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Why Reveal Your Blogging Income?

Dane Carlson emailed me an interesting question today which I thought might make an interesting discussion topic. He asks:

Other than to toot my own horn, what real incentive do I have to tell you whether or not I’m a six figure (or five figure, or four, or seven or whatever) blogger?

I can understand why you disclose parts of your income; it builds your credibility and stature in the “pro blogging” niche. But, what about Manolo from ShoeBlogs? What could he possibly have gained from the coverage?

As Dane says – I reveal my income from blogging (in part) because it helps to build my credibility as someone who writes and teaches about making money from blogs – after all who would trust someone to teach them something about a topic that they had not proven themselves in.

However others regularly reveal their blog earnings (I see posts doing this every few days) and I too have often wondered why? Perhaps some of the reasons might include:

  • Attention Getting/Exposure - there is little doubt that talking about money get the attention of others
  • Bragging Rights – I suspect that some do it just because they are proud of their achievement and want others to know
  • Transparency – maybe some do it because they want their readers to know that they make money from their readership
  • Inspiration – I know of some bloggers who do it partly because they want to inspire others to do the same

I’m sure these are not the only reasons bloggers reveal their income but am sure they cover some of the main ones.

The question of ‘why’ bloggers reveal their income is a good one – but perhaps as equally useful is to ask why bloggers shouldn’t reveal their income? Again there are probably numerous answers to this question (feel free to give yours below) but the main one that comes to mind to me is that in revealing your blog’s income you set yourself up for others to copy your blog’s topic and approach to blogging. This is a risk bloggers revealing their blogging success will take.

I’m interested to hear your opinions and experiences on this topic. Do you reveal your income? Why or why not?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. colbert says:

    sometimes I reveal my income to motivate my friends to take up this hobby. IT jobs are getting outsourced a lot and I’ve need a good job to take home the dollars

  2. Dale Estes says:

    Yes it is nice to make the bucks from blogging ,Its also human nature to brag a little when you are successful,its a lot of work to maintain a successful blog and a little ego is good not bad for bloggers who put alot of work into there blogs.I adverage about 4.00 a day.

  3. Transparency and Inspiration. If I was making millions off of blogging then it’d be bragging. But it doesn’t seem like bragging to me to merely be making a full-time income off of it. After all, I work a full-time job doing it!

  4. Nick says:

    I think it has a lot to do with the credibility. I doubt I’d be trusting a lot of what Darren writes if he wasn’t making a living off of blogging. He’s proven that what he does works and he knows what he’s talking about.

  5. Paul -V- says:

    I think it’s a bad idea. My experience has been that people who brag about how much money they make are usually scammers or rap artists.

    Darren has a legitimate reason for telling people how much he earns at blogging, but unless you are in the business of showing people how to make money blogging, you have no business telling people how much you make.

  6. Andy Merrett says:

    I’d tend to keep quiet about blogging income, because it’s not relevant to anything I write online.

  7. Athomemama says:

    Yeah I would say credibility. Don’t tell me how to be able to do something if you aren’t able to do it yourself.

  8. Robb D says:

    I think that some all of these reasons are valid. A few weeks ago I posted how I went over the $33 per day average a.k.a, $1000 per month. That was validation that this pro-blogging stuff works.

    Darren posts his earnings and it gives him credibility and motivates, as he tell others how he does it in addtion to how much it makes him.

    Some just do it for bragging rights.

    I don’t have a problem with any of it even though I tend to discount those that are just bragging and not giving information that could help those of us that are still Z list bloggers.

  9. pfadvice says:

    hmmm, interesting topic. Writing a personal finance blog I can see how revealing parts of my income would make sense (who wants personal finance advice from someone up to their forehead in debt?), but I think I would do it to give a general idea and not specific figures.

    Then again, there are pf blogs where their main purpose is telling every single detail about their finances and income

  10. Blog Goodies says:

    I always thought how you made your money was far more important than how much you made.

    Sometimes providing a mantle of leadership or proving that something can be done makes it easier for others to follow. In that regard I give you kudos Darren.

  11. tmtb says:

    I do it to track my progress. Sure I could look at the reports and such, but my blog has my plan, tasks, accomplishments, why not put the dollar amount there as well?

    Of course, I’m pretty green and just crossed the $1/day mark, but my blog captured that moment. I don’t know what dollar amount will stop me from disclosing.

  12. Matt says:

    Yeah, I have a blog like tmtb’s where I just sort of talk out the things that happen in my blog world and on that, I track my miniscule earnings. Every once in awhile, I change what I track as my focus changes. But, also like tmtb, I’m not making anything worth bragging about. I’ll be lucky to make $20 this month.

    Darren and people who have sites like ProBlogger, I think, are fine with announcing approximations and major milestones. It gives us little guys something to shoot for and to learn from. I’ve learned much from ProBlogger, but knowing from what Darren writes, which sites make him the most money, I have learned more from looking at how he implements the ideas discussed here in them and trying to adapt what I can to my site.

    Why would The Manolo benefit from this? Well, I suspect that if on the shoeblog he had announced that, he wouldn’t. In fact, I think that may have turned his readers off. But here… this is a forum for teaching and certainly The Manolo shows that there are other ways to approach this than what Darren does with many of his blogs. It’s a different style, different perspective. Perhaps The Manolo, he yearns to show the probloggers that The Manolo also can make the money by engaging the creativity in a unique manner all The Manolo’s own.

    So I think the forum for the announcement is important. If you throw it out there on your printer blog that you just made $20k, it’s out of context and silly. If you do it in the context of showing what effect changes in your blog have made for you in a way that others can learn and benefit from that knowledge, it’s a good thing and appreciated by those who read it.

  13. Adi says:

    I personally like to see how much others make, especially high earners, because they inspire me and motivate me to work harder.
    If they can do it, there’s a chance for me too :)

  14. Gayla says:

    I’ve revealed how much I make on *one* of my blogs, but it’s more to inspire others.

    Most of my family and friends know what I do and how I earn my living…being in an area that depends greatly on the big three auto makers who are floundering at best, many people are looking for alternative means to suppliment their incomes.

    It’s nice to be one who can show them by example. After all the proof IS in the puddin’

  15. Ash Buckles says:

    What a smart crowd. Blogging is all about sharing information with an interested audience. In your case, Darren, we want to know how you’re doing, where you’re doing it, and with what frequency because it allows us to have hope and understanding from someone who has travelled that road already.

    Each reader has perceptions of scammers, ego-maniacs, and true business professionals, but in your case I’m glad I was referred to you by another blogger (don’t remember who now, sorry) because your information has added to the puzzle and given me great awareness so far.

    Lastly, it was how much money you were making that grabbed my attention. It pissed me off, but it got my attention nonetheless. ;-)

  16. I think you are missing one important aspect of revealing your income – people believe in free (as in speech) information on the internet. The internet exists because people have had the desire to share information. Openness and transparency were hallmarks of the early days of the net. Now that people have realized the commercial potential of the net, things are not as open and transparent, but some people still have the desire to share.

    Earnings data is just one more piece of information to share with the internet. By sharing this information everybody benefits, they get to see what works and what doesn’t. I started a site (URL in my name), that exists for the sole purpose of sharing AdSense Earnings income.

  17. Jon Gales says:

    I had my earnings (from about a year ago, they are increased now) revealed last year because of some magazine interviews. It was a good chance for publicity for my website so I didn’t think twice about it. Though it was a bit awkward after all my friends read the article, but that’s just because my nature I’m a pretty private person.

    Unless there’s another mainstream publication writing an article about me I doubt I will reveal my earnings publically.

  18. tim says:

    As a junior blogger compared to Darren I see a couple reasons for revealing income. First, revelations of high income help promotoe and market affiliate programs, seminars, and books. This is beneficial not only to someone like Darren but also helps those looking for opportunities know best were to invest time. Second, it certainly is helpful in motivating those of us who at times struggle with our up and coming sites.

  19. Darren Rowse says:

    One interesting thing I’ll add is that Manolo has had a fair bit of publicity from the interview we did here where he revealed and approximation of his income. He got slashdotted and had a lot of other link ups as a result. I guess this is another benefit of revealing a large income.

    links=increase page rank=more traffic=higher earnings.

  20. To me it’s either to scam people, brag (ego maniacs) or as said perviously for credibility.

    In Darren’s case it’s purely ego … no, only kidding! Obviously Darren has a vested interest in letting the world know of his successes – that’s what ProB is all about – making money from blogging.

    And Darren, you may have hit it right on the head with your last comment: anything to do with blogs and money generates a lot of interest.

    I know of a way to get publicity: if your AdSense went up from say 10 cents a day to 80 cents a day (that would be me) then how’s this for a post heading: ” skyrockets 800% in revenue earning” ;-) … of course, the sub-heading (ie: very, very small type face) would read “this now makes him a 2-figure blogger” ;-)

    But seriously, I come at it from a purely business perspective: If you’ve got a niche that’s making you good money why would you want to let the world know about it. You’d want to keep this all to yourself for as long as possible.

  21. Tom Hanna says:

    It’s satisfying in itself to chart our progress. The book “Get Clients Now!” (review in my URL) recommends “Write in Your Success Journal” as a daily “dessert” item for its action plans. There’s satisfaction and permanency in writing down our achievements and milestones on paper. The book was written in 1999. If it had been written in 2002, it might have said “Write about success in your LiveJournal”. Updated today, the pro-blogger version would doubtless say, “Blog about your successes”.

    The only real question is where it’s appropriate to do so. For those who don’t have a separate ‘metablog’ and whose blog isn’t about blogging, consider a Livejournal or something similar as some of your readers won’t want to read the off-topic income reports.

  22. duncan says:

    Its a catch 22, for example I know everytime Darren gets mentioned on Slashdot but a whole pile of people write that his full of you know what and that it cant be true, so in this regards I think its important to discuss the dollars out there in blogging so people start to wake up to the fact that blogging is becoming a serious business to some, and yet on the other hand its never been something I’ve been easy talking about myself, theres a cultural thing about talking about how much money you earn, lest in be seen as being arrogant or boastful. I personally don’t talk about specifics, and I never probably will, but I am confortable talking about generalisations, for example I’m now a 5 figure blogger if we look at it yearly, but I’m not going to put an exaxct figure to that.

  23. Kevinius says:

    hmm, interesting topic. Non-blog sites aren’t revealing their income, so why should blogs do? It will only give you more competitors.

  24. Danny Foo says:

    I definetely wouldn’t mind revealing my my blogging figures generated if I had a stable flow of it. However, I feel that it’s quite embarassing revealing the less than average gain I get because it feels like I’m somehow lowering my own self-esteem.

    And matters become worst when there are those who might be gaining more than you decides to take a cheap punch at you just cause they might be earning more. Human behaviour always finds loopholes like this to exploit for some reason.

    I suppose that’s two reasons why I wouldn’t reveal my figures unless it’s just right.

  25. Marc says:

    It’s really a credibility thing I think. If you give it out, you’re basically saying, “you can also do this if you listen to what I have to say”. AdSense screenshots (assuming they’re not edited) are the best testimonials.

    While the dollar amount is enticing, I think I’ll be more interested in really getting answers to questions like what percentages do each blog (in the footer) contribute and how-to information for each of Darren’s sites, e.g. content sourcing, ad placement, link building strategies, etc.

  26. pcunix says:

    I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours :-)

    Seriously, that’s my reason. I want to know how I’m doing against my peers. Is $1,300.00 what I should expect from my sites or could I do better? While we are prohibited from revealing a lot (and that prohibition seems totally pointless to me),
    anybody with half a brain can look at my sites, get a very good idea of traffic from PR, Netcraft, Alexa, et al. and by observing the ads served, can get a pretty good idea of the click value. A little backward math fills in all the unknowns, and you know whether you do a lot better or a lot worse than I do.

  27. ChrisH says:

    One downside of talking about what you earn is it can build resentment from readers. There is the potential for them to feel used.

    So unless you’re site is dedicated to blogging advice then revealing your income could cheapen and tarnish blogging as a whole.

    We don’t want to sound like the store with good products but lousy service. We don’t want to generate the impression that we’re just blogging to make money.

  28. Jim Turner says:

    I just want to post about income rather than outgo!

  29. Yaro says:

    Credibility for sure. If you are teaching people how to make money online it helps if you are making money online. That’s a no brainer. The only concern I would have is wackos that might go stalking you knowing how much you earn (any scary incidents so far Darren?).

    For people not actually teaching others how to earn online I think revealing income is still beneficial.

    a) It demonstrates that you are serious about it and likely in it for the long haul since your get paid well for it. Income is a side effect of good content. I’d rather read the sites of people making good money for what they do.

    b) Exposure. The manalo might have lost a few visitors because he revealed he profits from his audience, but for sure he got a lot more from the spin-off publicity. Big success comes from big publicity. One of the best ways to get big publicity is show off how unique you are, or something special you have done or achieved, or offer an interesting story – something strange, or crazy, or new, or buzzing (blogs are buzzing at the moment). There is no such thing as bad publicity!

    Of course once you do reveal your income expectations change and you have to keep working hard to keep your audience. People expect a lot from people earning a lot.

    I think it’s crazy when people say they will lose readers because they reveal they make money from what they do. If that’s the case I don’t think you want that sort of reader anyway. They are the jealous, depressed and full of resentment people that expect everything online to be free. Yes there is an open source movement that is free and pure and good and yes there are people out there writing good content that don’t want any money in return, but all the people behind these projects are making money in other ways or are supported by other means (inheritance, welfare, etc.). You have to earn to live – and to pay for your web access!

  30. Bobby Lavish says:

    You’re right Darren… this does make an interesting discussion. To take the discussion further… what is your prof. opinion on what criteria should be met before releasing your blogging income in order for it to be beneficial? You touched on this a little indirectly but I would like to hear it from you a little more.

    On another note… have you talked with Manolo recently at all and if so has he discussed if he income is still growing rapidly?

  31. I think credibility cannot be measured by how much money you earn from your website.
    I believe all of us can agree that there are much money being gained from porno, gambling and the likes sites.
    All of us could just jump into that level but some would really hold back and just keep a “moral” way of earning.
    I think the quality and theme of the site should also be taken into consideration to also gauge someones blogging credibility

  32. noelevz says:

    i would love to reaveal my income … as soon as i get one… hehehe i just started blogging for 2 weeks now. i don’t know much about ads and stuff but i do know is that i’m doing what i love the most and its about arts.

  33. Slim Smith says:

    Can you help out a veteran journalist who is a blog-o-sphere neophyte?
    Here’s the story: I was a newspaper reporter, editor and columnist for 25 years until last March, when an unfortunate turn of events cost me my job as Metro Columnist at a medium size daily in the Southwest. Allright, I went to prison for felony DUI (didn’t hurt anybody, in case you are wondering). At any rate, I have a large and loyal following but no forum to share my columns, er, blogs. My question is simple: Is it practical to think that I could derive any real income from blogging? As I mentioned, I am a skilled writer, but a newcomer to this medium. Any advice would be much appreciated. And believe me, I need it….THANKS! –
    Slim Smith, ex-con and ex-print journalist

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Darren’s post on “Why reveal your Blog Income?” is getting some nice exchange of ideas. My take on this is two-folds but I believe not all bloggers would want to divulge how much they earn from their blog thru AdSense. [...]