Can we all stop pretending for one hot second that we are just blogging for fun?
While this may be true for a tiny fraction of hobby bloggers, the ultimate dream is to MAKE MONEY from your blog.
No one wants to work a soul-sucking 9-5 or 8-8 if a better alternative exists.
If you could work for yourself while ALSO have the location and financial freedom, wouldn’t you take that over your day job any day?
I know I would. In fact, I JUST did.
Yet, why does the vast majority fail at being able to make any money from their blog?
I have been blogging for a fair amount of time.
On my first blog, I shared poetry and short journal entries. (EEEKS)
But I really ever started a “real” blog two years ago.
I then realized after a year that this was going to go nowhere. (We’ll get to this in a bit)
I then scrapped this blog and started a new travel blog called Indian Girling one year ago.
This blog took 8 months to make the first $1000.
On Month 11, I was at $800 per month.
On Month 13, I was at $1500 per month.
On Month 14 (current period), I started a new online business blog, the one you are on right now, and I am on track to exceed $2500 this month.
So far, I’ve been a part-time blogger but having seen the potential of what a blog could do in the last two years, I’ve decided to jump in FULL TIME.
Okay, let’s do a happy jiggle and get down to work, shall we?
In this post, you’ll find out the top 5 reasons why your blog makes no money.
It is probably not what you want to hear about today, but you know sometimes tough love can be helpful as well.
I don’t claim to be a “blogging guru”, so take everything I say with a pinch of salt.
The truth in life is that no single statement exists as a standalone fact.
Exceptions will ALWAYS exist.
But it’s easier to make money blogging following a PROVEN method instead of hoping that you’ll just get lucky one day and “crack the code”
By all means, experiment all you want! But build a solid foundation first.
Alright, ready for some tough love?
Here it comes!
Reason #1: You’re in the wrong niche.
Like I said, there is no pretty way to say this.
Sometimes you have to take a LONG HARD look and tell yourself, you bet on the wrong horse.
And that’s 100% okay.
No one started a successful business from day 1.
No one ran a successful business from day 1.
No one got promoted to Director on day 1.
The first real blog that I started was an expat blog which I made 200+ mistakes on.
Foundational mistakes aside, I quickly realised there really was no solid way to make income besides wait for organic traffic to kick in and one day in the far far future make some money through ads.
I’d rather not waste any more time HOPING that this blog would become a unicorn.
As an expat blogger, there really wasn’t much in terms of diversifying revenue streams either.
So I cut my losses, accepted that I had failed here, took my lessons and moved on.
You’ve probably heard that there are only X amount of niches you can make money in.
I’m here to tell you it’s less about the niche and MORE about the audience that the niche serves.
The best way to identify whether or not your niche has potential is to ask yourself the following questions:
- How many bloggers exist in this niche who earn a full-time income from this niche? What % of bloggers make a full-time income here?
- Who is the target audience of this niche and how much spending potential do they have?
- What kind of products or services can be sold to the niche and how much income would that really make?
1. Have other bloggers had success in this niche?
While it is hard to generalize and put a number, it is no secret that fashion and beauty bloggers can earn a ton from affiliates whereas travel bloggers find it hard to pay for their next meal.
Look at your niche and what is the “current state” of bloggers in this niche.
How much money are people able to make?
How long has it taken them to get to this point?
What is the unfair advantage that will help you make your blog profitable?
I could look at travel bloggers and say Nomadic Matt makes 7 figures.
But let’s be realistic here it took him 10+ years with first-mover advantage to make 7 figures, whereas, in a niche such as personal finance, bloggers have done the same in half the period of time.
Most bloggers starting out today are going to have a much harder time growing that fast due to the giant maze the internet has become.
2. What is your target audience worth?
Remember, the point of your blog is to SERVE an audience that is WILLING to pay.
I learned it the HARD way that serving “budget travelers” is a long and arduous journey.
While my travel blog makes decent passive income right now, half of that income comes from selling a product that is not even made for travelers.
What does that tell you about your audience’s earning potential?
3. What kind of products and services could you sell?
If you look closely at all six and seven-figure bloggers, you will see that virtually ALL of them sell either products or services of their own.
Products, especially digital are easier to scale and that’s how successful bloggers in pretty much every niche have
While selling your own goods may be lucrative at a later stage, it helps to see what your earnings from an average affiliate program in your niche would be.
For example, as a personal finance blogger, if you make $50 per sale, whereas as a travel blogger you make $0.5 per sale, it would take you much more traffic and time to reach the same level of wealth provided everything else remains constant.
You can also look at additional services that you can add to supplement your business. As a fitness or a life coach you are likely to make much more than as a blogging coach.
Bottom line, what kind of products and services will make you money in your niche?
Reason #2: You haven’t figured out a way to generate consistent traffic.
While a service-based online business may survive on a small trickle of traffic, let’s assume that you are still trying to create your brand.
For any other blog-related business, without a steady stream of traffic it will be extremely HARD to monetise.
Not impossible, just VERY HARD. As in waiting for 5 years hard.
One of the things that I managed to do right with the second (travel) blog is that I figured out strategies to get traffic within 6-8 months of starting a new domain.
I knew waiting to get out of the Google Sandbox for 1 year was NOT an option for me.
I focused on 1 single platform for the first one year and that was Pinterest.
The first six months it took me to just get a hang of how this platform works, and the next 6 months I spent implementing every trick I knew and understood.
This helped me grow from 5000 page views to 35000 page views in the last six months.
ALL FROM ONE PLATFORM.
I wasn’t putting all my eggs in one basket though.
I continued to work on optimizing my on-page SEO, improving my blog speed, working on keyword research and outreach for backlinks to make sure I was hedged.
As a new blogger, which in Google’s terms can be anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, it is IMPERATIVE to figure out a traffic source that works for you.
TODAY. Not in 2 years.
The basic idea behind any money-making blog is simple:
START A BLOG ➡️ WRITE CONTENT ➡️ TRAFFIC ➡️ SUBSCRIBERS /READERS ➡️INCOME
I have over-simplified the concept here, but you’re probably doing well with the starting a blog and writing content bit.
But then what?
How can you create an income if no one is reading your blog except for friends and family?
Before you create more content, you NEED to find a good source of traffic.
The fastest way of getting traffic in virtually every possible niche (except maybe automobiles), is Pinterest.
In Pinterest Traffic Explosion, we cover a step-by-step process in generating sustainable long term traffic to your blog.
The most important question you should be asking yourself is:
- WHERE IS MY TARGET AUDIENCE?
Which social media platform or forum or online chat room (hey, we don’t judge here), could I meet my target audience at?
Once you know the answer to this start working on how to make yourself VISIBLE & MEMORABLE.
Promote more than you create. Engage and track your strategy.
The only way to know what is working and what is not is to analyze what changed and how that change affected your blog.
I knew that understanding and leveraging Pinterest increase my traffic by 10x, got me into Mediavine and allowed me to collect a ton of email subscribers who in turn bought my products.
Are you catching the drift?
Reason #3: You are using the wrong monetization strategy.
You know how they say, play on your strengths?
The same goes for making money from your blog too.
For the first six months, you’ll probably be too overwhelmed donning the 51 hats you need to wear as a blogger.
Once your foundation is clear, you should be thinking how can you CONVERT your readers and subscribers into customers?
You also have to keep in mind that just like every other human, your time and capabilities are limited.
So you want to spend 20% of your time on the method that brings you 80% of the results.
The top 5 ways you can monetize your blog are:
- Advertisements: Display/Direct
- Affiliate Marketing
- Consulting/Coaching Services
- Digital Products
- Sponsored Content
Once you have spent time understanding your niche, your audience’s earning potential AND have found a way to generate traffic (at least 10,000 MPV), THEN it is the time to be thinking about monetization strategy.
You have to be realistic and give one or maximum two methods a try before you move on to the next.
In my first year, I realized that I could earn using sponsored content but it would be a one-time offer only.
So I kept that aside and focused on growing my traffic and ad revenue.
The second thing I realized I was good at and could do better than others was creating digital products.
I managed to write, edit, format and self-publish an Amazon Bestseller in less than 30 days working late nights and weekends.
The ebook not only serves as an excellent upsell for people who come to my blog but did wonders for my motivation.
It isn’t the best product I would ever create, but it surely won’t be the last.
The reason I could do this as fast is that I have a business and economics background which gives me an advantage when it comes to understanding complicated marketing concepts.
Having worked in leadership teams of two startups, I also know how to hustle and WHEN to hustle.
These are also not skills that need an expensive business school degree. While mine put me in a lot of debt and tears, you can learn this on the go.
Creating this ebook also made me realize that digital products that you can sell to travelers are massively limited.
Not only because my audience included bargain hunters, but ALSO because the competition was always too high.
My guidebook has to compete with not only biggies like the Lonely Planet but also established bloggers who have been around for decades.
I also quickly realized that I sucked at affiliate marketing and due to the nature of my blog which had a mixed global audience, it was unlikely for me to make a solid affiliate revenue for the first two years.
So I took ALL my energy and focused on only understanding 2 main methods of monetization: Ads, Digital Products.
This helped me stop chasing every shiny object (read: affiliate programs) that I found, turn down non-relevant sponsored content and STILL generate enough money to cover all my expenses in one year of starting my travel blog.
Bottom Line: Don’t stop from experimenting but be realistic about your audience, your capabilities and your time. When something doesn’t work, move on and try another. But make sure you gave it your best first.
Reason #4: You are not invested.
Wow, it got real pretty fast eh?
This is probably not what you want to hear but hear me out anyway.
- Don’t want to invest any money into tools or learning
- Don’t want to spend time working consistently and regularly
You are probably NEVER going to convert your blog into a business.
Now, I know this is harsh.
But tell me, did anyone EVER run a successful business with zero capital investment and zero knowledge?
If you cannot bear the thought of investing in the right tools and education to grow your blog, you can pretty much forget about it ever being a legit business.
At the point that I started making over $1000/mo, I had also invested over $1000 on my blog.
Basically, I kept re-investing most of my profits in my blog.
This meant having a good hosting platform, a premium blog design, a reliable and easy to use email marketing solution, a social media automation tool and tons of books and courses to help me grow.
The thing is, you have to SOW before your REAP.
And if you invest nothing, you will also reap nothing.
This doesn’t mean you have to spend $500 a month to learn.
You can set yourself a monthly budget based on your income.
It doesn’t cost much to invest in a blog.
Whether it’s $10/month, $100/month or $1000/month.
You decide what is the best budget for you.
I spent a minimum of $50 per month even when I was a broke student living in a VERY expensive country. AND making nothing on my blog.
And honestly, I regret not spending more.
So, ask yourself this, are you really invested in your blog? In your dream? Or are you just telling yourself you are but your actions don’t match your goals?
Reason #5: You don’t have an action plan.
Alright, I’m really touching some hot nerves here.
The last reason why you are not making money online is that you have no PLAN.
When you are your own boss it’s hard to hold yourself accountable if you waste too much time doing unproductive things.
At your day job, you probably wouldn’t spend two hours on Youtube right?
Then why should your blog be any different?
Just like any other business, your blog needs to have a plan as well.
You need to be :
- Writing down monthly, quarterly and annual goals
- Figuring out the top things you need to prioritize on your blog
- Tracking your progress and holding yourself accountable
With all the 21st century distractions, it is HARD to actually stay disciplined about your blog.
Add to that your day job, university classes, family and friends, and all that free time just runs away.
Well, you are the youngest you will ever be. TODAY.
The earlier you get disciplined and focused, the faster your blogging efforts will pay off.
This means having a clear ACTION PLAN.
At the very least you need to do write down your:
- Monthly goals including income and expenses.
- The top 2-3 things you are going to focus to reach each of those goals. (If you focus on more, you’ll get nothing done)
- Having a clear content and promotion calendar.
- Checking in each week (let’s say Sunday) to see where you are and if something needs to change.
THATS IT. 4 simple things that you can start doing right away to be more productive and disciplined with your blog.
Treat it like your second job from Day 1 and show up with the same attitude!
Just to recap real quick, if you want to make a consistent income with your blog, you NEED to be doing the following things:
→Assess if you are the right niche.
→ Figure out your traffic source and if you don’t have one already, get on it!
→ Create a monetisation strategy for your blog posts. Pick 1-2 ways and stick to it.
→ Invest in yourself and in your blog to grow your business.
→ Create an action plan and hold yourself accountable!
So, there you have it, 5 top reasons why your blog isn’t making any (or enough) money.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments and what are the things that helped you make more money blogging!