This is a guest contribution from Larry Alton.
You spend hours and hours of time each week on your blog, but at the end of the month, there’s nothing to show for it in your bank account. In fact, after you add up all of the expenses associated with maintaining your blog, you’ve actually lost some money.
What’s the problem? Here are some possible culprits and what you can do to overcome them.
1. You Never Researched Your Niche
While you need to be interested in the blog niche you choose, personal affinities play a minor role in blog profitability. Ultimately, it’s the readers of your blog who determine whether or not you’re successful. If you never researched your niche prior to launching your blog, then it’s likely that your root problem is a lack of demand for the content you’re producing.
“If you’re committed to building a popular and profitable site, you’ll have to write, read, and talk about your topic almost every day for the next several years. You’ll invest thousands of hours, quite literally gambling with your time,” CopyBlogger.com notes.
“The question is, how will you approach it? Will you start writing and hope someone notices you? Or will you carefully research your niche, looking for the precise angle that will make your content irresistible?”
While CopyBlogger is obviously giving advice to bloggers who are just getting started, it’s never too late to consider the questions they ask “after the fact.” If you never researched your niche and are merely hoping someone notices you, then consider this your answer for why you’re losing money. You’ll either need to scrap your blog altogether and launch a new, better researched one in the future or find a way to overhaul your current blog.
2. Your Blog Isn’t a Priority
There are a lot of lazy bloggers out there. Nobody’s calling you lazy, but if you’re losing money on your blog, you may want to consider the possibility that you aren’t ambitiously chasing success.
We’ve all seen article headlines that read “Here’s How I Make $24,343 Per Month Blogging from Home” or “I Was Able to Quit My Job After Blogging for Two Weeks.” Unfortunately, these articles are highly misleading and designed to generate clicks, not impart actual wisdom. But the negative byproduct of these headlines is that people incorrectly assume that you can make money laying on your sofa and writing a couple of blog posts each week.
Successful bloggers work hard. In fact, they work really, really hard. They often put in more hours each week than traditional salaried employees at major corporations. So, if you’re only dedicating a few hours per week to blogging, you aren’t making it a priority in your life. Perhaps, that’s why you aren’t making money.
3. You Aren’t Willing to Invest Time and Money
When blogging isn’t an actual priority in your life, then you fail to commit the necessary resources to make it successful. The most obvious areas where this reality shines through are time and money. We already discussed the fact that blogging takes time in the last section, so let’s turn our attention towards money.
You have to think about your blog like an investment. As the saying goes, “It takes money to make money.” In other words, if you want to generate revenue, you’re going to have to put up some of your own money to get the engine lubricated. (There are obviously some exceptions to this, but for the most part, you’ll have to pony up some capital.)
The reason you haven’t put up money is because you aren’t totally confident in your blog. This goes back to pre-launch research. If you do your research and find a niche that you believe is capable of being tapped into, you’ll be more than willing to invest your time and money into it.
4. You Have a “Come and Find Me” Strategy
One of the more prevalent issues surrounding unprofitable blogs is what we’ll call the “Come and Get Me” strategy. In this strategy (or lack of strategy), bloggers simply publish content and then wait for visitors to stumble upon it. (Hint: This very rarely happens with blogs that aren’t already established.)
You need to replace this strategy with the “Go-Getter” strategy. Under this approach, you’ll proactively go out and draw people to your blog. In other words, you develop a strategic lead generation strategy that draws readers into your content. Thankfully there are plenty of ways to make this happen. Here are a few suggestions:
- Use Google AdSense. “If you’ve got a blog, you can quickly and easily monetize it using Google AdSense,” Coupon Ninja points out. “It’s totally free to use, and with it, you can place small, mostly inconspicuous ads on your blog. When visitors click on an ad, you get a few cents; if your blog gets a lot of traffic, those clicks can add up quickly.”
- Share on social media. Social media is great because it’s free. If you already have a significant following on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you can disseminate new posts and encourage people to click back to the articles. You can also use targeted hashtags to reach people who don’t already follow you.
- Feature other bloggers. One interesting strategy is to mention other bloggers and blogs in your content. Most bloggers have Google Alerts set up for their names and will notice when you highlight them. As a result, they may share your post with their own networks (or reach out to you in the future).
These are just a few tactics. There are literally dozens of other lead generation techniques for bloggers. Research all of the opportunities and don’t be afraid to get creative.
5. You Don’t Have a Profit Funnel
If you want to profit from blogging, then you need a plan. Specifically, you need a profit funnel or sales funnel. This funnel provides a step-by-step plan for how you’ll move individuals from blog visitor to customer.
Every blog profit funnel is different, but you should follow the basic outline of the traditional sales funnel. At the top of the funnel is awareness. At this stage, people are just discovering who you are and what your blog offers. Next, there’s interest. At this point in the funnel, the individual not only knows about your blog but is interested in what you’re saying. Third, comes a decision. The individual makes the decision that they are going to purchase what you’re offering. And finally, there’s action. The visitor follows through and makes a purchase.
The goal of a profit funnel is to move your blog visitors from awareness to action. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary to spend some time developing a specific plan that resonates with your audience and customers.
6. You Don’t Actively Network
If you aren’t actively networking with other bloggers and industry leaders, then you’re missing out on a major opportunity to get your name out there and forge lasting relationships that will ultimately help you monetize your blog.
“Networking with bloggers just like yourself is of the utmost importance. Why? Because it means that you will be able to further promote your website – and they, in return, can further promote theirs,” says one blogger. “Building connections and forming relationships is important when it comes to promoting yourself online, but you do have to make sure that you start off by giving them the right impression.”
The issue most bloggers have is that they confuse the idea of networking with harassment. Sending out generic spam emails to a bunch of bloggers isn’t networking, and tweeting at someone a dozen times in two hours isn’t networking.
In order to successfully network, you need to show the other party that you’re interested in who they are and what they do. You can do this by posting thoughtful comments on their posts, sharing their articles on your social media accounts, referencing their articles in your own posts, etc. Then, once you’ve established that you aren’t just a leech looking to take advantage of someone, you can reach out directly and try to spark a relationship.
7. Your Writing is Poor
If everything else seems to be fine, then you may have to turn your attention towards the quality of your writing. While it can be difficult to accept the fact that you aren’t the next Hemingway or Twain, the reality of the situation is that many bloggers simply can’t produce quality content. Hire a copywriter or send some of your work to a trusted individual and ask for an honest opinion.
If you aren’t a great writer, this doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Blogging is equal parts writing and marketing. It helps to be a good writer, but you can always focus your attention on the marketing portion while partnering with a writer.
8. You Fail to Apply Knowledge
The final reason you’re losing money on your blog is that you don’t take action. You’ll read an article like this that clearly exposes some of your flaws and you don’t feel strongly enough to apply what you’ve learned.
If this article teaches you anything, you need to be calculated and strategic in everything you do. Don’t merely consume content. Consume content, digest it, and then apply that energy towards actively improving your situation.
It’s Time to Reverse Your Approach to Blogging
Whether you’ve been blogging for six months or six years, you shouldn’t be losing money on your blog. If you are, then something is seriously wrong beneath the surface. Chances are, one of these eight culprits is to blame.
Reverse your approach to blogging and find out how you can start making money.
If you do want to build a profitable blog and transform your blogging hobby into an income-generating business, check out Problogger’s Make Money Course (one of the Four Pillars of Blogging).
Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
This article was first published on Jan 12, 2017 and updated Jan 27, 2022