News Flash: If You Think That You’re Going to Make Money Off a Blog You’re Fooling Yourself

Is There Any Money for the Little Blogger?

In the past two days I’ve been contemplating two important ideas that make me feel very uncomfortable about what I’ve done and what I plan to do with this site.

This is a very good thing.

The first idea can be summed up in two sentences.

Make something remarkable.
Make something worth talking about.

This idea comes from Seth Godin. If you aren’t reading him you should be. Read everything he writes. Start with this free e-book.

Is Your Blog Remarkable?

Trust me, it’s not. Mine sure isn’t. Almost none are, and making a remarkable blog gets harder every day.

If your blog is just writing on a web page posted in a reverse chronological order, then the chances of it being remarkable and worth talking about are slim to none. It doesn’t matter how good the writing is or how many images and gimmicks you throw in. They’ve all been done ad nauseam.

These days, everyone and they’re mother has a plan to make money blogging. The market is saturated. Look at how many popular posts you see on the social sites about blogging, WordPress, building traffic, and making money off a blog. An entire niche (and a big one) has sprung up to cater to the masses of wannabe probloggers who think they are entrepreneurs but are actually consumers.

These days writing a blog (even a very good one) is far from remarkable. Too many people are already doing it. Readers have short attention spans and a small amount of time to read. Why should they read you? There are more established options. People want to read what other people are reading and talking about.

This is a reality check for neophyte bloggers who read an inspiring post (possibly by Steve Pavlina) and assumed starting a blog was the fast track to financial independence. All you have to do is follow the formula, stick with it for a year or two, and you’re sure to make it big.

Guess what. The rules of the game have changed since Steve and others made it big. When they started, the niche they entered was virtually empty. Right now it’s about to burst and the top positions are already taken. Even if the popularity of blogs continues to grow, the rich will keep getting richer and the late comers will still be fighting for scraps.

And who can blame us for wanting a piece of the action? There are hundreds of sites that post all the keys to blogging success. I’m not saying this information isn’t valid (I’m sure it is), but doing what everyone else is doing to build traffic and readership isn’t going to make your blog remarkable. The big blogs are leveraging their success so attract more follower blogs; little bloggers that read and link to the bigs boys but will never amount to much themselves.

Being remarkable is going to take more than just a blog, because everyone else is already blogging. This brings me to the second idea that opened my eyes.

Are You an Opportunity Seeker or an Entrepreneur?

Did you decide to start blogging after reading that it was a great way to generate income? Do you have a long term strategy to generate income from your blog other than building traffic and putting up ads? If it takes you longer than 5 seconds to answer the second question you aren’t an entrepreneur, you’re an opportunity seeker.

Opportunity seekers are people who do what everyone else is doing to make money i.e. bloggers trying to build traffic and make money from AdSense. Entrepreneurs actually have a strategy to make money that they are constantly optimizing. Opportunity seekers are doomed to fail because a) they’re doing the same thing as everyone else and b) they spend more time looking for new opportunities than they do building a business.

I have to thank Rich Schefren for making me realize that I’ve been an opportunity seeker and not an entrepreneur. His internet business manifesto opened my eyes to this critical distinction. Without realizing this I probably would’ve been doomed to failure.

But now that I know, and now that you know too, we can stop being opportunity seekers and start forming a strategy. The great thing is that we’ve figured this out now. Instead of constantly looking for the next opportunity we can start focusing our energy on making something remarkable and developing a strategy to make it pay.

Don’t Stop Blogging

If you think the point of this article is to convince you to stop blogging you are missing the point. Keep blogging, it’s a great way to build brand, have a conversation with potential customers, and promote your ideas. But don’t think that blogging alone is going to make much money. You need to build something remarkable and you need to have a strategy.

So how do you make something remarkable? Well that’s the hard part.

You can expect big changes around this site. But don’t worry, this blog isn’t going anywhere.

  • http://www.theprobabilist.com The Probabilist

    Nice counterattack.

    Is the market saturated? Hardly, that’s an illusion that builds up when a blogger gets exposed of the blogosphere for a while.

    Does it take a great deal of effort and time to make significant income? Definitely.

    Am I an entrepreneur or opportunity seeker? Both, one has to start as a seeker of what already is so that you can innovate and optimize where there’s room and imbalance in the market.

    Is Rich Schefren right? Very much so. If you want to make the big bucks you don’t want to be the guy who does it all in your biz.

    Can blogging be a fun way to add another stream of income? Yes, and that’s my goal – it’s not something one should depend upon.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    The market probably isn’t completely saturated, but it’s heading that way. Most of the blogs I see have been up less than six months, but almost all the ‘top’ blogs have been up for at least a year or two. The chances of making it to the top, even with hard work, are going down.

    In the end we’re basically in agreement. Blogging is a great thing to do, but not a complete strategy.

  • http://themicrobusinessexperiment.blogspot.com John K

    Hi, I loved this post. Thanks for pointing out the Internet Manifesto as well! The one thing I COMPLETELY agree with is the concept of finding ways to stop trading your time for money. This is a theme that has cropped up time and time again for me.

    I have started a blog about this concept at themicrobusinessexperiment.blogspot.com While I’m not actually hoping to make any money off the blog, I’m hoping I can use it as a way to trade ideas with like minded individuals.

    Again, great post and I wish you lots of luck in your quest.

    John

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Thanks, John, if you realize blogs are all about sharing ideas you’re on the right track. Best of luck, there will certainly be enough competition.

  • http://geniustypes.com Brian Lee

    You’re right, John. There’s a whole lot of Steve Pavlina clones around and it’s getting crowded.

  • http://www.todayisthatday.com/blog/ Aaron M. Potts

    I know I am in good company when I come across one of my own favorites (The Probabilist) on the comment list for someone else’s blog.

    However, in a rare bout of disagreeing with the blog host, I have to state my opinion as being that the market is NOT saturated. We get what we believe we are going to see, and if you think that the market is saturated, then you will see exactly that.

    Are there a bunch of “big wigs” who have a lot of the market share right now? You betcha! But those same big wigs will point out that the key to making money with a blog is quality, unique content delivered over the long-term.

    In my humble (and barely 6-month old) opinion, there is no such thing as saturation. There is only an individual’s belief about what they perceive to be happening.

    Personally, I perceive a need to continue to make my blog a place worth visiting over the long-term, and that evolving with the state of the industry will be the key to both financial and personal success.

    Big props out to all bloggers who are doing what it takes to succeed – regardless of whether or not they are seeing the results of that effort in their paycheck.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    You’re right about the key being quality content, but what about when there are 20 sites offering quality content on the same subject? How about 100? Why should they read you?

    There is definitely still room for success, but with all the attention blogs have been getting the bar for remarkable has been raised.

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Great post, John. I’ve been thinking about it for a while.

    The situation now reminds me of what I read in Blue Ocean Strategy. Many blogs in the blogosphere seem to be “fighting” in the “red ocean”, especially because it is very easy to switch from one blog to another.

    What we need is going to the “blue ocean” – an uncontested market space – which is by being different and remarkable. It’s not easy though. I’m still in the “red ocean” myself.

  • http://www.todayisthatday.com/blog/ Aaron M. Potts

    John,

    I’ll respond to the question of what happens when there are a lot of blogs offering content on the same subject by agreeing 100% with what Donald just said – that blogs need to be different and remarkable.

    Believe me, I see the “sameness” of blogs day in and day out in my niche because I refer to those blogs for content ideas, link exchanges and trackbacks, and for my own education.

    After awhile, it all starts to blend together, though. I definitely see the need for bloggers to find ways to do it better and/or differently than other bloggers in any given arena.

  • http://alexshalman.com/blog Alex Shalman

    I am going to stick to the principle of abundance on this one. Also, I noticed most of the people commenting have personal development blogs, since I read them all, but I didn’t know it was all about market and money. Sure, that’s a nice side effect, but if you could help just one person change their life around with your ideas, isn’t it worth it?

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    You’re right Alex, it isn’t all about money at all. If we wanted money alone, we’d probably choose a different niche than personal development.

    But that doesn’t mean most of us don’t dream about generating enough income to devote all our time to blogging.

  • http://alexshalman.com/blog Alex Shalman

    Why would you devote ALL your time to blogging? If you are so passionate about personal development that you want it to be the primary focus of your life then why not coach people, why not public speak, why not do TV, why not do it all? Blogging is just one medium through which to communicate.

    Look at public speaking and personal development now; look at how many people are making millions. As long as you have good ideas that work and help people you will be heard and you will generate income for the value you bring.

  • http://www.todayisthatday.com/blog/ Aaron M. Potts

    For me personally, I feel very strongly about helping people, and all of the blogging, article writing, and product creation that I do is with that primary goal in mind.

    However, another very high priority mission for me is to be able to spend a lot of time with my friends and family who live all over the U.S. That is why – at least right now – I am purposely steering AWAY from coaching, public speaking, etc.

    Yes, your Bob Proctor’s and James Arthur Ray’s are making millions, but they also have a very hectic travel schedule that is largely dictated by the timing of events that are created by other people or organizations.

    As a full-time blogger, you can do your job literally anywhere in the world where you can get an Internet connection, and you can do it for as much or as little time as you feel is necessary to succeed with the primary goal of helping others.

    Besides, on a financial note for other people, not everyone is going to have the funds to hire a coach, attend seminars, etc., at least not until they have succeeded with some of the personal development systems that they learned about by reading blogs that didn’t cost them a dime.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    I miss wrote when I said ‘all their time to blogging’ what I meant is devoting less time to hourly wage employment.

    The last thing the world needs is more full time PD professionals.

  • http://alexshalman.com/blog Alex Shalman

    @Aaron,

    There are countless other ways to make money online other than blogging. Things that you could do from anywhere that has an internet connection.

    Somethings you will be able to do just by following footsteps of people that made it, others you will have to create on your own. Perhaps combining $500 from blogging, another $500 here and $1000 there, etc. for the month will get you a salary that you will be happy with.

    Btw, I think it was Stephen Covey that decided to refuse public speaking on the weekends, which is when most events are, in order to devote time to his family. Guess what? His customers understood and respected this and worked around his schedule. Besides, if you’re constantly traveling around the U.S. you could spend a day or two after the event with the friends and family.

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  • Brandy

    Hi there!Okay yes,I admit I did just read Steve article and yes,I was inspired,but what if you have a blog where the subject matter is pretty much untouched(I researched) and there IS a GREAT demand and you ARE passionate about it and devoted to it and there could be an incredible market,should I go forth in my efforts to work hard and make my(blog) as Big & Wonderful as it can be? I’m a newbie and any knowledgable help would be much appreciated. By the way,I love YOUR blog!
    Brandy

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Brandy – The last thing I intended to do with this post was discourage people. If you believe there is a market and it’s something you’re passionate about, by all means, start your blog!

    Just don’t count on blogging as a big income generator. Aside from Steve and a few others, there aren’t many people getting rich off blogging. If you want make a living from your site, you should think about creating a business complimented by your blog.

  • http://www.positivityblog.com Henrik Edberg

    Interesting discussion and perspective amongst all the hoopla of putting up a blog and slapping on some adsense. And thanks for the link to Shifrin´s page.

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  • Sir Anonymous

    There is an aching need for a good personal development blog, something like Steve Pavilina’s site before he went nu age.

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