Not Making Money Blogging? It Might Not Be Your Fault

Can I share something with you?

Look down below at the big window where you’d write a comment… whether you’re going to write one or not. Look just above that space. Do you see the little message about donation and the Paypal button? Would you believe that’s actually been on this blog since 2009? Would you also believe that I’ve only ever had one person donate something to me… which was back in 2009… and he’s now, unfortunately, deceased?

Knew business;
closed anyway…

I added that to the blog after a blog comment I got from a lady who runs her blog on real estate with her husband who calls herself Coco made the suggestion on a post where I was talking about all these affiliate ads I used to have on both sidebars, of which I only have one now (the Mailwasher Pro link just below my book Embrace The Lead, there on the left). She thought it would work well because back then I had a lot more people coming to the blog and leaving comments.

I’d actually forgotten I had it, and wasn’t reminded of it until my buddy Rasheed started his recent Patreon campaign. It sparked a memory in me that I thought I had something, so I came back to look at a post and realized I actually did still have it. However, when I added my comment policy in 2011, then posted part of it above the same commenting window, I ended up having that donation button above the policy. Since no one reads the policy, they never noticed the button, and I’d totally forgotten about it. Thus, I’ve just moved it so it’ll be easier to see.

First, I’d like to mention the reason for the donation button in the first place. It’s there in case you decide you happen to like a certain post a lot and your mind says “Hey, I think I’d like to give Mitch a couple of bucks for this one.” There’s no set amount on it, so if you ever decide you think anything I write is worth something and you’d like to contribute in some way, whether or not you comment, it’s there… and you know I’d thank you till the end of time… or at least that week. πŸ™‚

Second… I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fact that it’s time I start figuring out how to generate some income from all this writing, with the intention of earning enough money to pay bills, eat, have at least a little bit extra and write some more. There are other things I’d “like” to do, but my main intention is to be able to generate enough income so I don’t “have to” go on the road if I don’t want to. As I mentioned in my post about life and blogging, my mother’s health is worrisome and I’d like to be able to stay close enough to get to her as much as possible (as opposed to spending months at a time out of town like I did while I was in Memphis).

Third… what I’ve recognized after all these years is that I’ve done a lot of things, haven’t done a few others, and in the end the conclusion, which I’m sure most of the rest of you know, is that making money blogging, and I mean real, livable money by blogging, isn’t all that easy to do. There are some people who are getting it done, most of it having little to do with actual blogging, yet somehow they’re able to make money off the consequence of blogging, and I think that’s pretty cool.

With that said, there’s a lot of people who write things about how to make money that, in my opinion, have little to do with actually making money. Let me rephrase that; they might be components of the overall drive to make money but it’s not how they make money. How do I know this?

It wasn’t this guy lol

Years ago I tried to get a guy, who I’m not going to name here (if you want to know who it was send me an email and I’ll tell you; and I mean an email; if you ask me in the comments I ain’t saying nothing lol), who was listed at one of the top 50 people online making big time money, to do an online interview with me. I told him that my issue was there’s all these people talking about how to make money online yet not a single one of them actually ever reveals anything.

I used to buy a bunch of books, listen to a bunch of webinars, and none of them offered anything except a “deal” on their $997 product that they were making a one time price of $497. Heck, it might have been good, but I predicate my buying on what I’m seeing before that, and not a single one of these people gave me anything that encouraged me to buy their product.

Back to my story, I asked him if he’d participate in my interview and he said yes. I sent him a series of questions, asking some specific things, and there were only 5 questions. Well… not only did he never answer them but he never wrote me again. I mean… I followed up 4 or 5 times with him by email, sent him a message on LinkedIn… nothing.

I recently came across another post by a guy named Ravi Chahar, who wrote a post titled Reasons Why Bloggers Don’t Make Money From Their Blog. He listed some pretty good things about how to have a successful blog, but a lot of them have nothing to do with making money whatsoever. I’m going to call a few of those things out.

Boring Content

I’d agree that this will drive people away from your blog and they may never come back, but if it was this simple then there are tons of people who’d be making money hand over fist. I read tons of blogs and some folk are brilliant writers yet I don’t believe they’re making tons of money blogging, if any at all.

For context, go read this post by my buddy Holly Jahangiri, who just participated in the A to Z Challenge in April, which means she had to write 26 articles in the month, titled Be a Data Driven Blogger as an example. Trust me, she’s not close to ever being boring!

Poor Business Skills

Does this help anyone? It might be true overall, but this doesn’t really apply to blogging as much as, well, being in business in general. I should know; next month I’ll have been self employed for 15 years. Business skills I have; marketing… that’s a different thing entirely. Without business skills you’re not going to survive in anything you do if you want to be self employed or trying to make money on your own. In all these years, I’ve had 2 years where I made more than $200K, yet I’ve still never made more than $5 a year on blogging. So that correlation is missed on me.

Spelling And Grammar Mistakes Suck

Once again, this has more to do with blogging in general than making money. I know this because I see some blogs where I know the owners are making pretty good money, as in a livable income, but their grammar and spelling isn’t all that great. These are folks for whom English isn’t their main language, so they’re forgiven for not being more accurate. Still, they’re able to communicate with their audience in some way that they’re doing fairly well.

This has nothing to do with
making money blogging either

There are some others I could mention but I’m not going to; please, go read this post and you’ll see what I mean. I think it’s a great post about what not to do as it pertains to blogging in general, and in that vein I’d recommend it, but after reading the entire thing I left knowing that if I employed every single thing he wrote I still wouldn’t make any money.

For instance, one thing I’ve had people constantly telling me is that if I don’t have an email list that I won’t make any money. My response is that even if I had an email list, what would I market to them to make money with? I tell them that I actually used to have two email lists when I was writing my two business newsletters, and I never made a dime from either of them, though one of them I wrote for 10 years. I was marketing my business books and other related books on each post… nothing, nada, zip. The thing is, even if leadership is considered a tough topic to sell, these folk subscribed on their own, some stuck with me for all 10 years, and no one ever bought a thing. So much for being niched.

Just so you know, it’s going to be my intention to figure out this “make money blogging” thing. There’s got to be something that’s not a major secret, and I’m not supposed to be a dumb guy. Over the years I’ve gone the affiliate marketing route, the create product route, the pay-per-click route, but the only way I ever made money was via the paid link ads, which didn’t have anything to do with the blog and eventually lost me my Google page rank (which I didn’t care about but the advertisers did) and ended that bit of cash.

If, or when, I figure it out, I’ll let you know how I did it. Actually, if anything starts looking like it’s starting to make an impact I’ll probably be writing about it here. Y’all know I like to share things; all I do around here is share. I wonder if that’ll earn me a couple of bucks with my little donate button… hmmm… πŸ™‚

What do y’all think about trying to make livable income by blogging? Real dream or pipe dream? Products, services? Ideas?

29 thoughts on “Not Making Money Blogging? It Might Not Be Your Fault”

  1. Hi Mitch,

    I do believe that money can be made from blogging as long as it is part of a whole in a specific business plan. We cannot just stick a blog up and expect to make a buck.

    There has to be that opt in. Yes your email list whereby you have a good old sales funnel in place that works. Again…that works. Mine didn’t for a while, but I had to fix it up in order to get it cranking again.

    Many get confused when they see the term “make money blogging” and it needs to be clarified. There are many places to market product and/or services but it has to be all connected.

    I get tons of people coming to my blog. They opt into my free whatever, and never spend a dime. This is common. But if it is done wisely a blog can be a good way to capture buyers.

    Sometimes, when I’m out in the marketplace selling one of my products, someone purchases it and then tells me in an email that they did so because they have checked out my blog. So you see, our blogs can make great business cards too.

    As for purchasing something on a blog…I’ve done it myself on blogs that review something. And I’ve reviewed things, and people have bought it right off.

    But to make a more steady income, one has to work on it every day.

    It all makes much more sense when you are promoting your own products (I create a lot of digital info products, for instance) and services (ie., I do coaching).

    Then, you write blog posts that give you a starting point of some info, and encourage folks to sign up to “learn more” (ie., your product or service related to the topic). This is a content upgrade and it works great.

    Bottom line, I don’t think you should try to figure out how to “make money blogging” but how your blog can help drive your business.


    1. Donna, in a way I see these as the same thing. For instance, I have my business blog, where the intention is to show my expertise and, hopefully, have people see the things I can do and reach out to me for those business purposes. That was also the intention of my newsletters when I was writing them. I can’t honestly say I’ve never gotten a thing from any of it but I’ve never gotten what I’d call livable income.

      Here’s the thing. You said “work on it every day”. Exactly what does that mean? For the first 3 years of this blog I wrote more than 300 posts each year. I’m thinking that’s working on it. Even these days, when I’m down to one post a week, I’m not throwing out fluff (well, rarely lol) that makes no sense. Course, I also don’t have a product geared towards the blogging audience or the writing audience… so that could be a particular failing in a sense.

      Course, now I have to visit your latest post because it might answer some of my questions. lol

  2. Hey Mitch,

    When I visit you here, I always find your honesty and ability to “just share” refreshing.

    I know a LOT of bloggers are probably feeling the pain. It isn’t easy.

    Donna had at one time mentioned using the blog as a business card. Truth is, I see a lot of people “making money from their blogs”, but I also see a lot of consequences being doled out – especially through the search engines.

    I think the blogging scene is in need of a change. It’s been years now and there are certain elements about it that to me are overcrowded and filled with desperation.

    So that just tells me there’s a creative component to be observed, even though I’m not sure what that is yet.

    1. That’s what I’m thinking Dana; there’s a creative component I’ve yet to see either. It also appears not to be a universal concept. If I throw out this blog for being all over the place then how does it explain my business blog, which is mainly about leadership and the products on that page are on leadership. There’s always the battle between what works for one person versus another, and sometimes I find that the standard doesn’t follow through on my topics… and I know I’m not alone.

      Actually, I’ve always seen a website as the resume and a blog as the vehicle for which one shows proficiency on an ongoing basis. Either way, it would be so nice to figure out the formula and then try to figure out how to duplicate it.

  3. Hi Mitch,

    I think it is a real dream. I’ve made some money online, but not very much. I finally know how I need to go about making more money online.

    I think creating content (via blogging, video, podcasts and/or on social media) gets more eyes on you and people will be curious about what you do.

    Developing your own programs, products and services are good things to do. If you’ve been creating content, then those who find value in your content, will buy from you.

    I am learning that it is a constant grind. I’m working now on an e-book (free download for opt-in) and a few digital programs. In the meantime, I create as much content as I can (took me a while to finally commit to this :-). When my projects are completed, I can market them and hopefully people will be more likely to opt-in and/or buy my programs.

    I agree with what Donna has said.

    Interesting topic!


    1. It is a good topic Evelyn. I think doing all those things could lead to success… yet they don’t always. Now, I think there are ways I could be holding myself back, and it’s possible that some of those things could be messing with my success. Yet, I almost never see anyone advocating those things, though I see it here and there, so is it as important as I might believe or not?

      In any case this is something I’ll be exploring further. As I find things that are successful I’ll write about them… like I do when other things have shown success or not that I’ve tried. πŸ™‚

  4. Hey Mitch I believe that money can be made from blogging but it takes a whole lot of targeted traffic to do it and that ain’t easy.

    Good business skills, really? I’ve had several successful businesses and I can’t see how it correlates with my inability to make heaps of money blogging.

    Most of the money I’m making online comes from my lottery sites. When there are good jackpots I can make up to $1000 a month, otherwise I struggle to make $400. That’s still pretty good but nowhere near enough to live on.

    I’m slowly building my lottery clientele which over time should boost my income.

    My Sports Betting site isn’t doing so well which surprises me.

    I also had that donate button on my blog. Got rid of it a long time ago. It’s hard enough to get someone to ‘Like’ a post let alone give me money for it, although that did actually happen a couple of times πŸ˜‰

    1. I thought since I just remembered that I had it that I should leave it there for now; you just never know right? lol

      You and I have done a lot of things over the years just trying to make a little chunk of change. You’ve had ads, done sponsored posts, sold affiliate products… in essence, you’ve done it all, even had a mailing list. Got to be something we’ve missed I figure.

  5. It really is important to be a great content maker and to be able to keep yourself inspired. I see this as a perfect opportunity to take advantage of an internet that in some form is dying. At the recent beginning of my new website project I decided to write a book as my only form of monetization just so I had some. I wasn’t going to try using ads like Google Adsense again even though it worked great for me before. This time I am going for brand strength and decided to believe in my own product.

    Personally I am not sure where to find an opportunity for myself at the moment to be able to monetize my website without selling my own products of which I know I could make many.

    Maybe people are lacking ways to convert their audiences and don’t have enough options? What do you think about that idea?

    1. Good stuff Adam. It’s going to look weird, me giving advice on this since I’ve owned up to not making much money, but I know what you’re talking about so many you’ll find a better way to deal with it than I did.

      Overall, it seems that there are really 3 or 4 ways to hopefully cash in and make some legitimate money by “blogging”; I put it in quotation marks because that’s kind of a misnomer. Very few people actually make money off their blog. They make money off all those other things that their blog might be able to convince people to allow themselves to be marketed to.

      For instance, by blogging you can potentially get people to sign up for a newsletter, then you can send them information and products to buy, whether they’re your own or someone else’s. By blogging you can highlight things in products you’ve created and try to convince them to buy them. By blogging you can show expertise in something with the hope that someone might hire you for coaching, consulting or other services. By blogging, you can recommend products and such in your articles that might convince people to buy whatever you’re pitching without having to have them even sign up for a newsletter by email.

      Or there’s #5, which really doesn’t work but I’m sticking with it for now… have a “donate button” near your comment window just in case someone likes what you have to say and decides to pay you something for it. πŸ™‚

  6. @Mitch Mitchell, I still have ads and do sponsored posts which pays for a lot of my hosting costs. Adsense on my sites is pretty pathetic but my Youtube ads are pretty steady.

    Most of the money is coming from the lottery sites. It will be interesting to see how this years income compares with last years.

  7. Hi Mitch

    Like Donna implied, the blog isn’t the business as such, but I believe it’s the part where you indirectly warm your traffic towards conversions. Getting your visitors to know, like and trust you are three objectives here. Very early days for my current lowly blog, but Donna’s clearly a well established master.

    An email list with which you have an active relationship could be seen as a more important asset that the blog itself. I would aim to make the purpose of my blog to be to get as many visitors on my list as possible, and have a nice autoresponder series waiting to warm them further towards a sales funnel. Email marketing is a whole new subject though.

    In affiliate marketing, an example of a successful sales funnel would be a front end free+shipping or very low cost tripwire product. This is then followed up with further more expensive offers and perhaps a recurring service or paid membership product, all of which offer commissions to the affiliate.

    There’s a huge amount of testing and investment required to optimize every element of a successful sales funnel. This makes affiliate or partnership marketing more popular monetization model for bloggers, as most of that work is hopefully already done for you.

    But what most affiliate programs don’t offer their affiliates are those high ticket products such as (in internet marketing) business partnerships, mentoring and licensing that lie at the far end of the funnel. And the product owner alone usually sees the rewards of those sales.


    1. It’s an intriguing prospect Matt… welcome by the way. πŸ™‚ It probably works best within certain niches but maybe not so good for others. I’ve always been reticent in collecting email addresses; even for my previous newsletters, I really didn’t promote them all that often. I felt the newsletter offered a different perspective than the blogs did but creating some sorts of series… now that would be intriguing to think about.

  8. Hey Mitch,

    First and foremost, thanks for the mention and the link love. And the generous gift for my cause. πŸ™‚

    I have known you since 2004, and I have always enjoyed your content and your personality, which is so much part of all you do. You have made some valid points, and I see some of the same things that you hear everywhere else in the comments. Yet we know that it hasn’t worked for us.

    I know it hasn’t worked for me because I haven’t been consistent in putting out the content like you have been. But, I know a few people who have made it big, at least from my perspective, through blogging. They didn’t have a business for which they blogged. It was their blog that turned into a business fro them, so to speak.

    Steve Pavlina is one of them. I used to read his stuff in the 2000’s. He was prolific, wrote articles that were twice as long as yours, and they were not fluffy. He put a Donate button on his blog early on in the side column, and he did well. Took him a while, but he used to report his income from that donate button, which was in mid four figures per month ten years ago. Then he got a book deal based o his content. It was called Personal Development for Smart People, the book was. I haven’t been to his site in quite a while.

    Chris Guillebeau is someone else who started out as a blogger who wrote about travel hacks and his Big Goal of visiting every country in the world. His fourth book just came out. he also does massive community-based events every year. It was after one of his World Domination Summits that I came by t visit you in Syracuse. He never had a donate button. He created travel hack products. He wrote about the Art of Non-Conformity. He credits his success to building a community around his message and catering to that community.

    Is there a lesson in this for us somewhere? I am sure there is; if we can only decode it. lol

    Maybe I should start writing about my Big Dream, and how all the crazy stuff I do relate to that one over-reaching thing in my life. Or maybe, just maybe, you and I have some unknown block about having a sh*t load of money.

    One suggestion, for what it’s worth. Move that donate button on TOP of the comment policy. πŸ™‚

    1. You’re so wrong Rasheed! I don’t want that button to go missing for another 7 years! lol

      I used to read Pavlina also until he sort of went “weird” on me with all the strange dietary stuff; just wasn’t interested in that.

      You know, we’re certainly not doing it all that well, but the one thing I can’t be blamed for is not putting out enough content. This particular blog might not be niched well enough but I have three others that pretty much are doing that very thing. Hey, I’ll continue doing my thing while thinking about ways to tie in what I’m writing to something I might be able to create or market that’s along the same lines, that I also believe in.

  9. Hi Mitch

    I quit trying to make money from blogging years ago. A waste of time and energy.

    For me, a blog is mainly a conversion tool simply because it establishes competence and instills confidence.

    Other than that it’s a lead generation tool – one of my blogs produces daily leads. All good.

    But the idea that someone can launch a blog and make full-time money directly from it (without any other sales producing elements in place) is plain silly.

    But hey, I might have it all wrong!

    I said that a blog is (or at least should be) a great conversion tool. Let me illustrate that point with an example. This morning I spoke to a business owner who I connected with on LinkedIn. Within 15 minutes he told me he wanted my company to provide certain services including a revamp of his website. But here’s the kicker……

    Before talking with him I studied his site, then selected a couple of recent, relevant blog posts and sent them to him before the call. There is no doubt that the content I sent was instrumental in influencing his decision. How do I know? He told me.

    Just my 2 cents worth

    Thanks Mitch


    1. Hi Kim,

      I tend to believe blogs are best as conversion tools also, although how it manifests itself and the types of conversions one makes can obviously be different. Personally, I doubt I’ll make many sales via my blog. However, as Peter stated, one can definitely make some money from it via a variety of sources.

      When I generally talk about making money blogging, I’m encompassing the entire process. That’s why I mentioned some of the things I’ve previously done, such as capturing email addresses (I captured very few through blogging when I was doing it). I’ve written tons of articles over the course of 10 years. I doubt there’s anyone who could say with affirmation that I haven’t given it the ol’ college try.

      But it’s not worked for me and it doesn’t work for a heaping lot of other folks. We don’t give up, but we certainly work on trying to find out way along the path towards some kind of success. I also know that what worked for one person doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work for the next person. However, I do believe that the maps to success, after analysis, end up being fairly similar.

      At least I hope so. πŸ™‚

  10. @Kim Willis, Hey Willis, just my 2 cents worth. A blog can actually make money. I have one blog that generates a little income from sponsored posts as well as adverts that people have placed on it.

    That blog also generates an income from affiliate products that I have sold.

    I also have two niche blogs that generate money by signing people up who then go on to purchase lottery tickets.

    None of which would have happened had those blogs not existed.

    Sure I’m not able to quit my day job yet but all in good time right? πŸ˜‰

  11. Mmm, just testing your reply thing Mitch. I noticed when I replied to Kim it didn’t appear in the same conversation, so I removed the @ thingy to see if it makes a difference.

    1. Holly told me about that but I’m not sure what to do about it. I figure that as long as everyone sees responses it’s the most important thing… and I’m assuming Kim saw yours.

  12. Hey Mitch,

    This is my first comment on your blog.

    I am surprised that I didn’t find your blog earlier as I been searching relentlessly for blogs that talking about blogging and making money from them for a few weeks now.

    I have started a blog and I’ll be honest, it’s a little scary. The part that scares me is not that I can fail, that’s ok. I am scared that I would put too much of my time and energy into something that I could not monetize.

    I would love to hear more about niche selection. I have heard a lot of bloggers say that a niche can make or break a blog on day one. My niche is eCommerce, marketing and SEO.

    Thanks for running this informative blog. I’ll go off and read some more of the great content you have here.

    1. Welcome to the blog Yuvraj. This article might help in learning more about niche blogging: I tend to keep most of my niches kind of loose so that I have lots of topics to write on, but a proper niche along with a few other things sometimes leads to big profits for some people.

      Overall, I think it’s a misnomer for most people to say that they’re making money by blogging… at least in the way people perceive it. Blogging can lead to a lot of other things but only a few people actually makes tons of money by selling products because of their blogs. That’s why I say that blogging is hard for most people; if you enjoy writing for the joy of it then it’s not hard, but if your intention is to make it a lifestyle that pays all of your bills it could get depressing.

      1. @Mitch Mitchell, I understand. The confusing part for me is that there are many bloggers are who are making good money and all have conflicting advice! As a new guy trying start a blog the amount of information is overwhelming.

        I guess I have to treat it more like a business than like a blog. It makes more sense to me that way πŸ™‚

        Thanks for your advice Mitch, appreciate it πŸ™‚

      2. Yes, if that’s your goal then you have to think of is more like a business and figure out which way you actually want to make money. It doesn’t make it any easier but it at least gives you a direction.

  13. It is not just about making money, it is also about building a business. There are a lot of methods to monetize a blog and actually turn it into a real source of income, there are a lot of different techniques that can be applied when it comes to making money from a blog depending on the blog niche.

    Banner advertising and pay per click seem to be a very popular source of income for bloggers, affiliate marketing is also good. You just have to figure out a way of making money from your blog, it possibly involves you thinking like an entrepreneur in order to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

    The blog is already there as a platform through which you share your knowledge and expertise, and over time it is possible that you’ve gained the trust of a substantial number of readers, these readers are potential customers that will readily purchase from you if they are marketed to.

    What you now need to actually make money from this audience is possibly a marketing system that leads visitors to your blog through a systematic process with the goal of buying your services or product. How you do it is the puzzle that you have to solve, there is no single formula that works for all.

    1. Obodo, there are lots of ways to make money blogging but not a lot of ways to actually make a living just by blogging. For instance, the best I’ve been able to achieve over all these years was averaging around $600 a month at one time… until Google suddenly changed things up and poof, it was gone. Affiliate ads, other types of ads, products… nope, hasn’t happened. Right now the only money I actually make while blogging is off sponsored posts on my finance blog, and it’ll never be enough to live off.

      Luckily for me I consult in other industries so to this point I haven’t had to rely on my blogs to make my money. However, it would be a nice change and give me a chance to actually stay home instead of having to travel to make the big money; that would be pretty sweet.

  14. Mitch,

    If you’re looking to get your blog read, and you may know this already, but you have market your blog throw different digital marketing channels. Social Media is big right now and is an easy way to reach the masses. There are a few tricks to the trade like SEO and guest blogging.

    I enjoy this little tasty read right here and if you want to stop by my website and do some digital marketing guest posting, please do. While you’re at it, please read some of my blogs and comment on them.

    Thanks for read!

    Damarco Lampkin
    Epic Interactive Media Inc.

    1. Welcome Damarco. Having my blog read isn’t my issue; on that front it’s done well over 8 years. I also don’t do guest posts unless specifically asked by people I know because when I write one, it’s going to be epic… which kind of fits your company’s name. lol

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