We all know there are a lot of blogs out there that promise to teach you how to make money online. You can bet that 99% of them aren’t making anything significant. Sure, there are folks like Pat Flynn who are making tons of money; I believe Donna Merrill‘s probably making livable money… if not more (I’ll let her tell you if she ever sees this lol).
after I finish this corndog
Truth be told, I’m not sure how to make money anymore by blogging. I say “not sure” because at a couple of different points I was making a nice bit of “side money”. I was averaging around $600 a month with this blog and later around $300 a month on my finance blog. Two years ago I was averaging around $250 a month on my medical billing website/blog; now it’s down to $100 every 4 months (curse you Google!). That’s certainly not livable money, but it was great making some extra cash without having to work very hard for it. Continue reading Make Money Blogging? I Have No Idea… Maybe…→
I’m going to tell a truth up front; I want to make money off my blogging efforts. There’s nothing wrong with trying to make money, especially if you put a lot of time into it. I may not be blogging 24/7/365 because, after all, I do have a life and responsibilities, but I put enough time into it that it wouldn’t be depressing if I started making money off it (by the way, did you ever notice that little blurb just underneath the commenting policy before you leave a comment? lol).
With that said, I decided long ago that the first thing I wanted to establish with anyone who ever visited any of my websites or blogs or even my videos is that I could be trusted, and that I had ethics that would preclude me from doing anything I didn’t believe in or that gave me the impression that I couldn’t trust the people who might want to work with me. To that end, let’s start with a video:
What Helps You Trust Others https://youtu.be/SIW8wPqCcNA
As you can see, I’m not overly trusting of a lot of people. Of course I trust most of you who comment here (okay, no I don’t lol), but in general I like to make people earn my trust, just as I work at getting people to trust me.
In the early days of this blog, I used to add a product at the end of every blog post. That’s when I used to be with Commission Junction and I was new to affiliate marketing. I was probably familiar with 50% of the items I shared, but I definitely wasn’t familiar with the rest of it.
I was trying to appeal to the people who were coming to the blog, which means that sometimes I had things like shoes, dresses and baby items… none of which I’d ever use. It took me a couple of years to realize that wasn’t the way to go and I stopped doing that, only posting things I actually used or knew about (which is why I link to a lot of books). I also never made any money from any of those things, and I didn’t deserve to (the only thing I ever made money off was that Mailwasher Pro ad over there on the left; I still use that and yeah, you should too. BTW, this isn’t an affiliate link, but a link to the original article I wrote about the product).
Don’t I look ethical?
Over the years I’ve come up with my own ethics as it pertains to affiliate marketing and accepting sponsored posts (which I don’t do on this blog or my main business blog). I used to apply these standards to guest posting on my finance blog when I accepted them and, because so many people didn’t follow through on their agreements, became one of the reasons I stopped accepting them. It was way too much time upfront and on the back end that it just wasn’t worth all the effort anymore.
A phrase I hear all the time these days is “side hustle”, which basically means finding ways to make money off your blog via ads and such. Many of these folk are doing it the right way, but I also know there are folks who are doing things that they really don’t believe in because, to them, it’s all about the money; money trumps everything.
Man… if y’all knew how much money I’ve let slip by me over the years because there were things I just wasn’t going to do you might want to slap me across the face and say “get real”. Hey, if it violates my own ethics or standards I couldn’t live with myself. This isn’t a religious thing either, since I’m a non-believer in anything like that. It’s just my belief that there are way too many people willing to do literally anything for money, and I refuse to be one of those people.
Anyway, that’s me. I’m not going to ask anyone if they believe in being ethical for money or if they’re being ethical in making money because I don’t want to put anyone on blast. Instead, I decided I’m going to share some of my positions regarding my ethics, or “rules” if you will, that help me determine what’s good and not good to do.
1. If you really don’t believe in a product or service, don’t write about it.
It’s rare that I’ve written about products on this blog other than when I’ve talked about books. I did write on that Mailwasher Pro item and since I’m still using it all these years later I think I’ve proven that I really believe in it. The last product review I wrote about was concerning the Fitbit Flex, and I was as detailed as I could be about how I use it.
My friend Pete sometimes writes product reviews on his main blog, but one of the best he ever wrote was when he talked about buying solar panels for his home and all the research he put into it before deciding on who to go with. Check out this post and notice the quality of the information he give about solar panels in general and why he selected the people he did. This is the kind of quality one can give you if they’ve actually used a product or service, and he’s not even making any money off it.
If you want people to trust you, your words will come across better if you’ve actually seen what you recommend personally, rather than many of the researched reviews about products that, if you’re actually paying attention to the articles, you realize folks have never used.
2. If you accept guest or sponsored posts, have a policy and make sure people read it before you work with them.
Some of you know I’m not big on guest posting, and I don’t accept it on any of my blogs unless I ask someone to write one based on their expertise. With that said, I do accept sponsored posts on 3 of my blogs (although only one actually gets requests), but I have one rule that I stick with.
That rule is… people need to use my name in the email. It might sound petty but I’ll tell you why I have it.
I learned that my finance blog is on a lot of lists of sites that accept guest posts. I learned about it 4 or 5 years ago. This meant that, though I have an advertising policy on that blog that most people aren’t even seeing it.
I know this because most of the email I get is something like this:
My name is XXXXXX and I recently found your blog and wanted to reach out on behalf of some of my clients.
Specifically, we are interested in guest posts and sponsored posts. Is this something you offer?
If so, could you please send over more information.
My gripe is that the advertising policy is right on the main page of the blog, with the link just under the About link. It’s nice and bold, very easy to spot. That I’m always asked about guest posting or sponsored posts and what it entails when everything is written in the policy is irksome.
The advertising policy also tells people to write to Mitch at the blog’s email address. I do that because it’s a test. See, I’m big on responding to comments (along with 29 other things as it regards blogging), and if I accept a comment on this blog I’m going to respond to it (because unfortunately we know that some comments won’t pass muster).
Thus, I expect anyone who wants to have a sponsored post on my blog to respond to any comments those articles get. A good test to see if people will pay attention to the rules is to see if they’ve even made an effort to see if there’s an advertising policy (or guest posting policy) on a site before reaching out to the person. If they don’t, it’s easy for me to tell. After all, the rules are in the policy; it’s not like I’ve made it hard to follow.
3. If you accept banner ads, at least check out the advertisers first.
I not only accept banner ads, but I’ll accept sponsored links on posts that are more than 6 months old. That comes with two caveats though. The first is that the link has to have something to do with the article. The second is that I get to check out all links before I approve them.
I check out all links and websites. There are topics I won’t accept, so if they have blogs I check those out as well just to make sure we’re on the same page. If I’m going to link to it I want to make sure it’s trustworthy because my name is going to be associated with it. We also know the Big G is always looking at everything we do online, and even though I won’t go out of my way to please them or any other search engine, it’s stupid to intentionally antagonize anyone right?
4. Have established policies or procedures that you want others to follow and that you yourself follow.
I shared my advertising policy for my finance blog above. I haven’t added it to either of the other blogs that I would accept advertising for because I’ve yet to be asked. I have comment policies on 4 of my blogs where they’re easily seen (if not always paid attention to) just above the comment area.
I also have a way to show people when I’m linking to an affiliate product (a light blue line under the link) and this year I’ve started adding a disclaimer at the end of any article that has a link in it (I used to put a note pretty much anywhere in the post). That’s actually requested by search engines, although I’m not sure how they’d know there was a notice or not.
5. Let people know whether or not you’re providing the service
You might be trying to make money by providing services instead of products. In that case, I’m going to assume that you’re including it in your articles when you write on certain subjects or in your About page.
However, I’ve also known people who say they’re providing services, then turn around and give it to someone else to do. If you have employees that’s fair, but if you’re giving it to someone you don’t know via Fiverr or some other service, that’s disingenuous and sneaky, especially if you’re not telling people that’s what you’re going to do.
I see that often with people who contract with someone to provide articles, then pass it off to someone else and pay them way less than what they’ll be getting. That’s when quality starts to fall, and you’re going to be the one who takes the blame and gets the criticism.
Your ethics don’t have to be my ethics when it comes to making money. All I’m suggesting is that you think about your ethics when you’re ready to start trying to make money online. In person people are pretty forgiving; online, not so much. Be honest and real; that’s all I’m asking for.
With the first post of 2017 I thought I would talk a little bit about something bloggers can do to make money on their blogs. That would be accepting advertisements. If your blog is popular it can be quite wonderful and lucrative, but it can also be dangerous and bad for your blog. Let’s try to take these one step at a time, since there are many things to consider.
pretty blatant advertising!
The first is their relevance to the content of your blog. For instance, there’s a local bakery in town called Harrison Bakery and I happen to like some of their products… a lot! If I went to them and said “Hey, would you like to advertise on my blog”, and I was talking about this blog, I might have some issues with search engines (y’all know who I’m talking about lol). Continue reading Accepting Advertising On Your Blog – Wonders And Dangers→
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. Continue reading Not Making Money Blogging? It Might Not Be Your Fault→
I tend to violate some rules that those who say they make a lot of money from blogging believe are essential. This is one of those times, but I’ll get back to the main subject in a minute. First, the latest progress from my offer on being available for doing an interview has led to two new posts elsewhere. The first is an interview I did with Olawale Daniel on his blog TechAtLast blog. The second is a guest post I wrote for Mitchell Allen of Morpho Designs titled “70’s Music – The Last Days Of Innocence“. I hope you check them out and thanks to both of you.
In previous interviews I’ve done, I’ve been asked this question about making money by blogging a few times. I used to always say that it was never really my intention to try to make money by blogging, and lived by that, even though, before this year, I always popped in an affiliate ad, just in case someone saw something they liked and decided to check it out. I can easy say that was NOT been successful, which is why I dropped it. I still run some banner ads here, but I’m sure they’re being missed by almost everyone as well.
I now have to modify my statements from back then a little bit. I still don’t try to make money off “all” my blogs, but I do try to make money specifically off one blog, and encourage others to help my income on others. It’s time for a breakdown because I’m going to be the one to tell you an amazing truth about making money online, but especially with blogging; it’s not going to happen the way you think it will.
I have earned a few dollars here and there from this blog over the years, but very little. I’ve sold a couple of affiliate programs, know I sold one of my books (up there to the top left) from this blog, and made, I believe, a whopping $1.35 from Adsense before it was pulled from this blog. That’s it; almost nothing. I’ve made nothing whatsoever from two of my blogs, those being my Syracuse blog and my SEO blog. The first has no advertising on it so far, and the second is just past 3 months old.
My main business blog, Mitch’s Blog has made more money than the other 3 blogs, but not how you’d think. What it’s done is helped me get a speaking engagement and a presentation to a company that both paid fairly well. I have also sold a couple of books on management and one of my CD series from that blog, but the first two things I mentioned makes it my biggest money maker by far, if not my most consistent. See, the purpose of the business blog is to show authority in my fields of business, and it worked well enough to get me two projects that paid nicely. So, I can say I made money online, even if it was for offline projects.
My finance blog, Top Finance Blog, is my most consistent money maker, and in some ways more in line with how some people might think of making money online; sort of. I make almost all of my money on that blog through paid advertising. Companies pay me to put banner ads on the site. They pay me to add their links to previous posts, and some pay me to put a post on there that they wrote. Some even pay me to write a special post for them, knowing it’s going to cost them more because y’all know me, I’m going to write what I want to write about when I want to write it unless I’m getting paid. Even though I have a couple of products on that page and my own banner ads, they don’t generate anything close to the advertising.
That’s not how I saw it coming when I started that blog. I always believed that if I wrote in that niche that I would sell all sorts of products and information geared towards it. That’s how it all began with me as well, having all kinds of sales stuff on there. What happened instead is people with business interest in the financial niche wanted to be a part of it as its rankings and position increased. If there was ever anything to be said for the power of finding a niche and sticking within it, this is it for me. I didn’t manifest income in the way I thought I would, but I’ve manifested it all the same. Now, before you run off trying to do the same thing, let me make this point clear; I’m not “yet” making enough to live off on that blog, and unless I totally write only that blog I don’t think I ever will. But it’s a nice income, and though the last 7 days are kind of a fluke, I did make close to $500; I’ll take that for now. 🙂
Can you make money blogging? Yes you can. Do I recommend trying it? Can’t hurt, as long as you know what the realities are. My finance blog will be 3 years old in December, and it’s taken that long to generate enough interest so that it can make money. If you’re looking for a quick hitter it’s rare that it will happen, so don’t hurt yourself trying. If you have the time, you’ll make something.
And now it’ll probably be another 7 to 9 months before I touch this topic again. lol