I started blogging here back in 2012 as a pressure relief valve as I was on a full court press to improve my life, marriage, and sex life after swallowing the Red Pill. It was raw and full of stories and anonymous. Even my wife didn’t know. I took it above board after maybe 6 months and got my wife Holly in on the idea. Since then, it has remained an outlet for me, and I’ve never taken it too seriously. But that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t love to quit my job and do this full time. Here’s a secret though. Come in close as I whisper to you the truth…. it ain’t gonna happen. For me, or for you. At least not from blogging alone.
I’m closing in on a million page views. I’d call my content consistently average, with occasional turds and occasional gems. I’m not writing a blog that is designed to make money, like the ones that sell dreams of riches while living the live of your dreams (like Smart Passive Income, and nothing against him, he makes TONS selling affiliate BlueHost packages for aspiring bloggers/niche site owners), or one strictly on personal finance or investing (like Financial Samurai, Get Rich Slowly, or the ever present Mr. Money Mustache).
Musings and lifestyle blogs have their place, but if my observations count for anything, it is for personal satisfaction and not for making money.
I loved Danger and Play’s post on Old School Blogging is pretty right on. And make no mistake, Mike Cernovich is one of the 1%, or 0.1% who are making a solid ‘go’ at making a living off it. But if you read that post he’s making money mostly from his books, where his blog has served as a great platform. I won’t ruin the surprise on how much he’s pulling in, but as a self-pubbed author too, I know the deal and he’s done really, really well for any author. He’s an outlier. Whether it’s sustainable or not is another question, but I like Mike’s stuff a lot and believe he’s one of the good guys out there who is out there grinding every day. His observation that the focus for most new blogs is on making money and pushing products and e-mail lists and all that bullshit is on point. Building good content, getting a long SEO tail, getting readers, which is the foundation for any sort of income, takes a long, long time. Most people don’t have the patience. If you look at the blogroll of my first blog only about 1/3 are still alive. Easy come easy go.
The other reason it is very difficult to find readers, let along make any money whatsoever, is supply and demand. Everyone and their brother has a website or blog (I’m currently running four). Separating from the masses is very difficult. Dark Brightness just did a post on this topic as well, saying blogging is now a hobby for nearly everyone due to the lack of bank you typically make from the old money making ways (ads). He cautions against throwing good money after bad trying to make it work for you.
Therefore, do not train at great expense in your hobby. Unless you are one of the very few who will succeed in a world swamped by amateurs.
I’m not gonna blow smoke up your skirt and say you’re the special snowflake who will make it. Most don’t. Write because you love writing. Because you love sharing your stories, or insights, or thoughts with the world. One of the longest running blogs that I’ve personally been following for over 15 years is by Gus Mueller, who ran Musings of the Gus in the 1990’s (yes, the 90’s!) and currently writes at Randomly Ever After. Many would-be bloggers could learn or thing or two from old school guys like Gus who just loves letting us into his life.
If you still want to make a go of it, here are some tips if you want to be successful and maybe make some extra money:
- Find your niche – write what you know about, write what others aren’t writing about, write with a different spin on the same topic.
- Write good content – if you like what you’re writing about, and can write good content, you have a chance to find readers. I’m a testament that it doesn’t have to be great everyday, but good is the threshold you should be shooting for.
- Build up a network of bloggers – link back to others. Comment on others’ blogs. Start to build up a reputation by helping others. I’ve done this without any expectations of return, but it happens naturally.
- Be yourself – you can succeed by being yourself, even making money with your own voice. Having a unique voice or perspective will set you apart.
- Monetizing – If you have the first 4 items in place, you may consider the monetizing Four Horsemen. Advertising, Affiliate Marketing, E-Books (or real books), other Digital Products (courses, podcasts, webinars, workshops). If you really want to learn more, you should check out Smart Passive Incomes podcasts. If you can find some of his ‘best of’ or foundational episodes, it is like a mini-course. It basically fleshes out the Four Horsemen. Not magic, but gives you more ideas.
- Branching out – Think of this as throwing more irons in the fire. Do consulting. Coaching. Physical workshops. Personal training. Other services that you’re good at. Think outside the box.
So can you make money blogging? Yes. I make some (not much, but some… enough to pay for hosting and my website upgrades, but most is plowed back into this as a long term business, you’ll see), but like Danger and Play, Bold and Determined, Matt Forney, and other power bloggers who I admire who have their own distinct voice, I use it as a platform for other things. And more things are on the way. They come slowly, one small step at a time.
Progress is a battle, one fought every day.
Maybe one day I’ll have enough regular income from all the combined streams, or break it big, but until then I’ll keep grinding and loving the ride. It is fun if it’s in your blood. But if you’re doing it for the money you won’t last a year, so might as well give up now.