Breaking the Mold of “Make Money Online” Bloggers

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For an internet marketer, it can be difficult to resist the temptation to start a blog in the “make money online” niche. After all, it’s what many of us know and love best, so why wouldn’t we want to share our knowledge with the world (especially if we’re going to make money doing it)?

The problem, of course, is that this is a highly saturated niche. A quick Google search yields over 143 million results for the search term “how to make a living online”, while “make money online” returns a whopping 201 million results. Not only that, but as the state of the global economy continues to weaken, an untold number of employees-turned-entrepreneurs decide to throw their collective hat into the “make money online” ring every single day – chasing visions of fast profits and a more comfortable lifestyle.

Does this mean that you shouldn’t entertain the idea of launching a blog in this niche? Well, there are certainly less competitive niches available, and staking your claim in any of them would involve far less frustration and far fewer late nights hunkered over the keyboard. Still, the prospect of a vast, hungry audience (not to mention the potential for impressive profits) can simply make the “make money online” niche too attractive to pass up.

If you’re determined to build a profitable blog in this niche, differentiating yourself from the competition is critical. As counterintuitive as it might seem, the most effective way to do this is by crafting your content and marketing strategies to be relationship-based, rather than sales-based.

The Role of Relationships in Marketing

Remember the days before the internet became the primary information source for a substantial percentage of the world’s population? Back then, if marketers wanted to get a piece of the pie, all they had to do was launch a television or radio ad campaign, and consumers would line up to buy their products. People did as they were told, and it didn’t matter very much that marketers didn’t care about their buyers – marketers were the gatekeepers of information, and they could spin it pretty much however they pleased. Consumers, for their part, were mostly content to follow along, especially since advertising was considered a “necessary evil” which paid for the programming they enjoyed.

The rise of the internet brought with it a free exchange of information that chipped away at the authority of traditional marketers. Companies that had long relied on being able to tell consumers how to think were left scrambling for new ways to make sales. The ones that prospered were those which sought ways to connect with consumers – to make them feel valued and appreciated. The balance of power had begun to shift from the marketer to the consumer, a phenomenon that grew even more apparent with the emergence of social media.

After all, why believe what a marketer tells you, when you can visit a review site like Epinions, set up a poll on Facebook, or post a question on Twitter, and find out the truth in a matter of seconds?

The same power shift has become evident in internet marketing, as well – particularly in highly competitive niches. In years past, it was sufficient for an internet marketer to launch a blog, slap up some affiliate links, create a course or ebook, and wait for the money to roll in. Today, however, blog visitors want – nay, demand – to be engaged, listened to, and valued. Moreover, they gravitate toward marketers who are transparent, and who allow themselves to be accessible as human beings.

The principle that people buy from those whom they like, know, and trust is more relevant today than ever before.

How to Build a Relationship-Based Approach to Promote Your “Make Money Online” Blog

1) Only promote products that you would use yourself.

This sounds obvious, but it’s safe to say that many “make money online” bloggers choose products based on profit potential, rather than on whether the products can truly benefit readers and subscribers.

You should be prepared to state why you are recommending a particular product. This doesn’t mean engaging in hyperbole (there’s certainly no shortage of that in this niche); rather, it means showing in an unbiased manner the value you see in the product, and the value you believe it represents for your readers.

It’s equally important to highlight any potentially negative aspects of a product. If it isn’t suited to a segment of your reader base (e.g., newbies, people who can’t afford it, etc.), say so. If the product is lacking in a certain area, make that fact clear to your readers as well.

2) Respond to readers’ comments.

Readers take valuable time out of their days to comment on your blog posts. Responding to comments makes them feel as though that time was well spent. We comment on blog posts because we have something to say, and if you let us know that our voices are heard, well, that makes us feel special and valued. As a result, we’re more likely to buy from you.

3) Visit readers’ blogs.

If responses to our comments make us feel special, then visiting our blogs makes us feel downright important (especially if you leave a comment). Few things make us like and trust marketers more than realizing that they want to know more about us. You don’t have to read every post or leave a chapter-long comment – a paragraph or two is enough to win us over.

4) Connect with readers via social media.

The instant nature of social media gives you the opportunity to be seen as a human being rather than a faceless marketer hiding behind a blog. Of course, Twitter is the favored social media vehicle these days – since you’re limited to 140-character-or-less messages anyway, this is a great way to connect with readers on a personal level without giving up a huge chunk of time.

Many internet marketers use social media solely as a means of promoting their sites, products, and services. Although the occasional bit of promotion is fine, that’s not what social media is for. As mundane as it may sound, commenting on a reader’s tweet about what they had for breakfast can go a lot further toward developing a relationship than telling everyone about your latest product launch.

5) If you have the budget for it, don’t be afraid to use “snail mail”.

While electronic communication will go a long way toward helping you establish relationships with your readers, sending a birthday card or a simple “thank you for subscribing to my blog” note will have a dramatic impact on reader loyalty. Imagine going to the mailbox, expecting only a pile of bills, and finding a personal note from a blogger. It’s powerful because it’s unexpected, and because it shows that you value your readers enough to step away from the online world for a bit to let them know how important they are to you.

Building a relationship-based approach to blogging is often a time-consuming effort. It takes far more work to engage potential customers than it does to simply promote products and hope visitors buy from you. This is precisely why many “make money online” bloggers don’t do it – they don’t realize the rewards of investing in relationships, so they regard it as a waste of time.

For those of you who are willing to make the investment of time and effort, though, relationship building is the closest thing to a “sure bet” you’ll find in the internet marketing world.

Lee Rowley is the owner of Blogger’s Workshop, a resource for sharing tips, ideas, and inspiration to help people build successful, profitable blogs. He also co-owns Java Joint Media, a copywriting firm that provides website, blog, and print content for internet marketers, public speakers, consultants, and a variety of other professionals.


61 thoughts on “Breaking the Mold of “Make Money Online” Bloggers”

  1. One more point to consider, if you speak more than one language, then you can target niches that are far less competitive in other languages. I have a non-English make money online blog that makes me a nice income ๐Ÿ˜‰ SY

    1. Or if you don’t, hire someone who does and get your site in tons of languages… ๐Ÿ˜‰

      1. Also a possibility, I agree ๐Ÿ˜‰ SY

  2. Splendid tips Lee!

    Very well written and some great ideas there!

  3. As usual, excellent post John. I only recently launched my own blog (not in the “how to make money” niche though), and feel that at first it’s just important to find a target audience, people who like your style and opinions more than anything else. Writing a blog and immediately starting to throwing offers feels to me like a recipe for failure – it’s like going to the movies and only seeing ads when you expect something interesting.

    BTW, much of what you say is true for Twitter interaction as well. I find it frustrating that some people never respond to comments, and I’m not talking Gurus or people with 10s of thousands of followers. They probably don’t listen to others either. I usually unfollow those (why bother following them?).

  4. Erika Marie says:

    I think most people would be hesitant to give me their address for snail mail… but I agree with everything else!

    1. Hi Erika,

      It seems a bit odd, yes. If you check out Fabienne Fredrickson’s blog (www.clientattraction.com), though, this is one of the main techniques she uses to develop client relationships… she sends out a CD with an interview she did a while back. She hit $1 million in sales this year.

      I can see why many bloggers/internet marketers would be hesitant to try it, though.

      Lee

      1. I love the idea. It seems like it is more of a retention technique than a relationship building tactic though. Once you have someone’s attention, being personal with them will give them a stronger sense of loyalty. I used to do marketing for a Flooring Store in Dallas. We always sent a personalized thank you letter with before and after pictures we took. We got tons of referrals and property management companies were customers for life!

        1. Erika Marie says:

          I need to find something to offer aside from my blogs as incentive for such a thing… Everyone has e-books and various other pieces of advice. This is probably my main dilemma as it is. The whole niche thing… I’m not sure I fit into one.

    2. I too would be hesitant to give an address on my blog. Maybe a PO box, though, if I ever get big enough.

  5. Jon says:

    Responding to readers comments can be a HUGE pain, but it really does help them to feel like you are connected to them, and that will let them trust you more and all of your ramblings too. Have not tried the snail mail approach yet myself.

  6. Blogercise says:

    I do agree that it is hard to resist. I decided early on not to maintain a blog in this space but I still wanted to have my say and this is were the idea for blogercise came about. I liked the idea of writing up some points in a structured way which I could evolve and improve over time but without the need to maintain and push a blog.

    I have proved myself that it is possible to build up a big blog relatively quickly – but I do wonder if it is possible to do in the MMO world? I guess it is with the right angle.

  7. Wow! What a great guest post. The snail mail idea works really great compared to e-mail in the marketing I’ve done in the past, but like Erika said, I’m not so sure most people would give out their address so easily to some blogger until the relationship is already built.
    This is really great insight on how to build trust and relationships not just in blogging, but in any sort of marketing or sales. If the rest of his content as good as this point, i’ll be reading a lot of Blogger’s Workshop!

  8. aansa says:

    People are using all sorts of communication medium to connect and market their products including snail mail. However, it all depends on what you are selling or your niche to decide what will be best suited to build relationships.

  9. I wonder what the count of MMO blogs is these days, about 50 million?

  10. That was a really great post. I have had troubles making sales with this niche before in the past and have learned a lot from your blog and this post. I actually started seeing sales after I started implementing some of the methods you’ve mentioned in the past.

    Thanks again and I’ll definitely send traffic to this post!

  11. Doug Dillard says:

    Lee… this was a really well thought out post with great information. I actually have a business partner, so it allows us to run a few different blogs in different niches, and they all do pretty well.

    Of course I have a “making money online” blog as well that I opened a couple of months ago and have had tremendous success building relationships through commenting… doing exactly what you said.

  12. Affiliit says:

    If you are good at what you do, you can still make it ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. I see a lot of advice like this, and I’m really not sold on the idea that relationship-building is the way to go. I see too many people devoting all their energy to it for very little return.

    1. Young says:

      Yes, the content should be the King, the relationship should be the way to promote your content, no relationship will be workable if you have no great content to share.

      1. Unique content is also important for relationship building with big boss, Google ๐Ÿ™‚ If you have unique content and it updates regularly then Google will rank you well for more and more visitors.

    2. I’m no expert, but I think relationship building is more about retaining people who come to your page. You can’t build relationships without traffic. I agree that many people spend a lot of time relationship building without much return. I think (and correct me if I’m wrong) the key to relationship building is finding people who will help you build your blog. It IS a waste of time building a relationship with someone who comments “nice blog” and doesn’t get into the discussion; that person won’t promote your blog anyway. Seth Godin wrote an awesome article about “who is promoting you”… those are the people you really need a relationship with!

      1. True, you need traffic to build relationships, just like you need gas to drive a car. It’s what you do with the traffic that makes the difference.

        You’re right, building relationships with the right people will help blog growth. Since this post was already 1,300 words or so, though, I decided to focus on building relationships as a means of getting people to know/trust/like you well enough to buy from you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I love replying to my reader’s comments and visit their website. That way I get much more familiarized with what they represent and where they come from.

    Igor

  15. Thanks for sharing these nice ideas

  16. Thanks for this post. Thanks for sharing tips on how to maintain relationship to promote your blog. B loggers use various tactics or any kind of communication as well as electronic medium to market their product…..

  17. Thanks for this post. Thanks for sharing tips on how to maintain relationship to promote your blog. B loggers use various tactics or any kind of communication as well as electronic medium to market their product…..
    Sorry, forgot to add great post! Can’t wait to see your next post!

  18. There are millions of make money online blogs on the internet but new blogs about these niche are still being launched everyday. That can be the easiest way of running a home business by blogging. With today’s economic decline, it is relatively difficult to make a lot of money in blogs whose keywords have been saturated.

  19. This is a good article but I think that to be a successful blogger in this niche one has to make his or her blog(s) as active as possible. When visitors see that the blogs are constantly updated, they will visit them again the next time they log on to the internet.

  20. Amit Mehta says:

    “the most effective way to do this is by crafting your content and marketing strategies to be relationship-based, rather than sales-based.”

    Very true. After all, your readers don’t wake up and say, “I’d like to go visit a blog that will sell me something today”!

    That want to get something out of the relationship. Putting them first is the only way to make those sales.

  21. fas says:

    And I am sure many will open a Make Money Online Blog without even making a dime online because the gurus are doing it, everyone thinks they can. Their first venture should not be how to make money.

    1. That’s an excellent point. It has to do with credibility. I see a lot of people who have never made money online trying to tell other people how to do it. It doesn’t take readers long to figure out they’re blowing smoke.

      I made a ton of mistakes with my art and copywriting businesses in the early years, and I draw quite a bit of material from the things I learned. It’s important to back up theory with real world experience… again, it builds credibility.

  22. Recently in Affiliate Summit I saw that what is the meaning of personal relationship as every one want to cherish with John Chow and that remind me the benefit of attachment.

  23. Many thanks to John for posting this. I’ve enjoyed reading all of your comments.

    I should have mentioned that if you’re going to try the “snail mail” approach, you’re going to need to offer a pretty good freebie up front – a CD or DVD, perhaps. Not the easiest approach, but it takes your online business offline, and makes it more “real”. As I mentioned in the article, though, it’s not not the cheapest way to build relationships, so you’ll want to make sure you have the budget for it.

  24. Nathan says:

    Make Money Online is good niche. Is there still a good chance to earn money with a different niche or this is the best one?

    Nathan Bloggers Portal

  25. We can use Google adward keyword tool to find a niche market or our blog. It will help us to find something new which people are searching and we can make a blog on it. Don’t forget to search it through “Google trends” to see how the market is progressing of targeted product or service.

  26. Nice Tips,
    I mostly Keep My niche In mind and Blog about it ,i believe 1st point is very important as People like real things

  27. You could also become less of a general “make money online” blogger that promotes the same products as everybody else, and more of a super-specialist.

    If you are particularly good at building email lists, build a super niche blog. If you are very good at helping others optimize their site, build a blog about that. Whatever.

    That is one way to definitely stand out, become the super-specialist. Granted, you will not have tons of income streams coming in from various products, but the conversion rates of your recommendations are likely to be much higher!

  28. Josh says:

    There often seems to be the same irony in blogging as in late night no money down real estate infomercials. That is, you begin to suspect that the best way to make money is to be one of the people selling information about how to make money.

  29. DotCOMReport says:

    Great information! I agree about responding to comments. I like to know that the person I am taking the time to comment to actually cares enough about their readers to respond to questions and such.

  30. Allyn says:

    what’s funny about the “MMO” niche is that the guy who ranks number one for that term and several others runs it from an UGLY PLAIN FREE blogger blog. No one really knows who he is, just he goes by “Griz”
    Best part– he despises that social crap, ROFL but if you get involved on his blog, he is more social than any of you.
    Go ahead and try to outrank him, he would think that’s funny.
    The sad part about it is, every one of you who writes articles and posts about the “MMO niche” NEVER acknowledge him, ever. Why is that?

    1. Hi Allyn,

      Your comment intrigued me, so I did a bit of research. It appears the top ranking page for “make money online” is a page at entrepreneurs.about.com. The top ranking page for “MMO” is about World of Warcraft.

      Lee

      1. Oh, you’re talking about Alexa rankings. My mistake.

        1. Allyn says:

          no, I am talking about Griz. If he is not number one in your data center for the search “make money online” then he is number 2. he did that with a blogspot… that is impressive and never gets any props, sad. And his content makes this site look like a comic book, no kidding.
          (PS– make sure you are not logged into your google account when you search or you will get differing results, sure you know about google tracking your past usage)

  31. Benjamin Cip says:

    Snail Mail ? I wonder how many making money online blog will ask for real address information and send snail mail…. but it sure sounds interesting..

    1. Dean Saliba says:

      Does anyone still use snail mail these days for things other than parcels?

  32. Great article! It really does seem like in the saturated market of making money online those that put in the most effort rise to the top and those who make an average effort don’t ever see a return on their investment.

  33. EarningStep says:

    make money online is a popular keyword this time . eight from ten new blogger will choose this keyword so the war farm will be hottest than now

  34. videostar says:

    Now make money online is really the hottest and the most popular keyword but knows what happens to it in a year.

  35. Albert Fang says:

    I agree that the “make money online” niche is saturated, but in my own humble opinion, I tell marketers to aim high and get better longer lasting results. Although it may take more time to see progress, it is just that much rewarding when you rank closer to the first page.

  36. doruman says:

    It`s an article well thought wroted. It`s readable with quality content and the author used few SEO tricks, quotation marks or bold for desired heywords, bold titles, h3 element, nofollow attribute for hyperlinks inserted. The author could obtain a well clasification in searches for the three so popular desired keywords.

  37. Since the “make money online” is so saturated another area that must not be overlooked is design and blog style.

    Not everyone can be a designer or have money to hire one, but creating a nicely organized blog design can go along way. It helps readers find information easily and adds to the bloggers credibility.

    I can’t count how many times I have been turned off by crappy looking sites that i can’t navigate. It’s my pet peeve, but that’s probably just the designer side talking. lol

  38. videostar says:

    Webdesign as design in everything must attract visitors,decorate the place where the action takes place,create the atmosphere of success.But that process is long,takes much time and efforts.So many people want to be and stay in that niche but just few can.

  39. Mathdelane says:

    All the points here are pretty clear and concise, well done. While I certainly agree that responding to reader’s comments is good, for me, it’s more than just an act of politeness. However, to visit readersโ€™ blogs are maybe too much to ask especially for some “pro-bloggers” who are busy making money and flaunting their successes online. I wonder how many profiled bloggers do that. What do you think?

    If I may add, bloggers must know how to reciprocate and appreciate because that is how most online relationships are built and also considering that offline relationships are first built by overcoming the barriers of communication.

  40. You offer some sage advice here, John, and I especially liked the idea of actually sending a birthday card or a thank you note. Building relationships and winning people over is what it is all about. Dale Carnegie’s classic book – How to win friends and influence people, springs to mind.

  41. it would be a lot easier if you would put some heart on what you are writing. that is putting some of your personality on it. that’s why, these “building a relationship” tips are really useful for everyone in the blogging field. i am actually have one blog for myself and it is a bit difficult if what i am writing is what i haven’t even heard about or things that i am not familiar with. so just like what the author have said, start to look inside the heart. and everything will just go on right.

  42. I agree that if you want to promote products, promote something that you yourself like. Establish trust and reputation. Nice post.

  43. Responding to readers comments can be a HUGE pain, but it really does help them to feel like you are connected to them, and that will let them trust you more and all of your ramblings too. Have not tried the snail mail approach yet myself.

    1. And it helps to build your blog community ๐Ÿ˜‰ SY

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