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How Long Does It Take To Make Your Blog Profitable? (My Answer To This Common Question)

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I get asked this question all the time. For instance, take this question that recently came in on my blog monetization webinar

How long does it take to turn a blog into a business which you can rely on (making about 3-4K USD per month)?

Or this one from one of my email subscribers…

Please let me know how long you think it takes to make a blog profitable (and how profitable), assuming you have 3-4 free days a week to invest.

I felt I needed to create a definitive answer to this. Here… publicly. Something that I can refer people to over and over again as my official answer to this question.

So, let’s do this…

First Off, Let’s Get Something Straight…

A blog is not a business. And a blog will never be profitable.

A blog is merely a marketing vehicle. It is a place that you publish content… and the purpose of that content is to attract people so that you can ultimately sell them something.

So, you can think of a blog in the same vein as a commercial, or a yellow page ad, or any other thing which you can clearly see is a form of advertising. Now, obviously a blog is different in that it isn’t all sales and yellow highlighters. Blog content is fundamentally different and designed to lead with value. But, let’s not lose sight of the blog’s fundamental purpose.

This isn’t just about details of vocabulary. It is fundamental to the mindset that you need to succeed.

A blog and a business are fundamentally different. A business is the thing which makes money. The blog is designed to be a public marketing vehicle for that business.

The business does what all businesses do. It provides a product or a service to a market who demands it in exchange for money.

So please…

Don’t ask me how long it takes for a blog to make money.

You will never blog your way to wealth. Ever.

Blogging is a form of communication. You are creating content for others to consume and to communicate a message. That’s awesome! However, without a business behind the scenes, it really isn’t much different than water cooler talk.

Why This Is So Freakin’ Important

If you come into this thinking that the blog does the earning of money, then it will lead to you focusing on the wrong things. And focusing on the wrong things is a sure-fire way for this to take absolutely forever.

Think about it…

If you think the blog makes the money, then you would go into it fully focused on just the blog. You’d do what bloggers do. You’d write a shit-ton of blog posts, stress out over posting schedules, spend a bunch of time tweaking your theme, engaging in social media all day, etc…

But, all that is like a big hamster wheel. It just spins and spins and spins. You may build up some eyeballs. You may build up a little following.

And, having a community and audience is awesome. It is potential energy.

But, without that business back there, it remains only potential energy. No income will come from it.

That’s blogging. That’s what most bloggers are busy doing out there. And then they wonder why they don’t make any money.

If you want to make money fast with your blog, then you must understand a blog DOESN'T make money.Click To Tweet

If you want to shorten the length of time it takes to reach a certain income level online, then you must fundamentally understand that your blog doesn’t make money. And that you spending all your time blogging isn’t any kind of meal ticket. That you need to be focused on building up a real business.

Ya with me so far? 🙂

Good.

So, What About The Actual Money, Then?

OK, so we know we have to focus on the business to generate money. Not the blog. Doesn’t mean you don’t spend time on that blog. I mean, hell, my whole company here is based around the idea of blogging as a major form of marketing. It works like crazy. So, yes, we WILL be working on that blog of your’s. But, we also need to keep things in the right perspective.

So, let’s talk business…

A business provides a product or service to a market which wants it in exchange for money.

I vastly prefer and recommend that the product or service be your own offer. This gives you full control and 100% of profit. However, you can certainly do the same thing using affiliate offers. Those are still products or services for a market who wants them… they’re just not your’s.

The lowest ranked form of income for a blog, in my opinion, is banner ads. It also happens to be the most popular option because it is the easiest. But, it is least effective. You need a TON of traffic to make it really pay off. Plus, it just assaults everybody’s eyeballs and nobody likes the damn things.

Too many bloggers think their blog is just a form of media and that it must monetize like a news channel would – with commercial ads. Not only is that misguided and doesn’t service the audience, but it is going to be insanely difficult to build up a respectable income that way.

So, business.

What’s your product or service?

Back that up to something more basic…

  • What is the transformation that you’d like to deliver to people?
  • What is the outcome you want to provide and help people achieve?
  • How can you help them achieve it?
  • And, is it an outcome people really truly want and have proven they will pay for?

These are the questions to be answered.

And don’t forget the option of providing a service. Many people dismiss that because all the “gurus” are out there talking about selling training courses.

Online courses are great, but they carry the inherent promise of a lot of work. It makes the pathway to income take longer. And nobody said it was the only option.

Service and consulting is a highly viable option that allows you to make an offer out of thin air. It might not be sexy with all this conditioning out there about the dangers of “time for money”… but there is nothing wrong with time for money. Especially in the beginning. It isn’t as if you’re going to stay that way. But, selling your time is a great way to begin and to create a business quickly without a long onramp.

Alrighty Then. So, How Long Does It Take?

So, now that we’re on the same page about the right mindset here, let’s address the million dollar question.

How long does it take?

How long until you can reach certain income goals?

Well, first of all, unless you really adopt the mindset above, it is going to take a damn long time. If it ever works to begin with. Pursuing a blog as a business is, in most cases, a failing proposition.

But, building a real business which happens to have a blog as a marketing vehicle for it… that works. And, it doesn’t have to take long.

Any particular time lengths would be completely dependent on you. I could never give you a definitive answer. I don’t know you. I don’t know your schedule. I don’t know your work ethic. I don’t know how quickly you take action or make decisions.

I also don’t know your business. I mean, let’s be clear here…

If you’re offering a really awesome product or service to a market where there is a high demand for it, your path to revenue is going to be a helluva lot shorter than somebody who is stubbornly pursuing a path where barely anybody really cares.

There is a concept called product/market fit. The product you offer needs to match the market, and the degree to which you have that match determines how easy things will be. A loose match is more difficult. A tight match damn near builds itself. We spend a lot of time in the Lab training on product/market fit because it is really important.

And when we come up with a product/market fit hypothesis, we test it in the quickest possible way.

  • We don’t blog about it, since we don’t even know if it’ll work yet. Instead, we focus right on the core metrics of it. Will people opt-in for it? Will they buy?
  • Instead of blogging, we focus right on a landing page with a proper lead magnet and we test the opt-in. After all, if they won’t opt-in at a decent percentage, it demonstrates bad product/market fit.
  • Instead of blogging, we focus right in on a pre-offer. We make an offer for something before you make it. If you can get some sales, you’ve found proof of life.

To do this requires maybe 3-4 pages. No big blog. No big collection of blog posts. Just a few pages.

And to solve the traffic problem, I usually recommend you utilize some paid traffic at the beginning. It doesn’t cost much, but what it DOES do is remove the TIME from this whole process. You can turn on the traffic hose, test your idea, see if it works. If the numbers don’t add up, turn it back off and re-evaluate.

This is how we remove the big time requirements.

You only create a product once you see proof of sales. You only start the big blog property around it once you see in the hard numbers that the market has life.

You see how this works?

OH MY GOD is this more effective – by far – than what most bloggers are out there doing!

And, God bless ’em. I praise any blogger out there creating awesome content. And I’m here to help you find ways to build traffic and all that. But, monetization is a different animal. And I’m not here to BS you around. I’m not  here to float your dreams that you can just blog about stuff for fun and out pops money. It is a fun thought… just not very real for most people.

If you want money from this, we have to treat it like a business.

We have to go right for the core… by proving a product/market fit.

If you don’t beat around the bush on it, you can make serious headway and possibly even make your first sales within a couple weeks. It isn’t unreal at all.

The secret to making this happen quickly is to focus on the right things, in the right order. And to, in the beginning, back-burner your blog.

The 'secret' to making money with your blog is, in the beginning, to back burner your blog.Click To Tweet

Weird… but it’s what works.

David. This Is Different Than I Expected.

Yeah, I know. But, I’d rather give it to you straight.

If you would prefer to simply blog and share without any thoughts of selling anything, you go right ahead. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it helps make the internet a much better place for us all. But, don’t expect that to pay your bills or enable you to quit your job.

I don’t care how much time you have to throw at this… if all you do is blog, it won’t lead to an income magically. A few people pull it off, using banner ads or some affiliate marketing. But, while some of the blogging gurus might give the impression that’s easy… it really isn’t. A few years ago, I saw a stat that said 81% of bloggers don’t even make $100 in an entire year. I bet the actual number is much higher than that. It is a little tiny minority of bloggers out there who manage to make real money simply by blogging.

Most bloggers who make real money do so by selling something. They have a business. And the blogging fuels it.

So, I encourage you to think outside the blogger box.

The blogger box is this stereotype created by some of the big blogging gurus out there. The one where they paint this cool picture of sitting in a coffee shop, blogging. And money pops out. Where they have location independence and freedom of time.

All that is very real, but the blogger box is that box you get into where you think that achieving those things relies upon blogging alone.

And it doesn’t.

The blogger box usually excludes thoughts such as offering a product or service. It tends to exclude sales of any kind. The blogger box usually excludes anything that actually generates money because they stubbornly cling to the idea of banners and affiliate links as the only way to go. It is such a limiting point of view and self-defeating.

Realize that having a solid product/market fit and selling it does NOT mean you have to become an annoying salesy type. Not even remotely. The way we structure the funnels, you are most definitely leading with value. People only get offers when they’ve already demonstrated interest. This whole setup is MUCH more respectful of your reader than assaulting them with banner ads!

Okie dokie? 🙂

Alright, so that’s my official answer.

It will save me from giving half-assed replies in emails that really don’t give the question justice. It is a common question. So, now I’ve answered it properly.

Oh, and if you’re ready to take some real action on this…

Consider joining our community inside the Blog Monetization Lab.

This is the kind of thing we do in there. And, I have a workshop called the Business Building Bootcamp which will walk you through the more targeted approach to building this up. It is said to be a 90-day plan, but honestly, it doesn’t have to even take that long.

6 Comments

  1. Sharron F says:

    This is an awesome pillar-post, and something that’s needed to be said in a straightforward, no-BS, way, for quite a few years. – It’s changed something in my outlook too; even as one of your students.

    I can’t help thinking that you might have put a number of bullshit-gurus out of business… Which can only be a good thing in all honesty. 🙂

  2. John says:

    David – Love your style. Simple, direct, actionable and utterly without any BS.

    As Sharron said, it has really shifted my outlook at how to make money with a blog!

    1. David Risley says:

      Awesome. Thanks. 🙂

  3. Stella M says:

    Hey David. I love your views about bloggers and business owners. There is also solid advice in this article, and as a proud member of the lab I wouldn’t expect less from you. I’ve been following your site for years. Thanks for the knowledge you provide.

  4. Chigozie Ezeh says:

    Thanks David,

    I’ve really learnt a whole lot from you.
    This concept of using a blogging as a means to an end instead of an end in itself is powerful.
    It puts the “no limits” tag on what one can achieve online.
    It’s similar to allocating resources to the most important things and that’s building the value ladder of a business, the 80/20 way.

    Thanks again for sharing 🙂

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