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Making Money as a Side Effect of Blogging (and a New Breed of Blogger)

Seth has some interesting things in response to the question – ‘How do I make a lot of money blogging?’ here.

“The best bloggers make money, but mostly as a side effect, not as a direct result of setting out to use a blog to make a profit. It’s just too long a ramp up time, too frustrating and too uncertain to be the best path to make a living.”

A few thoughts:

Seth’s described my own experience of making money from blogging pretty well. I didn’t set out to do it at all. I blogged for a year before it even crossed my mind and even then it was initially an experiment (just like adding many blogging tools and features was for many of us in those days).

I suspect that Seth’s words also describe the experience of many money making bloggers who stared out in my era (4-5 years ago). Most started blogs on topics that they were passionate about, had interests in and enjoyed – they didn’t set out to become rich but the money came as a byproduct.

HOWEVER – I wonder whether times might be changing a little.

A New Breed of Blogger?

Over the last couple of years I’ve seen an increasing number of bloggers get into blogging with the primary objective of making money – who actually ended up doing it with some success.

I’m not talking about what some might consider A-listers, but bloggers more medium sized blogs more more niche topics that are pulling in enough to go full time with their work or at least heavily supplement their income. They’ve not hit the ‘big time’ publicly because they either want to keep their success private or because they’re only a year or two into it and their blogs are now only just starting to take off.

I do recommend that bloggers choose topics to blog on that they enjoy and find more reasons than just money to start blogging – but wonder if there’s a new breed of blogger coming up through the ranks that started out with different motivations and who take a different approach to their blogging than ‘old timers’ like Seth and myself.

PS: check out Seth’s post Write Like a Blogger which contains some great tips for bloggers and how they should write.

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. I think that these are the main types of bloggers:
    - blogging for the love of it
    - blogging for money

    I don’t see a new breed coming, but I can see age dropping. More and more teens get into “serious blogging”.

    Sure, none of us has anything against combining both, if possible. I’ve read something in a tweet today: Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get. It somehow relates to this topic.

  2. Robin says:

    I think it’s definitely the case that there are a lot of bloggers looking primarily to make money. And to be honest there are a million blogs and post which are there to advise them of how to do that, which may be a factor.

    I don’t think it’s a good thing though. It leads to a dilution of quality – the best blogs have always been those that are written through genuine passion and interest in writing. Sure, if you get the opportunity to make a bit of money then go for it (although I’ve seen blogs ruined by suddenly being filled with ads and spam as they try and take advantage of bumps in readership). But unless you’re writing because you really want to write the lack of passion is always going to show through over time.

  3. FreePSDLogo says:

    I have found out from experience that its better to build a blog on what you like and the rest will follow, I have tried other niche sites and never found any interest in writing, now if you can find a niche that you like and its also profitable then you have a winner.

  4. I don’t think it should be a surprise – when you started out, you probably didn’t even realize the financial upside of blogging. Now that there are top blogs and top bloggers and everyone knows someone who is (almost) making a living blogging, it’s hard to ignore the financial aspect.

    Having said that, I completely agree that one should write as best as he can about topics that he finds interesting, implement a few basic tools of self-promoting and money-making, and allow the rest to follow.

  5. Killer Picke says:

    I’ll be honest, I started blogging for fun on myspace and eventually thought I could make money. So I started another blog about web design and internet marketing (which I know there is a ton of) and set out to build it to make money. It’s been about 4 or 5 days and I have made 45 cents. But that’s pure profit! Ha!

  6. Hey Darren, i’ve been reading your blog for quite sometime. I’m one of the newbies you are writing about. I started blogging to share my story of becoming debt free. I want to be known as Debt Free Hispanic. But I also started another blog to show tips of how i’m getting started with monetization… http://www.monetizeyourblogforfree.com I must say that I love writing more on my personal blog than this test trial. Thanks again and I do appreciate your blogging. I added your blog to my Monetization site for tips. Keep up the good work. -Debt Free Hispanic

  7. Whilst there may be a growing breed of “money bloggers” who set out to make money from day one, nothing will replace the effort and enthusiasm of a blogger who primarily does blogging for the love of it and making money second.

    This has not changed in years and new bloggers coming on the scene who want to make money from the beginning without the hard work of building up a loyal audience are being duped in the same way the “get rich quick” schemes still try and get people suckered in.

    As Darren points out often making money comes as an unexpected side-effect of doing it well.

  8. SpaceAgeSage says:

    Didn’t eBay start out to connect buyers and sellers and take out the middleman, but then as people saw dollar signs, millions jumped on the bandwagon and started looking in their garages and at antique stores for ways to make a buck? Making a buck is a strong incentive. Instead of the constant, local seminars popping up for “How to Make Money on eBay,” maybe we will start seeing more that are about “How to Make Money by Blogging.” Fortunately, writing is still an art, passion is still a thing of the heart, and making connections with people is about caring for more than yourself.

  9. jan says:

    Regarding the above mentioned thoughts: It reminds me of the Golden Rule for becoming a 6-figure blogger…

    First get a job that provides you with a 6-figure income… then start blogging

    With a lot of “new” blogs that is the problem… and those are the blogs that within 1 or 2 years are either gone or have gotten a new owner. Unless you blog out of a certain passion, it is very hard to excell in separating yourself from the masses of bloggers out there, and actually make living out of it.

  10. Luis Gross says:

    Awesome topic – I feel the vast majority of bloggers in this era as opposed to the era Darren emerged from is mainly focused on making money. The differences can be obvious as the blogger who writes for no income’s passion is shown through his work. The guys making all the money are so busy advertising and keeping up PR their content is usually lousy and they have a lot of guest’s post, and re-use people’s articles ( which is absolutely okay ) and the quality is just poor. They spend more time on ad optimization then writing their own stuff. But like everything in life there are always exceptions and you have your handful of bloggers ( like Darren ) that make a very desirable living and still maintain top quality content written by themselves without slacking off and not posting for 2-3 days. So let’s not judge by the fact that they’re making money off their blog let’s judge by the quality off the content they themselves are publishing.

    - Luis Gross

  11. Gyutae Park says:

    Hey Darren,
    Bloggers like you and Seth are the pioneers of the industry, but I think that the “new breed” of bloggers can still find success. Sure, there has to be a passion for the topic being discussed, but a mind in tune with the money-making potential can really provide incentives to give readers what they want.

    In a way, I think money making bloggers have an advantage because of the following reasons:

    1. The incentive of money drives them to excel and put out top quality content
    2. The income can help bloggers to invest in new tools and advertising
    3. More full time bloggers that are dedicated to writing about their topics.

  12. The most popular way to make money appears to be selling text links or banners on your blog (if you have a decent PR)

    Also Adwords appear to help

    But, since Google began dropping the PR and penalizing Bloggers who do NOT use the NOFOLLOW tags when they sell links – wonder what impact that has had on the less high profile blogs.

    The popular ones do not appear to be suffering because they still bring in traffic – but the smaller ones with a decent PR may have been impacte

  13. David Koski says:

    Hi Darren,

    Today’s my first day of exploring online, the prospect of creating my own Website and Blog. I’ve read through some of your ‘fantastic & informative’ blogs & lessons so far, and I must say, I’ll be a regular visitor. I’m very impressed with your knowledge and willingness to share with your readers. I can’t tell you how much this is appreciated. I’ve been studying various books on the subject and I’m in the early planning stages.

    A long-story-made-short; I’ve been unemployed for some time now and have limited resources. But, the good news is that I’m an avid woodworker, amateur photographer and I love working on my computer. Tying these passions together, I’m hoping to create a successful Blog/Website where people can follow me through each project I create; through written word (instructions/procedures), photographs and perhaps videos too. I’m targeting my mission to be both informative, of value, fun to follow, and personally, a means of income in the future.

    In summary, I want to thank you for all the information and advice. I’ll put it to good use!

    Sincerely,

    David

  14. Thinkjayant says:

    Good discussion there. Also thanks for the link to the post.

    Frankly i started thinking to mimic many famous blogger writing about blogging. But then i realize i can do that only for some time.

    Hence i decided to rather think differently and link management philosophies, other ideas with Blogging. Hence i have started writing topics like the following.

    http://www.smartblogtips.com/what-influence-a-blog-readers-decision-making-choice/

    http://www.smartblogtips.com/treat-your-blog-like-your-mother-in-law/

    http://www.smartblogtips.com/learning-good-blogging-tactics-and-strategies-from-the-game-of-chess/

    But that does not let me free from writing tutorials and tips for newbies, which is also what i like. Thus i ended up deciding to keep my blog a mix of topics catering to both first time blogger and matured blogger.

    TJ

  15. Gyutae, I tend to agree with your assessment. Darren is seeing the beginning of a trend he calls a “new breed” of bloggers – a good way to look at it. I am an author, and I have known for at least ten years that there is indeed a way to be paid for the consistent production of focused, high-value content. It just took a while to emerge and become teachable. Blogs simply made it more accessible to people. And now it is really getting exciting for writers like me who want freedom of location, and a decent living to boot. It’s all there: passion, focus, community, and technology. What a great fit. Here’s one of my blogs about the topic:
    http://greatadaptations.org/new-bloggers-morass-uh-oh/
    See you in the Blogosphere,
    Suzanna

  16. CompuWorld says:

    It has been more than a year since I started off as a blogger and I admit that I started because Amit Agarwal of labnol.org was making hell lotta money..

    But today it is my madness my love and my everything. A day without Internet and I am over sorts..

  17. Internet marketing, and blogging, is just like any other business. If you go into because you love what you’re doing you are so much more likely to succeed, than if you’re in it just for the money. It shows on the quality and your interest for the customers.

  18. As someone who has built 100s of quality niche-oriented sites and currently runs several niche-oriented blogs, I can vouch that one can write a quality blog while making money at the same time; there’s nothing evil about it.

    I’m not talking about thin affiliates or banners or what have you…I’m talking about blogging niche themed news, resources, developments, etc., and including great affiliate links in the sidebars. It’s the readers’ choice to click or not, it’s the readers’ choice to tell their friends about you or not. And so far, I’ve gotten a definitive ‘thumbs up!’ from my readers with the blogs I’ve developed.

    Data points,

    Barbara

  19. Rick says:

    My first foray into blogging was a result of stories I’d heard or read about concerning the money that can be made with blogging. I set up up a couple of sites to do just that but they soon fell apart. I was dispassionate about it. I then turned my sites on something I was passionate about and have found that I don’t care if I make money at it (it would be nice!). The site is paired down – not much in the way of ads, and hopefully content rich (all original).

  20. Mr.Sentences says:

    interesting article.. too many blogs are making money online so everything is possible

  21. GreekMooMan says:

    I have enjoyed reading the problogger blogs and the almost more importantly the great discussion that always follows.

    I have recently begun my blogging path, in fact just this week! I will admit I have begun blogging to make money, however, it is also quite fun.

    I hope everyone agrees that one can make money while doing something they enjoy, and that not all jobs have to suck!

    One of my first blogs, http://www.blubbish.com/wordpress/?p=5 uses many of the tips I have read here. Thanks!

  22. NikNik says:

    I started blogging out of a love of sharing knowledge. It’s been 2 years and now my blog is being syndicated by Inman News, I’ve launched another online solutions (MyMarketWare) and have been invited to speak at events and write for several publications. It’s doesn’t stack up to a lot of cash. But I love to blog and I’m hoping that if I read your next book I can better tailor my efforts to reap more rewards! Why not! I’m already here and lovin’ it!

  23. So, I blog primarily for fun, but plenty of my colleagues started their blogs to make money. And they’re doing so. And their blogs are good.

    What’s the big deal? It’s just like getting a job doing something you enjoy. My day job is something that I took up initially because I thought it looked interesting, but more importantly as a source of income. I’m successful at it, and I really enjoy it. Why is it wrong for a blog to be the same way.

  24. Pentad says:

    Jan who commented further up took the words right from my fingers. :o)

  25. Communiteer says:

    I’ve made a little more than 3x by affiliate product links on niche blogs over the years vs. selling ads. Granted, I’m a little new to the ad sales space – still a bit surprised at what folks are willing to fork over some times for ads.

  26. AndyS says:

    Great insight as usual Darren. I think with the advent and explosion of MMO blogs – blogging, online ads and making “easy” money have become synonymous. My first blog was started as a hobby, whereas my second one (http://www.savingtoinvest.com) was definetly started with money making as an objective. However, you still need to know and be interested in the content you have to make the blog worthwhile in the longer term.

  27. Lightening says:

    I started blogging for the love of it and now I’m looking at ways to make just a small amount of money from it (as a bonus). More “pocket money” than “income”. My concern is the number of blogs out there who are so blatant about their first priority being money. I feel that they are detracting from the overall opinion about blogs and blogging. That as more and more bloggers seem to be “in it purely for their own gain”, it taints those who have more genuine motives for blogging. Hopefully these bloggers are naturally “weeded” out but as they are becoming more prevalent, I can’t help but feel they are having some kind of “impact”. I know there is some backlash to making money blogging as a result of the “get rich quick” types of blogs popping up with more ads than content etc.

  28. Kellie says:

    Hi Darren,

    I’ve journaled all of my life so to go from paper to the web, I can only hope will be a natural transition. I agree with Lightening, I’m fairly new to the concept of blogging. I will admit that in my quest to gain more knowledge about blogging, I was bombarded with sites that were more like infomercials than blogs. This turned me off initially but like so many before me, I ran into your blog and realized there was someone that actually had information that was doing more than selling a product. Thanks so much for sharing and helping me to take a 2nd look at blogging.

  29. I’m glad I didn’t start off blogging for money. Becasue if I did then the .36 cents that I have earned off Google AdSense would be the total of my deposit in the bank.

    It should not suprise anybody that people are blogging for money. People do all sorts of things for money. Why would blogging be different?

    You can sleep easy tonight because no matter why people are blogging you can count on this: only the good blogs will survive.

    Live From Las Vegas
    The Masked Millionaire

  30. K13 says:

    My motivation was when I was looking for ways to earn money on the internet and found problogger.com. For the last 2 days I’ve been obsesive and have been blogging for hours at a time. I’m trying to get (at least some) visitors on konsumerelektroniks.com. My goal is to get 1000 visitors a day for 1 week. Then I will start to look for advertisers. I don’t know how to get repeat visitors and I need to get one of those rss counters that tell you how many “members” your blog has. I don’t blog for the money I blog because it’s kind of like a hobby now.

  31. Blogging should totally be about what you like to do! If you are doing it anyways and if you are happy that ANYONE will listen to you (even if it is just your spouse) you will get a readership just because you are passionate about your subject. It is like my speaking gigs, I am just happy if I can get 5 people in a room who will listen and interact with me…:)

  32. Preston says:

    100% agree. I’m about 1.5 years into this thing and making money, but it’s really about staying involved in an industry that I’m passionate about.

  33. Kishor says:

    Doesn’t blogging let your voice be heard by other people? Its not just about money or passion in my opinion.

  34. Chuck at SND says:

    I started my food blog 9+ months ago as something to do as my business partner was slacking and extremely late on his deliverables. I needed something fun to do, keep me busy and continue developing my skills (CSS, PHP, SEO, writing, photography, etc.)

    It’s been a blast participating in the food blogging community. And I just started monetizing the blog. It’s not much income, but it’s unplanned incremental income… which is always a plus for documenting my food and cooking!

  35. mr.eims says:

    I blog for both money and passion..
    I like blogging and have many friends all over the world.
    and I like to be a full time blogger that can stay at home with family not like other people who still working 5 days a week from 8 to 5pm just to make other people rich,

  36. Alan Hocking says:

    This has been a thorn in my side ever since I started blogging and I even wrote an article titled “Are You Blogging For Profit Or Fun?” covering my dilema at: http://tapasandtantrums.blogspot.com/2007/12/blogging-for-profit-or-blogging-for-fun.html

  37. Hi Darren,

    I think we’re seeing a new industry develop right before our eyes.

    Any communication company, cable television station, magazines, or radio stations enter into the market to be proftiable.

    With the time that a person has to invest in blogging why not think more commercally?

    Eric P. Martin

  38. Nicole says:

    Interesting topic. I wonder if I will fall into the new type of blogger category or not. I actually thought of a business, but started my blog just a couple weeks ago while I get my website going for the service that I am really going to (try to) promote. But, my goal is the business, not the blog. Would that make me blogging for money or not? Hmm…I am more thinking the blog might bring in passers-by for the online business. Perhaps they are merging?

  39. Farfield says:

    I recently started my blog, but I didn’t do it with the aim to make money. I think the most important reason for me is to learn how to write well. I’m not a native English speaker, so writing in English is a very good exercise and these days a blog seems like a good motivation to improve your writing skills!

    And now my main aim is writing good content so I will attract readers. So if you didn’t have a look yet, please do:
    http://www.streamlinedmind.com

    I will not complain if there will be financial benefits, I have to be honest about that, why put ads on your site otherwise..?

  40. Jacqueline says:

    When I learned how I could make money online in GPT, I saw starting a blog as a great, easy and free way to get the info out, which I immediately shared on a medical transcription board (I am a transcriptionist). I didn’t know then what I was getting myself into. I found I like blogging more than doing free offers. It was so easy starting out to imagine fabulous earnings right away. Not so. I’ve yet to see double digits with Bidvertiser, even after several months. That is sad. But I believe there is potential and so I am continuing to build and learn and grow. This has been, and is, an Interesting journey. I do hope that while I am blogging about making money, I will eventually make money blogging too!