The digital world makes it possible for just about anyone to be an entrepreneur these days. While it’s not the only way to carve out a business for yourself online, blogging is one of the most popular mediums for getting your foot in the digital world on the way to entrepreneurship. While blogging can also be a point of entry for entrepreneurs to build an audience before venturing into other opportunities like public speaking, there are myriad ways to monetize a blog today.
For example, a blogger who writes about graphic design and sells digital products through Etsy can add an Etsy follow button to their blog, sending their loyal readers straight to their online shop, which can help boost sales. Bloggers can sell a variety of products to monetize their blog, from digital products and online courses to physical merchandise (“merch”) like hoodies and mousepads.
Some bloggers offer some content for free and put their more in-depth, valuable content behind a paywall or simply ask readers to contribute through donations. Bloggers who also create video content for platforms like Vimeo can set up a video subscription service and install the Vimeo follow button on their blog to give visitors a quick, simple way to follow their channel. Give them just enough free content to keep them wanting more, and you’ll turn those followers into paying subscribers. Affiliate marketing, paid sponsored posts, and paid ads through advertising platforms like Google AdSense are some of the oldest blog monetization methods, and they’re still popular today.
There might be tons of ways to monetize a blog, but that doesn’t mean that just any monetization strategy will work for your blog. Choosing the right monetization strategy and implementing it strategically play a major role in your success. To learn about the biggest mistakes bloggers make when monetizing a blog – and what you can do to avoid making these mistakes – we reached out to a panel of blogging professionals and digital marketing experts and asked them to answer this question:
“What’s the biggest mistake bloggers make when monetizing a blog?”
Meet Our Panel of Blogging Pros & Digital Marketing Experts:
Read on to learn about the biggest mistakes you could be making when monetizing your blog and how to avoid them.
Hugo Guerreiro is the founder of Blog Biz Audit, where he teaches people how to start an online business.
“The biggest mistake bloggers make is to try to monetize keywords that don’t have buying intent. Some terms, when you search them on Google, are only informational. People want an answer to a question or a solution for a problem, and they leave after they find it. That’s why it’s so important to understand the reader’s intent and decide if you should have affiliate links on that specific blog post or not.”
Tim is the founder of CleverCreations. He is passionate about building, repairing, and anything home DIY related. When he is not busy writing about these topics, you can find him in his workshop.
“One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make when it comes to monetizing their blog is limiting themselves to only once source of income. Focusing exclusively on the Amazon Associates program, for example, leaves a lot of other possible income streams untapped. Not only does this limit your blog’s income, but it also leaves it vulnerable, for example to modifications in commission structures. By diversifying income sources, your blog is less exposed to risk and is more likely to keep generating consistent income. So when possible, monetize your blog using multiple methods. Some examples are ad networks, the Amazon Associates program, and paid product placements.”
Anna Barker is a personal finance expert and the founder of LogicalDollar, where she helps others get on the path to financial freedom using the experience she gained from turning $60,000 in debt into a six-figure investment portfolio.
“The biggest mistake bloggers make when monetizing their blog is not having a long term plan in place. Plenty of new bloggers simply strive for more page views on the understanding that this is their ticket to monetization, but what they should really be striving for is an engaged audience.
That is, while higher page views may result in more income when it comes to ad revenue, things such as affiliate marketing and selling your own products will generally make you more money in the long run. These, in turn, do much better when your audience is engaged, compared to those who simply click to and then away from your site.
That means developing a long term monetization plan that keeps this in mind is going to be one of the best things that bloggers can do when it comes to monetizing their blog, as it offers the best opportunity for your income from your site to grow over time.”
Jamie, founder of Coffee Semantics, is an SCA certified barista who specializes in product reviews and brewing techniques.
“The biggest mistake I always see from newer bloggers trying to monetize their site is that they don’t follow the compliance rules set by the affiliate. As a result, they end up being suspended or banned. Each company has different rules that you must follow. If you don’t take the time to learn and apply them, you can lose a lot of money and time later.”
Benjamin Houy is the founder of Grow With Less, a marketing training company that helps overwhelmed small business owners get more traffic to their website.
“This may be a controversial opinion, but I think the biggest mistake bloggers make with monetization is monetizing their blog too early. Monetizing a blog and earning money online can be a great source of motivation, but it can also backfire when the amount earned is so small that it creates doubt.
Monetization can also be a distraction from becoming a better blogger and working on essential skills, such as creating high-quality content and promoting a blog. That’s why I recommend waiting to reach at least 5,000 monthly visitors before monetizing.”
Mark Condon is the CEO of ShotKit.com.
“The biggest mistake bloggers make when monetizing a blog is not paying enough attention to SEO. If you want to earn money from blogging, you need more traffic. To get more traffic, you need to rely mostly on search engines like Google because they send you quality visitors who buy from you. Here’s where SEO comes into play.
Unfortunately, most beginners ignore SEO. It’s not rocket science. You have to learn how to find low competitive keywords, do proper on-page SEO, and build links through guest posting, and you’ll see a lot of traffic from search. There are many SEO tools that can quickly help you with keyword research, backlink building, competitor analysis, and so on. So be willing to spend some money in getting access to those premium SEO tools as they help you build quality traffic to your site and grow sales.”
Miles Beckler is the Founder and Entrepreneur of MilesBeckler.com.
“Don’t fall victim to keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is when you relentlessly insert keywords into your content to place higher in search. It’s understandable to want to drive traffic toward your blog. However, this is a counterintuitive method. It often knocks your page down a few ranks when people conduct a search about your industry.
As a result, this will inhibit the monetization of your blog, not facilitate it. This is because the search algorithm is actively searching for people attempting to undermine it for an unfair rank advantage. If it finds that you have keyword-stuffed content, it punishes accordingly. Not only is this damaging in terms of your domain authority, but readers simply won’t want to digest your content. It’s not enjoyable to read a piece that has nothing of value to offer. Overall, this can be a costly error to make – especially if your blog is a reliable source of income for you.
Instead, keep it natural by weaving keywords naturally throughout your content instead of forcing them where they don’t belong. That way, readers will enjoy your content, your audience will grow, and so will your revenue.”
Hung Nguyen is the Content Marketing Manager at Smallpdf.
“One common mistake bloggers make is to optimize monetization to embrace short-term gains without considering their decisions’ long-term effects. One prime example is the use of AdSense – and allowing Google to add ads on blog articles freely. Yes, the clicks on these ads will initiate a new stream of revenue, and – depending on the traffic of your blog – it can be very appealing.
However, ads affect the user experience, which, in turn, can affect the traffic of your website. Hard-to-read articles will irritate users. Depending on the size of your ad placements, they can lead to users ‘bouncing’ before reading the useful piece of content that you’d thoroughly researched and written.
The bounce rate is a significant ranking factor and can be detrimental to blogs heavily reliant on traffic from search engines. The more people that immediately come, leave, and click on another result from the same search result, the more search engines will penalize your site. Thus, traffic will dip significantly in the long term – depending on how aggressive your ads are.
I recommend that bloggers use heatmap tools such as Hotjar to access how new readers interact with their content – and how user behaviors are affected by new monetization means. If people are not reading the content at the end of the day, it’s not worth it.”
Ben Taylor has been a professional blogger since 2009 and is currently working on TinyLittleChanges.com, a new blog offering “self improvement advice for realists.”
“A big mistake many bloggers make is to put income before integrity. Often the ‘easiest’ money for new bloggers comes from promoting sketchy affiliate offers. Doing so is a bad thing, morally speaking, and does nothing to build trust among readers. A blog is a long-term project, so it’s best to concentrate on building a positive reputation. By concentrating on promoting products you genuinely love, you can make money while maintaining your integrity. Writing about things you believe in is also easier and much more enjoyable.”
Lesley Vos is a Content Strategist at Bid4Papers. Lesley contributes to many websites on business, digital marketing, and self-growth. She’s in love with foxes, Hemingway, and jazz.
“Many bloggers don’t do any research before choosing a niche (the right topic) for their platform. Some pick a popular niche when seeing other bloggers get money from it; others decide to blog about their hobby with no idea how much traffic potential there is. It’s the wrong approach because some topics aren’t viable, and they’ll fail no matter how much effort and resources you put into them.
How do you know if your topic is viable? It is if you can answer yes to the following five questions:
- Are there existing blogs on this topic with more than 10k fans on Facebook?
- Are there existing blogs on this topic with more than 50k fans on Twitter?
- Do you see Google ads when searching for keywords related to this topic?
- Can you find any Amazon books on this topic with 20+ reviews?
- Are there any related words or phrases with more than 100k searches in keyword tools?
It will help to see whether the topic of your interest has an existing audience. Otherwise, all your blogging endeavors will be in vain: no competitors mean no backlinks, no existing audience means no traffic, and, as a result, all of this means no monetization in the long run.”
James Surrey is the Founder and Chief Editor at Review Home Warranties.
“A major mistake is including an ad or affiliate link in every or every other paragraph. Bloggers become so desperate to increase their click-through rate that they think the more clickable ads and links, the better. The opposite is true. People are bombarded with so many ads that they can smell a promotional blog post a mile away.
I can attest that this especially holds true in the home warranty industry, where the demographic is often looking for information first and not references to mortgage lenders or renovation contractors. Readers will not hesitate to click away if they get even the slightest hint that they’re being pitched to.
As a general rule, only include a single ad or affiliate link per 500 words of informative and non-promotional content. Any more than that and the post will come off as a disguised sales pitch.”
Alex Knobloch is the founder of BowAddicted.com.
“The biggest mistake bloggers make is not matching search intent with what you are actually offering on your website. What I mean by that is that it is unlikely to sell diet pills if your site is all about dogs.
You could argue that as long as you are monetizing via ads, this should not pose much of a problem. And that is true. This brings me to the second biggest mistake: Trying to monetize your blog without any substantial traffic! In my experience, ads are not worth setting up if you don’t get at least 300-500 visitors per day.”
Jim Pendergast is the SVP of altLINE, a division of The Southern Bank Company dedicated to commercial finance, which includes customers across several e-niches.
“One of the most common monetization mistakes is not paying quarterly taxes and identifying new write-offs. Income from your monetized blog must be independently reported. To do so, you’ll need to file quarterly estimated taxes using IRS Form 1040-ES, and possibly a few others depending on the nature of your blog.
It’s worth noting any physical merchandise or items you received as part of your monetized blog also technically count as taxable income. So for instance, a monetized kitchenware blog would need to document and report any kitchen gadgets that brands sent to them to promote. A fashion blogger would need to report apparel sent their way, and so on.
Like a regular brick-and-mortar business, monetized blogs are eligible for several key tax deductions. To help maximize those deductions come tax return-filing time, it’s important to keep receipts and document all financial transactions related to your blog. That includes everything from domain and web hosting fees to even things like your home office or special blogging software.
In the end, look at treating your monetized blog just as business founders treat their stores. There are potentially more tax liabilities, but also more deductions and write-offs when managed smartly.”
Alek Asaduryan is a blogger and cyclist enthusiast. His website is YesCycling.com, and his mission is simply to make cycling more accessible to everyone.
“In my opinion, one of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is monetizing with Google AdSense. I really can’t believe how many blogs nowadays still rely on AdSense for their monetization when you get only a few cents per thousand visitors. Today we have some amazing high-tech ad networks like Mediavine, Ezoic, and AdThrive that pay at least 10x more than AdSense. In some niches, they can pay even more than that.
And the good news is that you can switch ad networks in a few days without too much of a hassle. It requires only very minimal technical knowledge. In my personal experience, this is probably the best way to increase your revenue without spending any money and without adding more content to your website. Works like a charm!”
Paul Franklin is the owner of the SideGains blog, which provides tutorials and information on all aspects of blogging.
“One of the biggest mistakes many bloggers make is not testing a given monetization channel thoroughly before deciding whether it’s effective. For example, simply throwing a few ads onto a page and deciding after a month it’s a bad way to monetize isn’t an empirical way to determine its potential to generate revenue.
The number of ads on the page, where they are placed, and the colors used to emphasize them should all be thoroughly tested to determine whether there’s a formula that works. Sufficient time should also be given to each test to allow for the collection of enough data to understand how well or how poorly it performed. This approach applies to any monetization technique: methodically test and tweak to see if gains can be made, regardless of how successful or unsuccessful they appear to be.”
Madhusree has been a full-time blogger for the last two years and runs three blogs, including Best Play Gear. Before that, Madhusree was a software engineer.
“Rather than the type, I think the biggest mistake when monetizing a blog is focusing on only one source of traffic. For example, most of us rely heavily on Google. In December 2020, Google rolled out a core update, and one of my blogs lost organic traffic by almost 70% overnight, despite being a white-hat site.
Now imagine, if this is the only source of traffic, your entire income will evaporate overnight. So it will not matter how well your blog is optimized for monetization. If there is no traffic, there is no earning.”
Siobhan Alvarez is a mom to two young sons, and shares her motherhood journey on her blog Mimosas & Motherhood, where she shares easy recipes, DIY projects, pregnancy advice, parenting tips, and more. After learning how to make her hobby blog into a full-time income while also working an outside full-time job, Siobhan now also teaches other women how to start profitable money-making blogs in their spare time, too.
“As a blogger, the biggest mistake I personally made when starting out (and the #1 mistake I see many new bloggers make as well), is not sharing links that truly solve the problem the reader is looking for. When someone lands on your blog, it’s usually because they asked a search engine a question and your site is the one that they chose to click on. They come to your page looking for an answer and are eager to click on potential products or resources that can help them solve that problem.
If a blogger isn’t sharing relevant links that help to SOLVE the problem, they won’t see the results they’re hoping for with monetizing through affiliate links. A great example in my niche is if someone is searching for the best breastfeeding products on Amazon, but your post is full of bottles and accessories. While similar in that the products you share are related to feeding a baby, that’s not the information the reader was looking for.”
Jessica Formicola is the owner of Savory Experiments, a site focusing on family meals that are restaurant quality using our 4S Philosophy: salt, seasoning, sauce and swaps and offering a free e-course, How to Be a Better Home Cook.
“Bloggers make many mistakes when monetizing, but the biggest one is not formatting posts to allow for ad space from the genesis of the website, not just when you hit the magic number to apply for ad networks. This means limiting a paragraph to two, maybe three sentences. Doing this is better for user experience because people tend to skim instead of read internet articles, but it also gives your ad network more places to squeeze in an ad. It adds length to the post, which increases the length of time sidebar ads are viewed and also length of time on page overall. You can have a healthy quantity of ads without having one every other paragraph and being annoying, but still enjoying good ad revenue.”
Alison Knott is a Canadian web consultant who works with service-based businesses to take their online presence to the next level. She speaks internationally on topics of business, web, and creativity. She has also held teaching positions at NSCC IT Campus and NSCAD University.
“The biggest mistake bloggers make when monetizing a blog is not understanding their current blog traffic. You can have the best content, but if you don’t know how and why people visit your site, your efforts may go unseen. The web was meant to be measured; don’t be afraid to hold up the yardstick! Here are some helpful tips for bloggers who want to leverage their traffic for monetization:
- Set up and get familiar with Google Search Console and Google Analytics. These tools provide a wealth of information – and they’re free!
- Google Search Console provides up to 16 months of historical data. It tells you what terms people used when your posts showed up in results. You can quickly see if you’re already showing up for the terms you want, or if you have more content to create. You may even find new terms you didn’t think of that you’re already ranking for. Monetize those topics! You can view this data sorted by pages or countries as well to help you with your content strategy.
- Google Analytics will only gather data once you set it up. So install it sooner rather than later! It is very powerful in telling you the behavior of your traffic. You can use it to figure out how long people spend reading your content, or if they’re leaving the site without clicking your affiliate links. You can segment the data based on where the traffic came from: organic, social, your newsletter, or other channels.
- You don’t need to know everything about these two platforms. A few beginner YouTube videos will help you get started. It is better to understand a few truths about your traffic than rely on your assumptions alone.
- Beware of vanity stats! A lot of pageviews to a top blog post means nothing for your bottom line if visitors aren’t converting. Same for a Facebook post with a lot of likes that doesn’t drive quality traffic to your site. Focus less on the biggest numbers and more on the overall behavior of your traffic.”
Rebeca is a former Architect based in London who became an entrepreneur and marketing director. Combining her talents and expertise, she created a marketing agency providing services to architects and interior designers and also educating them on all aspects of modern marketing and entrepreneurship. She is currently an Architectural Marketing Consultant at GetSpace.digital.
“Presenting irrelevant metrics to brands interested in cooperation may hinder monetization efforts. The media kit presented by content creators should offer information about the blog audience that is relevant for the brand intending to establish a profitable partnership.
Emphasizing the vanity metrics, such as the number of all visits, likes, and engagement, can limit valuable opportunities. Despite being an indicator of popularity, those numbers do not offer any relevant information to help predict the partnership’s performance with the target audience. They often tend to be inflated or irrelevant to the brand’s audience.
A good media kit needs to present insights into the demographic and behavioral breakdown of the audience to support marketing efficiency metrics like conversion rate, CTR, and return on the ad spend.
Combining those two categories of data is vital for creating a comprehensive case for the brand to define the partnership’s objective with the content creator. As a result, the cooperation may focus on brand awareness, driving sales, or just engaging the audience.”
Bryan Philips is the Head of Marketing at In Motion Marketing.
“When monetizing a blog, it’s important to remember that ads or promotional spots aren’t the primary drivers of revenue. You are. Ads give you money only if people are coming to your blog to read your content. You need to provide quality content and actively market your content to bring any substantial income in from it.
Don’t just sell and promote. Amazon affiliate links and other promotional product-driven tactics for monetizing a blog can bring in a profit, but overselling these products damages a blog’s credibility. Aim for a ratio of about 3:1, where three posts don’t sell anything at all but just provide value to your readers, and then one where you’re promoting an affiliate product as a review.”
Heather Ritchie is the freelance writer and blogger behind Writer’s Life for You and Blogger’s Life for You. She helps women who want to leave their 9-5 and work from home as a freelance writer and new bloggers start successful blogs.
“One of the biggest mistakes I see has to do with affiliate marketing, one of the easiest ways to make money as a blogger. New bloggers don’t want to bother people, so they only send one sales email, and that’s it. Experts like HubSpot explain that it takes more than one touch to make a sale. People rarely buy after the first email, so it takes continued nurturing and multiple emails to be the most successful.”
Alexandra Seagal is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Animalso.
“Monetizing your blog can be an alluring prospect when starting your website, but falling for one or more rookie mistakes is easily done. When the pageviews are going up, some tend to forget the engagement of their content and what their online platform stands for. Rather, they focus on the numbers and try to increase them. The best thing to do is to stay true to what you’re passionate about, and the blog will naturally flourish.”
David Cusick is the CSO and Executive Editor of House Method.
“The biggest mistake bloggers make when monetizing a blog is not building an audience base first. Money doesn’t come instantly after publishing your blog and launching a product. You need to have an audience first, and that happens over time. To start, you need to produce content, promote it, and engage with your readers as you build your followers. When you have an engaged audience, you can then monetize your blog with e-products.
Another mistake is focusing on the numbers alone. While it’s great to have hundreds to thousands of followers, it won’t matter if they don’t engage with your content. So, don’t focus on building the numbers alone. You need to provide them something that will benefit them. Don’t forget about producing excellent content tailored to your audience’s needs.
Finally, many bloggers make the mistake of trying to target everyone. Identifying a niche and your ideal audience will make your blog more relevant. Find one thing to focus on, which will help establish your authority and brand visibility. You can consider expanding down the road when you see fit.”
Nina Krol is the Outreach Manager at Zety.
“Starting a blog JUST to make money. Let me be clear; there’s nothing wrong with making money off your blog. But if you’re seduced purely by the vision of fat earnings and start your blog with an exclusive focus on profit – you’re making a big mistake.
If a blog is to be profitable, it first needs an engaged community of readers and regular visitors. This community should be active, loyal, and willing to recommend your blog further. Such a dedicated crowd is most often acquired through systematic and devoted work done for months, sometimes years. Significant and tangible interest from readers and the blog’s popularity are a reward for a job well done, and only then does the idea of earning money off your masterpiece stand a chance.”
To effectively monetize your blog, you first need to grow your audience. That’s why every blogger should install social media follow buttons on their blog. They’re easy to install and free to use, making it easy for your visitors to follow you on their favorite social media platforms to get more of the content they love from you. Creating video content for your loyal fans? Install the YouTube follow button and the Vimeo follow button so your readers can follow your channels in seconds and ensure they never miss a new video release!