A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

How I Make Money Blogging

How to make money bloggingLast month, I made $4,795.76 as a direct result of blogging here at erica.biz. Today, I break it down, so you can see where every penny I made came from, which promotions were most successful, and what you can do right away to boost your blog’s income.

At the end of every month, I tally up all my various income sources. I noticed a hugely interesting pattern when I looked at the difference between January, February, and March:

In March, I made more than 7x the income I had just two months prior. Wow. What the heck happened?

It Wasn’t That My Blog Had More Traffic…

I can tell you the secret wasn’t more traffic or more subscribers. In January, I had 22,615 unique visitors to erica.biz. In March, I had 25,703 visits–not a substantially higher number. Same with subscribers–I had a few hundred more in March than in January, but it wasn’t substantially higher.

What was the big difference, then?

Let’s look carefully at the breakdown. I officially launched Guest Post Secrets on February 1, but 3 people found it early and bought it in January. Subtracting that out, without me launching a product, my blog made $537.19 in January.

And that’s with a good amount of traffic–over 40,000 pageviews. No wonder you hear so many bloggers complain that their blogs don’t make any money. Relying on advertising alone would have left me destitute.

Tip #1: Launch a Product

In February, I launched Guest Post Secrets. That launch brought in a significant amount of money, netting me $1801.00. Not bad for a product I can sell over and over again as new people show up on my blog.

So, for February, my blog made $2601.13–a 4x jump from January. That’s tangible proof that surveying your customers and then creating a product that helps them get something they desire is the key to making a full-time income. This is especially true if you have a blog that’s not getting millions of visitors a month.

Ah…but then what happened in March?

Tip #2: Launch a High-Ticket Product!

I didn’t sell a whole lot of Guest Post Secrets in March. I didn’t go after affiliates, and I didn’t advertise it anywhere else. (I’m working on both of those this month.) Predictably, the sales died down a bit.

Instead, I launched a high-ticket product. I promoted it via a free webinar, which I called my first “Wednesday workshop.” As a test, I sent it out only to my email list subscribers, and didn’t even post about it here.

Of my ~4,100 email list subscribers at the time, 137 signed up for the workshop, and 78 attended. I delivered a straight hour of great content, going into detail about my past and answering tons of questions from the audience. (There were over 100 questions…I couldn’t even keep up with them all!)

At the end of the hour, I delivered a pitch for my first in-person workshop–held here in San Diego in June, where I work with just five small business owners on growing their businesses.

How I Decided What to Offer

The in-person workshop came together this way for a few reasons. The biggest reason was that I receive a lot of emails asking for 1-on-1 consulting. I am not particularly interested in 1-on-1 consulting at this point in time–I prefer to work on my blog or on information products. But I thought this would be fun, and heck, if no one signed up, I’d just move on and continue working on products.

After asking for some feedback from others as to how I should set the pricing, I settled on $997.00 per person for the day–and emphasized that each person could bring a business partner for free. The $997.00 price point is realistically about half of where I want to be, but I figured this first group could give me testimonials. I plan to raise the price for the next workshop, and also take it on the road in the future.

I set up a quick sales page for the workshop. (Seriously quick…I started working on it about an hour before the webinar, and finished just in the nick of time!)

Keep in mind, I had no idea if anyone would sign up. This was scary, but I figured it was better than not trying at all. To get over my fear, I kept myself busy–I worked on the sales letter and tested my webcam setup.

A happy surprise occurred when, at the end of the webinar, 4 people signed up!

The Big “Duh” Moment: Are You Making This Mistake?

It was then that I realized what the missing piece of the puzzle was when it came to making money with my blog: I hadn’t made an offer.

Looking back, it seems almost like a “duh!” moment. Sure, I had Guest Post Secrets, and that sold a lot. But some folks who read erica.biz don’t have a blog, and others have a blog and are already guest posting to great effect.

Those who wanted consulting wanted something else: personalized advice about how to break through their own barriers. By setting my price far higher on that, I didn’t devalue my own time, and I also managed to make just under $4,000 in one 90-minute webinar.

Of course, there is another day I’ll need to spend with these folks. But that’s enjoyable time for me. I love helping people, especially in person, and the workshop will be a blast.

The Big Takeaway for All Bloggers

Here’s the takeaway from all this: If you have a reasonably popular blog, you probably have audience members who want more from you. Definitely offer a product–but realize that not everyone will buy it. But also have a high-ticket item or two out there. Whether it’s personal coaching (which, I realize, not everyone wants to offer) or something–like artwork or an “everything package” of all your products–that is more unique and higher value, you need to have that bigger product.

And you need to have that product even if no one buys it…because it can help set a mental anchor that your products are more valuable.

Why Selling Cheap Products Could Threaten Your Blog’s Livelihood

I see far too many bloggers offering ebooks for as little as $2 or $5, and then offering consulting for a “special deal!” of $50/hour or $70/hour. With those prices, you’re doing yourself and your readers a disservice.

Think about how many hours of coaching you’re going to have to sell to make $4,000. You’re going to spend 80 hours of your time to make that much. And since most of those same blogs have the primary option being just 1 hour of consulting, you’re going to have to sell 80 people on the idea of consulting with you.

Since you’re selling yourself so cheaply, that $10,000/month–or whatever your blog income target is–is going to start looking an awful lot like a full-time job. But that’s only because you’ve made it that way. Start valuing yourself more and start charging more. (Hint: You attract more interesting people when you value yourself more, too.)

How to Overcome Your Big “Buts”

One of the most common reactions I get when I write a blog post like this is “But Erica, I didn’t sell a business for $1 million, so I can’t possibly charge what you charge!” First of all, (forgive the rant) but I am so tired of people using that as an excuse!

I started Internet marketing in February 2008 as a complete newbie. At Frank Kern’s Mass Control seminar in April 2008, I turned to the person next to me and asked “What’s a continuity program?” (Turns out, a continuity program is a product that is billed monthly–much like the web hosting company I created previously!)

I started this blog in December 2007. My goal for 2008 was to earn $10,000/month from it. It didn’t happen. In 2009, I was sick for 9 months and offered a coaching program that didn’t work out–mostly because I was too sick to really keep up with it. I still wasn’t making $10,000/month.

Now, it’s 2010, and the $10,000/month goal is in sight. But it has practically nothing to do with me selling my business for $1 million! Very little of my business experience from my web hosting company translates into Internet marketing wealth–otherwise, I would have been making $10,000/month two years ago! Internet marketing is a new world for me. That’s why I’m blogging about it as I go and sharing my honest truths with you.

I can happily sell consulting for $500/hour all day for two reasons:

  1. I believe that what I offer is worth that much.
  2. I have testimonials that show that an hour of my time is worth 20 times that (or more) to a motivated entrepreneur who is ready to take action.

That’s it. Nothing to do with my past. Stop using your past as an excuse. It’s what you do for others that matters, not how much money you’ve made in your lifetime.

(end rant!)

How to Do What I Did

I got here because I persisted. I doggedly refused to give up when my blog refused to “grant me my wish” of making me $10,000/month. In the meantime, I kept learning. I built an email list. I grew my traffic via SEO and guest posting. I surveyed my readers to find out what you wanted. I wrote great post after great post after great post. And finally, I made an offer…and then, another, bigger offer.

The “make an offer” part was the part I was missing. And, if you have reasonably good traffic and a decent-sized list (500-800 people), you, too, should start thinking about what offer to make. Even if you’re just getting started, start sketching out ideas for paid products, and focus on that as well as writing good content. You can start out with a smaller offer, but don’t forget to have a big offer visible on your site as well.

If you want to make real money blogging, get a product out there and start selling it. And start considering what higher-ticket item your readers will want to buy from you. Then offer it. That’s the fastest way I know of to make more money with your blog.

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I'm Erica Douglass.
After selling my online business at age 26 for over $1 million, I created this blog to help you grow your own business quickly.

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