Why The “Make Money Blogging” Niche Is Broken

Last Updated on May 20, 2014  

Over the last few days, I’ve told you that I am making some changes to my company. I’m not yet going to divulge every detail of that, but I AM going to tell you why I’m doing it.

It is because the “make money blogging” space that I’m in is inherently BROKEN.

… and the “gurus” of this space have failed.

And the result of this is plain as day. Most bloggers are:

  • Confused on what to do.
  • Overwhelmed.
  • Concentrating on the wrong things… if they even have a real focus at all.
  • Not making any money.
  • Not seeing much (if any) web traffic.

Now, you tell me…. with ALL these people (yes, myself included) teaching people how to make money blogging – and ALL these people reading our sites, don’t you think we’d have a little better success rate?

I mean, something is inherently wrong with the SYSTEM if all these people are out there consuming this stuff – and yet most aren’t making it.

It isn’t a surprise that this niche is becoming full of freebie seekers and skepticism. All these people are selling stuff and yet people still can’t connect the dots. It is only NATURAL to start getting skeptical.

Is This Just Because People Don’t Take Action?

It is pretty obvious that everything that is taught out there in this space is contingent on people actually taking action and DOING things.

And the people who actually get up off their asses and do what’s necessary represent a minority. Sad, but true.

But, I’ll tell you something here…

While the “gurus” in this space can (and often do) just chalk this up to the laziness of people, I think it is BULLSHIT that they use that as a “cop out”.

Let’s put it this way…

If 100 people enroll in a course designed to show people how to make money with a blog, and only 5 make any money… then that’s a 95% failure rate. The typical product creator in this space would say “They just didn’t take any action.” And, in many cases, they’d be right. Way too many people view the act of buying a product as an action, then when it is time to get dirty, they fall back into their routine and do nothing.

But, all of them?

In almost any “real world” business, a 95% failure rate would be grounds for going out of business. With that kind of failure rate, nothing but the federal government can survive with that kind of failure rate.

In my surveys, I see something which (to me) is plain as day. Those people who aren’t “taking action” are, in many cases, not taking action because they don’t even know what action to take!

We’re talking pure, unadulterated CONFUSION and OVERWHELM.

This niche is giving everybody not only bogus advice (in some cases), but conflicting advice. And it is coming at you like a firehose! The target audience of all the major “pro bloggers” out there is being peppered every day with “advice”. Oh, and some of it is on repeat, but made to look new. As ViperChill recently pointed out in his Future of Blogging post, ProBlogger itself has 52 posts on the subject of guest posting. 52!

The “make money blogging” space has turned into a creator of the shiny object syndrome. Very little focus on overall strategy and real foundations, but a LOT of focus on volume of content and fancy list posts designed more for link bait than to actually help people get results.

What’s ironic, too, as that many of those blogs are on automatic now while the original founder doesn’t blog nearly as often. They’re focusing on real businesses while the blog just keeps up the firehose.

So, is it as simple as people not taking action? No. There’s more to it than that.

Focusing On The Wrong Things

Earlier, I said the “gurus” have failed. Let me explain this.

First, let me say that most of them are doing very well at what they do. I know most of them. Consider many of them to be friends. In their own zone, many of them are A-plus people and they do great work and help their audiences tremendously.

So, where’s the failure come in?

I think it is a systemic problem – not the fault of any individual.

SOMEWHERE along the line – and I have no idea where or who – this notion came about that one could make money by blogging alone.

The path is seemingly simple: (1) Start blog, (2) Build traffic by writing alot, doing awesome shit, yada yada, (3) “Monetize”.

So, what happens is everybody scurries around this notion. And they focus on blogging.

The mechanics of BLOGGING. F**king BLOGGING!!

Then, make money.

That’s STUPID. It doesn’t work.

I haven’t exactly been quiet about that, but people even look at what I do and assume that blogging, alone, is how I make my living. Even though I wrote things like how “monetization” is wrong, how it is a failure, why you need to be an enabler and not a reporter, and how a blog is not a business… even though I wrote these things… people still operate along the path I outlined above.

This “make money blogging” space seems to be BUILT on this assumption. Hell, in a couple weeks, I’m going to be speaking in New York about the top “monetization” tactics for a blog… on the “blog monetization” track… which I AM THE TRACK LEADER OF! It is the ultimate irony… but this “monetization” stuff is so ingrained into the lexicon of this niche that I’m almost forced to play along.

And all these gurus teaching the mechanics of blogging and skipping right over the notion of building a REAL business – it is STUPID. These bloggers then embark on what ultimately becomes the blogging rat race – and they go into it with zero business foundation. They’re told to blog about their “passions”. That’s fine, but the advice doesn’t work for everybody.

Reminds me of the funny people in Silicon Valley who think up cute little names, focus on building coolness and audience, go out and act like they’re worth a billion dollars just because of that – all the while having no product and making ZERO money.

Yet, many bloggers would probably idolize those kinds of companies. Nevermind that they only exist because they’re coasting on VC funding and angel investing… because they (in many cases) don’t create a freakin’ product and offer nothing of value to the world. And make no money.

Blogging is not a business, and the problem with this niche is that blogging is being taught like it is the end-all, be-all.

There are a lot of people who think the answer to making money online is to start a blog! WTF?! Unless you have a strategy and a foundation, blogging is one of the shittiest and slowest ways to make money on the Internet in the history of man.

I’ve Not Lived Up To My Potential (Yet)

For too long, I feel as if I’ve just been another person in this niche. And, I haven’t been a leader in this space. I’ve been operating by the rules somebody else wrote.

I wanted to help bloggers, so I talked about blogging. And I talked about much of the same advice, perhaps with a differing twist and a different way of putting it. And, surely, it has served me well. And I have a ton of testimonials showing that it worked for you guys, too.

But, I haven’t lived up to my potential yet.

I have more to offer.

I won’t beat around the bush when I say…

I believe I have a lot more to offer. I believe I have a perspective that many don’t have. And I know damn well I’ve been doing this longer than pretty much any other name you can throw at me.

One of those skills I’ve always had is making the complicated simple. That skill served me well as a tech blogger. I’m an excellent “big picture” guy. My gut-level understanding of things is rarely proven wrong.

I look at this “make money blogging” space… and I see that things need to change.

I don’t want to show bloggers how to “monetize”. I want to help them BUILD BUSINESSES. Real systems and operations capable of not only generating wealth, but achieving core missions that can help make the world a better place.

We need to focus on the basics. We need to begin approaching the Internet not as a magic money machine (which it isn’t, regardless of what some scammy Warrior Forum a-hole will tell you), but as a platform for real businesses based on the same rules as business has ALWAYS been based on.

I want to show bloggers how to build real businessses. I also want to show real businesses how to utilize blogging to the fullest. And I want to approach it in a way which does not cause confusion and overwhelm.

Will this mean that my target audience on this site becomes smaller? It might. I’m fine with that, however. I never set out to be the most popular guy in this space, or get the most traffic. What I want is for people to get RESULTS with the stuff I produce. I guess I operate with a slightly different benchmark than some of the others.

And, internally, it is time for me to expand beyond myself. It is time to build a real company. This isn’t a matter of hiring a part-time VA to “get things off my plate”.

So, I’m Going To…

I’ll tell you a little more about my intentions soon.

Some of it is still being fine-tuned. And, surely, no “business plan” survives exposure to the real world without adjustments.

If anybody thought I was thinking of leaving this market, think again. 🙂

I want to set a different standard.

What Do YOU Think Is Missing In This Niche?

I’ve told you what I think. What say you? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts on what I’ve said here. 🙂

————

A reminder that “Phase One” of my business changes is under way right now…

The CLOSURE of the Blog Masters Club. It comes to an end on Friday, the 18th.

This course was created in 2009 and, even then, I think I did a pretty good job of focusing bloggers on the things which actually matter inside that course. Over half the course was about stuff which (at least then) was different territory for your typical blogger. In fact, right in Module 1, it will be VERY clear that I approach it from a very different angle than many others who focus SOLELY on blogging and the mechanics thereof.

But, alas, it is time to end that chapter.


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  • The only thing left is being a media you can use your power and leave that “make money blogging” idea. That is too much annoying reader and that is also too difficult to share as well. 

  • Global wholesale suppliers says:

    I think mostly people are losing their value of blogs because they are not attracting the people in innovative way. One of the main reasons of losing the interest of readers is People no longer want to know what you did on last weekend and how you did it so, do not treat your blog space like a diary. Tragedy and drama is meant for books and novels, internet readers look for gossips, news, and information about the stuff that concerns them, not how you feel about your life.

  • Philos Mudis says:

    I realized too that just sticking up a blog out there, chasing eyeballs and adding little ads here and there and doing some affiliates (sometimes doing shady things to get people clicking on the links) isn’t the way to build a strong business online. What bloggers can focus on, besides creating awesome content, is delivering relevant services and products that actually help people achieve their goals. It is hard but a bit of learning can take any blogger a level higher.

    Keep doing what you do best David.

  • andrewstark says:

    Hi David

    Blogging is a great way to generate traffic and build a customer base, but only if you already have a product or service to sell to your chosen niche. If you look at the copyblogger they’re selling genesis, problogger has books.

    Creating a business first is difficult and requires a lot more capital investment than a $7 ebook about how to make a gazillion dollars this week by setting up a wordpress site in 30 minutes.

    Selling hopes and dreams is low hanging fruit for the “Gurus” and to some extent you must congratulate them for doing it so well, but if the market does implode they can only blame themselves.

    For example selling a course on blogging when you don’t actually run your own blog should send alarm bells ringing, but sadly common sense goes on the window if the ad copy is good and the price point low.

    Anyway I don’t want to rant too much, and I totally agree with what you’re saying here.

    Andrew

  • Wilsonljx says:

    Yes i agree with you that blogging takes a lot of time to generate wealth. Anyway there are really a lot of scams in the online space and I personally felt that WSOs are simply a waste of money though I never bought it before.

    Also, I have to agree that I am one of the people who think that blogging is one of the way to get started to make money online. Is there any other alternatives that will allow me to generate passive income online? I have been trying to look for other methods but somehow, those are just the few methods that I have found.

  • I am one of the five out of 100 you refer to who took a build traffic blogging course and have turned it into a full time job and a business with 30+ people which to be honest I never intended or thought it would be. I agree with a lot of what you say here and what I appreciate most is that you are willing to sacrifice readership for results, but of course if you get results, you will gain even more readership.
    I have to say I think the only reason people don’t make money online if that is their goal is laziness and not taking action, in fact I think making a few thousand a month online after a year or so should be a given or if you can’t do that then you need to look at what you are doing or what you aren’t doing.
    the whole reason I decided to comment on you blog (honestly I have never been here before), is that if you are going for a smaller but more committed audience the thing I would like to see (and something I plan on doing if I ever find the time again), is a program dedicated  to taking people who have done the work, who have 100,000-200,000 visitors a month, who are making some money, and taking them to the next level of a blog making a half million plus a year and seeing the traffic climb closer to the million visitor a month range. I think we don’t see these because not too many of us get there but it is possible and once sites reach I would say 200,000-250,000 visitors a month, very specific paths they need to take and if you take the trial and error out of it for people, you can save them a lot of pain..Best of Luck..

  • I have several blogs but the ones that have the most content are the ones that I love!

    I never started them with the intention of making money, but because I enjoy the process so much, I hit a point where I said to myself, “I’d love to do this all the time.  How can I do this all the time?” and then I looked to ways to monetize.

    I have been looking for a while.  I have been confused about what direction to start…  I consider myself very action oriented, but I look at all of my options and get overwhelmed, as your post mentioned.

    Or I will try one tactic but not be fully clear on how to implement the tactic successfully.

    I have worked through a few courses in website monetization and while they haven’t been as successful as I would have liked, they have made me more knowledgeable. 

    I am excited to do your course and hope that I gain clarity and success.  I am willing to do the work.  I am willing to shift how I do things to have more of a businessminded methodology. I hope that my niches are able to be monetized. I think they are.

    Thank you for this post.

  • MicroSourcing says:

    Blogging isn’t the ideal way of generating income, though it is a good business tool to engage prospective consumers. It’s only a means to an end and not the prize in and of itself. In fact, some people would say the social media creates more financial opportunities than traditional blogging.

  • Kenny Fabre says:

    David

    the make money blog niche is not broker, people just need to know what their priorities are and what they want to accomplish. I’m great with my blog financial wise. I’m growing it bigger too.

  • John_Pickett says:

    I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. People don’t take action due to information overload. I know my wife and I started making real money when we cleared all the MMO/blogging blogs out of our RSS reader, focused on one method, and then put our heads down and got to work.

    Part of the problem, though, is finding that one plan that works. People are hesitant to stop reading their favorite blogging blogs because they think they might miss something important. They’ve got to trust you before they’ll really start listening.

    • David Risley says:

      The power of focus. Lot to be said for it. 🙂

      • James Barton says:

        Yeah, focus is a vital skill on the internet!

  • John_Pickett says:

    I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. People don’t take action due to information overload. I know my wife and I started making real money when we cleared all the MMO/blogging blogs out of our RSS reader, focused on one method, and then put our heads down and got to work.

    Part of the problem, though, is finding that one plan that works. People are hesitant to stop reading their favorite blogging blogs because they think they might miss something important. They’ve got to trust you before they’ll really start listening.

  • Jamie Alexander says:

    David,

    Personally, I think creativity is a big thing people are missing, which is why I started a creativity blog. You can tell people what to do until you’re blue in the face but the fact is, they need to be able to create new ideas and change the ones that aren’t working so well. Telling someone what to do is fine, but different things will apply to different people and they need to be able to create was to make it work.

    I also think the right knowledge is needed. I see so many people just spreading about the same rehashed crap. People teach people systems, that’s why none of those “make $5000 in 2 weeks” don’t work. Sure, the system is sound, but it’s not what people need to know. They need the extra stuff.

    Things change. Look at the recent comments and likes/tweets for guest posting. You can almost see them diminishing daily. People have grown tired of it. I think it’s because most guest posts suck, but also people spend time writing a semi-readable guest post but when visitors click through to their site it’s just a bunch of crap that took 30 minutes to write. People are actually proud of the fact they can write as fast as possible. That’s fine if you are a naturally talented writer and can write engaging content straight of the bat, but most peoples articles want to make you poke your eyes out.

    To sum up, I’d say creativity, proper marketing knowledge and high quality writing skills could make someone a successful blogger.

  • Joona Tuunanen says:

    This post is right on the money.

    The thing is that the general advice goes like this:

    start a blog -> get traffic -> monetize

    As if real businesses would work like that (okay, some startups *cough* Instagram *cough* do). But could you imagine a store opening their doors, getting people in and only after that start thinking about what they are going to sell? Unlikely.

    Better way to build a business is:

    choose how you are going to earn (can be iterated) -> create a plan how you are going to attract potential customers (could be a blog) -> sell stuff to them.

    This way you don’t need to think how you are going to monetize, because it has been decided first. You don’t have to think that much how to reach your target audience because you have thought about it before even creating a blog.

    Realizing this took 1.5 years of my time, even though that should be obvious. Especially since I have a MBA. Only now I am recovering from this and making some progress.

    There is just something about this whole industry that is wrong. Obvious things are not obvious anymore, as you will hear contradicting advice. What you do then is to listen to the people who are already making money. But the thing is… As you said, even they have like 5% success rate which is not great.

    I am interested to see what happens on your blog in the coming weeks and months.

    • David Risley says:

      Thanks, man. I have no idea what the real success rate is. But, I know it isn’t very high. And, yeah, often it is because people try to operate by fake rules that people taught them.

  • Blake @ Props Blog says:

    I’ve been silently screaming this to myself for about 2 years now.  the make money blogging industry functions very much like a MLM – those at the top hype up how to make money, talk about what they did to do it, and make money off everyone who tries and fails.

    At this point, the Make Money Blogging niche is too saturated for it to be worth the effort to try to break through.  Learning how to use a blog as a tool for a bigger make money online plan (which is equally screwed up, but at least more possible to break into).

    My old blog that has about 100 articles that I devoted hours into building, and it finally started netting me $30-$40/month on 100% autopilot.  It will take years for that to end up being a decently hourly rate.  Though..

    IMO, offline is the best place to leverage blogging via SEO/Local search.  It is extremely effective for helping local business rank for their keywords and the return on time spent is significantly higher in my personal experience.  

    I couldn’t agree more that the “gurus” don’t provide a clear path to success… furthermore, I would argue that many of them would fail now if they were starting fresh following their own advice and didn’t have the connections/backing they have built over the years.

    • David Risley says:

      You’re right, it is saturated. It isn’t anything like MLM, though.

      And, I would argue that people *could* break into it from scratch – with the right strategy. And they’d need to work their ever-loving ass off.

      In your case, sounds like you were treating your blog… like a blog. That makes little to no money. The reason it works for businesses is because they have a product and run themselves like a business. There’s a real lesson there.

      • Blake Waddill says:

        MLM in the sense that those who are established make money off those trying to “make it” (i.e: John Chow, Shoemoney, etc).  It’s not that their information isn’t good or accurate, nor am I saying systems they teach don’t work when applied correctly; however, I would guess the success rate of those venturing into MLM and those spending money on online marketing courses is similar.  I would also venture that the demographic overlaps some (MMO/MMB will have the same stigma if it doesn’t already).

        Remember, there are some real success stories in MLM’s too.  I regularly network with a Mary Kay rep who got her 5th “free” car this week.

        Those looking to start from nothing frequently use bloggers at the top as resources and buy their training products.  The products teach a system but do not go in depth about how to develop a real business/product to use the system on (you already said this).  That was the issue I fell into as you correctly pointed out.  It is hard to have a business without a product – I thought that affiliate offers would bridge that gap.

        I absolutely think using a blog as the primary tool to promote a product/business separate from the blog is extremely reasonable and practical.  I’ve had wonderful success using blogs for SEO and reputation management purposes.  

        Since I’ve never done it personally, I’m not really qualified to say that someone could or couldn’t break into the “make money blogging/online” scene from scratch or not.  I’ve stopped following it, but I can’t think of any “newcomers” that rank with the likes of John Chow, Shoemoney, Problogger, DBT, Copyblogger, Neil Patel, etc… For those who already had proven success with their blogs (Problogger/DPS, JC/TheTechZone), the transition is a little more practical.  It’s been said countless times, how can you write about how to make money blogging if you’ve never done it?  So how many people taking these courses are qualified?

        To tie this back into the MLM thing real quick: I’ve only met a few people who -really- made it with an MLM.  Of those who have had success, 95% of them already made good money and/or had a spouse/parent who could make it financially practical.  Those who couldn’t afford to put either the time or money into it almost never broke even much less generated a decent ROTI/ROI.  

        Basically, this wall of text is in agreement that MMB/MMO training needs an overhaul.  Too many people want to be the next JC, Shoemoney, or Problogger and don’t fully get “blogging is not a business model.”  

      • Blake Waddill says:

        MLM in the sense that those who are established make money off those trying to “make it” (i.e: John Chow, Shoemoney, etc).  It’s not that their information isn’t good or accurate, nor am I saying systems they teach don’t work when applied correctly; however, I would guess the success rate of those venturing into MLM and those spending money on online marketing courses is similar.  I would also venture that the demographic overlaps some (MMO/MMB will have the same stigma if it doesn’t already).

        Remember, there are some real success stories in MLM’s too.  I regularly network with a Mary Kay rep who got her 5th “free” car this week.

        Those looking to start from nothing frequently use bloggers at the top as resources and buy their training products.  The products teach a system but do not go in depth about how to develop a real business/product to use the system on (you already said this).  That was the issue I fell into as you correctly pointed out.  It is hard to have a business without a product – I thought that affiliate offers would bridge that gap.

        I absolutely think using a blog as the primary tool to promote a product/business separate from the blog is extremely reasonable and practical.  I’ve had wonderful success using blogs for SEO and reputation management purposes.  

        Since I’ve never done it personally, I’m not really qualified to say that someone could or couldn’t break into the “make money blogging/online” scene from scratch or not.  I’ve stopped following it, but I can’t think of any “newcomers” that rank with the likes of John Chow, Shoemoney, Problogger, DBT, Copyblogger, Neil Patel, etc… For those who already had proven success with their blogs (Problogger/DPS, JC/TheTechZone), the transition is a little more practical.  It’s been said countless times, how can you write about how to make money blogging if you’ve never done it?  So how many people taking these courses are qualified?

        To tie this back into the MLM thing real quick: I’ve only met a few people who -really- made it with an MLM.  Of those who have had success, 95% of them already made good money and/or had a spouse/parent who could make it financially practical.  Those who couldn’t afford to put either the time or money into it almost never broke even much less generated a decent ROTI/ROI.  

        Basically, this wall of text is in agreement that MMB/MMO training needs an overhaul.  Too many people want to be the next JC, Shoemoney, or Problogger and don’t fully get “blogging is not a business model.”  

  • Srinivas Rao says:

    ONe simple shift in my mind completely changed what actions to take. I stopped asking myself “what would xyz famous blogger do?” and started asking “what would NBC do?.” I think of our podcast as one property in a media company. The context will change your actions. 

    • David Risley says:

      That’s true, but then again, a media company is a very different kind of thing. And most bloggers fail if they try to act like one, IMO. More to come. 🙂

  • AllThingsPondered says:

    David,  i have watched and experienced for many years a lot of ‘garbage’ (if I may) products come and go.   Some big names have left me feeling like I have been ripped off.  

    I think there are at least a few people out there that rely solely on blogging for their livelihood – right? 

    But I do think there is a lot of stuff out there that just doesn’t add up in the end.   In addition, listening to the wrong advice can have you end up with penalties from google that can cause a loss of income. 

    Many people have worked hard and they have gotten nowhere.     If you know what the missing ingredients are, I would love to hear it.  

    • David Risley says:

      I have some ideas. 🙂 Thing is, it isn’t as if I’ve discovered anything new. It is more about getting back to basics. Most bloggers are given advice which completely jumps the gun, IMO.

  • Hell yes… Thanks a lot for this post David. It shows there is still some of us with a little integrity who is not just selling the quick fix in the name of the mighty buck while BS’ing the “stupid” masses.

    Unfortunately it is true that many people see the internet as a get rich quick solution to their problems. But then again who has been showing them bogus, or real accounts picturing massive daily income at the push of the proverbial button, without giving them the complete picture of what it took to get there?

    I think they just need somebody with authority like you to help them see the light, and make them see that blogging is really about building relationships and delivering value to your followers/friends, and future customers.

    It is surprising how many people never see or realize that if they want to make money on the internet  they have to build a business like any offline business, and that a blog is a very valuable tool to build a loyal customer base, and steer the “feet” through the store.

    Anyway, excellent post as usual.

    • David Risley says:

      Thanks, Jac. 🙂

      Yeah, the Internet is a “get rich quick” solution only compared to the idea of working for 40 years then retiring at 60+. Compared to that, you can get rich quick online. But, the idea of coloring in the lines and building an income stream with hardly any work… if it were that easy, everybody would do it. It ain’t that easy. It takes some skills and tenacity to do it.

  • Sergio Félix says:

    Most likely it’s the “make money blogging about blogging” term, the one that I hate.

    I had it pretty clear after having a blog for a year… there was NO money in blogging about the same thing everyone was writing but I got into a marketing course (a pretty fucking expensive one too) and the advice was to OPEN A BLOG ABOUT MARKETING.

    I really can’t say how much I did NOT want to follow that advice and I regret falling for it for the SECOND time.

    I don’t really know if the system is wrong, the approach, the perspective, etcetera; but I’m really sick already of visiting blogs about blogs.

    Then you create a great course and people don’t do anything.

    There’s no action yet there’s daily moaning everywhere that they can’t make one sale.

    To me a blog is just a hub, since I stopped thinking about a blog as the main income source everything started to look clearer.

    Not sure if I’m starting to rant because I don’t understand how things are supposed to work but isn’t it funny that ALL THE BIG MARKETERS that teach you to create a blog and write about your life and your dog and how you’re doing great with your first posts, etc.

    Neither of them have an active blog in the first place?

    Heck, some of them actually say they couldn’t even install a blog if they needed!!!

    I don’t want to say any names but I have seen the same thing so many times already, that sometimes I don’t even know if I should still respect these people or just completely ignore their damn advice.

    • David Risley says:

      Yeah, starting a blog about blogging would be some of the worse advice anybody could give. 🙂 Or one about marketing. For that to work, you’d need to have a strong USP and really work your ass off, because this niche is so damn noisy that it is hard as hell to make a dent.

      If this site was my first site, I’d have been screwed. It is only because I had run a tech blog for over 10 years and learned a ton doing it, that I was able to pivot into this space and get any notice.

  • Brad Werner says:

    I like that you had brought this topic up.  I think sometimes it goes beyond just blogs telling people how to make money blogging but I’ve also noticed it continues on to bloggers telling people how to start a business, market a business, continue a business, develop a product etc. yet the more I read the more I think they really aren’t telling me some big secret that will send anyone on their way to success.  Most of the time it seems like I read the same thing just said differently. I’ve briefly thought about starting a blog featuring crappy (but well known) blogs. How would that be for irony?  

    I think most people have this idealized view of what a blog can lead to.  Many times it is the possibility of a book deal or speaking engagements.  On the far end of the spectrum are people like the Pioneer Woman who started a blog but now has her own show on the Food Network, which is why I always mention her at the end of one my blogs.  Don’t get me wrong, good for her that she was able to do it, but I think something like that would be like winning the lottery. 

    For me, I am writing first and foremost for my own enlightenment and to hopefully better myself in some manner and continue to learn about new things.  Now I also do it as a way to have a sort of “history book” for my kids.  Sure, in the back of my mind I am hoping people pick up on it, but lets just say I haven’t stopped buying lottery tickets either. 

    • David Risley says:

      Well, you seem a little jaded, Brad. 😉

      I don’t think people are holding back any secrets. People keep looking for secrets, but they just don’t exist. Sometimes, there is an incomplete story being told, though. And it isn’t because of any evil plot… often it is just because you can only say so much in a blog post. And because many of those bloggers write what generates page views… because they’re ultimate goal is the page views and not the results.

      • Brad Werner says:

        The people are not holding back secrets, yet they sort of are in a way. The way many of them make their money is by spewing some of this stuff and then saying “if you want to learn more, buy my seminar”.  Maybe I am a little jaded.  Probably cause I feel like I am stuck on so many levels. 

        • David Risley says:

          Well, a few points come to mind here:

          (1) If somebody is running a business, there is obviously a point where they’re going to ask you to buy something. No reason to be offended by that. After all, if you’re paying attention to this stuff yourself, it is because you’re looking to do the same exact thing – perhaps just in a different market.

          (2) The way that blogs usually operate, they are not orderly. Anything but orderly, actually. And, the setup makes everything look equal to everything else. Blogs, essentially, are not an ideal educational platform. So, while I really don’t think most people are making a point to withhold information (some are, but some aren’t), I think it is of limited usefulness. Oftentimes, the value of paying for a course is to have the structure and control necessary to actually digest the material needed in a fashion that it can be applied. Those people who are unwilling to invest anything into that… are usually the ones who never get anywhere.

          (3) The idea of a “secret”, especially in internet marketing, is pretty much bogus. (I could write a full blog post on that. 🙂 )

  • The only reason I have a blog is so I can send updates to my list of subscribers.  Well…okay.  Maybe not the ONLY reason.  But it’s the main reason.  I learned a long time ago that I’ll not get rich by blogging alone.  However, I do enjoy writing.  So I write relevant posts about my niche, post goofy pictures of myself on there, put up a few ads, then send my list some of my latest blog posts.  

    As far as blogging as a business?  Spare me.  Marketing is the business.  Once you learn how to effectively market something…making money is a lot easier.  

    • David Risley says:

      Bingo.

      But, even beyond marketing comes identify a product. And, in this space, most people hear the word “product” and they automatically think “thing I sell”. But, actually, it goes beyond that. It comes down to the valuable effect you’re trying to create in the lives of others… that is then exchangeable for money.

      People want an outcome, not a product.

      And most, in this space, never give much thought to that. They get started by going on a gut hunch of what’s popular, where there is no competition (bad idea), or what their passion is… without any real assessment about the PRODUCT.

      More to come on that. 🙂

  • lorrainegrula says:

    “…blogging is one of the shittiest and slowest ways to make money on the Internet in the history of man.”

    Yup.  I can believe it now because I have experienced it.  BUT, go back a few years to when I could still afford to attend workshops and most everybody was saying blogging was the BEST way.  “Build an authority site!”, they said.  I heard over and over from multiple gurus that authority sites (blogs) were the ONLY way to establish long term success.  Seemed logical as the goal of an authority site was to provide lots of high quality content.  Content is King!  “The more free info you give away, the more money you’ll make in the long run!” was the conventional wisdom of the day. 

    OK, so here I am, a person who took action!  I now have a blog with about 500 quality posts on all aspects of my subject.  Plenty of in-depth video tutorials.  I gave it away for free!  (Mistake #1).  I never wrote crap meant for search engines.  Never posted crappy articles I bought for 5 bucks.  

    So what happened?  Google  indeed loved me!  Lots of people all over the world read my blog.  Many wrote to me tear-jerking emails of thanks.  That was fun.  But even more people wrote asking for free advice.  I always answered.  Most of them  never said thank you but I kept answering. 

    I sold some affiliate products, made a bit of change, and had some people write to me complaining that I obviously wanted to do nothing but make money!  Somehow they didn’t see all those free tutorials. 

    Then google de-indexed me and my traffic plummeted.  I never did the stuff they say they are penalizing me for, but I am being penalized anyway. 

    I am so sick of it all I could puke.  I have worked my fanny off, provided tons of good, free content, and at most, I made enough $ to barely survive and pay rent.  And I did better than most people out there, but my banker would still tell me I have failed!   The banker is right.  I often feel like I have ruined my life because I got into internet marketing and believed it could really work. 

    When the “gurus” (geez, I hate that word) insist that people do not make money because they are all lazy slobs who never take action, they are just making excuses for the fact that:
    A.  They often do not know what they are talking about so they are giving bogus, or outdated advice.
    B.  Their products and teachings are not nearly as good as they think they are and people are left confused.
    C.  Learning everything online is not as effective as traditional classroom teaching.  There is no one to answer questions and the gurus are not as generous as I was answering email questions.  By golly, they want an extra $500 first!   

    In the years that I have been doing this, I have seen LOTS of people try real hard but they failed anyway.  It simply is a lot harder than they like to admit. 

    I have no doubt that many people don’t take action.  But that is probably more because they are confused and busy with other things, not because they are lazy idiots!  Thinking that is the height of arrogance IMHO and just an excuse for their own failings.   

    • David Risley says:

      Agreed. There is responsibility on the part of all buyers of IM products, but it is also the responsibility of the creator to create a product that can be applied, and then honestly SUPPORT the thing to make it so. 

      To make one thing clear, though… building an “authority site” is still a great and dependable business model. But, the standard reaction to that is “easier said than done”. And it is. Building an authority site is a BITCH. 🙂

      Thing is… I think if one approaches their efforts as a business from day one, then the focus is completely different. For one, one begins to treat the site as just a marketing vehicle… and explore OTHER marketing vehicles, too.

      • lorrainegrula says:

         Exactly.  The problem lies in thinking your authority site IS your product, and not just a marketing vehicle for your product.  That was the huge mistake I made.  I should have come up with the product first, then built the site to sell the product.  Instead, I gave away my product for free in the form of 400 blog posts. 

        Like Roy above, I ended up using my blog to get consulting/producing jobs.  That helped me pay the rent but it was not really what I wanted to do when I started out.  I did that because it became obvious that was how the blog was going to make $, since I was not selling a physical product.  Again, boils down to thinking of your blog as a product. 

  • Rob Merlino says:

    The “Bloggers who blog about making money blogging” niche has always made me smile just a bit. The reason is, nobody ever goes beneath the surface. What you need to do first, if you want to make money, is decide how. Will your blog be monetized with adsense, affiliate marketing links, products, membership? DECIDE FIRST, then go about building the blog. It doesn’t have to be a blog about blogging either. It could be about shoes, a TV show, food, sports, even hot dogs. 

    You brush over the whole “blog about what you are passionate about” piece of the equation like it means nothing. It is everything. Perhaps that advice should be “blog about what you know about AND what you are passionate about.” Don’t get me wrong, I am reasonably passionate about making money, but my attempt at writing a “how to make money blogging” blog failed. Miserably. Because it sucked. Because it has been done too many times.

    What people, even many of the so-called gurus- fail to understand is that, at it’s core, a blog is a form of media. Historically, media has been supported by advertising. The more people who view the media in question, the more the media will make in advertising (or monetization.

    People go searching on the internet to be informed or entertained. Ca$h = eyeballs. Eyeballs come from people who are interested in what you have to say, at least interested enough to stop, read, comment, and maybe even click on a link or buy something. So I would advise the would be blogger to be interesting, be knowledgeable, be social, and, above all, be either informative or entertaining (or both).

    And PLEASE, don’t blog about blogging- it’s been done.

    • David Risley says:

      Thanks, Rob.

      Although, I’m going to disagree with a few of your points:

      (1) Yes, deciding how a site will make money first is a good idea… but merely deciding on the form of product doesn’t do a thing. You’re glossing over a lot of things, like marketability, demand, the solution you’re providing, etc.

      (2) Passion isn’t everything. Not even close. Honestly, some people’s passions just aren’t marketable. Some people don’t feel like they even have any strong passion. Thing is… they’re not screwed because of that. Because, if you’re looking at it as a business, then you’re identifying a problem and then formulating a solution. That’s what businesses do.

      (3) A blog is a form of media, yes, but that doesn’t mean one has to treat it like a form of media. At its core, it is a form of MARKETING. The end-product is the media is “eyeballs”… or more specifically, eyeballs on an advertiser’s website. Fine. Whatever. But, for another business, the product might be carpet cleaning. And they can’t be treating their site like a form of media if they want that to work.

  • Roy Hayward says:

    I am probably exactly who you are trying to talk to.  5 years ago, I saw people with blogs, and said, “Hey, I can do that and make a few extra bucks.”  I started my blog, and wrote my guts out.  And did all of the things you talked about.  I splashed ads all over it, and used a bunch of ‘tactics’ to build back links that were supposed to build traffic. annnnd made no money.

    I realized after starting to follow you (and a few others) that I needed a product.  But there came the problems.  I tried a few “create a product” products.  Let me save a few people their money, the cheap product creation course teaches you to create an even cheaper information products.

    I did have some success.  Not related to creating a products.  Because I was blogging about something I knew and could do, I got a few consulting jobs.  However, that is not what I was hopping for.  So I have made money, I have made mistakes.  And I know that my blog is not a business.  (I think of it as a professional journal showcasing my skills and knowledge.)

    I am with you on the MMB niche being the niche of shiny distractions and crap creation.  (Dave, I have never thought this of you.  Thats why I am still following you.)  And I have ditched so many others that are promoting this cycle of failure blogging.

    I still dream of finding a pattern that will lead to a passive income.  (passive meaning that I don’t have to take time away from my family to make it.)  And still have ideas that I explore.  

    From my 5 year career as a blogger I have these skills.  
    1.  I know how to manage a WP site like a pro.  I help people set their sites up from time to time.  And help people that have gotten in trouble by their own acts or a hackers get back on line.  
    2.  I know how to blog.  I can write a post in a few minutes and make it look good.  I have a few different formats that I use depending on what I want to say.
    3.  I know how to walk away from bad deals and ideas.  I don’t work for free, and I don’t feel bad about it.  (this was a personal problem.  I really wanted to help, and had to learn not to get taken advantage of.)
    4.  I know how to leave really long rambling comments on peoples blogs.  🙂

    Now, I need to develop a business idea where I can put these skill to work for my own ideas.

    I am excited to see a new direction from you.  I am hoping to be inspired.

    • David Risley says:

      Well, well done. 🙂

      And, to make a point, you turned your blogging into some consulting jobs. That’s delivering a product to somebody else, with the blogging as a form of marketing. Nothing about that you should be looking down on. Good job. 🙂

      Now, those clients hired you in order to get a solution of some kind. Clearly identify what that outcome was that they were looking for. Then, see how you could productize what you deliver via consulting into something which is repeatable. Then, there you go.

      Too many people identify “product creation” with the idea of creating an ebook, a membership site, etc. In other words, they think of the FORM of the product. Just because those are the kinds of products that we’re *supposed* to think about on the Internet.

      • Roy Hayward says:

        Thanks.

        I know I did end up with consulting as a product.  But it wasn’t the product I thought I was making.  And I sure spent a lot of time wandering around.

        I didn’t mean to sound so down in my comment.  I really am proud of my blog.  And that I have not given up when it didn’t go they way I was expecting at first.

        Thanks again Dave.

    • Dave Doolin says:

      Roy, and you’re talking pretty much straight at me. I’m going the professional journal for the next year or so myself, while I catch my breath for another round.

  • Frank Daley says:

    David, so many things to comment on. You are right that many people don’t follow through. I’m guilt of that too for several reasons. First, I have joined some  programs to learn and have bought products before I was ready to use them b/c I l could see the value of the programs and the prices seemed sensible.
    Three reasons why I’m not further ahead (yet).
    1. I was in a full-time job for several years–teaching college. 
    2. I had heart surgery and that took out a  whack of time.
    3. I am a good writer/ speaker but truly terrible with the tech stuff.  Not good at it, not interested in it (I know, but past the point of basic stuff, I mean), and when I “learn” something if I don’t lt use it all the time I forget! And I can’t use it all the time b/c there are 18 other tech things to learn and integrate. And the tech stuff –some of it– changes all the time!
    4. There are competing views by the experts on how to approach everything (blogging, the funnel system, list building etc).–so overwhelm is almost inevitable.
    5. Overwhelm is  becomes worse when you realize that you simply can’t do this on your own..there is simply too much to learn and build and do for one person. You require help (or at least I do…maybe my reach was too great at the start).
    6. Then given that you require help, you need  money to get it. But if you are not selling yet–you are learning the system and building products —you don’t have the income to offset the hiring (Fivrr does help there!).

    And so it goes I do have a little help now and I expect things to get faster. I do have some stuff done..a book published, a blog started, a sales letter written for a strong program that I believe can help people, so I haven’t exactly been sitting on my ass. But man, it ain’t easy!
    Just thought you’d like a muti-facteted  conglomeration of why people don’t get where they want to faster.
    Some people are lazy or disorganized or lack the will or sticktoitiveness but not everyone is like that.
    As you suspect there are some good reasons (or at least explanations ) for people not achieving faster (or at all).

    • David Risley says:

      Thanks for the remarks, Frank. And I hear ya, man. I think a lot of people could identify with the six points you raised.

  • Jim Kukral says:

    The model of “sell 2k product” to noobs dried up for 99% of them. Why? Because of everything you just said. The entire business is evolving, that’s all. They made their money selling those products, and consumers eventually figured it out… there is no quick fix dream. And they’re angry about it, and they’re not spending money anymore, and there’s panic in the air.

    Obviously the thing for us long-haulers is to continue to provide high-quality help and actually continue to care about helping people succeed instead of just throwing them a DVD and telling them if they don’t take action and make it work that they’re just losers, which is wrong.

    Excited to see what you come up with.

    • David Risley says:

      Thanks, Jim.

      Yeah, for them, their product was merely the sale. They thought that once the sale was made and they made a ton of cash, they were done. And students were mostly left on their own to support each other. They didn’t think long term.

  • Dave Doolin says:

    What is missing: perspective and focus.

    Not really missing, just as you say, time to change.

    But look, here’s a little perspective: for the last 3-4 years, and likely for the next 2-3, this blogging thing, dumb as it seems, has enabled *millions*, possibly tens of millions of people to 1. self-educate in their own field, 2. improve their communication skills, 3. grow into an awareness that “get a job” isn’t the only path to success, 4. improve their overall technical skills, 5. Surely I’m missing more.

    So now we have this brand new, humongous, self-trained and self-training work force, looking for something to do. Focus. Leadership.

    Where you gonna take us, Dave?

    • Frank Daley says:

       I think this is right, Dave.

    • David Risley says:

      Love the way you put it, Dave.

  • Chris Huff says:

    Caring about the customer.  Let me say I think you do a good job of that. I find blogging-as-a-business needs to stem from the desire for caring about your customer.  For example, if I was to start blogging about wheelchairs, then I better be doing it BECAUSE I want to help people who use wheelchairs.

    Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of business advice on “making money” on the internet.  It came down to two schools of thought; 1) Create a business that is in demand regardless of whether it interests you or not.  2) Create a business based on a topic you love.

    I’ll extend that last one to “create a business based on your desire to help people.”  This drives everything you do; blog writing, product creation, answering emails, etc. 

    I don’t follow you because I find you are in the “make [me] money blogging” category.  I follow you because I see you in the category of “make my online business the best it can be.”  And that’s what the “make money blogging” market is missing…they don’t recognize caring for the customer comes first and everything else follows. 

    Hmmm….I think I’m starting to ramble. 

    • David Risley says:

      I think that’s probably true, but then again, I know many of the guys (and gals) in this niche and I think they truly do care about the customer – at least for the most part.

      I think caring is, obviously, very important. But, there’s also a lot of less touchy/feely things that go into it. 🙂

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