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Should I Blog for Money?


I speak with bloggers every day who have heard the stories of blogs that make big dollars and who want to try to make an income from blogging also. One of the pieces of advice that I attempt to convey (and I’m afraid it doesn’t always get through) is that it’s worth pausing, before running out to slap ads on your blog, to ask yourself whether making money from your blog is right for you.

While this might seem to be a silly question to some (what’s wrong with earning money?) I think it’s worth at least asking the question.

Not every blog is suited to blogging for money.

Does it Fit with Your Blog’s Goals and Objectives – For me a lot of the advice that I’ve given in this series of blogging for beginners comes down to working out some goals, strategy and vision for your blog (I’ve written extensively on strategic blogging here so won’t unpack this now). There are many reasons why people blog and the motivation of money is just one of them. Here’s some of the responses I had when I asked why people blog:

  • ‘I blog for recreational purposes – to help me relax’
  • ‘I blog as part of my plan for world domination’
  • ‘I blog to help me promote my book/business’
  • ‘I blog to keep a record of the life and times of me’
  • ‘I blog because I want to help others’
  • ‘I blog to because I’m lonely and want to connect with others’
  • ‘I blog to pick up cute girls/guys’
  • ‘I blog because it’s fun’
  • ‘I blog because I want to build profile – I want to be known’
  • ‘I blog to make a living’

Now there is nothing wrong with blogging for more than one reason – but bloggers considering adding income streams to their blogs need to consider the possibility that there are implications of going in that direction that MIGHT impact their other goals.

Let me share some scenarios of real cases that I’ve come across (no names given) where putting ads on a blog wasn’t a good idea. If I were a betting man I’d say that they represent the story of many bloggers and that others could add more scenarios:

Scenario 1: Business Blogs - I remember one blogger who added contextual advertising to their Business Blogs (blogs which had primary goals of promoting a business’s services) only to find that the ads that were served to their blogs were for other businesses in their field who they were competing with. While they could block some of the ads they found that more ads replaced them. In the end they felt it was better to remove the ads and keep the focus on themselves.

Scenario 2: Reader Uproar – Another blogger who I have been talking with recently told me the story of the day she added impression based ads to her blog and created a mutiny among her readers who were angry that she’d gone that route. While on some blogs reader ownership are not very high, there are other blogs where for one reason or another that readers take great offense to bloggers changing the rules midstream – especially when it comes to ads. Depending upon the community levels and the way you introduce the ads you can end up losing readership and you need to consider whether the benefits of the income will outweigh the costs of fewer readers.

Scenario 3: Money Obsession - Perhaps one of the saddest examples that comes to mind is of a blogger who had been running a really interesting and reasonably successful blog (I wouldn’t call him an A-lister but he had a small loyal following) who got bitten by the ‘money from blogging’ bug so badly that it ended up killing his blog. Ultimately he ended up deleting a lot of his archives (the ones that had no income earning potential) and slapping so many ads onto his blog that it was hard to find any content. He ended up only ever writing on topics that he thought were ‘earners’. In doing so he lost the vast majority of his readership and ended up with a pretty poor blog. Greed took over.

Scenario 4: Poor Conversion and Clutter - A number of bloggers come to mind who have announced that they are fed up with ads on their blogs largely because the payoff has not been worth giving the space over to the ads. Ads do add another element of clutter to your blog and if the conversion isn’t sufficient they can seem quite pointless. This varies from blogger to blogger and sometimes comes down to the type of ad chosen and the topic that they are writing about – but it’s one of the main reasons I see bloggers taken ads off their blogs.

Scenario 5: Reputation – My last example is of a blogger who was blogging to build his own reputation in an industry. He’d been blogging for a number of months and was slowly become better known (although had a way to go). His problem started when he started promoting affiliate products that he’d had no knowledge of and which (he later found out) were actually ripping people off. In doing so he ended up doing the exact opposite to what he’d set out to do – he destroyed his own reputation.

I’m aware that this post has a somewhat negative tone to it and don’t want to disillusion readers too much. On the flip side of these stories of bloggers who found that blogging for money is not the answer for everyone are many more stories of bloggers who have found ways to supplement their income via blogging (and even a few stories of bloggers who now blog full time).

It’s to these stories (and the strategies that these bloggers are using) that we’ll now turn our attention next in this series.

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. adamsb says:

    Haha, oh yes, I do it ’cause the chicks digg classy bloggers ^_~

  2. I won’t complain if visitors legitimately click on ads while visiting my blog, but in my case, the real money-making opportunities happen as a result of the expertise I share on my blog.

    Trade shows request my event seminars because of the content I create, and I’ve also secured a book contract. These were two of my goals when I started blogging. Helping solo business owners to develop and launch marketing ideas was the main goal, which I hope is working for those who visit daily.

    Perhaps my reason for blogging falls under the No. 3 reason you cite. If so, it’s worked for me.

    There are people who blog to pick up cute girls or guys? Wow. I guess being married since the dinosaur age caused me to overlook that reason.

  3. Kevin says:

    I was going for number 2, but now you have put it out in the open I guess “everyone” will be doing it too… :)

  4. Adam says:

    world domination … definitely domination.:)

  5. Prince John says:

    Your Passion First Money Next

    Would be the ideal path to follow.

    Write about what you love,

    Money is absolutely necessary, but in blogs give it only the second place.

    I would like to get some tips on avoiding SPLOGS that come my way and eating up my time.

  6. big4guy says:

    I am blogging for almost 6 months now. Blogging for me started as a way of sharing my ideas and views on issues relating to my line of work. Personally, for me blogging includes pretty much all you have included in your list. (except probably picking up cute girls and making a living out of blogging). Its a nice feeling when ppl notice your work and one is appreciated. 3 Cheers for blogging Hip Hip Hurray !!!

  7. K says:

    Well, no ads on my blog.
    First, it’s a guest blog (sure, a long running guest blog but a guest blog all the same).
    Second, I consider it the equivalent of volunteer work.
    I don’t blog to make money, just to share the few gems I’ve picked up over the years.
    I’ll reach for a groaner and say I’m paying it forward.

  8. Joe says:

    Hey Darren,

    #5 and #10, but mostly on #10 I’m a wannabe.

    Joe

  9. Veridicus says:

    Mmmmm… world domination…

  10. AK says:

    World domination is always a fun one. I ran across a great blog (forgot the address) all about the blogger’s plan for world domination. He didn’t way who he was, but the logo was an open cage, and the blogger rather ominously referred to himself only as “The Brain”…

  11. Adam Graham says:

    One thing to consider is what type of moneymaking things to allow on the website. Recently, I’d been allowing Ad Brite Intermission Ads to run on my blog. It was a little annoying, but I allowed it because I was getting a small but steady stream of income off of it.

    My blog is a Conservative Christian Blog. One of my liberal friends went to make a comment and cracked up when he read the ad, “Adam’s Blog is brought to you by free condoms.” This was the end of Intermission Advertising through Ad Brite on my blog.

  12. Mike says:

    Personally, I think if you put sources of making income on your blog then your main objective is to make money. Some people will deny the fact that that’s why they make a blog, but deep inside that’s their goal. World Domination does have it’s advantages though.

  13. Thank you so very much for this comprehensive, generous wealth of information. I am trying my hand at this new potentially lucrative avenue of writing and thank you so much. I will be reading many sections of this blog.

    Best wishes.

    Sincerely,

    -Liane Schmidt

  14. Harrace says:

    You are entitled to serve ads on any pages of your site or blogs. I don’t serve ads on my profits pages, i.e. where I am selling my own products. The ads only appear on resources pages and it seems fine.

  15. tearfate says:

    why cant i be a blogger for money,isnt that what the world it is.well adding ads to a blog is kinda silly.

  16. I can easily blog for money, I mean why not?

    http://robins-psychology.blogspot.com/

  17. janish says:

    Darren has done a great job in posting information.I personally dont feel like blogging for money but recently lot of websites and blogs i see are having google adsense. I might give a try. my blog gets around 200 hits a day, its just a 1 month old baby though. Let me see whether i should plan to place ads or not. My objective of making a blog was to help people who cant afford to buy text books they should download them from there.

    http://analogstuff.blogspot.com

  18. I am very sad to say that I am new to blogging and after reading your post I realize I have been severely bitten by the ‘money from blogging’ bug. I started my blog with the mentality that I want to share neat little web development snippets that I have come across. Now I am torn because the greedy side of me wishes to write posts that will help me earn extra $ from ads.

    I have much research to perform on the art of blogging. Thank you for sharing your thougths! :-)

  19. Darren,

    Thanks for letting us newbies know the challenges that are out there in blogsphere!

  20. Lalaine says:

    I am very a new blogger and find myself half of the time. I was wondering if you’d be so kind to answer a few of my questions.

    My site is 3 mos old and so far has made around $25. A good day will be around $2. Although, I would be a lot happier if it was heftier, I still get very giddy when I see at least one click! .20 cents, .30 cents I am ecstatic!
    I suppose it’s because I am seeing past the dimes but on the possibilities that maybe, if I just work very hard…

    Anyhow, all that crashed today. I woke up, checked my website as always and found “page unavailable” on areas where my google ads where. I thought maybe google was down or something (yep! I am that naive to think Google will ever be down!) but when I checked my email they said my account is suspended. I’ve never clicked on my ads, never asked anyone to click on my ads, never even considered clicking on my ads! So, I am scratching that as a cause. I did post a Valentine’s recipe (frog legs) wherein I was trying to be funny. I used the word f..ckin. I did hesitate about that before I clicked submit but I felt the pun won’t deliver the full punch if I didn’t. (There is a big difference in emphasis in I DON’T F..CKIN THINK SO compared to I DON’T THINK SO) I went ahead and used the word. Then, my daughter admits to me today that she opened a google account on a Myspace website she has (graphics and stuff) under her name (she’s sixteen and in awe of Ashley) and manipulated her way regarding the age requirement. She said she wants to receive a check in her name, to experience how to make money on her own. Well, I should have just allowed her to apply at McDonald’s as both of our accounts were suspended today!

    From what I’ve read, there is only 1% probability of getting the account reinstated and with a site like mine that only gets 120 visits on a very delirious day, I hardly stand a chance.

    My question good Sir, are there other ways to monetize my site? Will the fact that Google suspended me pose an ill effect on my getting accepted on other PPC programs? Is it possible for my husband to open a Google ad account and for me to use that on my site? Will my daughter be banned forever from Google too, even when she turns 18? She built her site from scratch and reallly wants to do this professionally, in due time. Unfortunately, the smarter kids get, the more challenging they are of rules. Ahh yah, a misplaced sense of indestructibility!

    I am so sorry that I communicated with you like this. I thought maybe you can, from your vast experience and knowledge, be able to answer some of my questions. And I am hoping, some of your readers will have a view or experience to share with me. Thank you very much.

  21. nic says:

    I guess you are #3 “the greedy type” because your blog content is very poor and is all about money.

  22. Darren Rowse says:

    nic – well this is a blog about how to make money blogging…. so one would expect that it’d… mention…. money….

  23. I blog because i’m a business-type of person and I like the feeling of success.

    In order for me to feel this success I need to make money online.

    This is my first goal towards becoming a rich entrepreneur.

    I fist I wanna become rich online.

    Then I wanna start up businesses and become even richer offline.

    failureblogger-16 year old blogger (i’m also black)

  24. @balootisme says:

    personally, im blogging for money.

    but from wide view, im also blogging to help those need information.

    thats why i had many blog that focused on general topic, such as dating, technology, autos, and health. thats not a niche blog.

    and this blog also give me multiple stream of income; such as affiliate program.

  25. @balootisme says:

    @ failureblogger

    it doesn’t matter youre black or white. im not both. im asian and from malaysia.

    doesn’t matter youre 16years old. there are a boy younger than you that blogging; and he is blogging for fun and not for money.

    after he build his reputation with blog, now he can make money with his blog.

    reputation is #1, relationship with blog readers, and now; you can make money..

    p/s; just my 2cents.

  26. What website are you referring to in this? I was it in the book too.

    “Scenario 3: Money Obsession”

    @failureblogger, skin color is irrelevant.

  27. wenna says:

    Darren,
    Thank you for sharing this kind of relevant information. I’ve been blogging for years but the blog I mentioned above is relatively new and it is a personal blog. I’ve also read a lot about blogging for money. i tried few affiliate programs and in 3 months time I earned $20. but personally, i hate putting so many ads on my site simply because i don’t want it to overpower my posts.

    your post really help the beginners to be enlightened on whether they should blog for money or not.

  28. Low Han Yew says:

    This post sure helps me understand more about whether I should blog for money… I really like this series on “Blogging for Beginners.” I like the ProBlogger book too! I’ve got one!

    Thank you, Darren Rowse.

  29. Your blog is very informative. However, Keeping the online money making balance and to avoid pressure on it is pretty hard task but your post and experienced serve and teach me how to handle and make it more simple and manageable.

    Thanks for the tips… Best regards.

  30. Peaches says:

    This sounds really fun, I am new at all of this, but I have great stories I just want to write. And making a little money at something you enjoy does not sound bad at all. How does one get started? I said I am new at this! So be gentle please…..: )

  31. Ron says:

    Darren it’s really good for beginners(how to make money wih blogging).

  32. Raisa says:

    This is definitely true. I mean, I’ve been through the “greedy” thing cause I am totally broke and I need money but my parents wont let me work. So, I come up with making a blog and earn money from it. Well, it’s still new so I cant say that it actually fallen down into pieces. I changed the way my blog should be. I blog about the things my friends/readers wants me to blog about. I hope you guys can drop by and check my blog. I’ll be so glad to see you there sometime :)

    http://facts-unknown.blogspot.com

  33. Pam says:

    I started the blog to learn more about it and offer it as a design and development service to clients. I chose a topic many of my friends don’t want to hear about anymore: snowboarding. I live and breath it and needed to find some people who love the sport as much as I do. I started putting ads up, but I’m trying to focus on content and design now. The money isn’t important since I have a FT job. It’s also nice to have a place to look back on how I’ve changed as a writer, as a snowboarder/instructor and as a person.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I recently read a post called Should I Blog for Money? over at ProBlogger which I found interesting. There are a lot of pitfalls when it comes to blog advertising – including ruining your reputation – but would you take the chance? Or do you hold to the ideal of being traditionally published? [...]