Push Back On Blogger’s Guilt – It’s Okay To Focus On Making Money

Have you ever felt bad about adding an affiliate link to your blog or doing a product review for $$? I call this “Blogger’s Guilt” and it’s a silent-killer for hundred’s of blog-based businesses out there.  If you happen to be stricken with this more often then you would like, don’t you worry, I’m here to explain exactly why it’s okay for you to focus on making money (it’s a good thing, trust me!)

5 Reasons Why It’s Okay For You To Focus On Making Money With Your Blog


You Put A Lot Of Work Into Your Blog

The first thing you need to think about is that IF you are making money on your site, it’s not because a magical being came down and dusted your blog with fairy dust.  No way! It’s because you put the time and effort into building something that people wanted to read.  Your work deserves recognition and while community love is great for the ego, you also need some monetary love if your ever going to leave your day job and blog full time.


Money Will Help You Create Even Better Content

One thing I learned quickly about building a business is that you need money to grow it.  Yeah, there are a lot of free resources out there, but if you have money, you can invest it in your blog and create even better content for your readers.  If you think of it this way, monetizing your blog is actually a benefit to your community.


People Are Willing To Pay For Quality Content And Advice

People who click on your links or buy your products are making a decision.  Your not deceiving them in any way by monetizing.  There is absolutely no need to feel bad when you aren’t forcing any choices upon your readers.


Monetizing Your Blog Will Help Ensure You Don’t Give Up On It

Blogging is hard work and building a blog-based business is even harder.  I absolutely hate it when a blogger I have followed for years gives up on their blog.  Usually it is because they just don’t have the time or passion for it anymore.  Monetization is one of the best rewards of blogging and if you are successful with it you will be much more likely to keep your blog alive and your readers happy.


It’s Okay To Be Rich

Okay Okay, I know this is a little bit of an excessive statement, but I actually had a lot of guilt about making money from my business in the beginning.  It’s like some little troll inside of me was saying it’s not okay to be successful.  It’s not okay to have the things you want.  It’s not okay to make money.  On and on.  So I just want to say it.  It’s okay to be rich.  It’s okay to make money.  It’s okay for you to have the life that you want.

Warning Signs Your A Little TOO Into Making Money

Now that you’ve come to a better relationship with money & blogging, here are a few things to watch out for when you are monetizing your blog.  Think of these as warnings that you might be going down the wrong track and may need to


Your writing content solely for the purpose of making money (and you aren’t enjoying it).

If you find yourself only writing blog posts and creating content that is designed to make you money, you might have gone to far on the $$ making spectrum.  Then again you might not of.  If you feel your content is still serving your audience and you are happy creating it.  The warning bells should only dig when it starts to feel like all you see are dollar signs and you have absolutely no fun creating the content you are creating.


You are writing positive reviews of products you don’t like.

Big red flag here.  As a blog-based business owner, it’s absolutely essential for you to have integrity.  The internet is filled up with enough fake reviews to last a lifetime.  Bloggers can and should be a voice of truth in this space.  If you do not like a product, either do not review it or tell the truth.  I prefer the truth route because it shows your readers that you are going to be giving them real information and that they can trust you, but if you don’t feel comfortable with that it’s okay to just pass on a product review.


You are NOT writing content you care about because it doesn’t have any monetary goal.

You know something has gone wrong when you have a backlog of passions posts (posts that you would love to create or that you feel would be ultra-useful for your audience) and never get to them.  Your time is spent writing content that you know will help you reach your monetary goals and that’s it.  If this happens, carve a little time to add in those passion posts.  Those just might be the thing that keeps your audience coming back and you’ll be a lot happier if you can express ideas and opinions that you have been wanting to express for a long time.

How do you feel about monetizing your blog?  Do you have blogger’s guilt or do you happily monetize?

Your Biz Growth Homework

Do some thinking about how you feel when you try to monetize your blog.  If you find it is easy for you that’s great.  If not, make a list of your negative feelings around it and question them.  For example, if your feeling is that your readers wouldn’t like it if you monetized, ask yourself if that is really true.

Extra Credit

Do a 10 minute brainstorm on how you can create more opportunities for monetizing your blog.  Anytime you start to feel guilt feelings, stop and question them.  Implement at least one of your new ideas when done.

The easiest way to discover tech tools that will help your blog-based business grow

When I first started working on my business, I found it easy to research the design and content end of what people in my field were doing. What wasn’t so easy was figuring out what tech tools my aspirational companies used. Until I learned about tech stacks that is!

Don’t Fall Into The Tool Envy Trap When Evaluating Tech Tools

Before I go into how I solved that problem, I want to make sure that I talk a little bit about what I call tool envy. Tool envy is a type of mindset we entrepreneurs can get into when we are feel stuck or want to distract ourselves from some of the less fun tasks at hand. It is a state of thinking that new tools will solve all your problems and can lead to hours or days lost doing non-strategic things that will not grow your business (but will probably be fun).

I am going to show you a site that will give you insight into some of the tools that world’s largest companies are using and I don’t want you to fall into the tool envy trap. Before you add any tool to your technology stacks ensure that the tool makes sense for you at the stage you are at and that you aren’t just adding it because you don’t know what to do next or don’t want to do what you should be doing next.

To give you a quick example of what I am talking about, when I first started my business, I thought I needed a marketing automation tool that would do everything for me from automated outreach, to being my CRM, to letting me send emails. The tool itself was great, but with no customers and no list, I ended up spending a lot of time setting it up when I should have been working on growing my list and planning. That doesn’t mean that the tool was wrong for my business, just that it wasn’t right at that time. Okay, now that I’ve given you fair warning, let’s get to the ultra-amazing site that will help you understand what tools top startups are using.

The Best Site For Finding TechTools

The site that has helped me really understand the tools that are available for building and growing a business is Stackshare.

Stackshare is a website that allows companies to share their technology stacks. A technology stack is basically a group of tools that a company uses and is typically divided into subcategories. Stacksocial divides the tech stacks into the following categories:

  • Application and Data – This includes the programming languages, hosting environments, and frameworks used to build the sites or services.
  • Utilities – This includes tools that help with analytics, testing, email sending, A/B testing and more
  • DevOps – These tools are related to the health and performance of websites.  Given that most of your sites on WordPress, this section may not be of as much interest to you.
  • Business Tools – This includes tools that help companies run the day to day operation of their businesses.

On their site you can either view tools by company or by category.  For example, if you wanted to see all the tools Pinterest uses you could view them on Pinterest’s stack page.  Or, if you wanted to see all the popular business tools companies are using you could view them in one place.

Beyond Tech Stacks

Researching tech stacks is a great way to get insight into the tools major companies are using to run their business.  Many companies also put together marketing stacks and while I haven’t found a one stop, easy place to view marketing stacks, you can still google “marketing stack” + company name and often you will be able to view the marketing stacks companies are using.

If anyone knows of a good resource for finding marketing stacks please let me know!

Your Biz Growth Homework

For today’s homework, I’d like you to think about a need you might have in one of the tech stack categories I’ve listed above.  Once you’ve thought of the need, search through Stacksocial’s site to find tools that might help you fill that need.

Extra Credit

Help your fellow blog-based business owners out and add your own stack to Stacksocial.  Share a link in the comments below.

Being Realistic When Starting A Blog-based Business Will Make You More Successful

I’ve been there. I read an article on a blog and suddenly I’m like YES, this is the answer to all my prayers. I’ll just put together some nice looking pages, write a little content and whazoom, I’ll have a successful biz. But starting a blog-based business takes a little more then that!

If this sounds like you, I’m going to make you back up a moment, not to crush your dreams, but to help you grow them by being realistic about your business. Building a blog-based business is hard work. It’s just as much work as any other type of business, even if the tasks seem a little more enjoyable or a little less daunting.

And just like any other entrepreneur, you will find yourself challenged, disillusioned, hopeful, strengthened, scared, excited and oh so many more things. If you understand this from the beginning, you will be able to handle the inevitable ebb and flow that starting a business creates in your life.

So why be realistic when starting a blog-based business? Two reasons. One, you need to plan and you just aren’t going to plan very well if you think building this type of business is simple. Number Two? And this is the most important thing – I don’t want you to give up before you have given your idea the chance to flourish.

Creating A Realistic Plan For Your Business

Blog-based businesses require a lot more then good content and pretty pictures. Make sure you have taken into consideration the following areas when starting one. I’ve listed a few questions for each to get you started.

7 Things To Consider When Planning Your Blog Based Business



What platform are you going to build your blog on?
What tools and technology will you need to use that you already know?
What will you need to learn or outsource?



How will you get users to your site?
If you advertise, where will you place ads?
How will you build your social media audiences and what platforms will work best for your topic?
How will you build your email list?



What products will you sell?
Where can you reach potential customers?
What will your sale process look like (will you do outreach or rely on people coming to you?



What kind of content will you write that will help your business grow?
How will you get more people to read your content?


Data Analysis

How will you use data to help you make decisions?
What are your plans for tracking user interactions on your site?
What are the goals you need to track?



What are your brand colors and font?
What type of images will be consistent with your brand?
How will you ensure consistency across your site & all your marketing materials?


Customer Service

Will you use a solution for customer service or start simple?
Will you have a phone number customers can call?
What is your policy for replying to customer service inquiries?

Don’t Give Up Before You’ve Given Your Business A Chance

We’ve all heard success stories from bloggers who seem to start a blog-based business overnight. Their success seems easy. Add a few affiliate links, tweet a few times & suddenly they have a biz. It’s just not true. Building a business takes time. It requires you to be accepting of the fact that you are going to make mistakes. There are times when you will feel like there is no hope and other times where you will feel optimistic. If you have over-inflated expectations of where you will be in a month or a year, it’s very possible that you will quit before your business ever has a chance to be successful.

I like to think of it in stages. First you put a foundation down. Then you learn how to bring people to what you’ve built. Then you learn how to sell your products or offerings. Then you adjust based on what you learn.

So the next time you feel frustrated or worried about the success of your blog-based business, take a step back and try to evaluate it from the step you are at. If you are just building the foundation, you can’t expect massive sales. Even when you first learn how to sell your products or services, you might only be selling a few and that is okay. Take your successes and build upon them, no matter how small they are.

Your Biz Growth Homework

Take the time to evaluate the expectations you have for your business. Are they realistic? Are you putting too much pressure on yourself to succeed too quickly? How will your measurements of success change along the way?

Extra Credit

Create a roadmap for your business. Detail each major stage you feel your business will go through and create realistic goals for each. For example, if you are planning your foundational stage an example goal may be launching your website. If you are planning your early sales stage, an example goal may be getting your first sale.

Showcase other bloggers products and score big

Having a core set of products to sell can help cement you as an expert in your field, but what do you do if you are just starting out or haven’t had the time to create products to sell yet?  One of the simplest ways to begin making money online is to advertise other people’s products.

The affiliate programs you sign up for don’t always have to be with major companies.  Many blogger’s offer their own affiliate programs and often have higher payout then traditional affiliate programs.

Why you should advertise other blogger’s products

Why use your web traffic to advertise other people’s products?  One of the core advantages to doing this is that you can hand pick high quality products to advertise on your site and make money off of them every time someone buys one without having to do the hard work of creating a product.

Another advantage of offering other’s products on your site is that you can increase your usefulness to your reader.  We all know how long it takes to create a good product.  When you choose products that complement your blog rather then compete with it you are giving your readers more resources to help them reach their goals.  The goal is not to overwhelm your reader with offerings but to choose truly useful products that will enrich their lives (and make you money while doing it).

Why become an affiliate of a blogger’s program versus a large companies program?

Being an affiliate of a larger company is a great way to make money.  Definitely explore that option.  Offering other blogger’s products is a smart move when you want to offer unique items that don’t have a corporate feel.  Blogger’s also tend to create digital products giving them the ability to offer larger affiliate payouts then a company selling physical items due to the overhead involved.

5 Things to take into consideration when choosing product’s to become an affiliate of


Choose something you have used and like using

Don’t do your readers a disservice by selling things you haven’t tried or that you don’t really like.  Losing credibility with your readers will loose you far more money in the long run then you will make with a quick sale here and there. Plus it’s easy to find great products made by bloggers – you have no excuses!


Look for high payout items

I’ve seen payouts as larger as 50% on products.  Bloggers often offer high payouts to drive massive sales – take advantage of this be on the lookout for high paying affiliate offerings that complement your blog.


Let other’s products supplement your own, not overwhelm your offering

It’s important to limit the number of products you offer or integrate them into your site in different ways.  The goal is to maintain your brand integrity while showcasing other’s work.


Be creative when showcasing their product

If you did number one you probably have a lot to say about their product.  Banner ads aren’t the only way to get the word out about someone’s product, use blog posts, social media and even paid advertising to push sales.


Track and rework your offerings

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when working with affiliate sales is to just put them on auto pilot.  Track how many sales you are getting and adjust your product offering accordingly.

Where to find blogger’s products to be an affiliate of

The best place to find products is to start looking on the blogs that you read.  Search their site for “affiliate” or send them a quick email to find out if they offer an affiliate program.

Examples of High Paying, Quality Affiliate Products Created By Bloggers

  • Empire Building Kit and other Unconventional Guide Products
    Commission: 51% commission*
    Topic: Business Building, Travel
  • My Knowtbook
    Commission: 35% commission*
    Topic: Marketing, Blogging, Online Businesses
  • Tasty Food Photography eBook
    Commission: 50%
    Topic: Food Photography
  • Building a Framework, the Ultimate Blogging Handbook
    Commission: 40%
    Topic: Blogging
  • Momtographie Online – Photography Course for Moms
    Commission: 25%
    Topic: Motherhood, Photography
  • Triple Your Travel eBook
    Commission: 51%
    Topic: Travel
  • Brilliant Bundt Cakes eBook
    Commission: 50%
    Topic: Cooking

*as of this posting date

Your Biz Growth Homework

Goal: Advertise 1 blogger’s product on your site

Find 1 blogger affiliate program that you feel would be a good fit for your blog and sign up for it.  Implement a basic banner ad with tracking on it to get started.

Next Steps:

Brainstorm ways you can drive traffic to their link and create a schedule for implementing these.

Remember you don’t have to stick to banner ads, you could write a review of the product and include affiliate links in the post.  You could tweet about it on twitter or post about it on Facebook.  You could even put aside a small budget to start paid advertising.

Extra Credit:

Find a way to track your affiliate earnings easily.

The Google Analytics Report That Will Help You Really Understand Your Website Traffic and Make Data Driven Changes

What is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when building a blog based business?  Not using data to drive your decisions.  Don’t worry, I’m not one of those data crazies who thinks you need to analyze every single change but I do think you need to spend time looking at analytics reports, analyzing them and responding to them.

Using data can save you time and money AND give you a major advantage over your competition.

Data = An Important Tool For Growth

Need proof? Check out this article that shows how changing your call to action can increase your conversions (now imagine you didn’t look at the data, you would have no idea what caused the increase and could possibly change the button text again without realizing what impact you were having).

This example illustrates how important it is for you to be tracking and analyzing your website data.  But what if you wanted to compare your data not to your own performance, but to your performance against your competitors?   Typically that type of information is expensive to get but if you use google analytics to track your site you are in luck.

What Are Google Analytics Benchmarking Reports?

Google’s benchmarking reports let you compare your own data to industry data.  The data comes from other companies who use Google Analytics and share their data so the sample size is typically pretty large.  You have the option to choose from over 1600 categories of industry data and can refine the reports by geography and traffic size to get true level comparisons where possible.

The most helpful section of the tools are the channel reports where you can compare overall session numbers, referral numbers, social numbers, organic search numbers and more.

How Can Benchmarking Reports Help Me?

Benchmarking allows you to compare your data with aggregated industry data from other companies who share their data. This provides valuable context, helping you to set meaningful targets, gain insight into trends occurring across your industry, and find out how you are doing compared to your competition.

You can choose from over 1600 industry categories, using a menu in the Benchmarking reports. You can further refine the data by geographic location and select from seven traffic size classifications, allowing you to compare your property against properties with similar traffic levels in your industry. For example, if you were a small hotel in the UK, you could compare your web property with all properties in the “All Hotels and Accommodations” industry in the United Kingdom that receive 500 to 1000 average daily sessions.

How To Use Google’s Benchmarking Reports

You can only use the benchmarking reports if you also allow your data to be shared so be sure to check the “Contribute anonymous data to an aggregate data…” box in the settings for your site’s property if you can’t currently access the benchmarking tools.

To access the benchmarking tools simply:

  1. Go to your web property’s dashboard
  2. Click the Audience link in the left sidebar
  3. Click Benchmarking in the audience submenu
  4. Choose Channels under the benchmarking submenu
  5. From this view you can adjust the report by industry, daily session size and country/region
Your Biz Growth Homework
  1. If you aren’t tracking your data already start tracking with Google Analytics.  You will need at least a month’s worth of data tracked to really start benefiting from these reports.  The more, the better.
  2. In google analytics go to your dashboard and click on the Audience link and then click on the benchmarking link. Choose ‘Channels’ & under ‘Industry’ at the top of the page choose the industry that is closest to your own.  Also be sure to choose the ‘Size by Daily Sessions’ that best reflects your current daily session volume and the country/region that best reflects your own.

How does your site compare to your industry’s benchmarks?  If you have stats that are significantly less then industry benchmarks take note of those stats and start listing tactics you can use to improve them.  Your goal over the next month should be to get yourself in parity with the stats you are seeing in your industry.  If your stats are all higher then your industry’s stats then move on to the extra credit.

Extra Credit

Choose the ‘Size by Daily Sessions’ value that is one higher then your own.  Look for easy wins – areas where you can improve your stats quickly or where you are already close to meeting the industry standards in this section.  Your next growth aspiration should be to move up in session size, use the data you are seeing to create tactics and success measurements for growth.  Figure out exactly how you are going to move towards these goals and create an implementation plan.  Over the next few months measure how you are doing in the key areas under channels and adjust your plan accordingly.

Understanding Facebook Retargeting

If you haven’t heard of retargeting yet, I’d bet you have experienced it and just don’t know it.  Ever wonder how big brand’s ads seem to pop up everywhere you go after you’ve visited their website?  It’s not a coincidence.  It’s something called retargeting (also known as remarketing).

Here’s how it works – you visit a company’s website and when you go to the page, your browser’s information is saved by the retargeting company.  When you visit other pages that contain ads from that company’s remarketing network, the network knows which ads to show based on the info that was saved and displays ads from the company you originally visited.

What is Facebook Retargeting?

Facebook remarketing is a service Facebook  provides through their advertising tools that allows you to show ads on Facebook to people who have visited your website.  This can be very general (anyone who has visited your website) or more specific (someone who visit’s a specific landing page for your product).

Why use Facebook Retargeting?

What retargeting does is give you a chance to win back potential customers who have left your site and to boost your brand awareness.  Most people who visit your website will not complete a purchase, many will never visit again.  Finding a way to stay in contact with them/continue to market to them keeps you from completely losing that lead and gives you a second chance at making that sale.

Using Facebook for remarketing is an easy way to dip your toes into the world of remarketing.  It’s simple to set up, you can start with a small budget and you can easily control how much you spend.

Facebook Retargeting How To

Facebook retargeting is relatively easy to set up.  Follow these instructions to start retargeting on Facebook.


Set up your Facebook Pixel

This simply involves placing code that Facebook provides to you on every page of your website you want to track.  I typically place this code in a shared footer so that I only have to place it in one file on the site


Create an audience

Once you have added the pixel, you can set up a custom audience that is based on visitors to your website.


Create an ad for the custom audience you just set up

Once you have created the custom audience, it will appear in your add creation tool. You can now create ads targeting your current site visitors.

Once your tracking pixel is in place you can visit your website and see that visit show up in your ad manager’s pixel tool to ensure it is working.

Questions and Answers About Facebook Retargeting

How much does Facebook retargeting cost?
The beauty of Facebook retargeting is that your upfront costs are low, they work exactly like any other ad you would set up so you can set a small budget to try things out and get an idea of what types of results you can expect.

How long does Facebook retargeting take to start working?

Retargeting will begin right away, but remember, the longer that pixel code is on your website the larger your potential audience will be.  It’s important to keep this in mind as your results may improve over time simply because your potential retargeting audience will be larger.

What is the benefit of retargeting over traditional Facebook ads?

The theory behind retargeting is that having multiple exposure point for your brand will make potential customers more likely to buy from and engage with your brand.

Want to go even further?  Try creating a lookalike audience.

Remember that tracking pixel you set up?  It doesn’t just help with retargeting, it also gives Facebook data on your current visitors that is invaluable to targeting new customers. Once you’ve set up a custom audience you can create a lookalike audience, in this case a set of people who share characteristics with people who have visited your website.  This allows you to target people you have not interacted with who share characteristics with your current site visitors.  In fact it’s really like having 100 brains doing all the heavy lifting for you.

You can create lookalike audiences on any custom audience so don’t limit yourself here.  If you have a mailing list, import it to a custom audience and make another lookalike audience – just one more way to reach the people you need to reach.

Your Biz Growth Homework

Goal: Become familiar with Facebook Retargeting

Set up a retargeting campaign.  Retarget based on all your website visits (not visits to a specific page).  Track your results and share them below.

Next Steps:
Do some thinking on where retargeting might work for you.  Make a list of all the areas on your site where it would make sense to retarget users.

You can create custom audiences for so many things.  For example you can create a custom audience for people who visit specific web pages or you can create custom audiences for people who have not visited your site in a certain amount of time.

This fine-tuning of your retargeting campaigns will really allow you to see what works and what doesn’t work as well as deliver content geared towards specific segments of your user base.

Extra Credit:

Create a lookalike audience based on the custom audience you created for the retargeting campaign and run an ad campaign for this custom audience to either increase your Facebook likes or increase your website visitors.

In both cases you will be gaining exposure with potential customers similar to those who have already shown interest in your website.