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Blog Exercises: How Does Your Blog Make You Money?

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.In an interview with Daniel Scocco of DailyBlogTips, he asked me how long a blogger should wait to monetize their blog.

Ha! Forever!

I do not think bloggers should monetize their blogs. I think that people who want to get into the business of blogging must make a business plan on how they will use blogging for their business or as their business, thus creating a plan for monetizing their blogs.

But general bloggers? Why should your hobby make money? If you want to work your way towards professional blogging, then blog for a year or two to get a feel for blogging and make your business plan. Then move towards being a professional blogger.

Blogging, in general, is a hobby. Blogging for business is a business. There is a big difference between them and I’m a fan of a hobby for enjoyment. Not every hobby has to make money.

I still believe that. If you wish to blog, blog for free until you become a professional. Don’t expect your hobby to make you money as it sucks all the fun out of the hobby when you convert it to a business. If you blog for your business, it is a business. Treat it professionally.

As a business, it’s important to identify all the sources of income you are generating, and check in on how you are doing with your efforts to use your site to generate income. Income may come from a variety of sources with a website. Too often we get focused on one aspect of our business and forget the bigger picture of income generation.

In “Blog Exercises: How Much Does Your Blog Cost?” I asked you to itemize all the costs associated with your site. Today, we’re looking at what pays for all of those.

If your site generates income, list all the sources. Do you have a donation button? Do you sell something? Do you charge for services, consulting, or advice?

  • Do you have ads on your site? Does the entirety of the income go to you or is it split with others (such as web host or designer)? Is it a straight rate or percentage or variable compensation rates?
  • Do you blog for money, such as pay-to-blog, reviews, endorsements, sponsored posts, and other variations on the theme?
  • Do you work with affiliate programs? Companies that pay you to advertise for them?
  • What about direct advertising, direct contact with advertisers to put paid ads on your site rather than being run through affiliate programs?
  • What about indirect income, income generated by gaining clients based on your expertise. Not all sites need ads. Your site is one giant advertisement, a virtual billboard, of your skills and reasons why someone should hire you. What part of that income can you tie directly to your site like you would a phone book ad or ad in a magazine or newspaper?

Darren Rowse of Problogger often talks about how he turned his blogging expertise into income as a consultant on how to help individuals and companies blog better and increase his revenue sources:

It was through ProBlogger that I landed my first paid speaking opportunity. I was asked to fly to Washington DC to speak at a conference – (all expenses covered plus a small fee paid).

Around the same time, I was approached to write the ProBlogger Book (the hard cover one that is now in it’s 3rd edition). This only came off the back of the ProBlogger blog.

Similarly, around this time I began to offer my services as a consultant to help people with their blogging strategy (a service I don’t offer any more).

Once again, these income streams started small (in fact writing a Book isn’t generally a big income stream for most authors) but they each contributed to the overall revenue from my blogging, which was now adding up to be a lot more than I’d ever earned from any other job (keeping in mind that I’d been blogging now for 4-5 years).

Do you have another job, unrelated to your blog, that brings in the money to cover your blog expenses? That’s income associated with your site as it offsets the costs of running the site. Count up the amount you spend and declare that income from your second job. It’s all income.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.Today’s blog exercise is to identify all the ways, directly and indirectly, your blog makes you money.

International money bills and coins - copyright Lorelle VanFossen.I’ve listed some examples above. Itemize them out in a spreadsheet.

If you have history, go through your income sources for the past one, two, or more years. Has the income gone up or down? Did one source increase and another decrease? Why? What caused changes and fluxes in income sources?

Is something working well? Why? How? Then keep it going.

Is something not working well? Why? How? Is there anything you can do to change it? Is it time to let it go?

Look at how much time you put into these sources to generate the income. Many think pay-per-click or click-through ads will make them rich quick. Typically they make pennies a month, so reconsider them as they tend to be high on the “hate and annoy” list for readers. The readers you may lose might be worth more than the pennies you make.

If you would like to blog about the income you make, what is working and what isn’t, feel free.

Darren Rowse of shares his income sources, what’s working and what isn’t, on a regular basis on his site about professional blogging. He frequently shares reports on how much money bloggers report that they make with their blogs, the whole truth of how much he makes and how he became successful, and whether or not you can make money from blogging – at least enough to pay for blogging and be called a professional blogger.

He will be the first one in line to tell you that there is no one way to make money blogging. There are many different ways, each working for a specific person to meet their needs. You just start small and work your way up as you figure out what works and what doesn’t.

The book Darren mentions in the above quote is one of my favorites. If you are determined to become a professional blogger, making blogging your full-time income or generate enough income for your business by blogging as a marketing and community building tool, I cannot recommend Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett’s book, “ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income.”I’ve several editions and I constantly buy these for my clients.

I’d love to hear your stories on what is working or not on your site for income, and how you developed a system that works for you. If you are new to monetizing your blog, how is it going? What are your fears and challenges?

If you haven’t started monetizing, do you want to? As I said in my introduction, the process of turning a hobby into a business changes the hobby.

How Does This Site Make Money?

I do not put ads on this site for income. Any ads you see are placed there by WordPress.com, though there should be none. I’ve never put ads on this site.

I do have a Amazon.com Wish List called “Say Thank You to Lorelle” tucked in the bottom of my sidebar. This is in response to the many people helped by this site who wish to give back in appreciation. Unfortunately, too many times the packages arrive with no sender name or details, making it hard to say thank you privately, but the appreciation is there, trust me!

Income generated it from this site comes from indirect sales and services, from my book sales, workshops and classes promoted through this site, and from clients, hiring me often based upon the reputation created with this site and my other work over 30 years in graphic design, marketing, technical writing, and online publishing and social media.

The site makes me money. A little more always helps, but the point is that this site pays for itself and the time and energy I put into it through indirect income sources.

Think about all the ways your site makes you money, directly or indirectly, and create a spreadsheet to track it.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.

EARLY WARNING SYSTEM: In July, I will be releasing the first six months of these blog exercises. I’ll be offering a special promotion to help you get a copy of part one for free. Stay tuned!


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.

8 Comments

  1. rhonda hurwitz
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle,

    We love reading your blog, there is such a wealth of information here.

    We’re familiar with the model where business blogs can to be used to market and build community for a business, as you point out.

    The sources of income that Darren writes about (ads, affiliate products, etc.) is also well known.

    Wondering why more bloggers don’t monetize their content specifically, by allowing others who want to republish it in a commercial context to do so, with a license

    Media companies have done this for years — we wonder why the blogging ecosystem has not developed similarly?

    Just pondering, as we look for ways to be useful to bloggers.

    RH

    • Posted July 7, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      Good question, Rhonda. The truth is that syndication and monetizing content was abused, and the blogger abused with it, from the very beginning. The abuse came in several forms from copyright violation to underpayment or failure to pay. One of the worst is cold calling, contacting the blogger with little or no expertise about republishing their content (let me help you get rich quick) when it is clear that they have never read their blog or are familiar with the blogger’s specialty. Instead of professional contacts, these become spam. I could go on and on. The list of examples, as you probably know, is very long.

      There is also the pay-per-post fiasco that left bloggers holding the bag, reputations in tatters as readers rebelled.

      Syndication and redistribution of content requires expertise in copyrights, publishing rights, usage rights, contracts, negotiation, and many skills few bloggers have or have time to learn. I’ve tried working with many media agencies and sites over the years and I have little nice to say about my own experiences as a blogger. Prior to blogging, as a professional editorial and technical writer, I couldn’t say the same. It’s like blogging brought out the metaphorical used car salesman.

      Until bloggers are treated with respect as professional writers, and bloggers themselves learn how to be professional, there will be this disconnect.

      There are many ways to be useful to bloggers, but that is a bigger conversation beyond the scope of this post. Thanks.

  2. rhondahurwitz
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Lorelle, thank you for your thoughtful reply. Bloggers certainly don’t need any more “used-car-salesmen”-like schemes!

    Professional writers understand that their content has value. They have expertise in copyrights and the other skills you list, that bloggers certainly lack.

    Our vision is to create a point of sale for great content at the blog post level. It hasn’t really developed yet (or maybe is in it’s still in its infancy, if it will ever develop!) because for some reason, blog content — even tremendously useful content — isn’t something people “pay for”.

    Perhaps our plugin can help bloggers and writers close the expertise gap you mention, and find more paid content opportunities — and in that way we can be uniquely helpful to bloggers. For this to happen, the ecosystem need to develop beyond a “free” economy …

    We’ll continue reading your blog, as we always learn from you! Have a great week.

    • Posted July 8, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      Maybe your Plugin will help, but the process begins with education without a doubt.

      There is also the issue of many wanting to make money for their blogs but lack the monetizable content, thus getting sucked into something that looks promising – drinking the Koolaid is how one person described it recently.

      I firmly believe that those who are meant to be the professionals, in whatever subject that ignites their passion, they will learn how to take the right steps forward.

      Good luck with your project.

  3. Victor Alagwu
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    Please,I have a site. I always have as much as 80 views a day but getting money from this site is my problem because I have put so much time,money and even enegry but at the end I’didnot even receive any pay.I need your help please

    • Posted January 7, 2014 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

      According to the terms of service, WordPress.com sites are not permitted to “make money” through ads, direct ecommerce sales, and other techniques. A site is a privilege, not necessarily a money maker. If you would like to make money with your site, get a self-hosted version of WordPress and take the actions you need to build an audience and market the site. But you cannot do what you are doing on your WordPress.com site. Expect to get a notice from they telling you such. Sorry.

      See, WordPress.com is free. Sure, there are extras you can pay for, but it is free. You haven’t put up any money, only time and energy on the site, so it isn’t “costing” you anything.

    • Victor Alagwu
      Posted January 8, 2014 at 12:22 am | Permalink

      You are saying it is not causing me money,which country are you from?well me I am a nigerian,and over there we pay money to browser,from me I get a data plan of $1-2 dollars a day just to browse,browsing is not free in my own country,so please do not con pair the condition of your country to mine,it is far different

    • Posted January 8, 2014 at 1:42 am | Permalink

      I did not compare anything. No matter where you live in the world, WordPress.com is free. It also has an agreement you agreed to that restricts what you can do on the site regarding ecommerce. I can only address that issue.

      The price for access to the web ranges from less than a dollar a day to ten or more a day depending upon your bandwidth needs. That applies to everyone, website owner or not. I pay USD $4 a day for Internet access. Add all the domain fees, hosting, I probably pay another $3-4 for hosting and domain names as a Web professional, estimating, the web is an expensive place to work and play.

      If your WordPress site is self hosted, your options for income generation is endless. I do not cover monetization of websites professionally on this site. There are many who do. An expert on every corner. As long as you understand that WordPress.com has limits, and you publish within those limits, as does everyone on the service, fantastic.

      Good luck with your site.


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