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How a Blogger Creates a REAL Full-Time Income

Posted By Darren Rowse 19th of December 2008 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Internet Marketers and Bloggers are often seen as two very different types of online entrepreneurs. In this guest post David Risley looks at these two worlds and suggests some middle ground.

One of the questions I get very often when I tell people what I do for a living is this: How do you make money blogging? The readers of ProBlogger have a fairly good understanding of the answer to that question.

However, Darren’s latest poll clearly shows that the majority of bloggers out there are clearly not generating a full-time income. What is the difference between the blogger making serious money and those who are not?

Well, let us look at the stereotype of what a blogger does. A blogger writes. We write great posts, generate a lot of powerful content and then hit the "Publish" button. Stereotypically, then, we’d get paid by generating a lot of attention, getting lots of traffic, then monetizing our sites via various forms of online advertising.

This method of problogging is long and tedious. Many new bloggers become frustrated because it seemingly takes so long to generate enough traffic to make any serious money.

If we look at the most successful bloggers out there, you’ll find a common trait: They are MARKETERS, too.

Two Different Worlds

Herein, we are combining the often thought separate world of blogging and traditional internet marketing. In my experience in dealing both with bloggers and internet marketers, I have found that these two worlds often seem to be separate. The blogger is all about building traffic through publishing lots of really great content for free. The internet marketer jumps right into how to monetize traffic immediately. The blogger is all about the page views. The marketer thinks about qualified leads which he can then convert into a sale.

I have been to gatherings of internet marketers. Many times, they simply don’t GET blogging. In fact, they’re right on the verge of seeing the blog as a waste of time. Perhaps they have a blog, but they’ll use it as a tool in their product launch strategy. Once the product is launched, the blog is all but forgotten. Many internet marketers are only just now catching on with social media.

On the other hand, many bloggers often have a bit of an adverse reaction to internet marketers. They may think that marketers are spammers or that they’ll do literally anything to make a buck. They think of pop-ups, long-form sales letters and lots of hype. Sure enough, the world of internet marketing has lots of these kinds of tactics.

I’ve had my feet in both worlds. I understand the paradigm of both. What I have observed is that the most successful bloggers out there are able to successfully bridge the gap, take the best of both worlds, and turn that knowledge into a little online empire.

The Best of Both

The simple truth is this: The most successful bloggers out there are great writers who employ solid marketing skills on their sites.

In fact, most of the really successful bloggers out there spend time studying the most successful online marketers. I have personally studied the works of people like Frank Kern, John Reese, Jeff Walker, Eben Pagan and many other names which frequent the circles of internet marketing. I make a point to learn about internet marketing tactics. I am also a member of an internet marketing mastermind group. I would venture to say that these are things that a majority of bloggers don’t do.

The principle of creating lots of quality content will always remain true as a blogger. Making real money as a blogger means you need to SELL things. In order to sell things, you need to know how to market them. There is no more potent weapon than being able to build a loyal following in your market as a blogger and then be able to competently sell something to that audience.

You don’t necessarily need many thousands of page views every day to make respectable money online as a blogger. You can make good money with a blog which pulls in significantly less than that. The secret is to know marketing. Know your sales funnel. Know conversion tactics. Then put that knowledge to work to treat your incoming blog readers as sales leads. Like it or not, if your blog is your business, your readers are LEADS.

When a lead (a reader) arrives on your blog, you want them to read your content. You also want to convert the lead into something – a newsletter subscription or a sale. The answer depends on your particular audience and your market. Direct your reader into what you want them to do and place particular effort on improving the conversion rate.

What Do You Think?

Like Darren, I also make a six figure yearly income through my blogs. I do this in various ways, but I most definitely have gotten benefit through consistent learning of internet marketing strategies.

For many bloggers, this may be a paradigm shift. In addition to looking at your blog as a source of great content for your audience, you can look at it as a lead generator for something which makes you money.

Is this a view you already share? Do you find the world of internet marketing to be disrelated to blogging? Do you already spend time learning about marketing?

David Risley is a pro blogger who generates six figures per year in his blogging business. David Risley dot com is a pull-no-punches tale of his life as an Internet entrepreneur and problogger.”

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Thanks David,

    I am starting a new Blog, and can’t wait to take it to the next level, i hope i can turn it my full time living :)


  2. What it boils down to is that the old business adage is true “As business owners we are all in the marketing business”. It doesn’t matter what your medium is for reaching your target market…whether it be a corner store, a retail outlet, catalog, blog, or website if you want sales, and you want to make money from your business you’ll need to learn how to market. That is 95% of the business equation plain and simple.


  3. A great post. Its always good to read other big names and try different methods e.g. Affiliate Marketing on a blog to make maximum revenue.

  4. definitely. I’m learning from the pros and I thank you for this article

  5. I’m relatively new to blogging but not to internet marketing. Using the tools that I have learned through internet marketing will definitely help in making my blog successful. It’s being consistent, testing different things out, and offering up great content that will eventually pay off.

  6. There may be a simpler explanation. Some bloggers want to make money but they don’t have anything to sell. Can you make money from ads alone? Would you make more if you had a product to sell?

  7. I’ve recently delved into learning about Internet Marketing, while there are some great strategies out there, I hate seeing Pitch pages, my brain automatically switches off when I see them. I’m more likely to buy something that a blogger that I like recommends than I would if I stumbled across a pitch page, no matter how great the product may be.

    Does anyone else feel this way?

  8. Ok, so everyone agrees that you have to have great content. The reason? It’s the same thing as a normal conversation. If you don’t have anything that people want to hear then they are going to leave quite promptly. However, if you have great content and can’t get anyone to show up then you might as well have nothing.

    You have to bring them in and retain them and the only way that you are going to be able to do that is provide a solution to their needs. For example, what questions can they not answer for themselves?

  9. Right on. It makes a big difference to implement marketing techniques. Not only could bloggers earn more money, but network with guest bloggers, for instance. It’s a huge time saver in the long run. Saving time means better quality posts. It’s in a blogger’s best interest to market, too.

  10. That is a comforting article. It means that I am headed on the right track. Add a little patience and a learning curve in there and I am going places. LOL

    I would also add to the list of great internet marketers, Ed Dale from 30 Day Challenge. He has opened my eyes to the possibilities and employs exactly the same strategies that you are targeting in this blog post. I enjoyed every moment of my learning, failures and friendships in the 2008 30 Day Challenge.

    Twitter: WendyMerritt

  11. Great post. This makes me feel like I’m headed in the right direction. I spent the past 12 mos. building up good content on my blog. 2009 is all about creating money-making ventures based on that and then marketing those ventures. Thanks for helping solidify my thinking about this process.

  12. I blog in the lifestyle niches and most of us take the “magazine” approach, produce great content sell ads. Problem is that there isn’t huge enough traffic (yet) like in the big 4 topics: tech, business, politics, gossip. So until then, relying on ads alone will bring you Benjamins not 6 or even 5 figures til you get the bigger traffic numbers.

    I started following the Internet marketers this summer and have been learning from them. I don’t like their style per say but hey they are making good money so there is stuff to learn. Like you said, we have to bridge the two worlds together, and I’m now working on stuff that I can SELL. Thanks for this post!

  13. gone are the days when a writer can simply hit publish and expect an audience. we need to learn to market our wares, published material, to the broad audience. thus we need to be internet marketers to achieve this goal. we can become internet marketers but i don’t think internet marketers can become writers.

  14. Thanks for the advices.
    I’ve started my blog this month. When it’s stable I will start with monetizing the blog (I guess only adsense isn’t the key).

  15. I like the way you shouted MARKETERS to make the point hit home.

    A lot of technicians turn to blogging, which makes some great blogs but won’t make a great income. it’s like the EMyth scenario.

    I think that raises the importance of pairing up, teaming up, or partnering up, if monetization is really a goal and you haven’t found your inner marketeer and it’s not a passion or a strength.

  16. I know a lot of us like creating content more than marketing, but it makes a lot of sense to take a look at the “other side” and see what lessons we can learn. I agree with David that there’s a middle ground.

  17. Online marketing is one thing. Running ads on a blog is something different. They are not mutually connected.

    I do plenty of online marketing. Can always do more. But I choose not to run ads on my blog. Many are in the same boat as me. I’m guessing many Problogger reads are the same.

    It’s all and well to emulate Darren’s success as a full-time blogger, but the statistics from his past polls and his past receipts indicate ads alone get dipkus. The key is the bigger picture–which marketing is a part.

  18. i agree with you. i’ve only been reading problogger for a short while and i like what darren and everyone else has to say, i’m just having a really hard time trying to apply it to my personal blog. i have a vision of what i want to do and where i want to be, i’m just not sure how to get there.

    but great post. you’ve definitely given me things to think about.

  19. Great post and I agree with you 100%. Most bloggers are also marketers. You must learn to promote, if you can’t promote then your blog is more of a blah instead. Great content is king only if and when promoted and found!

    I started out in home based business and learned the marketing part and have combined that with blogging. I use my blog to generate interest in what I do and to educate others about my industry, and it’s all about the numbers. The more people I have to my site, to read my content, the more leads I get. The better the blog and the content, the better the conversion.

    Thanks again!

  20. I don’t know, it took me a while to start making money blogging, but if you stick to it enough, and are dedicated, then the traffic will come, and eventually, so will the money. Freelance blogging is a great way to also make some money on the side. ;)

  21. I use my blog to make affiliate sales. the blog concentrates on things I like and i direct people where they can purchase it online. I’ve been blogging only a month for this blog and haven’t seen returns yet, but I think if I keep going it’s a good idea once I gain a cult-type following. I really wonder what others think of this idea of mine.

    Please let me know.

  22. If you have a great niche of visitors you will gain a LOT of income.

    Today, blogging is just more than fun, it’s a serious job.

  23. I see some bloggers as the poor artist who don’t want to sell out to the mainstream. They don’t realize it’s doesn’t have to be as black and white or polarized where the evil money hungry marketer is over there and people that care on this side.

    Putting both together becomes a powerful combination when you invest a lot of time learning marketing but always making giving back and helping others a priority.

    If you go all help and no pay off it will take time and you might not make it. I think the real key is a balance between the two.

    What I did was invest a massive amount of time studying the market information out there to get to a point where the information/skill was internalized. After it was internalized I could go back to my real goal of contributing content without having to worry about whether or not this was going to make me any money.

  24. Thank you for this interesting post.

    Its very true that you can combine both fields – just look at the success of Yaro Starak :) He’s had two 6 figure product launches and made 6 figures from affiliate income, judging by his latest post.

    My concern – which is quite strong – is that combining the two can damage your reputation. I’ve heard very loud criticism in the blogosphere that internet marketers shouldn’t take advantage of blogs to abuse their readers trust.

    The main examples are people profiting of products they haven’t tested, and slamming people with affiliate emails.

    I just watched a Gary Vaynerkchuk keynote where he talked about legacy vs immediate financial gratification. This ties into my concerns.

    Now, I very much want to experimenting with combining the two fields. I’m just really concerned that using my blogs as tools for internet marketing will damage my personal brand in the long run.

    I just wanted to put this question out there – can you successfully combine blogging and internet marketing while remaining transparent AND building your personal brand?

  25. David

    Your comment that “making real money as a blogger means you need to SELL things” is bang on the money. And it’s a timely reminder in that I’ve not done enough, either on my blog or in the real world, to articulate my products and how people can buy them. Business is always about the basics. Make a product, sell a product, and do it profitably. But sometimes the basics aren’t sexy. They’re not always fun. And left undone they lead to business failure.

    Best I get to work.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  26. David,

    This is a great post! And, it was a confirmation that I am on the right track…

    Recently I joined up to a coaching program with Alex Jeffreys, and so far he has had me create a blog, add great value to that blog, and generate traffic using different means.

    In short he is teaching me this exact technique of using your blog as a lead generation system for my newsletter and information products.

    But, you do clarify it a lot better :p

    Thanks for the read and thanks for the confirmations that I am doing something right.

    Joshua Collins

  27. Thanks, guys, for all the great comments. I will try to answer questions tomorrow from you guys. For now, enjoy the post, and thanks to Darren for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you guys. :)

  28. David, it is a good idea, thanks for sharing this.

  29. Great post David. I agree that the most successful bloggers are marketers. That is whether they are seling an online product or service. Using a blog to strategically position that service or product service is key to earning the desired revenue. I also classify bloggers into 2 types. The first one are those who just blog because they love it and don’t see it as an income source. While the second one are entrepreneurs who are striving to find their niche online and hopefully earn from it someday.

  30. Thank you for this great post. Having just lost my job due to the company I worked for going bust in the recession, I’ve had to quickly think on my feet and turn my skills towards trying to make money online whilst I look for work.
    It’s truly inspirational to read your thoughts on this, and I agree wholeheartedly that one must look to those already flying high in the blogosphere for hints and tips on the way forward.
    If you look at an artist or a musician, it would be rare to find a successful one that hadn’t studied or appreciated the great work of Renoir or The Beatles.
    Hopefully, I can turn this into a winning formula for my new site for actors – ActorsOnline.

  31. Hmmm, not only do we share first names, but we definitely share some of the same thoughts on the division in the industry.

    I’ve noticed these segments:

    – info product marketers who came online in the mid 90’s
    – traditional marketers who got their roots from direct mail advertising
    – people with ties to Silicon Valley
    – bloggers / web publishers who are generally reactive to what everyone else is doing instead of proactively building a business

    There’s no reason to segment yourself so tightly.

    Info product marketers are [generally] not scammers, traditional marketing is not dead, not everyone from Silicon Valley is a pompous douche, and simply writing articles on a blog is not a way to build a business.

    The people who seem to mix with 3-4 of these categories seem to be the most successful. People such as Gary Vaynerchuk and Timothy Ferris have an understanding of more than just one of these categories and interact with people in all types of businesses.

    Just because you love the act of blogging doesn’t mean you can’t diverge into traditional forms of marketing.

  32. In order to be a successful blogger or internet marketer, the key thing is still MARKETING. Both have to know precisely their target audience.

  33. I realised about a year ago that however much I wrote on my blog, as good as I think it is, it will never generate the traffic at the speed I desire.
    So I looked at what else I could offer the reader, being based on health and fitness I looked at the most popular posts and if I could offer any more on that subject. It turned out the most popular posts where all based on exercise and how to perform exercise with perfect technique.
    So I developed an exercise library that shows the reader how to perform exercises with perfect technique. It is still early days but I am feeling more confident now I have more to offer than just a blog. We have many more additions planned now all to give the reader more.

  34. Great post!! I guess I have had all these crazy ideas as a new blogger and I already knew my goal, but this article pretty much helped me understand what was going on in my head. Thanks!!

  35. I’m in a different category because I blog to promote my work, but it is true the more I have put on the marketing as well as the blogging hat the more emails I have been getting for my other services, which is what I am considering as far as conversions.

    I think the most important aspect of marketing is to see everything as spreading your brand; it’s not just having a lot of friends on facebook or updating your twitter account every couple of hours, socializing at parties and talking over the phone is also essential.

    The simple way to think of it is: keep putting yourself and your business in the minds of those around you as much as possible and your ‘brand'(you) will be the one people remember, not your competitors.

  36. Jade asked “I just wanted to put this question out there – can you successfully combine blogging and internet marketing while remaining transparent AND building your personal brand?”

    Absolutely. The answer to how depends on what your personal brand is. But, realize that when I saw “internet marketing”, I’m not necessarily talking about “make money online”. The principles of marketing can be applied to any niche, so you take what YOUR blog is about and you learn to market to your audience. If you stay relevant and give them what they want, trust me, it will HELP your brand, not hurt it.

  37. Robby asked: “I use my blog to make affiliate sales. the blog concentrates on things I like and i direct people where they can purchase it online. I’ve been blogging only a month for this blog and haven’t seen returns yet, but I think if I keep going it’s a good idea once I gain a cult-type following. I really wonder what others think of this idea of mine.”

    That is certainly a model that can work. The big thing you want to make sure you do is develop a brand. Stand for something. If your blog is just whatever you like and it is all over the board, then it might be hard to get your blog off the ground to begin with. Think about positioning.

  38. Ben Barden said: “There may be a simpler explanation. Some bloggers want to make money but they don’t have anything to sell. Can you make money from ads alone? Would you make more if you had a product to sell?”

    Absolutely. Making money from ads alone is SLOW. Takes while to build enough traffic, and most bloggers give up. But, either way, selling your own information product is far and away a superior way to make money as a blogger. In fact, you can make money from a low-traffic blog with your own info product as long as it is tightly relevant to your audience.

  39. Great thoughts on a tough proposition. I have tried to promote my blog and monetize it, and would appreciate any thoughts you might have on it or resources that I could use.

    You are obviously doing something right.

    Keep up the good work.

    Mike Haltman

  40. I consider myself an internet marketer first before a blogger. Even though I have been blogging for years but I only have been doing for my friends. Now I took a leap and started publishing content about how I am trying to grow as a blogger and webmaster. I run 3 blogs and 2 websites.

    I wish I was a better blogger because I believe that with better blogger comes better traffic and once that traffic arrives I am ready to snag’em!

  41. Hello frnds,

    I am a part time blogger and making a handsome salary for my regular needs….

    I am running total 48 blogs which give me more ten expexted salary…

    I bought many things with my blogger salary like the Sony Laptop from which i am working and m gonna buy one Sports bike also…

    here is my the most famous blog:

  42. agree. Blogger and IM have big difference.

  43. Great article as usual :)
    For me, the full income came when I showed potential clients that my expertise in financial markets could be tested over time.
    They read, they follow, and then they act :)
    Credibility is the name of the game

  44. Great post. I think a lot of bloggers including myself could use the encouragement to see their blog like a funnel – even if it only to bring readers towards subscribing, or following them on twitter.

    my current blogging experience is kind of funny. I’m keeping a blog for a product so you’d think that i’m more on the marketing side. but i am more of a blogger at heart so i’m more interested in simply talking about my passion – which happens to be getting audiences to be more actively involved around content. that also happens to be what our product aims to do. But i sometimes worry that my blog is not focused enough on the product.

  45. Another great post.

    I’ve had the biggest problem with this, sometimes I’m more of a blogger and sometimes more of a marketer, I can’t seem to bring the two worlds together successfully for myself. I can’t quite the little voice inside me, that says, if you promote it, there’s no value to it. So that’s my biggest challenge.

    Also, cutting the clutter out, that’s what I’m going to start doing with my blogging, and my marketing. How to be as direct as possible.

  46. I am new to blogging and internet marketing and this post is very helpful for me. Sometimes I put more energy blogging and not so much into marketing.

  47. This has been on my mind for some time. The most successful bloggers absolutely are the ones who have a foot in both the pro blogger and the internet marketing worlds: Darren, Brian Clark, Yaro Starak, Chris Garrett, and (humbly) myself.

    The most successful internet marketers that everyone knows (Frank Kern, Rich Schefren, Mike Filsaime, Joel Comm, etc.) all have blogs at least as part of a product launch, if not constantly. They are all now on Twitter. You can tell in some cases their finding their way (remember Joel Comm’s twitter affiliate link sh*tstorm?).

    The most successful pro bloggers are selling affiliate products and doing information product development and launches, because these are real businesses and they’re going to make more money than AdSense by a factor of ten or more.

    And, for what it’s worth, the middle ground between these two worlds is exactly where I’m going to drive my own blog (I told you I’ve been thinking about this for a while).

    Great post, David! This is a discussion that needs to happen.

  48. I think we’re using the wrong language to describe content as either blogging or marketing or even both.
    The Web is essentially just a communication medium and blogs are just a form of communication. There are many others online of course.

    What any great blogger or internet marketer or anyone by any other name who wants to create income and use their content to do it needs to know is it’s all about:

    Customer Relationship Management.

    What do your ideal clients want from you?

    What are your ideal clients willing to pay you for and what are they expecting from you gratis?

    Do you really know your customers needs?

    Do you really know what you want from them?

    Do you ideal clients click on ads, write comments, hire you for speaking gigs or consulations, or project management?

    By focusing on the exchange of communications with your ideal client and finding ways to leverage your skills/knowledge and experience into income you are practicing the business of customer relationship management.

    Blogging is just one tool in your toolbox and it may or may not be the one that pays the bills.

  49. Great stuff…thanks for the info….

  50. I find myself walking a fine line between being a pro blogger and an internet marketer.

    I tend to enjoy other blogger’s blogs when they don’t try to sell me something or try to push some new product, like ProBlogger, Daily Blog Tips, and some others. A couple of my favorite blogs have started to go in this direction which kinda saddens me.

    While I do want to make money from my blog, I want to do so in a way which doesn’t come across as pushy or as a sales pitch. But I also realize that I do have to market what I want to sell to some extent. So it’s a matter of not only finding that balance but also keeping it.

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