LinkedIn has many dark secrets.
One of the biggest questions is how money gets made on the platform. A reader asked me.
So I thought I’d share how I made more than 6-figures from LinkedIn. It’s not obvious.
LinkedIn has escaped the limelight (accidentally)
LinkedIn is weird.
The users are like a bunch of pubescent teenagers at their first high school dance holding plastic cups of soft drink.
It’s because their food and shelter are at risk if they say something dumb.
So the platform is more PC than the rest — painfully. Unlike Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, LinkedIn has avoided controversy. Most people like it and don’t think it’s some evil tech play.
LinkedIn is this way because ads don’t drive the business — premium memberships do.
When most users are paying for the service it tends to be a little less hostile than a free app where any drunk can join and shoot their mouth off about the President, or their house cleaner, or what evs.
The user base is full of professionals too. And I know I shouldn’t push this point too much, but the average salary of users is enormous, so high-end advertisers see it as a place to get a decent ROI. Creators feel the same.
The nightmare of direct monetization
During the birth of the LinkedIn era no social media apps paid users for content. So, there was no direct monetization. Times have changed.
Many platforms now pay content creators directly by splitting ad or subscription revenue. You might think this is a good thing. I don’t.
It’s made creators lazy. They’ve become entitled. They think their content that takes one hour to produce is worth 6-figures. LOL. It’s not.
LinkedIn doesn’t pay creators (yet).
So to make money on LinkedIn you need to bridge the gap between your content, and a website or marketplace that enables people to spend money on your products/services.
How to bridge the gap
Answer: use creativity.
Creativity is where the real money gets made online. Many wannabe creators never make money on platforms like LinkedIn because they’re not creative enough. Let me explain.
You post your content on LinkedIn. Users see it. They read it. They might ‘like’ or comment. But that’s it. You have no easy way to bring them to your website or get them onto Amazon to buy your book.
Here’s how it’s done…
- Place links to your landing pages in the first comment.
- Place a link to your landing pages in the featured section of your profile.
- Place a link to your landing pages in your bio.
This sounds simple, yet many creators screw it up.
You have to put some thought into it for this to work. To bridge the gap between LinkedIn and a place where people can spend money with you isn’t straightforward.
Nuances build online empires. Learn them.
First, too many people link to other social media apps or their website.
Social media followers are useless. Linking to a website is stupid because it gives a user too many options. The only thing to ever link to is a landing page with one button: subscribe. Otherwise, making money on LinkedIn will never happen.
Notice how I didn’t say “link to a landing page that sells a product.” This is strategic. If you link straight to a page where you ask for money, you lose.
Who likes to be asked to get married on the first date?
No. One. In. History.
You only want people to come to your email list. They need to be nurtured gently before they’ll ever spend money with you.
Second, you can only link to ONE thing. The moment you link to more than one thing you kill any chance of success. You have to remove decision fatigue for users and give them one option, or you’ll lose them.
There’s even more nuance to it.
The call to action you use has to be written well. It has to sell the huge benefit to the user of why they must click your link right now. If it’s not a phenomenal reason, nobody clicks. Period.
The easiest way is to pay — yes pay! — for a kickass copywriter to write you one. Now here’s where I stuffed up: the call to action has to be related to the piece of content it’s connected to.
Just telling people to join your email list doesn’t work.
They need to be given a reason to join your email list that relates back to the content they just read.
That’s not intuitive. I rarely see it done. Yet my LinkedIn friend Justin gets hundreds of subscribers from one post because he understands this nuance.
A landing page takes a user to a lead magnet, which is a fancy way of saying, they get something for free — course, eBook, template, video — in return for joining your email list.
Now, even the lead magnet needs to relate back to the original content a user viewed. For example, if I write about the US economy and then link to a writing course it confuses users.
So, they take zero action. Fail.
But if I link an article about the US economy to an eBook I wrote about investing money then it makes sense, so the conversion rate will be at least 10X higher.
Context is everything.
One tip I’ve recently used to 3X the results
Email subscribers are crucial because they are the people that will pay for your products/services. You’re smart and knew that already.
But recently I learned how to 3X your results and get more email subscribers:
Change your call-to-actions (CTAs) regularly.
The same CTA — “Join my email list” — used over and over eventually gets ignored. But when you spice up your CTAs and have a library of them, everything changes. Suddenly the number of email subscribers you get from CTA links placed in your bio, comments, and featured section goes up!!!
How the money gets made on LinkedIn
You can now see why these nuances above require some creativity.
Once you bridge the gap between LinkedIn and your own ecosystem your email list will grow. Now all you have to do is make money from it. Again, it needs creativity.
If what you sell is low quality, fail.
If how you market what you sell is poor, fail.
If what you sell is priced incorrectly, fail.
If what you sell is crap, fail.
Creativity is needed at every step. A learning mindset followed by clever iteration is needed, too.
Now to how money gets made from an email list built from LinkedIn…
- Consulting — LinkedIn is such an easy way to get consulting gigs. People will observe your work over time and eventually ask for help. The help they’re asking for is consulting in disguise. Answer questions. When you feel they want you to do the work for them, say “I do consulting.” This is the secret handshake that says I can charge to do it for you.
- eBooks — Launch a book. Sell it to your email list.
- Newsletters — Professionals love niche publications. They’re happy to pay for them because either their work covers the cost, or they get a tax deduction for buying them. Use Substack if you don’t want a clusterf*ck.
- Courses — If you publish non-fiction content on LinkedIn, there will always be 5% of the audience that wants to learn from you. Sell them a course. Use Teachable or Gumroad to facilitate it.
- Public speaking — This is more unique to LinkedIn. Businesses love to have speakers talk to staff or join them for events. You’ll get LinkedIn direct messages or emails from those on your email list to do them for cash.
- Memberships — Free communities are trash. It ends up becoming an uncurated feed of ads followed by b*tch fights. LinkedIn users are smart. They’re happy to pay for memberships to niche communities. Start one.
- In-direct job promotions — Despite everything I’ve said you can do none of it. I made my first $10,000 on LinkedIn by getting a promotion at work because a manager liked my LinkedIn content. That’s cool too.
Getting directly paid by platforms for content is overrated. It makes great creators with loads of potential, lazy.
Use LinkedIn to publish content. Then bridge the gap between LinkedIn and your email list with creativity. Focus on the nuances. Then use an obvious way to charge for what you do to make money on LinkedIn.
When you do, you’ll get 10X more control over your content than if you got paid directly for it.
Don’t sleep on LinkedIn any longer.