Your blog is there for a year. Your traffic is steadily climbing, and your email list is growing. You are posting killer content that is getting ranked high in search engine results.
But your passive income stream is more like a trickle. Why isn’t your blog making any money?
If these struggles sound familiar, check out our top ten list of why your blog isn’t making any money (and what to do about them).
You chose your niche poorly. If you build your blog solely based on what you want to write about, you are going at it backwards. You need a niche that is monetizable—specifically, one where people that have money and are willing to spend it, but where it’s not saturated with competition.
In his book This is Marketing, entrepreneur Seth Godin discusses going after the smallest viable market. Aim at a large enough group of people to sustain your efforts (a parenting blog), but a small enough segment so you have room to stand out (a blog about parenting kids with type 1 diabetes).
There also has to be money to be made in your niche. You may become the ultimate online hub for DIY cardboard furniture enthusiasts. But if none of them want to spend any money on your products or affiliates, you have a serious monetization problem.
Spend some time researching your chosen niche. Use keyword research tools to on what your audience is searching for and where they’re finding it.
You don’t know your audience. If your audience is going to be financially supporting your blogging efforts, you should know who they are.
As a blogger, you need to be more in tune with solving your readers’ problems and addressing their pain points than pontificating about your latest idea. If you want your blog to make money, it can’t be just a web-hosted soapbox.
Demographics tools like these will give you insight into who is reading your blog, what pages they are staying on, what pages they are bouncing from, and where they live.
Without that knowledge, it will be impossible to tailor your offerings to your customers.
If your load time is lagging, nix any plugins and widgets you don’t need, choose a well-coded theme, and optimize your images for quick download. Lots of ads or third-party connections like Instagram feeds can slow down your load time as well.
The milliseconds of change you make to your blog’s speed will do a lot to keep viewers on your site.
Your site is not optimized for mobile. In 2019, mobile devices accounted for 51.6% of all web traffic. By 2021, 53% of all ecommerce is predicted to be done on a mobile device.
If your reader has to scroll too far right or too far down to find information, he or she will bounce to another site. Also keep in mind how much space your ads are taking up. Real estate is at a premium on a four-inch screen.
Even simple things like formatting your images and breaking up your paragraphs into 3-5 sentence chunks can increase readability on a mobile device.
If you want your readers to stick around, make it easy on them to read. Your site should read as well on a phone as it does on a desktop.
Your blog does not provide value. A blog is really promise you make to your audience. You implicitly promise to entertain, inform, or help your audience just by having a blog. That’s why they came to you, it’s it?
Above ALL else, you must keep your promise of providing value to your readers. If you break that promise by spinning articles, selling junky products, not fixing broken links, or crowding their view with ads, the reader’s trust erodes, and so does your reputation.
And it’s hard to recover from that.
You don’t have a sales funnel. Putting up a shopping cart with your ebook or online course in it and hoping your viewers click ‘buy’ is not enough. Instead, lead your readers seamlessly through the sales process.
If you’ve done it right, your posts, about me page, and even logo should tell your viewer all about you and what you stand for. The valuable information in the posts of your blog should generate trust and pique your readers’ interest.
That interest becomes desire as they see what you have to offer and how it can improve their lives.
Only at that point—after you’ve created that relationship and kept your promise of providing value—does your product, service, or affiliate link have any relevance.
Ideally, whatever offering you have (ebook, course, product, affiliate link) should be the logical next step for a reader who loves your stuff and wants to know and have more.
You’re doing it all yourself. Let’s face it—running a blog is a big job. It quickly becomes too big for just one person.
That’s why most successful bloggers don’t bootstrap it all themselves, at least not for long. They outsource what they cannot do or don’t want to do to others.
As the saying goes, you have to spend money to make money. Technically you might save a few bucks by spending hours and hours on YouTube trying to create an email opt-in form.
Or you could take back that 10 hours of your life and hire out the technical stuff, if that is your weak spot. Use sites like Upwork or Guru to find professionals to help you with your logo design, social media posts, or even content creation. Do the things you do best, and outsource the rest.
You can’t do it all, and by trying to you will not only wear yourself out, but make yourself unavailable to do the things that only YOU can do.
Your pricing is off. Selling dollar store sunglasses to someone looking for Oakleys will be difficult, at best. Conversely, you will have a hard time peddling Oakleys to someone who makes minimum wage.
It’s fairly obvious that your product won’t sell if it’s priced too high. (This is true for affiliate products too.) But if your price is too low, it can be equally damaging.
People will pay you what they perceive you to be worth. So your offering shouldn’t look too good to be true.
Know who your audience is and how much they have to spend on products and services like yours. You need to know if your readers are dollar store people or Oakley people and price your products accordingly.
You aren’t data driven. Even if you find an affiliate program that works, you can’t leave it on autopilot. The online landscape is constantly shifting, so monetizing your blog is constantly a moving target.
Be willing to test new revenue streams, and to pivot when those streams dry up. Try out new monetizing channels, and spend more time and money cultivating the ones that give you the best returns. Give your experiments time to marinade (six months or so) before deciding to scrap them.
You’re not engaging with your audience. Remember that relationship of trust we talked about? Here is an easy way to make big strides fast: talk to your readers! Take on the comment trolls and chat it up!
In this era of impersonal big-box stores and chatbots, talking to a real person (even in the blogosphere) is priceless. Everyone is looking for connection, and providing that connection will earn you loyal readers and fans.
Even more important than talking with your readers, however, is listening to them. Many bloggers get brilliant ideas for posts or products directly from their readers. That’s like having your next big, lucrative break handed to you on a silver platter.
It’s your job as a blogger to deliver what your audience wants. How will you know what they want unless you ask?
Making Money from your Blog
In the end, your blog is a billboard for your business. Unlike billboards, blogs add value to people’s lives. They are a venue to share stories, recipes, travel adventures, parenting strategies, and political opinions. Blogs are a fabulous way to engage with your audience and add a personal touch to your brand.
But if the blog doesn’t point toward something monetary—a product to purchase, a course to enroll in, an eBook to download, or a consultation to sign up for—don’t expect to make any money.
This isn’t salesy or underhanded—as long as you provide VALUE to your readers and customers.
Ask yourself if you truly want your blog to be a business or a hobby that makes money occasionally. There is no right answer, but your reply will govern all your choices as a blogger whether you are conscious of them or not.