3 Reasons Why Your Blog Doesn’t Make Any Money

Don't make these mistakes when first starting out with advertising!

[This is a part of the “Getting Started with Blog Advertising” blog series.]

The plain and simple truth is that most blogs and bloggers won’t make any money from their blogging efforts. For most people this isn’t a problem (and it shouldn’t be) but it is a significant problem if the blogger has high hopes of earning a little pocket money for their efforts.

The biggest challenge is the fact that 9 out of 10 blogs are not crafted in such a way that makes it easy to monetize and be successful simply because of this one element: Content.

But all blogs have content, right? The answer to that is a resounding “Yes!” but not all blogs have content that is both marketable and targeted for advertising let alone the right amount of traffic and market penetration to actually matter.

So how does one “fix” that problem or move in a direction so as to gently correct their blogging course so as to effectively navigate the pathway from making nothing to something? Here are a few things to consider:

Focused and Obvious Content Attracts Advertisers

I get emails daily from bloggers who, in so many words, ask me this type of question:

John, I just don’t get it – I’ve been blogging for years and my traffic is increasing year over year and yet I can’t seem to sell one single advertisement or convert any affiliate efforts. What’s the problem?

And after quickly reviewing their blogs and the content that they are publishing the problem is quite obvious: Lack of focus. They blog one day about how their goldfish died and the next day about a new piece of technology that they tried randomly on their recent flight out to New York. The next post is a silly YouTube video that they randomly found from a chain letter and the next post is a 3,000 word monster about how Barack Obama might just be the most spiritual president ever.

The Ford 'Focus' Cosworth! This image has nothing to do with the content around it, except that you read this caption!

The content is everywhere (and nowhere really). The thing to remember is that this is not necessarily a problem because a blogger is at liberty to blog about anything and everything they want to! But, it is a problem when they are trying to pay for their hosting account with a few advertisements and nothing is working.

The simple fact is that the more focused your content is and the more obvious it is that your focus is that particular type of content, the more attractive your blog will be for advertisers and potential sponsors.

Although this might be a “duh” moment for many of us the fact is that many of you are struggling with this very issue. Here are a few things you can do to make your blog more attractive to advertisers:

  1. Focus your content. Period. Blog more consistently about those things.
  2. Let your categories drive your content. Make your categories obvious to the end user and advertisers.
  3. Cut out the randomness of your posts. If you must blog about random stuff create a second blog or use a microblogging service like Posterous to house those types of posts.
  4. Blog more consistently. This does not mean blog more, just more consistently and systematically. Get a schedule for crying out loud!

The better you can execute on this the more opportunity you have for making more money because you become a much more attractive hot spot for advertisers.

Build a Better, Stronger, and More Obvious Blogging Brand

Time to make a stand, er, brand!

This is such a simple thing that when I share it with people they literally smack their foreheads and seem a bit ashamed that they didn’t think of it before.

The fact is that your visitors, especially new visitors and potential readers, have a limited attention span and you’ve got one shot at a first impression. You must capitalize on this one and only opportunity to be dead obvious about who you are and what you’re about. There is no guarantee that they will click on your ‘About‘ page, regardless of how awesome it might be!

So how do you take advantage of this one and only rare opportunity? Here are things you must consider:

1. Be Obvious

Be as obvious as you can about your brand and the content that you’re creating. Take a look at my logo and header: “Blogging for Fun and Profit.” There’s really no simpler way to express what this blog is about and there’s no guesswork involved.

Interested in learning how to have more fun while blogging and make some money while doing it? You’re in the right place! Not interested? Move along stranger!

Your logo, copy, and even design should communicate effectively and quickly what your new visitor can expect without requiring them to actually click on that ‘About’ page!

2. Don’t Use Your Name and Other Cautions

This is going to rub some people the wrong way but here it goes anyway: Seriously reconsider using your name as your blog name and URL.

What is your brand, really?

The reason I don’t use JohnSaddington.com as a blog is because it communicates nothing to anyone and requires explanation to be of any value. “John Saddington” is simply my name and in and of itself it’s relatively meaningless in that it doesn’t communicate what I’m about and what I’m trying to do.

You see, unless you’re already well-established as a personality, your name is simply not a strong “brand” out of the gate. Sure, some people have made it work and there’s always an exception to the rule, but why limit yourself, especially as a new blogger?

Here are a couple of examples that I really feel limit a new blogger (and that I personally just don’t like):

  • Using the term “Live” in with your name. “JohnSaddingtonLive.com” …? What does that even mean? I assume that if you’re blogging then you are, in fact, alive and well, as opposed to being “Dead,” right? JohnSaddingtonDead.com? Please.
  • Using the domain .TV if you’re not a big video blogger or into rich A/V and media. I think the .tv assumes a few things content-wise that you might not be able to execute on. Use with caution.
  • Using the word “Blog” in your domain name, like “JohnSaddingtonBlog.com.” I laugh at this, and then I cry.
  • Using any word that might limit you down the road. For example, “PastorJohnSaddington.com” might be a bad choice when you step down from being a Pastor next year.
  • Avoid long and hard to spell (and say) domain names. If you’re too creative people might just not visit you because it takes too long to type out your blog name without misspelling it wrong every time.

There are a lot of other pet peeves but those are a few.

3. Your Subtitle and Copy Matter, A Lot

Choose your subtitle and the copy around your header and top-layer navigation with care. Again, this is a very close cousin to the first point but worth repeating, if anything.

Make it count and make it simple. Having a subtitle that reads something like this is not strategic:

John Saddington: A husband, father, loving son, blogger, starbucks addict, and Mac fan!

Wow. You just described yourself, congratulations. Sadly, it doesn’t actually tell me what you’re going to be blogging about. Maybe starbucks? Maybe Apple computers? Maybe being a dad?

Sorry. I’m lost, and I’m leaving.

Craft it carefully and wisely. Your ‘About’ page can have all of that fuddy-duddy stuff, but not your subtitle please.

So how do these three help make you more money? Because what is obvious to readers is going to be obvious to advertisers and your brand is going to communicate that the most effectively.

No business wants to partner with a weak brand, so if you have a weak brand then don’t expect to get sponsored (and paid)!

Too Many (Random) Advertisements Already

There is power in limiting the amount of advertising space available on your blog – we call this the power of exclusivity.

Nothing is exclusive when everyone is.

After having managed some of the largest websites on the planet as well as running more than my fair share of startups, I know this all too well for my own good.

I could spend 100 posts or so diving into this strategy but I’ll outline it here in a few bullet points:

  • Businesses want a high ROI (Return on Investment) for their ads on your blog and any competing advertisement (or affiliate ad) lowers the potential earning power. If they see a blog with 20 spots open and all of them being filled, that’s simply not very attractive and they’ll most likely pass on your blog. You lose.
  • If the business sees a mish-mash of advertisements (or in other words, a ton of very different types of advertisements showcasing many different products, services, etc.) a smart marketer interprets this in a couple of ways, the first being that the blogger doesn’t actually have an established brand and conversion rate will be low and/or the blogger has no idea what they are doing and will not be a good business play and partner for them long-term. You lose.
  • If the advertiser sees too many ads at rock-bottom prices they will know that both the conversion rates are poor and that the blogger is desperate. These spots are not exclusive and instead they are risks and a waste of money. You lose.
  • Pricing is no aligned correctly with traffic and surface-level engagement. Marketer takes note and either takes complete advantage of the blogger or laughs at their ignorance and passes. You lose.

And more. The fact is that your current advertisements are in direct competition with future advertisements and by “filling up” those spots with useless ones simply because you can or feel like you have to so that you might look more “professional” is outrageously stupid – who told you that, by the way?

If you’re a new blogger and have been only blogging for a few months and yet you already have 8 advertisements slots “filled” with random affiliates and other nonsense then you simply do not know what you’re doing and should stop.

Time to start over anew?

Get rid of those ads that aren’t converting anyway (am I right or am I right?) and start learning more about online advertising best practices before you embarrass yourself.

Yikes!

So Now What?

So now that you have a clear picture of why your blog doesn’t actually make any money we can begin to push the “reboot” button and start over from scratch.

Besides actually digesting some of this posts content and then doing something about it (like renaming your blog?) the next step is to discuss how to first begin advertising strategically for your blog.

We’ll discuss this in the next part of the “Getting Started with Blog Advertising” series coming soon!

[This is a part of the “Getting Started with Blog Advertising” blog series.]