Feeling a bit stuck trying to have success with your blog?
I get it. They’re dark times…
Lauren and I spent many months in what we call the “poop phase“ of online success.
During this phase, we made a TON of mistakes. Probably just about every one you can make.
We had no idea what we were doing.
Real talk: Monetizing a blog is HARD.
When we were trying to climb out of the trenches, we started driving tons of traffic from Pinterest, getting a good amount of email subscribers, and we STILL weren’t making any money.
But thankfully, that traffic did allow us to do one thing that eventually led us OUT of the trenches…
Trial and error...
For about three solid months, we tried EVERYTHING. Like a throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks kind of scenario…
We tried monetizing with…
- Affiliate products
- Sales funnels
- Product launches
- Email funnels
- And pretty much anything else you can think of…
We bought $1500 courses that didn’t work, purchased software that sucked, and made TONS of mistakes.
But learning what NOT to do is still more important than freezing up and not learning anything at all.
We paid attention and learned a lot from every mistake that we made, and this became the groundwork for building the strategies that DID work.
You can read more about how we monetize and see our current and past blogging income in our income reports.
Disclaimer: The following article is full of some serious tough love.
But I don’t want to sugarcoat things for you and give you some fake, fluffy words of encouragement like “Keep trying! You’ll never fail if you don’t give up”
It’s going to take some serious work to get there, but I want to help you.
Here is an overview of what we’ll cover:
Table of Contents
These are my best tips and advice from my experience in the trenches. If I can help even just one of you get the hell out of there, this article was worth it.
When Lauren and I decided to start our first blog (and actually try to make a living from it), the amount of initial effort it took was enormous.
We spent every night (after our full-time jobs), every weekend, and every other spare moment that we had trying to grow our blog.
Our social lives took a big hit in the beginning (RIP brunch). There were a lot of polite declines for movies, parties, dinners, etc.
As young 20-somethings living in the big city of Dallas, this was DIFFICULT.
That being said, you know what was more difficult?
Working jobs we didn’t like to play it safe, please our families, and chase weekends and vacations that ended WAY too soon.
So… we made a key decision. To go all in…
We quit our comfortable, full-time jobs, dipped into our savings, and sold our cars and furniture — all before we were making a dime with our blog.
And no, I’m not saying you have to do this or should do this, by any means. You might have a family, children, student loans, or other debt that would make this a very unwise decision.
My point is that you MUST get serious about it. You MUST put in the work.
We made our blog our top priority and we hustled our asses off until we made it happen.
This article has been updated a few times, but I originally wrote it from our balcony in Bali overlooking the city of Ubud after 10 months out of my “real” job.
Here is the original post from Lauren’s Instagram:
Not a chance in hell.
The juice is worth the squeeze, my friends.
It’s a squeeze for sure, but it’s worth every delicious drop.
What makes you unique?
For real though, I’d love to know.
The only way to shine through the ever-growing sea of bloggers out there is to be unique. And no, this does not mean that you have to reinvent the wheel...
Facebook came after Myspace peeps, and that idea came from Friendster.
Just taking a good idea and making it better is a really great place to start!
Here’s how we made our six-figure health and wellness blog stand out from the crowd:
- Best pins on Pinterest (For real though -- Lauren’s a studette at Pinterest)
- We niched down (We didn't just teach about general weight loss, we taught about fast weight loss specifically, and only for women).
- We shared our experiences, not our assumptions. ( I was able to draw these from my professional experience working as a personal trainer for years. We taught based on real-life strategies that worked for us -- not just on theories taken from others.)
Here’s how we are making Create and Go stand out from the crowd:
- Best pins on Pinterest (She's still a studette!)
- Our blogging story starts with earning six figures with our health and wellness blog -- not just from teaching other people how to make money online (This sets us apart from a lot of bloggers just blogging about blogging.)
- We share our experiences, not our assumptions. (We teach based on real-life strategies that have worked for us -- not just on theories taken from others.)
As you can see, we didn't reinvent the wheel anywhere. We don't have ground-breaking technology or wisdom to share.
But we have been able to differentiate ourselves enough to create a competitive advantage.
Just tell your story. Teach from personal experience. You can't go wrong if you're doing that.
I can't write enough about this subject.
If you’re not on Pinterest and you're instead trying to do any of these things to grow your blog...
- Beating people with rare, long-tail SEO keywords on Google
- Spend hours editing simple photos and trying to chase followers on Instagram
- Posting ANYTHING on your Facebook page and trying to get organic traffic
Good luck with that!!!
It's not that Google, Facebook, or Instagram don't matter. Or that they aren't worth your time. It's just that there is a platform that is a far BETTER use of your time.
And that platform is Pinterest.
Pinterest is one of the BEST sources of traffic for bloggers, especially new bloggers.
Our Pinterest traffic is what allowed us to build an email list and test out so many different ideas and products when we were first trying to monetize our blog.
It's when things really started to turn around for us and it was the first step to getting out of the trenches.
But if you really want to learn more about why you should be on Pinterest and how you can get started, our article on Pinterest for bloggers is your next stop.
Like anything good worth having, it takes work, but it’s been worth every freakin' penny and every hour invested.
Take Pinterest seriously, people.
People buy coaches, not coaching.
I heard this little gem the other day, and it is definitely something to chew one.
I'm going to illustrate this with an example from our health and wellness blog and our personal experience.
When we first started our health and wellness blog, we hid behind it for a long time. Our faces were nowhere to be found and we didn't even have our names on our About page.
We were still feeling burned after our first blog failed.
But when we started trying to sell products to our audience, we quickly learned that the more PERSONAL we got with them, the more likely they were to buy our products.
This led us to finally put our names and our faces on our blog. And from there, we actually moved to JUST Lauren's name and face.
We made Lauren the authority figure or figurehead of the website.
I, Alex, became more of a distant character, a consultant on the blog, and an occasional participant in the community groups.
Because Lauren did a MUCH better job connecting with our target audience than I did. Our target audience was women, and they wanted to hear from another woman.
She was more relatable to them and she was able to make a better connection with them because of it.
Sometimes, you need to step up and be the person your audience needs you to be.
If you've been hiding, it's time to come out of the shadows and do what you need to do to help make that connection stronger.
Here are some of the best ways to do this:
- Make sure your face and bio are on your blog (and noticeable)
- Regularly communicate with your audience in your blog comments and especially via email
- Tell your story as often as you can in your content (both free and paid)
Next up on the list of reasons why your blog isn't making any money is...
Raise your hand if your Facebook newsfeed looks like this every third post:
Sigh... Mine too.
And I'm not trying to throw shade on this dude for it. He's hustling, and I have mad respect for that -- from one hustler to another.
But I want to throw shade on YOU if you are following more than a couple of these gurus.
Here’s what you should be doing instead:
Find 2-3 brands or people that you really feel like you can connect with that live life how you want to live it, and become a true follower and disciple of them.
Buy their products, open all of their emails, and absorb everything they say.
Become a die-hard fan.
This will benefit you and your business 100x more than following 10+ people and getting confused by all of the contradictory information out there.
Would you rather have 3 ride-or-die best friends or 10 friendly acquaintances that will show up if they don't have anything better to do?
The problem with following too many people is that you only get surface-level information and you never get deep enough to get to the most valuable information that they have to offer.
You'll end up absorbing a lot of free but piecewise information -- never a complete strategy.
And it will take you a LOT longer to climb out of those trenches.
This is another topic that I could write an entire book on.
The money is in the list, my friends.
We make considerably more sales from our email list than we do by linking our products in our blog posts.
We know because we've used a software called ClickMeter to actually track where our traffic and conversions were coming from:
Trust is EVERYTHING when it comes to building your audience and making sales, and there is no better way to build trust with your audience than through your emails.
- LeadPages - to design high-converting landing pages that get people ON your list
- ConvertKit - to store your list and send emails to your subscribers
If you want another resource on how to do this (or how to do it better), check out our article on how to build an email list.
It can be hard to put yourself out there, especially in the beginning.
When you are first trying to sell a product or service to your audience, there are often a lot of doubts and fears surrounding it:
- "Why would someone buy this product from ME?"
- "There are so many other products out there. Why would someone want MINE?"
- "Is my product really good enough??"
We get it. Lauren and I laid awake many nights in the early days wondering if we were good enough. If our products were good enough.
BUT here’s why you should never shy away from selling a great product, EVER:
People want and need a solution to their problems. And if you can provide that solution, you should be proud to sell it and market it to your audience!
And as far as getting the confidence to KNOW that you have a great product, well...
Sometimes, you gotta fake it til' you make it.
In other words, let the positive customer feedback speak for itself. People will love your product and they will thank you for it!
Here is a screenshot of someone from our support group that lost 20 lbs in 21 days on our weight loss program:
Positive feedback like this will start to roll in. And if you get negative feedback, that's okay too! Just improve your product to make it better!
You will also always come across people who just hate being sold to and will never buy a product from you.
Ignore these people. They will unsubscribe and they aren't worth your time anyway.
They also aren't the majority of people out there. Remember that.
Why spend all of your time trying to convince the jaded customer to buy your stuff when there are customers out there open to new ideas and spending money for their problems?
Let this process be a learning process for you and a chance for some serious personal growth and experience.
Learning marketing and how to sell products to your audience will help you build confidence, fast.
Once you sell a few products and people get results, your confidence to sell more will grow exponentially. With every new product that we created, we got faster, better, smarter, you name it.
The selling and marketing experiences that you will learn will take your business to places you never even dreamed of.
Just remember to ALWAYS be honest about it. Don't let the money make you lose sight of what really matters.
What SHOULD I Be Doing to Make Money?
We've talked about a lot of things that you're probably doing WRONG while you're trying to make money...
But what about the things you should be doing RIGHT?
Our next best resource for you is our comprehensive guide on how to make money blogging. Give it a read now if you have the time or save it for later!
If you enjoyed this article on blog monetization mistakes or have any questions for us, please leave them in the comment section below! We'd love to hear from you!
Alex has been a professional blogger since 2016. With a business degree and the expertise he has attained over time, he has grown two blogs to 6 and 7 figures, Avocadu and Create and Go. He’s an entrepreneurial adventure junkie who loves to teach bloggers how to achieve success. Read his inspiring story on how he went from broke and frustrated to $100k/month blogging in 3 years.