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Starting a Blog Won’t Make You Rich

Sticking with a blog might.

I think there are three approaches to money in the blogosphere. The first is “This is a personal project and I’m not going to bother with any kind of advertising or money.” The second: “I’m doing this because I enjoy it and I think I can make some money at this point so I’m going to try it out.” (The second point of view is often an evolution from the first.) The third: “I’m going to start a blog and make lots of money.”

Being a blogger, at least one who makes money, means that you’re in here for the long haul.

I started this blog as something personal, a way to cope with the things in life that were stressing me out. Most of all, Micah’s student loans. Since I read mostly personal finance blogs, it became pretty PF-oriented. But if you look at the first few posts (and please don’t…*blush*) you can see it was essentially a personal journal. I wrote about random things like figuring out the phone system at work. Major personal triumph.

At some point, I tried awkwardly adding AdSense. That lasted a couple weeks until I saw that I’d probably never hit $100. (I have since then. But back then I had maybe 20 readers and it would have taken years.)

I didn’t actually make money off the blog until it was about 5 months old. Even now, I don’t make much compared to what people imagine successful bloggers make. I’m not raking in thousands or anything.

Part of that is because I’m not putting more effort into monetization and part is because I want to keep the site fairly clean when it comes to advertising. Oh, and part is because I probably don’t yet have the traffic to make thousands a month. πŸ˜‰

Making any real money with a blog means being in for the long haul. I don’t think enough people in the third camp realize that. They expect that once they start a blog and get things in place the money will start coming in. But the uber-successful bloggers like Darren Rowse of ProBlogger and Jeremy Schoemaker of ShoeMoney have put incredible time and effort into their success.

It’s not something that happens overnight. And it’s not something you can be too eager about. Plastering your blog with ads, popunders, popups, redirect pages, and the like may make you more money than the average beginning blogger but it’s sure to drive away long-term readers. And it may keep other bloggers from linking to you, because they don’t want to subject their readers to that kind of thing.

There’s nothing wrong with starting a blog because you want to make money. You just have to realize that like any business, it’s a waiting game. While the starting costs aren’t as high as your average offline business, there’s still the time commitment you’ll need to put in. You have to write at least a few times a week and spend time networking. You also need to be passionate about or at least very interested in your subject. That’s what keeps you going.

If you’re looking for a way to make money with a bit less commitment, I’d suggest checking out Skellie’s Anywired article on “muse businesses.” It’s not going to get you rich quickly either, but I think it sounds much less time-consuming than a blog. Then again, I haven’t tried it.

Making money from a blog is like making money anywhere else. You may get lucky and end up getting rich quick. But if you stick with it, you’re more likely to get “rich” slowly (rich being relative, since it depends on how much money you keep vs. how much you make).

This post was inspired by Plonkee’s article Starting a Business Will Not Make You Rich.

{ 4 trackbacks }

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Christine May 30, 2008 at 11:16 am

There are other considerations as well, I think, like whether or not making money is going to cost you money and/or be enough of a hassle that you’d rather not deal with it. With wordpress, for example, I’m using a free blog — and so if I want to put up ads, first I’ll have to get my own domain, and hosting space somewhere, and such — which cost time and money. Would it be worth the trouble? Maybe. But it’s still enough of a bother that I don’t think I’ll do it … not unless my traffic really soars or I really need the extra cash.

Plus, it’d mess with my layout — and I like my current look quite well.

mrsmicah May 30, 2008 at 11:19 am

That’s another good point, Christine. As I mentioned, there’s still an initial expense. Blogger allows you to get around the no-ads rule, but it has its own things which keep many sites from being taken as seriously.

I didn’t get on a self-hosted program until I was pretty sure I could bring in ads to handle the price.

Vered May 30, 2008 at 11:27 am

Ads are an interesting issue. I just wrote about it. I run them, the revenue is tiny, but I figure that as long as I keep it relatively clean and filter out offending ads (Adsense has plenty of those), why not make a few bucks from something that O love to do and would do anyway. Great post – thanks.

Pete @ May 30, 2008 at 11:29 am

ahh.. c’mon. don’t burst my bubble. You mean i’m going to have to actually work at this? ugh.

That One Caveman May 30, 2008 at 12:12 pm

I didn’t start my blog to make money, but I would like to make some.

You said, “I didnÒ€ℒt actually make money off the blog until it was about 5 months old.”

Mine just turned 5 months old and while I have had a good subscriber growth, I have made less than $10 over this year in Adsense ads. I think I figured I’ll finally be able to cash out in 2033. I guess I’m just not doing a good job of monetizing it quite yet.

Chris May 30, 2008 at 12:41 pm

Well, I’m definitely in it for the long haul and learning a lot from the pro bloggers.

MoneyEnergy May 30, 2008 at 1:04 pm

It’s interesting how blogging on PF for so many blogs seems to naturally slide into blogging for money. One of the central topics for some PF bloggers (including myself) – and whether or not I’d be blogging about it – is creating passive income (cashflow) in one’s life. Well la-dee-da, some blogs happen to be a vehicle for that. And so you see alot of PF blogs that are also about blogging for $ specifically.

I’m not interested in writing about blogging for money. If it happens, it happens – great. But I don’t want my blog to ever be about that. It’s fine for other blogs – that’s their niche and they’re good at it. But it’s not what I was originally interested in.

Pinyo May 30, 2008 at 1:39 pm

Excellent article Mrs. Micah. Now, off to read your archive. πŸ˜›

Megan May 30, 2008 at 2:32 pm

I have to admit, finding new blogs that are clearly just designed to bring in money tend to bother me a bit. If you decide you want to blog, and you have up Adsense the day after you create the blog, that’s fine, as long as the blog has content and isn’t just clearly a vehicle for attempting to get money. Clearly, that’s not a scheme that’s going to work.

I don’t ever expect to truly make any significant money from my blog. Sure, it’s got ads. I’d like to get enough to get a domain name, and then to move it off of Blogger. I actually have a domain and host for my personal blog, and space to host my PF blog, but I’m treating the monetization of my blog as an experiment. I’m going to see what I can do with it without spending any money outside of what the blog makes.

I think that tactic in itself proves that I’m not out to make money. Just to write a bit and learn a bit and share what I can.

Funny about Money May 30, 2008 at 2:56 pm

The blogs that really seem interesting to read appear (from what one can tell, anyway) to have started as a labor of love, not as money-making vehicles. It looks like some of them evolved into money-makers fairly quickly.

I started mine as a lark, just to see if I could do it (which o’course is why it’s on iWeb and not on a grown-up platform….). After the untold millions of rabidly loyal readers show up, then I’ll think about monetizing.

JLP May 30, 2008 at 4:35 pm

Good post.

I’m sure I could make more money with my blog if I really wanted to.

I could blog about credit cards and insert links to and make $20 per signup. That’s why we see so many credit card posts at various blogs.

I could do more affiliate advertising but to be successful I would have to promote those products and services by writing about them. It just wouldn’t feel right to me.

As of right now, all I do is Adsense. It seems to be the least repulsive form of advertising out there. I hate it because it puts google in charge and the revenues are not dependable. But, until I figure something else out, that’s where I am.

Lashawn May 30, 2008 at 4:48 pm

I’ve been flirting with the idea of starting a blog to more so as a personal online journal for anyone to read……only as of late have I heard that there’s money to be made blogging. But like you said, it’s a long haul thing versus a get rich quick scheme.

Meg May 30, 2008 at 11:42 pm

I’m at number 2. I don’t try very hard at all to make money blogging at All About Appearances. I could. I know quite a few things I should change if that was my motivation, but I don’t change them because that’s not the point for me.

However, I also don’t mind having a few ads to at least help recoup hosting costs and even make a little extra. Fortunately, there have been many other benefits to blogging. And it may well lead to good-paying career that I love after all.

Susan May 30, 2008 at 11:57 pm

Well put, Mrs. Micah! I think the income aspect of blogging requires lots of patience and know-how! Often this is gained through learning-as-you-go. Some folks have the mindset of, “Oh, I’m going to start a blog and become rich right away.” Hmmm, doesn’t usually work that way! (Would be nice if did, though, wouldn’t it?) πŸ™‚

Tina May 31, 2008 at 3:24 am

As a reader I like your point about too many ads, also too many giveaways and reviews makes it feel like your reading one big ad. Another problem is slow loading pages (caused by too many ads?), some blogs I like to read but deleted them from favorites because they load way too slow.

Frugal Urbanite May 31, 2008 at 10:25 am

This post was like a breath of fresh air as I struggle with what kind of ads I want to work with for my newest sites. Sometimes I get a bit…greedy πŸ™

I don’t start a blog with making money in mind, but a few months in I hit that point when I realize I’m losing money and need to at least come up neutral.

Fabulously Broke May 31, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Great post πŸ™‚

I started as #1, evolved to #2 and will stay there. I’m not too concerned with blogging as a job πŸ™‚

Am gonna link this!

Jennifer May 31, 2008 at 2:27 pm

I started a blog as a way to make money, however I knew it would be a long, slow process. And it has been. I love blogging and if you don’t, then it is a lot of work to be in it for the money LOL. For us the money is just a bonus at this point, but maybe someday I will get regular money from it? We will see!

fathersez June 1, 2008 at 7:17 am

I suppose I do have a deep desire or hope to make our blog rake in the money.

But when I read about blogs that seem to be doing so well in terms of readers and page views, but making less money than what giving tuition classes might earn, I wonder.

2 hours a day is what many people claim to spend on on their blog. For those seeking to make money, this may be a consideration.

David Carter June 1, 2008 at 2:14 pm

Read your title and was like oh no, then read the first line and I was happy again. I knew it would be a long time until I made much money. I plan on being in it for the long haul.

FFB June 3, 2008 at 12:05 pm

Don’t you love the Adesnse anticipation of watching how many pennies you make a day from clicks?

There may be ways to make money off splog type blogs but I can’t imagine it being a lot or lasting. It takes time and stickitivity. I heard somewhere that most blogs fold after three months. I was so happy to make it past the 3rd month and want to continue. I’m past 6 now and still love it. There’s times though where I wonder “eh, what if I junk it all?” Better sense prevails though and I keep going.

Seeing great sites like this inspire me to keep going as well as networking with great people out there.

Will I get rich blogging? Most likely no. Could it be fun and maybe bring in some extra income here and there? Yes.

Raymond White June 4, 2008 at 7:56 am

Enjoyed reading article as well as all the comments. I’ve just started blogging in April so havn’t been going too long. Love reading peoples blogs but often time is a major issue. I’m on blogger at the moment and basically I’m just trying things out. Trying adsense at the moment, the ads that tie up with your blog content. I have tried to put up ads that I myself will be interested in and that the products advertised would be helpful in some way. Of course you get all this spam about how you can make a fortune from your blog. So far I’ve made the princely sum of 37cents!The main reason why I started a blog is ’cause I’ve been writing emails since ’bout 2003 and sending them out to a mailing list of 300+ people. So what I’ve done with those old emails, the ones I’ve managed to salvage, I’ve posted to the blog with the date of original writing(or as close as possible). Then of course writing some new content from time to time. However getting people to migrate from emails to a blog is not that easy in South Africa, as I’m learning. I’m enjoying the whole experience and I love to write about something that I’m passionate about.

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