Growing an Audience Vs. Making Money: A Blogger’s Dilemma

Life is filled with choices. Do this and you can’t do that. Every choice you make comes with consequences. Some are good others are bad. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

With regards to blogging, many a blogger finds themselves at a crossroad. Do you write money making posts or do you grow your audience?

While product reviews can pay the bills, most aren’t created with an audience in mind. The majority of reviews are created with big daddy Google in mind. You hit the right buying keywords and people looking to spend money end up on your site. Then you earn some affiliate bucks.

The Blogger’s Dilemma

Using buying keywords, product reviews, and a few other tactics – you can start to make money from your blog or niche site rather quickly. In theory, this is a great thing. However, it’s still not the perfect situation for bloggers…

The issue revolves around building a brand, growing your audience, and making money in the long term. Your “fans” or audience doesn’t give a flying fuck about some ebook you read and reviewed – if the product doesn’t pertain to their current situation.

So, the vast majority of any regular readers you have aren’t going to read, retweet, like, or comment on a product review article.

On the other hand, when you write content that readers can relate to, you’ll end up with an engaged audience who comments, retweets, and genuinely enjoys the content you put out.

Sounds great, right? Hold on a second. The issue comes down to monetization. When you’re writing for your audience, the content is typically hard to monetize. Hell, sometimes it’s hard to even find a keyword that fits your article.

So you have content that people enjoy and engage with, but big daddy Google gives it no love and you’re unlikely to make any money from it.

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What’s a Blogger to Do?

To illustrate this point, let’s look at a few of my articles. I have articles that make money on this site, but there’s a number of pieces that’ll never make more than a dollar or two – no matter the traffic.

Let’s start with a piece that won’t make me any cash:

How I Fell Into the “Freelancing Trap” & Why I’m Changing Course

This article talks about the pitfalls of having too much fun while traveling, why freelancing isn’t something you want to do for the rest of your life, and why I’m focusing on my own websites.

People found the content engaging. Over 150 people have viewed the article within 24 hours, which is a lot for me. There were tons of retweets for the piece and I got three comments immediately after release.

While the article helped me relate to an audience, it didn’t bring in a single penny. I doubt it will make any cash in the future, either. There’s not much SEO going on in the piece.

Now, let’s take a look at an article that makes money and will continue doing so:

7 Essential Health Benefits of Tart Cherry Juice

There are zero comments on this article. I don’t think a single person retweeted it when I published. The people who like my travel and digital nomad content typically don’t give a flying fuck about supplement reviews. And that’s fine.

Still, the article makes me money. I sold 10 bottles of cherry juice since the piece has been released, along with a number of other items.

Realistically, this one article that took me two hours to write will make me $20-30 every month for the next year or two. SEO is on point and the product solves a problem for many people.

Can You Combine the Two?

Now, some bloggers out there have found the balance. They’ve learned how to engage with an audience, solve people’s problems, hit buying keywords, and earn more money.

If you can do this on a consistent basis, you’ll end up making a decent amount of cash from your blog.

The issue with this style of content? Well, first off – it’s competitive. The best bloggers and websites have typically found these keywords and problems. They solved problems for people already.

For example, I wrote this piece in an attempt to help people and make money. I thought the content was engaging, useful, and potentially profitable:

How to Increase Blood Flow and Vascularity

I got a few comments, a retweet here and there, along with a few sales trickling in. The issue? The piece may never get any Google love. Men’s Health, WikiHow, and a plethora of other publications have targeted similar keywords. Unless my site gets authority from Google, this piece is bound to get little organic traffic.

P.S: Looking for a great example of combining these two strategies? This site features engaging content that gets Google love and sells products. 

What Should You Do?

Some people go to one extreme or the other. For example, my friends Kyle and Dylan both strive to write engaging content that their fans love with nearly every post.

On the other hand, my boy James writes killer product reviews that make a lot of cash. His content is 85% reviews written for Google.

Personally, I’m going a different route. I’m striving to hit things 50/50. I write one post for an audience I’m striving to build and then the next one will be a post I’ll make money from for months on end.

That’s the short-term strategy I’m going with…

Once my site is big enough and I’m making decent cash, I plan to focus on building my audience and brand while offering solutions that help people.

But until my income is where I want it to be, I’ll write product reviews and focus on making money.

Don’t let your blogging ego get in the way of building a profitable brand. Focus on building your brand and your income at the same time. It’s possible with a proper content strategy and consistent work.

Are you a blogger? How are you growing your audience while making more money?

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Jake D

Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel - one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.

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Calm and Collected - July 14, 2017

Pure gold:

“Don’t let your blogging ego get in the way of building a profitable brand. Focus on building your brand and your income at the same time. It’s possible with a proper content strategy and consistent work.”

To answer your questions: At the moment I’m writing a book while putting out more content to build up traffic. Once you have a solution it is your duty to give it to the people.

    NomadicJake - July 14, 2017

    Thanks, brother! Those book pre-sales are pure gold, too. Keep hustling. I can’t wait to check out the masterpiece.

      Calm and Collected - July 15, 2017

      I’m planning on dropping it officially in August. Can’t wait to put Think and Go Hustle out either.

        NomadicJake - July 15, 2017

        Give the people what they want!

        Reply - July 14, 2017

I agree with Dylan below, pure gold.

The level of honesty here is admirable and I hope readers see that as a sign of trust with them.

I am new on the blogging scene and loving it so far. I would like to achieve what you seek as well – to be growing an audience while making money doing it. This line of thinking is the best of both worlds I believe.

This is something a lot more bloggers need to read in order to get them in the right state of mind. I shall be sharing it to spread the word.

    NomadicJake - July 14, 2017

    Appreciate the sharing, broski! I think you hit things spot on with building trust. That’s a huge factor while blogging.

    Best of luck growing your site and making cash. I’ll be staying up to date with your site and progress.

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Slight North - February 5, 2018

I’ve been blogging for a year now and have no trouble with building my audience and writing engaging content. However, it’s definitely time to monetize. Where and how do you find your affiliate marketing partnerships?

    NomadicJake - February 5, 2018

    That depends on your blog and what you talk about, promote, etc.

    There’s legit an affiliate marketing program for every single product these days. Well, maybe not every product, but close.

    Think about the things you use, the products your audience could us, and how to market them without spamming.

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