You know everyone thinks we’re fools, right?
To most of the world, blogging is a joke.
It isn’t a career. It isn’t a way to make money. It isn’t a tool for changing the world.
It’s a hobby, a diversion, a fad that’ll come and go. Sure, you can start a blog, but don’t count on it taking you anywhere. That’s just silly.
Just tell your family or friends or coworkers you want to quit your job and make money blogging. They’ll smile politely and ask, “Does anybody really make money from that?”
But they also want you to be “realistic.”
If you really want to improve your life, you should get an advanced degree, write a book, or even start your own business, not hang all your hopes and dreams on some stupid little blog. There’s no money in it.
Or is there?
I’m hesitant to say this, but…
This blog is on track to make $500,000 this year
Now let me go die from embarrassment.
You know those people who brag all the time about how much they’re making, just so everyone thinks they’re important? Vomit, right?
Well, sorry, I have to be one of them, just for a moment, not because I want to make you vomit (eww), but because it’s become cool to say you can’t make money from blogging, so you shouldn’t even try. Instead, you should focus on publishing valuable content and building social capital and measuring audience engagement. Nothing else.
And that’s just stupid. Not the oh-look-how-adorable kind of stupidity, either. It’s more of the driving-down-the-wrong-side-of-the-road-until-you-kill-somebody variety.
The truth is, you absolutely can make money from blogging, if you know what you’re doing. It’s easy to measure too. You pull out the calculator, add up all the money people are giving you, press the = button, and Mary have mercy, we have a miracle.
The problem is, most people don’t have a clue. They think you have to sell ads or get sponsors or publish e-books, and they can’t imagine anything else.
Well, I don’t sell any ads, nobody in their right mind would sponsor me for anything, and I haven’t yet been persuaded to publish any books. And I’m still grossing a half-million buckaroonies.
I’m just running an old-fashioned business using newfangled media. It’s nothing even that original. I’m shamelessly copying the Copyblogger business model, and so is pretty much every other successful blogger I know.
And I’ll sell you the whole system… for a MILLION dollars (insert pinky in mouth).
No, seriously, I’ll give it to you in a moment. Before we get to that though, let me finish my rant about how stupid everyone is.
Why everyone thinks blogs are a joke
Well, bloggers are following the leader, and the leader is trundling right off the edge of a cliff.
Who is this leader, you ask?
The traditional newspaper.
When the blog came along, somebody said, “Gee, look at this nifty thingamajig! People are writing all sorts of neat things, giving it away to anyone who wants it, and building audiences around the topic, kind of like a miniature community.”
Then somebody else replied, “Yeah! It’s a lot like a newspaper. You know, all of those people with popular blogs should put up a bunch of ads just like newspapers do and make some money.”
And the whole world went right along with it.
Nevermind that newspapers are dying faster than cockroaches in a Raid-eating contest. Nevermind that most bloggers don’t have nearly enough traffic to interest advertisers. Nevermind that readers HATE ads, and they immediately distrust everything you say the minute you install them.
Instead, everyone just followed over the edge of the cliff, cheerfully singing Money (That’s What I Want), and when they hit bottom, the world blamed blogs, not the intelligence of so-called blogging authorities who believed modeling a dying industry was a good idea.
It’s not. It never was.
So the answer is selling e-books, right?
*beats his head against the wall*
Yes, it’s a better idea than selling advertising (whoop tee doo), but it has the same fundamental problem:
Let’s say you have 100 subscribers. Having always wanted to write a book, you settle down in front of the computer for the next three months and crank out your masterpiece. When you’re finished, you managed to convince 20% of your readers (20 people) to buy a copy for $9.99, totaling $199.80.
You might even feel pretty good about it until a big meanie like me points out you invested three entire months of your life to get that $199.80. You’re now earning slightly more than sweatshop workers in China. Congratulations.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love books. I read several every week. To me, the perfect apartment is the ground floor of the library. No kidding.
But you’re never going to make a living selling a $9.99 product.
I know bloggers with upwards of 10,000 subscribers who can’t make enough money from their books to pay the light bill. To make it work, your audience has to be really freaking huge, and even then, it’s one of the least profitable products you can sell.
So, don’t do it. It won’t work.
In fact, nothing will work until you shift the entire way you think about blogging.
How to really make money blogging
Imagine you’re out at a restaurant with your family and friends.
Everyone is talking and having fun, but eventually the chatter dies down and someone looks in your direction and says, “So, we’ve all seen you working on something on the computer. What is it? Anything exciting?” All eyes swivel in your direction.
From that point, you have two choices:
The most common answer is, “Umm, I started a blog.” In response, you’ll get confused stares followed by five minutes of awkward stuttering as you try to explain what a blog is. When you’re finished, half the table will look at you like you’re an alien, because they didn’t understand a word you said, and the other half will think you’re pathetic, because they did understand every word you said. You lose either way.
Or you can try this:
You: I just started my own company, actually. I finally get to be CEO and call all the shots.
Grandpa: Now that’s the old <insert family name> initiative we all like to see! What kind of business is it?
You: Well, imagine you own a magazine, but instead of filling it with ads from other companies, you listen to what your readers really want and then create your own product line that’s tailored to their needs. And then instead of having ads that just annoy people, you publish occasional articles showing your readers all of the smartest ways to use those products.
Grandpa: That’s brilliant! So, you’re creating product lines for magazines?
You: I’m creating both the product line and the magazine. To save on start up costs, the magazine is online, and most of the first products we release will be digital too, so there are no manufacturing or shipping costs, either. Just pure profit.
They’d be impressed, right?
As well they should be. It’s a smart business model.
Copyblogger.com is making millions of dollars per year from it. If everything turns out as planned, I will have personally made $500,000 from it less than a year after launching this blog.
Now, that’s not normal. I had a few advantages most beginning bloggers don’t have, and I’m also a workaholic who needs no night life or social connections.
But Copyblogger and BBT aren’t the only two blogs using this model.
There are thousands of them. Let me introduce you to one blogger who I think is particularly inspiring:
Meet the Man with the Perfect Life
Ever wish you could work whenever you want, take vacations whenever you want, and spend as much time as you want on hobbies that have little or nothing to do with money?
Well, that’s my friend Johnny B. Truant’s life.
To him, family is more important than anything else.
Instead of getting home late at night, only to say a few quick words to the kids before they go to bed, he has dinner with them every evening without fail, and he usually hangs out with them afterward too.
Rather than going on one or two hurried vacations per year, Johnny takes his wife and kids on five or six or even more, turning off his cell phone spending every minute of every day with them, having fun.
Not to imply that he doesn’t have a life outside of his family, because he does.
Johnny always wanted to be a novelist, so he recently started writing books and publishing them on Amazon. He’s written two already this year, and he’s wrapping up a third, all written in his spare time.
Now, Johnny isn’t what most people would call rich. He does, however, have enough money to do whatever he wants to do, whenever he wants to do it.
And the big shocker?
He does it with a tiny blog. While it’s larger now, Johnny crossed into the six-figure income range with only 2,000 subscribers.
He did it by selling tech services. He set up blogs for people, built email marketing campaigns, and occasionally oversaw the redesign and rebranding of existing blogs.
In other words, he was a freelancer. A very smart one.
To him, a blog wasn’t just a collection of posts. It was the front end of his tech services business. Nothing more, nothing less.
Look around the web, and you’ll find hundreds of other freelance writers, graphic designers, web developers, and photographers just like him. Many of them are doing quite well.
No matter who you are, you can do this
Assuming you want to, of course.
Some people don’t. They want a job and a steady paycheck and a pension, and the idea of starting their own business is about as attractive as being water boarded.
But some of us want more.
We want to take vacations without having to ask anyone’s permission. We want to travel the world. We want to have enough money to do anything we want.
That doesn’t necessarily mean getting “rich.” It just means building a business that gives us freedom.
If you’re interested in that kind of lifestyle, you should take blogging seriously. Not because it’s revolutionizing the web or replacing conventional media or any such nonsense, but because it’s a vital piece of growing your own small business.
You can do this. You really can. You just have to use the right business model.
And the good news?
This one works like gangbusters.
About the Author: Jon Morrow has asked repeatedly to be called “His Royal Awesomeness,” but no one listens to him. So, he settles for CEO of Boost Blog Traffic, LLC.