In Order To Successfully Monetize Your Blog, You Must First Forget What You Think You Know.

There is a TON of information out there about how to make money with a blog, yet people are falling all over themselves failing left and right. What the heck is wrong? Well, as I said in my last post, an “undercut” is necessary. Obviously. Those blog owners who are looking to make money from it are going about it in a way which doesn’t work.

blog monetization myths


There is a TON of information out there about how to make money with a blog, yet people are falling all over themselves failing left and right.

What the heck is wrong?

Well, as I said in my last post, an “undercut” is necessary. Obviously. Those blog owners who are looking to make money from it are going about it in a way which doesn’t work.

The logic goes like this…

The information you’ve learned about online business is very likely NOT wrong. I mean, most of it out there is perfectly good stuff. Yet, most people fall flat. Simple logic, then, tells us that there is something missing. Something has to come FIRST. Hence, an “undercut”.

Things go in gradients. You can’t teach a kid to ride a bike if he can’t walk yet. In these kind of common, everyday matters, we see the need for gradients. When you skip over a necessary gradient, the only result you’re going to get is total confusion.

Now, before we get into the basics which will underly all of this, I feel it is necessary to strip off some of the falsities that people tend to operate with.

Strip away the mess so we can start with a fresh slate, right?

So, let’s bust down some myths here.

Blog Monetization Is Dead

I have never liked this word “monetization” and I feel it misguides people like crazy. The reason is that “monetization” is almost always approached as an afterthought.

Bloggers are taught to “follow their passion”, so they start up blogs about some interest they have. And, THEN they try to tack on some magic money-makers.

Well, that’s ridiculous.

In some speeches I’ve given, I used the example of a pizza shop. I talked about the person who set up a room, put up all kinds of signs about pizza, talked a lot about pizza. Acquired furniture for it and everything. And, THEN he sits down and says, “How am I going to MONETIZE this place?” It seems ridiculous because it is. In the real world, businesses take real capital investment, so you’re going to know damn well what you’re going to SELL before you set up shop.

Online, there isn’t a lot of investment necessary to set up a blog, so I guess that fact means people willingly throw basic logic out the door. They set up things and THEN look for ways to make money with it.

Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

Forget about “monetization”. Instead, focus on building a BUSINESS. [Click to tweet this]

And what does any business do? A business provides a product or service which meets a demand, and that demand is driven by a collection of people with a common interest or problem who are actively looking for something to fill it.

In the real world, you will not find a business which doesn’t sell something. Period.

If you want to truly make an online income, you simply MUST ditch the all-too-popular mindset of “monetization” and instead realize that you are going to need to build a real business here.

Finding A Product To Sell

Now, when we talk about building a business, the first thought comes down to having a product to sell. And, even in the talk of “monetization”, it is fairly well known that selling your own product is really the best way to go.

But, I want to re-define what we mean by “product”.

Most people immediately begin thinking about the FORM FACTOR of some thing that you’re going to sell. By “product”, you start thinking about ebooks, or membership sites, or downloadable videos. And, you immediately start thinking about the work involved to create all that – yada yada yada.


A VERY important concept – and I teach this inside the Academy – is to instead focus on the real final product your business produces. And, by that, I mean the outcome or transformation that you provide.

See, a market (some call it a “niche”) is really just a collection of people who are united by a common interest or problem, are actively seeking fulfillment of that interest or a solution to the problem, and have a willingness to pay for it.

Now, these people in your market… they’re not necessarily going around thinking of the physical form factor of some product they could buy. They just want the OUTCOME. They want the TRANSFORMATION.

They are at point A… and they want to be at point B. It is that simple.

And, you, as the creator of a business, MUST know exactly what that transformation is. You will be in the business of producing it. Knowing that product will serve to orient everything else you do.

As an example, what I am in the business of doing here is producing successful online entrepreneurs. THAT’S MY PRODUCT. My product – and the end product of the Blog Marketing Academy – is that those who are willing to take action will ultimately be successful with their online business. That’s the outcome and transformation I’m in the business of creating.

I just so happen to use the form factor of your Academy membership to do it, and the various benefits and training that come with your membership.

Niche Research And Following Your Passion

This is another thing that serves to misguide people, and a lot of people really get hung up over the idea of what their niche should be.

Some say “follow your passion”. Look, it isn’t as if I say that is bad advice, but it is incomplete. Truth be told, some people’s passions aren’t worth a nickel. That’s just a fact. So, while it is AWESOME to have a passion for your business, passion alone does not a business make.

Passion is a nice bonus. It will certainly help keep you motivated. But, a passion is not a requirement. What is a requirement is…

a collection of people who are united by a common interest or problem, are actively seeking fulfillment of that interest or a solution to the problem, and have a willingness to pay for it.

In other words, you need to fulfill a need or want of a group of people.

Your first consideration, when starting an online business, should not be what your passions are. Your first consideration should be “What value can I bring to the world?”

How can you help people? What are you good at? What skills do you have that would be of value to others?

This is very important, because if you’re going to make money, the only way you’re going to receive that money is by providing something in exchange for it to somebody who wants what you’re doing.

Seems common sense, doesn’t it? Yet, in all this talk of “passive income” and “monetization”, everybody seems to forget that this stuff is damn near natural law. Ignore it at the high risk of your own failure.

Not Everything Is Important

Now, hopefully I’ve got your attention throughout this post, because this part is pretty important. Especially for those of you who are just getting started.

One thing about this field is that it often seems as if EVERYTHING is important.

Everything is huge, everything is complex… and you’re supposed to be doing all of it or else you’re going to fail.

You MUST be doing regular blogging, tons of social media engagement, making videos, podcasting, list building, SEO, copywriting, making squeeze pages – blah blah and a big ol’ dose of more blah. And, if you aren’t doing all these things, you won’t make it. And, you think that those who ARE seeing good results from their businesses must have figured out some kind of magic method to master all of these skills, right?

Nah nah nah. Let me be the provider of a big sigh of relief…

Everything is NOT of equal importance.

The reason everything seems so damn important is because of lack of a stable point of reference.

Ever been sea sick? The reason that happens is because some people cannot handle there being no point of stability. No point of reference. Some people are able to create their own stable point within themselves and they don’t get sea sick. Others aren’t as adept at it and they get sea sick because everything is moving. This is why the common advice is to focus on the horizon. That’s because it provides a stable point of reference by which to evaluate all the things moving around it.

Same exact thing happens in our field of online business. When you’re not operating by a stable point of reference, then everything seems to be moving simultaneously. Everything seems of equal importance. It is just one big sea of INFORMATION and you have no way to figure out one thing from another. And the result is…



This is why the single most common challenge I see from people who subscribe to my email list, when I ask, is confusion and overwhelm. No idea what to do next.

No, everything is NOT of equal importance.

Now, you can simply take my word for it, but that would be of limited use to you. The REAL solution would be to gain that single point of stable reference.


There is an order to things. Some things are more important than others.

And, this is the EXACT reason I focus so much on BASICS – real business basics – when it comes to my training in the Academy.

And, I put a TON of thought into the order I present things.

I wouldn’t be helping anybody if I just presented a bunch of random information to you. That makes me and the Academy no different than any other person online who is teaching online business.

There is NO shortage of information online about how to build a business. No shortage at all. But, as I said before, the problem isn’t lack of information. The problem is a lack of ORDER.

When there’s no order, then everything looks alike. You spend hours looking for hidden “tips” out there, hoping to get a little closer to your goal when you discover some hidden “gold” on somebody’s blog post.

When there’s no order, then your biggest hope for real help is some blogger’s “list post”, where they list out 101 tips for something. At least then you’re being efficient with your time, right? 101 tips all in one place? But, how many of those social media bait list posts have actually helped you move the dial a little further toward your success? Probably not many.

You’re still left with that feeling that you can’t possibly do everything all these people say.

And… you’re right, you can’t. Every “guru” out there will say that what they’re teaching is super important. If you’re lacking that point of reference, then you will have no idea if it is really important to you or not.


Which brings me to WHY PEOPLE FAIL.

Why do so many people fail online?

Why is there so much wheel spinning going on?

Well, I’ll move onto the next segment of this series in my next post. And, I’ll reveal WHY people fail.

Funny thing is… it isn’t even complicated. You might even get a little giggle when I reveal it.

But, you know what? Some things are so simple that everybody overlooks it. People are so busy hunting for complexities that they ignore the “obvious” stuff. Funny how that works.

I’ll see you on my next post. Stay tuned. 🙂

– David “keepin’ it real” Risley

P.S. Here’s what I’d like you to do…

In the comments, tell me about a time where you were feeling confused and overwhelmed as you worked on your blog or online business.


  1. Nice post David. I have had my knitting blog website for at least 3 years, and done everything a certain few “gurus” have recommended; much of it has been spot-on, but I’m always left with the feeling that there’s more or something I’m missing.

    You’re absolutely right about doing all these “things”, and suddenly a few months ago I just realized “why bother, nothing ever changes!” Information overload is all around! Right now, I’m at a crossroads and really don’t know which of the eight roads all around me to take! So, I’m basically doing nothing, which I hate.

  2. Good post David and on point with helping people understand what it takes to run a successful blog.

    Its funny as I was out walking the dog the other night and listing to a podcast you had done from 2010 or something like that and in it you were talking about your favorite word “Monetization” but even though this podcast was years old the points made in it were as relevant today about making money from a blog as they were back then.

    The big difference I seen now is that there is a lot more noise/(bs) online to distract those wanting to learn and people seem to think that because guys like yourself and other successful bloggers are doing well, all they have to do to be successful is copy what you have already done/are doing and they will get the same results.

    I’ll let you cover why what will not work in another post 😉

  3. You put it so succinctly David when you say that what matters for blog success is finding “a collection of people who are united by a common interest or problem,are actively seeking fulfillment of that interest or a solution to the problem, and have a willingness to pay for it.”

    This is something I realised long before wanting to blog (only I call it common bond 🙂 ). It gives a sense of belonging to a group united by a common problem which already makes this group closer because the people in it are united by a common goal: to overcome a problem
    and find a solution.

    This in turn makes you as blogger stand out and draw this group to you because you’re showing them that you have that solution to give them. And, if you can show them that you can empathise with them because you’ve been in their shoes and suffered as they are before you found your solution, so much the better. Because it shows them that you’re one of them (as well as a leader).

    And knowing how to do this is where getting the order right: knowing which step to take when and why.

    For me, it was knowing what information to drop after learning the basics of blogging. There’s a lot of out of date information that still pops up in Google and hasn’t been updated. It’s a shame information like yours David, doesn’t pop up above this out-of-date stuff. But, I’m doing my best to bring it to others attention by sharing it with people starting out.

  4. Hi David,

    I love the focus on a product as “the outcome or transformation that you provide.”

    And I’m completely on board with your thoughts on a stable point of reference” and the fact that the problem is “a lack of ORDER.” So, so true.

    I love this series and the way you’re breaking it down here. My current blog is tied to my business, but I’m building a new one behind the scenes which is about passion, BUT also what I can bring to the world.

    Anyway, love this and the way you break things down, as always.

  5. I’m so glad for this series, David. As a soon-to-be college graduate tapping out blog posts and emails on my iPhone on the bus, trying to stay on top of anything, let alone everything, just makes me want to cry.

  6. Hi, David!

    I have been on information overload for at least a year (maybe longer). It is my desire to have an online business but I can’t seem to find out precise, step-by-step plan on how to do it. Everything you listed in your article are thoughts that have been in my mind. I can’t wait to read the next article!

  7. Hi David,

    I do get overwhelm with too much information out there, and at times I do lose focus on my projects. I also feel that people should do their projects at one step at time. I do agree with you that as a blogger you should be giving your views good content and build a honest relationship with them.

    Also respect their views, and with any business venture things take time to build. So David thanks for the post and have a nice day.


  8. My father used to say all the time that it didn’t matter how great of an idea you had UNLESS you had people willing to pay for it. It’s not about offering solutions to the world. It’s all about finding people’s problems and solving them.

  9. Great post. I get confused about where to focus my attention with regards to social marketing, content and developing the blog in general. I know that content is king and I need to do more there but I feel lile im seriously lacking in a social strategy/plan. I love the idea of a point of reference so im going to sort that out. Just need to work out what it is :).


  10. Having so many ideas and do much to give.. we have a great existing model were about to do a major overhaul of our web site. 50k members and 359k unique visitors a month. id love to be able to make it pay for the small team that make it run..feeling like ive come to the right place to make that happen!

    1. Yeah, I responded to your email this morning. We can definitely help you do better than the income you’re making now with that much traffic. I checked out your site and there’s a TON I would recommend you do with it. 🙂

  11. Very good article, information overload is a well known reason for slowing down the process of making money online and also the fact not to know what to do. This is very controversial but especially at the beginning a big problem. I think at the beginning it’s very important to understand the basics how an online business works.

  12. Great stuff David. Right now, I’m feeling kinda overwhelmed. I’m just starting out and already I can see how much chaos and confusion there is in the world of blogging, espcially with everyone offering their own advice on how to pull it off. Sometimes I write blog posts and wonder to myself ‘After I hit the publish button, then what?’. A few people on my lil list of less than 20 subscribers read it, I share it out to my few social media followers and then what? I feel I’m not seeing as much result from my effort and I’m not sure where the problem is.

    1. Thanks, Steve.

      In the beginning, the biggest constraint on growth is the size of your audience. Which is obviously small. And, when you only promote your new posts to people already connected with you, you’re not really expanding the size of the pie.

      You should be spending a minority of your time on content at this point, and the remainder of it on promotion.

      1. Its amazing how you somehow always hit the nail right on the head for me David.

        Thanks so much for your advice. Now I just need to figure out how to promote my blog posts more 😉

        Thanks again man. You ROCK!

  13. Great post, as always.

    You asked for a time when I felt confused and overwhelmed? How about now?

    I’ve been receiving input from all angles (as you might remember) and am feeling the pressure a bit. I’ve taken on advice from those who say that you just need to find an affluent market and ask the right questions to make your product, through the ‘follow your passion’ argument, as well as those who just tell me to concentrate on my SEO writing because that’s where my skill is…

    The truth is that, while I’m going to continue to listen to them, they’re either not advanced enough (build an eBook product about an existing passion, and sell it) or way too advanced (find a market and build something just for them).

    Your message falls somewhere in between. It’s easy to grasp, and I can see myself taking action on it. What I’m waiting to see is just how far along my path of desired income it’s going to take me!

    Keep delivering, I’m having a blast!


    1. Thanks, Guy. And, yep, when you lack a road to travel, you end up listening to all of these conflicting “gurus” out there and its hard to tell your ass from first base. 🙂

      I know this all too well, which is the motivation for this series, and the structure behind the Academy training.

  14. Great post David. As an SEO-er since 2007, I agree you can’t make a market. But you sure can take advantage of one.

    Your comment about investing in something you’re passionate about being the secret sauce to success is spot on. It takes staying power. Then a double dose of being able to get up everyday (or after a day at work for many people) and write. Next, write more. Afterwards, write yet again even when you wanted to quit for the day an hour ago.

    Having worked with hundreds of clients, the ones seeing traffic and converting did so following one simple rule: never give up.

    Be well.


Leave a Reply