So you want to make money online? And you are probably looking for a magic bullet or the “secret” on how the guru’s do it. What if I told you that there are more millionaire bloggers, that started on a free blogging platform, than ANY other “make money online” industry COMBINED. and I would venture to say 99% of them never intended to make a dime.
I could name random ones forever and if you just google millionaire bloggers you will find an endless list.
Instead, I thought that I would name the ones I have a personal relationship with and remember when they started. I know them all from the digital point forums from way back in the day.
While their stories are impressive make sure you read the bottom to find out their true “secret”.
Perez Hilton – Mario lavandeira wanted to write about celebrity gossip. He posted frequently on digitalpoint and was even banned indefinitely after always arguing with people . Mario was VERY outspoken and lashed out at people whenever possible. He wrote very scathing stuff about celebrities, often captioning them with sexually explicit drawings on his perezhilton.com (free wordpress blog) website. Today the site is estimated to be worth 30-50M dollars and Mario himself has used it as a massive launching pad for his own personal brand and national exposure giving him a networth of hundreds of millions of dollars. I hit him up for a quote prior to writing this article on what made him start Perez Hilton and he said, “What set my site apart is that prior to PerezHilton.com, most blogs were mainly online journals and diaries, but that never interested me. I wanted to talk about celebrities because they’re far more entertaining. I never intended for it to make money”.
MMA Junkie – (mmajunkie.com) The founder of MMA junkie is a very private person and I will respect that. He started writing about his passion – Mixed Martial Arts, mostly focusing on the UFC. I started talking with him on digitalpoint via private message and we talked mostly about our mutual passion for playing poker. I didn’t even know about his MMA site until he ran into some legal issue with the UFC in which he sought my advice. After 2 years from the start of the site it was bringing in a significant amount of revenue and sold to USA Today for an undisclosed amount (rumored 15 million dollars). Interesting side note: MMA junkie was originally ufcjunkie.wordpress.com then moved to ufcjunkie.com then after legal threats from the UFC moved to MMAjunkie.com.
Cheezburger – A guy and his girlfriend from Hawaii made a free wordpress account and decided to start captioning pictures of cat’s and what they would say if they could talk. In a short time the site went super viral and was getting over a hundred thousand unique visitors per day. I met them in Las Vegas during pubcon in 2006 and they told me they were inspired to start the site when they came across my blog and saw my AdSense Check – although they never thought they would actually make money from it. They sold the site to an investment group for an undisclosed amount (rumored 5m) and that group put Ben Huh in charge (a close friend of mind and frequent guest on my radio show) and he grew the site and took the model to create several sister sites leveraging the traffic from Cheezburger. Failblog being the most popular.
Techcrunch – (techcrunch.com) Started by Mike Arrington in early-mid 2000’s as a blog about startups, mergers and acquisitions. Mike was a lawyer in the M&A space and started blogging about it. He cut to the bone… meaning if he thought a new startup was stupid he called it stupid. I didn’t come to know Mike until he was a couple years into TechCrunch and I was one of his advertisers after an intro from my friend Neil Patel. After I got to know Mike a little bit I used to visit the TC headquarters which was located at Mikes House and consulted with them on monetization strategies. Mike has always been good to me and I have had over 20 stories about my companies or my.. ehh.. online escapades. Techcrunch shot up to 10m in gross revenue per year and sold to AOL for 40 million dollars.
Gary Vanyerchuck On digitalpoint Gary was a hustler. I have never met anyone as aggressive as him. He should be the picture in the dictionary when you look up hustler. Anyway Gary was always hitting me up and several others on digitalpoint about his ideas. Meanwhile his personal blog, about his passion for wine, started blowing up. Gary gained nationwide notoriety when he was asked to be a guest on Ellen and Conan O’brien shows to discuss wine. He used this notoriety to write several NTY best selling books and start his own social media company worth an estimated 25 million dollars. Gary has been a frequent speaker at my events and the attendees are always blown away by his energy and passion.
John Chow – John Chow is one of my favorite stories. A child of immigrants from China who made home in Canada. One day John decided to make a blog on wordpress about people who made money online. Literally thats it. He was fascinated by people that made money online. His blog started to get traction and I noticed it when he included me in one of his stories that went viral about the top money making blogs on the internet. I talk to John a lot on instant messenger and I have a lot of admiration for the guy. John makes millions per year from his blog and is very open about it. John’s site is now titled “I make money online by telling people I make money”.
Myself – Back in the early 2000’s I was a regular contributor on digitalpoint – writing a lot of walkthroughs and guides on how to replicate what I was doing to make money online. I started to get a decent following on digitalpoint but most of my posts would get buried. Then someone there suggested I create my own blog. So I did. This blog was originally GoogleNinja.com but after Google sent me a cease and desist I obtained ShoeMoney.com. Directly this blog has never really moved the needle as far as income goes. Indirectly from the newsletter revenue, my events, and various companies I have launched its generated well over 10 million in revenue.
So whats the secret to being a successful blogger?
Passion – everyone listed above had/has an absolute passion for what they started blogging about. Normal businesses always experience a “dip”. The dip happens after you have invested all the time and money into building something – then you are trying to get people to actually use or buy what you’re doing. With a blog… especially when you never intended for it to make money… there is no dip.
Be yourself – #1 reason why nobody wants to read your blog is you think you are a news site and its the same stuff that a zillion other sites write about. A blog should be personal. If you cuss then cuss. If you have bad grammar then let it go. Just write as yourself. On ShoeMoney.com some of my most read posts have the most horific grammar, mispellings, and vulger language. My autobiography, which has sold over 300,000 copies worldwide, is as bad as my blog. English teachers cringe… but how many of them have sold 1 book let alone hundreds of thousands =P.
Don’t spend money – There is NO reason to spend money to start writing about what you love. Don’t fall for the latest gimmick for designs, SEO, plugins, etc etc. The best plugins are free. Just write. 99.999% of people who make a living from their blog never paid a dollar when they started and only put money into it when they made enough from the site to do so.
Don’t expect to make money – I can’t name one person off the top of my head who started a blog because they thought it would make them a millionaire.
Write like nobody is reading it – On ShoeMoney.com, now 11 years old, I have written an average of 3 posts per week. Sometimes I write more when I have something to say but when I am ass deep in a project it might go a couple weeks without a post. I was writing when nobody read it and someday when nobody reads it again I will still be writing.
Making money online from a blog is an amazing thing. It gives you the freedom to work when you want and for some the financial freedom they never dreamed they would have. But if you are making a blog chasing some hot topic its not going to work.