Should I Blog for Money?

Speak with bloggers every day who have heard the stories of blogs that make big dollars and who want to try to make an income from blogging also. One of the pieces of advice that I attempt to convey (and I’m afraid it doesn’t always get through) is that it’s worth pausing, before running out to slap ads on your blog, to ask yourself whether making money from your blog is right for you.
While this might seem to be a silly question to some (what’s wrong with earning money?) I think it’s worth at least asking the question.
Not every blog is suited to blogging for money...

Does it Fit with Your Blog’s Goals and Objectives – For me a lot of the advice that I’ve given in this series of blogging for beginners comes down to working out some goals, strategy and vision for your blog (I’ve written extensively on strategic blogging here so won’t unpack this now). There are many reasons why people blog and the motivation of money is just one of them. Here’s some of the responses I had when I asked why people blog:
‘I blog for recreational purposes – to help me relax’
‘I blog as part of my plan for world domination’
‘I blog to help me promote my book/business’
‘I blog to keep a record of the life and times of me’
‘I blog because I want to help others’
‘I blog to because I’m lonely and want to connect with others’
‘I blog to pick up cute girls/guys’
‘I blog because it’s fun’
‘I blog because I want to build profile – I want to be known’
‘I blog to make a living’

Now there is nothing wrong with blogging for more than one reason – but bloggers considering adding income streams to their blogs need to consider the possibility that there are implications of going in that direction that MIGHT impact their other goals.
Let me share some scenarios of real cases that I’ve come across (no names given) where putting ads on a blog wasn’t a good idea. If I were a betting man I’d say that they represent the story of many bloggers and that others could add more scenarios:

Scenario 1: Business Blogs – I remember one blogger who added contextual advertising to their Business Blogs (blogs which had primary goals of promoting a business’s services) only to find that the ads that were served to their blogs were for other businesses in their field who they were competing with. While they could block some of the ads they found that more ads replaced them. In the end they felt it was better to remove the ads and keep the focus on themselves.

Scenario 2: Reader Uproar – Another blogger who I have been talking with recently told me the story of the day she added impression based ads to her blog and created a mutiny among her readers who were angry that she’d gone that route. While on some blogs reader ownership are not very high, there are other blogs where for one reason or another that readers take great offense to bloggers changing the rules midstream – especially when it comes to ads. Depending upon the community levels and the way you introduce the ads you can end up losing readership and you need to consider whether the benefits of the income will outweigh the costs of fewer readers.

Scenario 3: Money Obsession – Perhaps one of the saddest examples that comes to mind is of a blogger who had been running a really interesting and reasonably successful blog (I wouldn’t call him an A-lister but he had a small loyal following) who got bitten by the ‘money from blogging’ bug so badly that it ended up killing his blog. Ultimately he ended up deleting a lot of his archives (the ones that had no income earning potential) and slapping so many ads onto his blog that it was hard to find any content. He ended up only ever writing on topics that he thought were ‘earners’. In doing so he lost the vast majority of his readership and ended up with a pretty poor blog. Greed took over.

Scenario 4: Poor Conversion and Clutter – A number of bloggers come to mind who have announced that they are fed up with ads on their blogs largely because the payoff has not been worth giving the space over to the ads. Ads do add another element of clutter to your blog and if the conversion isn’t sufficient they can seem quite pointless. This varies from blogger to blogger and sometimes comes down to the type of ad chosen and the topic that they are writing about – but it’s one of the main reasons I see bloggers taken ads off their blogs.

Scenario 5: Reputation – My last example is of a blogger who was blogging to build his own reputation in an industry. He’d been blogging for a number of months and was slowly become better known (although had a way to go). His problem started when he started promoting affiliate products that he’d had no knowledge of and which (he later found out) were actually ripping people off. In doing so he ended up doing the exact opposite to what he’d set out to do – he destroyed his own reputation.
I’m aware that this post has a somewhat negative tone to it and don’t want to disillusion readers too much. On the flip side of these stories of bloggers who found that blogging for money is not the answer for everyone are many more stories of bloggers who have found ways to supplement their income via blogging (and even a few stories of bloggers who now blog full time).

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