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Who To Listen To When It Comes To Making Money With Your Blog

By Mitch Wilson
41 Comments

Over the past three years my site has grown through a variety of methods, some of which I have discussed in my previous articles, and some that I’ll save for another day, but throughout, my goal has always remained the same: deliver what the readers and audience want.

As The Sports Chat Place has grown from just a handful of readers a month to hundreds of thousands each month, I continue to receive reader emails, comments, posts in my forums, you can pretty much name it. While I used to listen to all of the advice and take it into consideration, I still read it all, but most of the stuff is either already on the radar for a current or future project, and some of the stuff I am content to just not listen to or act on.

By not listening to everything, I can honestly say it’s because I don’t care as much about what people have to say or add. I know exactly when and why this transition took place and I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to caring about everything anymore when it comes to Sports Chat Place.

While I care about the site very much, it’s my primary source of income, I think the bulk of the advice, suggestions, and comments from the public just aren’t very well thought out. I don’t think most of the people have had any kind of success financially or traffic wise building a site from the ground up, and many of them don’t help me pay the bills for what they want to see. For some reason they think tech work and my time don’t cost anything. Of course the ones that have had success, I’m all ears.

The comments about what people want to see that I really tend to listen to more are those that come from people who are members of my premium section, they pay the bulk of the bills. While I have monetized my free site, it just doesn’t make the same kind of money the subscription site makes, and really it just pays the bills of the day-to-day and monthly operations. While I truly like and care about all of my readers the same, I like my Premium Members better.

Recently, Yaro posted that he was changing his business plan and what he was doing with his site. I read all of the comments up until the time I wrote this, and it really inspired me to write this article as I can relate.

What I read were tons of comments from people basically complaining that Yaro wasn’t working hard enough or paying enough attention to his free site. Many people criticized the way he was going about doing it and that by adding more writers he was not doing as much himself, though he clearly said he was posting with the exact same frequency he always has.

While change is always difficult and growth means change, and while what one person sees as a good change others don’t, I noticed something even odder about the comments. Of all the comments I read, nearly 70, I only recognized one name from Yaro’s coaching programs forum of which I am and have been an active member for several years.

To me it’s beyond comprehension how someone could complain about any information they were getting for free and wanting to call the shots of someone who is a true legend in the Blogosphere, especially when they never took the proactive steps to absorb all that Yaro has offered at a very affordable price with a variety of payment plans.

If you don’t get enough of Yaro, you can podcast him 24 hours a day with all you get in his programs. You can talk to him on conference calls (he says they are an hour, I have been on at least 80 of them and they are never an hour, usually closer to two or three), but if you never took advantage of this, how could you possibly complain?

To take this even further (and to get back to where I was going when I started this post), it begs the question: Why would Yaro gear his site towards people who aren’t even willing to help him pay the bills, or to people who claim they want his information, but won’t even spend less than the cost of a newspaper? These aren’t the people who are ultimately going to help him grow his business. I don’t remember what I paid for Blog Mastermind, but I paid by the month as that’s what I could afford at the time. I now make what it cost for his program before I even get out of bed every day, in other words it was money well spent.

When I started my site, I started it because I love College Football and I had no one to talk about it with. I hoped I could express my opinions and someone might care, and I might even be able to connect with other College Football fans, I never thought it would be my job.

When I opened my Premium Section, which is far and away the most affordable product of its kind anywhere, I heard from several readers saying they wouldn’t pay for the premium content and that I should continue to give it away for free. The bottom line is that this is what I do for a living, everything cost money including running and building a site, my time, and then of course the general cost of living.

At the same time I told these same people I would gladly give them a free membership if they were willing to go to their job for free, and in return they should do whatever I say for me for free as well. I suggested they start with my kitchen, which needed a slight overhaul and I wanted to put hardwood floors in the house. I suggested that they do all of the work themselves and pay for all of the materials. None of them ever redid my kitchen, my Premium Members did.

I’ll admit it, some days it feels like a job because it’s a lot of work to be successful and to manage 18 employees, makes it more of a company than watching sports all day, which is what it may look like to an outsider.

That day I was talking about earlier that it all changed, was the day I lost my first chargeback, when the person obviously got what they paid for, but knew the loopholes in Paypal to get it for free. If you use Paypal and sell electronic information as your product, there is nothing stopping someone from charging you back. You can show them logs of people logged in, you can show agreements they agreed to, email chains, whatever; you will not win, you will be giving that money back.

The public can be tough, and having a popular spot on the web puts you right in the middle of hundreds of thousands of people. The tough call is: Who are those to listen to? And who are those to disregard? I have to say when it comes to what people want to see, I lean towards my paying customers. When it comes to how something should function or be presented, I listen to those who have done it before and had success. Like I said, I read it all, but a lot of it is really people expecting me to do more for free and to foot all of the expenses, regardless of cost, out of my pocket.

I don’t expect this post will endear me to the public, and I will be reading about how people can’t afford this or that, I’m sorry, but I don’t believe it.

I know the “Become a Blogger” Yaro did with Gideon Shalwick, which I believe is closed, was about a buck a day, and even if you never watched one video, the conference calls alone were worth it, as back in the beginning they did several a month. I am not alone as living proof that it is money well spent, as even the people who may not have done as well as I have to this point are well on their way, or at the very least have paid off the out-of-pocket expense several times over.

It’s about making sacrifices and prioritizing your life, and I can’t even begin to tell you about the year I spent without leaving my house except for a few hours here and there, while I built the audience and built out the site at Sports Chat Place. The bottom line is: I deliver what appeals to the most people and what drives my site as a business, I deliver what works for me and if that covers what a certain segment wants as well, well that’s great too.

I do have a point at the end of it all and that is, listen to the people who you want to deliver to most as you can’t make everyone happy, it’s impossible. If you want to make money, listen to the people who spend money. If you want people to think you are a great person, then deliver to the people who would make such judgments. Personally, I believe that people willing to spend money on your information is affirmation that you have done both.

Mitch Wilson

About Mitch Wilson

In 2008 Mitch typed into Google, "How do I start a Blog?". Within three months he was receiving 3,000 unique visitors a day, within a year he was blogging full time with over 400,000 monthly visitors and 1 million monthly page views. Blogging has given him a life beyond his wildest dreams. Today Mitch is a professional blogger who has turned his hobby passion into a dream job: running his own business at the Sports Chat Place. He now wishes to give back to the blogging community by sharing what he has learned.

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41 Comments

  • I guess I’m a glass half full kind of guy. I didn’t think people were complaining, I thought it was a compliment to Yaro to show how much they appreciate and miss him; at least that’s how I saw it.

    I feel you can appreciate everyone, paying or non paying. The money should be a by product of the energy you put out. I think Yaro really cares about all his readers.

    I listen to everyone, everyone has something to offer. You can learn from the poor as well as the rich. You can learn what not to do as well as what you should, or can do.

    From what I understood Yaro’s readers wanted more of his equal content, nothing wrong with that. I personally enjoy Neroli’s writing along with Yaro’s. She has a positive attitude and compliments Yaro’s work. Besides, Yaro did mention he was delving more into the personal development field.

    I think Yaro listens to his comments, eventually watching who his readers like, and gives attention to what works, and what doesn’t.work. That’s a great business strategy, and it’s something to learn from.

    “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, and add uniquely your own”
    -Bruce Lee

    Tony

    • “I feel you can appreciate everyone, paying or non paying. The money should be a by product of the energy you put out.” “I listen to everyone, everyone has something to offer. You can learn from the poor as well as the rich. You can learn what not to do as well as what you should, or can do.”

      While I appreciate the comment, I think what you left out here is if you are a full time blogger and if your blog is your primary source of income like Yaro and myself. If not, then how about this, quit your day job and email me in a month and tell me if you feel the same way. I don’t think $47 a month makes someone rich, it’s $1.52 a day, about the price of a newspaper, less than a subway token, and 1/3 of the price of a Starbucks, that’s all it would have taken to get as much Yaro as anyone would want and to be real truthful, after a few motnhs the payments were over and you could still get even more premium for free including speaking to him several times a month. We are talking less than 50 cents a day over a year, .25 cents over 2..Explain how this makes someone rich?

      • Mitch, I have been self employed most of my life. I have been involved in several successful and non-successful businesses through out. I have been in debt (150k) twice, paid it off, and I have been successful too.

        I speak from experience. I am blogging full time. I don’t make any money just yet, but that will come.

        Will I feel the same in two months? Of course, why would that change for me?

        Tony

        • I just don’t think working for free is an option for many people so catering to those who aren’t willing to pay for what they want doesn’t seem like too solid of a business plan.

          • Depends how you look at it Mitch. I have gotten referrals from those that never bought anything from me. You might be missing out. I used to run the tech department when I owned an auto parts warehouse in SF. I had acquired customers from other warehouse because I gave free advice.

            Give, give, give, and you will receive. But it has to come from the heart, not the wallet.

          • Thanks for your post Mitch, Interesting Discussion!

            On the one hand I do think about the Motto:

            ‘When you Pay Peanuts, you get Monkey’s’

            On the other hand I also know about really valuable Free Info
            and heard about things like‘Moving the Free Line’
            in several Teleseminars.

            Currently I have a Storefront where I have a tiny little ebook that I wrote myself that you can only partly Preview for Free I does cost a little money when you want to buy it from the Storefront. Only recently I saw somebody else offer his book as a download for Free while you can buy the printed version, since my own tiny little ebook is only a few pages, I haven’t done the same with mine yet, but I am thinking of possibly doing the same with a possible upgraded (more pages) version because, I do believe that – although I did already actually sell a handfull of my tiny little ebook – there might be a possibility that with Free Downloads there might possibly be a better chance for a possible sales success for an upgrated printed version.

            I also read about a somewhat similar topic in an interesting book titled ‘Do You’ (that btw you can read more about on my Home Business Lifestyle Blog by clicking on the link titled: ‘Get More Business Inspiration’ near the top of my blog) Where paradoxibly something that first looked harmful from a business perspective created enourmous success instead.

            So I am not sure what to believe.

            To your Happy – Home Business - Inspiration,
            HP

    • “…listen to the people who you want to deliver to most…”

      I love this statement, Mitch. It’s so very true. The only way you can truly understand what your customer/site visitor wants is really to ask them for it and then deliver. I think a lot of people who are entering IM don’t really understand that customer service should be the main focus of their business. No matter what model they use. I can definitely relate, too, to the making sacrifices and prioritizing. I too, have hidden behind the computer screen for the last year or so building up my business…many people around me don’t understand it, but that persistent behavior has paid off dramatically. :) Great post. Looking forward to reading more from you and the other new authors!

  • People follow people they trust and and relate to at a given time. People will listen to you more then anyone else because you have that it factor.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • I can sure attest to the need for discipline, dedication, and prioritization. That can be challenging when you’re running multiple blogs on different topics, but it’s critical to keep going and keep all of them active.

  • Inspiring post!, I guess starting out your readers usually expect everything for free. But the internet connection from a cardboard box in the street will not be that great!…

    I believe that in order for any website owner to be at their best, they need a solid business.

    “No Customers, No Business”

    A consultant I know (Nigel T Packer) usually says this line at his seminars, and it’s true!. Traffic and comments are great, but somewhere there has to be an exchange.

    All the best guys,

    David Edwards

    • It seems that most people have an expectation but just a small percentage are willing to pay to satisfy it.It also seems those who are most vocal are those less willing to pay..

    • Traffic and comments are great, but there has to be an exchange. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • I want to thank you for your sincerity. I agree with you that it makes more sense to focus one’s effort on profitable actions than on others that are not necessarily bringing the same amount of value. I find this to follow the fact that we are limited as human beings.

    On the other hand, I think that now that we get a lot of things for free, the expectation can be higher.

    • You have to love what you do but the reality of it is for most of us in order to do what we love to do and do it right, it has to pay the bills.

  • hi Mitch-
    relevant article to life. Being an artist I must overcome people’s perceptions of value all the time. Struggling and Starving are not good biz techniques. As you point out – Sacrificing and Prioritizing are. thank You.

    • Thanks, I think a lot of readers don’t think they can pay and still get good value, they feel the need to get everything for free but in a lot of cases, you get what you pay for.

  • Great points made I am happy it worked out for you Mitch I think your business model of free and premium content is a great strategy for an internet business. I think it was recently Ryan Deiss who switched all content to premium and had to do a U turn because he had such a negative reaction from his subscribers. I think that is the same situation here Yaro could balance both premium and free content in the same way as Mitch does with minimal damage to his subscriber stats.

    • I think if you show your readers the quality of what you get for free like Yaro does with the Blueprint, you can only imagine what people deliver as “premium” content.

  • great post. to me it comes down to “resonation” and relation. after a while the records all start to sound alike. this is assuming you are tuned into quality records only (i.e. expert authorities). who resonates more with you? who appeals most to you? pick one and follow the model.

  • Yes, this is so true. It’s the customers/readers/fans etc. that are the most important aspect. They are what keep your business going! In the end, that’s all that really matters is listening to your fans. Do this and they will stay loyal to you for life. Great post, thank you.

  • For those who have not been in a similar position, your stance may seem hard. The fact of the matter is that if you pay for constant improvements and give it all away for free, you will not make money. The key is to be able to offer as much value as possible for free and then also offer irresistible value added services.

    • Yes, this is the tough part, I have considered going to an all pay format and then an add on premium to that while I still think I would make more money tha way, I may cut off my initial traffic that the free stuff brings in and cut off my access to future premium members.

  • I think the key message here is value.

    Money and the focus on money can make people believe and do things they never thought of to a) obtain it b) avoid spending it.

    However, if you boil it down, when you are offering something a program/thought/product/information – you want to know that it is of value. The people who value it the most are the people who want to pay for it past reading a good article for free.

    We as business owners are not really focussed on the people who give us money for what we do. We are focussed on the people who appreciate and find value in what we offer. They show us how much they value and appreciate us by paying us.

    We want to know we are worthy and our time is well invested by the things we do. Why blog full time, if it was unfulfilling and not delivering value? This value is often measured by income.

    We can’t operate a business without money this is true, however we would not have a business in the first place, if what we offered was not of value to someone.

    • It isn’t like the free site doesn’t make money, it does, but you would be amazed by how people feel they should have a say as to what my income is…it’s rpetty ridiculous. I definitely appreciate my premium subscribers

  • I couldn’t help laughing out load with your words here:

    “I told these same people I would gladly give them a free membership if they were willing to go to their job for free, and in return they should do whatever I say for me for free as well. I suggested they start with my kitchen, which needed a slight overhaul and I wanted to put hardwood floors in the house. I suggested that they do all of the work themselves and pay for all of the materials”

    How so true, LOL! People want things for free but are unwilling to return the favor, hehehe.

  • It is really best to listen from the experts especially on the part of generating income for your blogs.

  • The main problem on the internet is that lot of people think that everything on the internet is for free. They fail to understand that everything that exists there on the internet has somebody efforts behind it. We need to respect the efforts and understand that there is effort behind every free article and product as well.

    There is a lot of information out there which is of no use. If there is someone who is delivering quality information that means he has gained some expertise in that field which would taken lots of time and efforts. Learning from such people will reduce our learning curve and get results faster

    Great Post Mitch, enjoyed every word on it.

    • Thanks, the biggest frustrations about having everything on the internet is that as you said, everyone thinks everything is free and appears by magic, the other is the lack of accountability people have about what they say and do on other people’s sites, my guess is someone figures that one out..

  • Has anyone tried to give you advice about the width of the layout? I’m curious as to why the designers decided to give it a fixed width of 1210px – do you check your analytics for users with 1024px screen res?

    Pretty keen to hear your thoughts on this…

    • Not really sure what you are talking about but this doesn’t sound like it’s something that matter at all. Readers don’t care about tech stuff, they care about content. they probably made it wider so i could fit more on the page.

      • The reason I ask is that, as far as I’m aware, a significant portion of internet users still have a screen resolution of 1024x768px. If I was to visit your Sport site with my resolution set to 1024×768 I would have to use the horizontal scrollbar to see the second half of the sidebar – and wouldn’t be able to see the whole page at once.

        • I asked my tech guy and he said the people it may affect are those who have the old style monitors, meaning of all of the people I know personally that would be zero as most use laptops now or flat screen monitors.
          He started off by saying “a long time ago”, that was all i needed to hear. with the traffic i get, this is the first comment i have ever heard about it and didn’t even know about it until you said something (Still not 100% sure, but I think you are saying that I have more actual site than that wide margin people go with?).

          • I’d be interested to hear how many (if any) of your visitors have a low resolution, it wowould help me decide on a screen width for future sites. You can check it in analytics under visitors.

          • i looked it up, less than 22,000 of my visitors last month had 1024×768, not enough to worry too much about.

          • Wow really? You must be getting a hell of a lot of visitors if that’s not enough to worry about…

            I just set my resolution to 1024×768 and had a look – I couldn’t see any of the sidebar (which includes your ads and newsletter signup.

            It’s probably not worth you changing the layout, but a good thing to remember for future websites.

          • less than 5%, not going to worry about it and like I think I mentioned, not one person has ever said 1 word, not my advertisers, agency, no one.
            Content drives sites, tech stuff really doesn’t matter as much, as it can possibly enhance a site but can and will never be a real difference maker as far as generating traffic or building a loyal readership, things that are vital to a high six figure income online.
            I am not saying tech stuff isn’t important but worrying about width of a site? there are things way more important like content management and automation.

  • As someone who bought Yaro’s program just before he closed it, I can attest to the value. I spend a lot of time saying “wow” at things it shows me. Things I would NEVER have found for free. The difference between people who will pay for information vs people who want everything for free? People who pay are serious about the product/subject and understand the value in a paid product. As someone else said – if the free stuff is this good, how great must the paid info be? Free info builds trust for the people who are serious and gives them an understanding of what you offer. People don’t expect books in a bookstore to be free, or a course at college. I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask for payment if you have something worthwhile to offer. And I think it is smart to listen to the people who are willing to pay for your info vs those that aren’t.

  • I have the same problem about who to listing to. Big question right now is how much to give away for free, be it e-books or 7th grade science fair projects. I’m still learning and testing this.

  • I think all visitors who paying or not paying must be appreciated..

  • Nice post and some good advice. They are true words when you say “you can’t make everyone happy, it’s impossible.”

    And I do believe you have to make the choice regarding making money or having people think you’re a great person; but at the same time I think it’s possible to have both. It’s all about preferences and priorities, and finding balance.

    - Rory

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