Beyond Eyeballs: The Three Body Parts that Create Real Revenue


The advertising world is obsessed with “eyeballs.” If you want to sell ads on your blog, for example, you’ll have to show potential advertisers how many unique users are coming to the site each week–how many eyeballs are looking at your stuff.

But readers are made of more than eyeballs. If you want to get beyond advertising to where the real money is, and find your village of profitable customers, you’ll need to get beyond simplistic eyeball thinking and start addressing whole human beings.

Here are some places to start.


If you want to use content to create or support a profitable business, the most reliable strategy is to provide some real benefit to your audience.

It’s not that entertainment and fashion don’t work–they do. (And you can argue that they provide a benefit we all want: relief from boredom and a break from our routines.)

But fashion and entertainment are inherently ephemeral. 99 out of 100 of today’s hot topics won’t be on anyone’s radar in 18 months. You want to be The Beatles or Bob Marley, not Big Country.

The problem with alleviating boredom as a business model is that the customers tend to be, well, easily bored. If you’re a highly creative soul who can keep things fresh and relevant, more power to you. But it’s a tricky game to play for the long haul.

The safest bet in business is to solve a significant problem that’s genuinely bugging your potential customers. Fitness, dating, business, self-help, and parenting are perennially profitable topics for just that reason. They provide plenty of interesting problems to solve.

Don’t, however, make the mistake of thinking that entertainment and fashion won’t play a role in your business. If you can take your accounting blog or parenting site and infuse them with personality and style, you’ll do much better than a competitor who sticks to just the facts.

The brain wants smart solutions to significant problems. It also wants fun, interesting, novel content to play with. Blend entertainment with practical benefits for combination no brain can resist.


The human heart was made to connect. When you’re creating your worldwide village of happy customers, they’ll want to know they’re part of something.

Make room for customers to connect with each other, to share their experiences and discoveries. Sure, they’ll gripe sometimes. That’s part of the game. The griping just brings them closer to each other and, believe it or not, closer to you.

Real relationships include conflict, and that includes commercial relationships. It’s how we resolve conflicts that strengthens or weakens those bonds.

Care about your people, and let them know you care. A site or a business that’s founded on respect and deep affection for your audience is truly recession- and competitor-proof. It’s also just more fun to run.


Customers don’t only want solutions to their problems. They want solutions they can talk about.

What commonly-held assumption about your industry could you (constructively) turn on its head?

What detail could you make so amazing that your customers couldn’t help but talk about it?

Relationships can provide talk value, but they’re not the whole story. Barney the Dinosaur is only remarkable if you’re four.

Yes, being remarkably caring and attentive to your customers might get you there. Zappo’s built a billion-dollar business out of just plain loving their customers more than anyone else does.

But also consider attention to details that no one else gets right, or about creating a crossroads at the intersection of two paths no one thought of bringing together.

Imagine your customers saying, “You’ve got to check out this site, it’s really cool. They . . . “

Now fill in the blank.

Taking care of your whole customer

Anyone who’s looking to make a living online has been known to chase that elusive unicorn, “multiple streams of income.”

Most people think of this as creating dozens of little money-printing machines that make you rich while you lie around on the beach trying to find out how much tequila your liver can absorb.

But you can also think of it as taking care of the whole customer, and not just a little bit of one.

If you’re serving readers with great content on your blog, what else could you offer them? Would they benefit from the option of one-to-one consulting with you? From an e-book? From a six-week teleseminar workshop?

If you have an email list of happy buyers for your information product, what else would make their lives better? Who else has products that would genuinely complement yours?

The very best affiliate marketers understand this. They’re not looking for ways to monetize their list. They’re looking for ways to serve their people.

Move beyond serving pages to eyeballs and on to serving people you care about. You’ll enjoy it more, and the odds are good you’ll make lots more money while you’re at it.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is Senior Editor of Copyblogger and the founder of Remarkable Communication.

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Reader Comments (41)

  1. says

    Something I tend to do is second-guess what a person is going to write in a blog. Especially in lists. Then I scroll through and find something which is the essence of what I was thinking.
    Where i would have said that reading for fashion and entertainment is like getting a “sugar rush” where once you’ve dropped down to the lows you start looking for that next high – you use the word “ephemeral”.
    I don’t mind so much because I just drag the word to my dictionary on my Mac.
    I have lost interest in reading newspapers because of this. I don’t feel sorry for the modern traditional media because they are bringing their imminent demise on themselves. People are not writing for the common person any more, they are writing for themselves. They want to show people how clever they are.
    You can still write intelligently with simpler words. You’ll gain more readers.

  2. says

    Finally! Sonia hit the nail on the head by going above and beyond just the need to “get eyeballs” all the time. How about the ears too? Seems like more and more people like to simply tune in to their favorite MP3s and podcasts wherever they go and take their favorite tips and techniques with them. Many clients I’ve worked with love having the audio option to go along with some of their downloadable white papers or smaller ebooks.

  3. says

    @Richard, that would be swell, feel free!

    @Sherice, I’m becoming a big fan of audio content as well. It does seem to engage folks at a whole new level.

    @Ryan, you’re probably right.

  4. says

    Great post, Sonia. What stuck me most was: They want solutions they can talk about. And there you have it in a nutshell that translates into the best advertising bar none = word-of-mouth.

  5. says

    Loved this post – thank you for writing and I’m glad I subscribed. As I read this, another of way of looking at this is appealing to people’s rational and irrational sides. We all have both and we like content that appeals to both.

  6. says

    In regards to Ryan’s comment about using simpler language to write to attract more people…Only thing I’d like you to keep in mind is I want to be challenged and have to grow in order to keep up. I like improving, getting wiser, and with the toys of today, (‘you use the word “ephemeral”. I don’t mind so much because I just drag the word to my dictionary on my Mac.’) it seems silly to not keep learning. I’m the type who always wanted to play with the older kids, because they were better. By playing with people who are better than me, it forced me to get better, or get off the court. Just one “mad man’s” opinion.

  7. Mary E. Ulrich says

    Love “the eyeballs” as a grabber–but your idea about “the whole person” is a keeper.

  8. says

    It really is true that conflicts in any relationship (even relationships with customers) are critical. At one point a few years ago I had to post a note above my desk that read: “Your customers are your friends.” If you’re like me and your personality doesn’t naturally exude the loving feelings your customers really want… you need to work extra hard to build those relationships. But if you do it will pay off in the long run. Great post Sonia!

  9. says

    Thanks for the great post. I have always wondered not how to write good content, but how to sell good content. Isn’t that what it is all about? If you sell your site to potential “eyeballs” then you will get advertisers to want to be on your site, and then you will get paid. Or am I missing the boat here?

  10. says

    Amen, Sonia! I am a firm believer in building copy that mimics interacting with another person. As much as our society is attracted to the sterility of communicating through technology, we are far too primal to avoid the draw of real human connection.

  11. says


    More than just what else to serve besides “eyeballs,” this gives you an effective blueprint on how to get those eyeballs too. Connecting with your audience through their heart, and allowing them to rationalize their choice through their brain is a classic selling strategy, but now providing a forum for feedback, community, etc. (the mouth) has become more important than ever.

    Thanks for the great post and truly useful insight!

  12. says

    I had never thought about the solutions being something they can talk about. But it works. Lets say you go to the tire store..the guys do a good job, get you in and out the door quickly. Now I would talk about that…it would be a first!

    People also talk about the trouble they run into. Bad Service Bad Rep.

    The internet is so fast that a better or more remarkable solution is just a click a way.


  13. says


    What a great post! Its the creative parts that will make a difference, people want something that will resonate with them and for years to come. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate like previous posts, the best advice comes in plain common sense!

  14. says

    An excellent post. It’s like the computer needs an input (sales message) through input devices (eyeballs) but without the CPU (heart, brain and mouth) the output (response) cannot be processed. Nice basic concept explained in a lucid manner.

  15. says

    @Coach Kip, that’s one way to go, attract the greatest number of eyeballs and monetize the site with advertising, but it’s not the only model, and for most people probably not the best model. You can do better, IMO, by finding an audience that’s crazy about you and then making helpful offers to them. Advertising can be fine if it’s relevant and if you’ve got the traffic, but you don’t have to wait for giant traffic to start turning your blog into a viable business.

    @Franklin, sorry if it looked like it might be a bit ghoulish. :)

  16. says


    Excellent post and very good info! I like how you summed the article up with mentioning profit as that’s ultimately what many of us are after in the long run. :)

    Thanks again!


  17. says

    All i can say about this post is that its just great , and really helpfull in various ways.. Not like a lot of blogs out there that just want to make some money , i really like this blog and its posts because everything this blog writes helps me in every posible way i could imagine !! . I am sixteen years old and have just started my own blog , Why Thow ?
    I bumped into this blog 2 weeks ago and ever since i have been mad about the hole blog thing . so thats why i have started my own ….. CopyBlogger has Inspired me and will also will inspire many more people to come !!..

    Thanks.. Best Regards to Blogger..

  18. says

    I beleive in what this post says, you have to always be looking for information to better serve your subscribers.,by finding the solutions to there problems you will begain to develope the trust factor. your subcribers need to trust you as and expert who can give them the information they are looking for before they will ever purchase anything you recommend for them.

  19. says

    Great post, Sonia. What stuck me most was: They want solutions they can talk about. And there you have it in a nutshell that translates into the best advertising bar none = word-of-mouth.

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