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Influence, Cash, or Hobby: Which Blogging Choice Is Right for You?

This guest post is by Brandon Connell of brandonconnell.com

When I first started a blog that I took seriously, it was to promote an ebook that I had published on Amazon’s Digital Text platform. Initially, I wanted the blog to be my “author’s headquarters,” but soon after, I realized what I really wanted to do with my blog. It was far from my initial goal, and I wish I’d made the right decision from the beginning, rather than reversing course.

The problems

Changing your blogging type after you start the blog causes problems. Those problems include, but are not limited to:

  • losing readers and subscribers that had expectations
  • confusing the search engines due to content changes
  • wasting time marketing your blog on the wrong sites.

Readers walk

When you change your blog style or niche, it’s common sense that your readers will most likely walk. Think about it. They came to your blog because they came across some content that intrigued them. Now that you’ve decided to change your content, what reason do they have to stick around?

It’s important to choose your blog style ahead of time, and think about it carefully. You can literally waste hours of your time approaching the wrong reader audience. You can also end up being bad-mouthed by another blogger who’s angry with your switch.

Search engines get confused

It is a search engine’s job to make sure it indexes and ranks relevant content. Let’s say you start a blog about your golf hobby, but then you switch course, writing a stock tips business blog. Search engines may have already given you good rankings for golf. If you change your content, you’ll lose those rankings. You may even end up being penalized by the search engines.

When you first publish your blog, unless you’re blog hopping and guest posting, search engines are likely to be the first ones to read your content. Make sure they leave as happy customers. How? Be consistent. Your niche and blogging style should never change once you start.

You waste time

Should you have done your research on blog marketing, you’ll know that blog commenting and article marketing are excellent ways to promote your blog and build backlinks to it. If you change your style or niche, you have to consider the fact that you wasted all that time writing irrelevant articles that don’t match your newly chosen niche. The audiences for those article sites, backlinks, and guest posts will no longer be interested in what your blog has to say. When they click through to your site, they’ll be disappointed.

Another wasted effort would be the fact that you now have to delete your mailing list that you may have built up, since your subscribers didn’t sign up for information on your new topic. They subscribed because they had an interest in your previous topic.

Style vs. niche

Your blog style is not your niche: a blog style reflects your reasons for starting the blog in the first place:

  • Did you want to make money?
  • Did you want to influence a certain type of group?
  • Did you just want to blog about your interests?

When choosing a blogging style, you need to think about what you intentions may be in the long term. There are many bloggers who simply want to make money—they heard that blogging can make that happen for them. There are others who don’t believe or care about making money blogging: they simply want to write about what they love. The influential blogger is a writer who wishes to have his or her readers care about what s/he says, and take action because of what s/he said.

A niche, on the other hand, is a topic that you’re writing about. You can fit your blog into any niche using any of the three blogging styles I just mentioned. My niche topic is making money blogging, and I write regularly about this topic. You could say that this niche reflects my target keyword—the topic that I want to be known for.

As we saw with the golf and stocks example above, it’s important not to change your niche after you start blogging. Most of the time, your niche is connected to your style. When one changes, so does the other in most cases.

Let’s look more closely at these blogging styles.

The influential blogger

The influential type wants more than anything to have control over the actions that people take. We can take medical marijuana as an example niche in which the influential blogger style might be applied. This blogger will either want to oppose medical marijuana laws, or support them. Whichever route they choose, they want to be able to get people on board to support their cause. Their cause may be a call to action: for example, to contact a congressman with a specific message that will generate support for the blogger’s desired law.

Influential bloggers are usually heavyweights because they touch on sensitive topics that gain a lot of attraction. An influential blog doesn’t usually have a lot of advertising, and although the blogger may ask for donations to support their cause, that’s usually the extent of their money0making agenda. This does not make them a cash-seeking blogger.

The hobby blogger

I love the hobby blogger because they don’t care about anything other than sharing their passion with others. They care about what they do for fun, and they want you to have fun reading about it.

Hobby bloggers are quick to gain followers because they’re not concerned about advertising on their blog. They love the idea of publishing their articles and having like-minded people comment on them.

The cash blogger

I would say that I am a mix between a cash blogger and a hobby blogger. My entire niche and style is to teach others and make money doing it. I have done well in my style and niche, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The reason why I consider it a hobby is because I love what I am writing about, and I love sharing it all with others. It just so happens that I make money doing it.

My niche isn’t a necessary one, and it’s flooded with new blogs every day. You can monetize a hobby blog in any niche. I would say that there are a lot of hobby bloggers who have unintentionally turned into cash bloggers too, just because they realized at some point that money can be made with their traffic. If you’re thinking “but that’s changing your blogging style!” you’re right … in part. It’s a sort of merging of the two, rather than a clear switch. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and you shouldn’t feel like you’re selling out if you go down this path.

Which choice is right for you?

No matter what style or niche you choose, you need to take the decision seriously. The last thing you want to do is change course once you’ve made your decision. There are too many negative side-effects of changing your style halfway through the mission.

Look at your decision as a life choice. You wouldn’t just pick up and move from Chicago to Iceland, would you? The choice you make today will impact your life years down the road. Make sure it is a decision you can live with, and choose a style and niche that you love without a doubt.

How did you choose your blogging style and your blog niche?

Brandon Connell is a full-time blogger, web designer, and internet marketer in Illinois. Visit http://www.brandonconnell.com, where Brandon teaches you how to make money blogging.

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Comments

  1. aprillins says:

    The first time I blogged, it was my hobby. But now I generate some bucks from doin’ that.

    • That’s cool aprillins! That’s a great way to do it because you truly are starting out for the fun of it. Then you accidentally discover that you can make money by blogging.

      • donny says:

        I blogged because of $$ at beginning but it was not successful.now i making some bucks with writing

    • dotCOMreport says:

      @Aprillins, I guess most people start off that way. Or else, they start off blogging as a hobby, then realize its possible to make cash from a blog and open a new one as a cash blog. For some others, it is the reverse. I think the important thing, even before picking a blogging choice is passion.

  2. Kiesha says:

    Hi Brandon,
    I have one of those mixed up bloggers stories, too. I initially started because I wanted to earn some Adsense revenue, but then I was so drawn to writing in the Christian encouragement niche – not the biggest earner, but it was my passion. Even though that was my passion, my search for blogging improvement tips kept me glued to blogging tips blogs, before l long I was commenting and sharing my tips. Then one day out of the blue, I was invited to write a guest post for WeBlogBetter to share my experience for what I did to build my Christian blog – that post was followed by an invitation to take over a new blog.
    I’d have to say that I blog for Influence and earning money is the bonus.

    • Nice Keisha. I actually wondered about you, and how you got into it. I have been to your blog a few times. A niche really does kind of fall into your lap doesn’t it?

      • Kiesha says:

        Yes, it did just kind of fell into my lap – and I love it! It’s those unpredictable, infinite possibilities that keep me hooking on blogging. I’ve met some of the most interesting people and ended up doing some really creative things that way. It’s so inspiring and invigorating!

  3. Chris Monty says:

    When I first started out, blogging was a hobby. Once I realized it could become a way of life, that was it for me. Now I’m addicted.

    Is there a 12-step program for bloggers? :)

    • LOL Chris! I don’t know if there is a 12-step program or not, but to be honest, I am so deep that I have not been looking for one. The first step is to admit you have a problem, and I don’t see myself doing that.

  4. Constantine says:

    I started out on wordpress.com writing about training for my first marathon. Through a stroke of luck that blog gained traction. A friend told me about adsense and I swiftly moved to blogging for money.

    • Cool Constantine! I started out with adsense back in the day. I have since moved to affiliate and CPA. I would say that the majority of my income is from consulting now, but that’s because I love to do it and push it pretty hard.

  5. Jillian says:

    It is such a fine line. Although I blog for a hobby I cannot keep up this pace without monetizing it. I am constantly restrategizing to bring in the readers but the content remains the same. My goal in life? Never change the quality of my content but generate enough money to support my hobby.

    Sooo…it is happening, the money thing I mean, but just as you said, it is in ways I never could have expected or put into a business plan.

    That’s the thing about the internet, you have to flow when you are working within the web and figure things out as you go along. It takes a while to understand that concept and some of us are slower than others.

    I will be writing about my success when it happens…if we’re not all dead by then.

    • LoL Jillian, I think you will be successful before then. You are right about monetizing just to keep the pace. A lot of bloggers can relate to that. I was one of them at first. When I started, I already worked at home with a web design and seo business. I posted 7 times a day on my blog for months, and it took a toll on me. When the money started coming in, I was relieved.

  6. Great article Brandon,

    It all goes back to finding one’s passion. I agree when you say to think of it as a lifelong decision since usually that’s where your passion lies. If you don’t see yourself in a particular niche for the long-term then it may not make much sense.

    For me, I’m quite similar to you, blog for passion then money making opportunities will present themselves and I see these as incentives and not my main motivation for blogging.

    Keep up the good work Brandon.

  7. Great article Brandon,

    It all goes back to finding one’s passion. I agree when you say to think of it as a lifelong decision since usually that’s where your passion lies. If you don’t see yourself in a particular niche for the long-term then it may not make much sense.

    For me, I’m quite similar to you, blog for passion then money making opportunities will present themselves and I see these as incentives and not my main motivation for blogging.

    Keep up the great work Brandon.

    • I started with a passion for money. I have always been a business man, and honestly I am probably one of the few that has been in it for the aim of money, and been able to achieve that. Most people in it for that reason end up abandoning their blogs way before they generate a single dollar. Even if you blog for money though, you have to have a passion for the niche and style. Without that, money is not a powerful enough motivator.

      But I really DO love blogging and now I couldn’t quit even if the money were to dry up ;)

  8. But don’t most people switch courses as they test and learn from their blogs?

    I started out as a hobbyist, found I could influence and have now started to make money. My audience has been the same throughout.

    Creating a blog is process.. Starts with a caterpillar and evolves from there. That’s the beauty of blogging and I think there’s a lot of value in the exploration.

    • You’re right Alison. That is the way it happens for a lot of people. But I think the reason for this is that they didn’t really sit down and think deeply about it before they jumped in, hence the reason why they “discover” it later on after blogging for awhile.

  9. Guts N Glam says:

    Actually, I started with the passion for money as well. But I realized after a week when I first started that it is not that easy. I admit that I have changed styles in my blog and what I am blogging about. I first focused on making money online but now I am into personal development and blogging. Hehe, funny, but I still am thinking of some things to change. Lucky that I made a blog about what I am passionate and I am not even focusing on making money into it. Maybe one day I can do it, but as of now, it is a NO for me.

    That is so right. You cannot blog for money. You have to have the passion for the niche and style. Until you find that thing you need to blog about that you are so passionate of, you will always do changes.

    Love this post! Keep it comin’!

    • Even if you love the niche and style, you will still end up making changes constantly to your blog. I am always added/removing and changing things.

      Thank you for the comment.

  10. Kate says:

    Thanks for the great post, Brandon. I definitely fall into the ‘hobby blogger’ category. I would LOVE it if I had a little more influence, though. I appreciate the idea that whatever your niche, take it seriously. Great advice.

  11. mark says:

    Hi Brandon,

    I can relate to this in many ways. I stopped posting on my blog for a few months and came back with a (somewhat) different topic. It is a few days away from the second week and the landscape has changed a bit.

    I did not start blogging with the intention to make money – it was more of a curiosity. Now the curiosity has continued, but I am seeing all of these ways to benefit from being online in this manner, so I feel a bit more focused now.

    The categories you broke ‘bloggers’ into make sense, though I do think there is some overlap for many people. For example, this blog (problogger) is pretty influential, and probably makes some money (if not directly, then through ebook sales). I think (hope?) that I fall more into the hobby-moving to-influential style. Time will tell, I suppose.

    Great post!

    • Nothing wrong with a mix of styles Mark! Your articles have always been great, and I like where your blog is headed now. Thanks for the visit!

  12. Very good post. I think I’m a hobby and a cash blogger too.

  13. Neil Quadros says:

    Wow.. JIT article. Had begun to monetize my blog. Was afraid of it becoming a money making racket. The last paragraph of ‘CASH blogger’ have blessed me a lot. Timely blog post for me.

  14. My first blog was really a hobby/cash blog. I thought I could make some money blogging about what I was interested in. I actually started out interested in the subject, but blogging about it every day slowly made me bored to tears with it, so I sold that one and started another blog. I’d say to make sure the niche is specific yet broad enough for you blog about it for years so you don’t end up changing.

    • It’s very cool that you sold it. There are blog flipping brokers out there that actually assist in that sort of thing. Many bloggers start blogging only to build up the brand and flip it for a one-time cash profit. But that’s definitely not a way to go if you plan on keeping your blog and loving your niche. Thanks for the comment Broderick.

  15. contrarian says:

    My focus and long-term business strategy is to just write killer stuff!

    Question: If I just get my ideas, thoughts, strategies, and insights “out there” for the world to see and if it provides great value to people, the subscribers will (eventually) come, and then the money will follow. Right? Or am I being “short-(site) sighted” by not having given any thought whatsoever to monetizing my site?

    I look forward to your thoughts. Thanks in advance!

    • I would say that if you plan on monetizing your site, do it from the beginning. That way, your readers will come to expect the advertising. If you have zero traffic, you don’t have to worry about “how” you monetize (i.e. adsense, affiliate, cpa, direct ad sales), but only promote things that you and your reputation can stand behind.

      If you don’t monetize now, you can really turn off some of your readers later on because they would feel that you have ‘sold out’. It is great that you love what you blog about, and that is the most important thing. Money will come, but the monetization has to be there in order for that to happen. Good luck contrarian!

      • contrarian says:

        I’ve heard it said so many times that you will be viewed as a “sell out” if an ebook or an ad suddenly shows up on your once “ad free” site. I guess I question that logic. I can understand a visually appealing site suddenly becoming cluttered with a mess of adsense ads being a turn off for many readers, but if you launch a new product or promote something you believe in, I’m struggling to see how that would cause a mutiny.

        So my question is – do you (or other experts) have substantial evidence or personal experience with the “sell out” problem … or has this simply become one of those unfounded fears or accepted “truths” that are propagated w/out any support?

        Appreciate the help – thanks much!!!

        • I have never attempted to do that. I have received first hand stories from those that have though, and I trust the source of those case studies. I understand what you mean about it being an accepted truth though, and may fuel the negativity for such a thing by some bloggers. I am not one of them though.

          To reply to your other comment… I also agree that it sounds strange that this can happen, and I don’t completely understand it. Although, when Craigslist for example started talking about monetizing with ads, I and others had strong feelings against this. The same goes with the “paid sections” that it has actually implemented that used to be free. Different case I guess, but very similar.

  16. Andrew Gray says:

    I started looking at blogging 2 years ago after reading the problogger book, The ministry root that Darren took when he started was and is identical to the one I was taking and it all clicked into place as it could be something God wanted me to do. Naysayers will abound at this point no doubt. My first blog was assembly ideas, but with no monetization, it was wordpress. I really enjoyed the comments though and still get subscribers to it. 12 months ago I decided to take it seriously and learnt how to find worthwhile keywords, but I wanted it to be monetized hobby. I make most of my income at the moment from hubpages because there I can experiment with styles and a variety of content choices without penalisation. So it gets over the problem highlighted n this post. It took until April this year for me to identify a blog area that could be monetized sufficiently to support my ministry in the future, and I could get stuck into. Since my health relies on exercise (I have a dodgy heart) and I had to stop weight training for other reasons, I started writing a cycling blog about weight management. When I looked for information on it no one had written anything in it, so drawing on my knowlege and experience I had a blog. Having now proved to my satisfaction that blogging for ministry would work I spoke to others who could benefit, and they were really excited but had know idea where to start. I have also spoken to UK national people who hadn’t realised such things were possible and have asked if I would be willing to talk to colleges and training institutes about the possibilities. So I have now strarted a 6 month process of developing a system aimed at providing Christians with free resources and support. Which is my influential blog and won’t be monetized! So I have all three ;-)

    • That’s cool Andrew that you were able to create and maintain multiple blogs. The thing I have noticed a lot though is that many blogs that start out with absolutely no intention of monetizing a blog ends up changing their thoughts about it because it helps them make the time to really maintain it. I have also started sites with no money intent, but I realized it was taking up a lot of my time, and monetized to compensate me for that.

      Great comment Andrew, thanks!

  17. Thanks for the article Brandon :

    I started a blog initially because I always wanted to “create something online”,
    and now it is the time for me.

    I think I am a cash blogger now, but I will create another blog as Hobby Blogger.

    • Definitely a great strategy. Hobby blogs can turn into cash blogs over time, and you can stick with it because you love your niche. Thank for the visit!

  18. Kevin says:

    I consider my self a hobby blogger even though I want to eventually become a cash blogger. My main focus is to help other people create better lives for themselves. I just stick with that. I figure the money will come eventually.

    • Hi Kevin. I noticed you were building up rss subscribers with the widget in the sidebar. Great 1st step there. Might you consider building a newsletter list also to help you monetize in the future?

      I noticed on your blog you are from Chicago. Me too! More specifically, Chicago Heights. Do you still live there?

  19. Blog Towkay says:

    My first blog was neither to influence nor as a hobby, it was the result of a challenge. The challenge from my friends in Singapore was to try something new and experiment with this thing called blogging. Turns out I was pretty good at it and it started to earn money. Now my new blog is focused on helping people learn how to work from home and earn a few extra streams of part time income, from blogging. The whole experience so far has been great!

    • That’s cool. I used to do things too just because someone told me I couldn’t. Nothing like a good ole’ challenge to turn into life changes eh?

  20. Todd Dowell says:

    Hey Brandon

    I’m guilty of changing my blogs overall niche twice. The reason that i kept changing is because i kept running out of content, wasn’t really intrigued anymore, and it felt like a job to me. It was interesting to here about your story because i have been there several times in the past.

    Thanks for the post Brandon

    Cheers,
    Todd Dowell

    • Hi Todd. I have started many blogs in the past myself just because they were a great paying niche. But I quickly abandoned them. Unfortunately, the majority of us will go through that. Hopefully, more awareness of how blogging works like what I discussed in this article, will help others to avoid wasting their time and instead put it into working on a great long-lasting blog.

  21. Brian Dodd says:

    Great article. I am a Hobby Blogger who desires to be an Influential Blogger. My site is gaining traction but want to go to the next level. Any suggestions you have would be appreciated. Thanks

    • Keep plugging away Brian. Learn the many methods of driving traffic, and retaining readers. Growing a blog for influence takes time. Another word of advice… network network network. Keeping your blog consistent and networking will result in an influential blog over time.

  22. Hi Brandon,

    Awesome post dude and glad to see you here.
    I started blogging just to make money but later i found passion in this field. For me blogging is just much more then making money.

    Thanks for sharing! keep Rocking.

    • Hi Dev. I know all about what you are doing. With your many ventures, I see you in all three styles plus some. Thanks for stopping by!

  23. Pete Carr says:

    Hi Brandon,
    I have been niche blogging for 2 years now. I make quite a good living from it. I originally started to make money, I quickly realized that it was blogging itself that I was addicted to, not the money. I really enjoy setting up blogs, researching and building the content, yes money is the goal, but I have fun on the way.
    This encouraged me to start my current blog, to blog about blogging. My new passion.
    Great post, thanks.
    Pete

  24. I think i’m more of a hobby blogger…..talking about my adventures in international travel and business….

    my traffic and following has grown over the years – some say i should separate personal and business…but i think my life is so integrated that the blog makes sense to be a mix of both….as that is how people live today right

    thanks for this article.

    • I think if you separate personal from business, you will lose reader interest. Many people like personality in a blog. It’s your personality which makes your blog unique.

  25. Steve says:

    Brandon, thanks for this wake up call. This is something I have been struggling with for a while now. I have been blogging for a while now on three different sites and yet none of them are well focused. I can’t seen to figure out where the hell I’m going.

    What you say here bring some of that focus.

    I suppose I would say I am a hobby blogger and that helps me to see things a little clearer. I would have liked to see you go just a bit further down the road as to how to better differentiate your blog and then focus on how to develop it.

    • Hi Steve. Thank you for the comment. There is nothing wrong with learning a little before you get too deep into it, so you are doing fine with the non-focused blogs. Especially since you noticed that they need focus, and you are working towards that.

      I didn’t go deeper down the line because I write about all of that on my own blog, and plan to write on other subjects here in the future as well.

  26. Good post. Blogging seems more trouble than it’s worth sometimes. But still we continue with it.

  27. seenu says:

    I started blogging as a passion to share something with others
    I’m hobby blogger

  28. Marci says:

    I initially started blogging to turn my e-newsletter into an interactive blog for my practice. I guess you could say that it is to influence/coach others. I use my life and my work as a counselor to show how you can take small steps to create big changes.

    I’m not making any money blogging, but I’d like to. I have changed my title, my theme, my tagline, my photo within the firs 4 months, and it has helped solidify my “brand.” It is now also a creative outlet for me. I am still blogging about the same niche, it is just clearer and more engaging – I hope!

    • Hi Marci. You could also say that’s business blogging. I have one on my company website as well, and I have used it to provide computer related solutions, and inform customers of offers. I didn’t really classify business blogging here because I was naming off the independent classifications, but business blogging is in a class of it’s own ;)

  29. Jerrick says:

    Blog of a sport will never outdated, people would like to share and comment on their favorite sports and even favorites players on the blog with others.

    • Thanks Jerrick. Sports niches are very much alive because the following is passionate about the subject. There will always be readers.

  30. Anne Galivan says:

    I realize I’m late to this party but..

    I feel like you didn’t really give a lot of thought to how someone who wants to be an influencer can also turn that into a money-making endeavor.

    My niche is home-schooling. It’s a pretty narrow niche but home-schoolers tend to be kind of “clannish” i.e. there are certain names that are the big names and it seems it can be hard to break into that crowd. Maybe other niches are like that too, I don’t know.

    I didn’t go about blogging trying to “pick a niche.” I have been home-schooling for over 20 years, it is what I do, and I’m good at it. Moreover, I am a teacher by nature so it is the most natural thing in the world for me to want to teach other parents how to home-school their kids.

    While I do have a few affiliate links on my website, my main goal is to become an influencer so that at some point in the future I can trade on that influence through public-speaking and even writing (and selling!) books. I believe that if you look around at the influencers in any “niche” you will see that they are the ones asked to speak, asked to write, and so on.

    By the way, this month I was asked by the New York Times to write a mini op-ed dealing with home-schooling. I’m not even sure how they got my name and information but I was happy to provide what they were asking. Just another step on my way to being an influencer.

    • A perfect way to become an influencer is to guest post a lot on established blogs within your home-schooling niche. You gain influence by being seen on many established blogs by many readers because they look at you as a go-to person who everyone wants to write articles for them.

  31. Usman Ahmed says:

    Cash can buy anything. I will go for that for sure.