How do you make a 6-figure income by blogging? First, find a 6-figure paying job. Then, blog at work!
Type “make money by blogging” into Google and you’ll get over 40 million search results back, with everything from helpful tips to ebooks promising you a six figure salary to counter intuitive posts (written by bloggers, no less) about how you’re not going to make money by blogging. Lately, it seems that everyone from U.S. News to Entrepreneur Magazine is touting the money-making potential of blogs. However, the statistics speak for themselves; of the 1,000 U.S. bloggers queried by Blogging.org, only 8% make enough money from blogging to support a family. Even Darren Rowse, the successful blogger behind ProBlogger, reports that only 2 of the 20 blogs he started are still in existence, placing his success rate at just 10%.
Today’s blog post is not about how you can increase the money-making potential of your blog by employing techniques X, Y and Z. It’s also not a tutorial about how you can start a blog; there is already enough material on that topic to fill a small library. Rather, this post discusses the reality of blogging and its money-making (or lacking) potential. My personal experience with blogging is mentioned as well as what I learned by blogging for others. In essence, blogging is not for the faint of heart or those looking to make a quick buck. So, without further ado…
Why you’re not making money by blogging: It’s the
SEO AdSense content value email marketing will of the blog gods, stupid.
Let’s say you create a blog and start posting to it every week. Let’s say your posts are well-researched and rather interesting to read. Let’s even assume that your blog gains a small but faithful following of subscribers. Should you expect to make money from your blog? Don’t bank on it. Why not? Because, as several million blog pundits will explain to you, your site lacks SEO. Or, was it critical plugins? Maybe it was pillar articles. In any case, if your blog doesn’t earn the much-touted 5 or 6-figure income, blame will certainly be found in some crucial quality that it’s lacking (and for just $59.95, you can find out which one!).
The bottom line here is that it’s not easy making a living from a blog. Your work can take months or even years to become a real profit generator. Meanwhile, you’re punching away at your keyboard on a daily basis, publishing some rather incredible posts and, when all is said and done, hearing nothing but crickets at the other end of the blogosphere. It can be downright disheartening. No wonder most blogs fail; the lack of any positive (or even negative) feedback drives many bloggers to abandon their websites. Other bloggers simply tire of their topic, find new posting platforms (e.g., Facebook) or wish to reclaim their lost privacy.
My personal blogging story
In 2009, on the suggestion of a friend, I decided to start a personal finance blog called Your Money and Debt. At first, I posted almost every day about mortgages, credit cards, student loans and the like. I also created pages containing useful content about saving and earning money. With my site monetized through Google AdSense and Yahoo! Affiliates, it wasn’t difficult to get some money rolling in every month. At one point, my blog was earning over $100/month on ad clicks alone. I also scored two private advertising deals for an extra $30/month. Product sales added maybe $10/month.
Then, blog drudgery set in. If I wasn’t posting new content at least once a day and marketing the $#@! out of it, my page views would drop into the single digits. The advertising deals that I thought would automatically renew didn’t. At this point, I toyed with the idea of hiring a freelance writer who’d contribute on a twice-weekly basis to my blog; however, the oDesk candidates that replied to my ad were almost all English-as-a-second language writers whose content not only had to be heavily edited, but was later discovered to be plagiarized from Wikipedia and other financial websites. My dutiful daily blogging became a once-a-week affair and then a once-a-month fling. Put simply, I found it more lucrative to sell my financial content to other websites than contribute to my own. And so the cobbler’s children began missing their shoes…
Making an impact in the blogging world
It was at this point that those other bloggers whose sites I’d been writing for began reaching out to me for help. I committed to providing content and marketing for three blogs over the course of a year. Because I was paid per post regardless of whether that post gained an audience, it became much easier for me to try different writing and marketing approaches. I also publicized my clients’ blogs at professional events. The time I spent away from my own blog and promoting others taught me several valuable lessons about blogging and how to gauge your own future success at this venture:
- Tenacity is key. You can’t be shy about tooting your own horn. I noticed how my clients always included their blog addresses on their email signatures, business cards and articles. They also rewarded those who referred their blogs through affiliate programs, Twitter posts, etc. Guest posts – with blog links- were also a big thing for the more successful blogs. Some of my clients even went so far as to create bookbags, notepads, magnets and stickers with their blog addresses and logos.
- Blogging discipline. My blogging clients never veered from a strict schedule of 2-3 posts per week. During holidays or personal vacations, they made sure to schedule additional posts in advance and have them ready to go. This was certainly in contrast to my own lackluster posting schedule, a schedule that went AWOL during my trips out of town or while I took time off.
- Infuse personality and opinions. The blog posts that my clients received the most comments on were almost always the personal story or opinion posts. Meanwhile, my own blog was floundering in a very aloof, third person stance. While trying to sound professional, I’d neglected to welcome my readers and make them feel at home with me, the blogger.
- Socialize. My clients had me utilize Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and even LinkedIn to announce their blog posts and website edits/additions. They also created contests that involved their subscribers and garnered new fans. Giveaways of ebooks or CDs were fairly common events. In short, my clients connected their audiences to their blogs and vice versa. When all else failed, I’d leave my compubox and attend a few social and/or professional events, touting individual blogs to every new person I met. Yes, talking about strange websites that weren’t my own seemed a little weird at first- but it certainly grew traffic and new viewers.
- Don’t fear criticism. Or, if you do, tell yourself that you must be criticized at least once a day or else you haven’t done your job right. My blogging clients experienced it all: readers leaving nasty comments on their site, popular websites refusing to post my provided content, and Google sandboxing one client at least twice. In short, you must anticipate these issues and move on. Developing a tough skin is essential, as is learning to view each challenge as an opportunity.
So, can you make it (financially) as a blogger?
Blogging can certainly be lucrative but it’ll never be an overnight success story. Think of blogging like buying a house: It may take years before you see a real return on your investment. Meanwhile, you’re going to be making endless home improvements (i.e., writing blog posts), fixing leaks (i.e., hackers and server issues) and dusting the place (i.e., doing site backups) to boot. If your blog is about a subject matter near and dear to your heart, you should be fine. Alternately, if you can hire some help, you may not even have to worry about your blog for days or even weeks at a time. In the end, though, if you’re just starting a blog to make a quick buck, you may in fact get that buck- but not much more.