This post is the third in a series examining misconceptions and myths about blogging that many new (and some experienced) bloggers have about blogging.
Today’s misconception is all about money. It’s one I hear every day as I observe what people say about making money from blogging.
- Only people who sell make money blogging resources make money blogging.
- The most profitable topics to blog about are blogging tips or making money blogging.
- It’s impossible to make money blogging on “normal,” everyday topics.
Why this myth exists
The reality is that most people who talk about making money blogging are those trying to create a name for themselves in that very niche. I guess part of creating authority and credibility is to show what you do, so bloggers in this niche are often not averse to sharing their earnings.
On the flip-side, many bloggers who are making a living from blogging in other niches either don’t have an avenue through which to talk about it, or don’t want to (for privacy reasons or because they don’t want to alert the competition to their success).
As a result, the impression that new bloggers often get is that nobody is making money blogging except for those writing about it.
The reality of the Make Money Blogging/Blog Tips niche
Lets look at a few of the realities of working in this niche.
- You can make good money blogging about blogging. It’s true—there is money to be made in this space. Teaching others to blog and to make a living from it can be profitable. I make enough to live (and some) on from ProBlogger each month, and know of at least five or six other bloggers in the niche who would be at a similar level. As with any topic that has anything to do with money, this can be a lucrative niche.
- It is a crowded niche when it comes to finding readers. As a result of the success of some (and the public broadcasting of the results), many others have joined the hunt for market share in this space. I’ve not seen figures on it, but I suspect the result of this is that it’s one of the more crowded niches. As a result, breaking into the niche and making a name for yourself can be tough.
- It is a crowded niche when it comes to products. If you want to monetize in the Make Money Blogging niche by releasing a product, there are not only a lot of other blogs, but a lot of products you’ll need to compete with. Not a day goes by when I’m not approached by another blogger wanting me to promote their ebook, course, or tool… Again, it’s hard to stand out, and I suspect that many bloggers have simply bought enough products already, and are not that interested in buying more.
- There’s a lot of suspicion about the topic. Due to the nature of the topic, there’s rightly a lot of suspicion about it. Unfortunately over the years, this niche has attracted its fair share of dubious characters and those who have used less-than-ethical-and-transparent tactics to make a name for themselves. This has created a lot of suspicion among the general public about the niche. I’m kind of happy about this suspicion, as I’ve seen a lot of people ripped off, but it does make this a tricky space to operate in. My recent banning (and then reinstatement) from YouTube seems to have occurred because many in the niche were tarred with the same brush (most of the accounts terminated had videos including the words “make money online”).
- Bloggers are perhaps more reluctant to spend money than other audiences. Let’s be clear: I’m not calling you cheap! But one of the factors to consider in this niche is that the barriers to entry for the blogosphere (as opposed to other pastimes) are extremely low. You can set up a blog for free, there are thousands of blogging themes, tools, and how-to instructions out there for free, and there’s plenty of free help within the niche. As a result, many bloggers don’t come to their blogs with the expectation of having to spend much money. This can impact the bottom line for those trying to operate in this niche (I’ll touch on this more below).
The reality of other niches
I’m not going to pretend that all other niches are lucrative. I know a lot of bloggers with decent readerships who struggle to monetize, since their topics don’t lend themselves to monetization. However, my experience shows me that there is certainly a lot of opportunity in other niches, and that, in many ways, they can be easier to monetize than the blogging tips niche.
Personally, I’ve found it a lot easier to build significantly larger audiences and higher profits in other niches. My photography blog has around five to six times the readership of ProBlogger, and is more than five to six times as profitable.
The photography niche is very competitive, but there are some other upsides including:
- The market place is bigger: There are a lot more people around who own cameras than have blogs.
- The audience is more of a spending audience: I mentioned above that because blogging has low barriers to entry, bloggers are often less likely to spend money. Photography is a little different. People increasingly are spending thousands of dollars on cameras, they buy photography magazines and books, they enrol in courses … there’s just more of a willingness to spend in that niche.
- The audience isn’t as suspicious: While people still have a healthy suspicion of online marketers in this space, there are fewer barriers on this front.
This assessment isn’t just relevant to the photography space—plenty of other niches are similarly larger and have audiences that are more used to spending.
What should you blog about?
This probably isn’t the place for a full exploration of how to choose a niche for your blog (I’ll include some links below for more on that). However, my general advice on this is to choose a topic on which there’s a healthy demand for content (it’s hard to have a successful blog on a topic that nobody but you is interested in), and which you know something about (and preferably have a passion or interest in).
Further reading on choosing a niche to blog about
- How to Choose a Niche Topic for Your Blog: written in 2006 but still pretty much how I’d do it
- Make Money Online Blogs – Should You Start One and How to Choose a Profitable Niche: a handy video post