The Hard, Cold Reality About Money And Blogging

Glenn Reynolds wrote a column about making money by blogging and a lot of blogs including The Anchoress, La Shawn Barber, and Riehl World View are talking about it.

Here’s my two cents.

I first started a gaming page back in early 1999, moved on from there to a humor zine in late 1999, and started RWN in early 2001. That was a long time back, huh? But, despite putting in countless hours, the first time I ever made $100 in a month was either late 2003 or early 2004 (My memory is foggy).

Think about that: spending hours per day, day in and day out, even though you don’t have all that many people reading you and could be making 10 times more by just flipping burgers at minimum wage. Unless you’re a Michelle Malkin or a Hugh Hewitt who has already paid your dues elsewhere, that’s likely what you’re going to have to endure — even if you’re talented — to draw eyeballs.

The reason I point that out isn’t to discourage people from blogging, it’s just to make sure that they understand what it takes to even get up to the level I’m at — and, if I may be so frank — I’m still a peon compared to people like Reynolds and Malkin who both literally have audiences more than 10 times bigger than mine.

So, if you’ve been slogging away for a year or two and still don’t have that many readers, it’s not because there’s a good old boys’ club, not because the “A-listers” won’t link you, not because of sexism, racism, or any other, “ism,” it’s because it’s hard and it takes a long time, even if you have what it takes to get big. Incidentally, some people don’t have what it takes. They can blog for the next hundred years and they’ll still be at a few hundred readers, their mom, and whatever traffic Google sends over. That’s life.

In any case, just understand that if you don’t love blogging so much that you’ll happily do it for free, then it’s probably not for you. That’s because…

#1) The odds are heavily against your building an audience (Look at the number of bloggers out there (27 million blogs created) and the number that have, let’s say, 1000 daily readers (probably 1000-2000 across the entire blogosphere — tech, political, gossip, etc.)

#2) If you don’t enjoy blogging so much you’ll do it for free, you’ll never hang in there long enough to get big and make any money at it.

Is that too blunt for some people? Maybe. But, guess what? Everything I just wrote? I knew it before I ever got started. That’s why I figure the least I can do is let new bloggers look at the facts behind the hype around blogging and let them make their own decisions with their eyes wide open.

PS: Let me add one more thing so this post doesn’t come off as being too negative: I can’t speak for anyone else, but blogging for a living is a lot of fun. It’s something I loved doing so much that it became a hobby and I got good enough at my hobby to eke out a living at it.

It’s all the sweeter because it was such an uphill climb and because I remember, week after week, putting in 40-50-60 hours when I still had a full-time job. I remember going night after night, getting 4-5 hours sleep, because I had to put in the time on the blog and work. I remember being told, “Gee, if you quit the blog and put in the same hours at a part-time job, you could make a bundle.” By the way — you want to know how many people ever believed I would be doing this for a living in, let’s say, 2000? Here’s a hint: there was only one and you’re reading him right now.

Granted, I’m not making a lot of money — yet. But, I get up when I want, I go to bed when I want, I write what I want, I don’t answer to a boss, and I love what I’m doing so much that I literally hope to keep doing this until I keel over and die at the ripe old age of 118. As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to a job, it doesn’t get much better than that.

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