This morning I came across a reference to Caroline M.'s “Stats & Analysis for October ‘07” blog post on ProBlogger.net.
In the post, Caroline shows in great detail her blog traffic stats, new RSS subscribers, a breakdown of how she spent her time online during the month and her final earnings for the month.
After reading through her stats and thinking “Wow! Those are awesome results for a 2-month old blog”, I was absolutely shocked to learn that after working 235 hours and getting 11,000 visitors to her site (without PPC) during October, only 259 folks signed up for her feed and despite all that effort, she didn't earn one red cent.
More shocking still is the fact that Caroline left her job in late September to become a full-time Internet marketer / blogger.
Money Earned $0
Let’s get one thing straight here… I did not quit my job to launch a successful blog! I quit my job so I could earn a living online! I love that the blog has done well but all it’s doing right now is stroking my ego. A great (unmonetized) blog does not pay the bills! I slipped further into debt this month as I will every month until I am bringing in enough money to cover my living expenses.
Later in the post, she analyzes the areas in which her efforts were misdirected and commits to shifting gears in November.
From the perspective of someone who has been working online for almost 10 years and whose blogs and sites earn 100K+ per month, I've listed some suggestions below for those who are tempted to head down the same path as Caroline.
- Monetize your site! Maybe I'm blind, but despite linking out to a number of different sites, I couldn't find Adsense or one affiliate link on Caroline's site.
- To make money, blog about what you know. Caroline writes very well and shares detailed information along with helpful advice. She is also upfront about the fact that she is ‘blogging out loud' as she learns how to make money online.
- Less research, more writing. When point #2 above is heeded, a blogger doesn't need to spend nearly 50% of their time researching material in order to develop content.
- Write to sell. Much of your informational content should be written with a product in mind – i.e. to drive traffic to your product recommendations.
- Lastly, do not quit your job… just yet! Not unless you have a rich relative who will support you until your business venture is self-sustaining.
I recommend monetizing a new site with Google Adsense until you start earning a sufficient income from your product recommendations to warrant its removal.
So far, so good… so what's the problem?
Well, as I see it, Caroline doesn't know her audience. For example, if you had a medical problem, would you seek advice from a student who just started med school 6 weeks ago? NO!! You would go to one or more qualified doctors with experience and follow their recommendations.
Likewise, would you accept a product recommendation for an Internet marketing tool from a blogger who admits to making no money? Probably not until you confirmed its viability with more experienced online marketers whose advice you trust… and they'd earn the commission from the sale.
So, although Caroline's visitors may read her Internet business learning journal with interest, they will probably go elsewhere to buy until she demonstrates success in her pursuit.
Ultimately, when you work to your strengths and start with a topic you know well, you make money faster.
Here's a tip.
Before you sit down at your computer to work, pick your topic for the day and create a bullet list of the most important items you want to cover. Then, before you check your email, the latest Google Alerts or your feedreader, open up your text editor and flesh those points into an article. Only then should you open a browser to surf for more information and statistics if required… not before.
Approaching your content development in that manner will save you hours and hours (even days) of time and ultimately results in more content to monetize.
Start with the question, “What product do I want to sell today?” followed by “What problem(s) does that product solve for my readers?”. Answer the question(s) in your article and link to your endorsement.
Depending on the nature of the market and my subscribers, anywhere from 20% to 50% of my articles ultimately link to a product recommendation.
Wait until your sites have more than replaced your current income. Although I too invested anywhere from 50 to 80 hours per week when I started my online business, I quit my job only after my sites were netting 10K per month, which was double my gross earnings as an air traffic controller.
When you quit too soon, you run the risk of making rash business decisions based on desperation and fear rather than knowledge and confidence acquired through experience.
To summarize, although a blogger's primary objective should be to inform and/or entertain his or her readers with quality information, the ultimate goal of any business is to make money. While hobby blogs or journals can be monetized to a certain extent, you have to gain your visitors' trust if you want to make serious coin.
You can read Caroline's full post at “Stats & Analysis for October ‘07”. (NOTE: The link to Caroline's site was removed as it no longer redirected to that post, but to a product that she is now selling… smart move Caroline… even if it is a little under-handed).
So… any thoughts? What could Caroline do differently at this point to monetize her current site? Should she invest more time blogging about blogging, or concentrate on building another site? What do you think? Lemme know! 🙂
Comments, questions or suggestions? Please leave a comment below!