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Giving Up on Making Money

Jon wrote an interesting post last Thursday titled Why I’m Giving Up on Making Money which has given me food for thought over the weekend (found via Rich Minx).

In the post Jon quotes a course that he’s doing:

“If you try to “make money,” you’re in for a long and fruitless ride. Instead, please people within a subject matter you are passionate about, You’ll never grow tired of growing your business and your business income will grow as a natural result.”

This resonates with me. While I do know people who are successfully making a lot of money from blogging by doing little of value (eg – some big time sploggers) – the majority of those who I’m interacting with that are making a living from blogging are doing it as a result of creating websites of true value to their readers.

Jon puts it nicely when he writes:

To put it another way, are you focusing on “what can I get?” or “how much can I make?” when working on a project or are you focusing on “what problems can I help people solve?”

Focus upon a question like “what problems can I help people solve?” and you’ll not only build something that has real value and enhances the world we live in on some level – but you’ll also put yourself in a position to be able to build a sustainable business.

Of course – to some extent I’m speaking idealistically. While I strongly believe in what I’m saying the harsh reality for many attempting to make a living from their online activities is that despite attempting to solve problems for readers that it doesn’t always work out that doing so is profitable – but I guess that’s the same in all avenues of business – sometimes even those things that should work don’t.

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. Noah says:

    Darren,

    Excellent post! I’ve been agonizing over the past few weeks about how I was going to successfully launch a fruitful blog. I had all these resources, but I eventually figured out that I was trying to figure out how to make money so hard that I forgot why I wanted to create a blog in the first place. Since my first couple of posts, and a few articles in development, I’ve figured it out. Write the content that you want to write, that you feel comfortable writing, and eventually you will find your core audience and go from there.

    By the way, I stumbled upon your site recently and it’s been an invaluable resource. Thanks!

    Noah
    Galvanize Me™

  2. Write about what you’re passionate about and pre-sell has been a message of Dr. Ken Evoy’s for years, because it’s works. I’ve been at it for only a year and the results have been amazing.

    There is no substitute for original, quality content and lots of it. That’s what brings the traffic that is open to the pre-sell that provides the revenue. Content, Traffic, Pre-sell, Monetize; in that order. Keep at it and the payoff is pleasing, to say the least.

  3. People should also think about the long tail. If your site earns $30 a month and grows at 3% per month, it will be making more than $1000 a month in 10 years. And it will have earned $33,000 by then. If it’s earning $100 a month right now and grows by 5% a month, it will be earning $33,000 a month in 10 years and will have paid out almost $700,000.

    Of course, it’s hard to say how blogs will fare in 10 years. The idea is to think about the long tail. The greater your traffic and content, the greater your long-term earning power.

  4. 60 in 3 says:

    I think it becomes pretty obvious to your readers when you just blog for money. Your content gets less relevant and your writing is less passionate. There are a few blogs I used to read which became more business than blog. That’s when I stopped reading them.

    The way I see it, I started reading blogs because traditional media resources became more about money and business and less about providing me with valuable information. When a blog does that, it’s no better than a network television news show that trades in its journalistic objectivity for ratings.

    Gal

  5. Great point Jon makes. It’s good to put things into perspective every once in a while.

  6. Melanie says:

    I think if you only blog for money, you will quickly become tried of it, and give up. Although I’m sure we’d all like to be making money, I agree with Gal, it soon becomes pretty obvious to readers when bloggers are only interested in making money.

    It’s important to remind ourselves of the reason we blog now and again, think about our original goals, and re-focus on these.

  7. Brad says:

    Those are some good points! I don’t expect to make money on my blog. I make an attempt at it, and I’m very happy every time someone clicks on an ad or something, but I’m content to just write about what I love.

    I figured if I write my blog because I love doing it first, then the money might follow. Then again, it might not. And if it doesn’t, that’s okay too. At least I will have had fun writing!!!

  8. Carolyn says:

    My feelings exactly, Brad!

    I started my blog, first, because I love to write, and second, because I love what I’m writing about. Hopefully, that translates through my content.

    To my friends and clients (I’m a nail tech during the day) I’m an expert in my niche, and I love helping fellow cat owners with advice. So, I love sharing what I know.

    I haven’t as yet attempted to make money from my blog. I’ve only been blogging six months, so I’ve still got lots to learn. However, this is a future goal of mine. In the meantime, if I don’t make money, I know I’ll still love what I’m doing.

  9. Brennan Ryan says:

    Great little article and observations.

    Doing something that you are passionate about is fun, doing something you are passionate abot that solves someones problem, is profitable.

    We have only been blogging for a short time, and recently reached the ‘critical mass’ that meant we had enough readers and link backs that we had something of value to sell to advertisers. I think if money making was the ONLY goal at the start, we would have become very dis-illusioned very quickly.

    The fact you have something valuable is a nice little side benefit of doing something you love.

    As Gal said, it gets kinda obvious when someone is blogging purely for cash, and generally kinda boring.

    Bren

  10. I personally do not use adverts on my blog because of similar reasons

    http://germworks.net/blog/2007/04/16/adverts-do-they-add-or-take-away-from-a-website/

  11. alam says:

    agree,

    many post ‘make money online’, push people to make increment from $0/day to $100/day will lead to find hpk, write somehing not your expertise, addicted to stats then checking balance everyday.

    daily life isn’t fun anymore, even full time blogger become bad job since the value is to much to trade within social life.

    Glad to see the post. Balancing is the key to get survive and love your blog :-)

  12. DumbShoppers says:

    I agree with you sincerely. But without the money reward, it’s sometimes hard to stay motivated to have detail research and write good articles/blogpost. Bloggers need to eat (and go watch Spiderman in the cinema) as well, right?

  13. Jimson Lee says:

    I started blogging as my diary for “the book I never wrote”.

    Now, I am happy if I can earn $9 a month to pay for my hosting costs, as I prefer to host WordPress myself.

  14. Juvin says:

    What you posted here just what I am looking for..
    I still won’t believe reagarding “Making Money”
    Whatever it is..

    What I believe is only one thing, when sell a thing you will earn! tha’s it!
    Am I correct?

    Juvin

  15. Joanna Young says:

    I agree with this – focus on the value you’re creating for others (not yourself) and let that drive your writing.

    Even if there aren’t direct financial benefits from this approach there are many others (establishment of your name, reputation, a loyal readership and perhaps some of the other opportunities that have come your way Darren and that you have described in other posts)

    Joanna

  16. Joel Badinas says:

    I cannot agree more on this.

    When I started blogging last year, money was the primary goal but I as months passed by, my blogs went dead. Now I changed my point of views about blogging and and enjoys it more than ever.

    Please read my post about this at this link: http://joelbadinas.com/2007/06/blogging-with-passion-bloggers-sercet.html

  17. Lisa says:

    I agree – and think this holds true for all businesses, not just those who are trying to earn a living from blogging. People in general are so wise to being ‘sold to’ that the rules of business have changed.

  18. Rose says:

    I also agree with you. I think that the best way is to be throughly interested in the subject that you are blogging about

    instead of just blogging with the highly rated keywords in mind

  19. I blog to make money.
    It’s a new blog, and I’m very passionate about the topic (personal development).
    Wanting to make money is a good thing, as well as a necessity. Traffic ultimately equals revenue, so I’m trying to build readership. And the only way to do that, is with high quality posts.
    Infact, if I weren’t looking to monetize my blog later on, I might not be so rigid about only writing posts that will provide exceptional value to my readers, so much so that I’ve started to spend a really long time brainstorming, researching and editing my posts.
    I don’t see wanting to make money as a bad thing, infact, I think my attitude really benefits my readers.
    Yes, I am a bit worried about selling out, but hopefully my blog will be a high-quality resource, even if it is monetized– just like Problogger!

  20. Mike says:

    I think you really need to focus on getting traffic to your site first. You won’t make any money without traffic. Once you have targetted traffic to your site the money will come in. There is not much point trying to monetize a site which no-one is looking at.

  21. I should send that post to all my friends that start with internet :)

  22. zenofeller says:

    I’m pretty convinced the entire make money online thing is a mental disease. Here’s a recent excerpt

    “This seems to be a sort of new disease, that develops atop pre-existing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, in a rather viral manner. First, the unsuspecting OCD sufferer accidentally reads a blog run by one of the already infected. Incubation begins.

    The unfortunate soul spends a few weeks devouring the blogs of every disease carrier he can find. This accounts for 90% of all the traffic the entire make money online niche gets. The other 10% is people looking for porn. (Everything on the Internet gets 10% of its traffic from people looking for porn. This is the Zenofeller Apothegm.)

    After the incubation weeks, the disease progresses to its first visible stage. The patient starts his own blog, and makes his very own, personal and unique posts on the grand subject of making money online, which, in spite of being his very own, personal and unique, are indistinguishable from a machine standpoint from all the other posts already available on the subject.

    Consequently, very little in the way of traffic and even less in the way of advertising revenue is directed to the fledging online money maker person guy. This is no end of frustrating, especially after having read 500 pages under the title of “How to make money online”, consisting mostly of permutations of the words money, make, and online.

    This frustration builds up, and aggravates the obsessive symptoms. The sufferer becomes over-concerned with the notion of making money online, which prevents him from realising it’s a void concept.

    There obviously exists no such thing as “making” money online any more than making money offline. What are you going to do, print it ? How do you just simply “make” it ? Money isn’t just made, you have to sell something.

    A few people have figured out they could just as well sell the notion of making money online, and if enough people buy into it, then it’d make money. Online. But for the sellers not for the buyers.

    There was a story in the news a while back about a salesman who sold 12 pianos over the course of a few years to an old lady suffering from Alzheimer. While perfectly legal, it isn’t very nice. Replace pianos with making money online, and Alzheimer with OCD, and you’ve got it straight.

    However, an interesting side of mental disease is that the afflicted can easily create their own reality. After enough frustration piles up, amplified by the obsessive side, and enough copy has been ingested, ensured by the compulsive side, some patients progress to the ugly phase two of their money making delusion.

    Somehow, something cracks in their head, and they suddenly think they ARE in fact making money online. And start writing about it. This second, severely delusional phase can remain stationary for years, or can abruptly evolve into full blown psychosis with all the risks and dangers involved. Medication can control it well, if started early and taken religiously.”
    [...]
    http://www.zenofeller.com/ocd-mmo.php

  23. Nicholas says:

    So very true!

    I have been trying to get going on the internet for two years now. This and that and when I think now I might be on my way, I fall flat on my nose… Luckily I have the support from friends, family and some inner idiot (not really) that just do not want to stay down.

    Personally I really do believe you will live a happy and fulfilled life if you do the “work” you enjoy doing. Focus on bringing real value to people with real questions and a business will follow. It helps to know a few things though, and it is these “few things” I am and have been figuring out.

    Intense ride indeed, but every moment is to be savored, time here is way too fleeting.

    Lovely life to all.
    Nicholas

  24. nika says:

    I am one of your daily readers (rss is a goodness) and I have no intention of making money on my blog ( http://nikas-culinaria.com ).

    I do learn a lot here, one thing is to value my content more and another is to work hard on keeping my blogs positive. My current http://nikas-culinaria.com post is not as positive as I usually am, its one that is processing a difficult issue.

    You will see that there is ZERO advertising on my blog, period. I prefer it this way because it was way too much of a downer to watch my ads earn ZERO bux. This is not for a lack of trying, many times.

    I have been blogging since 2005 and I have almost 300 posts, I create high quality interesting food content and delicious food photography .. all for the love of doing it.

    I am at peace with the fact that my blog is not a money making scheme (I did not start out to make money off of it, back in 2005 blogging was MUCH more about the social thing, money making was an amusing concept .. ok, it still is but lots of people recently seem to think that blog monetization is a strategy instead of what it usually is, serendipity)

    I appreciate the message of this post but I would like to suggest, coming from a passionate and non-profit blogger who has tried many times to monetize, doing what you love and doing it well is NOT necessarily the route to monetization. Its the route to a happy blogger but that is not linked to making money in any meaningful way.

    When I tell people what I do (especially business people who are hearing all sorts of hype about blogging because they want to boost their site SEO in the face of an overwhelming ocean of blog and splog SEO superiority) and they see my blog(s) (I have several others, two of which are – http://progressive-homeschool.blogspot.com and http://www.humblegarden.com) and they assume that I must be making quite a lot of money. Not in the least. I am making behind the scene derivative gains on my developing food photography work but that is totally from my own hard work, not serendipity.

    I LOVE blogging on what I blog on, its my life. Writing and shooting are two ways of distilling one’s every day existence into an artform that can be transformative. To poison that with the massive stress and disappointment that comes from failed attempts to monetize is a shame (because so much of that is not about me and is out of my hands – so much of the $$ is about serendipity and luck in getting more eyes on the page).

    To never get a chance to love blogging (it can take a while to get into the swing of things) because you are all caught up in making and chasing the money, is a shame and a waste of time.

  25. I wouldn’t care if I didn’t make a single cent on my persona finance blog. It’s something I love and something that I will write passionately about. I think I will, however, create a new blog that is more monetized.

  26. AskaX says:

    I agree with jon… as long as people read and comment on my blog I would be happy…

    as the wise man said ” The more you give the more You get”

  27. Mommy Zabs says:

    I completely agree.
    I started blogging as more of a journal after my now 3-year-old was born. After a couple formats- and now on my own domain, I now consider some affiliate advertising- but cautiously because I really value my readership/ internet friends and don’t want to compromise that. I have been meeting so may lately that are just starting blogging almost like a “get rich quick” scheme. Substantial things normally don’t come quickly or easily and if the only thought is making money and not content what is the point? One reason I love this blog so much is that you consistantly encourage bloggers to strive for excellence in their content and help arm us with the ability/knowledge of how to do so. You seem to emphasize that trying to make money without providing content is superficial. I appreciate that.

  28. Martin Edic says:

    I have multiple blogs, some make money; the one I commonly include a link to (as in here) doesn’t. The subject matter (climate change) simply isn’t associated with commerce. I have some monetization on there but it really doesn’t generate much. So why do I do it? Because it is important to me.
    Sometimes you have a passion that is also profitable, sometimes you don’t. You should still pursue your passion- just find another one that pays and do both. Profitable or not, if you don’t have the passion you’re not successful, IMHO.

  29. Just started a blog and found myself wondering how to monetize it the best. Thanks for this great post. It made me realize I should be focusing on my passion instead.

  30. sriram says:

    yes, just like starting a company, if you’re doing it out of love and interest, you’re bound to succeed and apparently almost always, ppl fail if they’re doing it for the money…

  31. Allan says:

    I totally agree. Do what you love and the money will come. If are writing about digital voice records because they are the hottest, money-making thing but don’t really “enjoy” them, either you won’t make money or you won’t enjoy it.

  32. Great financial philosophy! Here’s more:

    “Life is not about making money — Money is about making a life.” (Mitch Anthony)

    “It has been said that the love of money is the root of all evil. The want of money is so quite as truly.” (Samuel Butler)

    “I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man…” (Socrates)

    Thanks for the post…

    Kent (aka The Financial Philosopher)

  33. OknooRap says:

    Yes, i agree with jon. I just started blogging view days ago. And my money grow up.

  34. Personally, I think that when it comes to blogs, a blog of low quality would not be very profitable.
    And I completely agree with Mike: a new blogger should focus first on getting traffic (that’s what I’m doing!)
    Without readers, the rest (monetization, becoming an authority figure, whatever) doesn’t have any chance whatsoever of occurring.

  35. Dan says:

    I think this type of thing is something we all have to realize at one point or another. I’ve found that the topic really is important. One of my blogs I have no time coming up with what to write about, while the other one I have a harder time. Time to rediscover the passion!

  36. Psycho Dude says:

    I agree, although I include paid posts on my blog the factor of making money through my blog is not the main importance. My main importance is to blog about what I’m interested in myself, have been going for that for nearly a year already and will probably keep on doing so for many years. I don’t see making some money with my blog as something bad though, since it does help in covering the costs of hosting the blog and on top of that extra money is never unwelcome for a student ;).

  37. Hm…
    That’s an interesting concept. It makes sense! I’ll have to keep that in mind.

    At this point in time I do not have any ads on my blog – but I do hope to be adding them at the end of the summer. So, I shall have to keep that in mind when I enter into the money making world of blogging.

    Thanks for the post!

  38. Gloria says:

    yes Darren you are speaking idealistically. however, not everyone else is Darren Rowse who can build a blog and earn six-figures from it later on (i mean this positively!). Then, with the rise of blog networks paying bloggers to blog about topics they are passionate about, thus giving birth to network bloggers…admittedly, money becomes a big part of the motivation. The ride maybe long but i cannot say that it is fruitless. In fact in my case, it has turned out to be really very fruitful. ;-)

  39. Bowrag says:

    Money will come and that happens usually when your not looking for it. This has been said over and over here…

    Do what you love and you may be rewarded.

  40. If I didn’t make money from my blog, I’d go back to just writing for magazines and newspapers. I write because I like to write, but I have to weigh up other options.

  41. I completely agree with what you are saying! I am always getting flack from some people around me telling me that I need to give myself a break – watch some TV, go for a walk, etc etc. I do love living a balanced life, but I also LOVE what I do – so it is not like work for me. I am more motivated and work harder at my own projects than anything else I have ever done for someone else – even if I sincerely enjoyed that work.

  42. Syd says:

    A very interesting article. Definitely if we change our focus to helping people, it should give our web business solid foundation and not a shaky ground like just trying to earn some quick bucks.