Let’s get the promotional stuff out of the way. In 2013, I was part of a group of 33 bloggers who was asked a question about how to increase blogger engagement. A few months ago I was part of another group of people that includes some fairly big names on a website called First Site Guide. We were all asked to give our 3 best blog monetization tips. I’m included with some fairly well known bloggers, few of whom know me; that’ll change one of these days (gotta have hope). Then about a month and a half ago I wrote in this space about trying to market my latest book on leadership titled Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy.
With all of that, you’d think I would know what I was doing. In a way I do, but in a way I don’t. Let me clarify that one. I know what I need to do to make more sales. I actually know what it takes to drive more traffic to my blog and my websites. After all these years, there’s lots of that kind of stuff I know.
However, what I wasn’t sure of was just how much more traffic I might need to make a dent in selling things online. You know, marketing online isn’t all that much different than real marketing, or offline marketing if you will. In both, it’s all about one or two things.
One, who you know that might be able to help you with things you’re not good at for the mutual benefit of both.
Two, the numbers, as in the more people you can reach, the more traffic you can drive, the better the opportunity you have to be somewhat successful.
The one thing I’ve never really known is just how many numbers you need online to make real sales. I have made a few sales over the years but, being more of a consultant offline than online, I’d never put together any numbers on my own.
Who did I get some numbers from? None other than my old buddy Lynn Terry of Click Newz. I asked her to take a look at the sales page for my book in her private Facebook group to see what I might be missing. She gave me some tips, then asked me how much traffic I’d had. I gave her the numbers and she said “That’s not nearly enough. You can’t make any real sales until you can get at least 3,000 to 10,000 people to your site.
In other words, it takes a lot of traffic, targeted or not, to make any real money online. And those numbers are pretty high.
Truth be told, the only numbers I can get are from Google Analytics, which are slightly suspect. My host, 1&1, doesn’t have Cpanel, which means I can’t look at any traffic figures from them unless I pay an extra fee; sigh. I don’t have a compelling reason to move to anyone else (so don’t even mention whose hosting your site because I’m not switching) because, no matter what people say, they’re as good as any other shared hosting company these days. For anyone who doesn’t believe me, just ask someone how many times Hostgator has gone down in the last couple of years and then ask me how many times 1&1 has gone down in the same period… to which I’d answer “none”.
I know an argument someone will make is “what about niche marketing and niched blogs. Whereas you have a better chance of attracting the people you’re trying to reach, it’s still about the numbers, about the traffic. My book was on leadership, so I reached out to people interested in leadership through my business blog, a couple of groups on LinkedIn concerning leadership, and my articles there on leadership. For me, the traffic wasn’t bad; for making sales, there just wasn’t close to being enough traffic.
Now, that doesn’t mean if you hit upon something that no one else is doing that you won’t make any money at all. What it means is if you’re hoping to make enough money to sustain yourself by selling things online, you need thousands of people stopping by who are interested in what you have to say, then in what you have to sell. Even if you know how to monetize your site, as my buddy Peter wrote in his post called The Truth About Blogging For Money, it’s about getting the right traffic, marketing the right thing, and touching the right nerves.
That’s mainly why I wrote 3 years ago that if you’re going to make any real money blogging you probably need to change your focus to “service” as opposed to product, even if you’re creating the product. Maybe if your product is teaching other people how to make money you’ll get some sales, or teaching almost anything with the right market. Otherwise, you need to decide whether you want to offer writing services, consulting services, training services, etc. That’s really what it’s all about.
Even Ryan Biddulph, who wrote the book and has the website about Blogging From Paradise, admits in the book (yes, I bought & read the book) that most of the money he makes is from freelance writing, although he’s starting to do well selling his books these days. Another famous guy, Darren Rowse, aka Problogger, became the first millionaire blogger by setting up forums and other sites with other marketers and becoming more of a comglomerate instead of purely blogging (selling photography equipment he wrote about didn’t hurt, as he made a lot of money that way, but it was the other stuff that took him over the top).
Let me be clear on this; all of that still takes a lot of traffic, but maybe not as much traffic to make enough money to live off if you pick the right thing you want to do that people will pay for. It’s something to be considered in any case. Give it some thought, and if you agree or disagree, let me know.