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How to Make More Money Blogging, Stop Worrying About Advertising, and Get Back to Writing What You Love

This guest post is by Sophie Lizard of Beafreelanceblogger.com.

I know your secret.

You’re spending too much time on your blog, and it’s starting to feel like hard work. Not only that, but your blog still isn’t making quite as much money as you’d like. Believe me: I’ve been right there with you.

Luckily, I got out. Now, I don’t waste time fiddling around with ad code and affiliate dashboards. I only check my traffic analytics if there’s a specific question I want to answer. And I make a good full-time income on part-time hours.

Want to know my secret?

I was on the wrong track, and so are you.

Most bloggers that make money at all will always wish to make a few dollars more. But a few dollars more isn’t worth hours more of your time, is it?

How to know when you’re wasting your time

If you’re labouring over a blog with few subscribers and low traffic, trying to scrape another half a percent on your affiliate conversion rate or posting three times a day to boost page views, you’re on the wrong track.

What you’ve got there isn’t passive income. It’s a blog-supported business, and it’s failing.

It’s failing because the time you’re putting in isn’t equalled by the money coming out. Monetizing is actually costing you money, in the form of time you could have spent on more effective revenue-generating tasks.

The point of blog monetization strategies is typically to make money in a way that keeps on scaling up as your traffic and engagement grow to mythic proportions… but what do you do if your blog hasn’t hit the big time?

Stop chasing scalability

Scalable is a buzzword. It means that your income can keep on growing, not limited by the hours in the day or your inability to be in two places at once.

Scalability goes right along with “set it and forget it” in the big bucket of ideas to stop chasing if they don’t apply to you. The scalability of a system doesn’t determine its growth; it only makes it more or less capable of handling growth.

A blog with few readers won’t make vast sums of money, regardless of its business model’s scalability. But there is an important scale to consider: your time-to-money ratio.

Your time and your income aren’t on the same scale right now.

That’s the only thing you need to focus on. How do you bring your income up to scale with the time you’re putting in?

Do what works, don’t do what doesn’t

Are your blog’s visitors frustratingly immune to advertising? Have you made a less-than-stellar income from your ad spaces and affiliate links? Then stop spending too much time on this income stream, and focus on something more effective.

Has frequent posting exhausted your mine of inspiration? Are you struggling to come up with fresh content ideas and new angles on old classics? Then stop wearing yourself out chasing traffic, and refocus on boosting quality instead of quantity.

I’m not saying that advertising, affiliate marketing or frequent posting are a bad idea. I’m saying that if they’re taking up your time without raking in money, then you need to rethink your strategy. Here are some suggestions that might work for you; they worked for me.

How to make more money

Selling your own products may be a more lucrative income stream than selling other people’s stuff. But then you’ll have to plan, create and launch each product, plus maintain the ongoing marketing that will keep the income stream moving in the long term. That’s a lot of time and effort for an unpredictable possibility of reward.

There’s a very simple way to increase your blogging income that doesn’t involve putting up more ads, publishing more often, or launching your own products. Sell a service instead. Sell freelance blogging.

In the last few years, I’ve earned a solid living part-time from my freelance blogging career. In fact, I know some famous bloggers who make more money from freelance blogging than they do from advertising or affiliate marketing.

These people have thousands of subscribers to their blogs. If their advertising income can’t compete with freelance blogging, then your ad income from your few hundred readers probably can’t compete either.

How to stop worrying about advertising

All this time you spend stressing about your blog’s monetization, tweaking ad widgets and affiliate link anchor text, obsessing over your stats, and checking your balance until it crawls past the minimum payment limit for your affiliate network… are you enjoying that? Because if you are, that’s all good—rock on.

If you’re not doing all that stuff for fun, though, I’ve got the best piece of advice you’ll ever hear: just stop it. Check your affiliate stats only once per month (or once per week, if you had a daily habit and really can’t quit cold turkey).

Unless you’re running tests, there’s no need to obsess over visitor clicks on your blog. Put your ads in place and then don’t touch them for at least 30 days. If you can’t resist analysing your stats to death at the end of the month, at least you’ll have a whole 30 days to analyse without multiple tweaks messing up your conclusions.

Now use all that time you’ve saved to write jaw-droppingly brilliant posts, for yourself and for other blogs.

How to get back to writing what you love

When you started blogging, what were your intentions? Did you want to be heard, to help people, to make money, or all of the above and then some? What were your first posts like?

Think about what you really love to write. Make a list of things you always wanted to blog about. It doesn’t matter whether you published a post on the topic or not, write it down.

Now think about what you love to read. Which blogs do you make a point of keeping up with? Which do you go to when you have a problem to solve? Add those blog topics to the same list.

This list is your passion plan. I want you to write at least one post on every single topic on that list. More than one, if you’re any good at finding multiple angles. Then pitch and sell your posts to paying blogs.

For advice on selling your posts, read more about freelance blogging here on ProBlogger and check out freelance writing and blogging sites like Make A Living Writing.

Use your blog as a portfolio

If you can’t sell one of your posts for a good fee, take on board any feedback you received from the editors you pitched to. Then publish each unsold post on your own blog and end it with a note that you’re a freelance blogger who enjoys writing on this topic and welcomes enquiries from potential clients.

Add a Hire Me page to your blog, too. Use it to explain what you blog about, what types of blogs you’d like to work with, where you can be contacted, and your rates.

Believe you can do it

You’d be amazed how many smart, eloquent bloggers I know who’ve chickened out before they got this far. Maybe you wouldn’t be amazed; maybe you’re one of them.

You could be making more money by blogging for other people, but the idea of pitching to an editor makes you so nervous you’ve never tried. Or, you pitched one idea to one blog and when it wasn’t accepted, you lost the confidence to try a second time.

Hey, it’s okay. We’re all nervous sometimes. But now you need to get off your digital behind and start making more money, right? So draw up your topic list, think of a few ideas that could make great blog posts, and email a few blogs to pitch them some of those ideas. Today.

That’s right, do it today. It doesn’t even matter if your topics are vague and your first queries aren’t perfect.

The important thing is that you’re doing it at all, and that puts you ahead of every other blogger who didn’t make the time. You can refine your pitching as you go along, but you’ll never have another chance to start right now.

You’re smart. You’re courageous. You’re exactly the kind of person a good blog needs. Now go out there and be a freelance blogger!

This guest post is by Sophie Lizard, a successful freelance blogger on a mission to help bloggers increase their income and authority by blogging for hire. To get you started making money as a freelance blogger, she’s giving away her insanely useful The Ultimate List of Better-Paid Blogging Gigs: 45 Blogs That Will Pay You $50 or More – download your free copy today!

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Comments

  1. Jason Mathes says:

    Lol! Thanks for writing this. You had me laughing at myself!

    I have changed my strategy though. Focus on my writing and what people want to read and work on my readership instead of my affiliate or adsense stats!

    I’m much happier writing and if the money hits it hits. Either way I’m no longer burnt out and I have more free time to enjoy doing things away from the computer.

    • Laughing at yourself is the first step to greatness, Jason!

      Yeah, burnout is a pretty common complaint among bloggers who spend time tweaking instead of working. It’s good to step away from the screen glare for a moment and take stock of how your income compares to your time investment.

      Glad you’ve made the shift to a more productive strategy – keep up your good work! :)

  2. Ben Troy says:

    Charge to review guest posts is a great way to make more money blogging as i personally belive that blogging is not about making money, its about presenting your views and be influensive to others.

    • I’ve seen more and more sites lately that charge a fee to consider a guest post for publication. There’s no denying that it’s a way to create an extra income stream for a blog, but I’m still not sure how I feel about that tactic.

      It helps to filter out some guest post submissions, but the criterion is money rather than quality, empathy or skill, so I’m not convinced it’s helpful. There are many excellent writers who don’t have $50 to spend on getting a guest post reviewed. There are also many godawful writers, plus a whole lot of PR people, who have the $50 but won’t produce a post that suits your site.

      If blogging isn’t about making money for you, then that’s awesome! I have a couple of personal blogs that exist purely as creative outlets, and a couple of sites that are designed from the ground up to include income streams. Whether they’re monetized or not, using your sites to present yourself honestly and apply your influence for your readers’ good is the key.

  3. Well, after reading this great blog post I feel like I wasted a hell lots of my valuable time in rubbish stuffs.
    Will have to start from the beginning and after all have to change my mind set. When I started blogging, I used to do it by heart. But when money started flowing in, I was diverted.

    Thanks for this awesome blog post. Hope I get back to track soon.

    • “But when money started flowing in, I was diverted.” You put it perfectly! It’s easy to divert your attention into these little meanders and wind up stuck there like a beached whale.

      If you take a bit of time to get your focus back, everything else seems simpler. Hope it all works out great for you!

  4. Tony Nguyen says:

    I’ve seen me in your post, and maybe many others feel the same as mine. But think is a thing, do is another.

    Many times I KNOW that I have to change, but changes are always difficult, so at the end of the day, everything still is unchanged ! Lol, but it is true story to me.

    Well, this article is definitely to push me move forward. Change everything start with changing myself. Thanks for great work!

    • Glad I could give you that nudge to get you rolling, Tony. :)

      I know it’s easier to say it than to do it, but action is simpler than people often believe, too – you just have to begin!

  5. Kevin says:

    Great informative post. I would love to be able to make money from being a freelance blogger, but have been too afraid to start. I really like your idea to post your rejected posts on your own blog as part of your portfolio. That way you are building your résumé no matter what happens.

    • Being too afraid to start is the downfall of too many good bloggers, Kevin. Don’t be one of them! You’re good enough to succeed at this.

      If you learn from any rejections and keep increasing your blog’s value as a portfolio of your expertise, you’ll find that freelance clients come to you in time. At the start, though, it’s a numbers game so the more pitches you make, the more chance some of them will hit home and earn you freelance blogging money.

  6. Richard Ng says:

    Great article, Sophie, it sure speaks the mind of many bloggers around, especially the newbies.. I must admit that I am one of the guilty one who like to check out the traffics of my blog regularly. By regularly I meant a few time;-)s a day!

    It’s time for me to be more productive. Thanks for the timely reminder!

    Cheers!

    • Step away from the screen, Richard…

      There’s no way you need to spend that much time checking your blog traffic. :) I’m so pleased I could wake you up to a more productive way to make money from your blog!

  7. Yes exactly what i am trying to do with my new blog. Iam trying to sell freelance services and have had bloggers contact me for this but the pay is still low. Your e book will be of help and secondly trying to expand my portfolio by guest blogging. Several people like my writing.

    • That’s great, George! Keep on pitching, guest blogging, and improving your work – winning better paid jobs is a three way balance between direct marketing, authority building, and adding value.

  8. Shelby Roth says:

    Lol! This is in fact a true story Sophie especially I didn’t have a clue on how we bloggers waste time and that time we do waste is the only money we are looking for. It is really tricky, we waste what we are looking for! I actually love this; very encouraging and inspiring. Thanks a lot, I look forward into sharing with you more!

    • It’s good to see that people totally “get it” when I talk about the wasted time! Glad I could encourage you to greater success, and I look forward to watching you become a well-paid freelance blogger.

  9. This is indeed amazing. I love your blog theme; it fascinates and encourages a lot. I think I agree with you, we do waste time in what we force ourselves to make work instead of doing what we love and feel comfortable with! Very inspiring tips. keep up the good job!

  10. shekaryadav says:

    you are giving inspiring tips so keep writing its so good to insipre

  11. Writing without keeping the money part at the back of the mind is extremely difficult. And is easier said than done. But those who manage to do it usually end up making more money.

    This post is very informative and truly inspiring to all those who are highly desperate to make it big.

    Thanks mate

    • You may well be right, there… If you’re thinking about the money, you’re not thinking about the work.

      The best way to write is with zero attention to money but maximum attention to value. I try to only think about cash when I’m negotiating rates and sending invoices!

  12. Wow! I really love the post. Thanks for writing it. I like the way you make it look easier, even if I have tried making money through blogging before but backed out! Guess that was cowardice.

    • Hi Carmen, I hope this post has encouraged you to give it another shot. Take the first steps, and the rest will follow one step at a time.

      You *can* be a freelance blogger. It’s easier than blogging without an income!

  13. I am inspired! Thanks.

  14. Anca Dumitru says:

    Thanks so much, Sophie, for this inspiring post! You hit the nail on the head with it. In the last two years, I’ve been writing for content mills about topics that I love, I ghost blogged for businesses that paid me peanuts, I got burnt out and lost my confidence many times. At some point I thought maybe this isn’t what I should be doing. Maybe I’m not good enough. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy though, and realized I was on the wrong track. Then I heard about Carol’s “Make a Living Writing” and Jon Morrow and other successful bloggers, including yourself. :) I’m learning so much every day from all of them and am happy things are picking up. A good mindset is paramount in order to succeed. Dream Big!

    • Dream as big as you can imagine, Anca! I’ve noticed your comments on blogs and forums before, and it seems to me that you have everything it takes to be a well-paid freelance blogger.

      All you need is confidence and guidance. Knowing the blogs you read, I can see you’ve already found several powerful sources of advice – you’ll be a success! :)

  15. Freelancing is a great way to offer a service on your blog. It will allow you to gain extra contacts as well which in turn could lead to more advertising opportunities so it all works together.

  16. Penny says:

    Food for thought! I have been thinking about monetisation through advertising, but it seems like the most cutting edge bloggers aren’t doing adverts any more. They’re either using their blog to sell a service, or are getting enough traffic that they ultimately sell their blog off to a larger business for a big sum. As I already have a service, maybe I should be using my blog to better promote that.

  17. This is a FANTASTIC post. Thank you so much. I loved reading every word. I’ve just returned to focusing on writing this month and I’m having a blast. What’s funny is that now that I’ve started focusing on providing great content to my readers, the brands are knocking. I’m currently working with 4 major pet brands and it’s astounding that all I had to do is focus on writing and making my blog welcoming and clear to visitors.

    Thanks for this post. I’m going to go back and make more changes. I love the idea of having a Hire Me page.

    • Thanks so much for your lovely comments, Kimberley! And I’m really glad to hear that this strategy’s already working well for you. You’ll probably find even more clients knocking on your digital door when you have that Hire Me page in place. :)

  18. Glori Surban says:

    Brilliant post. Sophie! I never actually experienced fiddling around with ads or affiliate marketing. I didn’t know any of that and simply went on to do something that I had experience in, writing. Reading the blogs of great freelancers such Carol, Linda, Oni, Anne, and soon, you, helps a lot in learning about the trade.

    • Thanks, Glori. You’ve taken a short cut that avoided one of the big blogging time-sucks, so well done! Go straight to freelance writing, do not pass boredom, DO collect a ton of money. Congratulations on being there already, and keep in touch so I can watch your career take off!

  19. Sophie, this is fantastic.

    Truly.

    Rock solid advice that gets to the core!

    I know this is helping many, and judging from the comments, many agree :)

    Time/money ratio is a huge problem for many, technically me included… but not exactly.

    I feel I’m a very unique case, outside the realm of most people’s advice.

    For example, you say do what works, not what doesn’t — but what do you do when “nothing works?”
    (I have an answer of my own, and have written a lot about it recently…)

    Either way, I totally appreciate material like this — keep ryzin’!

    • Jason! Thanks for the comments. My standard take is that when “nothing works,” you have two options:
      1) Do nothing. Sit back, absorb and take stock, but don’t take action until you’ve figured out your goals and found a way to move in that direction.
      2) Do anything. If you know your goals, try anything that might move you closer to them. If you don’t know your goals, try anything that may help you figure them out.

      There’s also option 3, of course, which is to make a benefit of a failure. If you can help people understand that “nothing works” doesn’t mean the same thing as “might as well give up and die”, then you have a literally lifesaving skill to offer. As the Homeless Life Coach, you fit right in with crippled House MD or one-eyed Odin, whose wisdom comes from their sacrificial experiences.

  20. Hi Sophie, I love what you said about focusing on quality instead of quantity. For years I focused on making money by posting every day until I totally burnt out (and i never made a penny). The day I started focusing on my writing and creating quality content is the first time I really connected with people. It’s been almost magical how when I made that decision people started emailing me with business partnerships. All I did was change what I was about – I chose to really write to connect with others and add value instead of writing to post stuff. Funny but that seems to be what’s opening doors. What I am learning is that it’s not about what I think others want to hear, it’s about what needs to be said and standing for something and having a voice. 

    • Vangile, I love to see people like you turning their blog around from a burnout factory to a success machine! And you’re bang on target with your comment: connecting with people and showing you understand how they feel is vital. Rock on!

  21. Ehsan Ullah says:

    Hey Sophie, It’s really nice post with point to point information on the mistakes which most bloggers are making and It’s solutions. Following the right strategy and doing what works is great thing.

  22. Hey Ehsan, thanks for your comment. I’m really glad you found the post helpful!

  23. Hassaan Khan says:

    Outstanding work. Sophie!
    Really good work. I appreciate the motivational factor you are trying to flaring it up.

  24. Bruno Babic says:

    Hi Sophie, WOW! What a life-changing post you have shared with us who want to build a dream lifestyle by cashing in on our passions!

    One of my passions is definitely writing a high value compelling content where I absolutely enjoy to both educate and entertain my audience at the same time.

    Having recently started my own blog where I have revealed the “naked” and shocking truth of my 7 year painful struggling to net my ever desired millionaire playboy lifestyle based on running an automated online business, the potential income that I could earn from my blogposts submitted to some of the business blogs that you’ve generously shared with us in “The Ultimate List Of Better-Paid Blooging Gigs: 45 Blog That Will Pay You $50 Or More” might come very handy to me at this point of time before I start producing my own products and who knows, even a bestselling book at some later stage.

    It’s always good for each of us to think BIG because I believe that thinking and dreaming BIG can get us much more closely aligned with our greatest passions that are always very important ingredients for living an exciting and fulfilled life that we have always dreamed of.

    Having said that I have been very delighted to read the paragraph titled “How to get back to writing what you love?” because by writing what we truly love we can actually “hit two flies at once.”

    First, when we write about what we really love we then are having lots of fun and are fully enjoying ourselves while at the same time super powerfully and magnetically getting our target readers excited about reading it, and second, we then almost effortlessly or if you like to say, by the law of attraction start to make money in not only one but many different ways. Here I am naturally alluding to your and my personal branding being born if we decide to follow our true passions when expressing ourselves through writing.

    On top of it, I am thrilled to realize that you have covered a very important topic related to being productive that I believe is of an utmost importance not only when writing but also when doing anything in life.

    Personally, I can very passionately speak in favour of productivity, being productive or if you like, adopting good and productive habits bacause one of the main reasons why I have wasted my last 7 and more years not being able to make money online and also not being able to live my life to the fullest is simply because I was paying my attention to the wrong things.

    Therefore, I am very glad that you have touched and emphasized this critical element of our personal development and growth.

    Finally, I would like to end this longish but very passionately written post of mine with one of the most successful people’s key secrets to leading a happy, fulfilled and super successful life:

    “What you put your attention on grows stronger and stronger in your life.”

    By the way, I have learned about this quote from one of the best books I have ever read in my entire life, and the book is called “The Passion Test: The Effortless Path To Discovering Your Destiny” created by Janet and Chris Attwood.

    Good luck with all your writing endeavours and making money online!

    Bruno

    • Hi Bruno,

      This may be one of the longest comments I’ve ever received – thanks so much for your detailed feedback. I’m really glad you enjoyed my post, and even more glad that you’ve found some potential freelance blogging clients in my Ultimate List of Better-Paid Blogging Gigs.

      I absolutely agree with the quote you mentioned: whatever you give your energy to grows stronger, and whatever you neglect grows weaker. Of course people need to focus that energy on productive tasks instead of unhelpful thumb-twiddling, otherwise it’s your thumbs that grow stronger while your business withers away!

      I wish you every success, and thanks again for your comment.

      • Bruno Babic says:

        Hi Sophie,

        Thank you very much for taking your time to read my very long post and also for your very quick feedback. As you now know that I am a passionate writer and a thinking BIG guy, I’d appreciate if you could let me know or give me an update on any attractive writing opportunities or good publishers’ deals within the seduction arts, lifestyle design, personal development or internet marketing (I am especially interested in niche marketing) in case you come across any of these.

        Thanks a lot.

        Bruno

        P.S. I am definitely going to apply for some blog posting opportunities with the Business Blogs from your awesome Ultimate List of Better-Paid Blogging Gigs. And, by the way, I have already posted the link to it on my facebook time line because I also like to help people as you do. Furthermore I believe that this might even be the quickest way for making money online. Once again, thanks a lot for compiling that invaluable List and sharing it with the world. :)

        • Hi again Bruno,

          When I come across interesting-looking jobs, I usually share the link via Twitter, so keep an eye out there.

          Thanks for sharing the link to the Ultimate List, and I hope it helps you earn a ton of cash!

  25. Dylan says:

    Awesome blog Sophie! I wish you all the best in making money online :)

    I recently re-launched my own blog after I updated the design and now I have a lot of content ready to go. I am hoping this will turn my blog into a better one for my readers now as I have stopped focusing on the cash intake and more on the content I produce.

    • That’s great, Dylan. Strong content supported by thoughtful promotion is the way forward. :)

      Don’t be afraid to focus on your cash flow too – just stick to useful and productive tasks rather than unnecessary ones!

  26. umashankar says:

    Yes. I never worry about money, writing makes me happy :) That’s it.

  27. Hi Sophie,

    Excellent post. This is true that we all wants advertising and earning from our blog. we never concentrate on our blog posts and blogging !
    We should go for blogging and rather then money, we need to work on blogging !

    Thank you

    • Yep, the money comes in easier when you’re giving people something they want. That works the same in blogging as in any other business, and we shouldn’t forget it! :)

  28. Ricky says:

    Thanks for the tips. I’ll try them out and see if I get desirable results.. A lot of the points made in the article hit close to home. lol

  29. Taran says:

    Great post.You have written such a nice content, I got so much to learn from this post.Thanks for sharing great info.