There are numerous way to build a profitable website. You can monetize a blog or a site by serving ads, doing affiliate marketing or selling your own products and services. Making money from a website is a huge topic and has been for many years now. If you’ve been following my blog you probably went through my free training.
Why Is My Website Not Making Any Money?
This is a very common question that I get asked by email, on Reddit, forums and everywhere else. This is probably the second most popular question. “How much money can I make online” takes the number 1 spot.
Earning an income from a website is rather simple once you understand how everything works. Please note I didn’t say it’s easy or that it will happen overnight. This is a long process which could potentially turn out to be very profitable. There are several reasons why your website isn’t making money right now. In this post I will go through the most common issues and hopefully help you diagnose yours.
Is Your Website Getting Traffic?
This is the very first thing you need to look at. I know this sounds basic but a lot of people seem to ignore this for some reason. If you need to see any kind of results from your blog, you need traffic.
What Is Your Blog’s Topic?
The very first thing you need to look at is your niche. What is your website about? If it’s about “everything” then chances are you’ll never get traction. You simply can’t create a product that everyone needs. Just like you can’t create a website that targets every single person out there. You need to figure out who exactly you’re writing for. This way it will be a lot easier for you to create content that your readers can relate to. Starting a blog that targets pet owners would be incredibly hard however starting a blog that targets Golden Retriever owners would be a lot easier. Decide on your niche and concentrate on it.
Is Your On-site SEO On Point?
Have you done your keyword research? I am guilty of neglecting this part for some of my articles but whenever I do pay attention to that I see better results. If you want to make money with your websites then you need to know what keywords are going to pay off. There are numerous keyword research tools like Jaaxy, SEMrush and even the free Google Keyword Planner tool. These tools will tell you if the keyword is popular, how many searches it gets and how hard it is to rank for. Simply changing one world in your title can make the world of difference.
Now don’t just spam your post with keywords but make sure to include them in the natural flow of your content.
Using a free plugin like Yoast will help you tremendously with on-site search engine optimization. This plugin will tell you what you did wrong and how to fix it.
When you write a new article think of a way to link to other articles on your website (internal linking). Interlinking your own content helps search engines understand what your website is all about. When you point them to other resources on your own site they start noticing and improving your rankings. Do use images in your posts and make sure you fill out all the meta data for these images (name, alt name, description, etc).
How is Your Off-site SEO?
Let me be honest. I believe that quality content is the most important part of your blog. Google has been making major changes to their search algorithm over the years, One thing that always stayed consistent is the quality content. I am sure this will always be a big ranking factor and this is why you should pay the most attention to your content.
However, there are many other ranking factors that matter.
Do you have backlinks? Although Google gives backlinks less weight they are still very important. When people are linking to your content it gives Google the idea that your content is in fact helpful and interesting. 10 years ago we used to buy shady backlinks and a good amount of those would propel us to the top of search in no time. Times have changed and the link quality can make or break your website.
Let me put it in simple terms: do not buy an backlinks. Ever. You need natural backlinks from relevant resources. One way of getting these links is connecting with influencers in your niche. Reach out to other bloggers in your space and befriend them. Help them out, link to their resources and ask them to link to your amazing posts. This is a long-term strategy but it’s well worth it.
Are people talking about your content on social media? Search engines do pay attention to social metrics as well. The very first thing you should do when you publish a new post is share it on your own social media accounts. Use a tool like Namecheckr to register your social media accounts on as many platforms as you could possibly use.
Become an active member on relevant Facebook groups, Google+ circles and subreddits. Be genuine and help people on these platforms. If you have an amazing resource on your blog you might be able to share it there as well. Make sure you’re not spamming. If possible, contact an admin and ask them if they think whatever you’re about to post would bring value to the group. This strategy alone has brought me tons of traffic and social shares. I even recorded a full podcast episode on that subject.
There are many ways of getting backlinks to your site and I could go on for days about this subject. There are many social media marketing strategies and I could talk about that for days as well. However this blog post is about diagnosing why your blog is not profitable so let’s move on.
So let’s assume you are getting some traffic but you’re still not making money. What could be the problem?
Conversion rates differ from one industry to another but most websites claim a CR of 1%. This means that out of 100 visitors to your website only one will make a purchase of any kind. We’ll talk about conversion rates later on but this number should tell you something. If you’re only getting 20 visitors per day you can’t draw any conclusions from that.
I would say that a good starting point is 100-200 targeted visitors per day. If you aren’t getting that then this should be your main priority. Why aren’t you getting 100 visitors per day?
Did you notice that I said you need TARGETED visitors to your site? Do not under any circumstances participate in traffic exchanges. They are useless and a complete waste of time. You could go on Fiverr and many other platforms and pay $5 for 2,000 visitors to your site. This is also useless. These visitors are often just bots and bots aren’t real people. When you participate in a traffic exchange, chances are there are actually real people, just like you clicking on each other sites.
The truth is, they don’t care about your site or your content. It’s a vicious circle of people clicking on each other sites so they could earn credits so more people click on their ads… in the end people just click on ads without even looking what your website is about. Sure, your traffic stats might go up but none of these people will ever buy from you or become a loyal fan. I would rather have 1 targeted visitor than 1,000 untargeted visitors (or bots).
How Long Have You Been Blogging?
If your strategy is getting free organic traffic from the search engines then you need more content. There is no big secret to getting good rankings on Google. Write great quality content and publish it consistently. If you posted 3 articles in the last 5 months then this is why you aren’t getting traffic. Write at least one article per week (preferably 3+). Make sure your content is original and interesting. Try to aim for 1,000 words per article. There is no exact number here but if you search your main keyword phrase in Google I can assure you that the top 10 results will have at least 800 words but most likely 1,000+.
Look at your competitors articles and create better content than they do. This will give you a chance to outrank them (although there are other factors that play a role as well).
Be patient. It takes time to build a business. It takes time to grow traffic and to grow a fan base. I’ve been following a lot of new bloggers in the past 12 months or so. Many of them claimed that they started seeing good traffic after 6 months of consistent effort. In a recent chat with Pat Flynn he told me that most of his niche websites took around 18 months to finally start producing income. It might sound like a long time but compare that to a brick and mortar business where it takes 3 to 5 years to become profitable. Online business has a very clear advantage here and things do happen faster.
There isn’t an exact timeline. I made my first affiliate commission on my very first blog within 10 days or so. I earned $33 and this was the most memorable income ever simply because I realize that making money online is actually possible. Within 6 months that blog was earning me $7,000 per month. I have started many other blogs back then and most of them failed to make money within first 3-6 months so I abandoned them. Only now I realize that if I stuck with them I would have turned them around. I got very lucky with my first blog and I was expecting every single other blog to become profitable in a very short time.
I understand that I was romanticizing things and that success normally takes longer than that. Don’t repeat my mistakes. Stick with your blog and work on it for 6 months – 1 year before drawing any conclusions. If after one year of consistent efforts, new content and marketing you still haven’t made a penny, start asking yourself why.
Still Not Profitable?
You’ve been consistently posting new content for 6 months or maybe a year. Your traffic has been growing and now you’re seeing 200-300-500 daily visitors. Your rankings are going up yet you aren’t making money. That’s not normal. Let’s analyze that.
I am a big fan of affiliate marketing. I do not like Adsense ads on blogs for many different reasons. Unless you’re Huff Post that generates millions of visitors per day then you should probably be ditching ads as well. Did you write all that content so you could earn $0.03 if someone decided to click on an ad?
Over the years I’ve been contacted by several agencies offering to buy ad space on my blog and I always turned them down. First of all I do not want to promote anything that I personally do not have experience with. Second of all, I value my “online real estate” much more than those networks are willing to pay me for it. I’d rather use that space to place an ad that links to one of my own popular articles because I know that resource will be helpful to my reader.
This is why most of my income comes from affiliate marketing. I promote products and services that I trust and believe in. In most cases I am actually using these exact tools. Being an affiliate for certain companies also gives me a chance to offer discounts to my readers. These discounts cannot be found on the official websites so it’s a win-win for everyone.
Let’s assume you’re also doing affiliate marketing. Why aren’t people clicking on your affiliate links?
Once again, I would recommend against ads in the form of banners. A typical online user is now immune to banners. People simply ignore banners and do not click on them. More and more internet users use Adblockers in their browser so they don’t even see your banners. How do you expect people to click on something they don’t see?
Contextual links are the bomb. This is when you include a link to a relevant offer within your text. Have you noticed links within this very post? Some will take you to other posts on this blog, some take you to resources outside of this blog and some will take you to affiliate offers. If it makes sense to link to a free plugin or a Wikipedia page I will do that. If it makes sense to link to a product using an affiliate link, I will do that. Just make sure that these links are very relevant to your what you’re writing about.
Tracking. Testing. Analyzing.
At this point you’ve got your affiliate links, your traffic, your rankings yet no one is clicking on your links. This is a bit trickier to analyze but it’s doable. Set-up Google Analytics and see where people are clicking. Figure out how long they’re staying on your site.
Install a free heatmap plugin on your blog and see where people actually click. You might have an image within your content that everyone clicks on yet there is no link attached to it. This is exactly how I realize that the most clicked item on one of my pages was an image. You can’t predict your visitors behavior but you can track it which will help you understand what’s wrong.
Test your links. This might sound stupid but I’ve had this issue more than once. I added several affiliate links to my post yet no one clicked on them. After a week (or a month?) I finally figured out that my links were broken and people did click on them. The problem is that instead of going to that product page people were taken to a 404 page. Mistakes happen. Test your links.
If people are in fact clicking on your links yet not making a purchase, you might be promoting a wrong product. Maybe it’s too expensive or maybe it’s too cheap? Is it really relevant to your content? Try promoting a different product and test the results.
Last but not least, it might still be early. Lots of people give up before being able to measure any results. Keep posting content, keep promoting it, keep testing different products and link placements. If you stick with it for long enough you will figure out the real issue and you will be able to fix it.
I hope this blog post was helpful to you.
If you have any questions or comments please do use the comment form below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.