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Personal Blogging in the 2010s

This guest post is by Karen Andrews of Miscellaneous Mum.

Personal blogging has changed a lot in the last two years. Some writers now run blogs or social media campaigns to extend their profiles for current (and future) readers; some bloggers are using their reach to find or be offered writing work.

The line between ‘writing’ and ‘blogging’ is blurring, which is terrific, but can also be confusing. I know this first-hand. So today I’m going to share with you some points I try to keep foremost in mind. Maybe they’ll help you too.

Making money is possible, but prepare for tough decisions

Here’s a description: you’ve built up a pretty healthy traffic flow, or a solid RSS subscriber count. Long before that, you signed up to an ad network, thinking that by this stage the money would be steadily coming in … except it’s not.

You think about selling private ad spaces, but worry that would be a turn-off for your audience. You’re hesitant about doing sponsored or affiliate-related posts for the same reason. And as for all those opportunities out there in waiting, the longer you’re stuck, the harder they seem to be to grab.

Does this scenario sound familiar? Well, I’ve got a message of hope for the personal bloggers out there. You have one thing on your side. You’re making decisions that matter every day. Here are just a few: how much or little do I reveal about myself or my family? What are some ways I can frame or contextualize a story for effect? What is the best response I can give if I’m challenged about an issue?

What’s needed to answer those questions? Integrity. Look into that part of yourself when asking yourself how far you’re willing to go to make money from your blog. The answer is often there waiting.

Making sure ‘I’ am enough

Here’s another description: you’re chatting to a friend who also blogs, but does so in more traffic-heavy niches (such as entertainment and technologies). You compare the time you spend and your blogging tactics, and are roughly doing it the same way. The difference is that your friend’s site’s hits are triple yours. You start to feel discouraged.

Does this sound familiar? My message this time is a little more sobering. Yes, it can be hard, but this is the time when you need to decide if you are enough. Does it really matter if your traffic isn’t like so-and-so’s? Perhaps your ambitions can be channeled differently, or your goals need redefining.

It never hurts to stop, take a step back, and see what personal bloggers have achieved in recent years. People who live with or are affected by mental or medical challenges, for example, have been able to raise their voices to advocate the networks which support them and are, in turn, worth being supported by others.

Personal blogging isn’t easy—you might be surprised how many other people feel the same way. This is why meetups and conferences are so important: they create opportunities for open discussion and learning among like-minded peers. It’s also worth remembering that your blog will go through its ups and downs, just as all lives do.

If you’re struggling, perhaps take a day—or a week—off to clear your mind and refocus. It might make the difference between two or three mediocre posts or one terrific one. It might make the difference between quitting or sticking it out. At these times we need to take care of ourselves. We’re all worth looking after.

Karen Andrews is an author, publisher, speaker and blogger at Miscellaneous Mum.

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Comments

  1. Excellent advice on deciding how far one is willing to go to make money from the blog, Karen. Integrity is central. It is that one thing that is most valued by your readers, and the last thing you want to do is engage in something that compromises it.

    Regarding the “sponsored or affiliate-related posts”: they don’t have posts fully tied to your remuneration by the “sponsor” (in fact, these types are probably the least credible in the readers’ eyes). You can serve your readers contextually-relevant and fully kosher ads (banner or text links), and do it with a careful manual pre-screening of everything that will be shown to them. When the due diligence is there , you can make good money without compromising your blog’s credibility.

  2. It’s funny, now that I have read your post, it really hits me how little money and visitors matter in the niche I’m in. For me, being a good writer and creating a wonderful blog is more important. I would love to make a living from blogging, but how do you do that by only writing about yourself? I mean, is that enough? I don’t know.

  3. Some awesome points!, for other new readers of Problogger, I would suggest choosing a topic to base your blog around and then add your personality into the site.

    That way you always hold back stuff and people will justify reading as it’s useful to them!…

    David Edwards

    • Glynis Jolly says:

      I agree whole heartedly with you, David. I’ve had several blogs where I didn’t even try to make any money from because the numbers just weren’t up high enough. This was because my blogs were rambling too much. Now I have targeted a niche and I can tell that it makes a difference.

  4. Julie says:

    Great advice. I could write for a really niche blog like entertainment, and probably earn more traffic, but the passion and drive just isn’t there. I would feel kind of empty inside writing about things that only interest me slightly and readers are smart enough to know if your being inauthentic. I would probably only gain short term success on this route and I wouldn’t feel very happy.

    I have always loved writing and I don’t have great writing skills. I began a blog without thinking about earning income. However, financially things have got extremely hard and I so Iooked at the potential of earning some extra money from adsense. I was putting so much content on the blog it seemed kind of brainless not to do it.

    It has taken me 6 months to cash my first cheque. It might possibly take 3 months for the next payment. However, it’s progress and it might not be the over-night senssation that other bloggers expereince. Comparing blog success isn’t always helpful unless its in your own niche, and then you can assess and judge what works for others, but even then there is no gurantee it will work for you. Especially if you are just emulating others. The main problem is lots of blogs with similair formats and content popping up everywhere.

    Learning some SEO has tripled my very small site traffic from the beginning of January. The good thing about blogging is that you are the editor, creative manager, promoter and writer! Some people don’t even look at blogging as “real” work and just don’t understand how much work goes into the whole process. People only see the ‘end’ product and not what happens behind the scenes. Too bad I don’t get paid the wages for all those jobs ;-p. However, all the responsibility also lies on my shoulders to make the whole thing work, which is not always easy. I also suffer from withdrawal symptons when I don’t post and have all these ideas racing about my head needing some kind of outlet. I think you need to have an obsession with your blog, which probably relates back to having a strong passion for your work.

    Thanks for the fab advice :-)

  5. Wynand says:

    I try some online not to get rich or something – I have a factory and some retail business but I do not want to take money out of my business, I want to use it to employ more white people not because I am racist (I am not) but because white people in
    South Africa are excluded from the general labour market they are not allowed to do certain jobs and are excluded from most government Jobs , They are excluded from low cost housing and
    White owned companies are excluded from getting any goverment contracts. Maybe I have a far fetched dream but while I live I will try to live that dream.

  6. Mike Colonna says:

    I have more than 8 real estate blogs, and a few political websites, wondering if I can take fed deductions for tax purposes if I either pay for bloggers, information, and my own sweat in contributing to these websites. Are there any guidlines?

  7. I’m not sure about the idea of not putting your ideas out there. Just for the sake of not being “terrific”. Even bad posts can be important, specially if you want to give a personal view of yourself. Darren has made some not very good posts, when he was in a down, and still that was important for him and for his readers. At least, that’s my point of view :)

  8. Bill says:

    Nice article.

    I have been trying to get my blog going for a while now and am not having much luck with traffic – I think even my own mom doesn’t read regularly anymore! But, I have decided to stick to it despite the low readership. There are probably tens of thousands of blogs on the , same topic as mine, so the competition for readers is tough.

    However, my goal is to be a good writer and a good blogger. These skills can only be developed if I am actually practicing my craft. My blog will pay me with skill. If I can get it to pay me with money, that will be fine too. If not, I will use my new skill and find a new niche.

    The post I most proud of is about Mastering the Skill of Mastery.

    The most valuable skill you can learn is how to learn.

  9. James Artre says:

    “If you’re struggling [online], perhaps take a day—or a week—off to clear your mind and refocus. It might make the difference between two or three mediocre posts or one terrific one. It might make the difference between quitting or sticking it out…”

    Absolutely Dead On!

    Listen, too many people waste too much time doing too many things that lead to too little outcomes. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself, and your business is…

    Nothing!

    Excellent advice, Karen, and a really enjoyable read.

    Thanks!

    James Artre, CEO
    Artre International

  10. HomeList says:

    Good point about blogging in a light traffic niche. I’m in a similar situation right now, where I know my niche is very low in traffic, but over time it will get better, so I just have to stay motivated.

  11. Hemanth says:

    Interesting Points Darren. No blogger should start a blog with theme of earning money, first concentrate on niche, build traffic, write original and useful content, build community then think about money.
    I started a new blog, its on low traffic now. I know it will grow, coz am working on it. Getting motivation form bloggers like you and keep doing it. I planned to giveaway iPod shuffle in my blog, one trick learned from you. GiveAways will work

  12. Staying true to yourself is always good advice. Fellow bloggers, don’t put all your hopes and dreams into your blogs, especially when you first start out. Social media, including blogging, should be part of an integrated marketing campaign. For major companies with the big budgets, that could include traditional advertising and campaigns on Facebook and Twitter — but even that takes money for staff. So, if you are a solopreneur integrated marketing means reaching your targets in Meetups, by becoming active in professional associations, tweeting, reaching out on Linkedin. You’ll meet other professionals, who may start reading your blogs, but are also a source of referrals. The fact is, that people like Darren Rouse and other professional bloggers make their living solely from their blogs, but most of us won’t.

  13. This post offers up some great advice.

    I think that some bloggers out there don’t even know why they do it anymore. I think it’s important to remember why you started writing in the first place, and if what you are doing now is not for those same reasons, that’s okay, but maybe you should take a step back and rethink what you are shooting for.

    Good luck my friends,

    Brian M Connole
    HCG Diet 411 Blog & Forum

  14. milo says:

    Excellent advice. Especially taking a step back to consider how dedicated you really are. If you can’t commit to a schedule for your blog, then it’s probably not going to make it through the storm that every blogger has to go to.

    I recommend people read Darren’s posts on blog scheduling.

  15. Such a beautifully written and insightful post Karen!
    I love that you’ve highlighted the need to “step back” and take some time out. The relentless “trying and striving” to write and come up with fresh, inspiring ideas can be draining.
    Ideas, concepts and fresh approaches need space and time to develop, without comparing ourselves to others or stressing out that only “X” number of people may even read this.
    Thanks again!

  16. Brigid says:

    I am being confronted by just those questions…how much do I reveal about myself and especially my family. Integrity is the key as my family will always come first before money, but there are always ways to protect their (and my) privacy.
    Whether I am enough will be an issue in the future I am sure, but as my blog is so new I have plenty of info in my head at this stage.

  17. John Jackson says:

    I was actually doing just as you suggested and it is working. When I don’t really have much to write about or think I’m getting in a rut, I take at least one day off. I don’t try to fake my way through a post. The one area I do have problems with though, still is I don’t really know how to sign up for an ad network or get a sponsor. I tried to get Adsense is that one? They would not accept me though, because my personal blog is not something they sponsor. At least that’s the response I got from them. Any ideas to help me get started? My blog is started to get more readers and I don’t want to lose them.

  18. I found your post via James Artre’s comments on Amplify, Karen. And his description of your article hits home with me now very nicely, whereas a while back I thought that work, work, work and you will get results.

    Na, don’t work that way!

    I work full time online as an internet marketer. I make okay money, and it grows every month without fail. But I do less and less ‘work’. And I actually like myself now because I do less and less, whereas before if I did less and less graft, I would have beat myself up mentally, thinking I was slacking it!

    So how?

    I get creative. And to be creative and apply that creativeness you gotta keep fresh so you can generate new ideas. If you are all about work, work and more work, you ain’t keepin’ fresh and you’re sure not going to be generating those key ideas that are going to take your income up to the next level, time and time again!

    Many thanks Karen for sharing your thoughts via your article!

    Regards
    Joseph

  19. John Jackson says:

    I actually follow this advice and didn’t even know I was doing right. I was doing it before I read this article. I am confused on one thing though. How do you get started getting a sponsor on your site? I think I’m ready, but don’t know where to start. I tried AdSense, but I wasn’t there kind of blog.

  20. Rich Griffin says:

    Before you start looking for the paycheck at the end of the ditigal rainbow, make sure you are providing vaule to your readers… and i mean real value. This is why most people blog for creative outlet, expression, or to call attention to something else.

    I think most will agree that if you just try to put something out there for the sake of being out there your subscribers will see right though it and move on to the next free content site. So be careful.

  21. It’s really tough to find the right balance of over marketing your blog to make money (writer’s gotta eat!) and not doing any marketing at all. This is a good article that makes you think about what’s right and what isn’t.