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Secrets to Making Money Online

Posted By Darren Rowse 18th of January 2011 Video Posts 0 Comments

I recently had a conversation with a friend who has just started out with making money from blogging. He had been struggling to get over the initial hump of getting things going and wanted to pick my brain on the “secrets” of how to do it.

Of course I struggled to answer at first—there’s simply not a simple equation on how to blog that will guarantee results—however, I did put together some thoughts for him that he found helpful. In this video, I summarize what I said.

While it’s fairly general in nature, I hope it’s helpful as we enter into a new year.

Secrets to Making Money Online Transcription

I had a conversation earlier today with a new friend who’s just started to blog. He’s been going for a couple of months now, and he’s a little bit frustrated. He’s hit a couple of brick walls, and he wanted to sit down and just sort of pick my brain on the secrets to making money from blogging and making money on the Internet.

And, look, it’s question I get asked a lot—particularly in interviews. You know, “What’s your number one secret to making money online?” And I always struggle to answer it, because ultimately there is no secret and there’s no one way to do this. You can look at the variety of Internet marketers and see a whole heap of different methods to do it and approaches to do it.

But I began to share with this friend some of the things I guess that I’ve learned, particularly in the last year or two, about making money online. And I asked him for his notes, because he was writing everything down, so that I could share it in a video. And this is kind of the stuff that I said to him.

Number one, I talked about trying to do something online that you really love. Choose an area, a topic, a niche, an industry, that you have some resonance with, some appreciation for, some passion for. There’s a whole heap of reasons for doing this. One, it’s much easier to stick with it for the long term. Two, those who read what you produce and come across you will feel much more drawn to you if you are passionate about it yourself. And I just personally find it much easier to make money from something that I actually have a genuine interest in, because I’m able to produce products and blog posts and content that connects with people, because I know what turns those people on, and I know what will get them reading. I know what will get them purchasing.

So if you have an interest, if you have a passion, then try to center what you do online around that. That doesn’t mean you can’t make money from something you’re not interested in or that you don’t like; it’s just a lot easier to do it that way.

The second thing I’d say—and I repeat this over and over again on ProBlogger, but I think it just needs to be said—is be as useful as you possibly can. One of my most recent videos on ProBlogger was about my son telling me, “Tell the world something important.” And really, that is it. That is what it’s all about for me.

Again, you can make money online by doing things that aren’t useful, that aren’t important, that aren’t really enhancing people’s lives, by ripping people off, but it’s much more satisfying if you’re doing something that is actually useful, and it’s much more sustainable in the long term if you want to build a business, rather than just make a quick buck, if you actually make connections with people and be useful to them.

The third thing I said was that you need to be confident. Once you’ve chosen something to produce and to focus in on, and once you are starting to be useful, it’s much easier to be confident—but you still need to work on that confidence. Many people get online, and they feel that they’re not able to sell themselves, they’re not able to sell the things that they do. And, look, that’s difficult to do, but you need to learn how to do that.

You need to approach this confidently. You need to make offers confidently. You need to approach other potential partners confidently. If you are nervously doing those things all the time, people will sense that.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to be an extrovert and you need to hype things up. A quiet confidence will go a long way for you. So work on that aspect of things. Push yourself forward, if you aren’t one of those confident people. Get people around you to encourage you in that as well. So be as confident as you can.

The other thing I talked about with my friend today was diversifying what you do, and not just focusing upon one income stream. Now, this is a bit of a tricky one, because if you diversify too much you can end up not really doing anything very well. But what I’ve tried to do over the last eight or nine years now is diversify on a number of fronts.

One, diversify the topics that I write about. Now, I have four different main blogs that I produce content for, four different interests for me, and by doing that I’m diversifying, and if one doesn’t go so well I’ve got the three others to back it up.

But I’m also trying to diversify the income streams. And you’ll have seen, I’ve produced a breakdown of my income streams over the last couple of months. And you’ll see in that eight or nine different areas of income. I’m not just relying upon ad networks like AdSense, or I’m not just relying upon my own eBooks. I’m trying to build in different income streams so that if one falls over, or if one takes a little while to take off, there are other things there to supplement that income.

In the early days of my own blogging and making money online, I diversified by having a real job as well. When I first started I had three jobs, so I had this diversification, I guess, of the income streams, and that helped me to be much more sustainable in the long term.

Speaking of long term, the number five thing that I’d say is that you really need to take a long-term view of this. You can make money fast on the Internet, but it generally comes after years of building foundations. A number of times, I feel like I’ve made a lot of money really fast on the Internet, but as I look back on it there’s usually been two or three years of work, of building relationships with readers and producing content for free, that have led to these bursts of income. And so you do need to take a long-term view of things.

You need to see it as an investment. A lot of the times, when you make investments, you don’t get a return on those investments for a number of years, and the same is true on the Internet. See the time, the energy, and perhaps even some money that you’ve put into these things as an investment that hopefully, one day, will pay off.

The last thing I guess I said to my friend was that you really need to treat it as a business rather than just an event. Making money online … again, it can happen as an event, it can be these moments where you make money, but most online entrepreneurs actually see it as a business. It’s not just a one-off thing where they make money, and then they go and try something else. What I’ve tried to do is to build a business that has this diversity of income, but is also growing over time. As you release a new product, you need to think about ways of driving traffic back to that product over time. As you do affiliate marketing, you need to build systems that will continue to promote things to your readers using, say, an autoresponder.

You need to think a bit strategically, I guess is what I’m trying to say. A lot of people get online, and they produce content, and they think that it will make money by just getting readers. You need to think strategically about how you’re actually going to monetize it. So you need to think about it as a business, you need to think about it strategically, and probably one of the main things for me in terms of building a business rather than just having a job online is to actually build products into what you do. Don’t just rely upon advertising revenue, or marketing other people’s products. Whatever you do, try and work towards having some products that you can sell of your own, and then develop systems around those products to sell them, not just when you launch them, but in an ongoing way.

They’re some of the secrets of making money online that I guess I’ve been thinking about, particularly over the last year or two. There’s a whole heap more of course, but I’d love to hear some of your secrets to making money online. You can leave them in the comments below this video, and I’d love to connect with you there.

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. A big post and video was cool,instead of reading the post i watched the video.Good Darren

  2. Great post Darren! I think motivation is key.

  3. Darren,

    I been blogging for over a month and I have a question for you. I been mainly concentrating on creating content and finding ways to generate traffic. My plan is to work on those areas first then start to think about making money like putting more ads or affiliate marketing. It been a slow start due to the amount of time I’m putting in to research of ways to generate traffic and testing it out.

    My question for you is, do you think it’s better to work on the content and traffic first then worry about making money later? If you agree with me, when do you suggest I start worrying about money? The only income I am getting from my blog is putting ads on my blog. A few cents a day is all I’m getting.

    • Yes and No.

      I think you need to have a solid blog, something worth visiting with unique and useful information. You also need to be getting out there and promoting it.

      But you also need to be thinking from early on about money – that is IF you want to one day make money about it. You might not have all of the answers but it’s good to be thinking about the possibilities even from day #1 so you are working towards something. Otherwise you might build something that just isn’t monetizable.

      If you have a strategy for monetization in mind when you start you can be ensuring you’re moving towards it rather than having to change course later on.

      • When I started I never put much thought on actually how to make money. All I thought about is build traffic and worry about money later. With the niche I have the only way I can think about making money is through ads, affiliate marketing, and creating my own e-book.

        As a starter do you suggest I focus on one way to create money and perfect it and then worry about other ways?

  4. The secret of making money is just being consistence if you ask me. Once you keep walking that path..sooner or later you will cross something special..It about sticking with your goals..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  5. The secret to making money is understanding what people will buy online.

    Great points Darren!

    The three things that people buy online: http://www.thetrafficblogger.com/2011/01/three-things-people-pay-for-online.html

  6. Confidence and passion are two traits that I believe cannot be underrated for making money online. Simply have to love what you do and be sure enough of yourself to get through the hard times. It is certainly not easy at first I think it takes a while to build up reputations to get to the point where you actually start making real money. Once you get there it is worth the effort, though.

    Thanks for another great and inspiring post.

  7. I agree with TrafficColeman, discipline, not talent, will get you to make big money online.

  8. Live in the long-term. Got it. Thanks. :-)

  9. The number one point should be “Can I make money doing X?” and research that. Then you can go on to the other steps. The whole list is backwards.

    It only feels easier to make money doing something you like if its actually possible to make money doing what you like. The amount of work for making money doing something you don’t like and something you do like is the same.
    If you can’t make money doing the things you like then no amount of work will ever make you money. Simple as that.
    So if you start out research areas perhaps not in your interest zone but that are profitable and dip your foot in that market to learn the trade. The goal is really to earn the money the quickest way doing online stuff. (Other ways is becoming consultant, writing PLR articles etc, thats also making money online)

  10. There is no secret to making money. There are really only 2 ways of doing it.

    1. Is Luck. Even though I don’t really believe much in the notion of luck some people tend fall in that category. Of course it can only take you so far but it sure does help to stumble upon something good.

    2. Work and Testing. Grind day in and day out. I’m not talking about thinking about doing something but rather doing it. And for god-sake test test test. You may have a great idea you just implemented it wrong. Go back and do it over a different way.

  11. Great post and as someone who has also been frustrated , so much so stopped my online activity for many months but is now back and really getting my mindset around it I fully agree with your points made. Reading comments like this just re enforce my will to get on, move forward – thanks

  12. I’ve only been blogging for about a fortnight, so I’m still something of a beginner! This was really useful information, thank you.

  13. Thank you for all the great thoughts! I’d add that you have to be yourself. ‘Copying’ verbatim from other successful people online may get you short term success, but you really must be yourself for the long haul!
    Thank you Darren, you’re awesome! -Laura

  14. The point about offering something useful really hit home. I think that it’s so natural to be focussed on one’s own needs, like earning money, getting more traffic or whatever, that it’s easy to forget everyone else is focussed on *their* own needs. If you help them fulfill their needs, everything else will fall in place.

  15. First, rely upon advertising revenue or marketing other people’s products. Then try and work towards having some products and develop systems around those products as well. That’s what ProBlogger had done.
    Also, I just knew a bit secret of ProBlogger: it’s never give up.

  16. Great post darren thanks for the information

  17. I think the key is the last point making it as a business not as an event. That’s what I need to do.

  18. My listening skill is not good enough to hear fully what you say but I can read your post.
    Passion is the key factor lead you to become successful blogger.

  19. I actually wrote a lengthy post about this myself a couple of months ago: http://ask-leo.com/how_can_i_make_an_income_working_online.html (or http://ask-leo.com/C4695 ) – it echos many of your thoughts, expands on a few and includes a couple of other ideas – like “have a deep willingness to learn”, and “throw out all those get rich quick schemes”. :-)

    And like yours it too was in response to a friend (out of work) asking The Question – that I also get asked a lot.

    Take care,


  20. Awesome post Mr. Browse. :)

    You managed to sum up my first book in one page! LOL

    I’d say you nailed it, too. My advice to folks is pretty much the same. Passion. Usefulness. Time. Its a winning combo.

    Nice work. :)


  21. I always agreed with the advise, blog about what you’re passionate about and I’ve proof too that this is working.

    But in term of making money online.

    A truly genuine interest is just not enough.
    We still need to learn from other people who know marketing or at least some experienced blogger who really making money from his/her blog.

  22. Thanks for the information. As a novice, I found it helpful and informative.

  23. Hi Darren,
    I really like how honest you were with your friend. People are quick to hype up this making money online thing, but instead of selling dreams you gave him your honest perspective. While it is certainly possible to make money online, I think it’s always better when you’re focusing on something you’re passionate about. It will keep you going when nothing else will. My goal is to help people – I like teaching people how to blog and how to write. And when they can’t do it themselves, that’s when my services come in – I have a passion for writing and editing – I didn’t realize the whole world didn’t share that passion :) So, since I’ve been blogging, I started offering my services and that’s what brings me the biggest part of my income.

    So, yes, making money online should definitely be tied to providing something useful and something valuable.

  24. I think you’ve explained it well, Darren. I don’t think there’s really any special “trick” or anything that hasn’t already been said.

    Offer something real, something of value, for a reasonable price. I guess the real “trick” (sorry I keep calling it that) is getting the amount of desired traffic so people know your products and services are out there.

    Thanks Darren,


  25. Like the point about laying the foundation and putting in the investments, its so true, in the early years its more about giving and setting everything up laying all the foundations, and keep putting layers and layers onto it, it, and one day you will get to the top of your empire where there’s no turning back. Patience is one of the main key for online success.

  26. Love watching/listening to your advice…. ALWAYS!!!! But, if you take your t-shirt out of the dryer when it is still damp, and hang it on a hanger – it won’t have wrinkled arms and will look like brand new…. LOL!!! Just a little laugh for the day Darren ♥

  27. I don’t see why the blogging/online business model is still thought of as “secret”? You don’t get this in any other industry!

    Given the explosion of blogging blogs I would say this sector is anything but secret! I would also add that the one ingredient people seem to forget about, and this goes for any other business too, is simply: work!

  28. You are getting sloppy Darren! You shouldn’t have such a long column on your home page, it doesn’t look right with an empty column on the left. Contact me for answers.

  29. I am not making alot of money but after a lot of hardwork I have finally been able to drive traffic from social media to my blog.

    My twitter followers are almost hitting 10,000
    Facebook Fan Page has reached 200 in less than 3 months.
    Alexa rank has dropped from 3 million to 430k.

    Everything I write gets shared on Twitter/FB

    The secret really is persistence. Different things work for Different niches. The key is add value, be persistent and build good relationships with the community.


  30. Treating it as a business rather than an event was exactly what I was going to see, Darren. It doesn’t matter what your blogging goal is (financial or otherwise), and the end of the day things need to be planned strategically and in such a way that you slowly work towards your goal.


  31. I think so many people are looking for the magic formula. The problem is, it is diguised as hard work. Anything you do successfully will take hard work. That is why is IS good to do something you love and that you are passionate about, because you are going to seldn a lot of time on that subject if you work it hard enough to succeed!
    Thanks for the tips mate!
    Are you too busy to be yourself?

  32. Darren, this is another useful post as always. Especially for the people who have just recently started blogging. Though, veteran bloggers can take a few reminders or perhaps new bits of information from the post as well. Confidence is a big key if you do not sound confident in your writing, videos, etc. Then you will not attract many followers.

  33. Trial and error are the best ways to learn what works and what doesn’t. Don’t stop trying new things. If you get complacent, the competition wil eat you up as the internet keeps evolving.

    Great post. Thanks.

  34. Consistency and persistence are key in making money online. Creating your own products to integrate into your online business is a great idea.

  35. I feel like I just got to sit down with you and have this conversation face-to-face. I’m sure that many will leave this post feeling dejected because the “secret” really boils down to hard luck and persistence, but I found this post very inspiring. What a shame that they’ll miss the great advice in this post.

    • thanks Brad – I’ve had that conversation with some who go away frustrated but the reality is that there are so many ways to make money online that it’s hard to get more specific about it than this.

      thanks for getting it!

  36. Obviously you have to work hard for everything, but I do not deny that it is easier if you know the right techniques to the subject. In this case everything related to making money online. The information is out there, but look there to know. And thanks to people who make these good items anyone can find out how are the techniques.

    Thanks for the content!

  37. Great video and post as always. What I would add is, don’t focus on money and advertising revenue. You will drown your content in ads. Think about content, remarkable content, and you won’t need many ads.

    Content is king, so make sure you focus on it. Everything else will come naturally.

  38. I always think that secrets is a term that makes it seem like an unattainable goal. but rather these secrets become paths that make us get there quicker if we just decide on getting on with it.

    I like the diversification method, being everywhere whenever you can, not stretching yourself too thin, but doing multi tasking whenever possible is always a great idea!

  39. I have Tweeted this now too! I love your openness and honesty online :)

  40. page one on Google is one of secret

  41. I agree completely about the treating it like a business thing. I think that is where a lot of bloggers get caught up.

  42. Awesome stuff! Blogging about a passion will eventually keep you going when times get tough. I really liked that part and I couldn’t agree more with that being your number 1 piece of advice!

    Thanks for the post

  43. Nice! Can’t wait to go over this in detail. One thing that worked for me is plain old persistence: getting enough posts up to attract readers. Keep at it, and over time your results will improve.

  44. If you really want to be successful at anything that you venture into you can not quit. That is probably the single most mistake made by new internet marketers.

  45. Love your confident statements. People (especially developers) don’t understand or appreciate how far confidence alone will get you. Hell just look at most of the “salesmen” that make 4x times the amount introverted developers make – it’s definitely not from skill, but from balls.

    Great post Darren.

  46. Nice introduction to making money online. Will share with others. Do you have any software suggestions to track your progress – what’s working and what’s not? Not just web traffic and sales analytics, but all your branding and promotional efforts.


  47. First time I have a video next to text and don’t watch the video! Really nice tips! What the secret is? don’t know, trying to figure it out! Your tips do help a lot though! Thanks!

  48. Hi,

    Someone say luck in one of the comment. There is no such thing as luck. You create your own luck only when you have do your homework. Building your site, tweaking, split testing which traffic work for your blog and etc…

    Yeah, talent will take you far but persistence, hard work and learn from the right kind of people and who better to learn from except Darren to start with…

    Only then, you move on.

  49. It would be more interesting to read about the step by step technical aspect on how someone can really earn from blogging, such as..after knowing your interest( your passion, the product/service you are most comfortable/knowledgeable/interested in), 2, what do we need to set up a blog site, 3. How much it usually costs(if there are) 4. what it takes to maintain it, 5. in what way/s can you make a sale, 4. How do you set up payment process, delivery process, etc.

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