Is getting rich with your blog a ‘fairy tale’ ?

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Last month Newsweek ran an article online entitled “Growing rich by blogging is a high tech fairy tale”. The author, Daniel Lyons, details how he exhausted himself writing upwards of 20 posts a day, eventually culminating with the New York Times featuring him and his blog. As a result he got 500,000 hits in one day, and 1.5 million for the month. The grand monetary result of all that traffic? Just over $1000  in advertising revenue for the month. He soon shuttered his blog in disgust, declaring that getting rich with your blog is impossible.

Just a few weeks later, The New Yorker website featured a piece on blogger Peter Adeny, better known by the pseudonym of his blog’s title “Mr Money Mustache”. His traffic is quoted at an average of 750k visitors a month – half of Lyon’s traffic that fateful month. Yet Adeny lives up to his “Money” moniker and brings in around $400k a year from his blog. If that’s not getting rich off your blog, I don’t know what is (ironically, The Mr Money Mustache blog is about how Adeny retired early and he and his wife and son live a meaningful life on around $25k a year, despite his insane income).

So what gives? How is Mr Money Mustache able to make so much more money with even less traffic than the other guy? The answer is in HOW they are making their money. Lyons was apparently relying exclusively on advertising revenue.  And it appears he wasn’t optimizing it very well either – anything less than $1 per thousand views is a sign that your ads are not performing well. As a comparison, I am currently averaging less than 200k views a month on my two Youtube channels, and they are bringing in $700 to $1000 a month from Adsense ads alone. Not much less than Lyons earned with 7 or 8 times as many viewers.

But that is only part of the equation; no matter how optimized your Adsense ads are, you are not going to make $400k a year off them – even with 1.5 million visitors EVERY month. So how does Mr Money Mustache get all that MONEY?

The same way people have been making money for generations, and the only way to make real money online; He sells something.

His money is made from affiliate and referral earnings from various products and services that he has tried and recommends: Certain credit cards, investment vehicles, frugal cell phone plans, etc. He never touches or ships a product himself – it is all through affiliates. He spent years earning next to nothing, inadvertently creating the most valuable internet commodity there is – a trusting audience. Now his reputation is paying off to the tune of 8 times the average family’s income every year (even though he doesn’t spend any of it).

To make any serious money online you HAVE to sell something. Some product or service, even if it isn’t yours. And the best way to do that is to create an audience that trusts you and cares about what you have to say. That’s how you sell consistently for the long term and get rich with your blog.