A lot of people try to make money blogging, and to be honest, most people fail. I think that's pretty weird, because to be honest, blogging is pretty easy. You certainly don't need to be above average in any way to make money in this industry.
I didn't go to college for computer science. I had never run a business before starting a blog. I didn't have a big budget. I didn't have a mentor.
You see stories like this all the time. Average people making money online with a blog. So what's standing in your way?
Most people starting out would say something like, “I'm not a good writer”, “I don't know how to do SEO”, or, “I'm not computer savvy”.
Personally, I think the biggest hurdles new bloggers face are not technical in nature. Sure, learning what alt text is, and knowing how to make a redirect definitely comes in handy. You can learn all that stuff along the way though. The core elements of how to make money blogging are pretty basic.
- Choose a niche
- Think about what people are searching for online
- Publish useful articles on those topics
- Monetize your blog traffic
Knowing those four elements won't make you an overnight success. There's a lot of learning to do when it comes to discovering what people are searching for and how to write your articles in such a way that they can get discovered by people searching online.
It's not rocket science though. Most people of average intelligence can figure it out, given enough time, focus, and motivation.
In my opinion, the biggest hurdles bloggers face are more mental.
Top 3 Hurdles For New Bloggers (And How I Overcame Them)
1. Unrealistic Timelines
The stories that draw you into blogging are the crazy ones. Someone making $100k/month from their blog. Someone quitting their job after six months of blogging. Those types of things.
Unfortunately, those are not the norm. Those things actually do happen, but not very often. That's why they are amazing stories to tell, and great sales pitches for “how to make money online” infoproduts.
What's much more common is meeting new challenge after new challenge for a long period of time until you reach your original goals, recognize the power of this industry, and start setting new (bigger) goals.
How long is a long time? Definitely not a weeks. If you need money next month to pay the bills, earning money from your blog is not the solution. The general timeline I give people who plan on working 2-3 hours per day, publishing articles a few times per week is this: 3-6 months for initial traffic, 6-12 months for initial sales, 1-2 years for consistent sales and reliable income.
Unrealistic timelines for results is ultimately what creates a lot of frustration and feelings of inadequacy for lots of people. Feeling like you're too dumb to succeed is not a good feeling. When you sit down to write and article and the feeling like you're wasting your time starts to creep in, it's extremely hard to push through for another 2 hours to get it researched and published. Nobody likes wasting time.
The Risk of Wasting Time
Building a business requires that an entrepreneur takes risks. The money you make in business is a result of the risk you take. If you don't want to take on any risk, then you shouldn't start a business.
The cool thing about starting a blog is that the monetary risk is very low. A domain costs $15. Hosting costs $20/month. You can run your entire business for a year with about $500. Ask any entrepreneur in any other industry if they could start a six figure business with $500. Not possible. Blogging is unique and amazing in that way.
Starting a profitable blog is not risk-free though. The risk you take is time. By learning how to build a website and publish articles that rank, you are investing time into your business. That article you're writing may not rank, and you have to be OK with that. Some time you spend on your business will simply produce zero results in terms of traffic and sales.
It's important to not look at “waste” as a net zero addition to your business though. Every bit of thing you learn not to do is just as important as learning what to do (rewrite!!!)…..
If it doesn't rank, you need to investigate why, and do better next time.
Accepting the risk of wasting time was a key part of how I pushed through difficult mental hurdles in the past, and even in the present. Now that I have a budget, I apply that same logic to money as well.
My mindset is, if I want to keep the status quo, keep doing what I'm doing. If I want to make grow traffic, money, free time, or whatever, I have to take risks. I have to let go of the idea that every single minute and every single dollar will be spent as efficiently and perfectly as possible. I have to risk a loss in order to grow my gains.
Small Daily Habits For Long Term Growth And Avoiding Burnout
Another key element to success in my opinion, is sticking around long enough to see the results of your labor. Lots of people work like a maniac for two months then quit because they don't see results.
Burnout in this business is legit, so set sustainable work goals and stick around longer.
It's a real mood killer when expectations of seeing amazing results advertised in whatever infoproduct you bought are really the full picture of what it's like to run an online business.
Six figures in six months just isn't realistic. Six figures in six years? Freakin' easy.
Working on your business for six years probably doesn't sound fun, especially when you aren't sure it's going to be worth it in the end. Guess what though – that's the risk of being an entrepreneur. No entrepreneur every has ever had a guaranteed success. If you want to be a successful blogger, you have to be willing to take that risk in spite of being unsure of the future.
Small daily habits are how I hack my lizard brain and get the results that I do. Rather than work like a maniac for 2 months, I set a sustainable schedule for a full year and make it part of my life. One example is to set up a content writing schedule for your blog for the next year.
- M – 500 words
- T – 500 words
- W – 500 words
- T – 500 words
- F – 500 words
- Sa – 500 words
- Su – Edit, Update, Schedule
With a schedule like this you are writing a mere 500 words per day, and you are publish 2x 1500 words per week. That's 100 articles per year, which is an amazing foundation to a thriving affiliate blog.
Baking small daily habits into your routine means that you move the needle every single day, regardless of what's going on in your life. Like a penny doubling every day for a month, the compounding interest of your time investment will pay off huge.
2. Low Income Expectations
Blogging and affiliate marketing is such a mysterious business to the average person, that newbies coming into the space don't really have a good picture of just how much potential there is.
Let me be clear. It's absolutely insane how much money you can make even if you start with zero experience. This is a very exciting industry to be a part of, and it will continue to grow in the future. You haven't missed the boat. You are still early.
Working with so many new bloggers over the past decade, most people initial goal is simply to replace their current income. For an American, that's probably going to be somewhere between $30k-$60k/year.
What's crazy is that you can be making $30k-$60k per MONTH with just a few years of work (more on this below).
When I analyze my own behavior, when I look at numbers like $60k/month from blogging, I automatically start thinking more long term. I realize income like that isn't going to happen over night, so I start planning in years instead of months. Where do I want my business to be in 10 years? What about 10 years?
That long term mindset is how I operate in my business now, and it's a huge difference from the short term mindset from when I started. I liken it to looking at your feet when you're walking. Sure, you're stepping carefully, but it's easy to get dizzy and fall. Plus, you don't really know where you're going. You're just putting one foot in front of the other.
When you life your head and look at the horizon, you can see further.
When my goals needed to be achieved in 2 months, I was head down, grinding, with the intent to complete them in 2 months. When the deadline hit and the goal was achieved, I had to reassess and restart. If I failed, then I had to deal with the negative emotions of failure.
When my goals are longer out, I spend much more time negotiating with myself on what's a sustainable schedule to reach those goals. Focusing again on the “small daily task” thing from above, I look at my available time and figure how how I can bake my business into my life so years later, I can look back and know that at the very least I tried.
2 hours a day for 10 years is 7,200 hours. That's enough to be a super expert at anything (remember the 10,000 hour rule?), and I think it's a pretty useful goal to be an expert at making money online.
Making More Than Doctors Or Lawyers In Less Time
5-figure months may seem implausible right now, but they are not. Search for blogger income reports and you'll see that even six-figure months are possible. I'm not at that level yet, so I can't speak too much on how much work is required to achieve that, but I know that it's a possibility for my future.
Don't limit yourself to the idea that you just need to replace your income. That's a good short-term goal to have, but lower your time preference, and create a schedule accordingly.
Honestly, how on Earth is it possible that a lawyer or a doctor has to go to school for a decade, then temp or do a residency for a couple years before actually benefiting from that time invested.
They may be in school and training for two decades before they start making six figures.
You absolutely have the power to reach that same income level as some of the most highly educated people, most intelligent, most skilled people in the world with just a few years of online study in your own home. Amazing!
3. Underestimating Your Unique Value
The #1 killer of new blogs is a lack of motivation. Many people feel like they not only don't have the skills to be successful online, but also that they don't have much to contribute.
Why does anyone care what I have to say?
In my opinion, this low self-esteem is why people get frustrated and quit. Without seeing the value in their blog, staying up late publishing articles seems like a waste of time.
When I'm most excited to tell people about the blogging space is that there's room for every voice online. This isn't a crowded room where only one person can speak at a time to get heard. Everyone in the world can speak at the same time and be heard by those who seek them out to listen.
You have a unique voice, and a place in the blogging ecosystem, no matter what your niche is and no matter what your opinions are.
Think about a topic you are familiar with, and name a couple of experts in your niche. Who is “the best of the best”. Do they all agree 100% on all topics, all the time? No.
The point is that even experts disagree on things. Much of what people take a knowledge these days is actually just strong opinions.
For example, I know a decent amount about health and diet. There are warring factions of diet bloggers out there. Some are strongly entrenched in the camp that a vegan diet is healthy for the body and healthy for the environment. There are equally convinced carnivores who believe that for a healthy mind, body, and planet, eating a mostly meat-based diet is the way to go.
Each faction has their reference literature. Each group has studies to link to Vegans will see out vegan resources. Carnivores will seek out keto resources. The same applies to any niche you can think of, and your opinion is just one of many online. I think as long as you aren't telling people how to cure cancer with essential oils, you'll be fine.
It's a mistake to think that what you write on your blog is not important. When I write, I like to envision a person out there searching for an article and they just can't find the right information. Let me tell you a quick story.
A few years back I used to go to the local Starbucks to get work done. For me, growing up, Starbucks was always a professional environment where students and remote workers would go to get some work done during the day. However, I started noticing lots of moms taking their kids to Starbucks in the afternoon, and they'd be running around with juice boxes while I was trying to get work done.
Fair or not, I was annoyed. Maybe I'm just an asshole.
Anyway, I searched for something like “Why do moms think it's OK to take children to Starbucks”. The question had been asked a few times, but pretty much every response was, “If you can't handle noise, you're an ass. Go home and work”. Disappointing.
What would have been nice if someone else had the same opinion as me and I could feel vindicated that I'm not some jerk. I just want a quiet space to work outside of the home, and that used to be my local coffee shop.
Thanks for listening to story time.
The point is that I was reaching out for advice online by doing a Google search. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to connect with anyone. Even if 99% of people disagree with me and think that Starbucks should be a daycare, there's bound to be a 1% that agrees with me.
Each article you write is an opportunity to connect with a group of people who you can help in a unique way. As dumb, or silly, or unimportant you think your opinion is, there's likely thousands of people in the world who agree with you. Your blog is a way to connect with them.
Once I realized this innate potential I have, blogging became much easier. I was able to write more naturally, write faster, and enjoy my writing more. Exactly how I'm doing now.
I've never shared that Starbucks story before. Lots of people will judge me for it, but whatever. I'm over it. I don't like kids running around Starbucks. Deal with it.
Right now is the perfect time to get started in affiliate blogging.
Just look around you at your friends and family. How many bloggers do you personally know? Probably none. Most people don't even know what affiliate marketing is, or how easy it is to make a lot of money blogging. This is not a crowded space.
More people are shopping online every day. More brick and mortar businesses are realizing they cannot survive without selling stuff online. Purely cloud-based businesses are easier to create as more tools like Shopify make it possible for more people to participate in the online economy.
The older generation is getting used to buying stuff online. The younger generation is getting their first credit cards.
Online shopping is on an exponential growth trend, and affiliate blogs are well positioned to take advantage of that growth while providing real value to people by publishing amazing content that recommends quality businesses and products.
I'm very excited for the decade ahead.