Last Updated on April 17, 2021 by James McAllister

By: James McAllister

17 Comments

Note: Listen to this post instead using the audio player below, and consider subscribing on your favorite podcast player!


So you’ve decided to start a blog. Congratulations!

But did you know that blogging is an extremely diverse business, and the business model can vary entirely depending on which category of blogger you fall into?

In fact, just about everything is different. The strategy you take is different, the type of content you’ll release is different, how you market your business is different, and how you profit is different as well.

Fortunately, all bloggers fall into one of five categories. Knowing which one you are (or rather, which you’re hoping to become) will shape everything you do going forward.

Read over each one of these carefully – one of them will surely stand out to you!

Without any further ado, let’s look at the different types of bloggers, so you can determine which style appeals to you the most.

1. The Content Machine

For this type of blogger, production is the the name of the game.

The more content they can write and release, the happier they feel. Their growth is tied entirely to the amount of content that they’re able to publish, and they may forego active marketing of that content for the sake of increasing output.

Their process looks a little bit like this – they research topics they believe they can rank for on Google, write a comprehensive article they believe will beat the ones currently taking Google’s top spots, and repeat. They don’t care quite as much about “building an audience”, as long as they are ranking for as many keywords as they possibly can.

They do not chase backlinks or spend time building them. While they may craft content designed to attract links, they rely on their ever growing domain authority and natural links to help lift them up in search results.

Usually, they focus on publishing informational content based around low-competition keywords and monetize through display ads. Affiliate marketing is also common, but these types of people don’t often like the backlink building necessary to rank for the higher-competition buyer intent keywords that are required for say, review articles.

If research and writing are your two favorite aspects about blogging,  the content machine style may appeal to you.

Benefits Of The Content Machine Model:

  • Not reliant on a small number of articles to deliver traffic. If you lose rankings for a key article, it doesn’t affect you all that much.
  • You may develop more expertise in your niche, from understanding a wider variety of topics.
  • Algorithm updates are less likely to affect you, because of your 100% organic method of growing traffic.
  • No backlink building.
  • You don’t necessarily need to follow any sort of blogging schedule, and for the most part it will be about as passive as blogging can get.
  • It’s a simple strategy – keyword research and writing are the only two things you need to pay attention to.

Drawbacks Of The Content Machine Model:

  • You’re 100% reliant on Google.
  • You probably will be putting more effort in, for the same results. You have to publish a lot of content, and growth is slow without frequent publishing.
  • A lack of backlinks or active marketing means this strategy takes a long time to get off the ground and start making you money.
  • You require a large volume of traffic to make significant money, which is very difficult in competitive niches.

2. The Competitive Link Builder

This type of blogger is almost the polar opposite of the content machine. Instead of trying to amass a large volume of traffic across many pages on your website, the competitive link builder instead focuses most of their energy on ranking key money pages.

In some cases, this may be only a single page on their website – perhaps even targeting only one keyword. Every other page on their website may be set up to rank only these few key money pages.

That’s alright though, because if they do manage to pull top spots for these competitive keywords, they may be pulling in a lot of cash.

These bloggers primarily focus on ‘buyer-intent’ keywords – keywords that indicate that the person searching them has an immediate desire to purchase a product. Often times, review blogs and Amazon affiliate sites fall into this category. They likely know roughly how many links it will take to rank a given page for a given keyword, and factor all of this in before writing the article.

Want to see an example? Type, the word ‘best’ with any expensive product after. I.e: Best headphones, best putter, best air purifier for pets, etc. You can be sure that these sites are monetizing through affiliate marketing, and had to build backlinks to rank for those top spots.

If informational content exists on the site, it’s often for the sake of building backlinks, which funnel link juice to key money pages.

If you are the analytical type that gets a thrill out of taking down the #1 spot from your competition, this style may appeal to you.

Benefits Of The Competitive Link Builder Model:

  • Not as much content is necessary to make money.
  • You can reasonably predict your costs and earnings for a given article, making it more comfortable to invest time / money into them.
  • The strategy is roughly the same, regardless of niche. This makes it easier to roll over earnings into a second site, growing an entire network of profitable niche blogs.
  • Active backlink building insulates you a bit from competitors, and often allows you to outrank higher authority sites for key pages.

Drawbacks Of The Competitive Link Builder Model:

  • There is a direct correlation between profitability of a keyword, and resources required to rank for top spots.
  • Certain niches practically require you to pay for backlinks, which goes against Google guidelines.
  • Few pages delivering the bulk of your earnings makes it easier for competitors to manually target you.
  • Cut-throat – competition may resort to shady tactics to try and take top spots. Sadly, black hat SEO, PBNs (private blog networks) and other strategies you may not wish to partake in are still being used, successfully even. If you choose to join them, your site will be at risk of being ruined by an algorithm update.

3. The Direct Response Marketer

The goal of a direct response blogger is to get the reader to take some sort of immediate action. The blog is used as a tool to attract qualified buyers, build trust with them, and push them to a convert.

eCommerce stores, professional services businesses, and SaaS companies commonly fall into this category. Their goal is either to recommend a product, agree to a consultation, encourage you to sign up for a trial, or otherwise get you to engage with them further.

Even if you don’t, they may use your visit to retarget targeted ads to you via Facebook or Google, since you’ve  already shown interest in certain topics.

Their content strategy is tailored around pinpointing problems their target customers are facing, and proposing a solution in the form of a product or service. Although they may publish informational content, this is usually more for the sake of brand awareness than to monetize with something like display ads. In fact, they often believe that other monetization options will distract readers from their core objective, and forego advertising or affiliate marketing opportunities for the sake of attracting more customers.

Benefits Of The Direct Response Marketer Model:

  • Because the traffic is targeted and all the revenue is yours, you do not need as many visitors to make the same amount of money.
  • Acquisition of a single customer may allow you to sell to them over and over again.
  • Having a digital presence insulates you from other competitors in your space, and many B&M businesses have still yet to get online.
  • Costs and return can be tracked at each stage of the funnel, making it easier to scale with paid advertising.
  • Some of the articles can help inform and educate consumers, leading to lower customer support costs.

Drawbacks Of The Direct Response Marketer Model:

  • Usually not passive, as the revenue only comes with the delivery of a product or service.
  • You’re competing with affiliate marketers for links.
  • It’s more complicated, as there are many other factors that determine whether your blogging efforts are effective.

4. The Personal Blogger

The personal blogger doesn’t start a blog with the focus of making money. In fact, they don’t really care about the money at all, although a small percentage of them may end up profiting from small levels of influence or a few high-ranking articles at some point down the line.

Instead, the personal blogger simply wants to use blogging as a form of self-expression, sharing their thoughts and ideas about a given topic. This doesn’t mean that they don’t want to grow their website, but rather the act of writing and sharing is the greatest reward in itself.

These people may not have a blog niche at all and you find them most commonly on free blogging platforms like Blogspot or WordPress.com.

Benefits Of The Personal Blogger Model:

  • You’re not really running a business, so there are no startup costs. Free web hosts are fine.
  • You’re free to write about anything and everything, at any schedule, about any topic.
  • There is no pressure.
  • You might attract a tribe of like-minded people who share similar ideas to you.
  • You’re able to create a digital archive of your truest thoughts and feelings, to look back on and share.
  • Some of these blogs still may end up making some money, even if by accident. This is rare, though.

Drawbacks Of The Personal Blogger Model:

  • In terms of the traditional measures of blogging success – traffic, influence and revenue, you’re unlikely to achieve any of these. Of course, this doesn’t really matter to the personal blogger.
  • If you operate on a free web host, your blog may be deleted or shut down at any time by the host.
  • Building an audience can be difficult, because personal bloggers often do not stick to one niche.

5. The Influencer

Lastly, we have the influencer. Typically, personal brands fall into this category.

These people approach marketing online with the goal of building a following. They may use their blog as a way to find their initial audience, and funnel people towards following them further through a platform like social media, or an email list.

Their blog is then used as a tool to further build connection with their audience through the form of helpful content, informational updates, and engagement building pieces.

Most influencers produce a lot of content, although they may not publish it all on their blog. Channels such as podcasts, YouTube and social media also make up part of their content strategy. They aren’t reliant on Google to deliver their traffic, but rather focus on getting people to follow them and consume their content over and over again across all platforms.

With the influencer model, two-way engagement is critical and influencers usually enjoy the aspects of blogging that relate to working with people.

The long-term goal of the influencer model is to maximize the return on each follower, often in the form of selling info products, affiliate marketing, and paid sponsorships with brands.

This group also tends to value fame and well, social influence, which can be rewarding in ways that other models can’t provide.

Benefits Of The Influencer Blogging Model:

  • You’re not reliant on one platform. For more information, see this post: A Strong Personal Brand Is The Ultimate Safety Net – Here’s Why You Need One.
  • You get to meet and form real connections with people, including other influencers. This can bring very powerful opportunities.
  • These businesses tend to grow exponentially over time, as they benefit from word-of-mouth marketing.
  • You can leverage your followers to give you an advantage on new platforms, or with new projects. You’re never starting from zero.
  • It’s possible to make a lot of money from each individual audience member. You do not need a massive following or massive traffic to make a full-time living with this model.
  • Fame and influence.

Drawbacks Of The Influencer Blogging Model:

  • A lot of content needs to be produced, frequently. Disappear for too long, and you’ll be forgotten.
  • Difficult to scale content production without resorting to hiring ghostwriters, which can seem inauthentic.
  • You can’t really sell an influencer blogging business to someone else. It is tied heavily to you, and isn’t as valuable without you being a part of it.

Which Strategy Do I Like Best?

I don’t think there is any ‘right’ way to approach blogging. It depends heavily on your personal style, interests and goals.

As we’ve covered, each style has its own benefits and drawbacks.

On this website, I have taken the influencer model, despite being far from an influencer (yet, hopefully hahaha.) However, this is not the model I take on my other websites.

My eCommerce brands have taken the ‘Direct Response Marketer’ model, and my newest site in the musical instrument market is taking ‘The Content Machine’ model.

The nice thing about blogging is you’re not really under any restrictions, and these blogging styles are only a set of guidelines rather than hard rules. You can mix or blend them together, or switch to a different style entirely later down the line if you want.

It’s important however to think about what your day to day work life will look like once your blog takes off. Which would you actually enjoy running the most? What benefits will you enjoy the most? What things will concern you the most?

When you know the answer to these questions, it becomes much easier to decide which is right for you.

Conclusion

Having read over each one, I’ve got to ask – which one of these categories do you believe you fall into?

Are there any others you would add to this list?

Let me know using the comment form below!

To your success,

– James McAllister

Blogging For Money

About the author 

James McAllister

James is the owner of JamesMcAllisterOnline.com. He started his first blog at the age of 11, and has since gone on to start several successful businesses. In total, these businesses have sold hundreds of thousands of units and have touched millions of lives. Here on JamesMcAllisterOnline.com, he shares his knowledge that brought him to where he is today. If you want to connect with James, follow him on your favorite social networks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

CommentLuv badge
  1. Hi James, I prefer to be the content machine. I think you have more control that way and not so dependent on any one factor. The more you write the better chances of your content being seen as long as the content is good or rather, relevant to today.
    You can be seen by the search engines if people are searching for answers that you provide in your content machine.
    Some may share your content on social media and turn it into “influence” as well.
    Great topic James! I think things are changing rapidly in 2021 and it will be interesting to see where it all ends up.

      (Quote)
    Lisa Sicard recently posted…Benefits of Converting to a VoIP Telephone SystemMy Profile

    1. Hi Lisa!

      I think there’s a lot of potential with this model, especially for those who are long-term focused. The fact that you’re not really reliant on only a few articles to build up your revenue can provide a lot of comfort especially if you’re blogging to replace your job or provide a full-time income.
      There still tends to be a lot of reliance on Google with this model due to the nature of the content being published and the usual lack of active marketing, but because you’re 100% white hat and not doing any sort of unnatural link building the risk of an algorithm update or penalty affecting you is lower.

      If anything, these sites grow quite exponentially over time as each inbound link lifts the entire website up. I’ve had articles that were nowhere to be found suddenly pick up hundreds of visits per day several years after being published as domain authority grew.

      My newest site is fully embracing this approach and I can’t wait to see how it ends up! This year is going to be interesting for sure!

        (Quote)
      James McAllister recently posted…The 5 Types Of Bloggers – Which Strategy Is Right For You?My Profile

  2. Hey, thanks to Lisa for sharing this on Linked-In or I would had never found it! Nice meeting you James, fantastic post. I think I’m 100% The Direct Response Marketer lol.. When I post content on my site my desired result is to make that sale! Mind you I genuinely enjoy my visits and comments the end goal is to turn the visitor into a Blog Engage customer and community member. I do enjoy building on these relationships so once the sale is done, I’m not, I like to build on that connection. Do you really believe all bloggers fall under these 5 blogger types? The more I think about it, I am for sure a direct response marketer.

      (Quote)

    1. Hey Brian! Thanks for visiting and happy to connect on Twitter and LinkedIn as well, thanks for that!

      I think with the right infrastructure set up blogging can be an incredible tool for generating leads and direct sales. It’s worked well for me in eCommerce and I’m hoping to do more of it on this site as well in the coming months. A lot of people were taught not to promote too heavily and of course there is a balance, but like you I’m definitely in business to make money hahaha.

      I’m curious, have you tried out the strategy of retargeting blog visitors? I’ve been getting an incredible ROaS going from ad -> lead magnet squeeze page -> product promo.

        (Quote)
      James McAllister recently posted…The 5 Types Of Bloggers – Which Strategy Is Right For You?My Profile

      1. Hi James, sadly I’m not really a blogger per say. Yes I write some posts, not many and they are typically promotional in purpose. With that said I have been doing Blog Engage now for 14 years and I have compiled an amazing list of old customers I am sure I could apply the retargeting marketing methods towards this list. I’ve been considering doing some sort of follow up with them.

          (Quote)
        bbrian017 recently posted…Creating Key Relationships With Blog CommentingMy Profile

  3. Great article! I’ve worked on the content machine model for several years now and yes the downside is you need Google to rank you. But I do also get traffic from Bing, Yahoo and Duckduckgo (and other search engines). So although I do lose considerable traffic from Google not building many back links, I pick up traffic from the long tail keywords I find and build content for from other search engines. Still, it’s a tough model particularly if you pick a competitive niche like mine.

      (Quote)

  4. HI James

    I guess I fall into the content machine and influencer models.

    My blog is primarily about adding helpful content on a consistent basis, but in the process I do get involved in being an influencer, too.

    Especially since I create info products that are related to my blog topics.

    There’s always cross-over.

    My style is more like a personal blog might be, though, because I’m not so hard-core into just information, but also my feelings and experiences with it.

    Interesting article, my friend 🙂

    -Donna

      (Quote)
    Donna merrill recently posted…How to get amazing blog post ideasMy Profile

    1. Hey Donna!

      Agree that there’s a lot of cross-over. Some of them borrow elements from others too – i.e personal brands tend to incorporate a lot of personal stories into their messaging, but ultimately it’s still business focused.

      I may end up expanding upon this, I feel our audiences could benefit a lot from understanding what style is best for them and how we can help them with that. As I’ve worked with more students, there are a lot of people that don’t want to deal with email, social media, or even making their name known. There’s others that want to play the game of building sites up and selling them, starting over and repeating the process. I don’t believe this is the easiest or most profitable way to go about it… but I respect this difference in vision and want to help them.

        (Quote)
      James McAllister recently posted…Plugins And Apps Won’t Save Your WebsiteMy Profile

  5. Hi James,

    There’s no one-sized fit in blogging. Your blogging approach defines the category of blogger you are or aspire to be. So it relies on your blogging goals and aspirations. However, since my objective is to make a living blogging, I believe I fall into the content machine category. And yes, Google is my main source of traffic, but I attract a steady flow of web traffic from other sources like Medium, Pinterest, and Twitter. While more producing content is needed, it helps solidify your brand and attract potential customers. Just two days ago, I received a LinkedIn in-mail from an eventual client who said she read my post on a top website and needed similar content on her site. So it’s business as usual for me, particularly since I love to write.
    Thanks for sharing!

      (Quote)

    1. Hi Moss! Thank you for returning back here and leaving a comment, even though my website was down the first time.

      You brought up one of my favorite points about blogging and content marketing for business – each piece of content is an entrance door to your brand, and ultimately your products and services. Because of one of your posts, the relationship escalated and the connection was started. The nice thing about having lots of content is these opportunities scale over time as your passive readership grows. It’s a great position to be in for sure!

        (Quote)
      James McAllister recently posted…Plugins And Apps Won’t Save Your WebsiteMy Profile

  6. The main thing in blogging is to choose the right keywords…. right keywords do n;t means that they have good search volume low KD… It 2021 and google has changed a lot and we should focus on the search intent….

    Btw these tips were so useful we will definitely use them

      (Quote)

    1. Hey Abhishek,

      The keywords are definitely one of the most important factors – targeting keywords you never stand a shot of ranking for is one of the most common mistakes bloggers make. Of course, it can take some time and experience to judge this accurately.

      Regardless of the keywords you choose, if your article doesn’t match the search intent it’s unlikely to be effective anyway!

        (Quote)
      James McAllister recently posted…Plugins And Apps Won’t Save Your WebsiteMy Profile

  7. James,
    honestly, I’m a mixture on content machine and link builder.
    I used to be just a link builder for a while because I overestimated the value of links while underestimating the value of content.

    But now, with this middle ground approach I’m starting to really good results.

      (Quote)

    1. Hey Nikola! Always great to see you here, appreciate the Twitter share as well.

      As they say, content is king and I’m sure you’ll agree that Google is likely to put less value on links as they are better able to judge content quality and relevance. Of course, they still have some ways to go, and links are still important today.

      When you have great content, everything else regarding SEO gets easier I think!

        (Quote)
      James McAllister recently posted…Plugins And Apps Won’t Save Your WebsiteMy Profile

    1. Hey Tristan, thanks for stopping by!

      I’ve worked with a lot of blogging students and it seems that most of them fall into one of these 5 categories / strategies. There is a bit of cross-over of course, but I think if people were taught that there were different ways to approach blogging and still find success, it would be a lot more enjoyable and people would stick with it longer. Appreciate your comment and hope to see you here again soon!

        (Quote)
      James McAllister recently posted…Plugins And Apps Won’t Save Your WebsiteMy Profile

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Join The VIP Club!

Sign up for the VIP Club and immediately gain access to...


  • 500+ business, marketing, and personal development lessons.
  • A private community forum / support group.
  • My entire library of courses, templates, cheat sheets and swipe files.
  • Many other bonuses!
Send this to a friend