11 Big Mistakes Stopping You From Making Money as a Blogger
According to a poll of Lifehacker readers, over 50% of bloggers are earning less than $100/month from their sites. 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!
Despite these stats (or maybe because of them!), I’ve made it my mission to help as many women as possible achieve financial freedom through their blogs. Over the past few years, I’ve helped thousands women set up, grow, and make money from their blogs. Yet I often see my clients, readers and students make the exact same mistakes across the board.
Today, I want to share 11 big mistakes that you must avoid if you want to generate a serious profit from your blog. If you’ve ever thought, “Why isn’t this working? Why am I not making any money? I feel like I’m following all of the right steps!” — this post is for you.
11 profit mistakes to avoid as a blogger
1. Your niche and target audience isn't specific enough.
In order to make a full-time income as a blogger, your niche and ideal audience need to be super specific. The more specific your niche and target reader is, the easier it is to create content and write 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 meals for busy families. 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 toward everyone under the sun, you’ll end up attracting no one.
A paid offering that isn’t specific enough would be: life coaching. A better offering would be: life coaching that helps women in their 20s and 30s discover their purpose and find their perfect career path.
Can you honestly say you would hire someone whose sole offering was simply called “life coaching”? You’d be much more likely to dig around until you found someone offering the exact, super specific type of coaching you wanted, right? This is why you need to be incredibly specific with the paid services and products you offer, as well as who you market them toward.
Hone in on a specific niche and target audience, and then translate this specificity into your paid offerings. Ask yourself:
Who do I really want to serve and work with?
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!
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, niches, and bloggers, and some 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 from your blog that don’t require that much traffic. I should know, because I don’t have nearly that many.
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 strategies have been my bread and butter over the past couple years, and why I know for a fact that you can earn a full-time income online without having a large amount of traffic.
Choose 2-3 strategies from the list above (online courses, ebooks, offering services, 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.
3. Your paid offerings aren’t a fit for your audience.
Maybe you've already created an online course or ebook, but they just aren’t selling. Most likely, it’s because those offerings aren’t a great fit for the people reading your blog or subscribed to your email list. Your products, services, and courses might be a mismatch for your audience for lots of different reasons, like:
The skill level is off - for example, you’ve written a book for beginners but most of your readers are past the beginner stage
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 or course (because of their budget, the perceived value of the topic and problem addressed, etc.)
To create a successful product, course, or ebook, you need an intimate understanding of your audience members. Not just general things like their gender and age; you really need to know about their lives. How many kids do they have? How do they like their coffee? What are the biggest problems or pain points they have in relation to your niche? What would they be willing to pay in order to have that problem solved?
When you know your target readers like the back of your hand, you’re able to create paid offerings that speak to their needs and will sell easily.
Get to know your readers. Really get to know them. Chat with them one-on-one, send out a survey, ask questions at the end of your blog posts and emails to solicit feedback. Write down everything you learn and use it to create better offerings!
4. You put all your eggs in one basket.
Focusing only one strategy for monetizing your blog, instead of dipping your hand into multiple pots, is one of the biggest mistakes of all. 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 make.
Here’s what not to do: After hearing that so-and-so makes $20,000/month from her blog through affiliate marketing, you decide to spend all your time learning about affiliate marketing and trying it out, completely disregarding all other profit strategies.
This strategy of focusing on one method is only a good idea when you’re just getting started with monetizing your blog and as long as it’s only for a short period of time. Once you’ve mastered that strategy, it’s time to move onto another one. At the end of the day, the more income streams you create, the more money will be entering your bank account.
Choose 2 or 3 profit 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 above and do some more digging into your audience’s wants, 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, but trust me when I say that you need to kick perfectionism to the curb a.s.a.p. if you want to create a profitable blog. Because the truth is that nothing you do will ever be perfect.
Waiting months and months to launch your blog, or to release a specific blog post, or to launch 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 own blog and life as well. We’re all human, and there's no shame in producing something that isn’t 100% perfect. No one is going to judge you. In fact, most people will love you even more for just putting yourself out there, in all your imperfections, than they would if you waited 6 months to do something because you were too worried about it not being perfect.
Whether it’s launching your blog, offering a paid service, creating a digital product — whatever — do it now. Don’t wait. Money can’t and won’t come to you unless you put yourself out there and start creating things that you can exchange for money. So get to work!
6. You don't validate your ideas before creating and launching something.
If you don’t validate your product 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 hit a bullseye, but a lot of the time, your dart won’t even land on the board. All this is to say that validating your product/course/service idea is one of the most critical steps in blogging for profit.
There are lots of different ways you can validate your idea with your audience, while also simultaneously generating hype around whatever it is you’re about 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 readers and ask if they’d be willing to answer a few questions for you
To get more responses to a survey, it helps to offer something small to the people who answer your questions. You might host a giveaway and choose one of the survey respondents to win a small gift card, or offer a 20% discount on your new service or 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're 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 to can’t afford the price tag on your offering, or if they simply aren’t willing to pay that much money for it, you have another misalignment that will lead to truncated sales. It’s not necessarily fair that what you can charge hinges so largely on the amount of money other people have, but that’s just the way it is.
If your target market is moms who are on a tight budget and you decide to offer coaching for $500/hour, you’re going to have a hard time finding and booking clients. At the same time, you need to be sure that the value you provide in your offering lives up to the price tag you’ve given it. Sometimes it’s better to start your pricing off a little lower and gradually raise it over time as your skills, knowledge, and offerings improve.
Again, it comes back to having intimate knowledge of your audience and prospects. What do their bank accounts look like? Are they struggling to pay their bills? Which of their problems and pain points are so crippling that they'd be willing to pay money to have them solved?
Keep in mind that I’m not saying if your readers are only willing to pay $5/hour for coaching, that’s what you should charge. Absolutely not. If you’re charging less per hour than what you could earn at your day job, you’re never going to be able to leave your job and blog full-time. You need to find a balance between the value you provide and the amount of money you want to make, 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 heard this referred to as the “like, know, trust” factor.
Essentially, before someone is willing to buy something from you, they need to like, know, and trust you. This is why your main job as a blogger and entrepreneur is to build up your expert status, trust, and connection with your audience. My favorite way to do this is through 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 area of expertise.
If you don’t have an email list already, start one today! I suggest ConvertKit.
9. You don't have an email list or 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 and social media posts, but the vast majority of your sales will come through your email list. Why? Because you’ve used your email list to build up trust, personal connection, and expert status (the Sales Trifecta), priming your subscribers to buy from you.
Every once in awhile, send out a pitch email to your list. Give them a discount on one of your offerings, add in a special bonus or two, and have a cut-off point of 24-72 hours. Create simple email sales funnels to sell your digital products, courses, and books on autopilot. 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.
It’s so important to value yourself and the work you do. Whether it’s a signature service you offer, a course you’ve created, or an ebook you’ve written, undervaluing yourself and your time will get you nowhere. In fact, it’s a one-way-ticket to burnout and an empty bank account. And we don’t want that!
What you offer is special, unique, and valuable. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. You were put on this earth for a purpose, and you’re doing your best to live out that purpose. A common mindset hurdle (especially for women) is feeling 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 our natural gifts. 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 guilty asking people to pay you for your art.
Remember that what you have to offer is highly valuable and that it’s absolutely worth paying money for. Don't feel like you're “taking" money from someone and leaving them with a shortage when they make a purchase from you. You’re simply exchanging energy (time and skills for money) in a way that’s beneficial for both parties involved.
11. You have a scarcity mindset.
According to the Law of Attraction, the more positive your emotions, mindset, and outlook on life are, the more joyful and positive things you attract into your life. This applies to money, too. If you constantly have a negative mindset toward money, feeling like there’s never enough to go around and thinking how much you hate being broke, you'll only attract more broke-ness into your life.
You need to constantly focus on the positives and aim to see the silver lining in everything. Trust that there will always be enough money to go around. Trust that you’ll always be provided with everything you need. Focus on all the good, joyful things in your life, and let any negative thoughts fade away.
Instead of thinking about how you never make money from your blog and how you wish you weren't so broke, think thoughts of wealth and abundance and be grateful for every single cent that flows your way.
So love: which of these 11 mistakes have you been making? If it’s more than a few, that’s okay! You now have everything you need to turn your situation around and start making some serious cash from your blog.