can you make $14 million a month with a blog, just like HuffPost? not likely

How tired are you of seeing headlines promising riches and wealth with blogging, only to find the same old tired platitudes and outdated information? How often have you heard lies by the blogging gurus who promise success but only offer fluff?

How disgusted are you by the cheesy online marketers using our desperation to trick us into reading their boilerplate content? These are the scam artists who prop up our hope and desire to make passive income from a blog when they know that, except for a few outliers, the only people making millions are the “authorities” teaching other people to make money by blogging about making money with a blog.

Phew! Sorry, I get a bit fired up. Sure, people are making some money, but there is nothing passive or easy about how they got there. The same old blogging formula that the blogging scammers are teaching isn’t going to get anyone to a point where they are making millions a month.

There are two ways to make millions blogging:

blogging success tip # 1:

Cheat. Yes, this happened a lot more back in Google’s salad days, when scummy marketers figured out you could make a lot of quick money by tricking the system. They set up many “shell” blogs, populated with plagiarized content, keyword-stuffed, and sealed with black hat SEO magic to reach the number one SERP.

Then, when you arrived on one of their blogs, faced with weak content and a wall of ads, they made it difficult for you to leave.

This scam went on until Google nipped it, but people are and will always be looking for ways to cheat the system. There are still black hat SEO specialists who make money by showing you how to trick Google and a dark web full of advice on how to steal content and profit from other people’s hard work by sprinkling SPAM all over it.

It doesn’t happen as often, but it does happen because there is a lot of money made from SPAM and scam.

blogging success tip # 2

I didn’t lie when I said five blogs make over $2 million per month in revenue. Courtesy of Forbes magazine and R.L. Adams:

(note: this information was released in 2017, and these numbers could either be much higher or much lower right now. The pandemic hurt everyone, but the big players are still out there earning. I will note the 2019 income numbers if I can source them)

  1. TechCrunch.com — $2.5 million per month — This blog was initially founded in 2005 by Michael Arrington and Keith Teare, but AOL acquired the site in 2010, and Verizon acquired AOL. They must still be going healthy and profitable if it is up and running.
  2. Mashable — $2 million per month — proving once again that clickbait pays the bills, Mashable continues to be on the list of the best blogs in the world. Owler still estimates their revenue at $30 million per year, so they bring in the cash. Interesting to see what the 2020 numbers will bring.
  3. MOZ — $4.25 million per month — SEO is a big business, and Rand Fishkin is a well-known authority. The blog and software are still going strong even though Rand left his company in 2018. MOZ still earned $70 million in revenue in 2019.
  4. Engadget — $5.5 Million per month — Another technology brand with humble roots continues to prove that people cannot get enough content about tech. Owler estimates yearly revenue to be between $25 and $100 million per year.
  5. Huffington Post (HuffPost) — $14 Million per month — The Pulitzer Prize-winning blog was another acquired by AOL, then gobbled up by Verizon Communications. They rebranded as HuffPost but still seem to have revenue between $500 Million and $1 Billion per year, so business is not bad. Again, I would like to see the 2020 numbers.

So, as you can see, it is possible to earn big, but it’s not likely. These blogs all started small before selling out to larger companies, so it is possible to create something that makes millions of dollars.

What do these blogs have in common, and how can you replicate their success, you ask?

a good blogging question — how can i make millions?

You might think the first thing I say you must have is a lot of money, but that is bullshit. The item you need most is luck. In combination with a few other things, these bloggers happened to occupy the right space at the right time.

luck

It’s not a cop-out to say these bloggers had luck because that is what it was. They may not have had overnight success, but their success did come from filling the right space at precisely the right time.

How many companies offering the same product and content never saw a dime? They were correctly positioned and happened to do the following at the right time:

  1. They filled an unmet need — There were ten other companies with the same content, but these blogs presented it so that they filled a massive demand in the blogosphere. They solved a problem or filled a niche, for lack of a better term.
  2. They provided the right viral content — They used headlines that worked (and may or may not have been clickbait) and put out content that people wanted, from massive SEO guides to the listicles that people love to read with their morning coffee. They didn’t listen to the people who told them they were selling out and published content that the audience wanted.
  3. They had the right people and resources — Ariana Huffington and Rand Fishkin were two of the names behind these blogs’ successes. And they went on to hire other people and visionaries that would help them climb to the top. They would get bought out by giant corporations with unlimited budgets to hire and market, and the rest is history.
  4. They didn’t quit — The most significant thing they had going for them was the drive to succeed despite hurdles and failures. They kept riding in the rodeo when everyone else hung up their spurs. If you look at all those companies, they had longevity, and that should tell you something.

It was a combination of a thousand big and little things that caused them to be a success, and when you sprinkle a lot of luck on top, it’s the icing on the cake. It’s not easy, and that is why so few people and companies make money blogging.

Blogging is a cutthroat world, and if you aren’t ready to swim with the sharks, you shouldn’t ever go swimming.

how can you be a blogging success?

Honestly, the chance you or I have to make millions every month is slim. But, there is a massive list of blogs and bloggers who make great money that no one would turn down, but I guarantee they all had the same recipe:

  • Luck, and something more
  • They filled an unmet need
  • They provided the right viral content at the right time
  • They had the right person or people and had some resources to help them along
  • They didn’t quit

But, these people didn’t just rely on luck to get them there. They had the drive and determination, and they put in the hard work to get them to the top. They wanted it more than everyone else, and that is why they earn when others fail.

who are they?

There is quite a big list of bloggers earning well, some even over $100k per year. Here are a few that stand out:

  1. Kat Kinsman of TastingTable — Kat used her passion and celebrity, along with the right kind of know-how, to fill a need as a hugely successful food blogger.
  2. Lindsay Ostrom of PinchofYum.com — Clearly, there was a need for content in the food industry, and Lindsey filled it with her superb visuals and engaging content.
  3. Abby of JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com — Abby combined her knowledge and passion for organizing, decorating, and helping others create online businesses to fill an unmet need with fantastic content.
  4. Michelle Gardner of MakingCentsofCents — Personal finance is a niche where people with experience and know-how, who can put out great content are doing very well. Michelle consistently delivers and has been helping people with their finances for over five years.

These are a few of the people who have proven that it is possible to be a successful blogger and earn from knowledge and expertise. Sure, they aren’t making millions, but they are earning.

Sadly, only a few outliers will ever make millions of dollars every month, but it is possible to make a living if you don’t quit.

Most don’t have what it takes to be a success, and those scam marketers are doing a disservice getting people’s hopes up with promises of easy, passive income.

I believe in blogging and continuing to learn every day, which will contribute to my success. If you do the same and follow the above recipe, you may earn your millions with blogging one day. Just don’t listen to the scam artists, and don’t be a cheater.

if you are not consistent, you should quit blogging

How many blogs have you built, filled with content, and monetized, only to stop publishing a few months later? You start with your hair on fire, but life gets in the way, and before long, the blog seems like the last thing you want to deal with.

I went back over the last 20+ years of blogging and made a count of the blogs I let go fallow, and die on the vine.

It was 27.

I spent the time to purchase hosting, set up my WordPress installation, write content, design logos and social media graphics, monetize, and promote only to lose interest and shut it down in disgust.

But, my past is not all bad.

I’ve created successful blogs, and one, which I cannot name, I even sold for a tidy sum of money. I’ve built blogs for others that went on to do very well and contributed my expertise for free to startups who went on to be the talk of the town.

And then there is Medium, my biggest success story.

Doing the Work for Two Years

Considering the amount of failure I’ve experienced, you might think I would have started publishing on Medium with low expectations.

I didn’t.

I joined Medium intending to be the number one earning writer on the platform.

Is it confidence or an inflated ego? Both. I overestimated my writing skill when I started and had to learn some tough lessons about what makes a good writer. I had to learn there was more to writing than saying what you think people want to hear. I had to learn that even though my mom thought I was a good writer, no one else did, and I had to put in the work to make sure that people would, in fact, come to read what I write.

So I’ve been writing every day and publishing as often as I have a quality piece to release. I have been reading and learning. I have been searching for a voice. I have been doing whatever I have to do to put my best work out for people to read.

And, I’ve done one other thing that is totally responsible for any success up until this point.

I’ve been consistent.

I committed to writing and publishing, and in the almost two years I’ve been writing on Medium I haven’t taken my foot off the gas pedal.

Why now, and why Medium?

Another Stake in the Ground

  • I am a poser in the worst way possible, and I have been for all my adult life. I get interested in something and announce to everyone that I will be the most successful (fill in the blank) ever! But I never finish anything.
  • I am a multipotentialite who constantly picks up and discards hobbies and projects as I walk the path of my life.
  • I am a wantrepreneur who starts and fails at businesses as smoothly as most people change their clothes.
  • I am like the Japanese idiom, mikka bouzo, which translates literally as: ‘three-day monk’. It refers to a person who easily gives up after starting something new.
  • I am ineffectual and feckless.

Most of the time.

But I’ve stuck with Medium. I am consistent to a fault. Even the times in my life when my mental illness gets the best of me, I recover and get right back to work where I left off.

Even when my son was born last year, when I wasn’t able to publish near as much as I wanted, I still wrote every day and created some fantastic pieces.

I’ve been consistent because I don’t gauge my success by a yardstick the others use. I’ve stayed on the path even though doubt creeps in, and I start thinking I am moving too slow.

I’ve followed through even after becoming discouraged by my stats and my curation percentage.

I decided that if I couldn’t be consistent, I would just quit blogging and writing on Medium and retire my laptop.

For me, it’s all or nothing.

I am far from financial success, but I still feel successful because more than anything else in my life, I have stuck with Medium.

I am going to see this thing through to the end.

Don’t Do Anything Halfway

What is the lesson here?

Even if you are a multipod like me, and jump from thing to thing, there comes a time in life when you have to put a stake in the ground and decide once and for all that you will succeed at something.

If Medium isn’t the thing for you, pick one other thing. Maybe it’s a blog or a newsletter. Perhaps it’s not writing at all but vlogging or streaming. Maybe it’s an offline business.

Find your thing and follow through. Be consistent and do whatever it takes to get to the point where you feel you are a success, whether that be at 1 million dollars or 100 articles published.

If you find something you enjoy doing, put all your effort into doing it.

Because, if you aren’t consistent, be it with blogging, or life, you might as well just quit.

where is the best place to start a blog?

Why are you looking for the best place to start a blog when the “experts” are saying blogging is dead?

Online marketers, like good capitalists, tend to glom on to the latest thing and abuse it until they deplete its usefulness. Think newspapers, magazines, and television. Now they think they have used up blogging and have moved on to social media.

But the joke is on them because blogging is still a very valid and active platform to explore topics and disseminate information.

What is it you want to do with blogging? Do you want to make money, find your voice and an audience, or explore an interest? Knowing what your goal is from the outset will help you decide the best place for you to start your blog and publish your work.

Let’s talk about three.

1. WordPress

What is it: Self-hosted blog platform

What is it for: Making money.

Pros: WordPress is powerful and customizable and used if your main intention is to make money. You can easily monetize a blog with WordPress by placing ads (if you must use display ads) or affiliate links, setting up a members-only subscription area or using a plugin to set up e-commerce and sell your ebook. It is also easy to create ways to collect your user’s email address, which is essential.

Cons: Although WordPress is free, you will need to pay for hosting and plugins to help you set up a membership area. If you are planning on making money, you can look at the cost as an investment, but if you are just looking for a place to find your voice and explore different topics, you may want to look at something cheaper or free.

I’ve been building and monetizing blogs for many years. I still have a few of my own because I love having control over my content that you can’t get with some of the platforms.

But, blogging is changing so much right now that making money with a WordPress blog is no longer a given if it ever was.

If you already have a proven niche and audience, starting a WordPress blog can be a great way to bring your audience together from around the web: social media, guest posting, and when you publish on some of the larger platforms. Once you have your audience together, you can gather email addresses and offer them your products and services.

Just know that making money with a self-hosted blog is an uphill battle, and there are no promises that you will ever make a dime — most people don’t.

But, there is a chance that you can make money if you are willing to blog long-term, and you put in the work it takes to create success.

2. Substack

What is it: Newsletter, blog, and podcasting platform where you can charge a monthly fee for access.

What is it for: Making money, exploring an interest.

Pros: Substack is a newsletter platform, but they also host your newsletters on their server, and others can access the older editions, just like blog posts. The great thing about it is you can charge a monthly fee for access, so you could potentially make quite a bit of money of you have a built-in audience in your niche.

Cons: You cannot use your own domain name, and it is not very customizable. It is for someone who doesn’t mind sacrificing some look and feel for ease of use.

I have two newsletters with Substack, and my only complaint has been that I can’t use my own domain name. It is so easy to set up and manage that it’s excellent for beginners who find the WordPress learning curve too demanding.

I haven’t explored the podcasting element, but I send out weekly newsletters and maintain my old issues on a blog.

You should have a defined niche before creating a newsletter, and it helps to have an email list already or following on social media. You can import your list, and Substack will act as your email service. If you ever decide to leave, you can export your subscribers and use them on another service.

Substack is a great place to create a community around your topic and is free to use. The only time you pay is a small percentage of your monthly subscriptions if you choose to start charging.

Substack is a wonderful place to take your blogging to the next level.

3. Medium

What is it: Publishing platform that allows you to have your own blog (publication) and make money by writing and publishing.

What is it for: Making money, finding your voice and an audience, exploring an interest.

Pros: Medium is a great all-around platform. You can become a member and read other writers’ work, publish your own “stories,” create your own publications, and submit work to others. If you join the Medium Partner Program, you can earn money by how much people read your work. Medium also has high domain authority, so it is easy to rank your stories on Google.

Cons: You are very much at the mercy of the curation process and the algorithm. You have very little control of your content and how it’s promoted within Medium. Your stories will continue to be promoted by Medium if you are curated, but if not, stories have a tendency to die quickly. You cannot use affiliate links or ads to make money, and you must only have a simple text link to your email list.

I’ve been writing and publishing on Medium since October 2018, and I’ve been through the ups and downs with the algorithms and the constant race to get work curated. There are others on the platform who make thousands more than my $300 a month, and there are others who only make enough to cover the cost of their Medium Membership.

There are a lot of “experts” that will gladly tell you the secrets to Medium success, but what I’ve found is the best thing to do is publish your absolute best work frequently, and promote the hell out of it on social media.

You will have stories you think will do well, do nothing, and you will have a piece you spend a half-hour writing go on to be your most successful story.

The money is excellent, but the best thing about it is that it gives you a place to explore your interests and find solutions to problems and niches that work for you. Along the way, you will find your voice and build an audience. You will become a better writer and learn what it takes to be a financially successful one.

Medium is a great platform if you want to make a little money and don’t want the hassle of building a self-hosted blog. You can write and publish, and people will read and comment. There is a built-in audience of thousands of other writers who will be your new audience. Some will become your best friends.

Medium is a place for a writer to be seen and read.

The Best Place to Start a Blog Depends on You

Find out what you want to do with your blogging and make an informed decision from there. Research all three platforms and make your own list of pros and cons.

Some may say that blogging is dead, but you can still get value from starting a blog now. Depending on what you want to accomplish, blogging can help you get there.

I’ve given you the best places to start a blog, now all you have to do is step on the path and start your blogging journey.

stop using so many ads on your blog!

The first thing that loads on your blog is a massive and hideous green and yellow banner at the very top, the prime real estate of the page. I wasn’t even sure I was in the right place at first because I couldn’t see a logo.

The ad was for an SEO tool that no one needed, and I was careful not to click it accidentally. It screamed MALWARE, and I would have hit the back button if I was on my phone because there would have been no way to scroll without activating an endless loop of hard-sell nonsense.

After the blog post title, which was much smaller than it should have been, there was another colossally large square ad that pushed the content I wanted to see down the page, and I had to scroll again.

The sidebar was a mass of blinking and twirling gifs, and somewhere a video ad autoplay at full volume.

After I found the tiny “X” to close the video, I noticed that yet another banner ad was filling the entire bottom half of my screen. I finally found the opening paragraph of the blog post. I supposed it would be answering a question I had, at least I hoped it would after reading through a long affiliate disclaimer telling me that there would be other attempts to get me to buy products you recommended.

A full thirty seconds had passed since I arrived on the page, and as I read the first few words, the entire screen was covered by a popup asking if I wanted to join your mailing list.

That was enough for me. I left.

A Web Full of Advertising

It’s funny because it’s true that this situation happens more than I would like to admit. As a blogger who writes about blogging, I visit a large number of websites every day, and I see this repeated over and over.

I don’t use an ad blocker, even though about 200 million other internet users have installed one. I do a lot of critiquing of blogs, and I have to experience the same thing the average consumer does when visiting these sites.

The scary thing is that it’s worse on mobile, forcing users to use mobile ad-blocking software as well:

“Mobile adblock usage grew by 108 million year over year to reach 380 million active devices globally by December 2016. At this time (2017), there were over 600 million devices running adblock software globally — 62% of which were on mobile devices.” — pagefair.com

Everyone is sick to death of display ads. No, let me clarify: everyone is sick of “bad display ads.” In fact, 77% of people who use ad-blocking software agree with the statement, “I wish there were a way to ad-filter instead of ad-block completely.”

I’ll even admit there are ads I like to see at times if it fits with the information I happen to be viewing, and the ad is tasteful. One example is seeing an ad for a new PC game when I am watching gaming videos on YouTube.

The issue is with the ads that are fraudulent (Ad fraud is expected to exceed$50 billion globally by 2025, coming in second to the drug trade), intrusive (do you ever feel like you are being stalked by the retargeters?), misleading, dumb, ugly popups and video ads that start by themselves.

Don’t even get me started on ads you find in your Facebook feed for lingerie after you had a phone conversation with someone about needing new underwear.

Honestly, when most of us surf the web, we come out feeling so dirty that it is almost like we swam in a polluted sea after an oil spill.

Bloggers, why are you making us feel dirty when we come to your blog seeking answers you promised you could help us find? Why must it be a constant battle to get through the ads and popups to read the actual content?

“But we have to make money somehow”

The web is broken, and blogs are worse off than most of the other content on the web. Just like everything else enjoyable, capitalism came along and dropped a big pile of shit right on any joy we had navigating through the internet.

As soon as people started realizing they could make money blogging, display ads have been appearing everywhere.

Back in the late 1990s, the web was a much simpler place. You could find the information you needed without jumping through hoops or traversing sales funnels. But, soon enough, we started seeing banners appearing and flashing animated gifs announcing new websites and software.

The web soon became an unbearable place to visit because the black hat marketers had figured out that you could trick Google with duplicate, keyword-stuffed content and SEO hacks, and get the tops spots on the search engine results.

It was a dark time for the web, with content farms, black-hat SEO, and walls of display ads with very little content hogging the first page in Google search.

That is until February of 2011 and the Panda algorithm update. Google fought back against the farms and sleazy marketers. They penalized duplicate content and pages with too many ads. They stop the black hatters at their game.

The marketers screamed at the unfairness of it all, but most of us bloggers were happy because we finally had a chance against the cheaters with high domain authority and hundreds of fake backlinks.

Life was good for a while.

But here we are, slipping back into the same old patterns. Google hasn’t gotten less strict; marketers have become savvier, paying godlike SEO firms to increase their rankings, and using AI to trick the ad-blockers.

There is a battle playing out on the web between the people who want to use the internet to benefit humankind and the marketers and advertisers who have no problem destroying any benefits of an open and free internet as long as they make money.

What Bloggers Can Do To Help

Now, there is nothing wrong with making money; don’t get me wrong. We all have to make a living, but what you have to understand is that all of this loading up pages with ads only benefits the 1%. Sure, the little guys make a bit, but the big money is at the top.

The fat cats are the ones that decide that if one ad is good, 100 plastered on a page is better. They are the ones who set up percentages that only benefit them, while the people doing the work get little.

But, this is an article about blogging and marketing, not politics, even though you should know who benefits when the web is one big advertisement.

All bloggers need to say NO to lousy display ads and popups. The best thing we could do now to ensure a free and open web is to limit display advertising and set rules governing their use that aren’t thought up by the people who stand to lose billions.

Google, Amazon, and Facebook should not be in charge of the who, what, why, where, and how of display ads. Like all capitalists, they will do what will most benefit them. We have to stop letting ad networks decide where and how ads go on your blog and take that control back.

It sounds drastic, but bloggers need to stop using ad networks altogether. We need to say no to the marketers and advertisers and start listening to the audience.

We need to get rid of bad ads altogether:

It’s not easy, but it is the right thing to do for blogging and the web.

Yes, we will lose revenue, but everything will balance out. We will figure out new ways to make money. We will find a better way to work with ads so that only the suitable ads remain, and our pages won’t groan under the weight of blinking fonts and video that starts by itself.

Take Blogging Back

Bloggers are a rare breed of people. We use words and information to connect with others and affect them on so many levels.

Don’t give our control away to the ad companies.

The sooner we take our blogs back, the easier it will be for us to start finding other ways to make money and support our projects and businesses. Instead of display ads, think about:

  • Subscriptions
  • Locked content
  • Affiliate marketing (used moderately)
  • Courses and ebooks
  • Merchandise
  • Services

We will find other ways to make money as we dream up new experiences for our audiences, inform them, excite them, entertain them, and educate them.

There is a considerable future in blogging — bad display ads are just not part of it.

how to blog the post-pandemic way

You might think that me telling everyone they need to start blogging differently is insane, especially for those who are making thousands from their blogs every month.

But with a new post-pandemic age, there comes a new way of blogging. And it’s in our best interests to fix the problems of the past before we try to set blogging rules for the future.

Has blogging as usual ever worked, except for selling courses on how to make money blogging? It’s time we thought about the things we are teaching others about the world of blogging before we doom another generation to failure and destitution.

Blogging and Life As We Know It, Has Changed

The pandemic has transformed the world, and from now on, everything will be different.

Do you think concerts and sporting events will be as popular now that we know we can get a virus from being too close to other people? Streamed shows and holograms will replace live concerts, and physical sports will change to something one can do from a safe distance.

Esports.

Soon, we won’t be waiting in line for driver licenses and business permits – everything will move online, and we will digitally sign our contracts with a secure ID that we can swipe through a device at our computer.

Estonia is already doing it, why not the rest of the world?

And why take the chance of infection by going to Wal-mart or the mall when we can read reviews on our favorite blog and order products with the click of a button? Many of us are already doing it, so why not the rest of the world?

Movies? Think Netflix and YouTube.

Commute to work and sit in an office? Try Zoom and any of the thousands of other business apps instead.

School? College? It’s already online.

Medicine? How about skipping the waiting rooms with online consultations and only going to the hospital for emergencies and procedures?

Restaurants? Why take the chance? Order online and have it delivered to your home hot and fresh.

Travel? Virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Have you seen the movie based on the book, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline? Computer simulations will replace any destination you could go to or dream of visiting while you sit in a chair in the safety of your home.

Dating? VR and holograms work, don’t they?

Sex? Um…okay, skip that.

Up until now, our lives were influenced by the internet, in that we used it as a resource. Now, our entire lives will be there, online.

Blogging will fit in with the whole puzzle. As much as we need the developers and programmers, we will also need the content creators and purveyors of information.

In 2020, we rated blogs as the 5th most trustworthy source for gathering online information. Can you imagine what it will be like post-pandemic?

We will combine blogs with e-commerce, and we will ship a customer a product after they have read a review on our blog. Blogs will give movie reviews and host watch parties. Blogs will solve the problems created by changing our lives over to a tech-driven society and be THE source of information for a world turned upside down by a pandemic and the resulting recession.

More than ever, everyone’s lives will focus on the internet: working, shopping, learning, researching – entertainment, sports, music, and information. Experiences will be in the realm of the internet now, and we, as bloggers, better rush to meet the need.

Blogging will be a massive part of our new digital life, and it needs to change, or else.

How to Blog the Wrong Way (How We Do it Now)

Since everything will change, we have to go back and see what it was that we were doing wrong in the first place, so we don’t keep making the same mistakes blogging.

Don’t Find a Niche

Before, everyone focused on finding a niche that fits with their passions. We need to change that. Just because we are passionate about something doesn’t mean anyone else will be, so instead, we need to be active about finding solutions to problems.

No longer can we pick a generic niche we find exciting and hope an audience will come when we build a blog around it. It won’t happen. We need to look at trends and data and find out where people are having issues.

Once we have identified a problem, we need to find a way to solve it that doesn’t involve committing a crime. Then we need to create content.

So you say you aren’t passionate about problems? Write about solutions long enough, and you will find passion, especially if you start making money. Your solution, earning you a few thousand dollars, is enough to fill you will passion.

And if money won’t do it, think of the people you will be helping. Unabashed altruism is a thing of beauty, and if you have it, people will flock to you to find answers.

Where is the Content?

How many blog posts and articles should we have before we launch our blog? Who knows, but 1 or 2 is definitely not it! We need to make sure we have plenty of evergreen content published on our blog before we even think about making it live.

What about an “About” page? Privacy policy? You want your site to be legal, don’t you?

Bloggers rush to write a few 300-word posts so they can embed ads. They haven’t even answered any questions, and already they are asking for something.

This brings me to the next problem.

What About Making Money with Our Blogs?

That is another problem with blogging as we do it now. We are jumping in too soon and monetizing the hell out of our blogs before our audience has told us what they want to buy from us. We are asking them to do something for us when we haven’t added value to their lives yet.

We are throwing up ugly ads, blocking all our content from view, and creating usability problems, hoping some of our traffic accidentally clicks on an ad. No one is clicking intentionally, and that is why we have to have 100K pageviews a month before we make a few bucks in commissions.

We are asking them to click on our affiliate links and buy products they don’t want. They came to solve a problem with information, not get a subscription to Tailwind.

We are offering low-value courses that are almost the same thing that every other blogger is pushing. I mean, how many classes do you need to kill it on Pinterest?

The audience didn’t come to your blog to get the hard-sell – they don’t trust you enough yet to buy from you. They haven’t even decided if they like you.

And no, 30 seconds after they arrive on your blog is not a good time to trigger a popup asking them to join your mailing list. If you want someone to leave, block the content with a popup. It will happen.

Don’t Be Inconsistent

Once we have some content published, we need to keep distributing more fantastic content. How often? Well, that is totally up to us. The thing we need to do is make sure we develop a pattern.

Don’t post five times one week then go silent for a month. If we publish once a week, pick a day. If three times a week, pick three days when we know most people will be reading. Post on the same day and the same time on that day.

People don’t want to have to guess when we are going to publish, so stop making them think.

Be consistent.

Don’t Focus on Quantity

I’ve learned the hard way that while publishing every day seems like the thing to do – if you are not committing many hours to the process every day, the quality of your work will suffer.

I would rather publish one epic post a week than three weak ones.

People hate weak, and Google doesn’t like it much either.

I had a few months straight, where I published on Medium every single day, sometimes up to three times per day. And even though I was writing for 12-hour stretches, the quality of my work was terrible. People noticed and stopped reading. My earnings plummeted.

Now I post two times a week and make sure that every piece I write is a winner before I hit that publish button.

Now I am earning more than ever.

Don’t Make it About Yourself

My main problem before was that I was writing too much about myself. I loved the personal essay. I wrote about mental health and my life of trouble, but I never really added value to other’s lives.

I’ve spent 80% of the last 20+ years writing about myself, and you can probably guess I’m not rolling in money right now.

I don’t have a book deal. I don’t sell pieces to magazines. I’m not a travel writer.

I may never be a brilliant essayist.

I decided to stop writing about myself so much, and only adding personal anecdotes when they could help my reader understand something, or I was writing from direct experiences, like now.

When you write, your reader should know immediately what is in it for them. They didn’t come to your blog to hear about your life like you are famous, rich, or a celebrity.

People want value, and you must give it to them.

Be Committed

Blogging is not something you can do for a few weeks and then sit back and watch the money roll into your bank. You have to be doing the work, creating content, promoting, refining – day in and day out.

If you are not committed to the process from day one, it will show in your work. If you are just going through the motions, people will see. If you are not serious about what you are doing, you might as well never start blogging.

I see so many start and never finish. Even I have a past track record of starting blogs and forgetting about them. The web sags under the weight of the burning husks of my previous blogging endeavors, and that is why I am telling you that it doesn’t work.

If you want to be a successful blogger – no matter your definition of success – you have to show up and do the work.

It’s the Little Things Really

If someone says they have all the answers when it comes to blogging, you have to question their motives.

Even me.

I know I don’t have all the bases covered, but after 20 years, I’ve taken the blindfold off and started taking a look at the way we “do” blogging with new eyes. I admit that I was still giving out questionable information to make money until very recently.

I have no motive now except for making a little spare change when I publish on Medium. I’m not monetizing posts on my personal blog any longer, at least the ones where I talk about blogging. I’m only trying to figure out where it is we went wrong with blogging and how we can fix it.

I am digging deep to find the answers and solutions to the question: How can I make money with a blog?

And I will find those answers.

How to Do Blogging Right

First, let’s go back to what we have been doing wrong and make sure we address those points:

  1. Don’t find a niche, look for a problem, and find the solution. Do some research. Brainstorm a list of issues in your life that you may have an answer to. Go to Google Trends and find out if people are searching for the problem you had. If they are, use Ubersuggest (it’s free) to see how much competition you will have solving this problem and if there is an audience ready to read your content. You will be in a much better place than if you picked some generic niche.
  2. Before you launch or monetize your blog, create content for a while. Get your audience to trust what you say before you try to get them to buy anything. Stop throwing up tons of annoying ads and popups. All they want is their problem solved. Solve the problem – gain trust. Gain trust, and you can sell them anything.
  3. Be consistent. I realize this may be hard on platforms like Medium, where you may be waiting for publications to publish for you, but at least do your best to have an approximation of a schedule. If you always post twice a week, keep doing it.
  4. Don’t make everything about yourself. Write to add value to the lives of your audience. If you aren’t adding value, you are writing for your mother, because she is the only one that will read. Get out of your own head and find out what the audience wants.
  5. Be committed to doing whatever it takes to be a successful blogger.

What Else?

A new way of blogging requires us to have a new set of priciples for soing things the way we do. Here are a few I’ve been working on:

  •  90% of content success is the headline. I try to create five different headlines before I write the article, just so I am primed to write about the subject, and I write 5 more after I finish to make sure I am writing the best headline possible. I tried writing clever plays on words, but nothing is better than just spelling out the value you intend to give. Keep it simple.
  • Ignore all the “writing” advice. I’m guessing you are regularly reading articles and essays about how to be a better writer. Stop it! Chances are you already know everything you need to know. Stop looking for fancy formatting tips and hacks to make you appear larger than life. Find your voice and use it. Be different. Don’t copy anyone else. All the secrets and hacks will get you nowhere. Just write. And publish. And then move on to the next fucking thing. You are already a good writer unless you are not, and you will never find out the truth if you don’t write.
  • Don’t overuse images. While a great image can evoke emotion and interest in the mind of your reader, overdoing it only irritates and breaks up an otherwise lovely flow of words. Don’t sprinkle images that mean nothing because you can. The only people telling you to use a lot of pictures are trying to sell you an Adobe Stock subscription.
  • Be yourself. Being a successful blogger is not just about how well you write. It’s about your look, your voice, your uniqueness. Look at the spectrum of bloggers who are making money. There is no one way to position yourself to the audience. Be yourself and cut to the chase. If they don’t like you, at least you won’t have wasted any time pleasing them. Show your true colors! Be a character. Be different.

Is That It?

Quite frankly, there is so much to blogging that I may research and test to find the answers for the rest of my life and still not have made a scratch in the understanding of what it takes to be a successful blogger.

We’ve covered a lot of ground, but our quest for knowledge will continue with other articles. As we usher in a new age, the idea of blogging is changing, and we need to be changing right along with it.

Never give up trying to find the answers and looking for the truth. When the day comes that I have found the formula for successful blogging, I will be sure to share it will you first.

Be different. Use your voice. Be committed. These are variables you have control over. Stop concerning yourself with what you can’t change.

Move forward in your blogging journey and start doing blogging the right way.

keep blogging – even when everyone exaggerates how much you can make

“How to Make $2000 a Month with a Small Blog.”

“How to Make $3000 a Month as a Newbie Blogger in Just 6 Months!”

“How I make over $12,000 in my 9th Month of Blogging.”

“How I made $16,430 Working from Home in February.”

“How We Made $144,166.18 in One Month Working from Home.”

The hype is how they get you.

I spent 5 minutes on Pinterest this morning searching for “how to make money blogging” and found these five headlines. There were the first headlines I saw.

The pinners know what colors to use, what fonts work best, and what pictures give us a feeling of ease.

They know what to promise to get you clicking because its easy to drop in a disclaimer somewhere in the post we aren’t likely to see.

Hey, it’s legal as long as it’s there.

And even the bloggers who do spell out that “these are our earnings and the results are not typical” know that they have the reader hooked by then because they were told they could make “X” dollars a month and do it quickly.

This dance has been happening for as long as bloggers have figured out they can sell on their blogs. When I decided I was going to take my experience blogging and try to make money all those years ago, I was drawn in my the promises of passive income with “authority sites,” “affiliate marketing,” and “blog monetization.”

I bought the courses and the ebooks from the guys who said they had it all figured out and I could easily follow in their footsteps. $3999 was not a lot to spend on a course because it was an investment in my future, and after all, I only had to pay $149 a month for a few years.

I ate up the fluff because I wanted to believe that I, too, could make the same money with little effort.

They appealed to me because I had an illness and couldn’t work, and making that kind of money working from home was like a dream to me.

That is how they get you.

If you lost your job to the virus, or got a taste for working from home, and you can’t see yourself going through that commute again and sitting in an office for 8+ hours a day. You like spending time with your family. If you live alone, you figured out it was better sitting at home in your underwear, eating Doritos, and only putting clothes on from the waist up for the daily Zoom meeting.

If your employer doesn’t let you have that, at least you know you can always make $12K a month blogging.

Right?

That is how they get you.

Don’t Fall for the Blogging Hype

Bloggers still know they can get you to click their link by wording their message a certain way and appealing to the person inside of you who wants and needs money, freedom, and a better environment.

Making thousands from home is a dream for many, and has been since Great Grandfather Jeb first put on overalls and went to work at the dairy. If only he had cows of his own, he could make enough money working from the farm to feed the family and buy a new wagon next fall!

If you spend enough time searching for the secret to making money from home on places like Google and Pinterest, you can bet you will come across the promises of easy, passive blogging riches.

Ánd, while some outliers are making $100K a month, its a very tiny percentage of the 600 million blogs on the web. Less than 2% make over 150K a year!

Whatever you have to do to thicken your skin against the onslaught of blog marketers trying to convince you to buy their book or course, do it.

It helps to know the truth that, according to the website Statista, the number of bloggers in the United States will reach 31.7 million users in 2020. 67.5% of bloggers blog to make money, but 50% earn less than $100.

But, that doesn’t mean you can’t make a living blogging; after all, I still blog knowing the truth.

Why Should I Keep Blogging?

As I said, there is money to be made blogging. But, in all honesty, my blogs make very little right now– the only real money I make writing is on Medium.com.

So why do I still write for my blogs every day?

I do it because I know writing for a blog is like playing the long game. It takes time to tweak the SEO so Google ranks your posts. It takes time to build up domain authority. It also takes time to gain traction on social media, and you have to look at how it will be next month or even next year.

I know there is money in blogging if I think long term, and I am willing to continue running my blog and writing content that will be evergreen in the future.

How about you?

You should keep going because no matter how long you have been blogging, success can still be out there in the future, so you need to keep striving for it.

Why can’t you be one of the smaller percentages of people making money from blogging? What if all that separates the winners from the losers is that the losers quit too soon?

Here is what I mean. If you don’t quit and don’t just wait to hopefully make money, you take your success in your own hands.

Instead do this:

  1. Try new things. There is a ton of information on the web about what is working and what isn’t. Look past the hype, and you will find nuggets of gold.
  2. Keep gaining blogging experience.
  3. Find out what people are reading on the web. Use the free tool, Ubersuggest, to look for high-performing content ideas and keywords.
  4. Write more content. Develop a posting schedule.
  5. Write longer posts. Bloggers who write articles of 2,000 words or more are more likely to have better results.
  6. Learn advanced SEO. Read Backlinko and the Ahrefs Blog.
  7. Spend more time engaging with readers on social media. LinkedIn is proven the most effective social media platform for delivering content and securing audience engagement.
  8. Write a few guest blogs and ask other bloggers to write for you.
  9. Try also posting your content on Medium. Make sure you set a canonical link to the original post on your blog. You never know, you may make money with the Medium Partner Program.

Stop following the same formula to blogging success that the gurus keep pushing. You never know what will work until you try it.

Don’t wait for something to go viral; make it happen on your own.

So instead of getting jaded by the hype, keep doing what will get you to success: write, tweak, update, schedule, and engage.

Ignore the fluff, hype, and posturing, and keep doing what you know will get you to where you want to be.

don’t just niche down—find a problem and solve it

It was a one-sided conversation.

“Niche down!”

“Further down.”

“Narrow your focus!”

“I said narrow!”

“Almost there!”

“That’s it!”

I looked at him, confused. “Carpentry nails?”

“Yes, build a blog about that!”

That was the last time I talked to Kevin.

Kevin was grooming himself to be one of the many blogging gurus. He said he knew everything there was to know about making money from blogging, and he was offering to be my mentor.

Kevin was a tool.

But, he did something for me that day. He got me thinking about the whole “niche” thing. I already knew you couldn’t just pick a topic and expect that people cared enough about it to come back to your blog week after week and continue reading your content.

I mean, carpentry nails? Sure, people were searching for it on Google, but who really cares about nails?

Even carpenters aren’t likely to care.

What I decided was that for a niche to be valid, it has to solve a problem, and the problem has to be something that people care enough about that they would come back to your blog again and again.

Kevin eventually niched himself in a corner when he sunk all his money and time into a blog and e-commerce store that specialized in jewelry made from old computer parts encased in glass.

Career death by niche.

The Best Advice About Blog Niches

One of the main problems with the blogging formula comes up right at the beginning of the process. I even pushed this advice for many years before Kevin gave me an epiphany, even though I am in no sense of the word a guru.

We asked you to look at your passions, and find one that intersects with a topic you have intimate knowledge of or experience with. That was your sweet spot. After you make a list of topics that fall in your sweet spot, you find out if people are searching out keywords related to the spot.

If people were searching, you had a winner! And that’s why there are 500 million blogs on the web, and many of them are about obscure knowledge of carpentry nails, computer jewelry, Q-tip art, and Czechoslovakian movies of the 1920s.

Most are abandoned after the owners realized that only so much content could be written about a topic like that.

So what if instead, we start looking for problems for which we have the solutions? I did it with my blog. I realized that the blogging formula was broken, and I wanted to be one of the people who fixed it and made blogging into something worthwhile again.

So I changed the formula.

Try this:

  1. Find your sweet spot– the intersection between what you know and what you love. Now you have a standard niche.
  2. Brainstorm problems in this niche and turn them into keyword phrases you can search.
  3. Find out if others have this same problem. If you have the answer, you are way ahead of the game.
  4. Decide if the niche problem is broad enough that you can continue to write about it without boring your readers.

Congratulations, you have a new kind of niche that is a problem you can solve!

I know we are all intelligent enough to figure out if the problem niche is a realistic one. You may hear it on social media, or TV, or the news. You may have even had the same problem at one time in your life and solved it.

Now, create content and make some blogging magic.

Simple Solutions are Usually the Best

One of the issues with the blogging formula was that we are creating content around a niche that no one cares about. How do you get someone to care?

I guarantee if they have a problem, they will care if you can solve it.

For instance, instead of niching down, and down, and down to “PC hardware issues,” what if you found a problem people were having that they cared enough about that they search on the web about it?

“I can’t figure out how to install all this hardware in my PC and I’m getting error messages!” Now, that is better! Do you know how to build and repair computers? Great, start a blog, and create some content. Maybe even make some videos.

The sky is the limit!

Bottom line: I advocate for people to stop building blogs if they don’t need one. We don’t need any more noise or blogs taking up space on the web if they aren’t worthwhile. Let’s use the applications and software that people create that solve the problem of too many worthless blogs on the internet, like Medium, LinkedIn, and Adobe Portfolio.

That would help most people, but what about you?

What Is In It For You?

If we don’t run off half-cocked and build a blog about the first niche that seems promising, but instead, find problems worth solving, the web will be a much better place.

And when you are not spending all your time or money building and managing worthless blogs that will never help anyone, or will never make money, we will have more time to spend on the things that really matter.

Isn’t that what we want?

4 types of creatives who don’t need a blog or website

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  • Want to be a writer/artist/vlogger? Start a blog!
  • Have a business? Build a website!
  • Bored in quarantine? Start a blog!

Bullchickens!

Sometimes while surfing the internet, it seems as though the standard answer to any problem is to start a blog or build a website. The advice usually comes from someone who has something to gain, like a developer/designer or blogging guru trying to get you to buy their new course.

I should know—I was both of those people at different times in my life.

I still like to think that the answers to many of life’s quandaries are found while typing a blog post at full speed, but the realistic and honest dominant in my brain usually spills the truth about blogging and websites:

Most of you don’t need one, so don’t start one.

I’m not only just a blogger (just? Really?), but I am an article and essay writer as well. I’ve been writing on Medium for almost two years, and I will be there for a few more, as long as it remains a place that anyone can publish their masterpieces.

It’s also nice that you can make a little beer money while you are at it.

I feel like too many creatives are being told they need a blog or website when the truth is that it’s only sometimes someone ever needs one or the other. If these people are pressing you to build something you don’t want, and they have something to gain, ask them to go away!

So who are these creatives who shouldn’t start a website/blog?

1. The Writer

I do agree that you, as a writer, should have a hub, or someplace readers can go to find out more information, but there are far better platforms you can use than an overly complicated blog or WordPress website.

Building a blog is not as easy as publishing on Medium, or sending out a newsletter with Substack, where almost everything complicated is already done for you.

A WordPress blog or website requires a host, theme, plugins, time, money, effort, and a lot of trial and error to get ahead of that learning curve. I’m not saying don’t build one, but at least have a damn good reason for wanting it.

My advice: Just don’t do it.

2. The Vlogger

Casey Neistat has a website. He has probably been told a thousand times that he needs one. In response, he built this on his domain:

Casey is a filmmaker who has created a video every day for the past few years and published it on YouTube. That is his thing, so why would he want to start blogging or tinkering with a website when he is already a fantastic storyteller with video. What would it do for him?

Not a damn thing.

Whether you are a YouTuber or you use Facebook video, don’t feel like you have to be everywhere at once. You are already stretched thin making videos and keeping up with social media.

Now, I will say that the vlogging/blogging/website combination has worked well for some. Take Medium’s own Tom Kuegler. Tom does everything from vlogging to staying active on LinkedIn. And yes, he even has a blog where he is able to promote his Medium course.

Does he need all that? Probably not, but he somehow manages to keep everything straight and make a living from all his streams of income.

Yes, having a blog/website could be a new income stream, but don’t let anyone convince you it’s necessary for your career, because it’s not.

3. The Author

If you write books of any kind, you probably already have your hands full, and now, everyone is saying you have to be a blogger too. Yes, there are some great authors who also blog, like Seth Godin, but don’t let anyone ever convince you that you must blog or manage a website.

What if you just want a place where people can find out a little about you and see the list of titles you have written? Why not use Goodreads?

“The Goodreads Author Program allows published authors to claim their profile page to promote their book and engage with readers.”

Goodreads.com

Also, if your books sell on Amazon, you have an Author page onsite with information about you and links to all your work.

Would a blog or website help you? It could! There are two situations where you might want to blog. If you’re going to use content marketing to drive people to buy your books or if you want to sell your books directly on your website/blog, you may want to take the plunge.

Otherwise, make life easier on yourself and focus on writing your books.

4. The Artist

Having a place to show off your art, like a portfolio, is a great reason to start a blog or website.

But is it necessary? No.

You probably already know this, but there are better places on the web to display your art that doesn’t involve you fussing with plugins or tweaking your SEO constantly.

Here are a few:

You can easily set up a portfolio with these websites, so why would you go to all the trouble of learning WordPress? That is, again, unless you want to use content marketing and sell your work without an intermediary.

Do you need to build a complicated website/blog? Not at all.

Who Should Build a Blog?

Now, I’ll repeat it: if you happen to be a creative who has the entrepreneurial spirit and you want to go beyond your “thing” to use content marketing to create more income, a blog may be what you need. If you own a business and you want a place to connect to your customers, you may want a website. If you are a creative who wants to sell their own work, without intermediaries, you may want a blog.

Right now, I have two blogs: a travel blog (Frightened Traveler), and a blog about blogging (JasonJamesWeiland). There is a gaming blog on the way as well.

Why do I have so many?

These are projects that will pay off in the long run—my investments.

That is what you need to understand about starting a blog: it’s not something you can do well in your spare time. A blog requires a lot of work in the beginning, with little to show for it but hosting fees. Plus, you have to create excellent content continually, promote and market, create images and graphics, build traffic, tweak the SEO, and much more.

It’s a process I am willing to spend my hours and money on because I know it will pay off in the future. If I am eager to put in hard and smart work, I will eventually make money, and that is my goal.

It’s the same if your goal is to use content marketing to connect to readers and sell your work.

There is nothing easy or passive about it. Trust me!

I love to tinker and tweak and figure out what works and what doesn’t. I like to create epic pieces of content and promote the heck out of them on social media. I love marketing.

What I am saying is if you are willing to put in the work to be successful, and as long as you know what you are getting into, blogging can be very rewarding.

Anyone Can Start a Blog or Build a Website, But Not Everyone Should

Don’t listen to the people who tell you that you need a blog or website when you don’t. Think about it: there are more than 570 million blogs on the internet and 7 million blog posts are published every day, and the last thing we need is more people adding noise to an already crowded platform.

If you have something important to say, if you need another source of income, or if you want a place to connect to your readers and customers, get a blog or website.

If you just want a place to post about your cats and whine about having to stay another day cooped up in your house, that is what I use Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter for.

Trust me–A blog or website is not necessary.

making passive income is a lie – be active

It’s maddening.

Many people are searching for a way to earn money online right now. They have lost income, freelance clients, or were downsized by their employer because of the pandemic.

It’s inevitable that during the search for something to help them out of this rut, they will come across promises of unlimited passive income. Whether they are typing search terms into Google, or using Pinterest to find opportunities, promising passive income is a common scam.

Network marketing companies thrive on the dream of getting rich by doing nothing, and webinar and seminar promoters are laughing all the way to the bank because they can’t believe that suckers still think that you can get rich by doing nothing.

There are a lot of people willing to drink the Koolaid if promised they can make money while sitting on a beach somewhere warm and sunny.

They happily dive into the marketing funnels and swipe their credit cards for the chance at passive and easy income.

Passive Income is Attractive

Who doesn’t like the idea of doing a little work and making a lot of money?

Tim Ferris and Pat Flynn gained fame by making the idea of passive income possible. Their books and websites were slick enough to sell us on the idea, and many (including me) gladly paid for the pleasure of finding out how to turn nothing into something.

We learned we had to do all the hard work upfront — set up everything, like processes and funnels, in advance, and hire VAs from India or the Philippines to run the whole thing.

Then they told us it would run with a tiny bit of input from us (maybe 4 hours a week?), and frankly, for many, it worked for a while.

But it wasn’t realistic for the long term.

Tweaks needed to be made, products needed updating, and freelancers required direction. Not only that, but our customers also wanted personalized service, and tire of being stuck in a constant funnel when they dealt with us.

We were making sales, but not many, because others offering the same product were doing a better job with customer service.

How great could we be doing if we were rarely involved in the process? What kind of control did we have over our businesses if we never got our hands dirty?

Potential customers want unique and remarkable, and our 4-hour-workweek was only offering the same old vanilla flavor. But we never saw it because we were happy as long as we made some sales.

That formula is just not sustainable.

Passive Blogging?

Now everyone is trying to apply the same concepts to blogging. Passive blogging is an unrealistic idea based on the standard formula for building and managing a blog.

They assure you that you can set up a blog in a weekend, which is achievable only for a simple blog using the standard formula (niche/hosting/ WordPress/content/monetization), but not smart because there is more to blogging than following a recipe.

For a long time, (a still sometimes now) scammers were pushing us to set up a simple blog, put a few pieces of “borrowed” content on the site, do some black-hat SEO magic, get the number one spot on the search results, and watch the traffic and money roll in. We should have been able to make enough from Google AdSense if we repeated this process a few times, setting up niche blogs over and over.

But Google is much smarter than that, and like anything black-hat, or even grey-hat, it only works for a short time before we are left with a bunch of useless blogs and hundreds of dollars in hosting fees.

Remarkable is Not Passive

Nowadays, people want to be WOW’d! They want specialized content, 24/7 access, and excellent service. They want personalization with a human touch — not funnels and processes.

It’s understandable that something like having a business that makes a lot of money, but runs by itself so you can sit on a beach and sip fruity drinks, is attractive.

But the truth is that if we want to make a living online, we can’t be chasing passive income because passive income still requires an active presence, and we might as well be active from the beginning.

If we want to make money online in this day and age, we need to create something remarkable, be an active participant in our businesses, and be ready to change with the times.

How to Make Money Online

It’s 2020; the world is being forged into something new by a pandemic that is creating a new kind of consumer. Nobody will be falling for the same old marketing mumbo-jumbo. People have gotten much more sophisticated.

Think about the direction everything is going: People will be working from home. Kids will be schooling online instead of sitting in a classroom with 30 other virus-bearers. Nobody wants to rub elbows in the mall anymore.

Everything is going online, and if we can try to make the process less painful our bottom line will be much better.

If we realize that a lot of the products and services we offered in the past have gone from nice to necessity, we can really appreciate how great of a position we are in right now.

Active Blogging

Take blogs, for instance. Six months ago, I was predicting their downfall, and now that people are using the internet for every part of their lives, bloggers have suddenly become a hot commodity.

But people don’t want the same old generic information they can get everywhere else, packaged up to look new and improved. They want specialized content that changes with the trends and will come to us for help, if and when we are willing to give up the tried and true and give them unique and personalized.

Pick a niche, but not any old niche. Of the thousands of topics you could base your blog content around, you need to pick one that has three things:

  1. A problem you can address with content
  2. An audience
  3. A way to monetize

Forget the advice that you need to find a niche you are passionate about. In a perfect world, yes, but in the world of blogging, you find a niche with an audience that you have some special knowledge or experience with and learn to have passion for it.

If you want to make money, forget the passion, and follow the audience.


What are some of the best niches in which to start a blog? As always, the “how to make money” niche is still good, but it’s been done to death, and unless you have something groundbreaking to offer, skip it.

What else?

  • Lifestyle – This is very hot right now. How many people do you know are talking about gardening, homesteading, and survival? Start a blog about your victory garden and how you planted it, or:
    • How you fixed up your house
    • Organization
    • Cleaning and sanitizing
  • Food – Food is always a good topic, but stay away from offering only recipes, because most people will take the recipe and ignore everything else.
    • Baking – This is huge! Have you seen your Facebook timeline?
    • Foodie – When the restaurants open again, people will be lining up to get your take on all the new places.
    • Home Chef – Cook food, take pictures, and explain how you made the dish. Simple.
  • Health and Fitness – Now that we have been stuck at home for a while, and not really watching what we eat, don’t you think people are going to start looking for information about how to get in shape and lose weight?
  • Personal Finance – This is always a huge topic, but even more so now that people are struggling with common bills and expenses.
  • Health and Beauty – Makeup tutorials, beard care, how to cut your own hair, how to dress for a Zoom meeting, how to give yourself a pedicure. Need I say more?
  • Self-Help – People are as interested in how to fix their minds as they are their bodies. If you have something no one has ever seen and you could help people, this may be the niche for you.
  • Gaming – This is not a niche most people mention, but it is huge! It meets all the criteria, and best of all, has an audience of all ages!
  • Dating, Relationships, and Sex – Now that people are avoiding Tinder dates, we have to help people figure out new ways to get together and do their business. And if you don’t think sex is significant, take a look at Medium.com.

We have to be gearing our information to what people want, and you need to have a post-pandemic mindset. People may care less about concerts and festivals, but how many have vegetable seedlings starting on their patio this spring?

Take the Leap!

Active blogging involves taking that niche and your new audience and creating worthy content that is up-to-the-minute and unique. Focus on quality instead of quantity, because there is already too much noise out there.

Forget trying to make money in the first few months, just regularly feed your audience with great content and build an email list.

Be active in the community you build, whether it’s your own blog on WordPress, or content you create on Medium.com.

Don’t be passive about engaging with the people reading and commenting on your content.

Once you stop looking for an easy, passive answer, you will find a way to make money. Be patient, and give more than you receive.

A lot can happen when you are active instead of passive.

how most bloggers actually make money

I’ve had enough.

I tried to follow the formula.

I tried to tell people they can make money blogging by following their passion and creating a niche around it, but it’s utter bullshit.

I’ve been doing this over 20 years, and while the blogging formula that most push in their courses and ebooks does work for a minority of new bloggers, the vast majority of people making money from blogging aren’t doing it by following their passion.

They are doing it by following the money.

The Real Way Bloggers Make Money with a Blog

In the beginning, we all pick something we are passionate about. I’ve blogged about personal finance, mental health, diet, food, and writing.

It doesn’t always happen at the same time in our blogging journey, but eventually, our focus changes.

Look at all the bloggers showing off their income reports and selling courses telling you to follow your passion and pick a niche. They keep telling you that you can have income reports like them.

But, how do they make their money?

They all make their money telling you how to make money blogging. Whether it’s “Pinterest Secrets” or “Passive Income Blogging,” they are creating their content to lure you in so you will do one of the following:

  • Buy their eBook or course explaining how to make money blogging. While some of them do have successful blogs in niches like finance and fitness, their primary source of income comes from convincing people that they can make “income report kind of money” by doing what they did to get there.
  • Click their affiliate links – Some of the best-paying companies and brands who participate in affiliate programs are in the blogging space: Bluehost, ConvertKit, Siteground, WP Engine, Tailwind, DIVI (I should know, I promoted some of the same). There is a reason why there are so many make money blogging posts on the internet – because it’s a great place to embed affiliate links and make thousands.
  • Click their ads. Those of us who try to make money by telling others how to make money have a goal, and while I stopped putting ads on my websites some time ago, there are still people driving massive traffic to their blogs in the hopes you will click their links.

And while it may sound like I am throwing other bloggers under the bus, that is not my intent at all. I don’t think there is anything wrong with making money from ads or affiliate links. I love courses and ebooks and buy them for myself all the time.

What I don’t like is the lying and misdirection from the blogging community.

It’s time we stopped tricking people into lining our pockets with misbegotten gain.

My Conscience Won’t Allow Me to Do it Anymore

I’ve been blogging for some time. I’ve had my share of successes and failures. Many of my successes were short-lived because I ruined them myself. I’ve been battling severe mental illness my whole life, and its part of the reason I don’t have flashy income reports and an influencer lifestyle.

Don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t.

The other part of why I am not a financial success yet is I am a dabbler. Except for one blog I sold back in the 2000s, much of my life in business follows the same pattern. I get excited about a new idea (I get plenty of ideas), I work hard on the plan for a few months, and then when I don’t make any money overnight, I start looking for something else.

The perfect storm of being severely mentally ill and a multipotentialite wantrepreneur has left me with plenty of battle-scars from doing what I shouldn’t do to be a success, and at 52, I don’t have much to show for my lifetime of knowledge and experience with blogging.

Finally, in 2018, I stumbled across Medium and have been publishing and earning ever since. I’ve stuck with it through the ups and downs, and while I don’t make a lot of money, I make enough to keep me going strong.

I credit Medium with giving me the motivation to start another blog to share my experience blogging and maybe make a bit more money.

I started on fire, intending to place affiliate links, and eventually create a course based on my experience. And while I wasn’t lying, and I was revealing both sides of the coin, I was still playing on a person’s emotional response with my content:

I was careful not to mislead, but was what I was doing any better than anyone else?

I woke myself in the middle of the night from a dream where I was a rich man, an authority, an influencer, and internet-famous. I had everything I wanted in life. The reality hit me when I looked in the mirror, and Jeff Bezos was looking back at me.

Yes, I want to make money, but no, I don’t want to be a sleazeball who takes advantage of others to make my billions.

So yesterday I wrote something of a manifesto: Stop Telling Everyone They Can Make Money with a Blog! I didn’t hold back, and I said what I felt. I not only posted it on my blog but on Medium as well.

I mostly got positive responses, and it inspired me to start looking around for others who think like me.

With the publishing of this post today, I’m saying that from now on, I will tell it like it is. Even if what I say hurts my chances at blogging stardom, I am going to be honest and thorough about how to make money by blogging.

Because there is money to be made with blogging, and I am going to find every way possible.

You don’t need to create junk content, stuff it with keywords, and use fake backlinks to trick the SEO gods at Google into giving you that number one spot on the search results.

You don’t have to start blogging about your passion, and then switch over and start lying to people about how to make money so YOU can make some money yourself.

There is a way to make money using a formula. I can’t promise it will be passive, or easy, or that you will get a 4-hour-workweek, but I will promise that the method will be honest and straightforward.

What is the Plan, Sta… Uh, Jason?

There are a few blogging niches that perform better than others, and I am going to start creating small niche blogs to test the money-making potential of each.

I have a few ideas for earning in other niches that I want to try out as well. I have the process down pat for starting a blog, and hosting is so ridiculously cheap that I can afford to have a few more blogs, even on the pittance I make.

I may not have income reports to WOW you, but I have the tenacity to stick with something and use the knowledge and experience in blogging to figure out the things that truly work, and what doesn’t.

The first experiment is a travel blog I started before the pandemic. It’s called Frightened Traveler, and it’s slowly changing to meet the times and the fact that no one can travel right now. It’s a horrible time to have a travel blog, but that will change, and I am going to be there when it does.

From there, even though I am strictly anti-self-help-guru, I am going to start a personal development blog. My lifetime of dealing with my illness and improving over time has taught me a few things about how to make decisions and hurdle challenges. I know how I was able to make positive changes in my life, and I want to share that information with others.

From there, I have an idea for a gaming blog. And while not being one of the standard niches that make money, I want to try a few ideas I’ve come up with for monetization that will help bloggers and vloggers alike who want to make money creating content about gaming.

There is a Blogging Formula That Works, and I Will Find it!

I thought after 20 years that I knew everything there was to know about blogging. But, after kicking my ego in the ass, I decided that I wanted to break new ground and figure out what works in the new internet age we live in.

I say “new internet age” because after we figure out how to beat this pandemic, the way we work and do business will change completely. The internet has evolved from a utility that some people paid for to a necessity that people need to work, shop, socialize, date, parent, and learn.

The internet will be what everyone turns to when we can’t work in an office, or send our kids to school, or go to Walmart, or do anything that will cause us to infect ourselves with whatever new potential virus is out there.

A few months ago, I predicted the downfall of blogging, but I now see that it will become a new and essential part of all our lives.

We need to be ready for it, and we can’t continue to do things the way we always have.

We can’t continue being dishonest to make a few dollars.