According to a poll of Lifehacker readers, over 50% of bloggers are earning less than $100/month from their blogs.
In the same poll, only 13% of respondents said that they made over $1,000/month. Keep in mind that these stats are likely skewed, because the reality is that most bloggers quit before they earn a single penny.
Blogging is tough – we all know that. But blogging for a profit is even tougher.
Despite these stats, I’ve made it my mission to help as many women as possible achieve financial freedom through their blogs. I’ve done it – and my life is 10x better for it! – and my biggest goal is helping you do the same.
Over the past year, I’ve helped countless women set up, grow, and make money from their blogs. And with my clients, students, and readers, I often see the exact same “mistakes” being made time and time again.
Today, I want to share 11 of these big mistakes with you in the hopes that by naming them, you’ll be able to avoid them as you move forward with your blog (or correct them if you’re already making them).
If you’ve ever thought, “Why am I not making money from my blog? I feel like I’m following all of the steps!” or, “How can I make more money as a blogger? I feel like I’ve reached a plateau with my earnings,” this post is for you.
Continue reading to see if you’re making any of these 11 mistakes!
1. Your niche and target audience isn’t specific enough.
This one’s a biggie, and it’s something I’ve been guilty of in the past with my other blogs.
In order to make a full-time income as a blogger, your niche and ideal audience need to be very, very specific. The more specific your niche and target reader is, the easier it is to create content and write sales copy that attracts those people to you.
As an example, a niche I would say is not specific enough is: food blogging.
A great example of a more specific niche is: vegan meal planning for busy moms.
You see the difference, right? Always remember: specificity is what helps you stand out and sell out online. When in doubt, get more specific – not less.
1b. Your paid offerings aren’t specific enough.
You might have a really specific niche, but if your paid products or services aren’t specific enough, you’ll have a hard time generating sales. Again, if you try to market yourself towards everyone under the sun, you’ll end up attracting no one.
A paid offering that isn’t specific enough would be: life coaching.
A good example would be: coaching that helps women in their 20s and 30s discover their purpose in life and find the perfect career path to fulfill that purpose.
Can you honestly say you would hire someone who’s sole offering was called “life coaching”? You’d be much more likely to dig around until you found someone offering the exact, specific type of coaching you wanted, right?
This is exactly why you need to be incredibly specific with the paid services and products you offer, and specific with who you market them towards.
Hone in on a specific niche and target audience, and then translate this specificity into your paid offerings.
+ Who do I really want to be working with and serving?
+ What qualities would my ideal customer/client have?
+ What offerings can I create that will serve and attract that type of person?
Then get to work!
If you plan to offer services, you’ll also want to develop a “signature service”. This is a great way to stand out and generate interest by getting specific. Courtney has some fabulous tips for creating a signature service here.
2. You’re relying on strategies that require a lot of traffic to pay out.
All monetization strategies are not created equal. Some will work better for particular audiences, particular niches, and particular types of bloggers. And some will only work well for bloggers who have hundreds of thousands of page views every month.
Do you have hundreds of thousands of page views each month? If not, don’t sweat it! There are plenty of ways you can earn money as a blogger that don’t involve millions of page views. I should know, because I don’t have nearly that many.
In fact, I just checked my Google Analytics and (at the time I’m writing this post) I’m about to reach 100,000 all-time pageviews. Which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t a whole lot! But I’ve still managed to bring in over $30,000 from my blog in the first year.
By focusing on strategies that don’t require tons of traffic to generate a profit.
It’s really that simple.
Strategies that don’t require tons of traffic are things like: selling online courses, writing ebooks, offering services, and – to an extent – affiliate marketing. These have been my bread and butter over the past year, and why I’ve been able to earn a full-time income.
Strategies that do require a lot of traffic to pay out are things like ads and ad networks, and they’re not the best way to turn a profit as a new blogger.
Choose 2-3 techniques from the list above (online courses, ebooks, offering services, and affiliate marketing) and learn everything you can about them. Read blog posts, take courses, attend webinars. Immerse yourself. Learn everything you can about these strategies, and then put them into action for your blog and business.
And if you have put ads all over your website, now’s a good time to remove them. They’re only cluttering up your website, distracting from your message and your branding, and let’s be real: are you actually making any money from them? (I didn’t think so).
3. Your paid offerings are a bad match for your audience.
Maybe you’ve already created an online course or written a few ebooks, but they just aren’t selling.
Most likely, it’s because these offerings aren’t a great fit for the people who are reading your blog or subscribed to your email list. Your products/services/courses might be a mismatch for your audience for many different reasons (and for multiple reasons), like:
+ The skill level is off – for example, you’ve written a book for beginners but most of your readers have more advanced knowledge
+ Your paid offerings don’t relieve a big pain point or solve a problem your readers have
+ Your audience isn’t willing to PAY to have someone teach them about the topic of your book/course (for various reasons, like their budget, their perceived importance of the topic/problem, etc.)
To create a successful product, course, or book, you need an intricate understanding of your audience. And not just general stats like their gender and age; you need to know about their lives.
How many kids do they have? How do they take their coffee in the morning? What is the biggest problem or pain point they’re facing in relation to your niche? What would they be willing to pay in order to have that problem solved?
Once you know your target readers like the back of your hand, you’ll be able to create paid offerings that speak to their needs, and will subsequently be gobbled up like hot cakes.
Get to know your readers. Really get to know them. Chat with them one-on-one, run a survey, and ask questions at the end of your blog posts and emails to solicit feedback. Write down everything you learn!
4. You’ve put all your eggs in one basket.
When I say “putting your eggs all in one basket” I mean that you’re focusing solely on one strategy for monetizing your blog, instead of dipping your hand into multiple pots.
I feel like I say this all the time, but did you know that the average millionaire has 7 or more different streams of income? That’s because the more streams of income you have, the more money you’ll make. It’s simple math, really!
So here’s what NOT to do:
After hearing that so-and-so makes $100,000/month from her blog through affiliate marketing, you decide to spend all of your time learning about affiliate marketing and incorporating affiliate links onto your blog, and never try out any other methods of monetizing.
Now, this strategy of focusing on one method is okay if you’re new to blogging and if it’s only for a month or two. But once you’ve mastered that technique, it’s time to move onto another.
Because there are TONS of ways to make money as a blogger (I’ve named at least 5 in this post already), and the more streams of income you can create, the more money will be sitting in your bank account at the end of the month.
Choose 2-3 money-making strategies that are a great fit for you, your blog’s niche, and your readers. If you’re not sure what will be a good fit, go back to mistake #3 and do some more digging into your audience’s needs and preferences!
5. You’re letting perfectionism hold you back.
This is something I see 95% of bloggers struggle with on an almost-daily basis. In fact, I wrote an entire post about perfectionism and why you need to kick it to the curb ASAP if you want to be successful and profitable as a blogger.
Because the truth is that nothing will ever be perfect. And waiting months and months to launch your blog, or share a specific blog post, or create a paid offering because “it just isn’t perfect yet” is holding you back in more ways than you can imagine.
My motto will always be “Progress over Perfection”, and I encourage you to adapt this motto for your blog (and your life) as well.
We’re all human, and there’s absolutely no shame in producing something that isn’t 100% perfect. We won’t judge you. In fact, most people will love you even more for just putting yourself out there – in all your imperfections – than if you waited 6 months to do so because you were too worried about things being perfect.
So seriously: go for it. Don’t wait another minute to do that thing you’ve been thinking about doing (you know the thing I’m talking about!!)
Whether it’s launching your blog, offering a paid service, creating a digital product – whatever – do it NOW. Don’t wait. Money cannot and will not come to you and your blog unless you actually put yourself out there and start creating things that you can exchange for money.
Money is just another form of energy, and it can’t be acquired for nothing; you need to create and offer something in exchange for it. So get to work!
6. You don’t validate your ideas before creating and launching something.
This is a step I see so many bloggers skip, and it’s another mistake I’ve made in the past. In fact, it’s probably why my very first course had only 7 students in it!
If you don’t validate your idea and make sure your audience actually wants the thing you’re creating, it’s like aiming at a dart board with a blindfold on. Once in a blue moon you might come close to a bulls eye, but 95% of the time, your dart won’t even land on the board.
All this to say that validating your product/course/service idea is one of the most crucial steps in blogging for profit.
There are lots of different ways you can validate your idea with your audience, while simultaneously generating hype around whatever it is you’re going to create.
Here are a few ideas:
+ Create a quick survey with Typeform and send it to your mailing list
+ Run a poll in your Facebook group (or another group where your readers hang out)
+ Personally message 5-10 of your “biggest fans” and ask if they’d be willing to answer a few questions
To get more responses, it helps if you offer something small in exchange for people answering your questions or filling out your survey. For instance, you might host a giveaway and choose one of the survey respondents to win a small gift card. You could also offer 20% off of your new service/product to the people you chat with one-on-one.
Once you’ve been given the green light from the majority of your audience – validating that your idea is something they’d be willing to pay for – you can go ahead and create it!
7. Your price doesn’t match your target market.
If the people you’re hoping to sell your paid offerings to can’t afford them, or if they aren’t willing to pay that much money for them, you have another mismatch. And again, your product/service/book/course won’t sell.
Your audience’s budget needs to be taken into account when deciding on your pricing. No, it’s not necessarily fair that so much of what you earn hinges on the amount of money other people have, but I’m just telling it like it is.
If your target market is moms on a tight budget and you decide to offer coaching for $200/hour, you’re going to have a helluva time finding and booking clients. Whereas if your audience is The Real Housewives of So-and-So-City, $200/hour might be more within their ballpark.
At the same time, you also need to be sure that the value you provide in your service/book/course lives up to the price tag you’ve attached to it. Sometimes it’s better to start your pricing off a little lower, and then gradually raise it over time as your skills, knowledge, and customer service improve.
Again, it comes back to having intricate knowledge of your ideal audience and customers. What do their bank accounts look like? Are they struggling to pay their bills? Which of their problems/pain points are so crippling that they’d be willing to pay a decent amount of money to have them solved?
Now I’m not saying that if your readers are only willing to pay $5/hour for coaching, then that’s what you should price your coaching at. ABSOLUTELY not. If you’re charging less per hour than what you earn at your day job, you’re never going to be able to leave your job and earn a living as a blogger.
You need to find a balance between the value you provide and the amount of money you need to earn to stay afloat (while pocketing a nice chunk of change), and what your clients and customers are happy to pay.
8. You haven’t built up trust, connection, and expert status.
These three qualities are what I call The Sales Trifecta. You might have also heard them referred to as the “like, know, trust” factor.
Before someone is willing to buy something from you, they need to like, know, and trust you. This is what makes them comfortable making a purchase from someone they’ve never met in real life. Needless to say, your main job as a blogger and online business owner is to build up this expert status, trust, and personal connection with your audience.
My favorite way to do this is with my email list. Email is the best way to communicate with your audience, keep them engaged, and show them how much you know about your niche.
Related: 11 Reasons Bloggers Need an Email List From Day One
If you don’t have an email list already, start one today. You can learn how to get started with either of two favorite email list platforms here: ConvertKit, and MailChimp.
Once your email list is up and running, look through the blog posts below and learn how to…
+ Grow your email list with opt-in freebies
+ Write a killer welcome series
+ Send newsletters that your subscribers will love
9. You don’t have an email list, or you aren’t using yours properly.
This is so important that I have to repeat it: your email list is crucial if you want to earn a full-time income from your blog. You might make the occasional sale from your blog posts and social media updates, but the vast majority of sales will happen through your email list.
Because you’ve used your email list to build up trust, personal connection, and expert status, which primes your subscribers to buy from you.
Create simple sales funnels to sell your digital products, courses, and books to your email subscribers on autopilot. To learn more about sales funnels, check out my friend Elise’s free course, Build Your Profitable Sales Funnel.
Every once in awhile, send out a “pitch” email to your list. Give them a discount on one of your paid offerings, add in a special bonus or two, and have a cut-off point – 24 hours of 48 hours max. I can guarantee that if you’ve used your email list to build up The Sales Trifecta, you WILL make sales when you do this!
10. You’re undercharging.
Above all else, you need to value yourself and the work that you do. Whether it’s a signature service you offer, a course you created, or an ebook you wrote, undervaluing yourself and your time will get you nowhere. In fact, it’s a one-way-ticket to burn out and an empty bank account.
And we don’t want that!
What you offer is special, unique, and valuable – and don’t let anyone tell you differently. You were put on this earth for a purpose, and you’re doing your best to live it out (just like everyone else).
A common mindset hurdle – especially for women – is that we feel like we should be using our special gifts and talents to do good in the world, but at the same time, that it’s not okay to accept money for them.
For example, if you’re an artist, you might find so much joy in painting or pottery or drawing or whatever it is that you love to do, that you feel a bit weird asking people to pay you for your artwork.
You need to overcome these feelings! Again, what you create and offer is highly valuable, and it is absolutely worth money. Like I said earlier, money is just a form of energy – and more than that, money is an ever-abundant resource.
Don’t feel like when you’re “taking” money from someone, you’re somehow hindering them in life. You are simply making an exchange of energy that is valuable for both parties involved (at least, it should be!)
11. You have the wrong mindset.
You know I couldn’t complete this post without a Law of Attraction magic!
The Law of Attraction states that: that which is like unto itself, is drawn.
In plain old English, it means that like attracts like. Similar things are magnetized to each other. As we often say, “birds of a feather flock together.”
Everything in the Universe around us has energy (including ourselves), and similar energies are automatically drawn to each other. The higher your energetic vibration is, the more high-vibration-things you’ll attract into your life.
What’s the difference between a high vibration and low vibration? High vibration is joy, love, faith, serenity. Low vibration is anger, sadness, pain, worry.
According to the Law of Attraction, the higher and more positive your emotions, mindset, and outlook on life are, the more joyful and positive things you will attract into your life. And this works for money too (again, money is just another form of energy).
If you constantly have a negative mindset about money, feeling like there’s never enough to go around and always thinking about how much you hate being so broke, you’ll never attract abundance into your life. Why? Because you’re vibrating at a low, negative energy, so all you’ll attract is more negative energy.
Instead, you need to constantly and consciously focus on the positives and aim to see the silver lining in everything. As Gaby Bernstein says, the Universe really does have your back. And you need to trust in it!
Trust that there will always be enough money to go around. Trust that the Universe will always provide you with what you need. Focus on all the good, joyful things in your life, and let any negative thoughts drip off of you like water.
Instead of thinking about how you never make money from your blog and how you wish you weren’t so broke, think about unlimited wealth and abundance, and be grateful for every single cent that comes into your life. Gratitude and a positive mindset will attract a never-ending flow of money into your life – I promise you!
So love: which of these 11 mistakes are you making when it comes to monetizing your blog? If it’s more than a few, that’s okay! You now have everything you need to turn your situation around, and to head down the path towards success, abundance, and an endlessly profitable blog. I believe in you!