How to make money from your blog

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					5/9/12                                           How to Make Money From Your Blog

                   How to Make Money From Your
                   May 3rd, 2006 by Steve Pavlina

                                                Like   1k                            34

          was launched on Oct 1st, 2004. By April 2005 it was averaging
                   $4.12/day in income. Now it brings in over $200/day $1000/day (updated as of
                   10/29/06). I didn’t spend a dime on marketing or promotion. In fact, I started this
                   site with just $9 to register the domain name, and everything was bootstrapped from
                   there. Would you like to know how I did it?

                   This article is seriously long (over 7300 words), but you’re sure to get your money’s
                   worth (hehehe). I’ll even share some specifics. If you don’t have time to read it now,
                   feel free to bookmark it or print it out for later.

                   Do you actually want to monetize your blog?

                   Some people have strong personal feelings with respect to making money from their
                   blogs. If you think commercializing your blog is evil, immoral, unethical, uncool, lame,
                   greedy, obnoxious, or anything along those lines, then don’t commercialize it.

                   If you have mixed feelings about monetizing your blog, then sort out those feelings
                   first. If you think monetizing your site is wonderful, fine. If you think it’s evil, fine. But
                   make up your mind before you seriously consider starting down this path. If you want
                   to succeed, you must be congruent. Generating income from your blog is challenging
                   enough — you don’t want to be dealing with self-sabotage at the same time. It should
                   feel genuinely good to earn income from your blog — you should be driven by a
                   healthy ambition to succeed. If your blog provides genuine value, you fully deserve to
                   earn income from it. If, however, you find yourself full of doubts over whether this is
                   the right path for you, you might find this article helpful: How Selfish Are You?
                   It’s about balancing your needs with the needs of others.                                                 1/21
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                   If you do decide to generate income from your blog, then don’t be shy about it. If
                   you’re going to put up ads, then really put up ads. Don’t just stick a puny little ad
                   square in a remote corner somewhere. If you’re going to request donations, then
                   really request donations. Don’t put up a barely visible “Donate” link and pray for the
                   best. If you’re going to sell products, then really sell them. Create or acquire the best
                   quality products you can, and give your visitors compelling reasons to buy. If you’re
                   going to do this, then fully commit to it. Don’t take a half-assed approach. Either be
                   full-assed or no-assed.

                   You can reasonably expect that when you begin commercializing a free site, some
                   people will complain, depending on how you do it. I launched this site in October
                   2004, and I began putting Google Adsense ads on the site in February 2005. There
                   were some complaints, but I expected that — it was really no big deal. Less than 1 in
                   5,000 visitors actually sent me negative feedback. Most people who
                   sent feedback were surprisingly supportive. Most of the complaints died off within a
                   few weeks, and the site began generating income almost immediately, although it was
                   pretty low — a whopping $53 the first month. If you’d like to see some month-by-
                   month specifics, I posted my 2005 Adsense revenue figures earlier this year. Adsense
                   is still my single best source of revenue for this site, although it’s certainly not my only
                   source. More on that later…

                   Can you make a decent income online?

                   Yes, absolutely. At the very least, a high five-figure annual income is certainly an
                   attainable goal for an individual working full-time from home. I’m making a healthy
                   income from, and the site is only 19 months old… barely a toddler.
                   If you have a day job, it will take longer to generate a livable income, but it can still be
                   done part-time if you’re willing to devote a lot of your spare time to it. I’ve always
                   done it full-time.

                   Can most people do it?

                   No, they can’t. I hope it doesn’t shock you to see a personal development web site
                   use the dreaded C-word. But I happen to agree with those who say that 99% of
                   people who try to generate serious income from their blogs will fail. The tagline for this                                               2/21
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                   site is “Personal Development for Smart People.” And unfortunately (or fortunately,
                   depending on your outlook), smart people are a minority on this planet. So while most
                   people can’t make a living this way, I would say that most smart people can. How do
                   you know whether or not you qualify as smart? Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you
                   have to ask the question, you aren’t.

                   If that last paragraph doesn’t flood my inbox with flames, I don’t know what will.
                   OK, actually I do.

                   This kind of 99-1 ratio isn’t unique to blogging though. You’ll see it in any field with
                   relatively low barriers to entry. What percentage of wannabe actors, musicians, or
                   athletes ever make enough money from their passions to support themselves? It
                   doesn’t take much effort to start a blog these days — almost anyone can do it. Talent
                   counts for something, and the talent that matters in blogging is intelligence. But that just
                   gets you in the door. You need to specifically apply your intelligence to one particular
                   talent. And the best words I can think of to describe that particular talent are: web

                   If you are very web savvy, or if you can learn to become very web savvy, then you
                   have an excellent shot of making enough money from your blog to cover all your living
                   expenses… and then some. But if becoming truly web savvy is more than your gray
                   matter can handle, then I’ll offer this advice: Don’t quit your day job.

                   Web savvy

                   What do I mean by web savvy? You don’t need to be a programmer, but you need a
                   decent functional understanding of a variety of web technologies. What technologies
                   are “key” will depend on the nature of your blog and your means of monetization.
                   But generally speaking I’d list these elements as significant:

                           blog publishing software
                           blog comments (and comment spam)
                           feed aggregators                                               3/21
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                           full vs. partial feeds
                           blog carnivals (for kick-starting your blog’s traffic)
                           search engines
                           search engine optimization (SEO)
                           page rank
                           social bookmarking
                           contextual advertising
                           affiliate programs
                           traffic statistics

                   Optional: podcasting, instant messaging, PHP or other web scripting languages.

                   I’m sure I missed a few due to familiarity blindness. If scanning such a list makes your
                   head spin, I wouldn’t recommend trying to make a full-time living from blogging just
                   yet. Certainly you can still blog, but you’ll be at a serious disadvantage compared to
                   someone who’s more web savvy, so don’t expect to achieve stellar results until you
                   expand your knowledge base.

                   If you want to sell downloadable products such as ebooks, then you can add e-
                   commerce, SSL, digital delivery, fraud prevention, and online databases to the list.
                   Again, you don’t need to be a programmer; you just need a basic understanding of
                   these technologies. Even if you hire someone else to handle the low-level
                   implementation, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. You need to be able
                   to trust your strategic decisions, and you won’t be able to do that if you’re a General
                   who doesn’t know what a gun is.

                   A lack of understanding is a major cause of failure in the realm of online income
                   generation. For example, if you’re clueless about search engine optimization (SEO),
                   you’ll probably cripple your search engine rankings compared to someone who
                   understands SEO well. But you can’t consider each technology in isolation. You need                                           4/21
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                   to understand the connections and trade-offs between them. Monetizing a blog is a
                   balancing act. You may need to balance the needs of yourself, your visitors, search
                   engines, those who link to you, social bookmarking sites, advertisers, affiliate
                   programs, and others. Seemingly minor decisions like what to title a web page are
                   significant. In coming up with the title of this article, I have to take all of these potential
                   viewers into consideration. I want a title that is attractive to human visitors, drives
                   reasonable search engine traffic, yields relevant contextual ads, fits the theme of the
                   site, and encourages linking and social bookmarking. And most importantly I want
                   each article to provide genuine value to my visitors. I do my best to create titles for my
                   articles that balance these various needs. Often that means abandoning cutesy or
                   clever titles in favor of direct and comprehensible ones. It’s little skills like these that
                   help drive sustainable traffic growth month after month. Missing out on just this one
                   skill is enough to cripple your traffic. And there are dozens of these types of skills that
                   require web savvy to understand, respect, and apply.

                   This sort of knowledge is what separates the 1% from the 99%. Both groups may
                   work just as hard, but the 1% is getting much better results for their efforts. It normally
                   doesn’t take me more than 60 seconds to title an article, but a lot of experience goes
                   into those 60 seconds. You really just have to learn these ideas once; after that you
                   can apply them routinely.

                   Whenever you come across a significant web technology you don’t understand, look it
                   up on Google or Wikipedia, and dive into it long enough to acquire a basic
                   understanding of it. To make money from blogging it’s important to be something of a
                   jack of all trades. Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “A jack of all trades is a
                   master of none.” That may be true, but you don’t need to master any of these
                   technologies — you just have to be good enough to use them. It’s the difference
                   between being able to drive a car vs. becoming an auto mechanic. Strive to achieve
                   functional knowledge, and then move on to something else. Even though I’m an
                   experienced programmer, I don’t know how many web technologies actually work. I
                   don’t really care. I can still use them to generate results. In the time it would take me
                   to fully understand one new technology, I can achieve sufficient functional
                   knowledge to apply several of them.                                                  5/21
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                   Thriving on change

                   Your greatest risk isn’t that you’ll make mistakes that will cost you. Your greatest risk
                   is that you’ll miss opportunities. You need an entrepreneurial mindset, not an
                   employee mindset. Don’t be too concerned with the risk of loss — be more
                   concerned with the risk of missed gains. It’s what you don’t know and what you don’t
                   do that will hurt you the worst. Blogging is cheap. Your expenses and financial risk
                   should be minimal. Your real concern should be missing opportunities that would have
                   made you money very easily. You need to develop antennae that can listen out for
                   new opportunities. I highly recommend subscribing to Darren Rowse’s Problogger
                   blog — Darren is great at uncovering new income-generating opportunities for

                   The blogosphere changes rapidly, and change creates opportunity. It takes some
                   brains to decipher these opportunities and to take advantage of them before they
                   disappear. If you hesitate to capitalize on something new and exciting, you may
                   simply miss out. Many opportunities are temporary. And every day you don’t
                   implement them, you’re losing money you could have earned. And you’re also missing
                   opportunities to build traffic, grow your audience, and benefit more people.

                   I used to get annoyed by the rapid rate of change of web technologies. It’s even more
                   rapid than what I saw when I worked in the computer gaming industry. And the rate
                   of change is accelerating. Almost every week now I learn about some fascinating new
                   web service or idea that could potentially lead to big changes down the road. Making
                   sense of them is a full-time job in itself. But I learned to love this insane pace. If I’m
                   confused then everyone else is probably confused too. And people who only do this
                   part-time will be very confused. If they aren’t confused, then they aren’t keeping up.
                   So if I can be just a little bit faster and understand these technologies just a little bit
                   sooner, then I can capitalize on some serious opportunities before the barriers to entry
                   become too high. Even though confusion is uncomfortable, it’s really a good thing for
                   a web entrepreneur. This is what creates the space for a college student to earn
                   $1,000,000 online in just a few months with a clever idea. Remember this isn’t a zero-
                   sum game. Don’t let someone else’s success make you feel diminished or jealous. Let
                   it inspire you instead.                                              6/21
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                   What’s your overall income-generation strategy?

                   I don’t want to insult anyone, but most people are utterly clueless when it comes to
                   generating income from their blogs. They slap things together haphazardly with no
                   rhyme or reason and hope to generate lots of money. While I’m a strong advocate of
                   the ready-fire-aim approach, that strategy does require that you eventually aim.
                   Ready-fire-fire-fire-fire will just create a mess.

                   Take a moment to articulate a basic income-generating strategy for your site. If you
                   aren’t good at strategy, then just come up with a general philosophy for how you’re
                   going to generate income. You don’t need a full business plan, just a description of
                   how you plan to get from $0 per month to whatever your income goal is. An
                   initial target goal I used when I first started this site was $3000 per month. It’s a
                   somewhat arbitrary figure, but I knew if I could reach $3000 per month, I could
                   certainly push it higher, and $3000 is enough income that it’s going to make a
                   meaningful difference in my finances. I reached that level 15 months after launching the
                   site (in December 2005). And since then it’s continued to increase nicely. Blogging
                   income is actually quite easy to maintain. It’s a lot more secure than a regular job. No
                   one can fire me, and if one source of income dries up, I can always add new ones.
                   We’ll address multiple streams of income soon…

                   Are you going to generate income from advertising, affiliate commissions, product
                   sales, donations, or something else? Maybe you want a combination of these things.
                   However you decide to generate income, put your basic strategy down in writing. I
                   took 15 minutes to create a half-page summary of my monetization strategy. I only
                   update it about once a year and review it once a month. This isn’t difficult, but it helps
                   me stay focused on where I’m headed. It also allows me to say no to opportunities
                   that are inconsistent with my plan.

                   Refer to your monetization strategy (or philosophy) when you need to make design
                   decisions for your web site. Although you may have multiple streams of income,
                   decide which type of income will be your primary source, and design your site around
                   that. Do you need to funnel people towards an order form, or will you place ads all
                   over the site? Different monetization strategies suggest different design approaches.                                             7/21
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                   Think about what specific action you want your visitors to eventually take that will
                   generate income for you, and design your site accordingly.

                   When devising your income strategy, feel free to cheat. Don’t re-invent the wheel.
                   Copy someone else’s strategy that you’re convinced would work for you too. Do
                   NOT copy anyone’s content or site layout (that’s copyright infringement), but take
                   note of how they’re making money. I decided to monetize this site with advertising
                   and affiliate income after researching how various successful bloggers generated
                   income. Later I added donations as well. This is an effective combo.

                   Traffic, traffic, traffic

                   Assuming you feel qualified to take on the challenge of generating income
                   from blogging (and I haven’t scared you away yet), the three most important things you
                   need to monetize your blog are traffic, traffic, and traffic.

                   Just to throw out some figures, last month (April 2006), this site received over 1.1
                   million visitors and over 2.4 million page views. That’s almost triple what it was just
                   six months ago.

                   Why is traffic so important? Because for most methods of online income generation,
                   your income is a function of traffic. If you double your traffic, you’ll probably double
                   your income (assuming your visitor demographics remain fairly consistent). You can
                   screw almost everything else up, but if you can generate serious traffic, it’s really hard
                   to fail. With sufficient traffic the realistic worst case is that you’ll eventually be able to
                   monetize your web site via trial and error (as long as you keep those visitors coming).

                   When I first launched this blog, I knew that traffic building was going to be my biggest
                   challenge. All of my plans hinged on my ability to build traffic. If I couldn’t build
                   traffic, it was going to be very difficult to succeed. So I didn’t even try to monetize my
                   site for the first several months. I just focused on traffic building. Even after 19
                   months, traffic building is still the most important part of my monetization plan. For my
                   current traffic levels, I know I’m undermonetizing my site, but that’s OK. Right now
                   it’s more important to me to keep growing the site, and I’m optimizing the income
                   generation as I go along.                                                 8/21
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                   Traffic is the primary fuel of online income generation. More visitors means more ad
                   clicks, more product sales, more affiliate sales, more donations, more consulting leads,
                   and more of whatever else that generates income for you. And it also means you’re
                   helping more and more people.

                   With respect to traffic, you should know that in many respects, the rich do get richer.
                   High traffic leads to even more traffic-building opportunities that just aren’t accessible
                   for low-traffic sites. On average at least 20 bloggers add new links to my site every
                   day, my articles can easily surge to the top of social bookmarking sites like,
                   and I’m getting more frequent requests for radio interviews. Earlier this year I was
                   featured in USA Today and in Self Magazine, which collectively have millions of
                   readers. Journalists are finding me by doing Google searches on topics I’ve written
                   about. These opportunities were not available to me when I was first starting out.
                   Popular sites have a serious advantage. The more traffic you have, the more you can

                   If you’re intelligent and web savvy, you should also be able to eventually build a high-
                   traffic web site. And you’ll be able to leverage that traffic to build even more traffic.

                   How to build traffic

                   Now if traffic is so crucial, how do you build it up to significant levels if you’re starting
                   from rock bottom?

                   I’ve already written a lengthy article on this topic, so I’ll refer you there: How to Build
                   a High Traffic Web Site (or Blog). If you don’t have time to read it now, feel free to
                   bookmark it or print it out for later. That article covers my general philosophy of
                   traffic-building, which centers on creating content that provides genuine value to your
                   visitors. No games or gimmicks.

                   There is one other important traffic-building tip I’ll provide here though.

                   Blog Carnivals. Take full advantage of blog carnivals when you’re just starting out
                   (click the previous link and read the FAQ there to learn what carnivals are if you don’t
                   already know). Periodically submit your best blog posts to the appropriate carnivals                                                9/21
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                   for your niche. Carnivals are easy ways to get links and traffic, and best of all, they’re
                   free. Submitting only takes minutes if you use a multi-carnvival submission form. Do
                   NOT spam the carnivals with irrelevant material — only submit to the carnivals that are
                   a match for your content.

                   In my early traffic-building days, I’d do carnivals submissions once a week, and it
                   helped a great deal in going from nothing to about 50,000 visitors per month. You still
                   have to produce great content, but carnivals give you a free shot at marketing your
                   unknown blog. Free marketing is precisely the kind of opportunity you don’t want to
                   miss. Carnivals are like an open-mic night at a comedy club — they give amateurs a
                   chance to show off their stuff. I still submit to certain carnivals every once in a while,
                   but now my traffic is so high that relatively speaking, they don’t make much difference
                   anymore. Just to increase my traffic by 1% in a month, I need 11,000 new visitors,
                   and even the best carnivals don’t push that much traffic. But you can pick up dozens
                   or even hundreds of new subscribers from each round of carnival submissions, so it’s a
                   great place to start. Plus it’s very easy.

                   If your traffic isn’t growing month after month, does it mean you’re doing something
                   wrong? Most likely you aren’t doing enough things right. Again, making mistakes is
                   not the issue. Missing opportunities is.

                   Will putting ads on your site hurt your traffic?

                   Here’s a common fear I hear from people who are considering monetizing their web

                   Putting ads on my site will cripple my traffic. The ads will drive people away,
                   and they’ll never come back.

                   Well, in my experience this is absolutely, positively, and otherwise completely and
                   totally… FALSE. It’s just not true. Guess what happened to my traffic when I put
                   ads on my site. Nothing. Guess what happened to my traffic when I put up more ads
                   and donation links. Nothing. I could detect no net effect on my traffic whatsoever.
                   Traffic continued increasing at the same rate it did before there were ads on my site.
                   In fact, it might have even helped me a little, since some bloggers actually linked to my                                             10/21
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                   site just to point out that they didn’t like my ad layout. I’ll leave it up to you to form
                   your own theories about this. It’s probably because there’s so much advertising online
                   already that even though some people will complain when a free site puts up ads, if
                   they value the content, they’ll still come back, regardless of what they say publicly.

                   Most mature people understand it’s reasonable for a blogger to earn income from
                   his/her work. I think I’m lucky in that my audience tends to be very mature —
                   immature people generally aren’t interested in personal development. To create an
                   article like this takes serious effort, not to mention the hard-earned experience that’s
                   required to write it. This article alone took me over 15 hours of writing and editing. I
                   think it’s perfectly reasonable to earn an income from such work. If you get no value
                   from it, you don’t pay anything. What could be more fair than that? The more income
                   this blog generates, the more I can put into it. For example, I used some of the income
                   to buy podcasting equipment and added a podcast to the site. I’ve recorded 13
                   episodes so far. The podcasts are all ad-free. I’m also planning to add some
                   additional services to this site in the years ahead. More income = better service.

                   At the time of this writing, my site is very ad-heavy. Some people point this out to me
                   as if I’m not aware of it: “You know, Steve. Your web site seems to contain an awful
                   lot of ads.” Of course I’m aware of it. I’m the one who put the ads there. There’s a
                   reason I have this configuration of ads. They’re effective! People keep clicking on
                   them. If they weren’t effective, I’d remove them right away and try something else.

                   I do avoid putting up ads that I personally find annoying when I see them on other
                   sites, including pop-ups and interstitials (stuff that flies across your screen). Even
                   though they’d make me more money, in my opinion they degrade the visitor experience
                   too much.

                   I also provide two ad-free outlets, so if you really don’t like ads, you can actually read
                   my content without ads. First, I provide a full-text RSS feed, and at least for now it’s
                   ad-free. I do, however, include a donation request in the bottom of my feeds.

                   If you want to see some actual traffic data, take a look at the 2005 traffic growth
                   chart. I first put ads on the site in February 2005, and although the chart doesn’t
                   cover pre-February traffic growth, the growth rate was very similar before then. For                                             11/21
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                   an independent source, you can also look at my traffic chart on Alexa. You can select
                   different Range options to go further back in time.

                   Multiple streams of income

                   You don’t need to put all your eggs in one basket. Think multiple streams of income.
                   On this site I actually have six different streams of income. Can you count them all?
                   Here’s a list:

                       1. Google Adsense ads (pay per click and pay per impression advertising)
                       2. Donations (via PayPal or snail mail — yes, some people do mail a check)
                       3. Text Link Ads (sold for a fixed amount per month)
                       4. Chitika eMiniMalls ads (pay per click)
                       5. Affiliate programs like Amazon and LinkShare (commission on products sold,
                           mostly books)
                       6. Advertising sold to individual advertisers (three-month campaigns or longer)

                   Note: If you’re reading this article a while after its original publication date, then this
                   list is likely to change. I frequently experiment with different streams.

                   Adsense is my biggest single source of income, but some of the others do pretty well
                   too. Every stream generates more than $100/month.

                   My second biggest income stream is actually donations. My average donation is about
                   $10, and I’ve received a number of $100 donations too. It only took me about an
                   hour to set this up via PayPal. So even if your content is free like mine, give your
                   visitors a means to voluntarily contribute if they wish. It’s win-win. I’m very grateful
                   for the visitor support. It’s a nice form of feedback too, since I notice that certain
                   articles produced a surge in donations — this tells me I’m hitting the mark and giving
                   people genuine value.

                   These aren’t my only streams of income though. I’ve been earning income online since
                   1995. With my computer games business, I have direct sales, royalty income, some
                   advertising income, affiliate income, and donations (from the free articles). And if you
                   throw in my wife’s streams of income, it gets really ridiculous: advertising, direct book                                              12/21
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                   sales, book sales through distributors, web consulting, affiliate income, more Adsense
                   income, and probably a few sources I forgot. Suffice it to say we receive a lot of
                   paychecks. Some of them are small, but they add up. It’s also extremely low risk —
                   if one source of income dries up, we just expand existing sources or create new ones.
                   I encourage you to think of your blog as a potential outlet for multiple streams of
                   income too.

                                                                                    Automated income

                                                                                    With the exception of #6, all of
                                                                                    these income sources are fully
                                                                                    automated. I don’t have to do
                                                                                    anything to maintain them except
                                                                                    deposit checks, and in most cases
                                                                                    I don’t even have to do that
                                                                                    because the money is
                                                                                    automatically deposited to my
                   bank account.

                   I love automated income. With this blog I currently have no sales, no employees, no
                   products, no inventory, no credit card processing, no fraud, and no customers. And
                   yet I’m still able to generate a reasonable (and growing) income.

                   Why get a regular job and trade your time for money when you can let technology do
                   all that work for you? Imagine how it would feel to wake up each morning, go to your
                   computer, and check how much money you made while you were sleeping. It’s a
                   really nice situation to be in.

                   Blogging software and hardware

                   I use WordPress for this blog, and I highly recommend it. Wordpress has lots of
                   features and a solid interface. And you can’t beat its price — free.

                   The rest of this site is custom-coded HTML, CSS, PHP, and MySQL. I’m a
                   programmer, so I coded it all myself. I could have just as easily used an                                                     13/21
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                   existing template, but I wanted a simple straightforward design for this site, and I
                   wanted the look of the blog to match the rest of the site. Plus I use PHP and MySQL
                   to do some creative things outside the blog, like the Million Dollar Experiment.

                   I don’t recommend using a hosted service like Blogger if you want to seriously
                   monetize your blog. You don’t get enough control. If you don’t have your own URL,
                   you’re tying yourself to a service you don’t own and building up someone else’s asset.
                   You want to build page rank and links for your own URL, not someone else’s. Plus
                   you want sufficient control over the layout and design of your site, so you can jump on
                   any opportunities that require low-level changes. If you use a hosted blog, you’re at
                   the mercy of the hosting service, and that puts the future of any income streams you
                   create with them at risk. It’s a bit more work up front to self-host, but it’s less risky in
                   the long run.

                   Web hosting is cheap, and there are plenty of good hosts to choose from. I
                   recommend for a starter hosting account. They aren’t the cheapest, but
                   they’re very reliable and have decent support. I know many online businesses that
                   host with them, and my wife refers most of her clients there.

                   As your traffic grows you may need to upgrade to a dedicated server or a virtual
                   private server (VPS). This web site is hosted by ServInt. I’ve hosted this site with
                   them since day one, and they’ve been a truly awesome host. What I like most about
                   them is that they have a smooth upgrade path as my traffic keeps growing. I’ve gone
                   through several upgrades with them already, and all have been seamless. The nice
                   thing about having your own server is that you can put as many sites on it as the server
                   can handle. I have several sites running on my server, and it doesn’t cost me any
                   additional hosting fees to add another site.

                   Comments or no comments

                   When I began this blog, I started out with comments enabled. As traffic grew, so did
                   the level of commenting. Some days there were more than 100 comments. I noticed I
                   was spending more and more time managing comments, and I began to question
                   whether it was worth the effort. It became clear that with continued traffic growth, I
                   was going to have to change my approach or die in comment hell. The personal                                               14/21
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                   development topics I write about can easily generate lots of questions and discussion.
                   Just imagine how many follow-up questions an article like this could generate. With
                   tens of thousands of readers, it would be insane. Also, nuking comment spam was
                   chewing up more and more of my time as well.

                   But after looking through my stats, I soon realized that only a tiny fraction of visitors
                   ever look at comments at all, and an even smaller fraction ever post a comment (well
                   below 1% of total visitors). That made my decision a lot easier, and in October 2005,
                   I turned blog comments off. In retrospect that was one of my best decisions. I wish I
                   had done it sooner.

                   If you’d like to read the full details of how I came to this decision, I’ve written about it
                   previously: Blog Comments and More on Blog Comments.

                   Do you need comments to build traffic? Obviously not. Just like when I put up ads, I
                   saw no decline in traffic when I turned off comments. In fact, I think it actually helped
                   me. Although I turned off comments, I kept trackbacks enabled, so I started getting
                   more trackbacks. If people wanted to publicly comment on something I’d written,
                   they had to do so on their own blogs and post a link. So turning off comments didn’t
                   kill the discussion — it just took it off site. The volume of trackbacks is far more
                   reasonable, and I can easily keep up with it. I even pop onto other people’s sites and
                   post comments now and then, but I don’t feel obligated to participate because the
                   discussion isn’t on my own site.

                   I realize people have very strong feelings about blog comments and community
                   building. Many people hold the opinion that a blog without comments just isn’t a blog.
                   Personally I think that’s utter nonsense — the data just doesn’t support it. The vast
                   majority of blog readers neither read nor post comments. Only a very tiny and very
                   vocal group even care about comments. Some bloggers say that having comments
                   helps build traffic, but I saw no evidence of that. In fact, I think it’s just the opposite.
                   Managing comments detracts from writing new posts, and it’s far better to get a
                   trackback and a link from someone else’s blog vs. a comment on your own blog. As
                   long-term readers of my blog know, when faced with ambiguity, my preference is to
                   try both alternatives and compare real results with real results. After doing that my                                               15/21
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                   conclusion is this: No comment.

                   Now if you want to support comments for non-traffic-building reasons like socializing
                   or making new contacts, I say go for it. Just don’t assume that comments
                   are necessary or even helpful in building traffic unless you directly test this assumption

                   Build a complete web site, not just a blog

                   Don’t limit your web site to just a blog. Feel free to build it out. Although most of my
                   traffic goes straight to this blog, there’s a whole site built around it. For example, the
                   home page of this site presents an overview of all the sections of the site, including the
                   blog, article section, audio content, etc. A lot of people still don’t know what a blog
                   is, so if your whole site is your blog, those people may be a little confused.

                   Testing and optimization

                   In the beginning you won’t know which potential streams of income will work best for
                   you. So try everything that’s reasonable for you. If you learn about a new potential
                   income stream, test it for a month or two, and measure the results for yourself. Feel
                   free to cut streams that just aren’t working for you, and put more effort into optimizing
                   those streams that show real promise.

                   A few months ago, I signed up for an account with Text Link Ads. It took about 20
                   minutes. They sell small text ads on my site, split the revenue with me 50-50, and
                   deposit my earnings directly into my PayPal account. This month I’ll make around
                   $600 from them, possibly more if they sell some new ads during the month. And it’s
                   totally passive. If I never tried this, I’d miss out on this easy extra income.

                   For many months I’ve been tweaking the Adsense ads on this site. I tried different
                   colors, sizes, layouts, etc. I continue to experiment now and then, but I have a hard
                   time beating the current layout. It works very well for me. Adsense doesn’t allow
                   publishers to reveal specific CPM and CTR data, but mine are definitely above par.
                   They started out in the gutter though. You can easily double or triple your Adsense
                   revenue by converting a poor layout into a better one. This is the main reason why                                             16/21
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                   during my first year of income, my traffic grew at 20% per month, but my income grew
                   at 50% per month. Frequent testing and optimization had a major positive impact.
                   Many of my tests failed, and some even made my income go down, but I’m glad I did
                   all that testing. If I didn’t then my Adsense income would only be a fraction of what it
                   is now.

                   It’s cheap to experiment. Every new advertising or affiliate service I’ve tried so far has
                   been free to sign up. Often I can add a new income stream in less than an hour and
                   then wait a month to see how it does. If it flops then at least I learned something. If it
                   does well, wonderful. As a blogger who wants to generate income, you should always
                   be experimenting with new income streams. If you haven’t tried anything new in six
                   months, you’re almost certainly missing some golden opportunities. Every blog is
                   different, so you need to test things for yourself to see what works for you. Failure is
                   impossible here — you either succeed, or you learn something.

                   Pick your niche, but make sure it isn’t too small

                   Pick a niche for your blog where you have some significant expertise, but make sure
                   it’s a big enough niche that you can build significant traffic. My wife runs a popular
                   vegan web site. She does pretty well within her niche, but it’s just not a very big
                   niche. On the other hand, my topic of personal development has much broader
                   appeal. Potentially anyone can be interested in improving themselves, and I have the
                   flexibility to write about topics like productivity, self-discipline, relationships,
                   spirituality, health, and more. It’s all relevant to personal development.

                   Pick a niche that you’re passionate about. I’ve written 400+ articles so far, and I still
                   feel like I’m just getting started. I’m not feeling burnt out at all. I chose to build a
                   personal development site because I’m very knowledgeable, experienced, and
                   passionate about this subject. I couldn’t imagine a better topic for me to write about.

                   Don’t pick a niche just because you think it will make you money. I see many
                   bloggers try to do that, and it’s almost invariably a recipe for failure. Think about what
                   you love most, and then find a way to make your topic appealing to a massive global
                   audience. Consider what will provide genuine value to your visitors. It’s all about
                   what you can give.                                             17/21
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                   A broad enough topic creates more potential advertising partners. If I keep writing on
                   the same subtopic over and over, I may exhaust the supply of advertisers and hit an
                   income ceiling. But by writing on many different topics under the same umbrella, I
                   widen the field of potential advertisers. And I expand the appeal of my site at the
                   same time.

                   Make it clear to your visitors what your blog/site is about. Often I visit a blog with a
                   clever title and tagline that reveals nothing about the site’s contents. In that case I
                   generally assume it’s just a personal journal and move on. I love to be clever too, but
                   I’ve found that clarity yields better results than cleverness.

                   Posting frequency and length

                   Bloggers have different opinions about the right posting length and frequency. Some
                   bloggers say it’s best to write short (250-750 word) entries and post 20x per week or
                   more. I’ve seen that strategy work for some, but I decided to do pretty much the
                   opposite. I usually aim for about 3-5 posts per week, but my posts are much longer
                   (typically 1000-2000 words, sometimes longer than 5000 words, including the
                   monster you’re reading right now). That’s because rather than throwing out lots of
                   short tips, I prefer to write more exhaustive, in-depth articles. I find that
                   deeper articles are better at generating links and referrals and building traffic. It’s true
                   that fewer people will take the time to read them, but those that do will enjoy some
                   serious take-away value. I don’t believe in creating disposable content just to increase
                   page views and ad impressions. If I’m not truly helping my visitors, I’m wasting their


                   Blogging is dirt cheap.

                   I don’t spend money on advertising or promotion, so my marketing expenses are nil.
                   Essentially my content is my marketing. If you like this article, you’ll probably find
                   many more gems in the archives.

                   My only real expenses for this site are the hosting (I currently pay $149/month for the                                               18/21
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                   web server and bandwidth) and the domain name renewal ($9/year). Nearly all of the
                   income this site generates is profit. This trickles down to my personal income, so of
                   course it’s subject to income tax. But the actual business expenses are minimal.

                   The reason I pay so much for hosting is simply due to my traffic. If my traffic were
                   much lower, I could run this site on a cheap shared hosting account. A database-
                   driven blog can be a real resource hog at high traffic levels. The same goes for online
                   forums. As traffic continues to increase, my hosting bill will go up too, but it will still be
                   a tiny fraction of total income.


                   Depending on the nature of your blog, you may be able to enjoy some nice perks as
                   your traffic grows. Almost every week I get free personal development books in the
                   mail (for potential review on this site). Sometimes the author will send it directly; other
                   times the publisher will ship me a batch of books. I also receive CDs, DVDs, and
                   other personal development products. It’s hard to keep up sometimes (I have a queue
                   of about two dozen books right now), but I am a voracious consumer of such
                   products, so I do plow through them as fast as I can. When something strikes me as
                   worthy of mention, I do indeed write up a review to share it with my visitors. I have
                   very high standards though, so I review less than 10% of what I receive. I’ve read
                   over 700 books in this field and listened to dozens of audio programs, so I’m pretty
                   good at filtering out the fluff. As I’m sure you can imagine, there’s a great deal of self-
                   help fluff out there.

                   My criteria for reviewing a product on this site is that it has to be original, compelling,
                   and profound. If it doesn’t meet these criteria, I don’t review it, even if there’s a
                   generous affiliate program. I’m not going to risk abusing my relationship with my
                   visitors just to make a quick buck. Making money is not my main motivation for
                   running this site. My main motivation is to grow and to help others grow, so that
                   always comes first.

                   Your blog can also gain you access to certain events. A high-traffic blog becomes a
                   potential media outlet, so you can actually think of yourself as a member of the press,
                   which indeed you are. In a few days, my wife and I will be attending a three-day                                                 19/21
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                   seminar via a free press pass. The regular price for these tickets is $500 per person.
                   I’ll be posting a full review of the seminar next week. I’ve been to this particular
                   seminar in 2004, so I already have high expectations for it. Dr. Wayne Dyer will be
                   the keynote speaker.

                   I’m also using the popularity of this blog to set up interviews with people I’ve always
                   wanted to learn more about. This is beautifully win-win because it creates value for
                   me, my audience, and the person being interviewed. Recently I posted an exclusive
                   interview with multi-millionaire Marc Allen as well as a review of his latest book, and
                   I’m lining up other interviews as well. It isn’t hard to convince someone to do an
                   interview in exchange for so much free exposure.


                   I don’t think you’ll get very far if money is your #1 motivation for blogging. You have
                   to be driven by something much deeper. Money is just frosting. It’s the cake
                   underneath that matters. My cake is that I absolutely love personal development – not
                   the phony “fast and easy” junk you see on infomercials, but real growth that makes us
                   better human beings. That’s my passion. Pouring money on top of it just adds more
                   fuel to the fire, but the fire is still there with or without the money.

                   What’s your passion? What would you blog about if you were already set for life?

                   Blogging lifestyle

                   Perhaps the best part of generating income from blogging is the freedom it brings. I
                   work from home and set my own hours. I write whenever I’m inspired to write (which
                   for me is quite often). Plus I get to spend my time doing what I love most — working
                   on personal growth and helping others do the same. There’s nothing I’d rather do than

                   Perhaps it’s true that 99 out of 100 people can’t make a decent living from blogging
                   yet. But maybe you’re among the 1 in 100 who can.

                   On the other hand, I can offer you a good alternative to recommend if you don’t have
                   the technical skills to build a high-traffic, income-generating blog. Check out Build                                          20/21
5/9/12                                           How to Make Money From Your Blog

                   Your Own Successful Online Business for details.

                   Read related articles:
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                           Blogging Interview
                           Million Dollar Experiment – First Dollar Earned
                           Ask Steve – Blogging Questions
                           How to Build a Successful Online Business
                           New York Times vs. Digg – Strange New Media
                           Site Build It!

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