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Why Your Blog Is Not Going to Make You Rich (Or Pay the Bills)

Posted By Guest Blogger 10th of November 2010 Blogging for Dollars 0 Comments

This guest post is by the Blog Tyrant.

$100,000 a year? $500,000 a year? A million? These are figures I bet most of us think about from time to time. But I’m here to tell you a sober truth—something that you probably won’t like the sound of.

Your blog is not going to make you rich. It might not even pay the monthly bills.

But don’t lose hope yet. There is a (very shiny) silver lining to this article: I am going to show you what you need to do to get up to those wonderful figures. In this post I’m going to give you a few important facts and tricks that my multimillionaire uncle passed on to me; facts and tricks that translate to the blogging world very very well.

Aston Martin V8 Vantage photo credit: Ed Callow [ torquespeak ]

The millionaire’s advice

Let’s start this post with the advice that my uncle gave me. When I first heard it I think I probably told him to “go away” under my breath. But as I got deeper into my own business I realized how insanely important the advice had become. Especially because I learned the hard way. Let me illustrate.

My first blog was a fitness blog that I ended up selling for $20,000 after just eight months. Before that time, however, the blog paid my bills with a consistent AdSense income. It wasn’t a lot of money but it met my needs at the time. That was until Google banned it from the search results without warning, and without reason. I woke up one day and my excellent rankings for some super-high traffic keywords were gone. And so was my money.

Right at the moment my uncle’s advice came floating back to me:

You must always have a short-term source of income that pays the bills, two medium-term projects that supplement the income, and one long-term project that’s a year away from fruition. Always.

It is powerful advice that every rich person I know pays attention to (consciously or not). I, however, had totally ignored it in my youthful arrogance. I had put all of my eggs in to one basket and as such I had nothing to fall back on, and nothing to look forward to. I was in trouble.

Applying the advice: diversifying my business

So what did I do? Well I went out and cleaned toilets. I worked at a gym as a cleaner for over a year while I built up a new empire. I worked at the gym in the mornings and then came home and, after sleeping for an hour, plugged away at blogs and my other online businesses.

It was different now. Now I was applying the advice. Instead of just building up one blog, I was working on several while building small product websites. I was also working on ideas for the long-term project so that I had something to look forward to.

And this part is important. As the medium-term projects began to fall into the short-term income category, I created new medium-term projects. The trilogy of short-, medium-, and long-term must always be in play. I am trying very hard to remember that.

Why you need to diversify to be rich and safe

Adidas Pro Model photo credit: Julien Menichini

Your blog, as it is today, is not going to be enough to make you rich and safe. Okay, you might get lucky and be the next Huffington Post or Mashable and never have to worry about money again. But the chances are good that you’ll be like me; you’ll have to be smart about your future and your income. And to be smart you need to develop projects: one short-term, two medium-term, and one long-term project.

1. The short-term income

The short-term income is the work that pays the bills while you work on your other projects. The important thing to remember is that it doesn’t need to be blogging. It doesn’t even need to be glamorous. Like I said before, I worked as a cleaner at a gym in the mornings. It was one of the smartest business decisions I ever made, because it allowed me to still have a full work day to devote to the other projects, since I worked from 6am to 11am.

It also got me a free gym membership, which, trivial as it might seem, allowed me to work out daily and completely de-stress my system. That is a very important thing to do when you’re worried about money. Lift weights and run. If you just sit at home all day in your own company, you won’t realize how stressed you’re actually becoming.

2. The two medium-term projects

The medium-term projects are those that you’re working on to eventually take over your current short-term income. Remember, it’s a good idea to generate your short-term income from more than one source: the more diverse it is, the better. These medium-term projects should be no more than a year away from turning consistent revenue. They can take the shape of:

  • blogs
  • product websites
  • affiliate websites
  • content creation deals
  • partnerships
  • etc.

As they start to make money, you can put them into the short-term category and begin to create new medium-term projects. Perhaps these will come from your long-term category or perhaps you will see new opportunities that you can place directly into the medium-term area.

3. The long-term project

Your long-term project should be ambitious but achievable. It should be one of those ideas where you sit down and think about how much money it would make if only you could get it off the ground. Well, partner, the money coming from your short- and medium-term gigs is what you’ll use to get this idea running.

What I’ve come to discover is that it’s all about these long-term projects. The toilet cleaning, the short-term, the medium-term—all this is a method that gives me the finances and experience to get my big ideas happening.

Blog Tyrant is actually a long term project of mine; it earns me no income at the moment, but I have something absolutely massive planning, which will be launched in a few months’ time. At that point, the blog will fall into my short-term group.

How to make it all happen

Picture 020 photo credit: Brian K YYZ

Sure, this approach sounds good, but how do you get it to work? How do you divide your time, and how do you manage all of the different problems that arise during the process?

Here are a few of my own suggestions but I would love to hear any advice that you might have — please leave a comment and let us hear your thoughts.

1. Focus on helping others, always.

The very first thing I want to mention is that you have to focus on helping others. This is both a marketing and an ethical concern.

Why is this important? Firstly, the products and websites that do the best are the ones that solve a need in a person’s life. I talked about this a lot in my article on how to make your blog addictive. Today a lot of products are created that don’t solve a need — instead, they create a new one. Forget it. Help people.

The second reason why this is important is because if it all fails you will have no regrets. And if it succeeds, you will spend your life helping people.

2. Take risks.

When you go to invest money in the stock market, the broker will say something like “the biggest returns come from the biggest risks”. At some point you have to decide whether or not you are a risk-taker. If you want to be making $100,000+ a year from the Internet, you’ll need to take some risks. You need to risk your time, maybe some of your savings, and definitely some of your sleep. But these risks should be managed and controlled — and well thought through. This isn’t like buying a lotto ticket: it’s like making an investment in the near future.

3. Stick to a routine.

Make a routine and stick to it. Don’t deviate from it at all — if you do, sooner or later the whole thing will fall in to a heap. Divide up your day or your week into the different categories. For example, I spend the weekends working on long-term projects, the mornings on medium-term projects, and the afternoons working on my short-term stuff. It works well. It works best when I stick to it.

4. Don’t give up early.

One of the biggest mistakes I’m guilty of is giving up before I’ve seen an idea through. For example, a few years ago I bought a whole bunch of domain names with the intention of creating a little group of product sites to dominate one particular niche. It didn’t pay off right away so I put less and less time in to it. Now, when I look back, I realize that these websites would be making a huge amount of consistent money without much work at all. The problem was that I didn’t keep my long-term motivation in check.

5. Use verticals.

A vertical is a product that you launch to compliment another product that you already have. A good example of this is the iPod, which makes Apple more money from iTunes, product cases, headphones, etc. If you can use your existing projects to help launch new products, you can cut out a lot of the hard work.

Conclusion

Your blog is not going to make you rich unless you diversify. Darren does it, Shoemoney does it, and my multimillionaire uncle does it. If you want to have longevity in any business, you need to make sure you’re diversifying your assets so that you’re not left high and dry if one of those income streams suddenly dries up.

If you have any stories about this approach, or advice on starting new businesses, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

The Blog Tyrant has sold several blogs for large sums of money and earns a living by relying solely on the internet. His blog is all about helping you dominate your blog and your blog’s niche and only includes strategies that he has tried on his own websites. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook or subscribe to his feed for all the juice.

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Comments
  1. Overall the advice is excellent, but I’d caution against too many sites. I had 40+ months ago and 3-4 would actually bring in some revenue. You can imagine I’ve worked hard for cents. This is why now I have 3-4 sites and close/sell the others. It’s easier to have few projects that are excellent, than keep many sites “just in case”.

  2. You could have also called this “investing 101” :)

    I love the link on how to make your blog addictive. That might become my new home page.

  3. I would agree that not sticking to something long enough to make it work is a major issue we are probably all guilty of. Most people quit right before their websites take off. Hopefully, we will all have the fortitude to keep plugging away.

  4. If you don’t have a plan, it’s just a hobby!

  5. These tips are great and definitely make me want to go out and diversify, I just don’t know where to find the time. I feel like I put 150% into my short term projects because they’re bringing in the money, and don’t really have time to put toward medium and long-term ones. But maybe it’s time to start trying to make time.

    Thanks for getting me thinking and for great tips.

  6. I’ve never seen this business model laid out so simply. And you’re right, I think many people work this model subconsciously. Fantastically motivating for my Tuesday morning.

    I’ve always went with “Make your plan A your plan B.” in other words, if something is working for you right now, like a blog, or Real Estate career (like mine), and it’s generating a capital you need to survive and then some, it’s time to add a new Plan. One that is more audacious and much father reaching.

    Thanks again for your insight. I’m going to get to work on Plan B now :)

  7. Thank you for the wonderful advice. I have always followed this logic but struggle with how to balance it all.

    Your post gives credibility to what I have believed. It’s nice to know I’m not crazy and that this line of thinking will lead to greater successes.

    It’s also helpful to know that I am not the only one keeping crazy hours.

    I look forward to continuing to learn from you. Thanks again for sharing.

    Jenn

  8. Great post and excellent solid advice that goes beyond the blogging world. This can be readily adapted to writers that currently write web content. Diversification is key to both blogging and the wring world.

    Solid advice for everybody.

  9. Helping others is really important because people tend to buy from those who have helped them in the past.

    Great post with a lot of food for thought.

  10. While I have been blogging for over a year now, I have consciously been working as a freelancer building and selling websites and blogs for the short term, as well as working on long term website ideas. What I currently need to work on are mid-term projects. I seem to be drawing a blank right now.
    Hopefully the ideas you suggested would turn up something great! Thanks a lot.

  11. Perfect, Georgina!

    Nice hear this, very nice to know I think of same way.
    My faves in this post:

    “…It also got me a free gym membership, which, trivial as it might seem, allowed me to work out daily and completely de-stress my system. That is a very important thing to do when you’re worried about money. Lift weights and run. If you just sit at home all day in your own company, you won’t realize how stressed you’re actually becoming…”

    and

    “1. Focus on helping others, always.

    The very first thing I want to mention is that you have to focus on helping others. This is both a marketing and an ethical concern…”

    I and my new blog (for now) are in the similar line (www.waterroads.com).
    My short-term income is the development of small online softwares, sold in my own small town. Not much money, but it is the little that there is always and that help me a lot!

    Medium-term incomes and long-term incomes ares till only in my mind. I started a few days ago and there are many things to do yet.

    I really enjoy your text. Congrats!

  12. Great post, and great advice. Thanks!

  13. I think this is solid advice, and advice that I have been trying to incorporate into my life (after being caught high & dry from depending on only 1 source of income).

    The issue I struggle with here is this: at times I feel like I have so much on the go that I wonder if I’m being unfair to any one focus by spreading my focus so thin. Having a regular schedule helps with this, but at times, I do find this a bit deflating. I suppose, as always, keeping morale & motivation up is key to success.

    Thanks for the post!

  14. Thanks Blog Tyrant, and props to your uncle.

    I’m going to make a diversified plan, and not deviate–focus and discipline is where it’s at.

    And of course, one can never underestimate helping others. A lot of what I do online isn’t making $, but I know I’m helping people understand why they do the things they do, despite being unhappy about the cycles/patterns/unhealthy dynamics, etc.

    Oh, and I need to re-read 31 Days….

    Thanks for the reminder and great tips ;)
    ~Linda

  15. Great comments! The follow through, is the part, where most of us go wrong, and give up, prematurely. I don’t know this myself, through an online business success or failure, (just started my blog about 7 months ago), but just in my day to day life, over the years, I have had some amazing ideas, I could have done wonders with, and let them all go, because I didn’t have enough faith in myself.

    ‘Who am I?’ Just one of the billions of other people on the planet. ‘Or am I?’ It’s easy to not motivate yourself, because you are already set, for failure. Lack of confidence, is the #1 reason, why most of us will never achieve, an insane amount of personal or financial success.

    I think so many more, have it in them, then we will ever know about, because they let it all go to waste, because of lack of drive, support, or enthusiasm.

    I congratulate you on your accomplishments, and desire to help others, along their own, personal, journies. It truly DOES help! Your aren’t writing this in vain, so you know:)

    Hugs, Shelly

    http:www/twinpossible.com

  16. Exceptional advice, BT. I’ve always preferred to work on multiple projects at the same time, but didn’t think there was an actual method to it—you and your multimillionaire uncle makes me feel like it’ll all pan out with hard work.

    A question for the group: how many projects are you working on right now?

  17. Great advice. You have a wise uncle.

  18. This is just good life advice not matter how you want to make money! Thanks for posting.

  19. I was familiar with the arguments for diversifying your income, but hadn’t seen a recommendation on exactly how to do so. I love the focus on long-term rather than immediate payoff.

    I currently freelance as a marketing consultant for immediate cash-flow, have three projects with potential for income in the next few months, and one project that will certainly not be done in a year (I envision a world where everybody loves their job). Out of a hypothetical 40-hour work week, I’d say I spend half to three-quarters on the freelancing, and the rest evenly distributed among the others. I prefer to spend as much time as possible on longer-term projects, and hope to reduce the time eaten up in freelancing by, as you say, establishing a routine.

  20. These are probably most important tips “Stick to a routine” and “Don’t give up early”.

  21. Your uncle`s advice also applies for us.
    It`s much better to have 3 open doors in front besides one. The succes comes when you work at many projects as you can.

  22. Simple, brilliant advice = a simply brilliant article. Thank-you!

  23. I own a financial planning–investment advisory firm and I’m a blogger with writing projects in the works so your post resonates with me on several levels.

    My short-term income is my financial planning firm; my mid-term (supportive) income is part-time professor work and free-lance writing; and my long-term projects (investments) are an e-book and two POD books that will be launched in the three forthcoming calendar years (2011, 2012, & 2013).

    All of these projects are complimentary (vertical) and self-fulfilling.

    In terms of risk, you hit the nail on the head. I tell my financial planning clients that their investment portfolios are divided into short-term (lower relative risk), mid-term (moderate risk) and long-term (higher relative risk) portions. If the long-term investments fluctuate in value, as we saw in the recent crisis, it doesn’t matter because the short-term income needs are not affected.

    Placing things, whether they are investments, ideas or life events, into layered categories of risk and priority, helps allocate attention accordingly.

    Investing, life and success are all are products of prudent allocation (or lack thereof)…

  24. Amazing that the articles at Problogger syncs with my thoughts. I woke up yesterday thinking about what if my blog takes too long than anticipated to make money. I was also thinking that I should diversify things so that I earn from something else to invest in my blog. So here is an affirmative, motivational article. Thanks for the article.

  25. As a new blogger I expect that my blog may help to pay my bills. But this article made me to change my goal.
    All I need to have multiple streams of income while combining everything it will be the huge amount..

    And the most important thing I learned here is we can’t make it in few days. It is long term process (even the short term you mentioned here)

    Thanks for this great article……

  26. Thanks for solving a problem I had. I was thinking of moving my blog from blogger to wordpress come January. Am a student and depend on it to pay my bills. Now the problem is what might happen if am not able to earn from my new blog.
    Now I will just create another blog(the long term project). Thanks for the great advice.

  27. Your blog is not your product(unless you sell advertising).

    Your blog is a marketing mechanism you use to pull people into your real business: selling products and services.

    Focusing too much on the blogging part of the business is what makes many bloggers fail.

    – Tyrus

  28. Thanks Blog Tyrant! Your message is great for offline businesses as well. I had a brick and mortar business that I thought was exactly what you are suggesting. I had three entities with the idea that when one department is low, the others would be doing well, thus always able to pay the bills. Unfortunately, as they were all under the same roof, my overhead was too large for when the economy tanked. So I eventually sold what I could and now I’m on to the next adventures with 1 short, 2 mid and 1 long! :-)

  29. You could have easily reworked this article to read “Why your BOOK is not going to make you rich…” I’m creating a book site for a self-published author, and he’s asserted it’s difficult to really make money on books (blogs) themselves. (Tim Ferris recently wrote about that.) He actually hands out several books for free, in the expectation he will get calls and contracts for additional (profitable) services. But they (both books & blogs) are worthwhile because they are very effective marketing tools. Here’s a post idea: “Blogs are the new Business Cards!”

  30. Thank you for one of the best posts I’ve read all year! It all makes perfect sense, now you’ve spelled it out for me. :)

  31. Wow! This is a rock solid article coming in at the right time. I like the concept of short, medium and long term income goal. That advice is so true. We all need more than one source of income. Infact we must all cultivate multiple streams of income so that when one source dries up, we will not feel the hit.

    Thanks.

  32. Building a successful money generating blog is not an easy task, you must have something to fall back upon, for that you need to look for other sources of income as well.

  33. Mr. Tyrant, all of my blogs just went into long-term play as of last week. I’ll see you on the other side, after a few more birth-death cycles.

    There’s so much value in just keepin’ on keepin’ on.

  34. I don’t want to diversify. Just want to write one blog. But I’m thinking of ways of making other money, which I could then put into the promotion of my blog.

    Could point about sticking to a routine. I haven’t been able to do that yet.

  35. Wow! This was a great post that really got me thinking. I don’t think I have a short-, medium-, and long-term strategy. Thanks for the tips and also the information about how to keep it all organized.

  36. Georgina,

    I am loving your posts on problogger. Always insightful, and great advice that is applicable to most blogs. Thanks.

  37. Excellent points. Especially the giving up part. It is a great feeling when everything you have struggled to do comes together to be the greatest thing you have ever done.

  38. Thank you very much for reminding me all of this. It quite falls with my plans so far.

  39. Great post! I’m currently running my own business, and the biggest mistake that I ever did was to lay all my eggs in one basket. I was so arrogant like you, but your post made me realized my mistake in business.

    Yes, it’s true that I should create a short – medium – long term income. You blog has help me. Thank you.

  40. Thanks for the compliments guys.

    I hope it helps you take your business to the next level.

    Tyrant

  41. I agree with Tyrus, blogs don’t make money for most online businesses. Some do, of course, but most of the money made online is still coming from static Web sites, with traffic derived from blogs, social media, email marketing, article marketing, press releases, pay-per-click, offline advertising, etc. Blogging in general is a traffic tool, not an end in itself. Notice I said “in general,” because there are exceptions.

  42. Great post and is, indeed, what I do.

    I always have between 5 and 7 sites on the go at anyone time.

    My short-term sites provide income from affiliate links/adsense.

    My medium term sites will provide income or be sold on at a later date.

    My longer term sites are used to build mailing lists/community etc.

  43. Post hit home for me big time. I am fairly new at blogging but also have my own medical practice (which pays the bills) and run a real estate business with my husband. I know I will be able to build my blog readership up over time without starving to death! I am grateful

  44. Thanks for the article. and now I`m really think, i have take some other steps. and its 100% true, until we work on it.

    Its better to be get working from now than losing or get rejected from google income or other resources.

    thank you
    Sriganesh.M

  45. I think your uncle was very wise, that is the one of the best advice I have heard! I liked it. When we do not have any money coming in to pay the current bills, life can be tough. I am happy that you were humble enough to work as a cleaner in a gym and now you will not have to. Great post!

  46. @Mike – I would much rather be a humble cleaner than be involved in office politics and whatnot. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

    Tyrant

  47. Very nice, very good and touching advices Darren. The main important thing is ‘we should’nt put our egg in one basket’…

  48. Great post. A muse can pay the bills if you treat it like a business. Cash flow is king.

  49. I think this is the simplest advise I’ve gotten about investing. And I’m always for making life just simple. :) simple yet effective. :) Thanks for sharing this!

  50. Powerful and simple advice. A winning combination.

    The trick is sticking to your routine and your projects, as you explain, Blog Tyrant.

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