Blogging is deceptively easy. The barrier to entry with blogging is so low that almost anyone can spin up a blog in a matter of a few minutes. Using a service like WordPress or Blogspot, it’s also 100% free, and that’s one of the great things about blogging.
That’s also one of the biggest problems, too. Blogging seems so easy that everyone’s doing it, and too many of us are in it for the wrong reasons.
One only needs a few minutes to start a blog. It’s so easy that anyone can do it. And, thousands of bloggers make a living from their blogs. It seems like a one-way drive down easy street.
And so, who wouldn’t want to dive in headfirst? “Start a blog!”, they say. It’s easy. And, you can make money. It’s fun. You’ll become wildly successful if you try hard and write “high-quality”, SEO-ready content.
Why you shouldn’t start a blog
I’ll just come right out and say it: Blogging is a grind, and if you need to be convinced to start a blog, then you probably shouldn’t start one. There’s a good chance you’ll wind up frustrated. And, your blog will eventually die.
The truth is building a successful, money-making blog takes years for most of us. Years of devotion and focus. Of churning out content. Designing imagery.
And, those blogging success stories very often only scratch the surface of what really took place behind the scenes. Bloggers clamor about writing high-quality articles. Using catchy titles. Keyword research.
But, they don’t talk about what makes blogging much more difficult than we care to admit. And, what bloggers never teach in their courses.
- the relationships they’ve built with other bloggers for the expressed intention of trading links, favors and opportunities
- the traffic they paid for
- the hours and hours of work, over the course of years, to build something that’s finally caught on and continues to drive traffic through backlinks and advertising
- the virtual assistants that help churn out content, design Pinterest images and keep their social media accounts alive and well (one blogger can’t do it all)
Most bloggers don’t talk about that kind of stuff. We leave those details out because they aren’t sexy. They don’t sell courses. They aren’t necessarily formula-driven, and therefore, those details make it seem as if blogging is as simple as following a defined path.
“How I make $2,000 a month by working 5 hours a week” is much more click-worthy.
Here’s the truth: You could follow the exact path as another successful blogger but see wildly different results. It happens all the time. Blogs aren’t set in rigid formulas. We aren’t in math class, here.
Most bloggers don’t make money with their blogs. And, they never will.
Why most blogs fail
The vast majority of bloggers (maybe 99% of them) shut their blogs down within the first year. Why? Because it’s much tougher to build a highly-successful, money-making blog than a lot of successful bloggers say it is.
Here is why:
- blogging takes time; almost no blog becomes an overnight success
- writing high-quality content counts, but it only scratches the surface
- natural backlinks from other sites matter, and building relationships is key
The things that make blogs successful are also the most difficult things to get right. And, that’s why blogs fail. The difficult stuff plagues us.
It’s easy to start a blog. But, it’s not easy to start one that brings in millions of hits and makes a lot of money. Most people don’t want to do the hard stuff.
And when I see people asking on Quora how to make money from their blogs, it continues to reinforce this simple concept of blogging:
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
The 3 traits of highly-successful bloggers
Successful bloggers tend to have these three traits in common:
Their blogs have a purpose beyond just making money. It’s easy to love money. Everybody loves money. When we start a blog with the expressed intention of making money, it tends to show in our writing. Our expectations are often unrealistically lofty and we much more easily lose the motivation to continue blogging if we aren’t bringing in money within the first few months.
Their blogs add unique value. With few exceptions, the blogs that bring in money also add value to the conversation. They offer something unique that readers may not be able to find just anywhere. Maybe it’s new information. Or a particular slant/interpretation of current events that are enlightening and entertaining. Or, perhaps it’s controversy. In other words, successful blogs aren’t just the same old content rehashed over and over again.
They don’t treat their blogs like weekend projects. Successful bloggers treat their blogs like a business, not a weekend project. Their blogs take priority. Bloggers who are the most successful devote the extra time it takes to write detailed and value-packed content, engage actively on social media like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest and treat their blogs as if they were a business. Businesses make the most money. Weekend projects don’t.
Here’s a word of advice: Start your next blog for the right reasons. If it’s just a place to jot down your thoughts, that’s cool. Start one. If your plan is to keep your friends and family updated on your insane travel schedule, work pursuits or mountain climbs that you’ve conquered through a blog, that’s cool too. These blogs have a purpose, and it’s not about getting rich.
However, if you’re looking to get rich from your blog, don’t let anybody convince you that it’s easy. It’s not. After all, everybody has a blog these days.
Successful blogging takes a LOT of hard work, time and determined focus. You’ll be a much happier blogger if your blog has a purpose other than making money. Build a blog that adds value and provides something unique.
Then, and only then, set your sights on those precious greenbacks.
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.