Why You’re Not Making Money From Your Blog (and How to Change That)

Why You're Not Making Money From Your Blog (and How to Change That)

I didn’t really want to write this post.

In my loving, creative, writer’s heart, I believe that blogging is about being true to yourself, about telling your story, about connecting with others.

So I was reluctant to write a post about why, if you want to make money from your blog, you can’t just blog for the sake of getting your story out in the world. Why you need to actually focus on making money.

But.

The cold, harsh reality is, most bloggers don’t make money from their blogs.

And the other truth is that blogging isn’t just a labor of love. It’s labor. And it makes me so sad and frustrated to see so many bloggers busting their butts and not making any income from it.

Because I know that they want more – for themselves, for their families, and for their lives.

That’s why I wrote this post.

1. You’re not making money from your blog because you’re not selling anything.

There’s this myth in the blogging world that if you just blog long enough, put in your time, create incredible content, you’ll get a gigantic flood of traffic and start making lots of money.

Yeah. That’s not going to happen.

You have to have a plan in place to make money. Aka, you have to sell something.

That something could be your own products or services. That something could be affiliate products. But if you want to make money, you have to sell something.

Many bloggers think that they’ll sell something once they’ve built up an audience. Which makes sense in a lot of ways.

But you don’t need a huge audience to sell something. You just need one person who wants what you’re offering.

So if you have an audience of at least 15 interested people, you can sell something to one of them.

2. You’re not making money from your blog because you don’t know your audience well enough.

The second thing many bloggers and business owners do is try to sell something that they think is really cool, but that they haven’t taken the time to research and see if people actually want it.

So they put their thing out there, and don’t make any money. Which hurts. And really, really sucks.

The amazing thing is, though, that in the world of social media and blogging, there are a bazillion ways to do market research.

Want to make money from your #blog? Get to know your audience as well as you know your BFF.Click To Tweet

I’ve been re-watching Tara Gentile’s course on Creative Live about How to Market, Launch, and Sell Your Next Big Thing. And in the course, she says something that is absolutely brilliant.

She says, “The key to grabbing your customers’ attention is unlocking the door between before and after.”

As in, once you know your readers’ before [where they are now] and after [where they want to be], and you determine how to help them unlock whatever is holding them back, you can make money.

But you need to actually know what their before and after is. You need to know how they feel now and how they want to feel. You need to get in touch with what they’re experiencing, worrying about. You need to know, in your bones, what their deepest desires are.

And before you can know all of this, you have to:

A. Know who your readers are in the first place.
B. Talk to them.

There are sooooo many ways to learn about what your audience wants and needs.

Survey them. Interview them. Facebook stalk them. Tweet to them.

Get to know your audience as well as you know your BFF. And then make something you know they want, not something you think-they-might-want-but-you’re-not-sure.

3. You’re not making money from your blog because you’re not willing to spend any money.

Yeah. I said it. (Well, more like wrote it, but you get the gist.)

You don’t want to spend money for a URL and hosting so you’re really limited as to what your blog can do.

You don’t want to spend money for email marketing so you’re sticking with a free Mailchimp account, which means you can’t set up any autoresponders to build relationships.

You don’t want to spend money to take any courses, so you waste time searching for blog posts and free webinars that will help you, but you end up confused.

And why don’t you want to spend any money?

Because you don’t see your blog as a legitimate business. Because you don’t believe that you can actually make money from your blog – or you tell yourself that once you start making money, you’ll start spending money.

In any other business, it’s assumed that you have to invest first in order to make money.

Even a hot dog stand owner has to buy his stand before he can sell any hotdogs.

When you invest money in your blog, you are telling yourself and the universe that you believe in yourself and your ability to make money with your blog. Just do it.

Here are the best investments I’ve made in my blog, if you’re interested.

4. You’re not making money from your blog because you’re not thinking outside of your blog.

The first thing that really grew my blog audience was Pinterest. I jumped from 1,000 page views per month to closer to 6,000. Still not huge, but it was a lot to me.

I was growing my email list by about 120 people per month, which felt great.

But then I did the 15 Day Blog Makeover Challenge. (Now the Blog Makeover. You can grab the guide here.)

I decided that I wasn’t messing around. I invested in Facebook ads to help people find the challenge.

And in less than a week, I got 300 subscribers. Not only that, but they were exactly the kind of bloggers I wanted to connect with.

Then I did the challenge 3 more times. Altogether, I’ve gotten about 1500 subscribers from doing the challenge. My Facebook group has grown from less than 100 people to over 3,000. Now I have a real, legit community online.

Blog posts are great. They’re powerful (when done right). But they’re just one tool in a huge arsenal.

When you only write blog posts and ignore all of the other marketing tools out there – like webinars, challenges, Facebook ads, email marketing, etc. – you’re essentially crippling your ability to grow your audience.

It would be like having a state of the art kitchen and choosing to only use your toaster oven.

You might say, “Well, I’m just figuring out this whole blogging thing, and now you’re telling me I have to do webinars, too? Geez Daniela. I thought you liked me.”

I do like you. And that’s why I’m challenging you to maybe write only one blog post a week instead of 3 and spend your extra time creating something different and fantastic. Something that people can’t ignore.

5. You’re not making money from your blog because you’re afraid to sell.

You have a product people really want.
You have taken a leap and invested in your blog.
You have taken a chance and created a Facebook group and a free course.

But you’re still not making any money from your blog. Why? Because you’re afraid to sell.

Maybe this is just me and I’m projecting onto you, and if so, I apologize.

Because I was really, really afraid to sell in the beginning.

I don’t want to bother people, I would think. Or, What if they get annoyed that I’m selling something and they unsubscribe?

I was so concerned with people liking me that I was afraid to sell to them.

The first time I launched Have Your Cupcake, my fabulous blogging membership site, I got scared and didn’t send out half of the emails I had planned to send.

Don’t be afraid to sell. When you sell something to people who really want it, you are actually helping them out.

Think about it. When you buy a new shirt that you absolutely love, you are really happy to have made that purchase. When you take a course and you get a ton out of it, you are delighted that you spent the money, because you’ve learned so much as a result.

Your potential customers are the same way. They actually want to buy from you.

And I’m assuming that what you’re selling is really freaking awesome. So not giving people the opportunity to buy is actually doing them a disservice.

6. You’re not making money from your blog because you don’t know how to sell.

So you’re finally ready to sell something. You know it’s amazing, and you’re actually excited to get it out there. So you put up a sales page, add a Paypal button, and hold your breath.

3 weeks later, you’re still holding your breath, because no one bought your thing. (Except your mom, and that was to test the button to see if it was working.)

I’m not saying I’m an expert in selling.

But I’ve learned a few things about how to sell. I’m not going into depth here…maybe in a future blog post. But here are the basics:

  1. Selling is about building relationships. People buy from people they trust. You build trust through your blog posts, emails, and interacting with people online.
  2. Selling is about getting people curious. Don’t just release something out into the world. Let your readers know it’s coming. Get them excited about it. Or, if you’ve already released the thing, give people little tastes of it so they can tell it’s for them.
  3. Selling is about urgency. Help your potential buyers decide to buy by showing them it’s important they buy now, either by doing a sale, offering a bonus, or closing the cart.
  4. Selling is about good copywriting and marketing. You have to know how to draw them in. (Here’s a really fantastic book on copywriting. (Affiliate link) I suggest you buy it right now and read it. Seriously.)

Why You're Not Making Money From Your Blog (and How to Change That)

You know what has absolutely nothing to do with why you’re not making money from your blog?

Your worth as a human being.

Your worth as a human being has nothing to do with why you're not making money from your blog.Click To Tweet

You are valuable. You are worthy. You are completely capable of making money from your blog. I promise.

So…

  1. Invest in your blog.
  2. Think outside the blog to grow your audience.
  3. Talk to your audience.
  4. Create a product that unlocks the door between their before and after.
  5. Learn everything you can about selling, and then sell the heck out of your awesome product.

I’m not saying it’s easy. But you can do it.

  • Monica Bruno

    Excellent post, Daniela! You hit the nail on the head. I’m one of those people who joined Have Your Cupcake from the first 15 Day Blog Makeover Challenge. Joining your group was the best thing I could have done for my blog!

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks, Monica! You are the best!

  • Peggy Nolan

    I’ve signed up for your next challenge. Facebook ads, though. Ugh. Okay. 🙂

    • Daniela Uslan

      Yeah I know…but they really worked for me. I wouldn’t be in business without them!

      • What is people just start randomly clicking? If you’re paying per click, couldn’t that get expensive?

        • Daniela Uslan

          Hi Janice! Is this about the FB ads? I’ve found that I paid about .30-.50 per click, which was totally worth it for me!

  • Jamie

    Great tips, as usual! I find that I tend to freeze up when I’m faced with an opportunity to take my blog up another notch. It’s driving me crazy! I also need to get more organized about spending my time between writing, promoting, collaborating, and learning. It’s hard to balance all of that and raise a family.

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks, Jamie! I appreciate your comment. It is definitely hard to balance everything. Just take it one delicious bite at a time!

  • Putting money in can be so hard! It’s hard to see it as a legitimate business when you aren’t making anything. I have some work to do, thanks for the tips!

    • Daniela Uslan

      I totally get that, Hil! It took me years to take the leap and invest in my business, but when I did, magical things started happening!

  • Thanks for sharing an honest perspective on the business of blogging. I think we all blog for various reasons, but it’s true that it’s hard work. Hopefully we strike a balance between staying true to our brand and making money.

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks Christine! You are right, we all blog for so many reasons. I think it’s ideal when we can make money through being true to ourselves and our brand. They’re actually not opposing concepts, but go together really well.

  • Erin Hoskins

    Really great advice! There’s always the thinking of “if you build it, they will come” which absolutely is not true, or not true for 99.9%. There are definitely things I need to work through. I’m looking forward to the challenge!

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks Erin! I’m glad you’re participating!

  • “You have to have a plan in place to make money.” Yep. I’ve spoken with too many people who don’t know why they aren’t earning an income… only to discover they don’t have any kind of business strategy or plan set up!

    Although, I would argue that focusing on money is just *one part* of what a blogger should do—it shouldn’t be the main focus.

    • Daniela Uslan

      I agree, Sagan. It is only one part of what we do – if it was all for the money, there are way easier ways to make it!

  • Did people start unsubscribing once you started selling to them? That is my concern too.
    Janice

    • Sue Anne Dunlevie

      You’ll get some unsubscribes but don’t worry about it unless it is more than 1% for a specific email. Some people just aren’t “your” people!

      Sue

      • Daniela Uslan

        So true, great points, Sue!

    • Daniela Uslan

      Some might have…and I was worried about that at first. But I care more about being able to support myself and my family with my work than I do about losing subscribers at this point, so I’m fine with it now. (Plus I’ve grown my list exponentially since I started selling, so it didn’t have a detrimental effect.)

  • G2W

    Thank you Daniela. Just today I signed up for a webinar on creating printables. And, you know,…I thought to myself,…”this is for me and for my blog and for future projects”. I always learn so much from you. Thank you-

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks, Gigi! I am happy for you that you signed up for the webinar! You’ll have to let me know what you learn!

  • Amanda Nel

    Oh goodness, you know your audience so well because you were talking straight to me! With your valued support, I am hoping it will change soon!

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks Amanda! I know it will!

  • Lisa Northey

    I love these tips! My favorite is unlocking the door between the before and after. What is the book you recommend in #6? I think you meant to add a link 🙂

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks Lisa! Eek! I obviously needed to proofread this more. :-/ It’s called Hey Whipple, Squeeze This! I added the link above as well.

  • Sue Anne Dunlevie

    Love this post! The “before and after” are the key to selling.

    Thanks, Daniela.
    Sue

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks Sue! I totally agree!

  • Christy Saludares

    I never thought about needing to sell something on my blog. I’m just getting started, but its definitely something I need to keep in mind. Thank you!

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks Christy! I’m glad you found the post helpful!

  • This is great information. Thank you for sharing. Pinning so I can continue to reference.

  • Daniela, this is great! I felt as if you were inside my head. I need to make that leap into investing more in my blog. You’re right; it is a business.
    You write with a lot of empathy; I appreciate that.
    Deena

  • I’m working on my first product. It is very niche, but might be something at least a few people would need. I am trying to figure out the right price point though.

  • Daniela Uslan

    Good for you for taking the leap and thinking outside your blog. It doesn’t have to cost money – you just have to get creative and try new things!

  • Daniela Uslan

    Thanks Andrea! I really appreciate that!

  • Love this one Daniela, I think my reason is I only have one product (eBook) and it’s needs to be updated. Thanks for being so honest with us on this post!

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks for your comment, Lisa! What is your ebook about?