Developing Authority
Developing Authority

April 2018
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A Guaranteed Business Model for Technical Bloggers

joshmoronyjoshmorony

Making money online is hard, especially for bloggers. A lot of people will start with the goal in mind of building up a lot of traffic. Once you have the traffic you can just monetise it with advertisements and make some money. This isn’t always entirely viable, and it is certainly not “guaranteed” in the sense that I am talking about it here.

You need massive amounts of traffic to get a reasonable income from advertisements – especially if you are relying on services like Google AdSense. A lot of people will never get to those levels of traffic. After about 5 years of blogging, and getting almost 10,000 visitors to the blog per day, the advertising revenue from my blog averages around $5-$10 per day… not exactly enough to live off of.

In this article, I want to introduce you to the business model that I have used to generate an income in the range of $10,000-$20,000 per month (on top of that juicy $5 a day from advertisements). This is the same business model that many people with successful technical blogs use. I’m sure this business model isn’t specific to just technical bloggers, but it is what I have my experience in and it may not translate as well into some niches.

This is by no means any kind of mind-blowing new business model to make lots of money quickly. In fact, it is quite slow and can be boring, but it works.

“Guaranteed”?

I used the word “guaranteed” in the title not to act as clickbait, but because I believe this particular approach should result in success, as long as you stick to it. I can’t make that claim with 100% certainty because my own success, and even the success of others taking similar approaches, doesn’t guaranty anything. However, there is nothing “special” about what I have done, and the barriers to entry are very low.

If you are a better marketer or have better business acumen in general, you may see greater or faster success. But I think that if you follow this approach, and stick to it, you will achieve some degree of success whilst making positive contributions to the community that you are involved in.

Maybe you won’t make as much money as quickly as I have, maybe you will make more, maybe the money isn’t the important part for you. Maybe you develop valuable contacts that land you in your dream job, maybe you use your success to boost your freelancing career, maybe you use it to generate more consulting opportunities.

I would be extremely surprised if someone follows the process I will be talking about in this article, and follows it consistently for a long time, and could say that it hasn’t had a positive impact on their life.

The Business Model

The entire approach to this business model can be summed up in four points:

  1. Create valuable content consistently
  2. Give it away for free
  3. Build a following
  4. Sell premium products to that following

Typically, this means writing blog content, collecting email addresses, and selling digital products like books or courses. To satisfy those steps in my particular business, I do the following:

  1. Write tutorials on mobile web development
  2. Publish those tutorials for free on my blog
  3. Build traffic to the blog, and collect email subscribers
  4. Sell books and courses to my following

The key part in all of this is selling premium products. This is how you can make money without needing to generate massive amounts of traffic to your blog. At around 500 email subscribers I was making a few thousand dollars from premium products, at around 5,000 email subscribers I was earning tens of thousands, and now at around 15,000 – 20,000 email subscribers I am earning hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The premium products you create do not have to fit into the typical book/course structure – you can sell anything that is going to provide enough value to your audience. Because you have an established audience, who know the kind of content you create and trust you, it will be much easier to sell your product than it would be to the general population.

The vast majority of my time is spent writing free tutorials – I typically create 1 or 2 paid products per year. It does feel a little weird to be running a profit-driven business when I give 90%+ of the work I do away for free. This is one of my favourite things about this approach, though.

An important thing to note is that this is a cycle – it is a positive feedback loop.

By publishing free content you will be able to generate a following… which allows you to sell products… which gives you an income and thus more time to write more free content… which allows you to generate a bigger following… which allows you to sell more products… and so on.

Once you can get past the hard part, and get that positive feedback loop to kick in, this business model becomes a whole lot easier.

The Hard Part

It’s supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

I think that quote belongs to Tom Hanks, but most of us have heard it. Yes, there is a “catch” to this business model, and it is where most people will fail.

The hard part of this approach is highlighted below:

  1. Create valuable content consistently
  2. Give it away for free
  3. Build a following
  4. Sell premium products to that following

For most people, it is going to take a long time before they build a significant following. For me, it took about 2 years. Fortunately, I think that is on the longer side of things – if you were to invest a bit more time into marketing yourself you could speed this up.

During this time, you need to be happy with creating valuable content and giving it away for free, consistently, and getting pretty much no reward in return. Very few people will be reading your content, and you will likely be generating almost no income. It is very hard to maintain motivation during this period.

You shouldn’t just write the occasional blog post, you should set a schedule and stick to it. Three posts a week, two posts a week – whatever – just pick something and stick to it. This will enforce the habit of creating new content, and the following you are building (however small it may be at the time) will keep coming back. If you are not writing consistently, you will be losing your audience as you are trying to build it.

Once you do start to build a following, it becomes easier to stay motivated. But getting to that point is very hard. You need to find some source of lasting motivation, and I don’t think the potential future monetary reward is enough (you may never make more than if you had just invested your time elsewhere). Finding a topic that you can maintain a passion for, and can write about consistently, is also hard. Most people I know who have started down this path stop within a few weeks or months.

I am experienced with this approach now, but I attempted to start this blog up last year and could not find the motivation to write and publish content. Hopefully, I can find that motivation this year.

Summary

Taking this approach does feel like a long mountain climb, but if you do make it things become a lot easier. When new content you publish is viewed by thousands of people, you start getting messages of thanks, you start to become known within your community, and people start happily buying your products… creating new content won’t feel like as much of a climb.

One of the great things about this approach is how accessible it is to everybody. Some people might be better marketers, better writers, have an advertising budget, have more interesting personalities, and maybe that will affect their degree of success. But if all you do is write about a topic you are interested in, and do that consistently for a long period of time, you will see some form of success.