80% of success is due to psychology—mindset, beliefs, and emotions—and only 20% is due to strategy—the specific steps needed to accomplish a result.
– Tony Robbins
I really thought I was inventing an entirely new philosophy and theory, but it turns out that Tony Robbins already did it in this one-liner.
This quote is exactly what I’ve been saying for the last year, and what I want to talk about in this post…
There are two reasons why your blog isn’t making money – and that’s it.
- Reason #1: you have a mindset problem (80% of people).
- Reason #2: you have a tactical problem (the other 20% of people).
The bigger problem is that everyone thinks they have a tactical problem, when in reality 8 out of 10 people have a mindset problem.
I’ve made over $60k this year from my blog (at just six months into the year) – last year I made $45k for the whole year.
I’m sharing this with you so that you know it’s possible to make money blogging.
When I started blogging, I had both a mindset problem and a tactical problem.
Once I solved my mindset problem, the right teacher appeared for the tactical problem to be solved (they say “the teacher appears when the student is ready” and I truly believe that). I cleaned up my mind, then I started learning the right strategies and everything clicked.
You can’t solve the tactical problems until you have the mindset problems fixed.
I’ll go through each problem in this post, including examples from my audience to show you what each problem looks like.
Reason #1: Mindset Problem
Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development.
– Jim Rohn
Having a mindset problem means the problem is how you’re thinking – it’s in your head.
Examples of mindset problems:
- Fear of the unknown
- Fear of failure
- Making excuses
- Having the victim mentality (aka blame game)
- Having a scarcity mindset
Let’s look at examples from my readers. I love my readers so much, and I find that using examples is super helpful for everyone.
Here are a few example of what having a mindset problem looks like…
Reader #1: fear of failure
This reader commented in my Facebook Group that she’s afraid of it not working out financially.
Fear is normal. This is just your brain trying to protect you from the unknown. Your primitive brain – the cerebellum – is always trying to avoid pain, seek pleasure, and be as efficient as possible (this is known as the motivational triad). It likes to repeat the past because it knows you stayed alive by doing what you’ve done before. When you want to do something new, your brain goes into fight or flight mode. It’s just trying to keep you safe and alive. Historically, this has kept humans alive. It helped us evolve. However, it’s not so useful for modern times.
Your brain doesn’t know you don’t need protected from your goals and your future.
This is great to know because it means you don’t need to make fear and doubt mean anything. They don’t mean stop. They don’t mean slow down. They don’t mean something has gone wrong. All they mean is that your brain is trying to protect you and keep you alive.
For me, knowing that any time I try something new my brain is going to freak is helpful. I expect it. And I sort of have a pep talk with my brain where I say “I see you brain – I know what you’re doing. This isn’t useful and isn’t going to stop me.” This way, I acknowledge the fear or doubt (I don’t avoid it), but I don’t let it change my decision.
I wrote about all the fear I had leading up to quitting my job – it was crazy!
If you want to create new results in your future, you have to be willing to experience doubt and fear. It’s how we’re wired as humans and if you won’t experience those emotions to design a new future, you will continue to repeat the past.
The truth is that there’s no way to know if your investment is going to work out financially for blogging. All you can do is decide, commit, and take action until you get the results you want. Usually, this is more than enough.
Reader #2: scarcity mindset, I don’t know, and the technician
Let’s take a look at this reader’s mindset, which is stuck in scarcity…
This reader says she’s not good at computers, she’s tried this for over 10 years, and she’s always out of work and laid off. She also wants to turn her love of writing into a job.
When you decide that you are going to be a certain way, you will be that way. If you decide you’re going to be bad at technology, then you will be.
Alternatively, you could say “I haven’t been good at technology in the past, but I’m learning and trying.” You could spend one hour every day watching YouTube videos and reading tutorials. Trying and implementing things.
Here’s a blogging secret: you don’t need to be good at technology.
You need to have an abundant mindset and take action.
This reader is stuck in scarcity. She’s thinks that her life is happening to her and not for her. When you live like this, you don’t take action. You stay stuck.
I love the Wayne Dyer quote, “You are not stuck unless you decide to be.”
You can take action and change your future if you want to.
“I don’t know” is one of the biggest dream killers. When you say you don’t know something, you’re giving yourself permission to sit and not take action. This keeps you stuck. You don’t get results.
One way to overcome this is to put a rule (aka constraint) in your life that you won’t let yourself indulge in “I don’t know.” If you think you don’t know, do a little research and try something – anything. If it doesn’t work, then try something else. Always keep moving forward to figure it out.
The finally part of this reader’s comment is that she thinks her love of writing means she can make money blogging.
You don’t make money blogging as a writer.
From the book The E Myth, I learned that there’s the entrepreneur and the technician in any business.
The technician is the person who practices a skill in the business. The entrepreneur is the person who sells the skills, and therefore makes the money.
Another way to put it is how Russell Brunson says “you don’t make money from the thing. You make money from the selling of the thing.”
You don’t make money writing when you’re a blogger. Writing is what you do as the technician. Marketing and selling that writing is how you make the money. This is more of a technical problem that could be addressed after the mindset is cleaned up, but it’s worth mentioning here because it’s in her email, so I couldn’t resist!
This sweet reader from above is a perfect example of a mindset problem that can be cleaned up with the right personal development work.
Reader #3: fear of the unknown
This reader is another fear mindset issue – this time is fear of taking risks. He says he has a long way to go in his career and doesn’t want to mess it up. He’s afraid that blogging isn’t sustainable.
At the heart of this is the thinking that having a secure job that takes care of you is a good thing.
It’s worth mentioning that this type of security is a bit of an illusion. You can still get fired, laid off, become disabled, or lose your job for another reason. Security isn’t real. It just feels comforting and we, as humans, like comfort.
But obviously, there is a different sort of risk associated with entrepreneurship. That’s why entrepreneurs can earn so much money – they have to risk a lot, too.
There is no certainty with starting a business. Most businesses fail. But that has nothing to do with blogging being sustainable – that’s just business.
You don’t make money blogging. You make money from running a business. Blogging may change over time, but business is here to stay.
Looking for certainty feels like a worthy cause, but in reality, it’s not as rewarding as seeking alignment with your purpose.
When you’re totally aligned and on fire with what you’re doing for work in your life, you don’t think about security – you think about how you can provide value to the world. It’s a completely different value system. You’re not concerned with protecting yourself. You’re concerned with serving others. This is where the magic happens. 🙂
When you shift your mindset from acting out of fear to one where you act from a place of abundance, you feel better and get better results in your life, despite having less security.
The truth is that it’s riskier to start a business, but if it’s what you want to do to serve the world, it’s worth it. If you want to serve through a government job, then do that. But know your reason for choosing your job and like it. Don’t choose your job based on security. Choose your job because that’s how you want to serve the world.
Reader #4: victim mindset
This reader calls me lucky for having had so much student loan debt that I “had” something to blog about.
I had to step away before replying to this email because I was so taken back.
This reader is looking at my life from the outside and making it seem like it’s better than hers – like it’s a better set up for starting a blog and turning it into a full time job. But that’s not true. This is just the meaning she’s attaching to my story. She can do the same thing with her story if she wants to.
You can make your past, your current circumstances, and your future mean whatever you want.
There is opportunity everywhere. For you, for me, for everyone who wants it.
The truth about business is that you want to go into a hot market. That’s a must. She says that this is a reason she can’t make money blogging, but that’s wrong. The opposite is true. She just has to find the right angle in that market. Rule #1 of biz is go into a hot market.
She also mentions one of my curse words – dabbling.
You can’t be really successful at anything if you dabble. To be successful, you have to choose one thing and go deep. You have to commit. You have to go all in. If it doesn’t work out, quit. Then, do something else. Whatever you do, do it all the way – never dabble.
When you say to yourself you don’t know how to do something, you give yourself permission not to act. This feels safe. Your brain loves it because it keeps you doing the same things you’ve always done.
The truth is this reader does know how to start – she’s just scared. There are a bajillion tutorials out there about how to start a blog, including mine. It’s not hard to figure out. It’s just new and unknown and therefore, scary.
It’s okay to be scared. You just have to feel the fear and do it anyways (as they say).
When you feel like your life is happening to you and you allow yourself to dabble, you won’t take action and therefore, you won’t get results.
Want new results in your future? Take action right now. Even if it’s small. Do it. Do it without being certain. Do it scared. Then, do more tomorrow.
Final thoughts about having a mindset problem…
These examples are from the last month. I didn’t have to look back far to find them. I get these emails all the time.
And I love these people. These are my people. There’s nothing wrong with them. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not damaged in some way. It’s just programmed thinking that needs to be cleaned up. It’s a mindset issue that won’t be solved with anything other than personal development work.
When you try to solve a mindset problem with a tactical problem, you lose 100% of the time.
What I recommended to these readers, and what I recommend to anyone with a mindset problem, is that they do the mindset work first – not the blogging work.
The biggest problem is not identifying it as a mindset problem. That’s why I’m including these examples. I want to help you recognize what a mindset problem looks like.
I used to have a mindset problem, too. I doubted myself. I wanted security. I felt like my life was happening to me instead of for me. Then, I dove into personal development. I immersed myself in it. It wasn’t overnight, but over time, I completely changed my entire mindset.
After I fixed my mindset, everything in my world shifted for the better. I am truly living exactly how I want to. I’m happier, healthier, and have more success than I ever could’ve imagined, and I know the best is yet to come.
Some people are just naturally gifted with having an abundant mindset – whether it’s from their upbringing or their own teachings.
How lucky are they?!
For the rest of us, thankfully we can all learn how to improve our mindsets first so that we’re ready for what’s next for us in life.
Actions to take if you have a mindset problem…
- Recognize you have a mindset problem
- Start thinking about how you’re thinking — pay attention to your mind
- Immerse yourself in personal development
- Take 7 Days to Design Your Dream Life Free Training (my free email course)
- Read How To Improve Your Mindset (blog post)
- Read The Best Personal Development Books I Recommend
- Listen to podcasts – here are my favorite personal development podcasts
- Take Design Your Dream Life Academy (my personal development course)
Once you have your mindset right, you’re ready to address tactical problems. 🙂
Reason #2: Tactical Problem
Steve Jobs understood Apple is not in the business of iPhones – Apple is in the business of selling iPhones.
– Every successful entrepreneur
If you’re in the 20% of people who has a tactical problem – not a mindset problem – this is great news.
Tactical problems are pretty easy to fix, especially in business.
You just need to find someone doing what you want to be doing and figure out what they did, then do that in your business.
The end. 🙂
Okay, but really, it is that simple.
For example, when people ask me how I became a six figure blogger, I say I sell information products on my blog, and a great course to take to start is Six Figure Blogger. This is the course I took and how I got to the six figure status.
- If you have a mindset problem, you will come up with a bajillion reasons (excuses!) why you can’t take this course – time, money, you’re scared, you’re afraid, your circumstances won’t allow for that, etc.
- If you have a tactical problem, you will take Six Figure Blogger, implement everything in it, and also become a six figure blogger. It sounds simple because it is. Will there be ups and downs along the way? Of course. Will it be perfect? No. Building a business is super challenging. But that’s what you sign up for when you’re an entrepreneur.
Having a tactical problem is the best place to be in because, while it’s challenging to build a business, it’s much easier than fixing your mindset.
Examples of tactical problems:
- Focusing on popularity – not on profitability
- No monetization strategy
- Focusing on being the technician – not the entrepreneur
- Taking passive action instead of massive action (consuming instead of implementing)
Russell Brunson says that $0 to $1M in your business is figuring out the what and the how – what are you selling and how are you selling it.
This is such a simple concept that I have found to be 100% true in my own business and when I’m coaching clients.
Let’s look at examples from my readers…
Reader #1: focusing on popularity not profitability
One of my awesome Facebook group members posted what she is focusing on with her blog.
She listed many social media growth metrics she’s tracking and one affiliate sale she’d like to make.
It may be hard to see the mistake here, but I want to point it out because there’s often so much going on with blogging that it takes most bloggers 10x as long to make money blogging than it should (speaking from experience!).
For this convo, it looks like the blogger is focused on becoming popular and maybe making money. She lists growing her Twitter following at the top of the list as well as guest posting. Later, after I ask her what her strategy is, she says that it’s affiliate marketing.
This is where the mistake is.
If your goal is to make money from your blog with affiliate marketing, you need to have a plan to do it. And the right plan.
My friends Alex and Lauren make over $100k per month blogging and don’t have a Twitter account.
Twitter is good for networking in your industry. It’s great to connect with people on, and it’s useful to have an account so people can find you if that’s where you are, but it’s not a monetization strategy.
If you want to become an influencer and make money through sponsorships, then you need to focus on growing your brand, primarily, and focus on influencer marketing. This is completely different than an affiliate marketing strategy.
You can see from her last comment that she wants to focus on affiliate marketing.
There’s nothing wrong with what this person is doing on the face of it. As bloggers, we all want to grow our platforms and our income.
It’s just that each takes a completely different strategy. If you focus on doing both at once, you’ll have to dabble (and remember – no dabbling!).
If your primary goal is to build a profitable business through your blog, the sooner you focus on a specific monetization strategy for your business, the faster you’ll get there. Then, the social growth can be secondary.
I know this personally because I did exactly what she’s doing. I used to have a book where I wrote down my follower count every week. My monetization strategy was to write blog posts and include affiliate links in them. I was putting out content and holding my breath hoping I’d “grow” and “make money” without a real monetization strategy. This is not how you make money blogging.
You have to figure out what you’re selling and how you’re selling it. Once you have a specific monetization strategy in place, switch over to the influencer stuff. Of course, you can focus on the influencer stuff first, but then don’t have the expectation of making money from affiliate marketing. The problem is when you try to focus on too many things at once.
One caveat I want to mention… I’m not saying you shouldn’t focus on Pinterest or grow your traffic (something she lists). Traffic is definitely part of monetizing your blog (and I highly recommend Pinterest Traffic Avalanche, while we’re talking about it). But email marketing, creating and selling products, and increasing traffic are the components that really matter. Measuring your Twitter followers does not matter 1% for monetizing a website. I’m inferring based on how she listed what she did that she’s focused on general “growth” in the same way I was a couple years ago, which doesn’t lead to turning your blog into a six figure business.
If I had the goal of monetizing through affiliate marketing (like this reader says), I would focus solely on affiliate marketing and make sure my monthly goals aligned only with that goal. I would still post on social media, but I wouldn’t focus on having specific growth goals for it. I would take Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing and Six Figure Blogger. I would implement everything in those courses. I would work on email marketing, funnels, what affiliate products to sell and how to sell them. I would ditch Twitter and guest posting for now. I would immerse myself in becoming the best affiliate marketer possible.
Reader #2: no monetization strategy
Another awesome reader posted in my Facebook group she wants to quit her job to blog full time in the next year (she just started her blog). Immediately, this means she needs a strategy for bringing in cash – fast.
She goes on to say all the tactics she’s focusing on to get her blog up and running.
When I ask her what her overall strategy is for making money in her business, she doesn’t know. She said she’s going to put Amazon affiliate links in her posts and sign up for Google Ads. That’s about the extent of her monetization strategy.
The interesting thing about this is that she knows exactly what her end goal is – to turn her blog into her full time gig. She knows this means she needs to make money from her blog but has no plan. So, she has clarity of her goal, but she doesn’t have a plan.
That’s it. It’s that simple.
Everything else is noise. She needs a plan to bring in cash.
Blogs don’t make money businesses do.
To make money blogging, you have to turn your blog into a business. And you need a plan for how your business makes money.
There are many different monetization strategies – selling information products, affiliate marketing, sponsorships, coaching, freelance writing, virtual assistant work, etc.
Each strategy takes time, energy, and money. Each has different pros and cons. Each is doable. But you have to choose, and you have to implement specific tactics to make each work. Even when you do this, there will be failures along the way. That’s just part of the deal – in business and in life.
Without choosing one strategy, you’re dabbling in many (and remember what I said about dabbling above – it’s the enemy of success!). You won’t scale your income this way.
My opinion for choosing a monetization strategy is this…
The fastest way to make money online is offering services, like freelance writing, coaching, or virtual assistant work. The downside is it’s not passive and not scalable because you’re trading your services for pay (as the technician).
The next best way is through creating and selling your own digital products. This is totally scalable and passive once the products are created. You can combine this strategy with an affiliate marketing strategy, which works really well.
At the heart of any business making money is choosing who you want to serve and what value you want to provide in exchange for money. No one is paying you for writing blog posts on your blog.
So, what should you do? I suggest you do a little research and make a decision about how to monetize your blog. Then, create a plan and go all in with that strategy. If you fail (and the market will tell you if you’re failing), you’ll be able to make changes and move forward with a different strategy. Eventually, you’ll succeed this way because you’ll constantly create new plans and take action.
Without a plan for monetizing your blog, you’re not going to be successful.
It took me 3.5 years before I hit six figure blogger status. Alex and Lauren, on the other hand, started making six figures per month within 3 years. The difference is that they had a specific monetization strategy faster than I did, among other things. It wasn’t until 2.5 years into blogging that I realized this.
If I was doing it over and starting a blog right now with the intention of making it my full time gig within one year, I would focus on creating digital products to sell on my blog, then I would focus on how to sell them (traffic, email marketing, funnels, etc.).
Actions to take if you have a tactical problem…
- Stop focusing on honing your craft as the technician in your biz.
- Start focusing on being the entrepreneur and creating a plan for making money.
- Be able to answer the questions: 1) what are you selling, and 2) how are you selling it.
- Put a constraint in your life that you learn 1 and implement 1. Take 1 course, then implement every single thing from that course before taking another course. This will ensure you’re implementing and not just learning (passive vs massive action).
- Take Six Figure Blogger (if you want to monetize with your own information products).
- Listen to podcasts – here are my favorite podcasts for making money online
- Read How To Start A Profitable Blog If You Work Full Time
- Read How I Made $5K in 5 Days Blogging
- Read and save The Ultimate Guide To Blogging
- Read How I Made $45k Blogging In 1 Year While Working Full Time
The biggest challenge with having a tactical problem isn’t finding a solution. The biggest problem with having a tactical problem is noise. There is soooo much noise out there that is really going to mess you up if you let it into your space. Instead, you need to have one end goal, then create a specific, measurable plan to take to get there. Put ear muffs on for everything else!
A Final Note!
By now you probably know that there are only *2* problems you can have if you’re not making money blogging, and they are…
I know this because I went through them both. I had a mindset problem. I had doubt. I had fear. I had excuses. I took a million years to take action.
I changed it and as soon as I did, I could focus on tactics (fyi people always ask how I did this and that’s basically what I teach in Design Your Dream Life Academy, which is my personal development course)
The tactical part of business is not as hard as it looks. Like any career, you have to put in time, energy, and money. You have to try different strategies and rework what doesn’t work. The good news is there are so many people you can learn from.
We go to school, college, and then more college (sometimes for 4, 8, and 12 years) before starting a career and making over six figures.
For some reason, we think business is different. It’s not. There are going to be ups and downs and it’s going to take time.
But it’s 100% worth it.
Cheers to making money blogging!