Nobody likes wasting time. Everyone likes making money. How do you know if this “make money online” thing you're trying to do is going to be a waste of time? I have a great mental framework for you to work with that's going to help you commit to your business with much more enthusiasm.
Though the ultimate goal of starting an affiliate blog is to earn money and work for yourself, if you frame it as “learning useful skills”, you always have a fall-back plan in case your blog never earns a dime.
Bloggers make money. Plain and simple. I do it. Lots of others do it. The industry is alive and well, and it's easier than ever to create a successful blog.
Let's say things don't work out for you for whatever reason, will all that time you invested be wasted? Absolutely not. The skills you learn while building an affiliate blog are extremely valuable in today's world, and even if your own blog isn't making money, you can still earn income helping other people grow their online business.
Using this framework, you are still winning if you're failing. Even if your blog fails, you still learn some marketable skills that will allow you to work from home and earn money online.
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Are You Wasting Time & Money Learning To Blog?
The #1 Fear Of New Bloggers Is That They'll Waste Time & Money & Get Nothing In Return
I get this comment all the time, “How do I know this won't all be for nothing?”. People are scared that they're wasting their time learning how to blog.
Although I'm a nice guy and respond kindly with my own anecdotes of success and links to other successful people online, secretly in my head, I'm thinking – what the hell else is so important in your life?
People waste hours and hours – literally daily – doing nothing but watching TV and screwing around on social media. My own screen time according to iOS is currently more than 4 hours per day on my phone. Sad, but a good example.
Everyone spare time. Everyone wastes time.
If you want to start a business, it's going to involve some risk. Get over it. Yes, you might waste some time. No. You are definitely going to waste some time.
Part of learning how to blog with no previous experience is figuring out what's waste of time and what's not. You are going to make mistakes. That's OK. Every entrepreneur makes mistakes. The successful ones you hear about are the folks who pick themselves up and try again.
You cannot go into this thinking that you are going to get everything right on the first time. Time will be lost. Money will be spent. That's the cost of doing business. Given enough time, energy, and focus, you'll come out on the other end with a profitable business you can run with nothing but a laptop in your living room.
So what do you have to lose? Some seasons of the newest Netflix series?
You're Learning “Real” Online Business Skills
What a lot of people don't realize is that as you learn to blog, you are learning real, marketable, income-generating skills in the meantime. Learning to build an affiliate blog is basically a self directed “earn while you learn” job training program.
While you build a site to earn money online, you are also learning skills that can help you land freelance jobs online in the future. If you can do these jobs well, some pay a LOT of money.
Social Media Manager
I hate social media, but it's a good source of traffic. That's why I always hire out my social media tasks. Things I've hired for in the past include:
- social media image design
- branded image packs
- content creation & scheduling
- daily following of relevant accounts
- online groups (Facebook pages, Pinterest boards) engagement
- paid social media ads
Some of these campaigns ran for more than six months, which was six months of work for someone.
Personally, I hate social media but some people are good at it, and even enjoy it. If you can learn how to things like video SEO for YouTube, or how to optimize pins for Pinterest, or how to get engagement on Twitter, or how to do Facebook ads, this is a skillset that blog owners like myself will pay for.
SEO for blogging is easy in my opinion. No need to overcomplicate it, yet that's exactly what everyone does. This works to your advantage.
Since everyone things that SEO is complicated, and you can become an expert at blogging SEO relatively quickly. Many times doing “good SEO” is just about optimizing a single page for a specific phrase. The basics are not very technical. I think of it like editing content.
Still, it's a useful skill people will pay for. If you can get familiar with something like Ahrefs and a some of the more advanced technical stuff then you can really charge a lot of money for this service, even on a monthly basis. Ahrefs is great for generating reports and scores so you can see your client's website's progress over time.
The fastest and easiest way to start making money online in any capacity is simply writing articles. Everyone can write, right?
If you aren't a great writer to start, luckily, blogging is not the same as writing an encyclopedia. You can become a good blogger in relatively short period of time if you are familiar with a topic. Blogging is casual. You just need some basic grammar rules so that people understand what you're actually saying, and that's about it.
This is not formal writing. Google doesn't care what your writing style is, as long as you get the information to the reader in a way that keeps them on the page.
What type of content do you like to read online. Pay attention next time and see what the writing style is like. Whoever wrote that probably got paid to write it.
The great thing about freelance writing is that you can pick the topics you write about. Very similar to owning your own blog and writing for it, you pick the writing gigs you like, how many you want to do, and as long as you make your deadlines, you can get the work done in any way that suits you. Your client won't care if you work at 6AM or 6PM as long as the work is good and it's delivered on time.
Anyone who's read The 4-Hour Work Week knows the power of a VA. Hire out what you don't want. Do what you're good at and enjoy. There are 10,000's of people looking for VAs online to run their online business ventures, so there is a myriad of options of what you can do for other people's companies.
As long as you offer the right price and are enthusiastic, you can land a job in this field. Being a VA is actually a great way to fund your own affiliate blogging venture in the beginning if you really are that risk-averse to spending any money you have saved.
Because this is such a diverse type of work, you can be 100% confident that anything you learn while blogging will be useful as a VA. Writing. Editing. Social media. SEO. Keyword research. Outreach. Emails. Spreadsheets. Managing writers. Organization. Etc.
This type of work goes beyond affiliate blogging specifically as well. You can also offer help to ecommerce sites, Ebay & Amazon stores, YouTube channels, and personal bloggers.
Building WordPress Websites
Even just the basic idea of building a website is scary to tons of people, and this is something super simple you can do for a one-time fee. If you set up multi-hosting account, you can even host and manage sites for a recurring fee.
Any type of thing that seems “hard” to do now, if you learn how to do it, you can then charge a fee for this for folks who are not willing to put in the time to learn it.
As you become a WordPress expert, your value on the marketplace will rise in line with your skill level.
Freelancing Is Still Working From Home
It's important to remember that doing freelance work online is still working online.
One of the main benefits of owning an affiliate blog is that you can work from home, according to your own schedule. You can choose to work hard and make more money, or work less, and make less money. Maybe even work less and make more money, if you're smart.
The same is true of online freelance work. You do have more timelines to manage after you accept work, but you get to choose what type of work, and how much work to accept. So while you may need to meet a deadline in two weeks, that doesn't mean you have to take on 2-3 other projects at the same time. If you need extra money for an unexpected cost, you can simply take on more work temporarily. Easy.
You can tailor the type of work you do online to your own tastes as well. If you love writing, be a freelance writer. If you like SEO, do SEO. Do you love building stuff? Become a WordPress expert and help people bring their vision to life.
There are many aspects to running an online business that can be outsourced, and you can put yourself on the other side of the transaction. Plus, as an experienced blogger yourself, you have more insight into what clients are looking for.
For example, I love working with writers who run their own blogs on the side. They just naturally “get” things like writing in small paragraphs, internal linking to relevant on-site resources, and general day-to-day formatting. They do it on their own site, so they're already familiar with some basic expectations.
This isn't the case with all writers. Many writers are just that – writers. They write in essay format with large paragraphs like in college. They don't understand WordPress, and certainly don't know much about SEO. They just want to do the research and write.
That's fine – that's their choice! I can either teach them, or choose to work for someone else. My point is that as an experienced blogger, you have yet another useful skill in your stack that can make you stand out in the competitive freelancing space.
Then, in the meantime, while you work on other people's sites, you can still keep your stuff on the back burner. Add a blog post or two once a month. Keep a notepad with some good keyword ideas. Notice content which is performing well, and think about how you can replicate that.
Who knows, you may get inspired in a year or two down the road, and you'll be glad that you do absolutely nothing in the meantime. Slow, stead progress beats complete stagnation all day.