Make Your Failing Blog Earn With 3 Simple Questions

Carol Tice

Make your failing blog earn. Makealivingwriting.comDo you have a failing blog?

Most blogs are just…sitting there.

How do I know? Because I’ve been reviewing bunches of them as part of the coaching service I’m launching along with my upcoming e-book, Small Blog, Big Income.

At this point in the life of the blogosphere, I have to say I’m surprised. There’s no shortage of advice out there from mega-successful bloggers on how to build a blog-based business.

So what’s up?

I started asking these bloggers questions…and discovered a problem.

Failing blog’s house built on a weak foundation

There are some very basic building blocks that should be in place when you launch a blog — and often, they’re missing.

We press ‘publish’ because we can, without thinking through where we’re headed. The result is incoherent, rambling blogs with no apparent focus…and vague dreams of quitting freelancing and earning from our blogs that don’t come true.

The good news is, it’s never too late to lay a foundation for a blog that earns. Existing blogs can always be rethought and–with the answers to three basic questions–developed into blogs that earn.

Here are the questions you need to answer to make sure you learn how to make money writing:

Find your why

The first question I ask writers of failing blogs is about why they started their blog.

“What is your goal for this blog?”

It’s been amazing to see how many bloggers laugh nervously at this question, and then say:

“I’m not sure,” or

“I haven’t decided yet.”

When you launch a blog that has no goal, it will achieve nothing.

If you don’t have a focus, how will readers ever pick up on the drift of what you want to say? Why would they stick around?

Quick: Name a successful blog you read that has no goal to it. (Post in the comments if you’ve got one!)

Writers start blogs for many reasons — simply to have a creative outlet, as an online journal, for writing practice, to drive traffic to our writer website, or out of a passion for a particular topic.

And that’s all great.

But…if you entertain fantasies that your blog will become a platform for earning money, it needs a focused goal. You need to know why you’re writing this blog, to keep your posts on track.

For instance, when I started this blog, my goal was to share tips with freelance writers on how to earn more. Simple enough.

If you had a goal but now you see things have changed, it may be time to set a new goal. I recommend writing it down.

Imagine all the people…

Once you have a goal for your blog, the next question is:

“Who is the audience for your blog?”

You’d think if you have a blog topic, you know who the intended audience is for that topic. But again, I’ve been surprised by many bloggers’ answers, which typically run to:

“I don’t know.” Or:

“I’m hoping it’s everybody.”

That’s a surefire way to end up with a failing blog.

Even the biggest blogs don’t have an audience of ‘everybody.’ They have an audience of everybody who is interested in a particular topic.

Once you know who you want to read your blog, you can save oodles of time and do many things right. You can:

  • Write in the style and at the grade level of these readers
  • Use slang or acronyms this audience will understand
  • Create a ‘typical reader’ profile
  • Talk to people in your target audience and learn their needs
  • Figure out if these people have disposable income
  • Ask these people what they might buy from you

If you haven’t thought lately about who your reader is, see if you can create a profile– it’ll help you with the next step.

The myth of the magical cash machine

My third and final question for turning a failing blog into one that earns is the question that gets the most baffled looks.

“How will your blog earn money?”

Common answers I’ve heard recently have included:

“I hadn’t thought about that yet.”

“I have no idea!”

“I hope to write a book.”

“I tried Google AdSense ads, and only earned $1.”

Apparently, many bloggers think if they start blogging, an earning method will appear out of the mist. Money will simply appear when the time is right, like the Isle of Avalon emerging from the mists of the lake.

Or new bloggers think that earning methods like AdSense (or making a single e-book into a big seller), that work for bloggers with huge traffic, will work for their tiny blog.

Researching my e-book, I read quite a few of the popular ‘make money blogging’ e-books out there, and that’s what they all seem to say: “Master Google AdSense.”

What? This is a complete fantasy.

To give a spoiler heads-up on the basic gist of my e-book: What earns well for big bloggers with oodles of traffic is unlikely to earn much on a small blog.

Plan now, earn sooner

So how do you earn from a blog, particularly a smaller blog? Products or services your readers ask you for, that you involve them in creating. Not automated ad widgets, or affiliate selling a bunch of unrelated offers of dubious quality.

That’s why you need a goal. And a target reader in mind. Ideally, before you launch.

Then you can ask those readers what they need, build that offer, and successfully sell it — because it’s exactly what your readers wanted. And that’s how you’ll revive your failing blog and start earning from it.

What’s your blog’s goal, audience, and earning plan? Share it into the comments!

Small Blog, Big Income: Make your failing blog earn. Earn Money from your blog!




  1. Stacy Sare Cohen

    Good, relevant points, as always, Carol.

    I’m in the process of launching a new blog. My goal is to provide insights, tips and best practices about SEO, SEM and content marketing strategies. The audience is clients who want to generate more inbound traffic to their website.

    • Carol Tice

      Stacy, have you taken a look at this? ? If you’d like support on launching your blog and making sure it’s really positioned to earn, my group can help you save a lot of time. 😉

  2. Sarah H


    Great Post! I think it’s definitely what I needed right now. I just graduated from a MA where I studied public relation, advertising and marketing. I’m looking for an internship somwhere but in the meantime, I would like to start freelancing as a content writer. I started a blog a few years ago. It was initially about books, tennis and a bit of pop culture. The thing is I’d like to use my blog as a way to showcase my writing skills, but I also know that the topic I’m writing about won’t help me attract clients. I haven’t posted much this year because I was busy with school and not particularly motivated.

    Anyway, now that I’ve read your post, I think I finally get how to monetize a blog. But I’m still not sure how I could make *my* blog monetizable. The topic are know more about are books, tennis, skin care and politics but I don’t think any of these niche are very marketable.

    I Wonder if I shouldn’t write about branding (which is something I studied) or maybe try to talk about businesses…In any case, your article was very helpful! Thanks for posting it!

  3. Amy Price

    Hi Carol,
    You have TONS of great advice! I actually just started a sewing blog. I’ve had a sewing business, more like a hobby business, for many years and have made a small income making stuff for people, sewing lessons, and having an ETSY shop. I started the blog because of the affiliate marketing and being able to eventually make an income.
    MY GOAL/FOCUS….something I have to think about in more detail I think.
    My AUDIENCE- Age 13+, people in the beginner stage of learning how to sew.
    HOW WILL MY BLOG EARN $-Affiliate links thru related sewing products that fit into my post content. I also would like to market my own handmade items that I put in my ETSY shop. I also would like to review sewing products and be able to provide affiliate links with the hopes that people will purchase the product I’ve reviewed.

    As I write all this, I’m feeling I may be to vague with what I want.
    P.S.-I am reading Small Blog Big Income from my BC Stack Purchase.

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Amy — glad you got SBBI and the BC Stack! Hopefully the exercises in there can help you clarify.

      Remember that blogs with low traffic rarely earn much from ads, and it’s a challenge to earn through affiliate sales as well. Hope you can snag my SBBI sequel — “Advanced Ninja Tricks for Profitable Blogging,” which has a lot of practical ideas for creating serious income with a small blog.

      Sewing I think is a notoriously niched and low-ticket niche — most of what you’re buying doesn’t cost much, so it’s hard to earn. I wonder if there might be room for a learn-to-sew COMMUNITY though?

  4. Tom Brown

    Thanks Carol for the great advice. I am more of a talker than a writer so it’s easy for me to write blog posts if I use a speech to text app.

    • Carol Tice

      Hey, whatever works!

      At one point, long ago, I was a temporary secretary for the great talk-show host and comedian Steve Allen. He kept a tape recorder with him at all times, and was constantly leaving audio reminders and notes for himself about ideas he had…so you’re in good company. 😉

Related Posts

You CAN Write a Query Letter That Gets a “Yes”: 5 Resources

Freelance writer getting a gig after learning to write a query letter.

Love them or hate them, queries are one of the most important marketing tools for any freelancer who wants to write for magazines. And the skills you learn from writing a good query letter also help business writers and copywriters pitch their potential clients.

If you’ve been sending queries off into space and never getting a reply, you may think it’s impossible to break into new magazines. But it’s not true! Editors are always looking for new talent.

To help you learn to write a query letter that will get you the gig, we’ve pulled together a collection of five of our best posts on pitching:

Can’t Write? Try These 9 Ideas for Writing Motivation

It’s the bane of every freelance writer’s life: You know you need to sit yourself down and get some writing done, but nothing happens. The writing motivation just isn’t there. Sometimes, you can't even make yourself sit down with the computer -- even if you...