The Guilt-Free Guide to Earning an Honest Buck from Your Blog

by Gary Korisko


You’re in conflict.

I know because I’ve been there myself.

You love blogging and you see how a thriving blog can help people all over the world solve problems, connect with others, and get closer to their dreams.

But at the same time, you have a sneaking suspicion you’re not giving your own blog the best possible chance to succeed.

The problem is time. Or more precisely, lack of it.

Because in the real world, blogging has to fit in around other “more important” things. Like a full-time job, for example.

So you end up doing what any smart blogger would do and you make the best of the time available.

You seek out motivational tips, blogging tricks and productivity hacks to help you squeeze the most out of every precious blogging hour.

But deep down you know it’s not enough.

The answer isn’t greater efficiency. No, all the productivity tips in the world won’t turn a few spare hours into 20 hours. That’s nuts.

You need more time. Because one thing’s for sure – you’re not doing your blog justice right now.

Now, if you could make some money writing for your blog, that would give you a little more freedom.

If you could get paid to blog, then maybe you could build some serious momentum and make a real difference.

But realistically, you just can’t see how that’ll ever happen.

So, what’s a conflicted blogger to do?

The Offensive Four-Letter Word that Kills Your Hopes of Making a Difference

The simple truth – bloggers who make a real difference in the long term are those who’ve found a way to operate their blogs more like a business, either blogging full-time, or at least making it their main focus.

Those who don’t, or don’t have a concrete plan to do so one day, are effectively condemning their blogs to insignificance, and leaving most of the people they could have helped to struggle alone.

But if that’s the case, why don’t more people transition from fun part-time hobby to sustainable business?

The answer is simple.

They have a strong negative reaction to one small word:


That’s right. The idea that they might ever sell anything from their blogs is deeply offensive.

Strangely enough, they often don’t have a problem with the idea of making some money from their blogs, but the idea of selling anything breaks them out in a cold sweat.

But that’s a little crazy, right? That’s like saying you want to travel 60 miles in under an hour, but you’re fundamentally opposed to burning fossil fuels.

However, a generalized aversion to selling is completely understandable because of all of the negative stereotypes of selling we’ve been inundated with over the years.

We’ve been told:

  • Sales people are fast-talkers who don’t mind lying to make a buck.
  • Success in sales means you have to be aggressive and pushy.
  • Selling always involves a winner and a loser – and only the winner comes out ahead.

No wonder people think selling is sleazy, right?

Why Getting Paid is Actually Less Sleazy than Helping People for Free

The blogosphere is a massive, congested, and loud place. Making bold claims is one of the things you must do to rise above the fray and get noticed.

Just think about it; when was the last time you saw a blog with “How to Start a Blog That Does Ok” as the tagline? Or a post with “7 Secrets to Being Somewhat Happy” as the headline? Never.

Instead, as a blogger you must make a gigantic claim like “How to Triple Your Traffic in 60 Days.” Or “7 Secrets for Being Blissfully Happy – Instantly.”

But here’s the ethical dilemma.

The claim must be big enough to get attention, but not so big that you can’t live up to the claim or deliver on your promises.

And when you’re blogging on the side, delivering on the kind of claims that get people’s attention is tough – doing the research, the analysis, the thinking required to create great content (content that truly helps people) takes time. And time is in short supply.

So, with the best of intentions, you promise something you can’t realistically deliver.

Sound a little unethical? Even a little sleazy?

On the other hand, let’s say you can deliver on your promises and people do begin to rely on your valuable advice.

What happens when something else in your life blows up and requires your attention?

Inevitably, your blogging takes a back seat because it’s a peripheral activity. After all, your blogging isn’t exactly paying the bills.

So you neglect your blog. The quality drops and your schedule slides. The people who relied on you for help are left high and dry.

When you come back to your blog (if you come back to it), half your audience has disappeared and the other half has lost trust.

A non-revenue-generating hobbyist blog is far more likely to disappear and leave its followers hanging than a blog that earns an income.

So, as paradoxical as it might sound, having something to sell is sometimes the only ethical approach to building, and sustaining, a popular blog.

But What About “Give Your Best Stuff Away for Free”?

You’re probably familiar with this blogging mantra. But if you think “give your best stuff away for free” means you’re not supposed to charge for anything ever, you’re hearing it all wrong.

It means you should consistently provide value for free. It doesn’t mean everything should be free.

Have you ever called a car repair place with a problem, and they gave you a few suggestions you could try at home before they send a tow truck out and charge you? That’s giving their “best stuff” away for free.

But that’s not to say that when something major goes wrong (like your transmission going out), they’ll offer to do it for free.

That’s crazy talk. If they did that, they’d be the nicest, most helpful, friendliest CLOSED auto repair shop in town. Then when you truly needed them some day when your car dies in the wrong part of town, they’re no longer there for you.

Helping for free is a nice notion, but even nonprofit organizations need cash flow to stay alive.

Churches, missions, charities, and non-profits all need cash flow. They can’t help anyone long term if they can’t raise the financial resources to fund their work.

And no offense, but if Mother Teresa couldn’t make it work without cash flow, what chance do you and I stand?

The phrase really ought to be, “Give a lot of your best stuff away for free, but always have something for sale – because that’s what makes the free stuff possible.”

That’s a far less sexy sentence, but it’s how things work in the real world.

So if all of this makes perfect sense to you, but the idea of selling from your blog still gives you the heebie jeebies, I’ve got some good news.

It’s actually not a problem.

How to Make an Honest Buck Without “Selling” a Thing

Think about the last time you bought something you truly wanted or needed. Something that honestly made your life easier or more enjoyable.

Do you remember being pushed, coerced, or bullied? I would guess not. Odds are the buying experience was actually enjoyable.

In fact, you probably didn’t notice any selling going on at all.

Have you ever been at a high school and noticed an honor roll student politely minding his or her own business?

Or noticed that white car you passed during rush hour that was doing the speed limit and didn’t cut you off?

Why didn’t you notice those things?

Because nothing fishy was going on.

And it’s the same with selling. You only notice it when it’s done badly or when it involves a product or service you don’t want or need.

So up until now you’ve only noticed the obnoxious teenagers of the selling world, not the good guys. The good guys are hard to spot because they’re busy quietly doing the right thing and helping people.

Good guys like you.

Consider the following examples:

  • You’re violently sick, and your doctor has the ability to give you a pill that will almost immediately fix what ails you.
  • You’re stuck with a flat tire with no spare at midnight in a bad part of town and a tow truck happens to stop and help you.
  • Your television dies a horrible death right before the Super Bowl (or the Oscars, or whatever trips your trigger) and you call a repairman to fix it at the last minute.

In any of these scenarios, can you imagine yourself being angry at any of those people for presenting you with a reasonable invoice after saving your bacon?

Of course not.

You don’t mind because you had a real problem that stressed you out – and they chose to give a damn and help you solve that problem.

They took time out of their day to provide a service – partially to earn a buck, and partially because they recognized your predicament and their heart bled for you just a little bit.

And as buyers, when someone solves a problem for us, we’re often all too happy to pay them for their help. Because it’s only right. It’s a fair trade.

And helping people via your blog is no different. Even if they need a little persuading at first.

Why People Sometimes Need Persuading (and Why It’s Your Job to Do It)

If you can earn money from your blog by helping people without ever actively pushing anything, does that mean people will line up around the block to pay for your help?

Not exactly.  A degree of persuasion is involved (another powerful word that people get upset about.)

You may not realize it, but many times in your life it’s been your job as a decent human being to persuade others to do things.

If you’ve ever talked a child into sitting still so a doctor could poke a needle into their arm, coaxed them out of the car even though they were terrified on the first day of school, or convinced them to finally go to sleep even though they were crying, “But I’m not tired!” over and over like a broken record, you already possess some incredible persuasive skills.

Do we do those things because we think tricking our children into doing what we want them to do is funny?

Of course not. We just love them and want them to learn how to make good, healthy decisions.

And just like the child on the first day of school, sometimes your blog readers need a bit of gentle persuasion too.

Blog readers like this:

  • Max has been struggling with the same problem for months or even years and will remain stuck without help.
  • Isabel desperately wants to achieve an important goal but lacks the skills to get her there – and doesn’t know how to acquire them.
  • Sanjay needs to decide which products or resources are right for him but is paralyzed by all the options.

All of these people need help. In fact, they sorely want help. But even if you’re the perfect person to help them, that’s no use if they don’t believe it.

So you need to persuade them.

But what does ethical persuasion look like?

How to Master the Art of Ethical Persuasion

You must ask yourself three basic questions before extending any kind of offer (paid or otherwise) if you want to serve your audience ethically and avoid any hint of sleaziness.

#1 Do you truly understand your audience’s wants, needs and desires?

Persuasion feels sleazy when your offer is off-base and doesn’t seem relevant to the person’s own situation.

But offers that are aligned with the person’s needs and values are welcomed with open minds and open arms.

So are you making an offer you know is right for your audience because you understand them as well as you understand yourself?

Or are you offering the kind of help that suits or interests you without a deep understanding of what your audience truly wants and needs?

#2 Does your offer focus on benefits rather than features?

If you fill your offer with features, people will feel they’re being sold to.

Features answer the question, “What is it?”
(Tall, green, square, etc.)

Benefits answer the question, “What will it do for me?”

Benefits are things like: It helps you write faster, it allows you to spend more time with your family, or it will help you be healthier.

If your offer is framed in terms of the benefits it provides – and you’re confident that you can deliver those benefits to the person you’re making the offer to – you’re persuading ethically.

#3 Is it good enough for your Mom?

That may sound funny, but this is the most important question of all.

Don’t say, do, or promise anything that you wouldn’t want said, done, or promised to your mother.

If you wouldn’t feel ashamed, embarrassed, or sleazy making your offer to your own Mom, then you’re golden.  Sleep well and make that offer with confidence.

3 Easy Ways to Help People with Your Blog (and Earn Money Doing It)

By now I hope you can see how offering products or services can free you to dedicate more time to your blog and extend its lifespan, allowing you to help more people over longer periods of time.

Now the big question is… what to offer your readers?

The following are the three fastest, easiest, and most ethical ways to help people with your blog and earn some money doing it.

#1 Sell other people’s products (and earn yourself a commission)

Otherwise known as affiliate sales, this is where you introduce your readers to a product you use and love, on the basis that they might love it too.

If they buy (via your custom affiliate link) you’ll get a commission – sometimes as much as 33 percent or even 50 percent. That could be several hundred dollars simply for recommending something they needed anyway.

It’s easy and totally ethical. In fact, some of my favorite products were bought from affiliate links right here on Boost Blog Traffic. I got some great products that made my blogging life way easier, and Jon got a commission. Win-win.

#2 Get on the phone (or on Skype)

Call it consulting, coaching, or mentoring; most niches present a great opportunity for you to offer help to people one-on-one (as Jon does here).

One-on-one sessions allow you to have a greater impact by tailoring your advice to someone’s specific situation, something that’s impossible to do when writing a blog post.

When I first offered one-on-one sessions, I thought, “Who’s going to pay to talk to me?” but I soon received several inquiries and booked a couple sessions quickly. One client said, “I’ve been wanting to work with you for months, but didn’t think you offered anything like this.” Who’d have thought, right?

#3 Create a short guide or report

A short digital guide or report can be tremendously useful in solving technical or “how-to” problems your audience might have. It’s a great venue for sharing screen shots, providing step-by-step instructions, or even including printable worksheets.

Giving someone everything they need to solve a particular problem in one convenient place could save them hours of research and easily be worth several times the cost of the product.

For many bloggers, an easy, low-cost first product is a collection of their best blog posts in a friendly e-book format.

So ask yourself: where do your expertise and your audience’s pain points intersect? When you find that intersection, ask what is the best way to solve this problem? Is it a product recommendation, a one-on-one session or a guide? Or something else?

Think how you can best meet your audience’s needs and you’re well on your way to creating a valuable, ethical (and successful) offering.

Are You Ready to Get Serious and Earn an Honest Buck from Your Blog?

You owe it to the world to teach others how to achieve their dreams if you have the ability to do so. To do anything else is almost stealing.

And if you have knowledge that can help others, you positively owe it to those people to stick around long enough to keep helping them – and to help the people who come afterwards.

So you may need to reassess your attitude toward selling and persuading others.

Because when these happen naturally and ethically, you’re simply helping someone and getting a fair reward in return.

And a great product or service for a reasonable price helps you, helps your audience, and keeps the blogosphere spinning nicely.

So what could you offer of value to your audience?

What problems are they having right at this moment that your experience can help fix?

There’s always something. It’s eating at them as we speak. And they’re thinking to themselves, “If only someone could show me how to…”

Fill in the blank. Step up and offer a solution.

They deserve it… and so do you.

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Gary Korisko

Gary Korisko is a battle-tested Sales and Marketing Leader, Copywriter, and Business Strategist. Download your free copy of his eBook, How to Influence All the Right People (Plus two special Smart Blogger bonuses). For more of Gary’s work, check out his blog Reboot Authentic.


A "cheat sheet" to making 2-5K per month as a writer, even if you're a total beginner.
Photo of author

Written by Gary Korisko

Gary Korisko is a battle-tested Sales and Marketing Leader, Copywriter, and Business Strategist. Download your free copy of his eBook, How to Influence All the Right People (Plus two special Smart Blogger bonuses). For more of Gary’s work, check out his blog Reboot Authentic.

114 thoughts on “The Guilt-Free Guide to Earning an Honest Buck from Your Blog”

  1. I completely agree with the first point. Understanding your audience is key to success in blogging.

    A great blogger empathises completely with his audience and only offers content, products and services that is completely aligned with solving the audiences biggest problems and fulfilling their deepest desires.

    Thanks for a great post.

  2. Nice Post Gary

    I have learned recently that people don’t mind paying for a little on-line course as it’s convenient, on-line and engaging. There is a massive shift in this direction over the past few years.

    • Agreed – people do not shy away from buying relevant (to them) things. But it’s just up to the seller to put the right offer in front of them. Something that can truly help them.

      Thanks, Geoffrey!

  3. Thanks for this great article! It’s a much-needed, convincing argument for ethical salesmanship. I believe that if someone feels sleazy selling it’s either because they lack confidence in their product/service or they know their product/service is lacking.

    I love the idea of not selling anything that you wouldn’t sell to your mother. That’s a brilliant, concise way of ensuring you deliver a great product!

    Quick question: how did you acquire your first consulting jobs when you started out? I’m just starting my own blog and I’d like to begin selling services as well.

    • Hi Germano!

      The mom thing: Yeah, well that’s the litmus test for most of us, isn’t it? If mom would cross her arms and scowl at us for doing something, we probably shouldn’t be doing that thing 🙂

      As far as consulting or coaching goes, when I first promoted it online, I put up a sales page – and then communicated with my audience (email list) that that service was available.

      Nothing dramatic really. Just doing what this post preaches… offering something relevant to people who need it and focusing on the benefits 🙂

      • Thanks for the reply, Gary!

        The mom thing – I feel like that could be an entire book on marketing: “Blog Like Your Mom Is Watching”, lol!

        I’m glad to hear the approach to consulting is so simple. Though I’ve consulted before and received nothing but positive feedback from clients as well as bloggers whom I’ve shared advice with in various comunities, I still have a bit of the same insecurity you described in this article about offering services (but I’m sure I’ll quickly get over that when the contracts come in 🙂 ). I’ll apply the tips in this article to creating my services page. Thanks, again!

  4. Nice and descriptive topic on making money by one’s blog. Online money making is a dream to all. But, there are some difficulties. Your article’ll help one who are confused about how to make his effective. I came to know more about affiliate marketing by reading your discussion. Thanks for your nice sharing.

  5. Hi Gary,

    Nice post.

    Would you consider advertising blog posts that make you money on social media?

    I also like that you bio links straight to a sign-up form. That’s an important lesson for any aspiring blogger.

    • Hey Bryan.

      I’m not sure I specifically understand your question about advertising posts on social media. Could you elaborate?

      And yes – bios should always go to an opt-in landing page 🙂 Meeting and staying in touch with new and interesting people is one of the big benefits of guest posting.


      • Hi Gary….
        I am satisfy with your answer…
        yes bios should always go to an opt-in landing page

    • I understand the question now, Bryan:

      If the they’r relevant to the post and are truly helpful, affiliate links absolutely can be in your posts. And you can promote your posts any way you want. Just be cautious not to look like (or be) an affiliate link-blasting machine. Keep it relevant and sincere, you know?

  6. Although I’m not selling anything directly on blogs, this applies to service based businesses too. Clients want to see that you are regularly blogging and providing great value. Good points here.

  7. Gary, I’m of the baby-boomer generation and the salesman you described is exactly what I grew up with. I still carry that expectation whenever I shop, especially when I walk into a car lot. Thanks so much for putting it into perspective for me. Now I can sell and be comfortable with it rather than feel sleazy and deceitful.

    • I grew up about the same time, too. The guys in Tin Men, Herb Tarlek from WKRP etc. 🙂

      But yeah – that’s exactly what people think and expect. But like I mentioned – the sleazy ones rarely last. The service oriented ones who understand empathy stand the test of time.

      Thanks for the great comment, Debra.

  8. Excellent post, Gary!

    Although I think you have inspired me to write a blog post entitled, “7 Secrets To Being Somewhat Happy” – just because it cracks me up and I would absolutely click on that. 😉

    Seriously, this is a post to send people to, because so many don’t understand what selling really is. Thanks.

    • Ha! Let me know when that post goes live, Leanne.

      And yes – do share this. So many talented people are missing huge opportunities because of a silly misconception.

      Share, share, share!


  9. Dude, Gary, this (along with almost all posts on this site)has given me another boost of confidence and the necessary kick in the butt to get moving with the monetization of my site! Thank you for the pointers and encouragement! I’m starting work on a short guide for my local food site that will be about how to jump-start locavore living!

  10. Glad to see your guest post on Boost Blog Traffic, Gary! Quick question: how do you determine the price for a product you’re offering? The reason I’m asking is that in my niche (blogging about food and wellness) a lot of bloggers sell full-size e-books for as little as 2.99 – 4.99, and it seems a tad bit low to me. I’m thinking of writing an e- book, but I’m reluctant to do a lot of work and then be unable to charge a little higher for it just because the competition has set a low price point.

    • Hi Alina!

      It’s nice to see you here, too 🙂

      As far as pricing, I’ll leave it to Jon or his crew to get into more detail or provide BBT links about pricing.

      But in general, I personally weigh in two factors. The first: What similar people in similar markets are successfully charging for similar products. That’s a baseline.

      The second: Usefulness and value. A book is not useful just because it’s a book. It’s useful *if* it’s useful. So if your book is more useful & of higher quality you can charge more.

      Does that help at all?

  11. Every post of yours I read just makes me like you more Gary. I think my biggest barrier is the “Is it good enough for your mom?” question, as I struggle with accepting myself as an authority and my work as worthwhile. But lately I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and maybe this post will help me take that integral next step that opens up a new world of possibilities.

    • Hi Ragnar!

      It’s familiar face day here. That’s awesome.

      You know what? Everyone sometimes struggles with their “authority” and wonders how good their own work really is. What that tells me about you is that you’ll never be guilty of false authority. You’re a humble guy – and that’s a great thing – in moderate doses. Be loud & proud when you’ve earned it.

      I’d also suggest a coach or a course to give you a better idea of what ‘good’ looks like so you don’t have to wonder. Jon has some great educational opportunities all over BBT.

      Nice to see you here!

  12. Thanks for this great post, Gary. It truly gives a totally different perspective on the whole selling thing–one that is beneficial not just to yourself but even to your audience. When you put it that way, it makes a lot of sense. And I know, because I’ve been helped by many of these top quality products and services being offered by these blogs. Thanks a lot. 🙂

  13. this post is FANTASTIC. You said what I teach so beautifully and succintly. And you managed to provide an incredibly comprehensive take on this subject. I am seriously impressed. Well done.

  14. Hello Gary,

    For long enough I was thinking of putting up a sales page on my site. And after reading this post; I’m definitely moved.

    To tell it quick. I am a computer technician having experience of 5 years. I have started this particular blog to solve people’s technology problems efficiently and in-detail.

    So I’d liked to share my the offline services online. But there’s one particular thing, I can’t refrain myself asking you!

    Does selling something actually means getting money back in return?

    To make it more detailed, I’ll elaborate it. I’m thinking of charging $5 for every Computer Quotation I’d giveaway to customers. But asking $5 is not a big deal.

    What if I tell customers. To like my FB page and sign-into mailing list and avail the service for free or otherwise pay $5. Would it be great this way?

    I am not confused about this. But do require an expert opinion on it. As Jon Morrow always insists on growing subscribers list. What would you suggest?

    Sorry for the comment being so long, and taking precious minutes from your busy schedule!

    Anyways Thanks in Advance.

    • Abhishek:

      Selling in this post was used in the context of creating cash flow. But you have a good point… selling isn’t only about when there’s a monetary exchange. The example in the post of talking a child into getting a shot is also quite impressive sales work.

      First: I don’t understand what you specifically mean by “computer quote” so take that into consideration.

      But a lot of people online have offered services on a “pay with a tweet” or “pay with a like” basis in order to build their social media following or an email list. So yeah – it’s been done. It all depends on your goals.

      But at some point you will still need to create some cash flow to sustain your site.

      Great question & I hope that helps you!

      • Yes! Gary I’m vary with Pay with a Tweet.

        But I believe what I’m thinking would bring in more likes and email subscribers, when people know they don’t have to pay anything for something that costs a premium.

        Anyways, with computer quotation I meant, Giving a complete breakdown of prices of every component required to built a computer; before buying it.

        I know, I should have explained it a little bit. Sorry for that part!

        But anyways thanks for the reply! I really appreciate it.

        Have a great day!

  15. This is a post I needed. It just makes so much sense…I can be very hesitant when it comes to selling anything even when I know it’s neccesarry.

  16. Right!
    If one of my appliances conks out and I call a repairman, he will have been listed in the yellow pages, right? I will likely choose according to how big the ad is, because I don’t want someone who is flaky, right? I definitely will NOT call anyone who is not listed, right?
    Thanks for helping me see this very obvious point.

    • The Yellow Pages, Google, Billboards, online ads… whatever.

      You got it exactly. You have to make the offer before you can help. And making the offer requires time and money, right? Be fair, but be compensated.

      Thank you, Katherine.

  17. Hi Gary,

    Thank you for your thorough, and very timely post! It’s possible you and I are up late at night thinking about the same things, because I blog about authenticity in home business and very recently wrote a post called How to Fight Sales Aversion Like Muhammad Ali.

    Should have seen me nodding while reading your post just now. My chin was practically hitting my chest!

    I’d love to know if the strategy differs for a blog like mine that is trying to drive traffic to a coaching call for prospective clients. Do you think a paid report should be the first step?

    • Mia:

      Jon just wrote some excellent stuff on building your sales funnel in reverse that I think applies to your situation. Take a look at this, particularly lesson #3:


      That strategy would probably encourage you to stick to your bigger offering (the coaching) first – then to a smaller eBook. (I’m assuming that the coaching isn’t complimentary)

      I hope that’s helpful.

  18. Great points, Gary!

    Selling usually has a bad connotation. If someone gets upset when you’re offering your product, there are two possibilities: You’re targeting the wrong market or your product is not that good.

    I loved your idea about the “good enough for your mom” test. When I started writing blog posts I used to ask myself “Would I want to read this?” It can be applied to products as well.

    I look forward to using your advice with my own product, let’s see how it goes! 🙂

  19. Gary, you know how squeamish I am about selling things! But this post will be bookmarked so I can refer back to it and remind myself about the value and pain relief I’m providing for my readers, not just selling them something to make a buck. Well done, Mr. Korisko!

  20. Sales aversion is a real problem for a lot of bloggers, Gary. Many bloggers are burdened with the stereotype of the “typical salesman” buried in the backs of their minds.

    Facebook recently made a change from a freemium business model. Now users have to pay for wider distribution on Facebook. Facebook had to make this change because giving away your most valuable products for free is ultimately unsustainable.

    Your example of the CLOSED auto repair shop being unavailable to serve you when you really need them should persuade ethical bloggers that it really is OK to earn a living blogging for money.

    After all, who will be left if all the ethical bloggers are starved out of the field?

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge, Gary.

  21. This post hits the nail on the head, Gary!

    As you know, I work with a lot of writers who are downright squeamish about the “S” word. And many view marketing and promotion as profanity.

    Thanks for articulating so clearly why they may actually be doing their readers a disservice by not ensuring that their best–professional, not hobbyist–work is made available to the people who can benefit from it the most.

    I especially like your point about people only noticing “selling” when it’s bad; when good selling happens, nobody notices.

    I think we should invent new terms for “sales” and “marketing” that’s done right, and leave the old terms–with their smarmy and negative connotations–to those people who insist on doing it badly.

    What do ya think? 😉

    • Hey Kim!

      Thanks for the nice comments, but I like the words sales and marketing. I want to keep them. They’re honest and descriptive.

      You’re an old (experienced… sorry) marketing pro. You’ll teach that audience of yours what’s what. 🙂 Glad you liked the post!

  22. Hi Gary,

    It all comes down to *value*. That’s a perceived notion between the general market, you and your readers/clients. Always walking the line on that one and your post gives so many examples of how to gauge that.

    And back to your intro, you hit the nail on the head with “giving it away for free” vs. offering free and selling a service. I think a lot of people are hung up on that. Will share to help them out ;p.

    • Susan:

      I just spent five minutes on your blog. To do what you do, one *has* to be a self-assured extrovert… and I mean that in a really, really good way.

      I would imagine you’re always throwing your hand in the air (figuratively maybe) volunteering and yelling, “me, me, me!” to go on all those cool excursions, right?

      Be just as enthusiastic about helping your readers. I’ll bet they’re all dying to know how to live like you live. I smell some kind of awesome travel hacks product on the horizon! You have lots of possibilities! 🙂

      Go for it!

      • Thanks for the support, Gary! It means a lot to me. I love the idea about being as enthusiastic to help my readers as I am to go on all these adventures. I have to remember that I am *helping* them — not just making them part with their hard-earned money for nothing. Thanks again, and happy travels!

  23. Thank you, Gary, for standing up for selling!

    I always hated selling, and after giving it an honest try, thought I was terrible at it.

    Fast forward five years. I love the idea of helping others, but came to the realization that I can help more people by offering them things that they need for money.

    First of all, most free stuff is a waste of time. And even if it isn’t, people don’t value it because they aren’t invested in it, at all.

    Then there’s the unescapable reality that you can’t help someone if your broke. I mean, when was the last time a homeless guy gave you the coat off his back?

    Making money gives you the ability to help people. You CAN use those powers for good. Well done, Gary.

    • Hi Aaron:

      Some good points there. I don’t know that I’d agree that most free stuff is a waste of time, but you have a very valid point in saying that people put more value (and therefore more effort) into things they’ve paid for.

      That’s why my son the lousy high school student is now my son the straight-A, bill-paying college student 🙂

      Funny how that works.

  24. Hello Gary,
    my first visit at your blog and I’m impressed.

    Very detailed post, well structured and full of useful ideas.. Like your writing tone, definitely bookmark your blog and looking forward to next article.

    How often you posting?

    • Hi Jan:

      Thanks very much, but this is Jon Morrow’s blog. I just contributed this one article!

      But you’re right. It’s an excellent blog to follow – and you should go all the way up to the top of this page and fill in that form. That way you’ll get an email every time there’s a new post.

  25. Hey Gary, thanks for this thoughtful and inspiring post!

    I’d like to add a little something…

    A couple of weeks ago, a lightbulb went off in my head about selling. I read a quote by Andre Chaperon:

    “Your attitude should be that you look at everybody who you want to do business with, and decide you’re not going to wait for money to change hands before you start contributing, guiding, counseling, advising and protecting them.”

    It really hit home! I vowed to adopt this attitude towards my potential customers and members and wrote a new email sequence with this in mind.

    The result was amazing: the opening rate increased by 247%, and the clickrate by 267%!

    It seems that the more my focus is on ‘guiding, counseling, advising and protecting’ my readers, the more they want to listen to me – and buy from me.

    At last, I’ve come to a place where the process of selling is in harmony with compassionate action and kindness. What a relief!

    • Excellent, Mary. In my experience, the best way to approach sales is always from a place of servitude. It’s the right thing to do and it’s more profitable in the end.

  26. Gary, this is the default post I’m going to send my future blog readers to when they start giving me crap about not wanting to sell on their blogs. (I KNOW it’s coming.)

    Like you and the commenters have said, there’s nothing wrong about selling on your blog, as long as you do it right. Your comment to Mary about coming from a place of servitude is probably the best way to explain this concept. It’s like the doctors who truly care about their patients’ health instead of the ones who roughly check you over and coldly leave the room, resulting in nothing but a bad taste in your mouth when you get the bill in the mail.

    So maybe the problem isn’t necessarily with bloggers saying, “Selling seems sleazy,” but with their underlying MINDSET for building a successful blog (i.e. focusing on their audience). When they balk at the word “sell,” seems like they’re only thinking about themselves. They seem to translate that word into “Me? Sell? No way.”, instead of looking at it like “My Audience? Sell them something? Sure, what do they want?”

    Maybe that’s a bit too philosophical, but who cares. 🙂

  27. Hey Gary

    Congrats on this one. You really killed it. At first, I though that this was Jon’s post and it kind a look like his style of writing. But apparently there is someone as great as Jon.

    I’m currently working on optimizing and monetizing my online marketing magazine/blog and I’m pretty sure that these tips are going to be very useful for me.

    Keep rocking Gary!


  28. Hi Gary,

    This is a thought provoking article. I agree with the fact that many of us find the word ‘sell’ to be sleazy. It is something that we should get over. You very well showed how getting paid can be less sleazy can helping someone for free! 🙂

    The guide you gave, related to ethically persuading is also quite handy. Especially #3- ‘Is it good for your mom’ point. 🙂

    The ways of earning money, like selling a product and earning commissions, consulting are also appealing. This whole article has been much valuable to me.

    I found the link to it on Kingged.


  29. I love the “Would you sell this to your mom” point!

    I think the issue comes in where someone may NEED what you’re offering, but are either unable see their own need or unwilling to pay. The important question is: how do you convince someone who needs something but doesn’t even realise they do? I may know that a website needs great web copy, but the problem comes in when they don’t realise it themselves!

    Of course, I think your free report (should they choose to read it) is exactly the type of thing that would help in this situation.

    Hmmm….I think I should start my own blog post on ethical persuasion tactics!

    • Exactly Daryl.

      Convincing is a big part of selling. Sometimes people don’t quite see that certain products and services will actually help them. Convincing ethically can be tricky, but it’s not rocket science – and as you said, the report in my bio will help teach three fundamental but powerful principles of persuasion.

      Thanks for commenting!

  30. I couldn’t agree more. Some mind hacks may somewhat improve your blogging habits, but in the end these things won’t give you the time necessary to succeed.

    Additionally, I have never known any blog that success long-term by focusing primarily on sales.

    Value leads to interest, to fans, to TRUST, and ultimately to passive sales.

    Thanks Gary

    • If you mean blogs that focus on just selling stuff at the expense of quality content and value don’t succeed long-term, then we agree. But there are three kinds of selling demeanors: Aggressive, active, and passive.

      Aggressive is bad, active is ideal, and passive is also good in certain situations. You have to talk about it to sell it, right?

      Thanks for joining in!

  31. To sustain our blog we need money, i have just started a new blog and have published free video courses for beginners how to create a blog with WordPress available in English, Urdu and Hindi.
    I Have plans to publish paid courses later, when my audience will grow.
    Is it a good idea or will you advise something different.

    • Tahir:

      I don’t know at which point in time you should create the courses, but my gut feeling is that if the courses you’re planning solve a problem your audience is having *right now* then you help them solve that problem right now.

      Maybe someone else will offer an opinion, but that’s my first reaction. Thanks for commenting!

  32. Hi Gary,
    This is really helpful and that Mother’s talk and promises that was some real info. You are right we have to contribute more time to our blog. I am so influenced by your blog that I even bought the same theme as you do 🙂 . And all I need is your articled and then I am also gonna boost my traffic.

    • Thanks for all the compliments, Rohit – but most of them belong to Jon Morrow, the owner of this blog. 🙂

      But you’re right: Boost Blog Traffic is an excellent place for you to learn how to blog the right way.

      Thanks again!

  33. I love the “Is it good for your mother” part. That’s a nice move. Personally I think that’s among the most effective ways to check if your offer is good.

  34. So this is the part that seriously nailed the coffin for me:

    “So, contradictory as it might sound, having something to sell is sometimes the only ethical approach to building, and sustaining, a popular blog.”

    Geez seriously you’re so right on, Gary! It’s so true. I never quite thought of it that way. I KNOW that my blog is helping people and if i don’t find a way to sustain it financially I WILL eventually abandon it and that won’t be helping anyone now will it??

    Thanks for your always spot-on logic. Where do you get this stuff?! 🙂

  35. Good stuff, Gary. Don’t yet have anything ready to offer, but this will be a go-to resource when I do. Not only gives ideas on the types of products to offer, but also lays out the best ways to present them. Well done.

  36. This is exactly why I monetized from Day 1 Gary. Love this post! Most bloggers feel bad or weird about selling and never make a dime through their blog. They also allow cheap, fearful people to get into their heads. I remember one person who said my blog looked great except for the ads. I asked her if she told the doctor that his service was great, except that he charged for it, lol!

    I found this post on kingged(dot)com.

    • I agree that a lot of bloggers let it get into their heads. And while I’m not a fan of ads particularly, I second the notion that monetizing in some form from the beginning is a smart decision.

      Thanks for joining in the chat, Ryan.

    • Hi Manpreet:

      I’m glad you liked the post. Also, sorry – but I don’t use adsense, so I don’t know much about it.

      If you’re building a list of engaged followers, my suggestion would be to start with the things I suggested in the post – especially the consulting services and suggesting affiliate products/services.

      Hope that helps.

  37. Great post, Gary!! And absolutely agree about highlighting benefits and understanding what your readers need and want! My blog turned into a business for me when I started leveraging social media, so much so that today, I have a blog, and a business and they make me more than a full-time income working with industry leaders and entrepreneurs.. So, YES, you have to engage your readers, be truly helpful and really good with your content, and yes, it is work BUT it does pay off!! 🙂

  38. Great post! Helping people and sharing great information will definitely help you earn an honest buck from your blog.

  39. This:

    “A non-revenue-generating hobbyist blog is far more likely to disappear and leave its followers hanging than a blog that earns an income.”

    Is my biggest takeaway from this post (Is it still hip to say ‘takeaway’? Is it still hip to say hip?). The reason this quote hit so hard is because I’ve been blogging forever (almost 8 years) but struggled for almost as long with how to sell without having ads all over my site and I’ve considered giving up more times than I can count. It just never felt comfortable so I’ve been giving it all away for free. Recently, I changed my mind about selling because of posts just like this – I don’t have to be sleazy! Hooray! Thanks for this thorough examination, it is so comforting to hear from someone who makes it work that I’m on the right track.

    Question for you on selling from your blog: Do you think its okay to sell an expanded/extended version of an eBook that was originally offered for free?

  40. Hi Gary,
    Thank you for writing this great post! I couldn’t stop reading. Reading your post made me aware of my own inhibitions to selling and got me thinking of ways to apply your advice to my own blog. I guess it’s the combination of wanting to help people and asking them to pay for it that makes most of us feel a bit uneasy. I realized that if we don’t address that feeling it will most likely be swept under the carpet. This might prevent us from reaching the next level in our blogging career in which we could really start helping people on a much larger scale. Keeping this in mind will help me push through.
    Thanks again.

    • Wieske:

      Take some comfort in the fact that people who are cluelessly pushy don’t worry about being pushy. The fact that you’re considering it indicates you’d be tactful in your approach. Go for it! 🙂

  41. Nice article. If you don’t sell, you don’t make money. I think another reason people are averse to selling is because it’s tough. No one wants to take the effort of getting their product out there and finding people who would like to buy it.

  42. selling a post ? confused for the decision! — gary is the man who will totally clear it for you , it made sense after all . Thanks a lot !

  43. I’m completely used to people waffling about stuff off the subject with no ultimate solution, yet with a fancy title promising to be great! On the other hand this post has answered all of my questions and I definitely think it’s a great article for everyone to understand regardless their experience or even niche.

  44. Hi Gary.

    What a refreshing article!

    Those tips were both wise and practical for everybody. It’s good to see posts that set out exactly how it should be done.

    Thanks for sharing.



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