Making it Big: How Blogging Gets Better When You Think Big

turnkeyI’ll say it upfront: blogging isn’t exactly the best way to make money. There are some bloggers who did make it big but those are an exception. Most bloggers find it extremely hard to pull in revenue through their blogs. John Bardos makes an honest confession on JetSetCitizen, and we can feel it.

John said it out aloud that blogging is a lousy way to make money; most bloggers won’t tell you. There’s a sense of shame, self-aggrandizement, and fear of ridicule associated with failure. As long as we are human, coming out in the open about failure isn’t exactly natural.

Yet, blogging is not a lost cause. The cause is not lost as long as you realign your intent, passion, determination, and entrepreneurial ambitions. Here’s how you can still make it big with blogging:

Forget “Blogging,” Think “Publishing”

 Blogging is self-publishing. It’s the “self” that hurts the publishing part though. Individual bloggers have seen notable success. Take a look at what Gary Vaynerchuk (wine magnate cum social media evangelist), Ann Smarty (prolific blogger and founder of MyBlogGuest), or our very own super-marketer Ros Gardner have done, and that’s proof enough. Most people forget the years of sacrifice put in by these amazing bloggers, not to mention the fact that they started early, and then make the mistake of doing exactly what they’ve already done in more or less same niches.

When you start retailing online, you don’t compete with Amazon and eBay. In the same way, don’t bother trying to beat already established blogs. Take the publishing route and take on niches that haven’t been covered as much. Avoid personal finance, travel, health, making money online, and “blogging” as your niches to begin with.

Don’t Go It Alone

 Blogging is a way for individuals to start publishing for themselves. It is also a great way for companies to publish. Companies either hire in-house personnel or freelance copywriters to blog; most individual bloggers don’t have this luxury.

If don’t involve others in contributing to your blog, the fun that blogging is ends right there. Blogging alone is like getting a fancy job that doesn’t even pay. Being passionate about a topic and writing about it for a lifetime is something else. If you have to make money from blogging, you absolutely have to get in the professionals. Find experts, interested and opinionated readers, freelance writers, influencers and others to write for you.

That’s the only way you can scale.

Let Users Generate Content, So You Don’t Have To

Typically, you write blog posts that others read. If your blog becomes popular, you see healthy discussions around your posts that are pleasantly (and sometimes profitably) interactive.

That’s not enough, though. You’d need a strong input from users to create user generated content that has value in itself, both for those who contribute and those that read and consume.

The rise of social media can be attributed to the power of user-generated content. Quora, Urbanspoon, WhoisHostingThis, Glassdoor, and many more sites are all examples of reviews, comments and visitor-blogging ideas that propelled themselves on the power of user-generated content.

Everyone likes to be where the action is. We all want to know what others think. Combining the power of collective inputs on little-known areas is insanely powerful. The most popular publications tap into and depend on it. Why shouldn’t you too?

Find Parallel Paths for Publishing

Once you start blogging like it’s a business, you expand your scope for publishing. What used to be text and images on your blog now finds a way to extend into videos, podcasts, webinars, seminars, physical events, training courses, guest blog posts, interviews, and books.

If you have to make it big with blogging, you’ve got to think big first. Seek opportunities to publish a book, offer free training (on whatever it is that you blog about) for your readers, create on-location events, create slide decks, present them and put them up on SlideShare for people to view them for all eternity, share your videos on YouTube/Vimeo, or start a forum.

Your blog, given today’s state of blogging, is too small to make an impact. You have no choice but to grow big.

Run It Like a Business

When you start a business, you think of hiring staff, creating systems, creating value, and selling value in exchange for money. For bloggers, value lies in “information.” Instead of operating a never-ending avalanche of information conveyor belt all by yourself, run your blog like a business.

Think of monetizing your blog, selling information in exchange for dollars, paid subscription for access to your blog, and producing pay for access content.

GigaOm did that. Can you?

Plan for Revenue, Long-term

Read posts on “blogging” and you’ll hear some people lament: “avoid advertising initially,” “don’t look to monetize,” and “give and then take” – all of that is true. You don’t have to display advertising but you can “plan” to monetize. Create long-term goals on how you intend to make money out of your blog.

Brent Weaver, a web designer who runs his own agency at, first started as a blog where he’d publish all things connected to Adobe Business Catalyst. Later, the blog turned into a veritable source of information (including videos, cheat sheets, and downloadable information) exclusively for other business catalyst members.

Today, BCGurus is a thriving community complete with the original blog, directory, and even a marketplace for BC templates.

Brent didn’t plan everything from the start, but he did have a vision. He wanted the fruit of his labor, and he now uses BCGurus as a business model by itself while creating tons of precious social proof for his own business.

The common thread is that all popular blogs are monetized. They are built to bring in revenue. None of that happened in a day, though.


  1. says

    Hi Rohan, If I could just add… Part of that publishing mindset – and thinking strategically as Jon mentions – should in many cases include publishing a good old-fashioned newsletter, or at least collecting email addresses for updates.

    As an affiliate marketer, I’ve been publishing email newsletters since 1998. It’s a wonderful way to maintain regular contact with your readers, earn trust, and give you multiple, repeated opportunities to make a sale.

    In my experience, it’s MUCH easier to make a sale to someone who has known you for years, than to a brand new visitor to your site.

    (An email update from Ros alerted me to this article. A lot of bloggers could learn from that example!)

  2. says

    Well said. Blogging is a lonely road if you are doing it alone. The best way to really move forward till you start earning is to participate in a community. In this way, you will feel that you are not alone. There are tons of people doing blogging at the same time, across the world with you.

  3. says

    Blogging is enjoyable though, but, yes to some, they blog for money , while others are spending money just to publish a blog.

    Thanks Rojan, nice post!

  4. says

    Rohan — Most people who get into blogging are not thinking strategically. They are simply looking to make money. Making money by just blogging is very difficult, and as a result they give up very early. I’m willing to bet that more than 95% of all blogs launched have less than 20 posts each. Most people are not willing to show up every day and stick to it long enough for the blog to take off. People want instant results and that is not what blogging is going to give you.

    I firmly believe that there is a tremendous opportunity in just about every market for bloggers who are willing to produce valuable content on a consistent basis. Even in markets like health, personal finance and make money online (i.e. internet marketing). With the recent Google panda and penguin updates a significant amount of bloggers and search marketers have left the business because they can no longer manipulate the search engines. This has created a great opportunity for those who are willing to create content that helps and serves their target market — even competitive markets like personal finance, health and internet marketing.

  5. says

    Blogging usually isn’t a great way to actually earn money but it can be a great way to launch other income streams. Even the biggest bloggers who do earn a lot from their blogs usually earn more from other things as a result of the following they gained from blogging.

  6. says

    Well said Rosalind blogging takes time and a lot of dedication. A good way to primarily use your blog is to build your email list through it as well as the other monetization strategies.

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