When I saw the Ramit Sethi quote below, I laughed very hard and very alone in my office for about five minutes:
For 99% of people, starting a blog is a terrible way to make money. You might as well take your money, shred it, spend a year sewing it back together by hand, and then light it on fire. You will still have saved time and heartache.
I laugh because the imagery is amazing. I also laugh because it’s true… which probably is leading you to say, “Why the heck would I even blog then?”
The money you’ll make blogging, or at least the substantial amount of what you’ll make, won’t be actually on your blog but related to your blog. I’ll get into that a bit later on.
Here are three motivations for you to blog:
Motivation 1: Blog because you love to write.
I started a blog for this very reason. You know when people ask you when you are 9 what you are going to be when you grow up? I always wanted to be a writer.
I was told by a couple ‘important’ people that I wasn’t a good enough writer to be published anywhere. So after a few frustrating attempts to charm the uncharmable in the competitive world of writing (apparently my dream is not very unique), I decided I’d start a blog back in 2007 and write. Write to practice writing, write to learn things, write to meet interesting people, write to get better at websites.
From the stats on this website, I see thousands of people are reading what I have to say. And if I would have listened to those couple important people, I wouldn’t be here today saying it.
So if you want to blog because you are tired of the gatekeepers who tell the world what’s good and not good, blogging is a great project for you. Your writing will be known and someday, you may even get paid to write on other websites.
Motivation 2: Blog because you want to get traffic to your business website.
Let’s say you want more people to come to your website. You can pay thousands of dollars a month for Google Ads, slick SEO dudes in India to do mysterious things for you, and other tactics. But honestly the best thing you can do to get traffic to a website is to have a blog.
Search engines love blogs (this graph via Hubspot):
People love blogs:
- 77% of internet users read blogs.
- 61% of U.S. consumers have made a purchased based on a blog recommendation.
- 346 million people around the world read blogs.
- (Other mind blowing facts here: http://www.impactbnd.com/blogging-statistics-55-reasons-blogging-creates-55-more-traffic/)
Bloggers love blogs for obvious reasons (I mean basketball players like to watch other people play basketball too, right?). And as someone who regularly follows about 800 blogs, I would say I’m a more ‘heavy’ blog reader than someone who doesn’t blog at all.
So what am I saying with all this? People read blogs and they drive traffic to your website, which gives you an opportunity to make money if you sell things there.
Motivation 3: Blog because you want to be seen as an expert.
Have you ever walked around talking about how smart you are about, say, growing plants? How did that go for you? I bet if you actually did that, everyone would think you were kind of a jerkface.
Now what if you had a blog with pictures of your tomato plants being taller than your house with interesting ideas for getting rid of slugs? Now that’s much better isn’t it? It’s the antibrag: you just put awesomeness out there and let people find it.
See with a blog, people can see how and if you know your stuff. And since it’s out there working for you 24-7, the blog is introducing people to you that you have never met.
Just last night, I went to a gathering. The friend I went with said that one of the party hosts (who I had never met) has always wanted to meet me. “Like you’re famous or something.” my friend laughed.
That, my friends, is the ‘blog effect’.
Any substantial money most people will make from blogging is indirect. You’ll be hired to speak at conferences or to write for other websites. You’ll sell products on your website or throw together an ebook that people will pay to download. You’ll be seen an an authority on whatever and be hired by people to help them. Yes, it is money you make because you have a blog but not from the actual blog itself.
If you want to pull off enough advertising revenue to impress your grandparents, that will be a long hard road which you may never get to the end of. The most successful blogger I’ve ‘met’ who admitted the truth to me said they made about $11,000 a year off ad revenue from their very popular blog. A nice chunk but not much above the federal poverty line. If you are making about $100/year off your blog, you are considered in the 90th percentile. This is not to discourage you from blogging… just from blogging for this reason.
What is your motivation? If at least one of the above motivations speaks to you, give it a shot. But if you are tempted by the fruit of another motivation, you might just want to look at another way to use your time.