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3 No-nonsense Strategies for Profitable Part-time Blogging

This is a guest post by Matt Alden S. of DividendMonk.com.

If you’re blogging as a part-time income stream rather than a full-time profession, then your priorities can be substantially different from the fill-time blogger’s.

A full-time problogger will likely focus on maximizing overall revenue, whereas a part-time problogger will focus on maximizing revenue per hour.

One of the largest problems I see with some underperforming smaller blogs is that they’re not focused on that key difference. Part-time bloggers often do not have advice given to them that is specialized to their part-time situation, and instead they end up following what full-time bloggers are doing, with mixed results.

Darren wrote a great post on part-time blogging over three years ago, but that post missed these three strategies that I’ve found invaluable for achieving part-time blogging success.

1. Be selective with social media

Full-time bloggers have hours every day where they can try new things, and can afford to spend time in areas that don’t yet give them a great ROI. Part-time bloggers, however, need to have a higher ROI on most of their activities.

In other words, don’t be on every social network just because you feel you ought to be. Don’t worry about doing every thing that every blogger is doing.

For example, I’m on Twitter, but Twitter is not where I spend any real time and it’s not where any real traffic is going to come from for me. Why? Because I write about long-term value investing, which is like watching paint dry. Not exactly enthralling Twitter material.

And yet, I have received over 50,000 visitors and over 130,000 pageviews from a single social media platform: Seeking Alpha. It’s a large site that brings investors and readers together. Moreover, the traffic statistics show that in terms of pages per visit and time per visit, it’s my single highest quality source of traffic.

The point here is to follow the 80/20 rule: focus 80% of your time on the stuff that gives you an excellent ROI, and use the other 20% for experimentation.

2. Stand out with ridiculously high-quality posts

Large blogs and websites can afford to publish mediocre content. That’s not to say that all large sites do so (in fact they generally got to their size by being well above average in the first place); it’s just to say that they can do it if they want to, and some of them do.

Very large sites that have years of full-time focus or multiple writers have strong enough domain authority to get mediocre content to rank well in search engines. Plus, their intangible brand authority can make fair content appear to be superior content.

Part-time bloggers don’t have this luxury. You’re not going to be able to write mediocre content and get it to rank well, and your brand is not yet strong enough to carry its own weight.

The emphasis on the part-timer should be to maximize individual post value. Spending 12 hours a week writing two or three extraordinarily high-quality articles will usually get you further than spending the same amount of time publishing every single day with less unique and compelling content.

When you’re setting out to write an awesome post, there are small things you can do to give yourself a huge advantage. If you’re preparing to write about something, first stop and do a Google search for it. Check out the main articles on that subject that are on the first page of the search results. Read or skim through them, and gauge their quality.

Your goal now is to write a post that is far superior to any of the posts on the first page of Google for this subject. Your post will not be a “me too” post, but will instead be the new high-water mark of quality and authority for this subject. You’ll write it in a more personal, more complete, more concise, and more original way.

3. Having a product helps greatly

Successfully selling a product or service online revolves around content marketing these days. That is, you get an audience by providing excellent free content that solves their problems, and then you use this content platform to present products or services to your readers that further solve their problems or help them in some way.

Your revenue per visitor, and therefore usually your revenue per hour, generally goes up substantially if you offer a high-quality product that fits your audience, compared to relying strictly on advertising or affiliate sales. Consider spending some time to create an outstanding product that requires little maintenance when it’s finished, and then offer it up on your blog.

When I did this, and published a $16 ebook and spreadsheet tool that stood out in the niche, the revenue from the ebook outpaced my advertising revenue and brought in thousands of extra dollars in profit. Higher-priced offerings will generally do even better than this. A good product or service genuinely solves problems or creates opportunities, improves your authority in your niche, and can bring in some solid income for your invested time.

A key advantage of having your own product or service is that you can get access to other bloggers’ platforms. When you rely on advertising, you’re limited to the size of your own platform, which generally isn’t going to be huge if you’re working part time. Similarly, when you sell affiliate products on your platform, you’re still limited to the size of your own platform.

But when you produce your own, high-quality product, then you now have something that can be sold on other writers’ platforms as well as your own. You can tap into other peoples’ email lists, social media accounts, and blog articles, if you’re the source of the product and they’re the marketer.

Use these strategies if you’re focusing on part-time blogging. Maximize your revenue per hour by being selective about what digital real estate you spend time on, by focusing on quality over quantity, and by leveraging your expertise onto platforms that are larger than your own.

What other advice can you add from your own experience? I’d love to hear it in the comments below.

Matt Alden S. publishes the free Dividend Insights Newsletter, and helps readers build wealth through investing for the long term in dividend stocks and other assets.

Make an Offer they Can’t Refuse: 5 Tactics for Stronger Calls to Action

This guest post is by Christopher Jan Benitez of PrintRunner.com.

For site owners to increase their profit, they need to strengthen their calls to action (CTA).

Websites earn from visitors who click on a button or banner. This leads them down the conversation funnel until they reach the end of the funnel where they become a lead, if not a customer.

Getting people to perform a click of a mouse button—or any desired action—however, is never easy. It takes careful planning and strategizing to get people to heed your CTA, let alone act on it.

ProBlogger has said much about calls to action here and here. But a call to action needs to weave some factors left out of these posts together into an eye-catching and attention-grabbing banner or button.

This post discusses other essential points to help site owners maximize their earnings.

1. Color

The colors you use on your calls to action trigger different emotions in users. Whether it’s the copy or button itself, you need to use the appropriate color choices that best connect with your audience to increase the chances of people acting on your CTA.

This color wheel shows how each color is perceived by users:

Color wheel

The color you will use on your landing page will depend on the site’s theme. For the copy and button to pop out from the screen, you will have to choose a color that is complementary to the site’s theme.

If there are elements of your call to action that stick out like a sore thumb, redesign it with a color that is analogous to the theme.

2. Size

Make your calls to action appear in large buttons or fonts. If you have different calls to action set up on your page, make the priority ones larger and the lesser ones smaller, so that users can distinguish which are more important.

Don’t design the entire page with a call to action graphic design—observe subtlety at all times.

3. Placement

Theoretically, the best places for your calls to action to appear are above the fold and below the post.

When positioned above the fold, users will immediately see your call to action as the page is done loading. They won’t have to scroll down the page to see what’s in store for them.

On the other hand, placing your call to action below the post has the potential to produce more leads. Users who scroll down the page are engaged with the content of your post. Therefore, once your call to action appears on their screen, they will be more likely to heed your call.

The placement of your CTA ultimately depends on your site design. Since each site is unique, some best practices may not necessarily apply to your blog. You need to determine how your site is viewed by users by looking at a heat map. This helps you figure out which parts of your pages receive the most attention from visitors.

Slodive has a post of heat mapping tools that you can use for your site to learn the best places where you can post your call to action.

By placing your CTA on “hotspot” areas in your layout, you increase the chances of users heeding your call to action.

4. Uniqueness

It is advisable to follow the suggested practices of a particular task, but you can’t let yourself be restricted by those practices. Eventually, everybody will start using those tactics. until every other call to action ends up looking exactly the same.

Although there’s essentially nothing wrong with having a fundamentally sound CTA, a really good call to action operates away from convention.

Writer Dan Kennedy shares his insane advertising ideas for pain relievers, financial services, and skin cream product in the market in this post. “Truly groundbreaking” are words that perfectly capture the essence of Dan’s advertising ideas.

The idea here is that your CTA stands out even more from those of your competitors. When everyone else is following the best practices for their CTA, you can do ever better by going against the flow and following your gut.

Be distinct from the competition, but don’t overdo the weirdness—you may end up alienating your target audience. Let your creative side show while still being in touch with your core values and mission.

5. The “What’s in it for me?”

To effectively get people to perform your desired action, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your potential clients.

Think of your experiences purchasing goods from a store. You will find yourself buying something that gives you the most satisfaction at reasonable prices.

As a service provider, it is your responsibility to provide high-quality products and services that fill a need. Start by listening to people and knowing what makes them tick. Then develop your CTA based on the findings.

The higher the demand, the greater the possibility that your CTA will be answered. Whether you’re offering free ebooks, email subscriptions, or products for sale, ensure that there is genuine interest among users, and craft your CTA accordingly.

There’s a lot more about calls to action that needs to be discussed to help site improve their lead generation tactics and increase sales. If you have tips and tricks on how to boost your CTA that weren’t mentioned in this post, let us know by commenting below!

Christopher Jan Benitez writes helpful articles about social media, small business, and print marketing, in particular full color brochure printing. He is currently a writer for the PrintRunner Blog.

Make Money From a Low-traffic Blog [Case Study]

This guest post is by Nathan Barry of Designing Web Applications.

It seems like every day you read a story about a blogger who released a product to their audience and made a ton of money overnight. But then after you read more details about their story, you learn that they already had a popular blog with a huge audience.

That’s the point in the process where I always used to feel disappointed. While I wanted to replicate their success, I didn’t have an audience.

My story is different. Yes, I managed to pull off a massively successful product launch, but I did it with a tiny audience. I hope this is a story you can relate to and learn from.

The beginnings

In June 2012, I had 100 RSS subscribers for my blog. Not 10,000, just 100. And I’d been working steadily on my blog, pushing everyone to subscribe by RSS, for over a year. Not great results.

But a few months later, on September 4th, I released my first product, an ebook called The App Design Handbook, which went on to make $12,000 on launch day and has passed $35,000 in total sales.

Now are you interested?

Focus on a big goal

What happened in those three months between June and the September launch? The biggest change I made was focus. Since I was working on the book I decided that my blog was going to be almost entirely focused on the topic of designing iPhone and iPad applications. So I started writing posts and tutorials that would be valuable to that audience.

I was hardly the first person to write tutorials about designing apps. In fact, there were many much more popular blogs out there. But I was one of the first to write an ebook on the subject. So when people came to my site and saw that I was working on The App Design Handbook, it gave me instant credibility.

Focusing on a big goal, in my case writing a book, will give you credibility and a reason for visitors to follow your progress.

Give people a way to follow along

At the bottom of each post I wrote from then on, I placed an email signup form for the book. It didn’t provide much information (it would have been better had I provided more), but I did give people a chance to hear about the book when it launched.

This list gradually grew to 795 subscribers by the time I released the book.

Watching this list grow gave me the confidence that my methods were working and encouraged me to keep writing posts on designing iOS apps.

It is really important that you give your readers a way to opt in and let you know they are interested in your work. I’ve found email to be the best way to do this.

Share valuable content

The posts I wrote were all tutorials about designing and coding better products. Nothing super-elaborate, just what I thought would be helpful to someone learning about design. My most popular post was titled “User Experience Lessons from the New Facebook iOS App.”

Facebook’s iOS application had been notorious for its mediocre user experience and slow speeds. So when Facebook released a new version, I took the opportunity to dissect all the design changes they made to see what I could learn. The designers at Facebook didn’t change anything major, but they made a lot of minor improvements that designers everywhere could learn from.

I hoped this post would do well on sites like Reddit and Hacker News, but it didn’t really get any traction. To my surprise, though, it started getting shared on Twitter. After three days, it had been tweeted and retweeted over 100 times, driving a lot of traffic.

More importantly, that drove a lot of email signups to my book list.

Create a good product

It would be a waste to spend months building up to a brilliant product launch, only to have a poor product. So, I spent most of my time in those three months actually working on the book itself.

It’s important to do the marketing and promotion posts (that’s the part most people ignore), but you still need to write the book or meet your larger goal.

Yet, like all things, it’s a balance. If you focus 100% of your attention on the product, you won’t sell any copies. So find the right balance between creating the product and marketing the product. I find my time is split 50/50.

The launch event

Some people say you should let people pre-order the product to test demand. While I really like this idea, I didn’t do it. I decided that the email list was enough validation that there was a demand from the market, and I wanted to create a lot of buzz by focusing everything to the launch day.

While this strategy turned out fine for me, I don’t know enough to make a recommendation one way or the other.

I do know that if you can make a big splash, a single-day launch can help sales.

Guest posts

Speaking of a big splash, I did some guest posting as well. My original goal was to have between 15 and 20 guest posts all go live on launch day. I didn’t even make it close! But five really solid posts went live on some great sites on September 4th, with one more the next day.

It just goes to show that if you set high goals, even your failures are still a small success.

None of these posts drove a lot of traffic, but I think they helped remind people about the book. That’s why I love a single-day launch event. The first time someone mentions a book on Twitter you may not pay any attention. But then if you see an article by the same author on one of your favorite blogs, the two impressions together may be enough to get you to check it out.

So, do guest posts related to your product launches, but don’t expect thousands of visitors from guest posts. Guest posts are more about building relationships and name recognition than they are about driving traffic.

Using the email list

A week before launch I sent out a sample chapter and the table of contents to my pre-launch list. A few people unsubscribed, but they wouldn’t have purchased the book anyway.

It’s important to stay in contact with your email list, rather than trying to sell to them out of the blue months after they signed up. If you’ve been completely silent until asking for the sale, the common response will be, “Who are you, and how did you get my email address?” rather than them remembering who you are, that they opted in to your list, and are interested in your product.

It would have been better if I had delivered valuable content to them for a couple weeks leading up to the launch, but at least I did something. Then on launch day, everyone was expecting the sales email. I sent it out at 6:00 AM Mountain Time and had $1,000 in sales within ten minutes. For me, that was absolutely crazy! I never expected success so quickly.

That’s the power of a good email list.

The total was $12,000 in sales by the end of the first 24 hours, and $35,000 after two months, all from a blog that was visited fewer than 100 times a day a few months prior.

Wrapping it up

I hope it’s helped to you to follow my process and see how your own blog could make money, even if you aren’t popular. You need to focus on a big project, give people a way to opt in and follow along, focus on delivering value, and make a big splash on launch day.

Got it? I’m happy to answer any questions in the comments!

Nathan Barry is the author of Designing Web Applications, a complete guide to designing beautiful, easy-to-use web software. He also writes about design and business at NathanBarry.com.

5 Ways You Can Become A Blogging Philanthropist

This guest post is by Stephen Pepper of Youth Workin’ It

Why should Bill Gates have all the fun?—Al Andrews

There are all sorts of reasons you may own a blog—to enhance your business site, to share ideas, to earn an income, or perhaps you just enjoy writing.

Imagine the impact you could have, though, if you harnessed the power of your blog to make an even bigger difference to mankind by becoming a philanthropist.

This may sound far-fetched, but it’s not at all. Here are five ways you can become a blogging philanthropist.

1. Write a book

“How can I be a philanthropist if I have no money?”

This is the question Al Andrews asked himself. Instead of just giving up, he came up with a plan to make money. He’d write a book and donate the profits to projects around the world.

And thus, Improbable Philanthropy was born. His first book, The Boy, The Kite And The Wind, has already raised tens of thousands of dollars that he’s been able to donate to projects that benefit others.

What can you do?

You don’t have to write an illustrated children’s book. Many blogs sell ebooks, so why not write one whose profits you can donate to a charity that’s close to your heart? The readers of your blog will be more likely to buy the book if they know it’s going towards a good cause. And it means you’ll get your ideas out to more people, even if you’re not benefiting monetarily yourself.

2. Microfinance

Adam McLane and Rachel Rodgers are both bloggers who also own their own businesses. Adam owns McLane Creative, a web development and design company, while Rachel owns Rachel Rodgers Law, a virtual law office.

Both Adam and Rachel offer microfinance loans through Kiva. These loans are used to help alleviate poverty and to enable entrepreneurs around the world to start up their own businesses.

Adam also makes a new loan for every new client he receives—check out some of the beneficiarieshere.

What can you do?

Although Adam and Rachel offer these loans as an extension of their businesses rather than their blogs, that doesn’t have to be the case. How about making a loan every time you receive x number of new email subscribers, or when you hit a benchmark of y extra monthly visitors?

3. Invest in others

At the 2012 World Domination Summit, Chris Guillebeau gave $100 to every single paid conference attendee.

Why? He was investing the money in the attendees so that they could in turn invest the money themselves, whether that was through community, adventure, or service.

As Chris said, “Freely receive, freely give.”

What can you do?

Don’t worry, I’m not saying you have to give $100 to each of your readers! Instead, you could set aside some money and have your readers decide on how it should be used.

Similarly, you could allocate a certain percentage of each ebook you sell to be donated to different charities. When selling the book, offer the buyers different purchasing links depending on which project they’d like to support.

4. Leverage your readership

You may not have any money, but chances are some of your readers do. On his Stuff Christians Like blog, Jon Acuff set out to leverage his readership by raising $30,000 to build a kindergarten in Vietnam. The only thing is, he didn’t raise $30,000.

He raised $60,000. So his readers were able to build two kindergartens!

What can you do?

Set up a fundraiser, ideally for a project that has some kind of link to your blogging niche. This will encourage your readers to support the initiative.

Also, be ambitious! Jon’s readers raised the original $30,000 in just 18 hours, which is why he set a second target that doubled the original amount. Even if you don’t meet your fundraising target, you’ll hopefully raise far more than if you’d set the bar too low.

5. Advertising and affiliate schemes

In addition to Youth Workin’ It, we own a number of other (non-blog) websites. These earn a somewhat modest income of a few hundred dollars a month through AdSense, Amazon Associates and similar affiliate schemes.

As my wife and I both have full-time jobs, this income is a bonus. It therefore means we’re able to use some of this extra money to bless individuals and organizations that we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

What can you do?

Do you earn any revenue through your blog via advertising or affiliate schemes? If so, why not use some or all of this income to make a difference in the lives of others?

How will you become a blogging philanthropist?

There are five ideas on this list. What others can you think of that can help other bloggers become philanthropists? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Stephen Pepper is insurance administrator by day, youth worker & blogger by night. He and his wife run Youth Workin’ It which includes a youth work and youth ministry blog. They also produce their own youth work resources, the most recent of which is 52 Scavenger Hunt Ideas.

Blogging the Festive Season

It’s that time of year: the silly season is upon us!

Festive spirit

Photo by Axel Bührmann on Flickr.

The bricks-and-mortar stores have had the Christmas trees and fake Santas up for months … but what’s the blogosphere doing to prepare?

The answer depends on who you talk to. Every blog and every audience is different, after all. Still, we can learn from each other’s ideas and get inspiration from niches outside our own.

Today and tomorrow, we’ll look at a few different blogs, and see how their owners are preparing for the festive season:

Some of the blogs have been around for years, while others are barely 12 months old. Some of the bloggers work full-time on their blogs, but others are part-timers fitting in blogging around their day jobs. We’ll find out:

  • how they’re planning to optimize festive season sales and promotions
  • how they’re fitting blogging in around all the other stuff that happens in the lead-up to the end of the year
  • how they’re planning to keep in touch with clients, followers, and fans over the New Year break
  • how much they’re expecting to work over this period, how much time they’re hoping to spend with family and friends—and what they’ve done to make that possible
  • what they’re doing to make sure they hit the ground running in 2013—and what they’ll focus on then.

I hope you’ll find this series inspiring. To kick off, let me give you a bit of a behind-the-scenes peek into what I’m doing on dPS, a product blog, for the festive season.

The product blog

It’s a busy time for dPS in the lead-up to the festive season. As well as maintaining our publishing schedule, we’re starting to prepare for our annual 12 days of christmas celebration. It’s always a lot of fun … and a lot of work.

Festive promotions, content, and visitors

For each of the 12 days leading up to Christmas, we offer a special price on either one of our own products, or that of a hand-picked partner. So there’s a lot of work getting those deals in place, and getting the pages and promotions ready to go ahead of time.

This sale is something that the dPS audience really loves, so we keep trying to improve, and we’re ramping things up again this year. Past experience has shown that the sale should create a lot of additional traffic to the blog, but not just to the sales pages themselves—we’ll start to see increases in the visitors coming to certain tutorials, too. Posts on portraits and family shots are always popular at this time of year, as are more specific topics like photographing fireworks.

And while we do promote the 12 days of Christmas deals as great gift ideas, we also encourage our regular readers to buy a special gift for themselves, too.

Time off

I always like to take some time off at Christmas to spend with family and friends, and preparation is the key. I’m fortunate that I can share some of the preparation with my team, but we also plan and schedule content well in advance so that everyone who works on the blog can enjoy the time off.

With all the activity happening in the lead-up to Christmas, I’m pretty busy. In the period between Christmas and New Year, I’ll do check-in from time to time but I do limit that to as little as I can.

Looking forward

Taking time off means I need to prepare for the time when I get back to work in 2013. That preparation’s been going on for a while now—we already have our first new product ready to launch in January, so that will take some of our focus early in the year.

I’ll also start plotting our roadmap for the rest of year in January, with my team, and of course the publishing schedule is an ongoing task.

A festive plan

Understanding seasonality is an important part of maximising the sales of products for those with a product or affiliate-product blog.

The products on dPS are well suited to festive events, so we ensure our campaigns are timed to maximise that potential. But even if you’re products aren’t really relevant to Christmastime, there will be other times during the year when demand will be at its highest.

For those of us who rely on product sales income, it’s important to have a plan in place so you can meet that demand.

At the end of the series, I’ll provide you with a five-point checklist to help you prepared your product—or other—blog for the festive season. But for now, I’m interested to hear your stories. What do you have planned on your blog for the coming weeks? Let me know in the comments.

Can You REALLY Make Money Blogging? [7 Things I Know About Making Money from Blogging]

Every now and again I am pulled aside at a conference or am emailed and/or tweeted by someone wanting to get the “real” scoop on whether it is possible to make money blogging.

  • Is it really possible to make a living from blogging?
  • Is it just a small number of people making money from blogging?
  • Is it only really possible to make money blogging if you write about the topic of making money blogging?

I completely understand the questions and would probably want to add one more:

  • If it is really possible to make money blogging, how likely is it that you’ll succeed?

I’ve written many times here on ProBlogger about this in the hope of giving a realistic picture of the topic, but I think it is worth touching on again because there is a lot of misinformation out there right now.

On one hand, we see hype on the topic. Periodically someone will claim to be able to make millions from blogging quickly. These claims are usually accompanied with the release of a product or service (i.e. they are marketing spin).

On the other hand, I periodically see people writing about how it is impossible to make money blogging (or that anyone claiming to be full time is either a scammer, a liar, or is selling something on the topic of making money online).

The reality is somewhere between these two extremes.

7 Things I know about making money from blogging

1. It is possible

I’ve been blogging for just under ten years and for nine of those I’ve been making money blogging. It started out as just a few dollars a day but in time it gradually grew to becoming the equivalent of a part-time job, then a full-time job, and more recently into a business that employs others.

I used to talk about the specific levels of my earnings when I started ProBlogger but felt increasingly uncomfortable about doing so (it felt a little voyeuristic and a little like a big-headed boasting exercise and I didn’t really see the point in continuing to do it)— but my income has continued to grow each year since I began.

On some levels I was at the right place at the right time—I got into blogging early (in 2002 … although I felt I was late to it at the time) and have been fortunate enough to have started blogs at opportune times on the topics I write about.

However I know of quite a few other bloggers who make a living from blogging, many of whom have not been blogging anywhere near as long as I have.

For some it is a hobby that keeps them in coffee; for others it is the equivalent of a part time job/supplementing other income from “real jobs” or helping their family out as they attend to other commitments (raising a family). For others it is a full-time thing.

I’ll give you some examples below.

2. There is no single way to monetize blogs

Recently at our Melbourne ProBlogger event I featured numerous Australian bloggers in our speaker lineup who fit somewhere in the part-time to full-time spectrum. They included:

The year before, we had others, including:

Most of these bloggers are full-time (or well on the way to being full-time bloggers). They come from a wide array of niches and all monetize quite differently—doing everything from selling advertising, to having membership areas, to selling ebooks, to running affiliate promotions, to promoting their offline businesses, to selling themselves as speakers, to having book deals, and so on. Many have a combination of different income streams.

They are all also Australian, and are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is happening here in Australia—the same thing is being replicated around the globe.

There are many ways to monetize a blog. To give you a quick sense of the many methods check out this “money map” I created a year or so back, which outlines just some that I brainstormed (click to enlarge).

Ways to Make Money Blogging.png

I also recorded this free hour-and-twenty-minute webinar giving an introduction to the topic.

3. There are no formulas

From time to time, people have released products that claim to be formulas for success when it comes to making money online. They outline steps to follow to “guarantee” you’ll make money.

In my experience there is no formula.

Each full-time blogger I’ve met in the last ten years has forged their own path and has a unique story to tell. They have often acted on hunches and made surprising discoveries along the way.

There are certainly similarities in many of the stories but each blogger has their own personality and style, each one is reaching a different audience, and each niche tends to monetize differently.

The key lesson is to be aware of what others are doing and to learn what you can from each other, but to also be willing to forge your own path as well!

4. Many niches monetize

One common critique of the topic of monetizing of blogs is that the only people making money from blogging are the ones writing about how to make money blogging.

This is simply not true.

In the above list of speakers from our Melbourne event you’ll notice I included topic/niche of each blogger. None sell products teaching others to make money blogging—all are on blogging on “normal,” every-day topics.

My own experience of having a blog about blogging (ProBlogger) and a blog about Photography is that it is my photography blog that is by far the most profitable blog (I’d estimate it’s ten times more profitable).

I’ve interviewed numerous full-time bloggers of late in a webinar series including:

Interestingly, none of them make money by teaching others to make money online. Sarah largely blogs about health and wellbeing, Tsh blogs about simple living, and Ana blogs about woodwork.

5. Most bloggers don’t make a full-time living from blogging

Every time I’ve surveyed readers of ProBlogger about their earnings, we’ve seen that those making money from blogging are in the minority.

In a recent survey of 1500 ProBlogger readers we asked about their monthly earnings. What you’re seeing below is the spread of earnings from readers who are attempting to make money blogging (note: not all ProBlogger readers attempt to make money, so not all are included in these results).

Keep in mind that ProBlogger readers are generally newish bloggers—about half of those who took this survey had been blogging for less than two years.

So of those trying to make money blogging, 10% don’t make anything and 28% are making less than 30 cents per day. A total of 63% make less than $3.50 per day.

Let’s be clear—most bloggers who are attempting to make money are not making a living from blogging.

Having said that, of the 1508 bloggers surveyed 65 (4%) are making over $10,000 per month (over six figures per year) and a further 9% were doing over $1000 per month (which is at least a part-time level of income).

My feeling, having been attending blogging conferences for six or so years now, is that the number of full-time bloggers is on the rise, and there are actually quite a few more people now at least making the equivalent of a couple of days’ work a week in income from their blogs.

However, most bloggers don’t make much.

6. It takes time to build

When I dig down into the stats from the survey on income levels above, and do some analysis of those who are in the top income bracket, it is fascinating to look at how long they’ve been blogging.

85% of those in that top income bracket have been blogging for four years or more. Almost all of the others had been blogging for three or four years.

This certainly was my own experience. I blogged for a year without making money and once I started monetizing it was around two years of gradual increases before I approached a full-time income level. It would have been four years before I joined that top bracket of income (over $10,000 per month).

Blogging for money is not a get-rich-quick thing. It takes time to build an audience, to build a brand, and to build trust and a good reputation.

And of course even with four or five years of blogging behind you, there’s no guarantee of a decent income.

7. It takes a lot of work

Longevity is not the only key to a profitable blog. The other common factor that I’ve noticed in most full-time bloggers is that they are people of action.

Passivity and blogging don’t tend to go hand in hand.

Blogging as “passive income stream” is another theme that we hear in many make-money-blogging products, however it is far from my own experience.

I’ve worked harder on my business over the last ten years than I’ve worked on anything in my life before this. It is often fun and gives me energy, but it takes considerable work to create content on a daily basis, to keep abreast of what’s going on in the community, to monitor the business side of things, to create products to sell, to build an audience, and so on.

The key is to build blogs that matter to people, that are original, interesting, and helpful. But this doesn’t just happen—it takes a lot of work.

Conclusions

Yes, it is possible to make money blogging. There is an ever-increasing number of people making money from blogging at a part-time to full-time level —however they are still in the minority.

Those who do make a living from blogging come from a wide range of niches, however one of the most common factors between them is that they’ve been at it for a long while.

How long have you been blogging? Are you looking to make money from it—and have you already? Share your experiences with us in the comments.

Revealed: The Super Powers James Clear Used to Become a Full Time Blogger in 6-Months

This guest post is by TT Fong of SpikingStrengths.com.

James Clear runs the blog PassivePanda.com, which generates a full-time income. It took him only six-months to reach that point.

After studying his site, listening to several interviews he’s done, and talking with him live, I uncovered one of the secrets to his success.

This secret? He taps into his strengths or “super powers” while building and growing his blog. Here are three key lessons I learned from him about Super Powers, and how to use them for successful blogging.

First, what are his super powers and why should you care?

I gave James an assessment which identified his top five strengths (out of the known universe of thirty-four). I refer to these strengths as Super Powers, interchangeably.

In a nutshell, Super Powers are those latent gifts everyone has which allow them to be energized, learn quickly, and develop certain expertise in less time and effort than others.

Most focus on understanding the right tactics to building a blog. James certainly uses those that worked well for him.

But without leveraging your Super Powers, even the right tactics may not give you the desired results.

Why not?

Because it is your specific strengths that shape the tactics and strategies that work best for you.

In other words, an approach may work best for someone with strength A. But those same steps may not be right for someone with strength B.

If you have similar strengths to James, you could learn his specific tactics. And, if those tactics indeed played to your strengths, you’d likely see similar results.

But if your Super Powers were different from James’s, following in his exact footsteps may not lead you to where you want to go.

In other words, the foundation to your blogging success depends upon understanding and using your Super Powers.

Let’s use what I learned about James to illustrate this idea. Here are the top five Super Powers we came up with, based on the assessment:

  • futuristic
  • strategic
  • focused
  • a learner
  • significant.

I’ll explain in more detail how these can be applied to understand his business, and also how you can apply your own strengths to build up yours.

Here are three lessons you can learn from Passive Panda’s success.

1: Create energy and motivation

Building a blog or a venture that matters takes time. We’ve all heard this advice: “It doesn’t happen overnight.” “It takes longer than you think.” “You have to pay your dues.”

Even if it doesn’t take quite that long (and it doesn’t have to—James hit his stride in six months), what’s missing from this common advice is that it takes energy to sustain effort over time.

Willpower alone isn’t enough. Relying on brute force is a recipe for dissatisfaction at best and burn-out at worst. The answer? Doing the work that, itself, gives you energy.

And the best way to do that is to align your work with your strengths.

James’s Super Power of “Significance” gives him the energy to start, build, and sustain his blog and business. For him, this means always driving towards a way to impact as many people as possible.

When he hits the inevitable areas where the going gets tough, he can keep going by tapping into this strength.

So what can you do?

Understand which of your Super Powers motivates you. If it’s also Significance, then you want to have impact just like James. But if it’s something else, understand and link you blog and activities to that. While Significance, a desire to impact large numbers of people in a visible and tangible way, can be a powerful motivator, so can Belief, Achievement, and Harmony.

What’s important is that you find the thing that gives you energy. Then tap into it from the beginning of your blogging journey.

2: Stand out from the noise

Passive Panda is in what James calls the “make money” niche—perhaps one of the most crowded on the Internet. Yet, in a short period of time, he grew his audience and now stands out in his field, attracting the attention of entities like US News and World Report and American Express.

In fact, his “space” is actually a conflation of several competitive markets—personal finance, freelancing, entrepreneurship, and career development. On the surface, this could make it even more difficult, yet he still manages to stand out. How?

One way was through the unique application of his strength as a Learner. Because of this strength, he’s able to, for example, interview 70+ people for a single post. As a result, his posts have the kind of uniqueness that separates his blog from the pack.

Here’s an important note: while the tactic is successful and makes sense, it wouldn’t necessarily work for others, such as myself, with a different strength profile.

My reaction to learning the amount of research he did was, “No way could I do that. Just thinking about it exhausts me!” The many others who have a similar reaction would probably not take this approach (or if they did, wouldn’t do so for long). As a result, he clears the field and emerges as a unique voice.

So what can you do?

Figure out one—actually, I recommend two strengths that, when applied to the way you develop your content, give you “energy,” but also help you stand out in your space.

3: Deliver value to customers

In the end, for your blog to become a full-time gig, you’ll need paying customers—ideally, the same people who read your blog.

To do this, you’ll need to find a way to not only stand out but deliver value.

One of James’s other strengths is Focus. While he’s certainly able to apply this to the actual building of his business, what’s interesting to me is how his customers value this Super Power.

His popular course, “The Remora Method,” helps people to increase their own focus on the immediate next step to build their freelancing or “side gig.” The course structures behavior around getting clients to focus. His direct, 1:1 interactions over email all focus on helping someone take that specific next action.

Especially for someone who realizes that they need focus, or want the step-by-step progress that focus generates, this Super Power provides great value that people are willing to pay for.

So what can you do?

Think about how your strength can be the vehicle for delivering a product or service that your customers will want. This will help you to lay the groundwork so your blog can ultimately support you as it does James.

Let your blog leap tall buildings in a single bound

Your strengths (aka Super Powers) are a valuable source of the basic building blocks to building a blog. Upon them, you can then layer the great tips and tactics out there (such as those on ProBlogger!).

This foundation includes:

  • having the energy to pour into the blog, so you can
  • stand out in the way you develop content, so you can
  • deliver value to readers who become customers.

James shows how it can be done. And when you listen to the interview, you’ll get a peek into something even bigger he has in the works (as a result of the Super Power of Significance). I believe it is by understanding how his Super Powers enabled all the moving parts to work, that you can discover the deeper drivers of these tactics and, more importantly, better see your own, unique path to entrepreneurship.

TT Fong uses his strengths to help people discover and apply their “Super Powers” to do remarkable things with greater ease and less strain at SpikingStrengths.com. He uncovers how successful people build businesses, careers, and teams by spending time in their “spikes” — check out the cinematic trailer of the interview series.

Reusing Freelance Writing Online: the Pros and Pitfalls

This guest post is by Emma Merkas of $30 Date Night.

It was my blog that landed me my weekly newspaper column.

I’m a huge advocate of self-publishing, If you know you’re talented at something, and if you have an opinion you want to express, a song you want to sing, or a specific skill you want to teach, go right ahead and do it.

The Internet has more than levelled the publishing playing field—judging by the state of traditional media outlets right now, it’s all but demolished it.

I’d been thanklessly blogging for about 18 months—five posts a week, very little to show for it in the way of traffic, and regular comments … all was going steadily, but not gangbusters—when I received a call from the editor of mX newspaper here in Melbourne.

She’d been reading my blogs and since her relationship and dating columnist had left for another publication, she wondered if I could do for the paper what I’d been doing online.

Yes, I could! Of course I could. I remember jumping around the loungeroom like a complete idiot while trying to keep my voice steady on the phone. My husband wondered what the heck was going on.

Readership of 700,000 across the Eastern seaboard of Australia. My photo and byline printed alongside it every week. My website plugged at the bottom. And an opportunity for a legit writing job…

Suddenly, I was a real writer. A proper, paid, professional writer.

But the column also gives me great new content for my blog.

I have my newspaper deadline every week. Even on my off days, even through my uninspired weeks, and even when I just can’t be bothered writing (every blogger battles it), it gets done. Because it has to.

Which is amazing, because then I get to post it to my blog, giving me steady and quality content for my site and ensuring I’m not burnt out by constantly writing the same stuff over and over again. If I had to rewrite every article on the same topic just so I could publish something, I doubt I’d last very long.

So here are some key points on reusing your freelance content for your own website, based on my experience.

1. Remember: your copyright is your livelihood

If it’s at all possible, retain the copyright on the works you produce for paying publications.

This should generally be standard if you are freelancing for a publication, rather than being employed as staff by the company, in which case they may have legal rights to the content.

The only way you can transfer your copyright is by signing a document. So be careful of what you’re signing!

If you don’t understand the agreement, wave it under the nose of a friend with some legal background (lawyers are a dime a dozen, right?).

2. Understand exclusive and non-exclusive rights

While I do own the copyright to my content, the paper has exclusive rights to my work for a period of time, meaning that I can’t resell or licence the content to any other third party in that time.

However, I am entitled to use my own work on my own website. If you’re not sure about this, clear it with your editor first, or do it as a courtesy anyway.

Always, always credit the publication when you publish on your own site. This creates goodwill and they’ll welcome the cross-promotion.

In my case, after the paper’s exclusivity period runs out, it still owns perpetual rights to my work that the editors can use as they see fit in their standard publications. As my agreement includes a clause that my work should always run with a byline, I’m not too fussed by this arrangement. The more promotion and publicity, the better for me and my website.

3. Give them first jump

Of course, the publication you’re writing for always has the right to publish the works first. In my case, I leave it at least a few days before I go live with my articles on my blog.

As mX newspaper is one of the rare beasts that doesn’t have an online portion, my columns are gone and forgotten—with no digital footprint—along with yesterday’s news. My blog ensures they live on.

Chances are, if a publication has taken you on to contribute work, they’re impressed already with your blog, your work, and your brand. Use that to your advantage when negotiating your contract and get as much access to reuse your own works as possible.

If you want to learn more about your rights as a content creator, the US Copyright Office or the Australian Copyright Council is a great resource for FAQs and legal advice.

Are you a freelance writer? Do you reuse your articles on your own blog? Share your negotiating tips and advice with us in the comments.

Emma Merkas is the author of the weekly ‘How Was It For You?’ relationships and dating column in Australian newspaper, mX. She is also the co-creator of the $30 Date Night date ideas website and blog. Find her on Twitter @30dollardate.

Blog Design for ROI, Rule 1: Prioritize the Opt-in Form

This guest post is by Gab Goldenberg, author of The Advanced SEO Book.

Are you writing phenomenal posts only to have your poor design fail you? Here’s how to fix that, with rules that will guide you whether you create a custom theme or just pick a theme and adapt it.

Today’s post is the first in a series on blog design for ROI.

Lots of articles give blog design rules or guidelines, but no one I’ve seen explains how these rules achieve your goals.

So let’s look at a business blogger’s possible ROI goals and how the design can help one achieve those goals:

  1. earning ad revenue
  2. earning revenue from selling your own products and services
  3. growing your email list, RSS + Facebook, or Twitter list (listed in decreasing order of value)
  4. building a community or audience—especially as reflected by comments, forum activity, etc.
  5. developing connections and networking.

Every blogger’s first goal should be developing repeat traffic from a loyal audience. Everything else—sales, links, social sharing, networking opportunities—is attainable from this.

In practical terms, the most direct way to achieve this is to blog regularly and to build an email list. Blog design can’t motivate you to write regularly, but it can maximize the number of people who subscribe to your newsletter.

Blog design for ROI rule #1: Prioritize the opt-in form above all

Q: How does your blog design help you build your list?

A: It makes the newsletter subscription call to action the most prominent element on any page, be it the homepage, an individual post page etc.

Sandra Niehaus of Closed-Loop-Marketing wrote an excellent guide to the factors of visual prominence (or “pop”), and I encourage you to read it.

Notably, Sandra highlights the following factors, which are within reach for every blogger to use.

  • location on the page
  • whitespace around an element
  • colour (saturation, hue and contrast).

Have a look at Derek Halpern’s Social Triggers. The design is brilliant with regards to building an email list. Here’s what an individual post page looks like:

Derek Halpern Home

Notice how besides the logo, the next most noticeable things are the email optin area and Derek’s face, followed by the title? Derek is making excellent use of both location, whitespace and color to draw attention to his opt-in box.

Even top marketers like Derek can improve, though.

If you look at the above screenshot, the email opt-in stands out—but it’s trying to shout over the logo and the further branding in the image box embedded in the post.

It’s easy to understand that Derek wants to brand himself and his blog as an expert source, but the large logo and face staring out are very distracting. Derek would likely increase his conversion rate by making the logo smaller and removing his face from the promotional box within his post.

What about branding? Branding is the result of relationships and getting your message out—two things which email does significantly better than a one-time view of a large logo and face.

So what lessons can we draw from Derek, on prioritizing our opt-in form in the blog design?

1. The ideal location to place your optin box is after the logo, before the content

This is the most prominent position you can place anything on the page, and since this is the call to action we care about, it fits here best. This is also why Google suggests placing AdSense ads there.

Failing this, you should still get it above the fold, and you can see that Derek did so at the very top of his sidebar. (Personally I’d love to see it integrated in the post’s upper right corner where his Insider box is, but that’s not always possible.)

2. Give the box plenty of breathing room

Note how it’s not squished between anything else? There’s also whitespace on the right and left margins, so this stands out even more.

3. Give it some colourThis way, it can contrast with the remainder of the page.

4. Make the rest of the page’s above-the-fold elements less prominent

Keep your logo small: look at Amazon’s for a good example of smart use of space. Also, avoid using a headshot above the fold, unless it’s integrated into your opt-in box.

Even this second point is debatable, as making the box too loud can make it physically hard for people to draw their eyes away from the opt-in to read your content. Or you could use a grayscale headshot in association with the author credits, or else resize the face image to be quite small.

The point is to be warily careful in using faces because they’re such a visually dominant element.

5. The spot before your comments is also a big draw visually, so put another opt-in form here

I attribute this prominence to people skipping down to the conclusion of a post to learn quickly what matters, as well as to being curious what others said and/or to see replies to their own comments.

Again, Derek does a good job with his placement, whitespace, and color contrast.

Derek's opt-in

So that was rule number 1: give the top spot in your visual hierarchy to your email list’s opt-in form.

I’d love if you could comment with other examples of bloggers whose designs do a very good job of persuading people to join their lists.

At this time over the next few weeks, I’ll share the other steps involved in designing your blog for ROI. To follow along, add ProbBlogger’s RSS feed to your reader!

Gab Goldenberg wrote The Advanced SEO Book – and you can get a free chapter here. Gab and Internet Marketing Ninjas, the folks behind the Blog Design for ROI series here on Problogger, are offering to mail you a free print copy of the Blog Design for ROI guide as a small book. Get your free copy from seoroi.com/blog-design-for-roi/ .