3 Biggest Reasons Bloggers Do Not Make Money From Their Blogs

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Why bloggers fail to make money from their blogs.
When someone asks how I started making $5k+ per month by the time I was celebrating the second anniversary of my blog and made my first six figures in my third year as a blogger, I give them this answer:

  • I have a niche so people know exactly what they can expect from me.
  • I pay attention to the content that resonates with my readers. For example: which blog posts drive the most traffic and engagement?
  • When I recognize a particular interest, I immediately use that to grab an audience: I offer a freebie related to the topic in exchange for their email so I can get in touch with them.
  • Then I create a paid product related to that interest and sell it to my audience.
  • Rinse and repeat 🙂

I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of online gurus repeat the same system over and over. That’s for good reason: this system works.

But if it’s so easy, then why isn’t everyone a six-figure blogger?

Well, let’s talk about that.

There are plenty of different factors that can affect a blogger’s chances of making money, however, after many conversations with coaching clients and blogger acquaintances, the three I’m about to list below appear to be the biggest reasons a blogger struggles to make money.

1) Often bloggers do not pay attention to what readers want from them

“I don’t want to box myself in!”—is a common complaint whenever I mention having a niche. And that’s a problem.

The thing is, what you want to write about and what your readers want from you aren’t always the same. Recognizing that and taking action is what differentiates a hobby writer from a writer whose business it is to write.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t write everything that you wish to write about. You can and you should. That’s partly why I write in different places.

I have this blog—my business hub, but I also write on Medium and Substack, and I publish personal essays, interviews, and cultural commentary in various print and online magazines as well.

Only the first one makes any real money. All the rest are my creative outlets. I do make some money from them, but they’re chump changes compared to what I make from this blog.

I’m a writer and a creative, dammit! You cannot tell me I can only write about the things that make money! Right? And yet, I’m laser-focused on writing only about a few specific topics when it comes to this blog—the real money-maker.

What to do

Pick a niche. Giving people everything all at once confuses them, hinders you from building an audience, and creates more work for you.

But that doesn’t mean you cannot write off-niche topics. Especially nowadays when you have so many writing outlets, you can definitely experiment with different topics and even genres. Heck, go sign up for a Medium account if you’re itching to write about that time you had lice! You might even make a couple of hundred bucks from it!

But if you want to create a blog that makes real money—like, $5k+ per month at least—then treat it like a business and focus on providing specific services. And yes, writing blog posts is a service to your audience too.

Once you know what your readers want, double down on it. Create more of that type of content. And do not forget to get these people on your email list while at it.

That brings me to the second reason bloggers do not make money.

2) A lot of bloggers do not build an email list

A real audience is always, always, ALWAYS, in the email list.

No matter how many followers you have on social media, unless you’re hyper-engaged with that audience, you won’t be able to sell anything to that pseudo-audience. Unless you’re spending thousands of dollars per month on running ads, that is. If you’re rich already, then that’s a great option. But let’s assume you’re a blogger such as myself who started with a negative balance on their bank account. So, what to do?

Social media algorithms are unpredictable. Your visibility and reach on those platforms depend entirely on somebody else. And you shouldn’t leave visibility and reach to an unpredictable system.

No matter how many hundreds of thousands of followers you may have, if people do not see that you have a product, they won’t buy it.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t be on social media (in fact, a platform like Pinterest which is part a visual search engine and part social media is my absolute favorite for driving traffic to my blog) but that you should change your attitude. Instead of focusing on just growing your follower count, focus on getting as many people as you can into your email list.

What to do

Build and actively grow your email list. That’s the best gift you can give your future six-figure-blogger self, trust me on this one.

Offer freebies to your readers, create content upgrades to capture your ideal audience, use a call to action (CTA) on all of your blog posts and ask readers to join your email list, link to your email list sign-up form on social media bios, emails, and elsewhere. In short, do what you have to to get as many people on your email list as possible. Here’s a massive list of ideas for promoting your email list:

47 Creative and Easy Ways to Grow an Email List (Mostly Free!)

3) Bloggers often do not understand the art of monetization

Once you’ve identified your niche and have started to grow an email list, the next thing is to start making money.

That’s where a lot of people often get lost.

How do you monetize your niche?

Well, this unfortunately doesn’t have a straightforward answer.

But I’ll try my best.

Here’s the thing. To make decent money, you’ve got to sell something: a service or a product. For brevity, I’ll mostly talk about a product in the rest of this section. But you can easily translate the same tips to selling services.

Remember, even if you make decent money on third-party platforms like Medium, YouTube, Newsbreak, etc., it’s always best to have a product of your own because platforms are unpredictable and so is the income you earn from them.

Making money from a product comes down to a few factors, namely:

  • What can you offer in your particular niche? For example, someone who found an audience writing about local politics will need very different types of monetization methods than someone who writes about learning to code as a total beginner. The former might choose to create a paid newsletter, while the latter may benefit from creating an online course.
  • How much can your audience spend? This is huge, but often not the easiest to determine. Personally, I like to start on the cheap end and increase my prices if there’s demand.
  • How much money do you need to make? This is big too! The scope of your project will depend on how much you need to make. So, if you need to make $5k per month and you have a paid newsletter for $10 per month, then you know that you have to have at least 500 subscribers willing to give you $10 per month. If you don’t have these numbers, then you have a few choices: you can add value and increase your prices, or, you can double down on getting more subscribers who are willing to pay you $10 per month.
  • Do you have consistent traffic? Whether you have a subscription service or a one-time offer, much of your growth will depend on consistent traffic. But traffic is unpredictable, so you should also make sure that whatever traffic you get from social or search, converts to your email subscribers. That way you can “create” traffic as needed. I often get a surge of visitors on my website when I publish a new blog post because I send out a newsletter with a link to that post. Bam! On-demand traffic!

Again, these are not straightforward and all these data points look very different for different creators.

What to do

Understanding the best way to monetize your blog for your specific audience often means a lot of trial and error for a new blogger.

You can always talk to someone who’s been on this journey longer—a coach or consultant who’s qualified to advise bloggers and solopreneurs—or, you can learn it the hard way (which is totally fine, I’m someone who learned it the hard way) and try things out until you figure it out.

But ideally, your monetization methods will come down to one or more of these options:

  • Selling a product or a service
  • Selling someone else’s products or services (affiliate marketing)
  • Selling membership (services, info products, newsletters)

You can find a few more examples of blog monetization here:

13 Ways You Can Make Money Blogging: Free Guide for 2024

At the end of the day, you have to strike the right balance between how you’re monetizing your niche, who your audience is, their budget, and your needs.

But to sum it up, to make money from your writing, you definitely need these things:

  • a niche,
  • an audience you have access to (email list), and
  • the right product (or service).

Once you have these three squared, your six-figure earnings are only around the corner.

Before you go, if you’re new to blogging, then sign up for my 10-day email course for starting a blog below. It’s totally free!

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– 10-day FREE email course on how to start a blog, from choosing a niche to a clear strategy for making $1,000 per month.

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