Problogging without the bullshit

Posted January 26th, 2010 by Michael Janzen and filed in Blogging

There are a ton of articles on how to blog for fun and profit and you could spend a lifetime reading all the articles on ProBlogger and you’d still be left asking the question… so how do I make a living as a blogger? This is my attempt to put it all in one article.

Traits of a ProBlogger

Prey Drive – Prey drive is the ability to relentlessly chase a goal until exhaustion overcomes you and you pass-out or die. This term usually refers to dogs.

Authentic – Since fake is easy to spot, be yourself, be real, and be honest. Using your real full name is entirely up to you but I figure book authors do it so why shouldn’t I?

Social – Blogging is about sharing. Don’t be an online recluse, connect with everyone including other bloggers.

Does Real Things – When you tell real stories about real things you are doing or have done it makes a much bigger impact. Turn off your computer, do something real, and blog about it later. Photo and video evidence is essential.

Collaborative – Be sure to make your social network of bloggers your friends and collaborators. Send each other traffic. Churn the traffic. Traffic is not a limited commodity. Bloggers are not competitors they’re symbiants.

Embrace Openness – Avoid adopting old-school business models of hording information. Share information and ideas freely. Monetize the traffic and flow not the bulk of the information itself. Eventually once you’re established you’ll be able to monetize some of the information in the form of ebooks, print books, DVDs, etc.

Consistent – Write/Post all the time even if it is a one sentence post with a good photo. The trick is not to give up and keep writing regularly. The more good stuff you write the faster you’ll achieve your goals.

Proactive – Put yourself out there and don’t wait, start writing immediately. We make our own opportunities so keep at it no matter how bad your traffic is in the beginning.

Patient – Getting rich blogging doesn’t really happen. Blogging will create new opportunities on all sides of your life that you never had before. The trick to to see opportunities when they surface and grab hold.

Prepare Yourself to Blog

Find a Topic – Go somewhere quiet without distractions and take some time to reflect on the things you are most passionate about. The more specific you are the better. Make a short list. These should be the building blocks to uncovering the best focused topics for you. When you choose a topic that is too wide you’ll often find yourself competing with the largest online publishers. When you choose a focused topic you’ll often fill a void and stand out in a crowd. If the topic is also your passion you will be able to stay focused.

Focus on Quality Content Generation – Spend 90% of your time writing and posting original content (video and photos). Keep most of it on your blog because that will churn your traffic. Do not worry about monetizing your blog in the beginning. Focus on building your content.

Generate Quality Traffic -  Spend 10% of your time on networking and driving quality traffic to your blog. Never use tricks to generate traffic because it’s not ethical and never generates quality traffic. Most of the traffic will come through search engines so writing content is really the very best thing you can do to bring people to your website. Traffic is the most important thing after content to generate because it will become the foundation of everything you monetize in the future. The more traffic you can generate the more money you will make in the long run.

Brand Your Persona – Instead of just picking a theme for your blog that looks cool, help your blog represent the aspect of your personality you want to project. This is why I made my theme Basic Simplicity so easy to edit. I wanted my different blogs to have different brands while still sharing the same code base.

How To Step-By-Step

Get a blog – I prefer self-hosted WordPress blogs. That just means you’ve downloaded a copy of the WordPress blog software and installed it on a web host. Many web hosts make it easy to setup WordPress blogs. I think it’s a farily safe bet to go with one of the web hosting companies listed on the WordPress website. But the truth is that there is no perfect web host, they are all flawed, so pick your poison.

Pick a Simple Theme – The theme I use is Basic Simplicity. It’s easy to customize and very simple. No matter which theme you choose I highly recommend one that is easy to read and has only two columns. In the future you might want to load up your blog with ads but in the beginning it should be mostly about the content to build readership.

Write – Take your time and do a good job. Be sure your photos and videos are adjusted the width of the content column. In Basic Simplicity 600px is a good width for images spanning the full width of the main column. Edit the standard width of images in Settings > Media. Unfortunately WordPress doesn’t retroactively change the width of existing images. If you have old posts you’ll need to upload new images for WordPress to change the width for you.

Increase Networking Activities – Once you have something to show spend more time putting yourself out there. I like Twitter and FaceBook best, but it really depends on your focused topic. Setting up a FaceBook fan page for my main Tiny House Design blog has been a great way to meet new people and grow readership.

Begin Monetizing with Pay-Per-Click Ads – I prefer Google Adsense but I suppose any pay-per-click (PPC) ad network would work. The best places to insert ads is above the fold and to the right and below content. Ads tend to do better is they look like content so adjust the fonts and colors to match the blog’s theme. Borders and sharp background color transitions also tend to stop eyes from wandering around the page which can reduce ad revenue. However you setup your ads be sure to give each a different channel name so you can track performance. The main benefit of PPC for new bloggers is that it’s easy to start making a little money fast, enough to cover your costs. Oh… and never never never click your own ads. Click fraud will get you banned from an ad program faster than you can say spam.

Monetize with Affiliates – Affiliate ads pay you a commission when people buy things advertised on your blog. The trouble with them is that unless they advertise things that are highly contextual to your content you may never see any real revenue. Be careful to pick the best match for your site before spending any effort setting up affiliate ads.

Monetize with Ad Networks – Once your traffic is over 100,000 page views per month you begin to enter a world where you can sell your page impressions. Instead of being paid for each click you get paid for each page view. This type of advertising is priced in dollars per thousand impressions (CPM). For example if your blog gets 100,000 page views (100 CPM) and you put an ad on your site that pays $5 CPM you will earn $500 from that ad in a month. The trouble is finding an ad network with consistent ad inventory and fair pricing.

Monetize with Paid Content – This is the best way I’ve found to monetize blogging. Once you have a strong readership and you’ve established yourself as the trusted and valued expert that you are… you should start producing original content that people can buy. I began with an ebook and tiny house plans. In the future I plan to write some books and publish some DVDs that show how to design and build a tiny houses. My blogs offer a ton of free content, which builds traffic and trust, but the direct sales of quality content will has become my primary money maker.


I think the best advice I have for bloggers is to focus on the work and not the money. If people like what you do and say the money will come. Focusing on the money will only distract you from spending time turning your experience and knowledge into something other people can use, quality original content.

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