When Our Blog Became a Business: How We Made $2,000 from One Blog Post

donnie-law-blog-to-businessI’m sure most bloggers experience periodic “ah ha!” moments. These are the moments when you realize your business will never be the same, when something clicks that gives you the confidence to take a giant mental step forward in building your thing online.

This happened for Abby and I this past February. You see, I’m obsessed with “going paperless.” I scan everything with my Fujitsu Scansnap and meticulously organize all of our household documents in Evernote. Abby had recently written quite a few posts about getting organized in the new year and she thought a post on going paperless with Evernote would be valuable to her readers. You can read the full post here.

That post changed my mindset and made us some money. Before I talk about the dollars here are 5 reasons the post was a success:

1. Passion meets expertise

This post wasn’t a reach for me in any sense of the word. I have been obsessed with organization,productivity, and going paperless for the last few years. I’ve read hundreds of blog posts and numerous books and eBooks on the subject. I’m passionate about the subject, so much so that it spills over onto friends and family and they are constantly asking me questions about my system.

In most cases, passion isn’t enough to be an authority on the subject. You actually have to know what you’re talking about. I had put in some hard work over the past few years testing and tweaking my system before I shared anything with the world.

Passion + Expertise = Magic

If I lacked passion or expertise I think my wife’s readers would be able to see right through it. Readers are smart; they know when you don’t care, and they know when you don’t know what you’re talking about. Don’t fake it.

If you’re writing on a subject in which you are not an expert, then you need to be honest with your readers. Be open and tell them where you are in the process. They’ll appreciate it. You always have to remember that you are a step ahead of some people but maybe behind others. Write to the people who are one step behind. Catch them up.

2. Bring something new to a niche

The post on going paperless with Evernote was a good article, but the fact remains that it’s been done hundreds (maybe even thousands) of times before. I subscribe to quite a few productivity blogs and they’ve all done posts on their “paperless systems.” There was nothing new and original about mine. Sure I have a somewhat unique perspective on what worked well for me but it was nothing truly original. I was ok with that!

What was unique was the online niche I was presenting this information to. As far as I know, no one in the mom blogger space had ever done a comprehensive tutorial on going paperless. (Please let me know if I’m wrong, I’d love to read other posts on this topic!) In publishing this post, I was bringing something new and unique to a specific niche. Like all blogging niches, everyone runs in the same circles. Everyone knows everyone within their space and theres a lot of material that everyone has seen a thousand times. Show your niche something they haven’t seen before.

3. Key affiliate partners you can get excited about

The affiliate links in the post were not an afterthought. They were top of mind when structuring and writing the post.

Before I even decided to write the article on going paperless I was considering a few other topics as well. These were good topics that I was passionate about and had some expertise in. They also would’ve been bringing something new to the mom blogger niche.

I could’ve dedicated a similar amount of time to some of these other topics, but they didn’t have the same clean affiliate possibilities that I had with the paperless post.

In the article you’ll notice that I link to different Fujitsu Scanner options through the Amazon Affiliate program. These are not cheap items! Each one costs hundreds of dollars. I realized that in order to go paperless, you need a scanner. If you need a scanner, there’s a good chance you’ll purchase one on Amazon. I gave my recommendations and sure enough, many many people purchased their scanners through my links.

The biggest earner (by far!) in the post was Evernote Essentials affiliate income. If you’re not familiar with the eBook, it’s an in-depth guide to effectively using Evernote. Many people install Evernote but are overwhelmed with all the features various ways of organizing their notes and notebooks. Evernote Essentials solves this very specific problem. Brett Kelly did a great job writing the book, and he even provides free updates to those who have purchased a previous version.

A great eBook is nice, but it’s not going to get you very far with affiliate income if you haven’t read the book. Once again, your readers can see through any forced affiliate recommendations.

When I first started using Evernote years ago, I purchased Evernote Essentials and I can say without a doubt is was the turning point in me finally adopting and consistently using Evernote. I couldn’t recommend the eBook any higher.

4. Memorable graphics, wording that matches the audience

When I wrote the post on going paperless for Abby, I did my best to format the article so it would resonate with her audience. As much as I tried, I just couldn’t match the warmth in which she writes to her audience. I bolded the wrong words, didn’t use the right headings, and didn’t include any graphics.

Abby read through my article and made some significant changes to my wording. She told me it sounded like I was yelling at the readers. Oops! That doesn’t go over well with the mom / DIY audience.

Not only did Abby tone down the harshness of my language, but she also added some memorable graphics with a picture of our family. This was at the top of the post, and I think it really encouraged her audience to scroll down and keep reading. She was also able to use the graphic on social media to draw additional attention to the post.

That’s the beauty of a husband and wife team: we compliment each other in so many ways. If Abby was writing the post it wouldn’t have been nearly as detailed and methodical. But if I didn’t have Abby’s help with the editing process, the article would’ve been a massive blog of text of me “yelling” at the reader with very few graphics. In the case of this post, we each brought very different strengths to the table.

5. Body links, not ads

Text links within the body of a useful post are powerful. When you take a look at the article on going paperless, you’ll see I have two text links promoting Evernote Essentials. The anchor text on the first is “Evernote Essentials” and the anchor text on the second is “Get the book.”

I knew that if the post was setup correctly, those two links would be the largest income earners on this particular article. I purposefully didn’t include a huge button or even a banner that doubled as an affiliate link.

I am much more hesitant to click on something that resembles an ad than a carefully placed text link within the body of the article. Text links convey “I’m recommending another resource to you,” whereas banners and buttons convey “I want something from you.” There’s a big difference.

A few days ago Justin Jackson sent out a really interesting email to his list (highly recommended). He showed the conversion rate for various email signup options at the end of his blog post.

Option #1

P.S. I’m writing a new book called Marketing For Developers. You can download a 21 page sample here.

In this example the word “here” was a simple text link.

Option #2

This option was a standard email signup form to subscribe to his newsletter.

Which option do you think converted better? The text link converted over 6x better than the email opt-in box. The text link offering something converted at 2% whereas the email signup box converted at 0.3% of visitors. The difference is stunning.

You need to understand that text links placed in the body of quality articles will  convert significantly better than any affiliate banner, button, or ad.

Results

As I’ve already mentioned, this post was a turning point in our mindset towards Abby’s blog. Before it was a serious hobby blog and now, at least in my mind, it is a business. Here’s what we made from this post in the month of February:

Evernote Essentials Affiliate Income: $1,188
Amazon Affiliate Income: $670
Total: $1,858

This amount doesn’t include the Google Adsense revenue generated from this post. That would easily put us above $2,000.

As nice as the money is, to me it was like a switch flipped in my brain regarding how we approach Abby’s blog. My new mindset is going to make all the difference moving forward.

In addition to the 2k plus in revenue from one post during the month of February, the money continues to trickle in. We make an Evernote Essentials sale almost every day and once in awhile sell a scanner through our affiliate links. Google has picked up on the article and it has increased the domain authority of Abby’s site.

How this changes the business moving forward

To some bloggers this success may not seem like much. To me, it was one of the most exciting things that happened in the past few years. I’m not overstating this.

Believe me, I played only a small part in this success. My wife put in countless hours over the past year+ building an audience, and I swooped in and wrote a decent post on going paperless. It just feels so great to have teamed up with my wife for a big success like this.

I’m convinced that little victories do a world of good for a business mindset. It’s tough building your thing online. If it takes too long before your first victory, it’s easy to lose hope. It’s easy to give up. A victory like this for us gives us the confidence to push ahead. It gives Abby the confidence to keep pushing “publish,” and it gives me the confidence to continue supporting her and helping in any way I can. This was big for us.

Possibly the most valuable lesson that we learned from this post was the power that we have when we work as a team. When our complimentary skill sets combine, we are WAY more effective than when we each work on our own. Not only does this knowledge help us in our business, it’s a great reminder for our life and marriage as well!

Don’t miss a thing!

  • http://devilish.io Simon Collins

    Great post Donnie. Affiliate marketing is definitely a nice way to bring in recurring passive income but as you say you need to actually use and care about the product otherwise people will see through you.

    In my area the challenge is that a lot of the great tools of trade I use are actually free or open source so I’ll probably have to look to other avenues.

    • http://donnielaw.com/ Donnie Law

      Thanks Simon.

      It is difficult to find affiliate partners that fit the right way. In my wife’s niche (mom bloggers) there are a quite a few but a lot of them are completely over done. All the bloggers in her space promoting the same products.

      The paperless post I wrote was something her niche hadn’t seen before. That’s why I think it was so successful.

      Would creating products in your niche be a better way to earn an income? To me, creating your own products is the most sustainable avenue you could take. We were just excited to actually earn some real money!

      Take care Simon.

      • http://devilish.io Simon Collins

        Yes, that’s my goal. Build up a bit of a following and then release a few ebooks followed by online courses and then eventually into some sort of SAAS. Basically the approach Nathan is taking (hopefully with the same outcomes eventually!). For now I’m focusing on just getting good content out there and learning to write with a good voice which is a fun challenge.

        I know what you mean about the excitement of earning real money. I made a blog for my wife a few years back and the thrill of seeing even just the moderate Adsense income come in was somewhat surprising.

        Anyway, best of luck with everything. You’re off to a great start.

        • http://donnielaw.com/ Donnie Law

          Yes Nathan Barry is great person to follow. I’m currently reading his book Authority which is just the right mix of practical steps and motivation.

          You should also check out what Sean McCabe of seanwes.com is doing. He launched a “learn lettering” course that netted close to $80,000 on the first day. This was only a few weeks ago.

          As many people say, writing everyday is the single biggest thing we can do to propel our business forward. That’s my challenge… writing 500 words a day. every day. no matter what.

  • Livvy

    Donnie, thanks for sharing. So enlightening. I was wondering about the circulation of your wife’s blog. How many readers does she have, and how many of them are on an automated notification system, such as rss and email subscriptions. One of the things that impresses me is the succinctness of your headline/ value proposition. Thanks again if you can share.

    • http://donnielaw.com/ Donnie Law

      Thanks for reading Livvy!

      My wife has built up a nice size audience since she started blogging in January 2013. In February she probably averaged 4-5k page views per day.

      Make sure to check back this week. I’ll be publishing a detailed traffic and income report for the month of February that will go into a lot more detail.

      What do you mean when you say you like the “succinctness of your headline/ value proposition” ?

      • Livvy

        It means you can really write a great, to the point, benefit-driven headline. I am a professional copywriter and marketer. Your copy is quite extraordinary. And your results prove it. Looking forward to your report.

        • http://donnielaw.com/ Donnie Law

          That means a lot Livvy! Thank you.

          If you would believe it, I really struggle with writing. Fortunately my wife (English degree) proof reads everything before I put it out in the world.

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  • http://brilliantbusinessmoms.com Sarah & Beth Anne

    Donnie, I just discovered your blog via Abby’s e-book. You two really do make a great team! Thanks for sharing so many amazing insights here! As we set up our new blog that will pair with the podcast, I definitely plan to utilize email sign-ups as you have described rather than boxes everywhere. Also, there’s an SPI podcast with LeadPages (it’s one from last year) and they discuss the fact that offering a “resource list” via email is the highest converting offer – more-so than e-books, video courses, etc. Their reasoning was that people have limited time, so just knowing what resources the leaders in their industry use to get ahead is the most enticing. They also discussed that “Teasers” like, “hint: they may not be what you expect!” help as well. Anyways, this is a long-winded response, but just wanted to share some tidbits I’ve learned. (Still trying to compile a great resource list to offer to our brand-new listeners and readers!) Keep up the great work here. I’ll definitely be following along!
    ~ Beth Anne

    • http://donnielaw.com/ Donnie Law

      Oh no the secrets out!

      I’ve looked into leadpages specifically for helping with Abby’s eBook launch. We ended up not going for it but it looks like a good service.

      The resource list is a fantastic idea for encouraging email opt-ins. Certainly a lot better than my little wording here. It won’t be hard to change either…

      You’ve settled it. That’s on my to-do list for the week. Add to my existing resource list and turn it into a clickable pdf. Setup an auto responder in Mailchimp to send the pdf after people sign up for email. And then change my wording in my current email sign up boxes.

      I have like 480 on the email list right now but it is darn near stagnant right now.

      • http://brilliantbusinessmoms.com Sarah & Beth Anne

        Love it! You’re such a go-getter! Let me know how it goes and if you see more results for email opt-ins. Another thing I’ve learned from Pat Flynn and LeadPages is that when readers hit that “Thank you” page after they have confirmed their email, don’t just give them that PDF and have them walk away, also link them back to some other killer content on your website to keep them on your page. You never want to have a point where you just say, “bye!” to your readers. (Just learned that one today.)

        Let me know if you learn any tips as you set this up because we hope to do the same thing within a few weeks!

        Beth Anne

        • Clare Thwaites

          Hey Sarah and Beth Anne and Donny (Donny, found you through Fizzle) – this is super helpful information and I’ve already opened about 5 tabs just to check out all the other things you linked to in your article. Awesome :-)

          • http://brilliantbusinessmoms.com Sarah & Beth Anne

            Thanks, Clare! Donnie’s wife Abby actually has an ebook on blogging too: justagirlandherblog.com/book
            Sarah and I do a podcast on Moms in business – most involving a lot of online marketing.
            Let us know if you have other questions. Pat Flynn’s podcasts are also an incredible resource :)

  • http://www.amominthemaking.com/ Theresa AMomInTheMaking

    Donnie that is really exciting! I like how Abby make your post sound nice to her readers… My husband Charles will sometime help me with a blog post, and I will always have to tweak the language so it is girly :)

    • http://donnielaw.com/ Donnie Law

      That’s funny Theresa. Yes Abby edits my writing like you wouldn’t believe! She’s a much better writer than I am.