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Why blogging for money will not make you rich

Blogging for money isn't as hard as some jobs, but it's usually profitless

Blogging for money isn't as hard as some jobs, but it's usually profitless

(Image: WRI)

Like the vast majority of the 100 million bloggers in the world, I earn less than a dollar a day from my own blogs.

That’s an average figure. Some days I earn more, many less. But it currently averages out to about a dollar a day. Blogging for money is a terrible idea.

Blogging is about as profitable as subsistence farming

Half the world’s poor live on a dollar a day or less, and they make their money in more brutal and uncomfortable ways than those blogging for money.

Bloggers have to worry about:

  • Inconsistent traffic
  • Winner-takes-all competition
  • Unreliable monetization

The world’s poorest workers have to worry about:

  • Physical exhaustion
  • Hand-to-mouth employment
  • Physical violence
  • Deadly working conditions.

Many would be delighted to earn a dollar sitting at a Mac in their lunch hour, moaning about the blogosphere. So let’s be clear: I’m in no way equating bloggers’ hardship with the suffering of the truly poor.

What interests me is why millions of well-off people would blog to earn as little as a labourer in a rice paddy?

Blogging for money is hard work

Many people blog to share their thoughts, not to earn money. This post isn’t about them. I’m talking about those hundreds of thousands of us who read Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger, who hope to make money from our blogs.

We write decent content, position and promote it, and still find blogging for money sucks. Why do we do it? Given the minimum wage in the US, UK, and Europe, blogging is about the worse way someone could try to make some extra money. Yet it’s perhaps the most discussed and attempted.

Most half-decent bloggers will have jobs paying 10-100 times more per hour than what their blog pays. If they’re blogging for money, why don’t they just work overtime or get a side job? Why are they content to be paid the same as a Somalian sharecropper?

Almost any blogger for money would be better off:

  • Asking for a raise
  • Doing a part-time job
  • Holding a yard sale for friends and family
  • Paying off their debts
  • Spending less and saving more
  • Investing in the depressed stock market
  • Opening a specialist Internet retailer
  • Delivering newspapers
  • Cleaning windows

The truth? Blogging may seem like easy money. But blogging is hard money. People blog for money because it’s easy to get started, not because it’s easy make a profit.

Your blog will always lag the leaders

Running your own blog isn’t meant to be about the hourly wages, of course. Blogging for money is supposed be like planting fruit trees. Not like being paid to harvest them.

You plant your fruit trees (write your posts well and promote them), and later you harvest the fruit of your labour (take income from your site when your traffic has grown).

That’s the theory. Yet blogging is just as poor a choice for a start-up business as it is for earning hourly wages. Why? Because the power of network effects means older blogs have an enormous advantage against the multitudes of tiny blogs scrapping for recognition.

Starting a new blog is like farming in a world where trees can grow infinitely high, but you must always start as one of the thousands of seedlings crowded in their shade.

A tiny number of new blogs will ever catch up with their profitable peers

Only a tiny number of new blogs will ever catch their profitable peers

(Image by: Auritulus)

Open a hot dog stand. Don’t start a blog for money

Blogging is easy to start, and hard to monetize. But aren’t all businesses?

Not as hard as blogging for money. Not if we’re judging by the likelihood of success versus failure.

Starting even a modest business like window cleaning or a neighborhood car garage is much harder than starting a blog.

To start a blog you need to:

  • Register your blog at Blogspot
  • Be able to type

To start a car garage you need to:

  • Buy or rent a car garage
  • Invest in new equipment
  • Find a workforce
  • Know about fixing cars
  • Open for business every day, from 9-5
  • Risk being seen to fail in public

For these reasons and others, hardly anyone sets up a car garage, compared to the millions who set up blogs.

A car garage might face plenty of challenges, but having 10,000 other car garages in the very same street isn’t one of them.

Also, you’d be very unlikely to open your garage in the street with the best car garage in the world just across the road. But every new blog is just a click away from the best blog in its niche!

In the age of globalisation, real world businesses are less protected by locality than in the old days. But compared to blogging, even giants like Wal-Mart have only a relatively local reach.

Very few readers care that Darren Rowse of ProBlogger is Australian. It makes no difference to the high quality of his blog. If you’re writing about blogs in an English-speaking country, you’re going to find it very hard to do a better job than Darren.

But even if you do, you’ll find it almost impossible to compete with the network advantages he’s already established for ProBlogger.

Only a handful of bloggers rule the ‘blogging for money’ roost, 3-4 years after Darren first revealed the six-figure potential of blogging. Doing so seemed risky back then, but the passing years have only proven how well Darren understood his blogging niche was safe, and how he realised that sharing would only enhance his position.

The disadvantages a new blogger for money faces

Still not convinced? Here’s why a new would-be ProBlogger finds it so hard to compete:

  • Niche saturation: Blogging is established, which means all of the best (and nearly all of the worst) niches were long ago occupied.
  • Topic saturation: Established bloggers rarely admit it, but 50-80% of their traffic comes from the top ranked pillar articles they wrote years ago. Google any widely discussed topic and see their posts comes up. You are going to have to write a post twice as good and then do ten times as much promotion (and still wait months or years) as the blogger in the top spot to have any chance of (ethically) dislodging them.
  • Second in the queue: Many of the revenue streams that work best in blogging are referral schemes that take a cut of the future earnings of a new customer. Established blogs will mop these up before you get a look in. (This is true too, in a different way, with the non-niche affiliate earners like Amazon, where the sheer weight of posting volume works against you.)
  • Top bloggers link less: In the early days, bloggers helped and linked to each other freely. Today’s top bloggers are so swamped with requests from the hordes of wannabes that even those who’d like to help can’t much. Many have stopped considering article pitches at all. A few very high-profile ones never link out, pulling up the ladder behind them.
  • Social media swamped: Early bloggers were quick to capitalize on the launch of Digg, Delicious and Reddit, when it was very easy to get almost any well-positioned blog post onto the front page. Now mainstream media dominates Digg, while top blogs have plenty of readers to consistently Stumble them to prominence.
  • Survival of the luckiest: I’d say most of the top blogs in the areas I see are very good. But are they better than every other blog in their niche? Very often not. They were lucky. By definition, only a few can be lucky, so you or I likely won’t be.
  • US bias: Controversially, I think it’s no surprise that the big blogs are mainly American. With its 300-million strong population, America swamps the net-waves. They’re not doing it deliberately, but it’s a fact that if you’re a UK financial writer, say, and you mention ISAs, you’re not going to get many (or any) links, whereas a US writer citing Roth or 401 plans will be widely understood on Digg, StumbleUpon, and elsewhere. Yet UK readers find their way to the US blogs just the same, because they speak English, because of network effects, and because they’re used to reading US content. There’s an asymmetrical advantage to being based in the US.
  • Blog boredom: People are moving to Facebook and Twitter. More blogs are fighting over a shrinking audience.

By way of balance, there are some advantages to blogging today:

  • Ease of set-up: Old bloggers spent a lot of time struggling with clunky tools. (Then again, at least that kept the competition down).
  • Information: Generous bloggers for money have shared many of their secrets. (Then again, your rivals read them, too).
  • Profusion of revenue streams: There’s probably never been more ways to make money from blogging. (Then again, the top blog in your niche is going to gobble up 90% of the pie).

Why do I create blogs if they’re such lousy moneymakers?

This might sound unconvincing coming from me. After all, you’re reading it on a blog! Why do I bother with Monevator? And why am I complaining: sour grapes?

Writing about money is a hobby of mine, rather than how I’ll fund my financial freedom. I’ve got three blogs, and if I can double the revenue they earn every three months, I’m happy.

Also, any decent pro-blogger would point out there’s plenty I’m not doing well with Monevator: inconsistent posting, not enough promotion, and too little of my personal life included, for a start.

The irony is that professionally I’m involved with several leading websites that have big-to-enormous readerships. They’re not blogs, but when I say ‘top dogs’ when talking about blogs, with another hat on I’m involved in some! It’s also why I understand the economics of Internet publishing from both sides.

The issue is whether you think blogging for money is going to make your fortune, and I’m afraid to say most of us have no reason to think so. (Even ProBlogger semi-regularly stresses it’s hard.) Deciding on your goals, working an extra hour a day at a job, and investing the surplus income is far more likely to have you move towards financial freedom than blogging, let alone starting a real world business.

Blogging likely won't give you the parachute you need

Blogging likely won't give you the parachute you need

(Image by: mikebaird)

Revealed: The one and only reason to blog

I blog to reach people interested in financial freedom through making more money, and saving and investing it. I genuinely want to encourage more people think about these aspects of their life.

My niche isn’t credit card debt or finding two-for-one coupons. The thing that excites me is investing and entrepreneurship – I love to talk about it, think about it, and win and lose at it. Many people fall asleep over the financial pages, but they’re the first I turn to. (If you’re similar, I’d urge you to subscribe to my RSS feed).

There are lots of reasons why blogging sounds good. Blogging for money seems to offer:

  • Self-determination
  • An alternative income stream
  • Hours to suit you
  • The chance to what you love

…and it does, provided you’re happy to paid the same as a field laborer in Zambia for your efforts.

Blog for love, not money. If you don’t blog for the love of helping people, or to get your views off your chest, then you’re wasting your time. If you’re blogging to make your millions, you’re almost certainly living in a fantasy world. You’ll spend countless hours you could dedicate to earning real money chasing a dollar a day with your blog. Even if you do make a few bucks, your hourly rate will likely be appalling.

I’m not saying no new blogs will ever again become big successful sites. Some will. But the odds are vanishingly small of any one particular blog succeeding. There’s no rule that says everyone who writes good content, promotes it, and keeps at it for five years will succeed. The rule says most won’t.

Like the lottery, everyone thinks it will be them, but for almost everyone it won’t be.

Go where people aren’t fishing if you want to catch fish. If you just like fishing, you’ll have to be content to catch minnows while the man upstream with a trawler and an early start is landing whales.

If I was in the mood to start another business, I would choose almost anything (legal) over blogging. Don’t blog for a $1 a day. The only realistic reason to blog is for the love of your subject. Save and invest (yes, even in down markets) or set up a real-world business if you want financial freedom.

{ 53 comments… add one }
  • 1 SJ2021 November 18, 2008, 9:46 pm

    oh boy you’re going to get some angry bloggers commentating here if they read this. you might as well have said that theres no father xmas. blogging is the great hope of millions of online dreams, along with selling dvds about losing fat through prayer and taking part in pyramid selling scams.

  • 2 Alejandro U. Alvarez November 18, 2008, 10:37 pm

    You might have a point here, but you are missing something: Blogging does give money… on the long term. If you put your part (Good consistent, periodic content) your readers will put the rest (Traffic). Money will just come later.

    As a little feedback, write smaller articles, I enjoy reading an average of two hours a day on blogs, and yours doesn’t fit at all on my schedule. I still managed to read the top and skim the rest, but this is way too big for the topic. I’m guessing you have quite a big bounce rate on this article. I still gave it a thumbs up because it gives a nice point of view.

    I am a (retired) blogger, I maintained my blog for about 2 years and got quite good traffic in the end, but I must say that if you want money you must earn it, and this means you must do things that people need. I mean by this, do your readers “need” to know what you write? For example, what is giving me the most money are my plugins and templates, even though they are free. I’ve worked for a very long time doing them, but people use them and like them, and they donate. I’m getting quite a nice amount of money simply because of them, and that is sort of money through blogging.

    After this huge talk I must congratulate you because you somehow drove me to write such a long comment, and that is not very usual, so you surely have several pros and cons that you should evaluate and reach a point where you will be quite popular.

    Keep it up,
    Alejandro U. Alvarez

  • 3 Josh November 18, 2008, 10:39 pm

    Okay.. seriously.. blogging is hard work? Seriously? Come on man, to even MENTION subsistence farming in the same article.. I’m … I’m speechless.

    Perhaps you should add to the hardships of subsistence farming:
    –If you miss a day of work your infant child is likely to starve to death.

    And then add to the Blogging side:
    –If you miss a day of blogging you probably did something more worthwhile during your lunch hour. Good for you.


    And yes, I read the part where you say a blogger doesn’t have it as bad as a subsistence farmer.. that one sentence alone should have told you it wasn’t worth even mentioning.

  • 4 Clubit.tv November 18, 2008, 11:43 pm

    Oh my, that post was really really good, one of the best articles I have read for a long time, when I’m in the office tomorrow I’ll Digg and get everyone around me to digg and I’ll stumble ect…

    Good article ! Keep it up and I may come back 😉

  • 5 The Investor November 18, 2008, 11:50 pm

    Thanks for the thoughts guys.

    @Josh, okay, I can see some people might be offended by the two things being put in the same sentence, but to be fair I did mention ‘deadly working conditions’ in my list of the huge negatives of subsistence farming.

    I’d hope it’s pretty clear that I don’t think the work is at all the same — but the income very much is, which is odd when for the blogging half it’s entirely optional.

  • 6 The Smarter Wallet November 19, 2008, 3:00 pm

    Oh yeah, Monevator, I just discovered you and am quite intrigued by this post. It’s an absolutely great one! I began the blog “The Smarter Wallet” at around the same time as you… and we also have the same theme! How interesting. 🙂

    You are right about blogging being quite a difficult challenge, especially for newcomers. I have an older blog (which you commented upon and which is how I found you) called “The Digerati Life” and I’ve been blogging for 2 years now. I started on a part-time basis and in February of this year, went full time. And even with a full time schedule, I find that the ROI is not as good as say, getting a raise 😉 .

    When you think about it — newcomers are also competing with full time bloggers who pour all their energy on working on their blogs.

    I agree that the finance and make money blogging space is completely saturated right now, so unless you love compulsive writing and are prepared to write for peanuts (at least for a while), then it’s easy to be discouraged.

    To be a successful blogger, you can’t just write, you also have to be an internet marketer. And the best marketers are the ones who’ll find success with the bucks. I can’t say for sure how well a new blog will do in this environment, but I’m experimenting by having just launched my new blog “The Smarter Wallet”. I’d like to see how it fares in today’s environment. So far, it’s tracking the progress of my old blog in terms of traffic and CPM monetization (from the early days) but it remains to be seen if it will be as successful.

  • 7 The Smarter Wallet November 19, 2008, 3:27 pm

    Ooops, I thought you just started this site. My mistake. I just assumed it. To clarify, my new site is just 3 months old. Anyway, I enjoyed your post, and now I’m wondering what other blogs you run! 🙂

  • 8 Studenomics November 20, 2008, 6:44 pm

    Every new blogger needs to read this post. wow I can not believe that someone with such an established blog only earns a dollar a day. do you feel that there are not any random bloggers that make money? I know the established blogs do but there has to be some other bloggers making average money.

    The thing I agree with is that blogging should be a hobby, not a full time or even a part time job. If you enjoy writing about your niche and could imagine doing it for free forever, then blogging is for you.

  • 9 Ankit November 20, 2008, 7:46 pm

    A welcome change from the articles that make you a millionare by blogging:-)
    I love the idea of blogging for the love of writing and networking with like minded people.I can’t deny the fact that blogging helped me know the social media networks like digg,stumble upon and likes.
    however,Finance and Investing get me the kicks and i Hope Tipd becomes a digg for Finance and Investments.

  • 10 Deadly43 November 20, 2008, 11:33 pm

    I’d really like to know how any blogs make money. Maybe you should do a post on the money making tools Monevator? I actually might believe you. 🙂 (But please not too many blogging posts, 1-2 is okay but there’s 1000s of blogging blogs… Stick to investing and money, it’s more unique for you).

  • 11 Brandon J. Mendelson November 21, 2008, 7:00 am

    I couldn’t help but notice you have advertising on your blog here.

    All kidding aside, you raise some good points. I don’t agree, having done the whole blogging thing since 1999, but I can certainly understand the frustration many feel. It is very much a game of time and luck.

    But. I don’t think blogging should be ruled out entirely as a method to make money. It can be done. The trick is to do your homework (most don’t).

  • 12 The Investor November 21, 2008, 10:26 am

    Thanks again to everyone for their comments. 🙂

    To repeat myself, I’m not saying nobody will have successful blogs (or other online publishing businesses). I know some who do personally, and a few newcomers will come through again over the years.

    I’m talking about general chance and probability. Odds.

    Let’s imagine I’d written a post saying “Buying a lottery ticket will never make you rich”. Most of us would agree that the odds of winning the lottery are very, very small (about the chance as being struck by lightning here in the UK).

    There are probably 100 or more national lotteries around the world, each giving a winner a fortune ever week or month. So some people DO win the lottery. But the number is tiny compared to the millions who take part!

    For the sake of argument, let’s assume there are 50 lotteries worldwide that make new dollar millionaires every week. (A conservative estimate).

    With 52 weeks in the year, such lotteries will produce 2,600 dollar millionaires a year.

    After ten years (about as long as blogging has been around) we’d have 26,000 millionaires around to claim that, “Yes, it is really hard but some ARE lucky enough to win the lottery…”

    Would those millionaires’ comments be a reason to believe playing the lottery was now a good way to become a millionaire? No, the odds of winning the lottery would still be appalling.

    It’s the same with blogs.

    By definition, the popular blogs are very visible. There might be 100, 200, 1,000, even 10,000 blogs that make draw in Western lifestyle-changing revenue for their owners (from previous surveys I’ve read, I think 1,000 would be the very upper end of estimates, in reality).

    Anyone interested in blogging for money will see a fair portion of those and think, “Yes, this can be done”. We rarely EVEN SEE the 100 million unpopular blogs, because none of us visit, except once in a while when we bounce in and out. They’re unpopular, remember? Yet they’re probably the sort of blogs we own, too.

    To make any money without dedicating your blog to securing affiliate deals by shifting “make money” products, you need traffic to deliver significant advertising revenues (whether by clicks or impressions) or drive-by affiliate sales to the mainstream vendors in your niche (e.g. camera sales via Amazon.com).

    You need something in the order of 500,000 impressions a month. That’s an absolute fantasy for 99% of bloggers.

    I say again, blogging for money has truly terrible odds. Blog for fun, for expression, because you have to share your views – all great reasons. But don’t expect to win big, and be aware that there are thousands of others ways to make money if you’re prepared to put similar time and effort into another kind of business, and as discussed a lot here on Monevator, to save and invest for the long-term.

  • 13 The Investor November 21, 2008, 10:30 am

    @Brandon — Sure I have advertising. I have to buy my lottery ticket, right? 🙂 And of course some part of me hopes to be one of ‘the lucky few’. But I definitely don’t expect it.

    Indeed, I’ve had various comments here, via email and offline asking if I can share a few ideas for how people actually monetize a blog. I wonder have thought there was any shortage of such material, but for completeness I’ll update with pointers to some of the popular ways in the next day or two, and perhaps a line about the pros and cons.

    And yes, I’ll be including my Amazon affiliate link in the mix. Another lottery ticket that won’t come in. 😉

  • 14 Rodney@Blogging with WordPress November 21, 2008, 7:27 pm

    Good article – a little cynical, but probably very realistic. The thing to remember is that the success of those who’re banging the “you can do it” drum depends on people believing the hype, because they make their money from selling the products, as you’ve pointed out.

    Still, there are other indirect benefits of blogging – credibility, networking, etc – which can have financial spinoffs. This is probably a more achievable goal for most niche bloggers.

  • 15 MoneyEnergy September 1, 2009, 8:14 pm

    Excellent post, well said! I agree with many of these points. There are definitely easier and quicker ways to make the money you need. SVB (“The Smarter Wallet”) above has some excellent points. I’m with you on just writing (mostly) about investing-related topics – that’s my main interest, although I also write on topics which support this focus, such as the economy, emerging markets, savings, etc.

  • 16 Conrad November 5, 2009, 7:38 am

    Surely with the traffic this site gets it makes you more than a dollar a day.

  • 17 The Investor November 5, 2009, 12:02 pm

    @Conrad – Well, this post is nearly a year old and I can confirm I’m earning more than a dollar a day now. It’s up to around $5. I get more traffic than I did, but it’s a pretty smart readership that doesn’t click on Google ads for a Flat Stomach in A Week I suspect. If I could get to around 100,000 visitors a month I think there’d be a step-change, because I could probably get decent display advertising at the point. But that’s a *long* way away still.

    Bottom line: Blogging is incredibly tough, and a really stupid business to enter to make money.

  • 18 Conrad November 6, 2009, 2:22 am

    Don’t get me wrong I agree that blogging is a tough way to make money.

    I’m guessing this blog gets around 80,000 uniques a month and as it’s in the money sector it should be making a hell of a lot more than $5 a day.

    Have you considered monetising the site in a similar way bankaholic or lovemoney with best buy tables etc? This should be significantly more profitable than adsense.

  • 19 The Investor November 6, 2009, 1:08 pm

    Ah, well that’s where our maths doesn’t match Conrad – the site is doing much less than 80K UVs per month. Money sites do have a far higher CPM but the competition is outrageous. Here in the UK MoneySavingExpert and the Fool/Lovemoney seem to dominate; I don’t think UK readers respond to bloggers quite like US readers do, although I don’t kid myself I’m for everyone. 😉

    Also, I suspect I have a fairly high number of subscribers for the size of my blog, and they are pretty much un-monetisable by advertising (the Adsense in Feeds ads have made about $2 in total). I only keep the ads in so my readers won’t be shocked when I slot something more helpful in there, such as a promotion of a book I may get around to writing one day.

    Regarding comparison tables and so on, I have considered it – I approached one of the big affiliates but I was too small at the time. Perhaps I’ll go back anon. I accept that if I devoted as much time to monetizing the site as I do to writing I could increase the CPM, possibly without annoying readers, but it’s not why I blog and while the actual sums involved are so low, it hardly seems worth it. Agree that at 80,000 (my target is 100,000) or thereabouts, the effort/reward ratio changes.

    Thanks very much for your comments and suggestion.

  • 20 Financial Samurai January 28, 2010, 6:35 am

    Nice post! I’m glad I didn’t read it when i first launched last summer. Otherwise I might have been a little depressed lol.

    My main purpose of writing is just to have fun. I think the other stuff just comes later. Trust me when I tell you that once you break the Top 200,000, and then top 100,000.. you will get approached with many interesting offers. Ads, books, trips, etc.
    .-= Financial Samurai on: Someone Always Farts In A Crowd =-.

  • 21 Financial Samurai January 28, 2010, 6:36 am

    BTW, you’re right. to start a blog to make money is silly for most. But, $1,000/month is highly feasible… so that’s what, $33/day? Yes, totally doable!
    .-= Financial Samurai on: Someone Always Farts In A Crowd =-.

  • 22 The Investor January 28, 2010, 10:24 am

    @Sam – Yes, it’s not that it’s impossible to make money blogging, it’s that it’s really difficult and takes a lot of time compared to the alternatives.

    Around 13 months after I wrote this I was up to circa $10 a day in your currency. But I’ve put in hundreds if not thousands of hours to get there – my mum hit the same income point trading bits of fancy cloth on eBay after about 2 weeks! If you know about money like we do, it’s easy enough to earn in a morning what this blog earns in a month, just by writing an article for a mainstream publication.

    Even cutting lawns would be more lucrative, so far.

    If you ever make it to ‘big boy’ status obviously the equation flips, and you’re getting far more financial reward for the same amount of effort. But what a slog for most to get there (and by definition most of the millions fail to be the big blogs).

    Only worth trying if, like me, you’d do it for free anyway! 🙂

  • 23 JadeDragon January 28, 2010, 3:01 pm

    Blogging alone is almost certainly a waste of time if you want to make money. I do think though that a blog is a key part of a larger internet strategy – it provides an anchor that you tie other parts of your online business to.
    .-= JadeDragon on: eHow – A Study in Public Relations – Done All Wrong =-.

  • 24 Credit Card Chaser February 2, 2010, 5:45 am

    I would definitely second your opinion that blogging in and of itself is usually not a great money maker. I own and operate close to 1,000 different money making sites and none of them are blog only sites because in my experience a website that is just a blog is a pretty poor money maker compared to a content rich niche website that offers a useful product, service, app, etc.

    The real rub is that when people come to a blog they are likely just looking to read the newest post and then go on their merry way while a “regular” website offering a real product, service, app, etc. has a much better chance of monetizing that traffic. This is why blogs can be great things to add on to a “regular” website to better communicate with potential customers, have a free for all/informal content section, etc.

    I would disagree with your blogging/lottery ticket analogy though because while there are a million and one better ways to make money with a website IMO it is still possible to make money with a blog if you are good enough and its totally up to you because you control your destiny (i.e. if you are a really really good blogger then you will at least make a decent amount of money) where with the lottery there is no element of skill or hard work involved its pure luck.
    .-= Credit Card Chaser on: How Much Will an Apple iPad Cost if Buying on Credit? =-.

  • 25 The Investor February 2, 2010, 10:01 am

    @CCC – Thanks for the extensive insights, good to hear from someone operating on such a scale. I experimented with a couple of super niche sites and I agree that the audience response to them is very different to with a blog – and these were still informational sites. But making dozens wasn’t personally right for me.

    I take your point about the lottery ticket, and agree that a baseline level of skill and a dedication to hardwork will improve your odds when blogging whereas a lottery ticket is pure luck. (On the other hand, you could do a more cash-generative business than blogging, work hard, and buy more lottery tickets to improve your odds! 😉 )

  • 26 Kevin@InvestItWisely May 14, 2010, 4:14 pm

    Nice post; I personally would like to build up some passive income myself, but I would never do this *only* for the money. How tedious that would be! Now that your ranking is a solid 80,000, I’m wondering how you are doing lately?
    .-= Kevin@InvestItWisely on: Precious Metals Are on Fire! =-.

  • 27 Financial Samurai June 2, 2010, 1:59 am

    I have to admit… if you don’t focus on making money on your blog, it just starts coming! It’s kinda weird.

    I’m pretty sure anybody with an Alexa ranking below 100,000, and a PR of at least 2 can make US$1,000/month.. and that’s without even really trying!
    .-= Financial Samurai on: Is Becoming A Millionaire The Rule Rather Than The Exception? =-.

  • 28 The Investor June 3, 2010, 10:49 am

    @FS – Well, I continued to be at the bottom of the income generating class. My Alexa is 80,000 and my PR is 5! I also have nearly 1000 subscribers. Currently I’ve edged up to about $350 US a month, from all sources, on average.

    I know I’m not trying much with advertising. I don’t sell text links etc, for one thing, which I know reduces my income. I’ve also made little effort with affiliate sales – mainly because I know I’ll need to do some sort of geo-targeting to do it effectively. There’s no point showing UK bank deals to the many US readers out there.

    I suspect my decent subs numbers show I’m converting readers to subscribers pretty well, and they are hard to monetize unless I do a book spin-off of the blog or similar.

    I’ve shown you mine – care to share your figures? 😉

  • 29 Financial Samurai July 27, 2010, 2:31 am

    Hi Monevator – Realized I didn’t answer your question. It’s over $1,000/month, consistent with my statement that anybody with an Alexa ranking below 100,000 can earn $1,000 a month.

    We’re gonna try to boost all our income once Yakezie.com is launched as I create a consolidated ad network for members. Hope you can contribute to a post telling your story, so we can all get to know each other better.

    20 text links alone at $50 is $1,000… add on banner ads, adsense, paid posts, and you can see how it’s easy to get to $1,000/month!
    .-= Financial Samurai on: Why Are The Employed So Smug About The Unemployed =-.

  • 30 The Investor July 27, 2010, 9:00 am

    @Sam – Interesting. Yes, it seems to be text links are the way forward for low-hanging fruit style monetization. I refuse text links on the grounds that Google doesn’t like them, but I am wondering whether I’m cutting off my nose to spite my face, or whatever that weird expression is.

    Congrats on your success…and thanks for sharing those details!

    Also, I’d love to contribute a post to the new venture. I’m crazy busy at the moment (only one post on Monevator last week – eek! 🙁 ) but will carve out time to do a post for you Sam – shoot me an email if you could please saying what you need and I’ll get on it.

  • 31 Financial Samurai July 30, 2010, 3:19 am

    I don’t kow tow to Google, b/c they are all around me here in SF.

    We need more competitors to Google.

    I care little to what Google does to my site. I’m NOT focused on money, which is what I’ve said since the beginning. I give much of my proceeds away.

    What I’m focused on is education, community, and having fun. The money just came.
    .-= Financial Samurai on: The Ultimate Solution For A Fair Income Tax Policy In America =-.

  • 32 The Investor July 30, 2010, 9:26 am

    @Sam – Yes, your community/comment focused blog is one of the most Google-proof of all of us I think. As Flexo said the other day, nearly everything except community and fun comes back to Google though. Even community, potentially: Google is the main way for people to find a site they like. Perhaps fun of writing is the only thing that’s Google-independent (assuming the blogger doesn’t start altering his posts to attract Google).

    Agree more Google-rivals would be very, very welcome! Go Bing! Go Bing!

  • 33 JanS August 5, 2010, 11:27 pm

    That was a wonderful tongue and cheek piece. Much of what you said could also be put in the same basket with people trying to make money online by selling things. I find that most people will give up on online ventures after 6 months if they are not making much money. Of course that does not stop other people from trying it out too.

    I think that if blogs cost at least $500 to start up in the first place you would see a lot less of them and a higher quality. As it is now, there are millions of them and about 50% have been abandoned (not written in for years). Make money online, sure you can but you had better have some knowledge of online marketing and SEO all wrapped up and ready to go.
    .-= JanS on: Have you thought about business insurance =-.

  • 34 The Investor August 9, 2010, 9:42 am

    @JanS – Very true. In fact, I think your 50% comment is far too generous. I doubt 5% of all blogs set up are still updated, with risks to the downside in that estimate!

  • 35 Mark October 9, 2010, 10:13 am


    Our story is slightly different – we started an investment portfolio construction web service based on what we do during our daylight hours and because for us it is really necessary to push out to more of the world. We designed it to be kind of like an independent “this is how you should think about building an investment portfolio” for the masses. (So I guess this combines investing and entrepreneurship?)

    The blog we somewhat reluctantly started – reluctantly because, as you point out, internet marketing is key to it and we know nothing about it and don’t have much time, but started anyway because philosophy, thoughts and software don’t exist alone. They grow and change and develop, both based on users and improving the software itself.

    However, I absolutely agree that monetising these efforts (both pushing the software to find a commercial model (it is free) and blogging in it’s own right) is HARD. And though we’re not trying to monetise the blog directly, so our position is slightly different, the challenges of finding a soapbox high enough to get people to simply even try the software are similar!
    .-= Mark on: The 10 most important guidelines to investing =-.

  • 36 Mitz December 7, 2010, 1:17 pm

    UMMM you are kind of depressing and to be a successful blogger you need to be positive. I would not even bother reading most of this post as I do not want to learn how to be a failure at blogging… I thought you might say you were joking in the end…?
    .-= Mitz on: How Did I Increase Adsense Earnings By 500 =-.

  • 37 cashcrate review May 14, 2011, 11:15 am

    I can’t count how many terrible blogs I’ve seen with ads all over them only to get shut down on blogger. So many people out there think they’ll get rich doing it, it’s sad really.

  • 38 Daniel D'Laine September 9, 2011, 5:52 pm

    Hi, and what a great article but I don’t know which side to see it from. I both agree and disagree with it – all at the same time. However, what I’d say is that yes, I do agree that the average ‘doing nothing much’ blog earns around a dollar or two a day, but thats exactly where the money lays if you can be bothered to really get cracking. Imagine if, over a period of a few years, you had built up a thousand of these ‘doing nothing much’ blogs, all earning a dollar a day? I know of a few (long in the tooth) marketers who have over 25,000 crappy blogs, all earning a dollar or so a day, with not a fancy theme in sight. Ok, what a boring way of earning money, but after a while, when some money has been generated, ‘outsourcing’ comes into effect, which releases you from the tedious boredom of hardcore blogging to spend some time writing a blog for the fun of it. :0) Who wants to earn a $1000 a day from blogging? We all would do. Who can be botherred to write a 1000 blogs asap? Very few of us, but if you do, and you include just enough SEO to make them feature high enough in the SEPR’s including all the correct crosslinking methods, blogging ‘will’ generate you a healthy ‘passive’ income!! So, is the hard work worth it? Try it and see for yourself, but remember what I tell to all my students: If you never try it, it will never work!
    Daniel D’Laine

  • 39 Karen Bryan October 26, 2011, 1:18 pm

    I wish that there more articles like this to add a dollop of realism to aspiring bloggers reeled in by “make money blogging” ebooks/courses etc.

    I think that Monevator is going to struggle to get massive traffic because it’s very niche; it’s for pretty sophisticated investors and the UK market is pretty small.

    I’m a newbie personal finance blogger, I’ve recently diversified after 5 years travel blogging on Europe a la Carte, the last two years full time.

    One of the main things I learned from travel blogging was to focus on SEO from the inception of a blog. I’m not saying write keyword stuffed tripe but try to combine SEO with quality, unique content so you’re likely to get more traffic, which gives you more opportunity to monetise.

  • 40 DanielDLaine.com November 7, 2011, 2:30 pm

    I agree. I also think that, unless you’re just ‘niching’ (selling affiliate products on every single post) it takes at least a year or so of regular posting, just to build up ‘trustworthiness’, but if you’re in the blog game anyway, an hour or so a week to keep this up is no biggie!

    I’m still not sure about the Hot Dog Stand?? :0) Generally, people don’t want to open Hot Dog stalls, although I absolutely agree that they would make much more money than any ‘new’ blog start-up in the first six months!

    I came back to read this post again as it effectively takes you back to your blogging roots, when you probably didn’t earn any money for ages. However, the same old cliche applies… Those who stuck at it, were probably pleased they did, and for those who gave up, they’ll never know how easy it can be ‘when’ you manage to find that area of interest that people also want to buy in!

    Financial Samurai has got it right. (education, community, and having fun.).

    Blog because you want to! (That is the secret) Your blog will be better and assuming you are applying the right monetising techniques, the money will follow in due course.

    Daniel D’Laine

  • 41 The Investor November 7, 2011, 3:55 pm

    @Daniel — My blog income is now up to about 1/7th of my total income, gross. But it’s been an absolutely enormous slog over the past 4+ years! That said, with scale you finally can afford to spend some time trying to move the needle on income, and I can see some fairly low-hanging fruit that might boost my income. Watch this space, and thanks for commenting.

  • 42 DanielDLaine.com November 7, 2011, 5:11 pm

    Hi M

    Things ‘do’ eventually fall into place if you just stick at it while at the same time, not wasting too much time on it. My latest blog (the blog in this comment link) has been up for less than a year and while I have not made any ‘major’ effort to blast it all over the net, as it is intended to be a long term project, just my basic SEO and regular posting of ‘original’ and appropriate content has given me a first page on the SERP’s for my chosen keywords and a Goog page-rank of one, along with new registrations daily. All these elements, when built up to a suitable lebel, provide a sound platform for monetising – which, for long term projects like my current one, entails a lot of input – and all this is needed before you can even ‘think’ about monetising anything! An old coach of mine always said you should never apply Adsense, or similar to any site until there’s at least 800 – 1000 subscribers.


  • 43 Brande June 10, 2012, 9:40 pm

    Great stuff guys!

  • 44 Ethan's Money August 31, 2012, 3:54 pm

    This is a great article, still relevant despite the fact that it was written almost four years ago.

    As a new (and completely unmonetized!) blog, I’d be happy to earn a dollar a day, and the idea of upping my my blog income to one seventh of my total income sounds like a distant prospect.

    My blog is an evening-and-weekend hobby, a vehicle for personal expression and a tool for learning about SEO. Income (if any, ever!) would be a bonus.

  • 45 The Investor August 31, 2012, 4:05 pm

    Thanks Ethan. You can eventually make money from blogging (so good luck on that, I hope you do! 🙂 ) but my main point was and is it’s hard and slow. Now four years on (eek! where does the time go!) I’m making some reasonable money from blogging, but it’s still dwarfed by my income from other sources, let alone what I might have made if I’d started a conventional business in 2008. I do it because I enjoy it, which is the only sensible reason.

    A few mega blogs will always get a lot of headlines, but I still believe most will make peanuts.

  • 46 Lee October 7, 2012, 11:52 pm

    Hah! Great article, even written so long ago. Pleased to see that earnings have increased slightly in your comment above too.

    If you’d started a ‘conventional business’ in 2008, there’s probably a good chance it’d be bust by now – unless it was a debt collection business 🙂

    With the very same argument you put at blogging, the same could be said of starting a business “Like the lottery, everyone thinks it will be them, but for almost everyone it won’t be.”

    Don’t get me wrong, I agree with you and think I’ll be highly unlikely to make any money from my blog – but equally, I’d rather do that than break my back (again) running a business 26 hours a day and experiencing all the mood swings up and down that come with starting a business.

    Now I’m old and wis(er) running a business only makes sense if you can fit the rest of your life into it too – kids, wife, family, social etc etc.

    And just for curiosity’s sake, what would you now recommend to your own children if they were leaving school this year, given that you seem to have a great handle on money matters…?

  • 47 Dubai February 21, 2013, 1:11 pm

    Good article, little bit depressing when you have written 350 articles for your site in the last year, but am not giving up (Which may be my problem). Am off to uni next year to study 4 year degree in Digital Marketing & Social Media Marketing, so hoping might learn a few tips and tricks to get the money rolling in.

    Also, just to add, one of my sites is for Expats living in Dubai, I advertise a financial company in Dubai who sells, wills, savings plans ect ect. I make around $200 per month from that. On the other hand, I have recently gone back to Google adds and now earn $0.10 per day if I am lucky. So the one advice I can give you is Affiliate Programs are defiantly the way, NOT GOOGLE ADS! One last tip to bloggers who are still trying, add a privacy policy, I don’t know why but as soon as I added a privacy policy on my site, the traffic I got from Google in the space of 2 days went up an extra 150 hits per day.

    Best of luck to all, and yes, blogging is NOT AT ALL EASY TO MAKE MONEY FROM, writing an article is easy, getting the traffic is not.

  • 48 Financial Samurai February 21, 2013, 5:54 pm

    Wow, has this post been up for more than 4 years now? Incredible!

    Gotta say, I took the leap of faith after 3 years of blogging and after spending 8 months full-time on this crazy thing, I can say for certain anything is possible.

    Just write good consistent content and all is good!


  • 49 The Shoestring Investor April 26, 2013, 10:06 pm

    I think this article is very good and agree with a lot of what’s in it. However, I think there is one thing that you may have overlooked – and something I’m sure you’ve experienced, especially since your blog has clearly grown. It is the effect that an online presence can have on opportunities that might arise from it. For example, my blog is relatively new, but already by merely just having my own domain address to send emails from I’ve attracted intrigue in my project, when someone has then gone to read my about my project they have liked what I’m trying to do and offered me free mentoring and sales training – worth hundreds of pounds. I appreciate that there is also something in it for the person who has offered this in some ways but it is mutually beneficial. Whilst I don’t get many hits, if I hadn’t have had an online presence he never would have known about what I’m doing and I never would have got that opportunity.

  • 50 CHoPSTiX July 12, 2013, 2:17 pm

    This reminds me of the music industry, except unlike bloggers the worst players are usually at the top…
    Luckily most people don’t start producing music in hopes of becoming rich and famous, at least in my experience.

  • 51 Jonathan August 10, 2017, 5:34 pm

    Welsh-language blogs, maybe?

  • 52 Foxy Michael March 5, 2018, 1:00 pm

    10 years later, has anything change since you wrote this article, Monevator?

    The difference between farm workers and bloggers that make money is in the equity they build. I agree, you equally earn a dollar per day. But your output is totally different. You’re putting exponentially more value into an asset compared to the crops the farmer will sell for a fixed profit.

    Blog effort is compounded and farm pay is linear!

    I think if people want to make money from blogging they should first treat it like a business. Create a media kit, focus on promoting it, hire a VA for social growth, leave useful comments on other blogs etc.
    Secondly, they should figure out what other successful people are doing. You know… hunting for (ethical) sponsored posts, place better-than-Google ads etc.

    I’ve been blogging for about a year now and I’m happy with the journey. I’m not, however, doing as much as I should to make it grow fast.

    But I agree, it’s getting harder compared to 10 years ago! And it’s probably more profitable to build a for-profit online business, but will you like it? 😉

  • 53 Banker On FIRE October 7, 2019, 3:24 pm

    One of the best articles I read in a long time. As an investment banker, spending my time on running a blog is absolute madness, financially speaking. Of course, the real payoff is having an escape valve from my job. That in itself is worth all the money in the world 🙂

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