This is the magic question. I see this asked all the time – and I get it. You’re working so hard on your blog but not making any money yet. It means getting up early, staying up late, and busting your butt for free.
And I’ll be honest – I looked for the answer too when I first started out. In my searches, I found so many posts – but none with real information about how to figure it out. Everyone repeats the same mantras – don’t worry about the money, it takes a few years, etc. But that’s not helpful or enlightening!
So I created a cheatsheet that will help you plan your revenue sources and make a rough guess at how long it could take you to see income. Today, we’re going to walk through the cheatsheet together and I promise that you’ll have a better idea of your earning potential at the end!
Let’s start with this – there is no overnight trick to make money from your blog.
If that’s what you’re looking for, pick another business idea. And there is no mathematical equation or sure fire way to predict that you’ll be able to make a certain amount of money by a certain date. But there are a few ways to speed up the monetizing process, and a few ways to calculate how long it might take you to make money blogging.
Unlike a lot of other people in the business space who tell you not to focus on this element, I think it’s hugely important when you’re planning your business. You need to be thinking like a businesswoman. Pick the best revenue streams, think out all the variables, and set goals for making money. Plan so that you know you’re on the right path.
By the end of this exercise, you’re going to know:
- Roughly how long it will take you to make money from your blog.
- What types of services or products you should focus on to make money your way.
- How to price yourself competitively so that you’re not a slave to your business.
- What steps you need to take to get yourself to minimum profitability and beyond.
This will change the way you think about business. Ready to get started?
First, you need to download the checklist:
Then, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
Think of your expenses – your car payment, your mortgage, whatever bills you have. How much do they cost you? This is the minimum amount of money you could live off of. Of course you want to make more than the minimum, but this is just a starting goal. Once you’ve achieved this – and can quit the day job you hate – then you can start setting higher monetary goals.
Let’s look at our cheatsheet example. I made up an example that isn’t far from what some of you might actually need. For car, groceries, phone bill, etc., let’s say you would need a minimum of $1050/month to quit your job.
Of course, you should fill in your own expenses. Think of how much it costs you and break it down. Don’t just write the total amount. If your minimum amount is pretty high, you might set a smaller goal of paying a couple of bills. Pick whatever is achievable and realistic for you!
Get your business hat on because now you’re going to write down all of the ways you’re going to make money from your blog. I have a full post here on the most popular ways to make money off of your blog which explains the difficulty and earning potentials. You should definitely read it before you continue this exercise, but in case you already have, I’ll remind you of the ways here:
- Services (styling, coaching, web design, etc.)
- Membership Site.
- Physical Products.
- Affiliate Marketing.
- Private Ads & Sponsored Content (on your blog and/or social media platforms).
- Advertising Networks.
- Digital Products.
Obviously there are a ton of ways to monetize your blog once you have followers and each type is very different. As you grow your blog, you want to have a diverse range of income sources but getting paid for some of these things might not be optional right away. Private advertising, for example, is probably not going to happen if you have a smaller blog. If you’re only getting 100 page views a day, there aren’t many companies who are going to reach out to advertise on your site – and if they do, you won’t be paid very much for it. So when you’re thinking about how long it will take for you to start making money, you need to think about what services you want to offer.
This is my favorite part of this exercise because, for many of you, you’ll finally be able to see why some of your ideas about making money from your blog are completely wrong.
Write out what services you plan to do and what you would charge. This can be a little complicated, because some of these services depend on how many page views and visitors your blog is getting, but you can determine roughly what their worth. It doesn’t have to be perfect – we’re just brainstorming here. I’ll give you a basic pricing example:
- Services – usually $__/hour. You decide what your service is worth.
- Membership Site – on average, about $10-$100/month per person. It just depends the amount of content and features you have in your site.
- Physical Products – price out your product, but remember that you’ll have to factor in your expenses (like shipping and production), so cut the amount that you’ll charge for your product in half for a rough estimate.
- Affiliate Marketing – this really depends on the industry you’re in. It is usually around 8% for physical products but is more for digital products and services – usually anywhere from 20% to 40%. I wouldn’t estimate too high. We want to set realistic goals.
- Private Ads & Sponsored Content – ads are usually paid $__/CPM (1000 impressions – 1000 views on the ad). There is a huge range on what you can charge. For simplicities sake, I would estimate between $5-$10 CPM.
- Advertising Networks – again, ad networks work based on CPM. The CPM on ad networks are usually lower – sometimes only a couple of dollars. You can use Google Keyword Planner to see roughly what the average bid is for ads in your industry.
- Info Products – you set the price! There is usually a single charge for lifetime access, and it can vary depending on whether you’re selling an e-book or a course or a download. See what other people are charging in your industry and price yourself competitively!
When you look at the list of monetization strategies, I don’t just want you to pick the ones you’ve already considered. I don’t want you to just say advertising and call it a day! You should take a look at all of your different options.
When I first did this worksheet, I wasn’t considering a course. But once I saw the numbers, my mind was blown. I realized that I could charge way more for a course, and I wouldn’t have to sell too many a month to make my minimum profitability. The same $200 I would have to place 4 ads for (or one ad if I had 20,000 monthly pageviews), I could make with just 1 course sale. Ads can be a great part of your monetization strategy but they shouldn’t be the whole plan.
It can also help you to set page view goals. Obviously $50 an ad, on the high end of the scale for this amount of traffic, is not enough to make a living. You would have to do so many ads each month. You need a lot more pageviews before you can make money off of ads. This tells you that if you want to make money quickly, you’ll need to add another strategy. It doesn’t mean advertising doesn’t work – but it won’t work ON ITS OWN for a while.
You’ll also notice that I don’t just write out the numbers. I put thoughts in there too, to talk through my reasoning and to make sense of what I’m writing. It helps to keep things clear.
So now we need to figure out how many of these services/products you will have to do/provide to make your minimum profit.
This is where you’ll start to really see the different value between the different kinds of services. Advertising doesn’t make near as much money as your own products, services, or courses. I still think it’s an awesome revenue source, but as a part of your bigger money-making strategy.
It’s similar with your services. If you’re charging $50/hour, you’ll have to do 40 services a month (and spend 40 HOURS) to make your $2000. That doesn’t include the hours you’ll spend blogging and promoting yourself. You’re working way harder for the same reward. You’ll crash and burn this way. Services are still an awesome way to make money, but now you know that you need to add in another income source or raise your prices.
This is another important part of this exercise – setting your boundaries. 40 hours a month of services isn’t so bad, it’s only 10 hours a week. But if that’s more than you want to put in, then you need to change your focus and possibly charge more so you can work less. Adjust your price to $100 for example and your work load cuts in half – for the same pay out.
So the main point of this step is to determine how much work you’ll have to do and if your pricing is realistic for your lifestyle.
Again, think this through as you write it out. Which ways can you realistically reach your goal without selling your soul?
In our example, the affiliate marketing and advertising revenue are not making a ton of money. Why? Our following is too small. With roughly 1,000 viewers a month, we can’t charge a lot for ads or refer many affiliate sales.
With that same 1000 viewers that will only bring you in $10 dollars with a private ad, if you could only get 1 (ONLY ONE!!) of those people to buy your $200 online course… you’re already making 20x the money.
This is exactly why you’ll hear me go on and on about offering your own products. Once you have a product up, you can make money immediately. And you don’t need 10,000 viewers a day to do it. You can make your first sale with only 100 visitors, if they’re the right visitors who need what you’re offering. Ads are great in the long term, but courses and products can help you make more money with a smaller audience.
Are things starting to make sense now? I really hope so, because I think that this worksheet is essential to your business.
Now it’s time to create a plan to get you to where you need to be. You’ve set your goals but how will you achieve them? Write out your plan. Explain what you’re making now – even if it’s nothing – and then break down the steps you need to take.
A lot of the time, it’s improving your traffic – it’s what makes the online business world go round. Without it, you’re pitching to no one. The first step on your list should probably be to increase your traffic. If you do this, you’ll get more course or product sales AND be able to charge more for ads and attract new advertisers. There also may be things you need to create (like your own course or product) to make more money. Write it down and commit. You 100% can make great money with an online business. You just need a plan of attack.
Once you have your plan written out, you can start to estimate time frames. Say you need 10,000 viewers so you can charge $100 an ad. Take a look at your analytics to see how much you’re growing at each month.
Say you’re getting 50% more viewers each month. So you’re at 5,000 viewers now – at a 50% growth rate, you’ll hit 7,500 next month, and 11,250 the month after that. So two months from now, you can start charging $100 per ad.
Another important thing to look at is the size of your email list. You should be able, with the right emails, to get 2% of your email list to buy your product or service.
0.02 x # of email subscribers = # of sales/clients you could get with an email promotion.
So if you need to make 6 sales, you’ll need minimum 300 people on your email list to hit your launch. Let’s say you only have 100 people on your list right now and you’re averaging about 20 new subscribers a month – in 10 months, you’ll hit your subscriber goal. That’s probably not what you want to hear. BUT it does tell you where you need to focus – adjusting your email strategy to figure out how you can get more subscribers.
And that’s it!
There are a lot of variables to think about – the biggest of which is how hard you’re willing to work – but with this cheatsheet, you should be able to roughly estimate the point at which you’ll make money off of your blog. And if that date is looking far away – don’t be discouraged. All it means is that what you’re doing right now might not be the most effective. It means you need to dig deep and figure out what’s working – and what isn’t.
This may all seem really simple, but it’s amazing how many people don’t think about this stuff! When I started my first blog, I barely looked at my analytics, I didn’t think about revenue streams, and I definitely ever consider the value of creating my own services. I was just stumbling along, trying to get followers on Instagram and believing that someday I would get traffic and advertisers would find me. I actually found this all SO overwhelming when I started to think about it, and I think some of you will too. Please don’t be discouraged. You can 100% do this! Just take the time to plan your blog and think about the business side of it. It will be so worth it.
Want the cheatsheet?
Don’t forget to join me LIVE in the Facebook group on Tuesday January 30th for a full training on how to do this and make it work to your advantage. We go live at 3pm EST but you can always watch the replay in case you miss it! Hope to see you there 💖