a true brand and building on that brand. Your approach, as you said, is “mini-blogs”. Essentially, you're using the blog as nothing but a funnel for search traffic. It works, of course, just isn't the approach I talk about. So, our targets are different.

    (2) As for “social traffic”, yes, you're right on the low ROI, but that is only if you're not very targeted in your content. If you see my post from a couple days ago on this blog, I talk about attracting the right people to your blog, not just anybody.

    But, well done, dude. You obviously get it and have a business model behind your mini-blogs. Our approach in terms of brand building is certainly different, but either way can work.

  • Dotcom Note says:

    Yes, David. Many people miss the point. But I think people who're reading all those online marketing, etc. blogs should know by now how to make money. If they are not, I am giving them the 7 step formula. Easy.

    Quality contents and your passion is not going to make you money. You should follow the following steps and develop a passion for implementing the steps perfectly, instead of passionately blogging.

    This is what many top earners are doing now and I'm seeing great results.

    1. Create a clog (a cash blog).
    2. Fill it with articles from ezine articles.
    3. Have one nice landing page.
    4. Put Affiliate products and a sign up page using Aweber
    5. Drive traffic to landing page. (not to your blog home page) using PPC or whatever means
    6. Some people will buy your products. Make sure the product has some continuity. At least people will stay for a couple of months.
    7. Those who sign up for your newsletter, give them some teaser contents for one week and every day try to promote affiliate products or your own products by follow up email.

    You have it now. Now You know how to make money from a blog (or a clog).

  • Robb Sutton says:

    This sounds familiar…have we talked about this before? 😉

    100% right. Blogging is the medium to reach a large group of people quickly by providing something that either solves a problem or enriches their lives. Through that interaction and trust, you provide that audience with a product or service they actually need.

    I do not know anyone that has made money on words outside of freelance writers and authors…and in those cases…they blog to solicit jobs.

    People need to quit thinking they can make a load of cash off of blogging. You make money off of solid business models…and that only.

    The days of massive traffic and PPC money for doing basically nothing are gone. Get with the program…Problogging is Dead…and it is now straight up business running. And…unfortunately…there are people that will always be employees and those that are business owners. You can't bring the employee mentality to blogging and expect to make it big.

  • Srinivas Rao says:

    David,

    I couldn't have said it better. It's interesting how much people seem to think it's easy. Most people don't realize that it actually took time and hard work to get to where you are at. Even with the programs you sell, it doesn't matter if the info is amazing. If people buy your program and don't do anything with it then they just pissed away money that could have been spent getting drunk or something.

    It's only when I started to think of things like “if this is a business it should have a marketing plan” that I started to make any real progress that resulted in money. And my marketing plan had nothing to do with throwing adsense on my blog. The blog is nothing more than a platform to communicate thoughts and ideas. Once you build the audience you have to get over the idea that there is something wrong with selling to them. While that's not the only way to make money you do have to move to being a business person first and a blogger second.

  • Leo dimilo says:

    Having a blog, doing the “blog” thing and actually monetizing it correctly are two completely different talents altogether. I think that the reason why blogging is so popular is because so many people think how cool it would be to simply write a few 400 word posts a day and cash in. While blogging may not be a business, it could be, assuming that the blogger is aware of a few things…..

    1. Blogger tend to go after social traffic. While social traffic is cool and it is a big ego boost to have 100's of people visiting your site, the reality is that in most cases, the ROI is simply too low. The reason? The traffic is too general and doesn't focus on a specific problem in the first place.

    2. A good understanding of keyword research and SEO can go a long way. Let's face it, most bloggers view SEO and keyword research as more of an afterthought. After all, it simply isn't sexy to view the world through a spreadsheet and pour your mind into dev. code. Plus, most bloggers have been brainwashed by the likes of Brian Clark and Problogger into believing that title's should be optimised more for the reader than for the search engines. The readers may click on interesting titles but getting “visibility” in the search engines become a mixed affair. Their solution? Social media (see above) which means…general traffic….

    3. A basic understanding of what their readers really want- This is another mixed bag because they are going after social traffic and the “wants” and “needs” of their audience are all over the place. Just to give you an example, if I built a blog on how to remove skin tags (which I have, it ranks and I make a nice passive income from it monthly), while not exactly riveting, I know what my readers are looking for. I know that someone who finds my blog (primarily through search) will be looking for a solution right now…and what do you know?…..I just happen to have a product that I have tested that converts very well right there, above the fold.

    Will I get a large RSS subscriber base from these mini-blogs? Nope. Not at all. But I can guarantee you that my 1,000 visits a month will make more than most bloggers will make with 15k of traffic a month.

    Anyway, that is my 2 cents and comes from a blogger who also happens to be a marketer

  • Melvin says:

    i hope as much bloggers as possible can read this article. i cant add more, this is a nail in the coffin! I like to call the blog as a launchpad because you're building an audience through your blog so that someday you can launch a profitable business there.

    cant stress it more.

    • doug says:

      “A raging sea of ignorance” That made me laugh. I feel that way every day.

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