There’s no doubt that blogging is a side hustle that offers a big upside with the potential to make a good income. But the truth is, most people who attempt to build a blog will never make any money with it.
I’ve been blogging full-time since 2008 and over the years I’ve known many bloggers who’ve had success, and many who haven’t. When I look at what separates the successful bloggers from those who never achieved their goals of making money with a blog, there are a few keys that really stand out.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most common reasons that blogs fail to make money, and what can be done to overcome these problems.
If you’re a blogger and you’ve had trouble making money, maybe some of these tips can help you to get over the hump.
1. You Haven’t Clearly Defined Your Target Audience
As a blogger, you need to know exactly who you are writing for. It doesn’t matter what you are writing about, your content won’t appeal to everyone. If you have a clearly defined ideal reader or target audience you can craf content to appeal to them.
How to Fix It:
An avatar is essentially a fictional, ideal reader. You can and should create your own avatar by defining things like age, gender, occupation, marital and family status, income, and other details. If you need help with this step, see How to Create a Reader Avatar for your blog.
When you are writing posts, or even just deciding on the posts that you want to write, keep your avatar in mind. Make sure you are writing content that your avatar would like. If you do this, you’ll have a blog that your target audience will love.
2. You Are Choosing the Topics Instead of Covering What Your Audience Wants to Read
How do you decide what posts to write for your blog? Most bloggers simply choose what they want to write about.
While blogging does give you the flexibility to write about any topic, you’ll need to keep your readers in mind if you want them to care about your content.
How to Fix It:
Instead of choosing the topics that you want to write about, let your audience dictate the topics that you should cover.
There are several different ways you can do this, including:
- Asking your readers through a poll or survey
- Paying attention to feedback that you get through comments on your posts or emails you receive from readers
- Checking forums and Facebook groups to see what your target audience is talking about (and more importantly, what questions they are asking)
- Checking analytics to see which topics tend to do well on your blog
- Keyword research to see what people are searching for
3. Scattered Focus
One of the most common blogging problems is a lack of focus. If your posts cover too many different topics and are scattered with no real direction or purpose, your blog will probably struggle to attract repeat visitors and to stand out.
How to Fix It:
Have a clear idea of the purpose of your blog and what topics you’ll cover. Make sure that all of your content works together and helps to make your blog a greater source of authority or trust in your niche.
I’d recommend creating an editorial calendar to help plan your content and keep it on track. You can pencil in specific days of the week that you want to publish, and you can even dedicate different days of the week to specific topics.
4. There is No Monetization Strategy
There are several different ways you can make money with a blog, but without a clear monetization strategy you’re likely to struggle. Too many new bloggers want to make money with their blog, but they have no idea how they plan to actually make money.
Advertising (like banner ads) is probably the easiest way to monetize a blog that has decent traffic, so that becomes the solution for a lot of blogs. But in order to make a significant amount of money from ads you’ll need to have a high-traffic blog. In my opinion, it’s not the best strategy for most bloggers (although it can be one part of the strategy).
How to Fix It:
Aside from advertising, there are a few other legit ways to make money from a blog, including:
- Affiliate marketing
- Selling your own physical products
- Selling digital products
- Offering services
- Publishing sponsored content
Ideally, your blog will make money in a couple of different ways. Affiliate marketing is a good option for just about any blog, whether you want it to be your primary source of income or to supplement other ways of making money.
I believe that offering services is another effective approach that often gets overlooked. Using services to monetize a blog makes it possible to make a decent amount of money even with a blog that has relatively low traffic.
The important thing is that you have a plan. Don’t just throw a few AdSense units on your site and include a few affiliate links here and there. In order to make money, you’ll need a specific strategy.
You’ll also need to make sure that the content you publish is well-suited to your monetization strategy. For example, if you are offering a service, write content that would appeal to the type of reader who might be interested in the services that you offer.
5. Your Blog is Like Every Other Blog
There are millions of blogs online, and thousands more are launched every day. In order to be successful with your blog it will need to stand out in some way.
If your blog is like every other blog it won’t be memorable, and visitors won’t be likely to come back again in the future.
How to Fix It:
There are a few different ways to make your blog different and stand out, but in my opinion, the best approach is to create content that your readers will love. Use great content as a way to stand out, and visitors will want to come back for more.
“Great content” could be a number of different things, depending on what your audience is looking for. It could be in-depth content with lots of tips and actionable advice. It could be short, practical tips. It could be DIY tutorials or guides. It could funny and entertaining. It could even be video content.
Think about your target audience, the problems that they face, and what they are looking for when they come across a blog like yours. Create the best content for them and your blog will stand out.
If you’re struggling, check out this blog post checklist that will help you to create and promote content that gets attention.
6. Your Effort is Inconsistent
For most bloggers, building a blog happens in spare time that fits around other priorities in the schedule (like a full-time job).
But if you want to be successful with your blog you’ll need to make sure that you are giving a consistent effort. You can’t put in a bunch of time one month, then take a month off, and expect the blog to grow.
It’s very possible to build a successful blog around a busy schedule, but you’ll need to make sure that you’re treating it like a business if you want to make money, and that includes giving it plenty of your attention on a regular basis.
How to Fix It:
Take a realistic look at your schedule and determine how much time you can really devote to your blog. I recommend blocking off certain hours, just like you would for a job.
When I was building my first blog on the side of a full-time job, I worked on the blog consistently in the evenings and on the weekends for a year and a half before I was able to leave my job.
Building a blog on the side involves some sacrifice and will take time away from other things that you could be doing. Only you can decide if you’re willing to do that, and if so, which hours will be the best for your schedule.
7. Lack of Traffic
One of the most common reasons that blogs fail to make money is a simple lack of traffic. Having traffic doesn’t guarantee that your blog will make money, but it does make things a lot easier.
There is no specific amount of traffic that you need in order to make money with a blog, because it depends on several different factors, but if your blog is struggling, chances are that you would benefit from increased traffic.
How to Fix It:
Getting traffic to a new blog requires some effort. My recommendation is to create content with search engines in mind, and focus on mastering one other source of traffic.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is far too big of a topic to get into here, but you can see this page for information about the factors to consider when creating your content.
Google is a great source of traffic for blogs, but most new blogs won’t get a significant amount of traffic from Google for the first 6 months or more. For that reason, you need to also focus on getting traffic from other sources.
Social media can be an excellent source of traffic for bloggers, but one of the most common problems is trying to be everywhere at once, and not being effective with any particular social network. My advice is to pick the social network that is most popular with your target audience, and give that your full attention.
Pinterest is an excellent source of traffic for many bloggers, and it’s also possible to get results within a few months or less.
If you have a budget to work with, another option is to consider using Facebook ads to grow your audience quickly.
Making money with a blog is definitely possible, but it’s not as easy as some people would lead you to believe. You’ll need to take it seriously, treat it like a business, and have a plan.
If you’re struggling to make money with your blog, go through these 7 possible reasons and see which ones might be impacting you.
Fix the issues and you’ll be well on your way to achieving success with your blog.