Let me guess, you’d much rather make some money from your blog already.
I know the struggle. For around a year I was just sitting around and wondering why my blog is not bringing in any (noticeable) income.
Like most people, I was after passive income – the so-called holy grail of online monies.
Well, that doesn’t always work, and the harsh truth about passive income is that you need to work a hell of a lot before you can see any results, which beats the whole purpose of it being passive, if you ask me.
So for me, active income has turned out to be much more reliable. It allowed me to live the lifestyle I enjoy and have some freedom on a day-by-day basis.
But let’s not be biased against anything. The thing about income from a website is that different things work for different people, so let’s look into the possibilities and find the approach that will work for you individually.
The ways to make money from a blog
From my experience, which Ramit Sethi seems to agree with, you can make money from a website in one of the six following ways.
- Offering products (both tangible and delivered electronically, e.g. all kinds of apps).
- Freelance work
- Affiliate marketing.
- Subscriptions and membership programs.
- Courses and education.
Of course, you can mix it up and develop some more complex business models, but that’s basically it when it comes to the main types of “things you can profit from.”
Each has its pros and cons, and each has the potential to be effective in certain scenarios over the other ones, so let’s get in-depth here.
This is one of the most popular business models that countless gurus try to promote to us every day.
“All you need is a simple e-book PDF and you can sell it to people all over the world. Just 5 copies sold every day and you can totally replace your income!”
– sounds familiar?
I guess you’ve seen this promise more than once. I know I have.
Anyway, products are great. They can bring you exceptional profits as long as you know what you’re doing, but there’s just one downside.
Real products – not some hastily put together e-books – take time to develop and then even more time to maintain. In other words, if you’re thinking about getting into products, be aware that you’re getting into a business model that’s as far from passive income as possible.
You have to work to develop the product, you have to work to improve it, you have to work to sell it, you have to work to handle the support, and so on and so forth.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great business model, but it’s not a short-term thing. If you’re in products, you have to be ready to be there for the long haul. This basically means that products are not necessarily the best model to start your online career with.
Offering freelance work means 100 percent active income. In simple terms, it’s exchanging your time for money, and if you’re not working, you’re not earning.
Although it might not sound as attractive as passive income, the truth is that it’s one of the most predictable income streams.
For example, if you have 10 clients for whom you’re providing your services every month then you can estimate pretty accurately how much money you’ll have in the next X days.
The only difficult part is deciding what type of tasks you can do for other people, and then finding those people – your first clients.
One of the better lines of career to explore first is freelance blogging. The idea is that since you are writing posts for your blogs already then you might as well do it for a client too.
There are some good places where you can start your hunt for freelance gigs:
- Job boards – great to get started, although it can be difficult to find high-paying gigs there. You can check out sites like Job Pile, ProBlogger Job Board, Krop.
- Your own network of contacts – people you know from work, or your friends and family. You’ll be amazed at how many things you can discover about people and their businesses that way.
- Cold outreach – the idea is to Google your niche and find the companies that could potentially be interested in your services, and then reach out to them directly.
Once you have a potential client on your radar, you can contact them via email first and do the initial pre-selling. Then, once you know that they’re interested, you can stay with email or move your communication to a tool like Bidsketch.
To be honest, sending proposals through email still works fine, but Bidsketch gives you a range of additional features that come handy when negotiating a new deal. For example, you can track the way your clients interact with the proposals you’ve sent them.
Just to give you an example, affiliate marketing is how Pat Flynn makes most of his money through his site – Smart Passive Income.
Basically, affiliate marketing is a performance-based-marketing, where you get rewarded by a given company for being able to generate new sales for them.
There are a lot of affiliate programs you can enroll in, available in basically all niches imaginable. You can go to Clickbank to get a general idea.
In its core, affiliate marketing is among the most passive income streams possible, right next to advertising. And it can give you great profits, but there are two major downsides:
- You need to have good traffic before you can make the affiliate model work for you, which means that your site needs to be fairly popular.
- You rarely get any chance to find out who the buyers are, so you get no possibility to market to them with any follow-up offers.
I’d say that it’s good to have some form of affiliate promotions set on your site as a test, but if your site is rather new then don’t count on huge profits right off the bat.
Advertising is the most obvious way to make money online. Period.
It’s also the easiest model to set up from a technical point of view – all you need is an AdSense account.
However, advertising has very similar downsides to affiliate marketing, which is that your site needs to be fairly popular before you can see any profits, and you get to keep no buyer info.
That being said, advertising may still be your only way of making money, provided that your niche is very obscure and too small to offer your own services or even find affiliate products.
Memberships are great, but they are one of the more advanced business models.
The main idea is to offer something that your customers will need a continuous supply of. It can be a physical product, it can be education, it can be software. Basically, you can do pretty much anything on a subscription-based model, as it’s somewhat a combination of the above.
The main advantage of it is that the income is predictable on a monthly basis, but the downside is that you need to put in a lot of work both beforehand and then once the membership program is going.
In most cases, memberships are not a good way to make money for new sites that don’t have an engaged community built around them yet.
In short, an online course is a more developed form of a product. It’s simply something that’s big in volume and would be more effective when delivered in parts.
For instance, if you want to learn Spanish, you don’t go to a language school for one huge lesson. You get into a course that spans across a couple of months.
Now, the only difference between courses and memberships is that a course has a start and end date, whereas memberships are meant to go on forever.
When it comes to advantages and disadvantages though, courses and memberships are pretty much the same.
What’s the solution for you?
This is the main question we want to answer here, so let’s recap everything that’s been said.
Passive income is surely very attractive in theory, however, the truth is that you have to do serious active work to get any passive income further down the road. Anyone who’s done this will admit that it’s hard work indeed.
Active income is much more immediate, and sometimes you can even earn money before you do anything – if you get an advance on your freelance work (a very common thing). The downside is that it’s much less scalable.
Keep in mind one more thing, if you’re building your income based on getting, say, 90 percent of your traffic through Google then all it takes to shut your business down is one algorithm update. And lately we’ve started experiencing a lot of those.
So what do you think about all this? Which is likely the best model for you right now?