Want To Make Money With Your Blog? Build Reputation!

Making money with a blog seems to be the Nirvana of self-publishing: everybody talks about it, a few claim to be there already, but fact is nobody really saw it.

I always was fascinated by this incredible opportunity offered by blogging. Just 6-7 years ago, self-publishing, although praised and awaited, was nothing but a science fiction topic. People were dreaming about a way to publish their thoughts, their experiences, their ideas, without the hassle of traditional mass-publishing. No fussy editor, no sales channels, no waiting in line, just you, your message and your (potentially huge) audience. It seemed like a dream, for many. And yet, right now, we have hundreds of millions of blogs.

But soon, the fresh self-published wannabee will face a real life problem: how to make some money from this blogging thing? How to be self-sustainable? Doing what you love is surely fulfilling at the emotional level, but at the bills level things are a little bit messy.

The Prehistory Of Blog Making Money

First, there was traffic. Lots of traffic. Page impressions and an inflation in pride. If you did your game well, you could climb in a few months to the top of the ladder. At that time (6-7 years ago), you could actually sell your traffic in chunks. Advertisers were fighting over good, visible web space. That was the prehistory of making money with a blog. It’s called display advertising.

Then, contextual advertising came. You will not sell pixels anymore, but interactions. AdSense entered the scene and changed the game completely. The ads on your page were linked to the content. A huge leap forward. Now you could target some niches, write your text in a certain way, and voila: all the important advertisers were magically on your page. Of course, the user had to click on those ads in order for you to make money.

And then the affiliate marketing came in. Your traffic wasn’t so important anymore. What started to count was your retentive audience: your subscribers. Your page views were suddenly obsolete. Your carefully crafted posts wouldn’t generate clicks anymore. The only chance was to concoct a “special offer”, package it nicely and send it over directly to your subscribers inbox. A lot of them felt so honored by that message, that they’re actually buying.

Well, those were good times. Unfortunately, they’re over.

Making Money With A Blog Now

The blogging game has changed completely. There are a lot of new factors influencing this activity, and I’m only thinking about the economic part of blogging. Social media is riding the wave now and your message is more and more difficult to be heard. Unless you take a big chunk of your message and package it specifically for social media. Which isn’t blogging anymore, right?

And yet. there’s still a way to make some serious money blogging. How? It’s called reputation. And it’s the core of you next generation business. What follows is a detailed description of my own money making strategy on this very blog. It may not be your cup of tea, if you’re used to traditional ways of making money, but then again, living prehistorically is not a viable choice anymore too, in my humble opinion.

What Is Reputation?

It’s a combination of Authority and Authenticity. Those are 2 of the 7 traits of the highly successful bloggers, by the way. Reputation is what makes you believed and respected. It’s also something that attracts your audience to your blog over and over again. As you will see by the end of this article, reputation is also the subtle glue which ties together your new money making mechanism.

We live in an information overloaded society. We do not have enough time to go deep into every detail. We do not want to know all the gimmicks in a new device, all we want to know is that we did a good choice. We do not want to know everything about sailing a boat, we need to know enough to get by. We need a reputable source. A truthful and authoritative answer.

If we want to change our lives, all we have to do is to follow the advice of someone else who did it. And did in a trustable way. We need somebody to rely on.

And that’s exactly what reputation does to you: it makes you believable.

Shifting Your Money Focus

Suppose you’re already there: you have a reputable blog, a little bit of traffic and a living ecosystem around your blogging realm. Now, when you think at monetizing it, you start all the process from the prehistory: you try some advertising, then some AdSense then some affiliate stuff. Being prehistoric, that approach will give you prehistoric results. If you’re lucky. Most of the time it will give you nothing.

That’s a pivotal point. Because, based on these results, you draw some incorrect conclusions. Since you don’t make money with a blog, you start assuming that you’re doing something wrong at the other level, in writing. You change your style aiming at a broader audience. You start to make some compromises just to attract more and more traffic. You start a numbers game. If I make 100 dollars / month using AdSense, then I will just have to multiply my audience 100 times.

Wrong. Deadly wrong. And you know why? Because when you’re starting to make some compromises, you’re affecting your authenticity. And authenticity is one of the 2 pillars of reputation. Basically, in search of money, you’re ruining your reputation. And, even if the traffic numbers are higher and higher, you’ll soon see that revenue is going lower and lower. Your loyal audience will be alienated and the new one will be too volatile.

So, what to do? Is there a way to escape this number race?

Yes, it is. Here’s the short version: shift your focus. Don’t use the same prehistoric tools to attract money. Go out of the box.

And now let’s talk about the long version.

The Reputation Ecosystem

First of all, stop thinking at your blog as a revenue source. That sounded a little bit counter-intuitive, right? How to make money with a blog… without a blog? Well, that’s a fundamental confusion. Your blog is your main tool for building reputation. Not your money making product. The money making thing is the reputation you build with it. Got it?

The blog is just a tool. Treat it like this.

Second, shift your focus toward other areas in which your reputation could be converted into money. Some of these areas may have common points with the blog (or with the online economy), some of them may not. Don’t reject the latest.

Use your blog as a common land for your activities in these new areas. Here are just 5 types of activities, personally tested, which will help you make money with your reputation. Which you previously built with your blog, of course.

1. Build Your Own Digital Products

The easiest way to extend your reputation into payable goods is to create your own digital products. These products will carry on the same authority you used to create your blog, with the small but fundamental difference that they will be available only after they’re paid for. These products will contain as much value as your blog, but they will be packaged differently.

The easiest example for these digital products is an ebook. It’s also familiar. If you are an experienced writer on your blog, you wouldn’t find it difficult to write an ebook. But digital products are not limited to ebooks. I did an experiment once with creating an audio version of one of my posts. Here’s the link (it’s only USD2.99):

33 Ways To Get And Maintain Motivation.

As for the ebooks, I already wrote 4 ebooks and all 4 are still selling. Here are the link for your curiosity:

  1. 30 Sentences For A Millionaire Mindset
  2. 100 Ways To Live A Better Life
  3. 100 Ways To Screw Up Your Life
  4. The 7 Ages Of An Online Business

One very important thing to remember about digital products is that they have a specific revenue time span. It decreases over time. Usually, the launch will generate 80% of the sales, with the rest of the 20% spread over 6-9 months. So, unless you become a New York Times best seller, your regular digital product won’t be a recurring revenue stream.

But you can always write more ebooks, of course.

2. Promote Other, Related Digital Products

Another way to extend your reputation is to recommend other people products. This looks a lot like affiliate marketing and it even shares some technical terms (you will become an affiliate for the seller) but it’s very different in nature. Because you will not actively seek buyers for these new products. You will endorse them in your articles. If your readers will find those products interesting, they will buy. There’s no obligation. And no incentive either. It’s just your reputation on the line.

And that’s a big difference. Usually, in the affiliate marketing business, you will identify the products first, and then start building some content around those products. In my approach, you will just endorse some products that are “clicking” with your blog vibe. Of course, that means that you’re not going to promote exotic cheese products if you’re a personal development blogger. That, again, will ruin your reputation.

Here are some of the products I recommended (and still recommend) in the last few months. Of course, all the links are affiliate links, so if you buy, I will get a percentage of the sale.

  • Unautomate Your Finances – by Adam Baker from ManVsDebt.com
  • How To Network Awesomely – by Colin Wright from ExileLifestyle.com
  • Upgrade Reality by Diggy from UpgradeReality.com
  • The Personal Excellence Book – by Celestine Chua from CelestineChua.com

As you can see, all the products are coming from respected bloggers in the same field, self-improvement.

3. Promote Your Tools Of Choice

If you have a well respected blog, chances are that you are using some specific tools to maintain it. These tools can also be an extension for your reputation. For instance, I’m using WPSumo, an incredibly useful wordpress framework (and I’m not saying that because I’m a part of WPSumo, it really is a very good product). I’m also using Scribe SEO, a brand new tool which helps me with my SEO copywriting. As you can imagine, I am actively promoting those 2 tools.

But, there is a “but”. Just promoting them wouldn’t be enough. I took the time to dive in and bring out some extra value to those products. As I already told you I am a partner in my own wordpress framework, WPSumo, and that makes me work day in and day out for it. Also, I tooke the time to present Scribe SEO in details. You know why? Because my reputation is on the line.

Speaking of tools I endorse, I couldn’t end this paragraph without talking about MacJournal. I’m using this very powerful tool not only for writing my articles and keeping my blogging setup in order, but also for writing my ebooks or even creating habits. This time I signed a direct deal with the producer. Basically, each month you get a specific Mariner promo code, unique to my blog, which will give you a 25% discount.

4. Pick A Parallel Niche

And grow a related product there. This will require a little bit of a leap of faith, so to speak. Because you’re going really far away from blogging.

In my case, this parallel niche is about iPhone apps. I wrote a lot about productivity here and I also created a life management framework called Assess — Decide – Do. So, I went out of the box and created my own iPhone productivity app. It took me a little bit over 30 days, but it is well worth the effort. Now it has a life of its own and it’s doing pretty well on the App Store. It’s 2.99 USD and, from what I saw on my App Store reports, it’s not at all a big price. In other words, it sells. ๐Ÿ™‚

I didn’t spent a dime on marketing for this product. All I used as marketing was my reputation. The blog is the only platform that keeps this product floating around. It’s still early to call this a success, but it is surely an incredibly important lesson to learn. The Apple ecosystem is by far one of the most interesting in terms of revenue these days.

5. Sell Your Reputation By The Hour

Consulting. Workshops. Coaching. Whatever you feel you can deliver outside your blog, in the real world, in a face to face interaction. I did this too, creating two real life products, a mentorship program fro young entrepreneurs and a three days blogging workshop. Both were what I can call a definite success. Extending your reputation over real life products is often the most ignored way of monetizing a blog.

It’s very important to note that this money making approach can be recurring. Instead of selling your physical presence, you could package it into an online course and make it available to your blog audience. Again, Brian Clark from CopyBlogger stand up with his Teaching Sells program.

***

As you can see, there is very little here related to display advertising, contextual advertising or other prehistoric tools to generate money. As a matter of fact, this money making approach looks like a rather scattered land. You actually generate revenue using a variety of sources, not all of them directly (or visibly) linked to each another.

And that’s the true mastery of making money with a blog. To build such a powerful glue that it will not only keep together this distributed mechanism, but it will also make it grow exponentially.

I call this glue reputation.



Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner


The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There arenโ€™t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: โ€œHail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!โ€ Nope. Itโ€™s slow, silent, creepy. It doesnโ€™t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: โ€œMaybe I shouldnโ€™t get out today, I just donโ€™t feel like going outโ€. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: โ€œWhy would you go outside, you loser? Didnโ€™t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?โ€

And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.

Until you get stuck. You canโ€™t move anymore. At all.

If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.

Running For My Life -from zero to ultramarathoner

Dragos Roua

The guy who started all this. Entrepreneur, ultra-marathoner, tanguero, father and risk taker. I'm blogging here, but I also spend a lot of time in this marvelous space.. You're invited, by the way.

This Post Has 43 Comments

  1. I’ve done 1, 2, and 5, except that you don’t see me pricing anything about a consulting business on any of my sites. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Hey Dragos,

    I was hoping for a post like this one from you, as I didn’t have a chance to dig into the blogging conversation with you when we met face 2 face.

    OK, I got it. I’m on my way to improve my authority and my authenticity and I can tell by the results I got so far that this is gonna be awesome. Thanks for the post ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Howdy Dragos

    Nice way to give people the open view on the making money online avenue. The old saying is that there’s more than one way to skin a cat, by saying that you hit on some excellent points for any newbie or season marketer can walk away with.

    When it comes to creating ebooks and programs, this is something I been doing for over 8 yrs now. By have the program of mines be %100 profitable and not at %50 like some of the clickbank programs. It allowed me to filter that profit back into marketing and adverting.

    People just need to realize that making money online is easy once you learn the business, this is something I say to all my thousands of members I have on my email list twice.

    If you want to be successful online, you need to be willing to work with good people like dragos and I. People who have learn how to leverage our time to make it to the top. Be patient and consistence..and the money will come.

    P.S. Yo dragos did you get that facebook request I sent you..just checking to see.

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

    1. Hey Coleman, thanks for stopping by and for the nice words. As for the FB thing I think we’re connected there for now.

  4. Great, great evergreen article on making serious money from (or should I say: around ?) your blog.

    I have never paid that much attention to reputation – I know it was vital, but the fact that you build your business based on that is amazing.

    Now I will spend the majority of energy on building that that super-kickass and respectable personal brand.

    Thanx for enlightening me with your experience, Dragos ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. he he, I like the word “evergreen” but I don’t think it’s going to stay more in this context. The game is changing. In 2-3 years it won’t be evergreen anymore. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. I’m sure it will.

        Reputation is a timeless concept. The tools will change, but the value of trust is here to stay.

        This post has really opened my eyes – my mission now is to become a prominent and valuable fixture on the blogging sky.

        thanx for kicking ass, Dragos !

    1. I know you do a lot of real life interactions, and yes, building on your reputation on those real life interactions should be fairly easy, once you want to start ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Selling e-books is a great way to make money online. Provide as much value as humanly possible then promote it. It was once said ” you can get everything you want. As long as your willing to help enough people get what they want.” Give of yourself with brilliance and see what becomes of your success. I bet you will be greater than you expected. Take this pill and drink with it the soul of an entrepreneur.

  6. Hi Dragos, what a fantastic post you have come up with. Not just about making money but about how the climate of blogging has changed and about reputation (you should write a separate post on reputation).

    I think ebooks are a fantastic way to make money, both free and paid for. Free to get your reputation out there and paid for once you have the reputation.

    Thanks Dragos, great stuff as always.

    1. Coming from you, Steven, these words are meaning a lot to me. It’s been a while since we’re both playing this game and I’m happy to see that we’re still able to maintain authentic relationships ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Great ideas. I only have two of these implemented but am going to set goals around the rest…….I love my to do list!!

  8. Outstanding article Dragos and of course extremely thorough. This article could go deep into the 2nd of 7 area’s I briefly just mentioned where one can create income right now in a challenging economy.

    Ironically I made mention of you in the “mobile market” but after reading this you actually brought something awesome to my attention. Positioning myself in a “parallel niche.” I find myself very passionate and having skills in several area’s i.e. personal development, marketing, social media etc..and I struggle at times with having to have to just choose one.

    Building reputation in one area and “then” moving laterally makes the most sense but I’m glad to have it brought to my consciousness that it IS able to be done.

    Outstanding resource my friend and thanks again.

    1. You know Tony, your article, along with a short discussion on FaceBook with Mars Dorian, pushed me to write this. So, you are the moral author ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I also like the term of “moving laterally”, it’s much more visual than “parallel niche”. I might steal that ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. That’s awesome man. I appreciate you sharing!

        Steal away my friend. We all rob and duplicate to some degree lol. I’m sure I got it from someone else ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Again awesome article!

  9. Dearest Dragos,
    You are a genius! Bow to you my friend! You are not only giving stellar advice..but you have lived it..are living it..and making money off it. That goes to show how well this approach really works.
    I have been contemplating the money making part of my blog for sometime now…and hope that in time I will have atleast 1/4 of the know-how and reputation you have, if not more ๐Ÿ˜‰ (no harm in aiming higher higher higher na ) ๐Ÿ™‚
    BUt you please keep traveling the success(successful excellence ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) road at the speed of light…We are all benefiting from your knowledge…oh and please never stop giving blogging advice….I know I need it a lot!
    Lots of love,
    Z~

    1. Hey Zeenat,

      Your comments are always… silencing me ๐Ÿ™‚ I seldom know what to write or say after you leave a comment on my blog. I’m just happy you found something interesting here. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Solid tips Dragos and really useful as a general guide. I totally agree with the reputation aspect of blogging and is really the reason I got into blogging, not the money anyway. Perhaps, I’ll get more serious about using the blog to make money in other ventures someday but I guess for now, it just doesn’t even come remotely close to other consulting skills I keep busy at with my business. I guess to me, too many people drive to blogging as a hope to make money and they fail to understand all the things you mention here when they start, its not about the money is it?!!

    1. Making money is just one way to skin the blogging cat, so to speak. You can start a blog to interact more, to meet new people, or just to share. All of these are legit ways to build, maintain and grow a blog, and from it, a solid reputation.

      But, as you said, way too many people are rushing into blogging hoping to grab some easy money. It’s easy to start a blog. It’s easy to sign up for an affiliate network. But building a solid and unbiased reputation is not. Not at all. This is the missing link.

  11. Very interesting, Dragos. In my experience successful people do not know how they did it until they look back and see. We are so passionate and motivated that we would get there no matter what. The specifics are not as important as being authentic & passionate… the tools, ways & means fall into place. If we worry about taking all the advice and trying all the bells and whistles we run around in circles. The point being, always be willing to think the unthinkable. Our own unique answer is outside the box. Great article, again.

    1. You are right, every individual is shaping its own path. I am talking about the context here, not the path. It’s one thing to shape your path through the desert or through a mountain. I try to describe the mountain or the desert and leave the drive to the one that actually goes there ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I’m a little over 30 days into creating my blog. This was a great article and helps give me a better idea to the overall structure I should stick with. Thanks!

  13. Dragos,

    You give great advice on making money online and then taking that offline and the best thing is that people can see it happening on your blog with your ebooks and writings.

    People need to know that it is possible to make money online but that it takes time and dedication, and clearly you have employed both of them to maximum effect.

    Congrats,
    Richard

  14. I’m still light years away from applying the things you mentioned in this article but two things stand out to me on that statement by Coleman, patience and consistence. As a beginner in blogging, I will stand by that code. Thanks for the great tips.

  15. This is really useful Dragos. I haven’t seen any results from ebooks I have promoted yet but it is good to hear that it can happen – patience and as you say reputation is key.
    Jen

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