This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, we may earn a commission from these links.
We’ve all seen it. Articles with titles like “How I Made $100k From My Blog” are super popular online. And it’s easy to understand why these blogs are so popular. They make great stuff. And it’s every content makers dream to have a successful, income-producing blog.
But very few people attain that level of blogging success.
And despite my modest success, my blog hasn’t earned $100k. Not even close.
But I’d like it to.
So I’m writing this article as part self-discovery and part help for those who are struggling to string together a strategy for their blogs. I believe the road to success starts with a level-set. How can you improve your blog if you don’t understand why it’s not growing how you want it to?
Here’s my story.
How bottlesoup.com got its start
In 2013, I was getting antsy. Pregnant and recently terminated from a horrible job (that’s a whole ‘nother story), I needed something to do. I had tried my hand at freelancing, which is something I still dabble in to this day, but I felt I needed something more substantial.
And thus this blog was born.
It started out as a small personal project to document the pregnancy and a place to share baby information I was learning. I didn’t know much about starting a blog, but I did some research and used Bluehost to get going. It was very important that I had a WordPress.org site with a domain that I owned in order to monetize in the future. I always knew I wanted to convert my hobby into something lucrative, but I had no idea how hard it would be.
My natural inclination to analyze and assess everything to death led to content that was informative and research-based. But, there were a few times when I went on rants that were not kind and got carried away with the mommy wars.
Refining my content…
As I matured, I decided to put those snarky posts to bed and focus on creating content that was informative and neutral. As you can imagine, this can be boring.
And as I write this article, I’m realizing that’s how I began to lose my thunder. I started worrying so much about what would happen if someone I worked with found my blog and I ended up losing a career I worked so hard to build over some article I wrote online.
With a family to support, being myself online feels like a risk. And that makes me a little sad. I can’t be the troll I so desperately want to be, because #adulting. (Kidding! Kind of.) So I’m still trying to learn how to be passionate without being controversial. It’s an area where I feel I am in constant need of growth.
…but losing my nerve.
As I’ve struggled to create less risky content, I’ve also struggled to create compelling content. What’s a story without some drama?
I know there are people out there who are creating positive, wonderful things. But I get hung up on the facts.
Of all those bloggers who say, “Hey, I’m making money! Come see how I did it!” there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. Many articles hype up the hard-earned success and minimize the level of effort.
The goal of many of these articles is to get you motivated. Then, you’ll sign up for a bunch of blogging tools and services you don’t need yet. And of course, if you want to get to the meat and potatoes for strategy, creating content, and other important details, you’ll pay for a course.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Many, many bloggers are professionals who have spent years honing their skills and have tremendous value to share. And it might be my background in public relations and marketing that make me weary, or perhaps it’s my experience analyzing direct sales/MLM companies, but…here’s the truth: a lot of these articles are too good to be true.
It’s Spin 101.
Is it possible you’ll make $100k from blogging if you take a course from your favorite online influencer? Sure. But you’re not going to be working 10-20 hours per week. And it’s not going to be easy. And you might need to spend a pretty penny on advertising for your blog. So can you make $100k? You bet. Can you do it in your pajamas? Absolutely. Will it all be “passive income” profit? No flipping way.
Running a blog is really hard work
I’m lucky to be surrounded by some awesome publishers who do amazing things with their blogs. I am a little fish in a big pond. More like a plankton in the sea, really. There are many bloggers who are much better than me.
But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have the opportunity to do better. I just need to put in more effort. So that’s what I’m going to do.
Back to the basics
Ok, let’s level-set: I’m not sure if this is helping you, but getting this all out is sure helping me. I’m beginning to understand that being authentic is really important to me. I can’t be a spin doctor. I can’t push products to make a quick buck. I can’t pretend that something is an opportunity that it’s not.
Take that for what it’s worth. Because I’m not going to sit here and say some variation of, “Quit your job and make a full-time income blogging!” I’m not going to pretend that blogging is an easy side hustle that brings home the bacon. It’s a really hard job. And for me, I need to remember that this isn’t my full-time job. This is my passion project.
And I need to put the passion back in my posts.
My lack of excitement has a direct correlation on the content I’ve produced and how popular it is.
So in 2019, I’m going to make an effort to put the punch back in my writing.
If you’re reading this blog, taking in my frustration and still compelled to start your own, then you’ve got what it takes. Seriously. That is not spin. It’s the truth. It takes real determination to get a blog up and running.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my six years of blogging, but there are a few things I know to be true. As tough as it is, if you want to start a blog that has the potential to earn an income, you can do it. In fact, setting it up is the easy part. The hard part is maintaining that blog beyond the initial excitement.
How I setup my blog
- Purchased a domain and hosting through Bluehost. There are pros and cons to any host, but what I liked about Bluehost is pretty straightforward: it’s cheap and reliable. If you want to install WordPress on a domain you own, Bluehost is the way to go. It’s easy and they have tech support. Although bottlesoup.com is no longer on Bluehost for hosting, I could not have gotten my blog to the place it was now without using Bluehost in the early days. I think I was able to get my domain + hosting for less than $100 a year. And that’s not a small chunk of change at all, but in the blogging world that’s pretty much as affordable as it gets. I would recommend them as a jumping off point.
- Published posts as often as possible. My niche wasn’t that well defined, but looking back I see that my blog is me. It’s a lifestyle blog. If I had to start over, I would choose a clear focus that wasn’t so personal. Because believe it or not, there are very few people who give a banana about who I am or what I do with my life. It’s all about making content relevant for your reader.
- Promoted my posts through social media. Since blogging was my full-time hobby, I was aggressive in promoting my posts on my personal social media pages as well as in groups and on other platforms.
What my blog looks like, by the numbers
I’ve vaguely mentioned my blog’s income (or lack thereof) and its success, but I always find it helpful to see other blog stats. So, I’m going out on a limb here, largely based on a concept I recently read about: a failure resume.
I recently published My Blog’s Failure Resume, which I welcome you to read. It shows just how far I am from that $100k number. But you have to start somewhere, right?
My blog’s plan
Here’s what I want to do:
- Develop an editorial calendar. (And hold myself to it). The key to blog success is producing great content consistently. I need to get going with that.
- Go for it. Just write the $@#* already. When I look at how much time I spend doing other nonsense, I certainly have some extra time to get this done.
- Give it my all. And see my blog grow as a result of my efforts.
Nailing down my categories
For me, this is one of the most difficult things about blogging. I’m a generalist, and what I mean by that is I’m very interested in a lot of different things.
Right now, my categories are:
- Working from home (which is really Direct Sales / MLM analysis and whistleblowing articles)
- Parenting (which is basically anything under the parenting sun)
- Food + Drink (a lot of keto articles recently as that has been my diet for the last 18 months and…on the other end of the spectrum…cookie baking articles!)
- Travel (which should just be re-categorized as Disney, though I would like to add some other locations as well as NYC-metro activities)
- Blogging (which I rarely ever blog about)
I’m thinking I can re-define the WFH category to incorporate WFH opportunity analysis and blogging. Then I can maybe add a “local” category. The key to all of this is actually doing it. Welp, better get started as I’m just rambling now!
Help me (LOL)
If you’ve got an idea or general feeling about any of this, please leave a comment or drop me a line.
I know that for my blog to be successful, it needs to be useful to you – my audience. The last time I reached out to see what my readers wanted, a few responded with more direct sales/MLM articles. I’ve published more of those. Are there other things you feel are missing in the blog-o-sphere? Questions you’d like to ask or have researched, but don’t know where to start? I want to serve my audience the best I can. So if you’ve got an idea, leave a comment below or write me a note.