Orange tree in pot in Mediterranean

Why Blogging Will Probably Never Make Me Any Money

 

There are basically two reasons people get into blogging: to have an online ‘journal’ of sorts, a record for themselves or a future generation, and/or to make money. It is quite true you can make money blogging, possibly a lot of money. But like most areas of life, the super successful people are the minority.

I love blogging, clearly, as I’ve been doing it for coming up on 7 years.

However, blogging can also be tough, and time consuming, and even the best of us get burnt out sometimes. That’s why I’m even more impressed by those who have the grit, talent, and determination to make a real income from blogging, perhaps even enough to retire and live off of.

Sadly, I have come to terms with the fact that that is simply not me.

I will not publish blogging income reports, because I don’t have any.

And I’m okay with that. Want to know why?

I’m bad at niches

As any long-time reader can tell you, I write about a LOT of different things. I’ve written posts about why asparagus makes your pee smell, all about breastfeeding, delayed onset muscle soreness,Β how to make a $10 holiday wreath, affordable destination wedding planning, and so much more.

But the internet tells new bloggers “the riches are in the niches”

This essentially means that the best way to make a profitable blog or webpage is to find an underutilized niche and target it relentlessly.

That way you know the people reading are interested enough to probably buy from you (or your sponsors/affiliates).

But I don’t do focus.

I don’t do boxes.

I cannot fully call myself a “food blogger”, nor can I really call myself a “FIRE blogger”.

I’m not a “food blogger” because I don’t have a fancy camera with zoom and ‘soft focus lenses’, hundreds of dollars worth of pretty props, I don’t use Instagram, and I suck at Pinterest so far.

I just like food. And writing about it.

variety of vegetables

I’m not a “FIRE blogger” because I write about a lot more than just how to make or how to save money, I don’t have a budget, or an FI number, or obsessively track and/or share my net worth.

I just like money. And writing about it.

And I’m okay with that.

Because this blog is definitely for all you guys, I want to share my lessons, meal plans, money saving tips, and life story. And I want to hear your comments, ideas, and stories too! We have some great discussion points in the comments and offline.

But, this blog is also for me. It is fun. It is a creative outlet. It is a recipe book and record of my life for posterity.

And it’s mine.

So I’mma write about whatever I want to, and you can’t stop me!

I hate advertisements

Most sites that make money, are not making money on the content itself. The top sources of income are paid courses / items (like cookbooks), and advertisements / affiliate programs.

I personally get very annoyed at a site cluttered with ads.

To be honest, several old favorites of mine I have completely stopped going to, because they sold out and put up tons of ads.

If I can’t read an article on my phone because there are so many ads loading it slows it waaaaay down, we are done.

If I get more than one popup per page, we are done.

If I try to click the little X to close the ad and it somehow takes me to a video of a new car Honda is trying to sell me, we are done.

So, if it annoys me so much, why would I do that to my own readers?

laptop reflection on white desk

I have only a few loyal readers, and I want to keep you guys happy! So to me, a couple bucks a month is not worth it.

Bye bye, blog income!

I refuse to plug goods/services I don’t use

Sponsored posts or affiliate programs is another way to make money blogging. Basically a company pays the writer some amount of money to write about how awesome their product or service is.

I have done a few of these, for example the Keurig cold brew, or Walmart Grocery To Go.

I do honest reviews all the time, and these are usually not paid.

But I will not make big money, because I will only do honest reviews of things, places, or products I actually have and use and like (for example the Tea Spot Steep & Go. Love that thing).

I tried to do Amazon Affiliates.

Apparently averaging 700 daily page views isn’t enough to get clicks and purchases, because I think I made a total of $4 before they kicked me out.

Yup, if you don’t make them enough money and/or have enough clicks per year, they can terminate your agreement and kick you out.

Oh well.

I’ve been approached by a few places to be a “brand ambassador”.

But I have some pretty strong opinions when it comes to food, and I’m not just going to write about how awesome your sausage or cheese or fancy sauces are. Not even for hundreds of dollars.

Our ‘food system’ is misleading enough, I don’t want to influence people to eat and drink things I honestly think are terrible for you.

I think the more whole foods and fewer labels in your life, the better your health will be.

And companies won’t pay me to say that.

 

 

What do you think, is it worth the trouble and potential dishonesty to make money as a blogger? Do you make money blogging in a better way that any of these?
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42 thoughts on “Why Blogging Will Probably Never Make Me Any Money”

  1. I think blogging has definitely been a worthwhile experience; I also make nearly nada on the blog. Every few months I get a small check from Google Adsense, although I’d love to eventually take the ads down. I do think there’s value in writing reviews about things that you use in day-to-day life that people are curious about (ie. I’m putting together a review of Roomba).

    The best way to make money from blogging, at least in my experience, is selling digital products. It’s non-spammy and gives readers value. It also keeps costs low by selling digital content instead of physical inventory.

    1. Oh, absolutely worthwhile! The amount of knowledge I’ve gained and the awesome people I’ve interacted with is worth every dime of years of hosting fees πŸ™‚
      I don’t mind a few in sidebars or scatter throughout pages, as long as they aren’t distracting or tons of popups. Yours are barely noticeable! I hate the video auto-play ones though, ugh. And reviews are totally useful. I don’t lie about my free Keurig for reviewing it, and I’m still using it to this day.
      Agreed with the digital products. I’ve found for me personally, the time and effort of developing and polishing them hasn’t really paid off, versus just creating posts. I love your digital cookbook! I will make macaroons someday, I swear it.

    1. Thanks Angela! You’re definitely in my “Top 10 People I’m Super Excited I Met Via Blogging/Twitter”! Maybe top 3 πŸ˜‰ Glad you understand and agree. My ‘thing’, is everything haha

  2. I agree with Angela and Mrs PP on all their points and your points! I’m not sure how some bloggers do it but I can’t…

    Oh wait…I don’t career with everything…people say for Google niche matters but it’s different for Pinterest. If you wanted go Pinterest route, it’s just under general lifestyle or something which covers a ton.

      1. Anything food related is good on Pinterest. They’re a more self serving community, they like things/posts with results! It’s a cool place. They like step by step actions and results in saving money. Not my crazy philosophizing.

        1. Thanks Lily! I really really need to get into it… I think I’ve just built it up in my mind to a point of it seeming impossible by now. Since I’ve not been ‘in the game’ for so many years, I feel like I’ll be starting off very behind.

  3. Thanks for this! Its great grating this perspective and it needs to be shared more. I have broken even on my blog (thanks to my two personal capital referrals) so far, and starting my blog has helped me see through the marketing more. I definitely treat my blog as a hobby that I’m dedicated to, so I don’t stress that I make no profit.

    1. Oh gosh, Mrs. Kiwi you’re making me blush. Thanks for the kind words. Congrats on breaking even, that may be the goal I shoot for, if anything. I definitely consider it a fun hobby rather than ‘side hustle’ as well.

  4. I think there are more reasons to start a blog than the ones you’ve listed. Some people really DO want to help people. Although I don’t think reasons for starting a blog really need to be justified.

    I’ve had blogs that I kept to myself. No comments, no talking to other bloggers. Nothing. They were just portfolio projects. No regrets. But I also didn’t spend a lot of time on them, so it was a fun hobby.

    With my current blog I spend a lot of hours working on it and trying hard to add value. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to find natural ways to monetize. And I do think there are ways to monetize without being sleazy. You don’t have to pitch products you don’t like or use, etc. I also personally don’t mind ads, and neither do my friends (who are a similar target audience). I was just on Smitten Kitchen blog, and I kinda doubt people stop visiting because her site has ads on it.

    But you do you! There isn’t one right way to do a blog, so those who monetize and look down on those who don’t kinda suck. Likewise, those who think they’re holier-than-thou because they don’t monetize aren’t that awesome either…

    1. You’re absolutely right Luxe. It is 100% apparent how much work and research and love goes into each and every one of your posts, all your views and organic growth is well deserved and earned. Though I agree, you don’t need to justify your blog. But if your aim is to entertain as well as educate, you’re nailing it. And you are definitely right about there being plenty of way to monetize ‘without being sleazy’, especially and as long as you are still up front with readers about those avenues. Everyone needs to do what works for them and their own comfort levels/goals/target audience.

  5. I started my blog with the idea of sharing my FI journey and things that I have learned along the way. Making money was never a focus. Since then I have been able to connect with so many PF bloggers and it has been amazing making friends that have the same mindset on so many fronts.

    Yes I have a few ads on my blog and I offer a coaching service. But the main focus isn’t to make money. I agree with you, don’t ever pitch products that you don’t use. And I for one am sick tired of all these “start a blog with so-and-so” and “use personal capital” affiliate posts.

    1. I think a lot of FI blogs are exactly that, sharing a person’s journey. I think that’s what draws us to them as well, because humans are naturally voyeuristic, and we can safely type so many more things we wouldn’t be comfortable sharing with a stranger in real life. That’s probably why we connect so strongly as well, because we can be so real and vulnerable. I would honestly say a handful of my best friends now are people I’ve not met in person (yet).
      Glad to see it seems everyone is pretty much on the same page, a few ads are fine but don’t be overwhelming and don’t lie/be fake. Coaching services are totally legit, you have skills and knowledge other people want and are willing to pay you for. No shame in monetizing that! Your blog can be just the thing to bring you a perfect fit client whose life you can change for the better.

    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective Steve! I have to keep my competitive nature under lock and key as well. If I start playing the comparison game there is no end but sadness, so don’t go down that road. Just keep on keeping on!

  6. You are right!
    A lot of people start blogging because of the income buzzword. Some people make it sound like it’s a click away. If you turn around, you’ll find quite attractive income reports. But those bloggers doing this have gone a long way. They also focus on niches to monetize. Going general will hardly generate any substantial income.

    You are being real and thanks for that

    1. Mmmhmm indeed. It can become income for sure, but people don’t realize the amount of work and strategy and time that takes to get there. A lot of blogs just … peter out, but most who carry on for a long time it is a labor of love, a hobby they just get a lot of value from personally. Or as Luxe pointed out, they have a genuine passion for educating and helping others. Gotta keep it real! We’re all just humans doing stuff. πŸ™‚

  7. Haha! My last non-Groovy Ranch update post was about dingleberries. So, yeah, I’m not in this for the money. Thank you for writing this, BE. I feel the exact same way and I’m glad someone had the moxie to say. Cheers.

  8. I’m with you on this. I’ve thought a lot this year about where I want to take my blog, and what I want to do with it. I see people earning thousands of dollars a month, and while it’d be cool, I’m not sure that’s really the direction I want to take this anymore.

    I like writing about what I want to write about. I have the occasional article that can promote an affiliate pretty well, but I don’t try to add affiliate links all over the place. I keep my ads to a pretty bare minimum – enough to pay for hosting and a bit more, but nothing extreme.

    In the end, your blog needs to be what YOU want it to be. If it’s not that, it’s not worth your time.

  9. I agree with pretty much everything you’re saying.

    I guess I’m still kind of hoping I might make some money.. Enough for it to pay for itself at least! But, like you, I don’t think I will be able to stick to one topic. It will probably be a bit all over the place.

    I’m hoping to meet like minded people. It’s so difficult to meet people in person and my ruralness doesn’t help. And as you said, were going to be more open here than we would be in person most of the time. Someone can get to know me a little bit better and decide if they want to keep reading! I’m not sure how I would transition that into any potential real life friendships.. But I guess I’ll see how that goes.

    Lastly, on slinging products. I feel my career puts me uniquely positioned to do that. But I just can’t. I know of other pharmacists making lots of money selling supplements and all kinds of bullshit. I would have to sell my soul first.

    Keep it up. If it makes you happy that’s all that matters! But don’t hate me if I ad some ads. πŸ˜€

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I can totally understand what you’re saying about meeting people, I even wrote a whole article on finding your tribe as an adult in today’s age. It can certainly be difficult, esp if you’re rural and not around lots of potential friends. That’s one reason the internet is a beautiful thing! I love the PF space because we are on the whole really cool, really supportive people! I’m glad you’re here.
      This is true, anyone in a medical/drug related field could so easily go to the ‘dark side’… way to resist! Living your values can be hard at times. If you need to put up a few ads to keep the electricity on, I won’t judge πŸ˜‰

  10. I think a lot of us write for the reasons you suggest – leaving something for posterity, our own personal growth, the act of writing as a way of thinking our thoughts through and sharing them with the world or leaving them for family. I’ve only just found your blog but love that you blog about what you like, food, money etc. My blog is mainly about FIRE but I have a few food posts too. I have a post on triathlons which I tried to relate to personal finance. I was talking with a close friend about how slow my blog has grown and she just looked at me and said “you’ve never blogged for money or readers, you always did it for the love of writing”. She’s probably right. Thank god monetising love isn’t necessary to enjoy it!

    1. What a smart friend you have! The majority of us are here just to share stories and our passions, and most genuinely want to help others. That’s why I love the PF community so much! Glad we’ve now found each other πŸ™‚

  11. Right there with you. We have some minor ads to make it a cost neutral hobby. Otherwise financially I expect nothing. My goals are more to have someone to converse with on finance since no one in my real life has that interest.

  12. I am getting ready to celebrate year 3. And I have made…wait for it…$300. I did two sponsored posts that I really believed in for companies who let me write my own content. One even let me choose my own topic entirely!

    So, yeah, I’m in the hole pretty deep in terms of hosting and domains and FinCon. But it’s fine. It means I can walk away when I need to and have something that’s completely mine.

    Who knows. Maybe we’ll all be millionaires if we keep trucking. Glad you’re in this space, friend!

  13. I’m throwing a few Amazon affiliate links at the wall to see if it’ll stick (hah did you see what I did there with that food joke?!? πŸ˜‰ ) but that’s in the hopes of maybe covering my hosting, let alone any other blog expenditures like hopefully FinCon. While I absolutely LOVE the idea of making a few thousand a month from blogging and thus being able to step away from my job I suspect that isn’t going to happen. And that’s okay. Blogging’s a fun hobby right now!

  14. I can’t believe you got kicked out of Amazon Affiliates with 700 page views a day. That’s great traffic, I see an Amazon Fresh link on your right rail, perhaps that’s a different program?

    I hope to cover my hosting costs at some point, and maybe make a little extra. But I’m not shooting “to go big” nor do I want to smatter ads all over. I’m like you, I stop reading the blogs that take it too far. One or two ads if not intrusive are okay and I’m considering. But I want more control than what many of the companies seem to give on what gets displayed.

    1. Yes, the Amazon Affiliates is links to products and you get a tiny %. The Amazon Fresh is a referral I think I get a flat rate if anyone actually signs up (no one has so I don’t know how much) and that one has no limits or expirations, that I know of.

  15. A great honest post, I loved reading it. And I think your mix of articles is spot on!

    I’m not in it to make money, and monetising just looks like a lot of work, with a whiff of selling out. It’s not for me personally.

  16. This is a great post! I’m also surprised that Amazon Affiliates booted you off with 700 pageviews! I tried Amazon Affiliates too and it seems quite difficult (and I also got booted off).

    I think that bloggers are amazing- they spend hours and hours on their blogs and if it gets them a bit of money (I used to make 4 figures a month on my previous blog) it really helps. It helps reward you for the effort that you are putting in (e.g. 20 hours a week). Especially for SAHM or SAHD who want the flexibility to stay home and earn a bit of money (perhaps this is why there are so many mommy blogs!).

    1. Thank you sir! I’m glad you stopped by. It does seem like AA would only work if you already had a very large readership that trusts your opinions on products, and then actually clicks through and buys things.
      Yes I agree, if you put in the time and effort you should be rewarded with some income. I think that a lot of blogger though are in between, where we put in a lot of time but not enough to go from hobby to career per se. And that’s ok πŸ™‚

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