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The Best Way to Make Money Online

June 18th, 2008 by Bob Bly

A friend, AF, wants to make money in his spare-time on the Internet.

He asked me about making money with a blog. I told him: “Forget it.”

Instead, I recommended to AF that he do what I do: sell how-to information products online.

(The method I used is explained on my site

It has certainly worked out well for me.

I earn a six-figure income online “working” only a few hours a week.

But now that I think about it, maybe I didn’t give AF the right advice.

It’s my feeling that other than the occasional blogger who gets a lucky break — e.g., a book deal, a huge following, or makes money speaking and consulting — most bloggers make little or no money from their blogs.

Am I wrong?

If I am … and you are a blogger who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in your spare time blogging … can you let me (and AF) know what you did and how you did it?

After all, he could use the extra income (who couldn’t?) and I would hate for him to miss out on an opportunity for blogging profits because of my advice.

Can bloggers get rich online from blogging? What say you?


This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 18th, 2008 at 10:31 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

71 responses about “The Best Way to Make Money Online”

  1. ElizabethAdamsDirect said:

    Hello, Bob …

    Here’s Dr. Evoy’s spin on this question:

    Regards, Elizabeth …


  2. Joel Heffner said:

    It’s probably just as easy or difficult to make money online through a blog as it is selling information products like yours. The key to BOTH is the ability to create a following/list of loyal listeners. That’s the hard part! 🙂

  3. ElizabethAdamsDirect said:

    Hello, Joel …

    Yes, I’m inclined to agree with you.

    There’s always a “story behind the story” for the “poster persons” of blogging or ebooking.

    Most people just starting out cannot even begin to approximate the knowledge base, skill set and resource list of the blogging or ebooking “gurus” … and it’s cruelly misleading to suggest to them that they can.

    They would be much better off building a theme-based, content-rich website with a wide platform of thousands of related “long-tail” keywords that will attract visitors naturally and enable them to “monetize” easily.

    The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More — Chris Anderson, Editor of “WIRED”

    With such a site already built and attracting lots of visitors, it’s easy enough to add ebooks or blog posts, if that’s what you want to do.

    Regards, Elizabeth …


  4. Bob Bly said:

    Elizabeth: Thanks for the Evoy link. What he says makes sense to me: blogging is an ancillary or supplemental tool, not the primary method, of making money online. Everyone reading this post should click on the Evoy link Elizabeth provided in comment #1 above.

  5. Craig Hysell said:

    Bob and Elizabeth: Blogging as a supplemental tool makes absolute sense.

    Bob: I wonder how many leads you generate toward all your other products (such as using this blog.

    I know I’ve been driven to tons of great information both from you and from other people (some of which I pay for) off blog discussions on this site. But I’ve only been driven to this blog because I read one of your books years ago.

    You’ve created permission. This blog sustains and perpetuates it. Does a blog do that just as much as a well written direct mail piece, newsletter, book or website? Or better? And cheaper?

    What comes first, the chicken or the egg? 🙂

  6. Bob Bly said:

    Craig: If you cannot measure something precisely, you have no idea of how much money it is making for you. That does not mean it is not making money for you. It just means you don’t know how much.

    I cannot measure sales generated by my blog, so I cannot say whether it is worth my time. I CAN measure to the dollar the revenues generated by every e-mail marketing campaign I sent to my online subscriber list. So I can tell you with authority that this “interruption marketing” technique generates a huge ROI for me — more than enough to support me and my family in style.

    Is blogging worth the time I put into it? Can’t mesaure it. So can’t say. However, I will keep doing it as long as people read it, because I enjoy it and it has other benefits.

  7. ElizabethAdamsDirect said:

    Hello, Bob …

    You’re surely welcome.

    You — and especially your friend — might be interested in something else that Dr. Evoy recommends, an ebook by Sharon Odom Fling …

    “How to Promote Your Local Business on the Internet”

    Together with Chris Anderson’s book on long-tail keywords, Sharon Fling’s book on local businesses is one of the very, very few books Ken does recommend.

    Sharon worked for Disney before she struck off on her own, and her knowledge of local small business + Chris’ concept of the long-tail keyword + Ken’s knowledge of what it takes to make a successful website … well, that’s an awesome triumvirate that will guide your friend straight and true toward his goal of a spare-time online income.

    Sharon’s site is

    If you join her list, you’ll get her “101 Ways to Promote Your Business for Maximum Profits” … an excellent reference to print out and keep handy and start implementing.

    Her book can be found at

    If you buy her book, you’ll also get her “Click and Mortar” case studies. They’re inspiring and stimulating and bound to spark so many ideas in your friend’s mind that next he’ll be asking you to help him decide which one he should pick to pursue first!

    Warmest Regards …



  8. ElizabethAdamsDirect said:

    Question: If you’re sending an offer by email to people who have indicated they want to receive messages from you, then isn’t that “permission marketing”?

    Something like a telephone solicitation would be “interruption marketing,” right?

    But an email — something that can be read by choice at any time — that would be permission.

    Until the subscriber gets tired of sales pitches and unsubscribes, at any rate.

    Or — as I do — creates a rule in OutLook to automatically route that promoter’s messages to a folder called “Possibly Maybe Look At Someday!”


  9. Jonathan Fields said:

    Okay, it seems I’m paying the contrarian lately, but knowing a handful of blogger friends who make nice six-figure livings, my thought is “yes,” you can generate some nice income from a blog in one of two ways.

    1 – write an educational/review driven blog in an niche where readers are also known as consumers who make regular purchases of the higher ticket, emotionally tied items and culture you write about. Darren Rowse, who is widely known as the ProBlogger guy, actually makes the far bigger chunk of his living through affiliate links on his digital photography blog in this way.

    2 – Use your blog as a platform to build and constantly warm your list in a niche that you anticipate being able to sell a complimentary product into down the road. Copyblogger’s Brian Clark did this beautifully, growing his blog, then launching his Teaching Sells membership site into that list and enrolling thousands.

    Another thing, blogging builds authority and reputation and opens doors to relationships with other bloggers and potential JV partners, there’s a lot of value in that.

    BUT, in the end, if making the greatest amount of money in the shortest amount of time is the a guiding force, I think you’re right, Bob, there are faster ways to go about it.

  10. Bob Bly said:

    Elizabeth: Yes, my e-mails are all sent to a permission-based opt-in list. However, some die-hard new media gurus consider ANY e-mail promotion interruption marketing. Of course, if they do, they should consider RSS feeds interruption marketing, too! To me, neither are.

  11. ElizabethAdamsDirect said:

    Hello, Jonathan …

    Darren Rowse and Brian Clark are, first and foremost, very competent marketers and reasonably good copywriters.

    What I mean is, they already know what people want to buy and how to sell it to them.

    They could probably pull down six figures — and undoubtedly have — using just about any online format you can think of.

    They’ve “paid their dues,” I’m sure … worked and studied hard to get where they are today. For all I know, they may even have paid a coach or a mentor to give them a leg up the ladder of success in their chosen field.

    As models for anyone who has a mad, passionate desire to be a celebrity blogger, they’d be a hard act to follow.

    But for all the rest of us who have families to feed and mortages to pay and jobs that are threatened with “downsizing,” a blog is not the best place to begin. Not in my opinion, anyway.

    And that goes double — maybe triple — for anyone who knows zip nada zilch about marketing and advertising and copywriting and webmastering and all the *other* skills that go into the making of a financially-successful blog.

    What’s more, the same thing goes — in my view — for what’s commonly called “affiliate marketing” … for leading people to think that they can make a whole bunch of money selling other people’s products.

    Yes, you can make money blogging.

    Yes, you can make money selling other people’s products.

    These statements are true enough as far as they go, but the trouble with them is that they don’t go far enough. They don’t tell you the rest of the stuff you need to know in order to make them “whole” truths instead of half truths.

    And who in their right mind would base a *business* decision on a half truth, if they knew it to be such?

    Having said that, let me say this:

    A 14-year-old girl built a website about a place where her family vacationed. She worked on it about an hour a week, as school was her main priority. She “monetized” it with AdSense and other pay-per-action models and became, in effect, a lead generator for many types of businesses in the vicinity.

    She’s grown up a bit more, now, but her website is as enchanting as ever, if not more so, and it’s paying her way through life and higher education and taking her wherever she wants to go.

    If *she* can do it, *we* can do it.

    We just have to dust all these half truths out of our heads and get down to the whole truth and start creating unique content about something we know and love on a hosting platform that has the distinction of having more websites in the top 3% of all websites on the internet than any other host on the planet: Dr. Evoy’s “SiteBuildIt!”

    A perfect example is

    Another is

    Warmest Regards …


    P.S. For a roster of other sites built on this platform that have the distinction of being in the top 1% of all sites on the internet, see


  12. ElizabethAdamsDirect said:

    Well, Bob, the “new media gurus” you speak of are probably students of Seth Godin. I seem to recall him taking the position that there’s a revolution every 50 years or so, that we’re in the middle of one now, and that if you think you can “buy” attention whenever you want to, you’ll eventually have another think coming, because the new currency of the new social landscape is permission for *relevant messages*, and that this is either a huge problem or a huge opportunity, depending on where you sit.

    Fewer and fewer people these days are reading paper newspapers or listening to radio or watching TV or even — horror of horrors — looking at their email.

    More and more, they’re hanging out online “behind closed doors” with their peers, in one form or another, because they trust their peers more than the so-called “experts.”

    And they’re sorting their regular mail over a wastebasket, which I’m sure you already know.

    So the question is eventually going to be this:

    How can we as marketers get into these inner sanctums?

    And the answer is, basically, by being invited.

    So just as we have mastered the art of getting ourselves invited into prospects’ inboxes by offering them valuable information in exchange,
    I expect we’ll figure out a way to get ourselves invited into whatever inner sanctums are appropriate for our purpose.

    The key, I’m sure, will be unique content. The “give before you get” approach.

    If you’re interested in more information about some *practical* ways of rolling with the punches in this area of marketing, then I would suggest you take a look at because it does a great job of explaining how easy it is to incorporate “Web 2.0” principles when you have the proper foundation in place first.

    The bottom line seems to be, though, that we’re all bombarded with so much advertising these days that in sheer self-defense we’ve “taken steps” to blot out as much of it as possible.

    I might put my name and email into the new subscriber’s form from time to time, but I do so in expectation of receiving the “relevant messages” that Seth talks about, not because I want to receive a series of sales pitches.

    And there’s only ever been one newsletter that I have wholeheartedly recommended to all the friends behind *my* closed doors, and that’s Judy Vorfeld’s Communication Expressway.

    She doesn’t issue it very often any more these days, I regret to say; but, when she does, I drop what I’m doing and treasure every word. And I squirrel each issue away in a special folder. Come to think of it, her newsletter is the only one I do squirrel away.

    Also — although I can’t believe I’m saying this — I’m behind another set of “closed doors” myself, now … I joined the “Women Internet Marketers Social Network.”

    It’s not “Twitter” or “FaceBook” or anything like that, but it has over 500 women in it (so far) who share an interest in internet marketing. Someday it will probably have 500 thousand … maybe even 500 million!

    I don’t have a crystal ball, Bob. I’m just hedging my bets in lieu.

    Just my 2¢.

    Warmest Regards …



  13. Dianna Huff said:

    You all better watch out. You’re generating ideas and flinging resources around . . . all without benefit of Twitter. 😉

  14. ElizabethAdamsDirect said:

    Bob …

    Here’s a little tidbit of inspiration for your friend:

    Elizabeth …


  15. ElizabethAdamsDirect said:


    Wise words, Diana!


  16. Marc Librescu said:

    It’s possible to make money writing a blog in the same way that it’s possible to decide to make money by becoming an actor. A very few people manage to do it. The majority of people who try it will fail.

    Anyone who wants to make money from a blog needs to understand that it could take years before the blog will generate enough traffic for them to be able to begin to make money. Ask your friend if he’s willing to commit that kind of time to something that ultimately may not make a dime.

  17. ElizabethAdamsDirect said:

    Bob, another inspiring case study for your friend …


  18. Bob Bly said:

    Marc: You’ve hit the nail on the head. Blogging and acting are the “Lottery Method” of making money — you might hit it, but it’s highly unlikely, and if you don’t win, you make bupkus. Internet marketing by comparison is a steady, reliable business that anyone can build and make work with reasonable certainty if they learn it and take action.

  19. Melissa Taylor said:

    Well Bob, I see that you are blogging with WordPress — Are you turning a profit? I would recommend Rosalind Gardner, or Jeff Johnson and
    Just my two cents, is all.

  20. James Schramko said:

    Bob you said:

    “I cannot measure sales generated by my blog”

    You can add a code on your blog that will track sales from different entry points.

    There are scripts like AXROI that will allow you to see how people arrived at your blog and what they buy. So you can track links like your post at IM newswatch or articles or PPC etc….

    Or you can just track links from your blog to your products to see what posts sell more stuff.

    On the subject of blogging – it is a just a tool for a marketer. Some people only need one tool, others include it in the toolbox with other tools.



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  22. CharityPrater said:

    Elizabeth: One of the links you provided went to a child’s birthday site and I read the long, drawn-out explanation of how they got rich off their site. It basically came down to this:

    “1. Google Ads – We earn money when people click on an ad that appears on our site.

    2. Affiliate Marketing – We provide content and make suggestions as to where to buy quality products. If a visitor clicks over from our site to our affiliate (partner merchant) we earn a commission (while the customer doesn’t pay even a penny more for the product.) Fair enough.”

    It’s obvious right away that they were promoting others and making commissions off of it through their free birthday party ideas.

    To me, it was a bit lame. A cheat. I rarely frequent sites like that but it’s apparent that they do work.

    My question is: Are you getting commissions from directing us to them? 🙂

  23. Andrei said:

    I believe the most important thing is to put passion in whatever you do. If you write a blog just to make a few bucks and you don’t add passion in the mix, it won’t last very long.
    That’s why I try to do the things I like first and then think about the financial part.

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  26. Blogging said:

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    Blogging is a fantastic format that can get a lot of traffic, and great rankings, however, that certainly does not mean sales.

    Sure there are a FEW bloggers out there who make some real money, as in $35,000 – $100,000 a month (the emphasis on FEW) however, they are the first to admit they never made much the first few years, and wasn’t without a lot of work.

    My personal method of making money online is with a Niche site. A simple 6-10 page site with unique content and a blog attached to the site. (NOT the site is the blog, the blog is the site type of thing)

    Rank your niche by submitting a few articles to directories, get some links and keep your blog updated, and you’ll make some money. NO, not $20,000-$1,000,000,000 a month or some other nonsense, but perhaps about 2-3 thousand dollars a month once your up and going.
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