I was recently chatting to some lovely blogging buddies of mine (all full time bloggers), and I noticed a bit of a theme to our conversation. It seemed to be that everyone was having a bit of a shitty month (or months) cash wise, and it was because their main (and in some cases only) source of blogging cashola had for some reason taken a World-Cup-worthy dive.
Whether it was the end of financial year (lots of brands have spent all their budget), or because of the season (not a lot of people needed their particular eproduct or main affiliate promotion in the middle of winter), or their traffic had dipped because of a Google issue so their banner impressions were way down. Whatever it was they were all feeling the pinch and getting uber stressed about it.
You see they each, as they had grown their blog, had gotten very good at generating money from one particular source and so that is what they focussed on. And when it was good, it was fantastic and very lucrative. But when things didn’t got to plan, aka right now, having all those eggs in just the one not-very-reliable basket was in fact really debilitating, super stressful, and not to sound too harsh but it’s just not good business.
So I told them about my rule of thirds.
You see I personally believe that you should never rely on just one income source for making money on your blog. This whole online thing changes so often and so fast, it is like playing Russian roulette with your livelihood to gamble it all on one thing (which usually you have limited control over).
And even two is not enough.
Think about it this way, if someone came up to you in your salaried job and said “Hey, for these next six months, we are only going to pay you half of your wage”, would you still be able to make ends meet? Probably not!
Bloggers really need to have three (at a minimum) different ways of bringing in their income, and you never want anyone of those streams to ever be more than a third of what you earn if you can manage it. It’s just too risky otherwise.
For me personally this was really something I realised only a few years ago, and I’ve been making it my personal mission to diversify my income streams ever since.
Right now my aim (and it works most months) is to have 1/3 of my income from campaigns booked via my blogging agency, 1/3 from direct ad sales, affiliates & banners, and 1/3 via my ecourse sales here on SBB.
Now of course there are some exceptions to every rule, but personally I believe it’s just good business sense. And not just with how you make your money either.
This rule also applies to your traffic.
For example I know a lot of bloggers who relied really heavily on Facebook and were getting at least 50% of their traffic that way, and then Mark Zuckerberg woke up one day and decided to make it really hard for their posts to be seen, and poof, their blog suddenly took a three-year step back.
Kind of scary right?
Over on DDG at the start of this year nearly 60% of our traffic was via Pinterest, and to say that was keeping me up at night would be kind of like saying it’s a little chilly in Melbourne today. Aka a massive understatement.
So I started focussing really heavily on trying to grow our other areas of traffic, things like our email, Instagram and also SEO, and I have it down to more like 45% now (which is still not as good as I would like, but it’s a work in progress!).
Time for a review?
If you’ve been blogging for a while, then I think it’s a good habit to get into every 6-months or so to have a look at how you are getting your traffic, and how you are making your money, and just make sure you have no one thing that if it went away, for whatever reason (and let’s not kid ourselves, this is the internet, things can go away over night), that your blog would would not survive.
If you are relying a little heavily on something, then don’t panic. The fact you have identified it now, before the shit hits the fan is a good thing.
And now you can spend the next few months figuring ways to fix it!