Last weekend I spent Sunday writing Action Plan 3 for my EJ Insider Interviews Club members, featuring Daniel Scocco and Joe Gilder.
The action plans are short reports I write that come out once per month to members. I re-listen to the two new exclusive interviews I release that month and write down what I believe are the key leverage points used by my interview subjects to make big money online.
It’s a powerful exercise because it forces assessment of what the one or two unique things that a person, usually a blogger, does that results in much higher income than usual.
These reports highlight the keys to making six or even seven figures a year from a blogging or internet business.
What’s incredible about this process is how often the leverage point is not very complex. It’s simple – anyone can do it.
Most of the time what gives the person the ability to earn hundreds of thousands to even millions online is just doing one thing really well.
There are of course many other things that the person does, but it’s just one aspect, sometimes two, that create the conditions to make significant income.
Same Path, Different Shoes
If you are a long time reader of this blog, or listener to my podcast you probably have heard of Daniel before.
For the EJ Insider I did a brand new interview with him to cover how he runs his blogs today.
Joe Gilder on the other hand you probably have never heard of. He’s one of those guys who does internet marketing, but he does it in a non-business or money making niche, so you might say he’s more “underground”. His market is teaching people how to set up home recording studios, and his blog is HomeStudioCorner.com.
Joe’s interview was particularly good because of how textbook a case study he is when it comes to following the online business formula I have been teaching for years.
He has a passion (music), he turned it into teaching content, he started a blog and email newsletter, then sold a product, and then another, and on and on.
This year he is on track to make $300,000, with 13 products, including two membership sites.
What’s also amazing about Joe’s story is within six months of starting his blog and newsletter, he did a little product launch to his 500 person email list and sold 50 copies!
That’s an incredibly quick result, which as you hear in the interview, is one of Joe’s strengths – his speed of implementation.
When it came to writing the action plan for these two guys, it was interesting to see how similar they were in terms of how they create an audience, yet how completely different the way they make money is.
It’s as if they were walking the same path but wearing completely different shoes.
How A Blog Can Make Money
For the sake of the beginners, a quick recap on how blogs can make money in three dot points…
- Sell other people’s stuff for a commission (affiliate income)
- Sell your own stuff or your time (products and services)
That’s pretty much it when you look at it from the top level. All forms of blog monetization fall into one of these three categories.
Daniel and Joe both built blogs that primarily attract traffic from Google. Joe also uses YouTube.
They follow the fundamentals of good blogging by providing pillar content for their audience, answering questions that a group of people go looking online for answers to.
Daniel then uses advertising, primarily Google’s AdSense system to make about $100,000 a year. He has guest writers, paid writers and does some writing himself too.
That’s where Daniel’s blogging story mostly ends because he is focusing on a software company now. His blog is basically a cash-cow. It attracts a lot of traffic and the income from advertising is passive and consistent as a result.
Joe on the other hand didn’t bother with advertising or affiliate income and went straight to products. He has less traffic than Daniel, but he makes a lot more per visitor because of his large range of products.
My own personal story is somewhere in between these guys. I lean more on the product side of the fence like Joe, and believe that is the best path for a person who has a smaller audience.
What Path Is Right For Your Blog?
I bring up these examples because it shows that you shouldn’t just follow other people blindly.
Subtle aspects — things you may not know until you actually start blogging — will dictate your choices when it comes to the business model you run your blog under.
Your niche might be small, which makes advertising not such a great option. However, if a you foster a very loyal following (a tribe or 1,000 true fans) who spend money on your products, you can do very well.
Perhaps you don’t want the hassles of product creation, customer support and setting up systems to deliver and sell your products. You might like the idea of just writing a blog and have your income be mostly passive. In this case advertising and affiliate promotions are your best choices.
Some markets don’t have many affiliate products, some have many. Some don’t have high priced products, or subscription products, which can make a big difference to your bottom line, if affiliate income is your main bread and butter.
Then there are considerations like will an email newsletter work well in your industry and do you even want to maintain one?
I remember talking to Alborz Fallah about his blog Car Advice (also featured inside the EJ Insider Interviews program) and how email newsletters have never been that effective for them. They have millions of visitors per month coming to the blog, hence advertising is their best source of income.
Then there are small businesses who use blogs, but the blog is not the business. It’s a tool to bring new people to their website, but the website is about selling products or services.
All of these examples represent models you can follow. These are strategic choices that very much dictate how you grow a blog. There is no one-size-fits-all model when it comes to blogging.
None of these choices are set in stone once you make them. You can experiment, in fact I suspect you will have to before you find the right mix for you and your audience.
It’s a learning process — one that is very hard to predict before you have an audience.
Everything is guess work until you have real live people paying attention to you so you can see how they react.
You won’t know what content resonates well, or what language works best, or what problems are the most important, or what people are willing to spend money on, or if they click ads or not, until you have readers who by their actions, or lack of action, answer these questions.
That’s why, as with Daniel, Joe, myself and all other successful bloggers, have one thing in common – they create value for other people and then build upon their success.
That’s really all there is to it. You build the building, and then decide which furniture fits best.