I was browsing freelance writing forums today when I saw some newbie writer talking about how they really want to monetize a blog in the personal growth/wellness/holistic sphere. They said:
“I REALLY want to start a monetized blog but I have NO IDEA where to start.”
Have you ever said these words, or counseled a friend who wanted to earn passive income online?
If so then you know what’s coming next…
Someone starts suggesting they make a site on WordPress (and actually Blogger, like this is 2005 or something) and put up ads on it.
Please, for the love of anything you hold holy, DO NOT DO THIS.
This is a terrible strategy when starting a monetized blog and it isn’t going to make you money.
As I scrolled through the posts, I saw all the usual suspects—the other comments of well-meaning people who want to help the OP start a monetized blog, but don’t know how to do that in 2016.
- Use Amazon Associates
- Do affiliate links
- Try Adsense
- Put out an ebook and sell it
- Do sponsored content
What a few commenters mentioned, but no one really broke down for the OP, is that all of these “strategies” require one thing that a novice blogger with no idea how to earn money from a blog is not going to have—traffic.
So the woman’s going to start her personal growth/wellness/holistic blog (you know, with the Squarespace code from her favorite podcast), get all psyched designing it, write a few posts, gunk the site up with ads and referral links, and then … crickets.
That’s how you start a monetized blog and fail.
Honestly, when I started this blog, I worked through some of these strategies too. I posted Amazon Associate links, had a sidebar full of Adsense banners, and signed up to be an affiliate for Bluehost, Freelance Writer’s Den and a few other services. I dutifully linked to my affiliates—and I’ve yet to earn a dime from those early post links.
I’d get a few hits here and there from some writer trying to figure out how much Textbroker paid or if BKA was a scam. Now, the writer searching for this information didn’t want to be sold an ad for tech gear or a freelance writing course. They wanted to know if they were going to be scammed or not —that’s it. They weren’t clicking links.
I didn’t have eyeballs on the page to get the traffic I’d need to have a small portion of it click through. All that time I’d invested in my blog wasn’t positioning it to generate passive income for me. It was just burning me out.
It’s basic math.
If your mom, your sister, and three college friends ready your wellness blog, they’re probably not going to click through to buy your favorite yoga socks on Amazon. Plus, some 70 million Americans use ad blockers so they’re not even seeing that Adsense crap.
I focused on putting out content regularly that I thought would be helpful to aspiring freelance writers, but I didn’t have any momentum going. I didn’t REALLY know what my audience wanted, and I would never know what they wanted until I started to care about who they were.
I was wasting my time, and spending a lot of time and effort NOT EARNING.
And you know what? I got tired of doing that.
It was eating up my free time and it wasn’t generating a lot of traffic for the site.
But beyond that, it didn’t feel good.
It felt like I was trying to get people to look at this point (tweeting, posting on reddit, yada yada) only to hope they would then CLICK AWAY from my post to go buy some crap on Amazon or purchase a web hosting plan.
I wasn’t trying to build a relationship with the person reading the blog post, or even really solve a pain point for them. I was trying to sell them something they didn’t need to make a few pennies while some other company made real money.
So I decided to stop.
I took down the ads, and stopped shilling affiliate links for things I didn’t use or believe in (I still post affiliate links, but only for products I personally recommend).
The Secret Mindset Shift You Need to Monetize Your Blog
Not only did I stop doing these things that made me feel gross, I started to think about what I was actually doing with this blog.
What did I want to do?
Who did I want to help?
And what did I want it to give back to me in turn?
I decided to share my best tips with readers in the spirit of paying it forward and helping other writers start making a living writing, while positioning the blog to create side income for me.
Monetization still plays a role but it’s not the whole purpose of blogging. It comes second to helping people by teaching them something new or solving a problem they need help with.
If by helping people I can then earn something, it’s a win-win for me and for them. It’s something I can feel good about and not gross.
Plus, it also adds value for the reader and encourages them to stick around and come back. It’s about creating relationships, building community, and helping other writers settle for more, not less.
It’s the opposite of all the shady “earn money from your blog” strategies everyone who doesn’t know any better is shilling.
Cause let’s be real, when you click on a recipe post and see it’s sponsored by some random brand of tomato sauce/shredded cheese/unhealthy processed food garbage, you kind of think less of the blogger. The recipe becomes meh. It’s just another corporate shill and it’s not made with love.
Once I changed my mindset to focus on creating high quality content that would help the person reading the blog accomplish a goal or learn a skill, I started seeing more traction. I created a newsletter (sign up here!) and began offering content downloads that expanded upon the information in a blog post and helped the reader go deeper into a specific obstacle or roadblock to being a high income earning freelance writer.
I also started guest posting on other blogs to grow my reach, connect with new readers and help more people. Guest posting is a great way to get your tips in front of new eyes and get readers for your site.
If I could tell this aspiring wellness blogger anything it would be to hold off on monetizing for a month, three months, a year, whatever. Then, just focus on learning how to be the best blogger she can be, developing a message, and getting it out there. The traffic that will help her monetize her wellness blog will come naturally.
You can try to sell products along the way while you build up audience, but if your focus is on selling to your readers right out of the gate and you’re using yesterday’s crappy strategies to earn a side hustle online, here’s what you can expect to happen:
- You turn off readers
- You end up with a crappy looking blog
- You get sick of spending all this time on something no one is reading
- You don’t attract the right readers, the ones who love your message and will buy your products when you are ready to monetize
- You burn out before you’ve even laid the groundwork for success.
My Favorite Blogging Ecourse
There are a lot of ways to learn blogging best practices. I recommend the Superstar Blogging ecourse from pro travel blogger Nomadic Matt. (This is an affiliate link, but I took the course and found it super helpful!).
It breaks blogging, SEO, and monetizing strategies down into digestible lessons, comes with a free theme, and includes concise video tutorials and webinars that break down myths and help you develop a niche blog that’s positioned for success. You can also connect with a blogging community of people who want to support your success.
Superstar Blogging helped me get serious about blogging and challenged me to leave behind some of the poor practices mentioned above. I know I feel better about what I’m doing when I’m adding value and helping others. If that sounds like the kind of blogger you want to be, consider taking the course.
I get it—you don’t want to shell out a few hundred bucks to learn blogging basics when you’re trying to make money from your blog.
But take it from me: an ecourse can save you tons of time (and a lot of aggravation and stress) by helping you avoid mistakes and teaching you audience-building tactics from day one. I only recommend products I believe in, and this is one of them.
There are still a lot of bloggers out there who just want to make some money, but the great thing is that readers are over that now. They expect more. They aren’t going to stick around for your ad-heavy, spammy content any more. So do yourself and your blog a favor. Only start a blog if you are willing to put time and effort into the long-term strategies for success, if you really have a passion for writing/making videos/sharing information on your niche, and if you are in it for more than the money.
Got a question about monetizing your blog, or anything else? I’m here to help.