Neil Patel (cofounder of the analytics companies KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg, and Quick Sprout), recently claimed that 'anyone' can create a business that generates $100 000 per month in 12 months. So I thought - I'll take on the challenge. Want to see me succeed? Or FAIL? Sign up here, and I'll send you the getting started [...]
The Real Reason You’re Not Making Any Money From Your Blog
You know the feeling.
Month after month, you’ve slaved away at creating amazing content.
You’ve created guest posts on popular blogs in your niche, that have been shared many times.
You’ve managed to attract a few followers to your own blog.
And somehow, you haven’t been able to generate ANY significant income.
Month after month, if you’re lucky, the best you can do is about $1500.
Which is still significantly short of the $10,000pm target you set for yourself.
Or maybe you’re not even close to that…
And yet, you KNOW that you can do this full time.
It’s not rocket science – but something is missing from your blog.
You can’t quite put your finger on it – but the sales speak for themselves.
First off, don’t be too hard on yourself.
Getting a blog to generate ANY amount of money is a significant step to success. And while $1000 is not really what you’re aiming for, it’s a starting point that you can leverage to get to the next level.
Marketing (online, digital, social, inbound, content) – it’s all similar.
The individual tactics may change.
But the overall strategy remains the same.
In all cases – it’s a matter of ‘leveling up’. If you’re not familiar with the term, it comes from gaming.
In most games, you get set a number of tasks.
These could be simple, like ‘kill 10 goblins’. Or ‘line up 5 gems’, then line up 5 gems twice in a row’.
Once you learn how to preform or complete those tasks, you gain ‘experience points’.
After you have enough ‘experience points’, your character advances to the next level of the game, and you typically get new powers.
Which seems awesome.
But then you realize that you’re also playing at the next level of the game.
So the game gets harder 🙂
And you have to start on a whole new list of achievements.
Well, marketing is a bit like that.
You learn a bit.
Once you get enough experience AND implementation done, you’ll get some rewards.
And you level up.
But now, the landscape has changed.
And to take it to the next level, you have to learn some new things.
Some new achievements.
And of course, the game is now a bit harder.
The competition a bit stronger.
But of course, the rewards are also much bigger!
And the game goes on for a while. With many levels to achieve.
How far you go, depends on how much you put in.
But, you need to put in the right things at each level.
So, think of your blog as a game. And the aim is to make as much profit as possible.
Now – you may shout and say
“I’m not in it for the money. I’m trying to help people xxx”
And I say good for you. Now imagine you were making enough money from your blog to do it full time. Do you think you’d be able to help even more people? You bet!
A Quick look at the levels you can get to with your blog
- Level 1 – You have a blog, very little traffic, no list, no revenue
- Level 2 – You have a blog, a small list (<1,000) and some traffic. You may get your first sale here.
- Level 3 – You have started generating revenue (<$1,000pm), and your list has over 1000 subscribers
- Level 4 – revenue around $10,000pm
- Level 5 – revenue around $30,000pm
- Level 6 – revenue around $100,000pm (or $1m per year)
- Level 7 – revenue above $10m per year
You should note that getting to level 7, puts you in a whole different category. Not many people reach this level. Also, once you get to this point, it starts becoming a real job. You’ll have to manage a number of people to do this successfully.
There are quite a few people who have reached level 6 though, notably Pat Flynn, Bryan Harris, Kimra Luna, Brian Dean. I’m sure there are countless others who don’t publicly speak about their income.
So let’s get started then.
What Can Go Wrong At Level 1?
On the face of it, it seems simple. All you need to do at this point, is create a basic website.
And while this is true, the not so obvious bit is that you have to choose your market. Most ‘internet marketers’ call this a niche. Now, choosing a niche seems like a ridiculous amount of effort. And there are whole websites devoted just to choosing your niche.
It shouldn’t be hard. It should be easy.
Because it comes down to what you know.
And the reason you want to pick something you know, is that it makes it much easier to write about. And as you’re on the web, you’ll be using content marketing to drive traffic. So you’ll be doing a lot of writing. Writing takes time. Writing about stuff you don’t know anything about takes a ridiculous amount of time.
Think in terms of an actual, living business. E.g. a restaurant. You could open a restaurant if you knew nothing about the food business, or cooking.
But you would probably fail.
In fact, most businesses fail within the first 5 years.
To make sure YOU don’t fail, you need to understand the following equation:
TRAFFIC * CONVERSION = PROFIT
You need both. Having traffic without conversion = zero profit.
The same goes for conversion without traffic = zero profit.
An example of conversion without traffic is thinking you have a great product. This is a mistake that many software developers make (myself included).
In the dark and distant past I spent years creating a product that I cared about passionately. But that no-one wanted.
You see, you build a product (because you think it’s fantastic, and who wouldn’t need this), and you get one or two friends to buy (so you have conversion), but then you realize that you’ve reached the end of the market. No Traffic. result? No Profit!
So getting step 1 right is important. The nice thing is, as we’re on the internet, and you haven’t spent money on renting a premises for your shop (yet), and refurbishing the space and putting in cool tables and a bar etc…
You can still change. Or shift. Or pivot.
Shifting your perspective on your niche slightly is sometimes a pretty good idea. E.g, instead of selling diet books, why not sell diet classes?
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
So, choosing a niche comes down to this.
- Think of the big 4. That is Health, Wealth, Relationships, Hobbies/Interests
- Now, think through the following:
- What you know.
For example you may know all about the paleo diet, and you have a background in nutrition.
Or you may be an expert in running or cycling
Or you know how to code, and you develop games in your spare time
- What you have done.
For example you may recently have lost weight using the paleo diet
Or you finished a recent marathon in your personal best time
Or you just managed to get your fist game in the app store
- What you want to do
For example you want lost weight using the paleo diet
Or you want to improve your personal best in the marathon (or run your first marathon)
Or you want to get your first game in the app store
The reason this works well is that you can document your journey, and serve as an example to others. That’s what I’m doing with this blog. E.g. I want to build a $100,000 a month blog, I know marketing and software, so that’s what I’ll do.
- What you know.
- Match what you know to the big 4 – in this examples that’s obvious. It’s health, and hobbies.
You want to match it with the big four so you can expand your focus. This helps when it comes to product brainstorming and pivoting later.
- Verify that there’s a market (do a simple search on Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon) and check that people are:
- Talking about it? (yes, loads of conversations, forums, etc)
- Selling products (books, meals, software, anything) – yup, lots of that
- Buying solutions to the problem (losing weight with paleo) – yup – many people are apparently buying
So, before you jump and say ‘No Shit Sherlock – but look at the competition’, let me explain.
When done correctly, you have NO competition. I’ll get to how that works later.
You will be in a competitive market. You want to be. If you’re not (e.g. if you’re selling one-handed knitting needles), there will simply not be a big enough market for you to make any money.
Pick The Right Market
And this is one mistake that many people make. You pick a market that’s too small, or you have no way of reaching that market.
Please note: All we’ve done at this point is decided on a broad market. We’re not sure exactly what that market wants. But we know 2 things:
1. The market exists
2. We can reach them on the internet
A similar process applies to any offline business, but I wont’ go into that now.
I don’t care what you’re selling, or trying to sell.
You have to make sure that there is a market for that product.
And that you can reach them.
Of course, once you’ve defined that market, you have to sell them something.
That’s the other side of the coin. Conversion.
And with conversion, you want to make sure you get the biggest bang for your buck.
And in EVERY SINGLE CASE – the biggest bang for your buck, is to sell something to someone who HAS ALREADY BOUGHT FROM YOU!
Math for this is simple.
Assuming a lead costs you $5 (typical for many industries).
If your conversion rate is 2%, you get to sell a product to 1 in every 50 leads. So the cost of selling that product (assuming no other costs) is $250.
This means that you need to make at least $250 per product just to break even!
So you’re probably selling the product for $500 and making a $250 profit.
But let’s say you already have those leads. E.g. you’re selling to someone ALREADY on your customer list.
Guess what. You’re suddenly making $500 profit on every unit sold.
The point I’m trying (probably badly) to make here is that conversion optimization is not just about improving the number of people who click on your buy button. It’s also about increasing the total value of goods that you sell to every individual in your market.
So you can’t make money just selling an ebook. Or being an affiliate for a paleo ebook.
That may be a start. But you have to have plans to scale to the next level of the game.
You have to Level Up!
So, I’ve covered that basics of getting through Level 1 successfully. It’s not hard, but it’s important.
And it’s even more important to understand that you don’t get to level 5 or 6 without putting in the work.
You have to slay those goblins before you get to face the dragon.
And this is a good thing.
Dragons ain’t that easy to kill 🙂
All these ‘overnight success stories’ you see? There’s a lot of work behind each of them.
Now – you can accelerate the process.
That’s what I’m doing with this blog. I’m going to run through these levels as quickly as I can.
So you can see exactly how it’s done.
So, if you’re struggling to get to the next level, remember.
It’s a game. The game has rules. The game has achievements. The game has levels. But it’s just a game.
So you can learn to play it.
And you can learn to play it well.
At least well enough to get to level 6.
Please leave me a comment below. I reply to all of them, and would love to hear your thoughts.
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