The 5 Big Hurdles Facing Bloggers On The Path To Revenue

So, you want to build up a popular blog. You want to make some money from it. You want to feel that sense of accomplishment. Plus, this stuff is fun!

So, you sit down at the computer. You open up Firefox. You check your email. You check Google Reader. You read other blogs and get some ideas for your own blog. This is exciting stuff!

Oh, crap. It is late. Time for work, life, sleep.

Next day, perhaps you feel like tweaking your blog. So, you spend a few hours on it, messing around with code. You research PHP stuff. You go through a ton of trial and error with your Wordpress theme. After many hours, your blog might look a little different. But, traffic hasn’t changed. You haven’t even written anything yet

So, you want to build up a popular blog. You want to make some money from it. You want to feel that sense of accomplishment. Plus, this stuff is fun!

So, you sit down at the computer. You open up Firefox. You check your email. You check Google Reader. You read other blogs and get some ideas for your own blog. This is exciting stuff!

Oh, crap. It is late. Time for work, life, sleep.

Next day, perhaps you feel like tweaking your blog. So, you spend a few hours on it, messing around with code. You research PHP stuff. You go through a ton of trial and error with your Wordpress theme. After many hours, your blog might look a little different. But, traffic hasn’t changed. You haven’t even written anything yet.

Oh, crap. It is late. Time for work, life, sleep.

Get up. Do it all over again. Fast forward a few months – same shit.

This is the typical blogger.

The wheels spin, but the scenery is the same.

Something has to change.

Well, I’ve identified what I believe are the 5 big reasons why most bloggers never get off the ground. Here they are…

#1 – Shiny Object Syndrome

Bloggers are particularly prone to this disease because of the reflexive addiction to reading other blogs and hanging out at the Twitter water cooler.

You see so many interesting things out there that you end up consuming media all day rather than producing any of your own. And the stuff out there is SHINY! Attention is the new currency out there and everybody is vying for it. But, at the same time…

Your attention is a valuable resource. Spend it wisely.

#2 – Self Doubt

For some reason, many people have this hidden demon over their shoulder that injects negative thoughts.

You see something cool. Your mind starts racing at the possibilities. Then, this little demon rises up and tells you it is a waste of time, it’ll never work – blah, blah, frickin blah.

Don’t be your own worse enemy. Even if it takes a serious push on yourself, learn to disagree with this stupid little voice, realize it is BS, and go against it.

The road to success is often the least comfortable.

#3 – Over Analysis

I see too many bloggers making big things out of small things. A lot of this is because of my next point (see below), but the fact remains – you’re making way too big a deal of things.

Thinking about things isn’t the same as doing them. I, myself, fall into this trap sometimes. But, I’ll also tell you from experience that the most forward movement I had in my business was when I practiced “shoot from the hip” blogging. In other words, just do it until it is good enough and throw it out there. Don’t think about it.

The world rewards fast movers and action takers. People who over-analyze get left in the dustbin of history. Or get stuck in academia and hide behind a bunch of useless acronyms after their name.

Success gravitates to people on the move.

#4 – Do-It-Yourself Paralysis

I see this ALL the time.

Bloggers get hung up on the technical part of setting up a blog. Or tweaking it. Or making little graphics. And because they are so averse to parting with any cash, they don’t outsource.

I got the cover of the Six Figure Blogger Blueprint designed, with multiple sizes, both flat and 3D versions – all for $35. When you think about the time I would have had to spend to do that – ugh. I’m also guessing that most people who read this post are able to afford to do the same thing I did. It is just a matter of finding the right person, but you can find people who will work on pretty much any budget.

If you are honestly at a point where spending ANY money to speed up the process is just out of the question, then I would recommend you just change your assumptions on what you need done. Realize the blog doesn’t have to look perfect. Just make it good enough. Some of the most read blogs out there look like hell. 🙂

It is easier than ever to outsource. Programmers and designers are out there practically falling all over themselves looking for clients. If you are AT ALL serious about making things happen as a blogger, then stop doing everything yourself! It is NOT expensive to outsource.

Sure, you may deal with some speed bumps when dealing with other people. However, you get better at it over time.

Every successful entrepreneur is where they are today because they learned this lesson. The longer you cling to the idea that you should do everything yourself, the longer you are delaying your success.

Trying to do stuff you’re not good at is the most efficient way to fail.

#5 – Dreaming, Not Doing

Some people love to read blogs about making money rather than actually go do the work to make money. They’d rather hunt for a magic bullet, reading blogs and sales letters full of big dollar signs. In other words, they’d rather dream about it than actually do it.

As a person who creates information products, I see this all the time. People will buy one of my programs, full of hope, then the excitement fizzles when the work starts.

Marketers will sell the dream and the hope. There isn’t anything wrong with that, because that’s what the customer is shooting for. But, you as the customer need to be aware that the ACTUAL business of making money requires real work.

Successful people dream, then hustle to make the real world match that dream. Unsuccessful people dream, then blame the world when it doesn’t work out by itself.

The Truth About Making Money Online

The truth is that making money online is actually more about proper mindset than it is tactics. Those who do it aren’t always the smartest people in the room.

The biggest barriers out there aren’t traffic, niche selection, or any of the rest of it. At the end of the day, it comes down to mindset. The rest follows.

So, let me know what you think!

As you guys can always expect from me, I tell it like I see it. But, I want everybody to achieve their goals, both online and off. My job, though, is to help bloggers. And too often, I’m seeing bloggers fall prey to these things.

I look forward to hearing from you.


  1. It seems to me #2…self-doubt…is actually fueled by fear. If you remove fear of putting yourself out there, making mistakes and doing this for REAL, so much falls into place. When you're still on the fence, it's so much easier to get distracted by all of these things you list here. But when you know what you want to do, and you're busy going after it, distraction and all the excuses disappear on their own. Very important reminder David. You rock 🙂

  2. There are just too many distractions for any blogger. A good way to beat them is to focus on something that really seems to work for you or on a new strategy that has seen you increasing your affiliate commission lately for example. Someone once said that the key to online success is to find a proven profitable business model and stick to only it.It may not be so applicable to a blogger's work but the principle is the same.

  3. Hey David

    I recently gave a webinar for Stompernet members and opened with telling listeners that most of them would fail and fail badly. This is because most are in the game to 'make money' and because it sounds easy and quick online.

    But, that is just delusional and I explained that this has to be treated like any real biz that takes time, effort and patience. Amazingly, I got loads of great feedback for saying it as it is.

    I hope people listen to your common sense and get real about blogging.

    Keep up the great info


  4. I am the complete opposite! When I have a very productive day (like today), I just stop working. I don't mean to, but I say “Oh, I'll take a five minute break!”. An hour later, I'm just returning to my desk. Guess I have to keep working :S

  5. David:

    I know we haven't met yet but did we have this conversation? Just kidding. I only say that because as a newbie blogger trying to make money online I unfortunately fail class because I qualify for all 5 reasons.

    I am trying hard to stay on track. I definitely need to work harder on following my written plan. Everyday I get sidetracked with something and I end up not doing what I need to build my business.

    I do not have self-doubt about my potential but I do believe I am falling short on the mindset right now. I am so busy with my regular job and my son playing baseball this summer that I am neglecting my business and I am just trying to get it started.

    Thanks for letting me know how bad I am doing. Again, just kidding.

    – Rick

  6. Shawn, I like the way you see this. Because my success in outsourcing is exactly that: paying for people who live, eat and breathe the work I need done.

    I have something coming on Thursday on outsourcing.

  7. David, I'd be delighted to write that up as a guest post. It's a little more woo woo than I normally cop to, but I do live practically in Berkeley, so there's some street cred.

    Speaking of cred, the article on “credibility” I mentioned back way early this year when you in the middle of launch throes is still hanging around. It's not a particularly pleasant article. I may tone down the language before I let it out the door.

  8. Great post and so true!

    I don't know about anyone else, but I know for sure, that I've done all of what David has listed in this post. I've learned a lot along the way and am thankful for bloggers like David, Nathan Hangen and others for sharing their knowledge and wisdom to help us avoid these pitfalls.

    I've found it best to create an editorial calendar and schedule my posts in advanced. Use the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin to manage and schedule your posts for a given month.

    Keep a running list of potential blog post and categorize the list into 5 to 10 categories that are specific to your niche. This will help you create ideas and answer questions for your readers. In a matter of 1 hour I came up with over 50 different blog post ideas by doing this. It is extremely useful!

  9. Yeah, I don't have much experience with PPC. I tend to do things organically. But, I know plenty of people who've done very well with PPC, so I definitely know it can work when you know what yo're doing.

  10. I think Dean needs to read this blog post. The guy has promoted himself into a brick wall and now most of his clients are pissed at him. Idiot.

  11. You might want to consider outsourcing even the things you know how to do, because the question is… SHOULD you be doing it? 🙂

    I know how to PHP code my face off, but the truth is it isn't a good use of my time. AT ALL. So, I'm looking for somebody to do it for me.

  12. I didn't outsource that much at the start, since I have a design/programming experience, but when it came down to design, I really wasn't that good, so I outsourced a lot of my images.

  13. It's like you know me. All of the above have been obstacles for me lately. Outsourcing makes me feel like I'm losing control of my own brand.
    But I need to work on it. Great timing (for me, lol) and great article and tips.

  14. #4. Definitely. Part of my “can-do” upbringing, that Depression-era, red clay farming kind of thinking: “Why pay someone when you can do it yourself?”

    This has been an extraordinary difficulty.

    And I'm not the only person with it.

    However, I'm now getting a good grip on *why* this persists, and the answer is yin to this yang. Has to do with reframing the notion of value. I'll stop here before I go off the deep end. But it is interesting.

  15. He did a great job on my ebook cover. Then I tried to hire him to a suite of banners and badges and never heard back. So, back to Gimp.

  16. I guess it really depends on the niche Dave. Some aren't as bad to get in to, others cost to get to the top of PPC rankings, so I found it less useful for me with my niche (previously) and while I may not be an expert, I studied it before diving in. The traffic I got after a couple of months worth of SEO work paid much better. And, again that is my results and I always try to say every site is different.

  17. I actually think the truth is between these two answers.

    Keith, I certainly don't think PPC is a waste of money. Done right, it can work extremely well.

    On the other hand, DotComNote is wrong is saying that jumping into PPC is all of a sudden going to teach people how to make money blogging. First of all, they're pretty much unrelated, and PPC skills in no way translate into blogging/branding skills. Second, traffic from PPC turns off the minute you stop paying for the traffic. Thirdly, I take issue with the attitude of seemingly taking advantage of financially challenged people. But, whatever.

    PPC is potentially a good way to jump start things, but blogging is much longer lasting and provides a moe solid foundation for a real business.

  18. I agree that you need to believe in yourself. But don't get too carried away with it. If you believe it can be achieved, you can most certainly get to your desired goal with a lot of hard work and effort.

    When you are overestimating yourself, however, you tend to hurt yourself. If you believe that in the next month, you will earn two billion dollars, you are setting yourself up for failure. It's barely possible, let alone likely to do something like earning 2 billion dollars in 1 month, almost to the point where it's a dream. Set realistic goals and you will be able to achieve in the long run.

  19. Here's the way I am starting to look at it. Don't 'Outsource' it. Don't look for an outsourcer (unless it's something super menial) – look for a expert who can do it better than you, Find someone who will care about it. And be willing to pay the extra for that – cause you save on the headaches.

  20. Sorry, but I completely disagree with using paid traffic sources, and I do know how to use it. I would rather wait on the organic traffic, it converts 10x better…

    PPC is a complete waist of money, and that money would be better spent in other areas.

  21. I loved the perspective on all 5 of those points. I think what gets me the most is the self-doubt. In my community both personally and professionally when I tell people about Financially Digital I often have to do a little explaining. From time to time the weight of that can overshadow the little victories along the way. I guess that goes with the allure of consuming media as well. When you immerse yourself in a community of other blogger types the only thing you're explaining is how your proficiencies can help them better achieve their goals. Well, that and I think I'm a professional student so sometime you get swept up in reading and dreaming that make hours just disappear.

  22. Making money from blogging should not be your focus when you're starting out to make money online. The best suggestion for a newbie is learn how to drive targeted traffic using paid sources – PPC, PPV, etc. Once you have this skills, you make your financial destiny. So, folks, instead of wasting time reading blog about how to make money from blog, spend time learning PPC, PPV, CPA, etc. Yes, you need some money. May be 5K. Once you start making money, you will know how to make money from blogging.

    Yes, I know lots of the offers you will be promoting may not be worth buying, but you know what – lots of financially challenged people will make you rich. All super affiliates have mastered these techniques. Intially, blogging for them is a facade and yes, blogging will help you build brand.

  23. that's what I call a kick in the ass. I consider myself a dreamer, and I have fallen prey to the many points you have listed here !
    Today is one of my most productive days ever, and I'm keeping the momentum. I like your take-no-prisoner style, it keeps things in motion…

  24. I have definitely gotten over the do-it-yourself-paralysis thing. Maybe I'm swinging the pendulum too far the other way now, but I'm even outsourcing upgrading to WP 3.0 and installing a different comment system. I want to focus my energy on writing, connecting, creating, etc.

  25. David,

    Great insight on #5. Millions of dollars have been made in selling dreams. I've helped many people achieve success in selling them. People love pre-packaged dreams because they know if they handle them just right, ant the right time, with the right people, when the right stars are in alignment then maybe, just maybe they will not have to invest the blood, sweat and tears that it took for the creator of the dream to become successful at it. Unrealized dreams and goals are motivation and life killers.

    I highly respect the blood, sweat and tears that you are putting in to your dream… and the honest disclosure of them too!

    Have an amazing Father's Day!

  26. David you got that right. I think about all the projects that took me so long to start or complete that would have all been done in half the time, and leaving me free to do more.

    Trick is finding people that you trust and can work with and understand what you need done.. I have worked with a few REALLY bad outsourcing people.

  27. Just finding the right person. Now, I will say, the person who did that cover for me is now so darn busy that he won't even answer my emails. Kinda pissed about it, too, because I sent him a lot of referrals. But, there are plenty of other people like him out there.

    Cast a wide net for people and see who falls in it. Odesk, Twitter, Job Boards, Elance, etc.

  28. David,

    I think I've suffered from all of these at one time or another. I've really had to focus on just getting the important work done the best I can, and stop worrying about the rest.

    Just curious. How did you get your product graphics done for $35? I'd love to hear your tips for getting work like this done without breaking the bank.


  29. Hey David,

    Nice Post. Dreaming was my biggest mistake, in my earlier days. But now the days are gone when i waste my time doing all this dreaming, coding, tweeting my
    Anyways, Thanks for sharing this great Post.


  30. I suffer from #3, sometimes I over think things and over complicate things that are really not that complicated.

    #4 was an issue for my control freak But I have been enjoying the benefits of outsourcing and not looking back.

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