How Pros Make Money Online

Income Diary

7 Surefire Signs that You’ll Never Be Successful Online

By:     Topics: Blogging     More posts about:

You have high aspirations for your blog.

You think about what it’s going to be like when it’s big-time and how it’s going to solve all of your problems.

I think everyone does. But rarely does anyone think about the critical mistakes that they could be making right now.

I haven’t figured out the key to success, but I can tell you the surefire signs that you’ll never be successful online and how you can avoid being destined to fail.

1. You Think that Your Content is Great

“I have a blog. I’m writing great content. I’m tweeting. I’m liking. I’m plus-one-ing. Yet, I’m not getting traffic, subscribers, or sales.”

You want to know the real reason? Your content isn’t great.

When you’re new at something, you tend to think that you’re great at it. The farther you get into it, the more you realize how much you have to learn.

Actionable: Strive to make your reader better off with every word that you write. If a word doesn’t have a purpose, axe it.

2. You’re Not Interested in What You’re Doing

Ever notice how hard it is to read a book that you’re not interested in? Imagine if you had to write it.

If you haven’t convinced yourself of the importance of your blog, then it’s going to be difficult to convince others.

Actionable: Choose an audience and topic that you’re truly interested in helping and writing about.

3. You Don’t Make Your Audience the Hero

Ever watch a great movie and think, “What was it about that movie that made me enjoy it?” The secret? Great screenwriters make you feel like you’re the hero.

You can do the same with your blog.

Brian Clark recently wrote about how great writers make audience the hero by helping them overcome their extreme ordeal and seize their treasure.

In order to do that, you need to understand your audience. Like, really understand them, where they’re coming from, and where they want to go. To figure that out, ask them. Get to know them like a best friend.

Actionable: Run a survey, post a poll, or build the question, “What are you struggling with?” into your auto-responder.

4. You’re Not Making Connections with Other Influencers in Your Niche

Business has and always will be done through people. The Internet doesn’t change that.

If you want to get ahead, you’ll need help from others. People pull strings for people they know and like.

For your success online, the most important people for you to know are the bloggers and influencers who already appeal to your audience.

Actionable: Find them. Comment on their posts. Reply to other people in their communities. Send them an email thanking them for what they do and recommending how you can help. Whatever you do, don’t start your relationship by asking them to do something for you. (For the record, offering a “free” guest post with just two backlinks doesn’t help them.)

5. You’re Not Selling Anything

Unless you’re independently wealthy, have a day job, or comfortable living outside, you’ll have to eventually make money from your blog.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to do that.

In general, you can sell one of four things:

  1. Your audience. You can sell ad space, write paid reviews, or paid directory listings.
  2. Your products. Digital or physical.
  3. Others’ products. Through affiliate marketing.
  4. Your ideas. To get speaking and consulting gigs.

Actionable: Either offer something for sale or decide what you’re going to sell.

6. You’re Not Committed to Continuous, Meaningful Learning

“What worked a month ago probably won’t work today. The Internet changes so quickly. It’s impossible to keep up. You have to stay on the bleeding edge if you don’t want to get left behind. Blah, blah, blah…”

Too many people come up with too many reasons not to start learning.

The Internet might change, but people don’t. Before you can appeal and sell to people, you need to understand them. Then you need to study the strategies that people use to attract and help people.

  • Good: Read blogs.
  • Great: Read books (maybe Web Domination?)
  • Greatest: Do things to see if they work.

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I have to learn.

Actionable: Find a book that’s going to teach you something and read it. Act and repeat.

7. You Don’t Know the Result that You Want

You want to have a big website, help a lot of people, and make a lot of money, right? That’s like saying, “I want to go to the restaurant, sit down at a table, and eat good food.”

How can you get what you want if you don’t know exactly what you want?

A better intended result is 100,000 unique visitors per month with 10,000 active subscribers so you can help many of them for free while a portion become paying customers or high-end clients.

Actionable: Think about the ideal situation or outcome for you and your blog. At what point do you accomplish your goals? Then visualize how you’re going to get there.

The Final Word

I wrote this post to help you take notice of any destined-for-failure mistakes that you’re probably making right now.

I want you to know because I want you to change. Once you’re aware, you can improve. Success results from a long series of improvements.

What do you think? Did I miss any?

Photo by: raspberreh

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  1. Rudolph says:

    Great Post Nickolas- I’v Just Started A Blog, And I Needed To Know Those 7 SureFire Sings.

    Thanks 🙂

  2. Thomas @ Mobile App Tycoon says:

    Great pieces of advice here – blogging is one of those things where you just need to get started, learn from your mistakes, improve, and then succeed – but only if you haven’t given up already. I think your post will help people be “ahead of the game” already though and give them the best chance of success!


    • Nicholas Tart says:

      That was my goal, Thomas. I wrote this post to spotlight things that took me an embarrassingly long time to learn.

  3. darssh blog says:

    That is truly, the most powerful reasons that every entrepreneur should think of.

    I like the networking part. Every newbie (like me) should show the leaders in his niche that he is something.

    Within a few emails, I got replies from guys such as Micheal Dunlop (founder of Income Diary), Neil Patel, and few other guys.

    I enjoy being friends with them and I like to grow my social network.

    As far as the topic of making money from a website is discussed, the most useful way to make billions is to have something notable, helpful, and awesome to sell.

    What thing do you think you have which is notable, helpful and awesome?

    – Darshan

    • Nicholas Tart says:

      I just read a “Founder’s Story” post and one thing this guy said is that, if he had to do it over, he would spend the first 5 years doing nothing but meeting people. You’re on the right track, Darshan. To answer your question, I think it’s my curiosity for how the world works and my determination to figure it out.

  4. Very useful post Nicholas, some people will find themselves in here, I almost did with “not selling anything” but then remembered that I’m selling ad spaces on my blog 🙂
    thanks for sharing

    • Nicholas Tart says:

      Hey James. How are the ads working out? I’ve met very few people who make any sort of substantial income from ads. Just curious.

  5. Philos Mudis says:

    All valid points I should say! I think many bloggers never do really much to genuinely connect with other influencers in the niches they are trying to dominate.

    May be, it is because they haven’t decided to give this more thought. May be they have that in their future plan – who knows.

    • Nicholas Tart says:

      I think it’s intimidating and people don’t know how, Philos. I get a couple dozen emails per week from people who I’ve never met asking me to do things for them. That doesn’t work. It can’t.

  6. Justin Devonshire says:

    Thanks for this article Nicholas,

    I relate most to number 2 – not having a genuine passion, and the reading / writing a book metaphor.

    I’ve started blogs in the past, related to fitness but to be honest I targeted a bigger market for the ‘logical’ reason of making more profit.
    However I soon realized that without the true passion of serving the exact niche I wanted to I couldn’t stay motivated to give my best work, and so profits suffered (or at least haven’t been as good as they could have been).

    I’ve rectified this mistake with my new blog, and have been fortunate to realise this mistake early.

    Following the money is a surefire way to not live up to your potential. I think money is a decent motivator, but if its your sole motivation then its not really a passion, and you’ll end up failing.

    Thanks again for your work


    • Nicholas Tart says:

      Glad you learned that lesson. What’s your new blog, Justin?

      • Justin Devonshire says:

        Nicholas, my new blog is

        If you check it out I’d love to hear your thoughts.

        • Nicholas Tart says:

          Sure thing, Justin. I read parts of your “6 Rules” and “Muscle Food 101” posts. You seem to be doing a good job of writing long, informative posts. If anything, I would focus on cutting down on the word counts while maintaining the same amount of information. Why do you think you’re not getting comments?

          Check out I came across it the other day. They’re getting a million uniques per month.

          • Justin Devonshire says:

            Thanks Nicholas, I appreciate your time in reading those.

            I haven’t been expecting comments yet as I’ve not been focused on driving traffic to the site yet, until I think I have enough good content on there.

            Although I have started looking at traffic generation today. I’ve started to get the word out on Facebook and Twitter, and I’ll be contributing some guest blog articles through this week.

            I’m also leaving comments on some top related blogs, and getting started on a couple of related forums.

            Are there any other strategies you’d recommend at this point?

            I’ll take a look at that site, thanks again.


            • Nicholas Tart says:

              I did squats for the first time in months yesterday, partially because of your advice.

              I think all of those are great starts, especially helping people in forums. Just make sure you’re optimizing your posts correctly. Here are a few articles to help with that:,, and

              Have you used before? As a blogger, I wouldn’t take posts from it because they’re written on a topic rather than for my audience. There’s a big difference in quality there.

              • Justin Devonshire says:

                Thanks Nicholas. I actually have all those posts printed and kept in my daily tasks file. I’m getting a bit better with SEO and keywords although I have soem way to go.

                I have used MyBlogGuest before (as a recomendation from Michael I think). I don’t take posts, I only write articles for sites that cater to my niche of men. I’ve used this with some success in the past with my women’s fitness blog. I sent articles to fashion, shopping, womens health, and other female-related sites.
                I got some decent traffic and referrals from a few of the sites.
                My plan now is to do the same (Im contacting around 10 blog owners per day) to ask if they’d like me to submit articles for them (after seeing that they have a good, nice site and decent traffic).

                It’s also great that you are getting back into fitness. I’d be happy to discuss your goals with you and work with you to put together a personalised plan that you can use at home or at a gym. My email address is – send me a message if you’d like to do something like that – free of charge of course.

  7. OnlineFastCashToday says:

    Thanks Nicholas for your actionable posts. It is very practical and must-know truth for online marketer.

  8. ntathu allen says:

    When I first started to blog I didnt realise there was sooooooo many parts to writing/publishing/promoting/building a blog. There is a lot to take in and learn. The thing I am appreciating more and more is the relationship building side of blogging. Bloggers are people and I am finding it easier just to get to know a few people and get to know/like and trust them. And as you suggested to read and follow a few a popular blogs in your niche and share comments/rt their upates etc. Also there is something about finding your own voice and way of sharing your work in an authentic and real manner.

    • Nicholas Tart says:

      Those are all great lessons, Ntathu. I’ve had to learn them as well. I especially like that last one. What do you do to keep an authentic tone to your writing?

  9. Ali Khan says:

    Thanks a lot for the post, Nicholas. My own blog is suffering from one of these problems in a bad way. Hoping to put your suggestions into action asap 🙂

  10. Awesome post about succeeding online with a website or blog. Also another thing that can really bring more people to your online space is marketing by using business cards. I was on your blog the other day (14 clicks) looking up info about business cards, and you had great tips!

    • Nicholas Tart says:

      Ah, thanks, Donna. That article does well. Do you do anything to track the effectiveness of your business cards?

  11. Conscious Web says:

    There were some decent points made clear, but the key to the success of your blog and anything else you do is “persistence.” You determine your own fate, not just your audience… Conscious Web

    • Nicholas Tart says:

      I disagree, C-dub. I think persistence is important. But persistence can’t get an elephant to climb a tree.

  12. Do you recommend anyone who can do this for a company?

  13. Azul Terronez says:

    This post was useful. I was intrigued by your comment about “Making Connections with Other Influencers in Your Niche.” Do you find that ‘Influencers’ are eager to connect when you reach out to them? If so, what can I do to offer to help or connect with you?

    Thanks again for the wonderful post.

    • Nicholas Tart says:

      “Influencers,” I’ve found, are interested in connecting with people who are willing to help them and people get results from taking their advice. If you’re trying to connect with one, it’s your responsibility to figure out how you can use your skills and resources to help them. How can you help?

  14. Melissa Rodriguez says:

    Thanks for the post, Nicholas! So many helpful tips.

    What was most important to me is reaching out to others in your niche. This has proved valuable for me and my niche (fitness for obstacle racing). It’s refreshing to see how helpful fellow bloggers are of each other, especially those within your niche. You just need to make the connection with them & see how you can mutually help each other out.

    Thanks again!

    • Nicholas Tart says:

      I’ve found that it helps to meet them in person as well, Melissa. I probably wouldn’t be writing here if I hadn’t met Michael at a conference a few years ago.

  15. Great post. I like the second point. So important to have an interest in your subject. Probably also better to have one blog to start off than 5 or 6. No time in the day to divide yourself between all of them.

  16. Hi Nicholas,

    Great Post! It was lost for a while on starting another blog and your post did a great job to help make a better decision. I love what you said…But persistence can’t get an elephant to climb a tree.
    That help me!
    Many thanks

    • Nicholas Tart says:

      Glad I could help, Andrew. That was an Einstein quote reference: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

  17. Sheyi | says:

    whao, you talked about me here mostly but I’m making amendments. I’ve started adding affiliate links to amazon books that my guests promote on my blog.


    • Nicholas Tart says:

      That’s a good start, Sheyi. If you have a list, ask them what they’re struggling with. That’ll give you a good idea of how else you can help them.

  18. Dean Saliba says:

    i have been criticised in the past for not selling anything on my blog. But I am selling something, I’m selling the idea of making money online. 🙂

  19. Sune @ ExtraIncomeBlogger says:

    Great post! My blog has been up-and-running for a few months now and I’m still learning about things that could improve my blog, on a daily basis! It seems that blogging (and everything that goes with it) is a never-ending learning experience. But I love it!

  20. Having targets to aim for can really help you focus and stay motivated. Making connections with people is a big one. Other than commenting on peoples blogs how do you connect with them ? Offering to do something for them and hoping that they will reciprocate in some way later ?

    • Nicholas Tart says:

      It depends on your skills and resources, Ade. I first reached out to lots of people by interviewing them for a book. I’ve also found areas of their websites that could be improved and offered to help for free. Locally, I take people out to lunch and coffee all the time. You don’t hope that they reciprocate. You just focus on doing something meaningful for them and hope that they appreciate it.

  21. Nick Messenger says:

    Hi Nick,
    As usual another great post – thank you!
    I was particularly drwn to your first point about thinking your content is great…………when really it isn`t!!!!!
    When you`re new to a niche & starting to learn the subject how do you go about making sure that your limited knowledge comes over in an interesting & informative way?
    This is a problem most of us has, as we are / were newbies at one time!

  22. Nicolas,

    I enjoyed your blog post. As I was reading it I was thinking of someone who wants to make money with their blog but that’s about all. The content, as you say, will not be great. They will not love what they are doing. The blog will look like i is written by someone who is more interested in making money than helping others. I think you can do both, if you are really there to benefit others. Give your best to help and you will do well.

    I have found that building relationships builds my business.
    Thank you again for a well- written post.

    Mike W

  23. Kelechi says:

    Hello everyone.. great comments here

    Hey Nick.. really an awesome post… lots of insightful stuff. The one out of the 7 that hit home for me was the second point… “not interested in what you are doing”. Ever since I stopped chasing the money and hype in our modern day internet/affiliate marketing niche and i started blogging about my real passion which is entrepreneurship.. I already feel a sense of direction in my business..

    My new website under development is please let me know your thoughts about it and any advice would be appreciated..

    – Kelechi

  24. Farid Ahmed says:

    Hi Nick,

    I am good at excel and I am a Microsoft Office Specialist (Excel 2010 Expert). I love Microsoft Excel and I was exposed to different complex problems. I want to start a consulting for Excel solutions. What are my chances of success and how is the market for this kind of business?

    Farid Ahmed

  25. A great post, things I already knew in the back of my mind but seeing someone spell them out just reinforces them. One thing I have noticed here that I felt was worth pointing out is that you also focus on what comes after – the comments.

    You replied to a vast majority of commenters and this shows you are active and I think that is great – though I wonder if it is also the reason your commenters don’t reply to each other – it feels like butting in? I guess it’s hard to strike a balance.

    I have been putting some ideas together for a new web app with a blog as a strong part of the marketing effort so I will be reminding myself of your excellent points often, and checking back to the income diary to see what else is happening too.

    Thanks again, Callum.