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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: meteor on December 23, 2016, 04:05:08 PM

Title: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: meteor on December 23, 2016, 04:05:08 PM
In one article MMM recommends starting a blog if you want to make $50,000.  He says he makes 6 figures from this one.  I had a blog once with over 30,000 visitors a month -- but I don't have the slightest clue how I could have made money from it. Sure, I made some pocket change from Amazon links, but it was in no way an income.  Whenever I research the topic of blogging as a business, it's mostly all the scam get-rich-quick-by-blogging articles who are trying to sell me a package.

Is the main income from blogs from advertising? Anyone have experience on generating income from a blog?
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: mozar on December 23, 2016, 05:09:31 PM
MMM himself does credit card referrals.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: k_mcsparin on December 23, 2016, 05:24:06 PM
MMM himself does credit card referrals.

Yipes.  That hurts to hear.  Don't want to encourage people to acquire debt. :(
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: chasesfish on December 24, 2016, 07:58:37 AM
MMM himself does credit card referrals.

Yipes.  That hurts to hear.  Don't want to encourage people to acquire debt. :(

Reward Cards only...There's also a nice article on churning rewards cards for travel
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: I'm a red panda on December 24, 2016, 09:18:07 AM
The friend I have with 6 figure blog income does it through referral links and sponsored posts.

Her blog used to be interesting content, now it is only a dressed up ad.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: ender on December 24, 2016, 09:21:54 AM
Her blog used to be interesting content, now it is only a dressed up ad.

That's kind of how a lot of MMM posts the last few years have felt.

Anyways, there are TONS of ads on the forum/main site that generate small amounts of revenue (not to mention referral stuff). If you use an adblocker you probably don't see them.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Tjat on December 25, 2016, 12:36:09 PM
Her blog used to be interesting content, now it is only a dressed up ad.

That's kind of how a lot of MMM posts the last few years have felt.

Anyways, there are TONS of ads on the forum/main site that generate small amounts of revenue (not to mention referral stuff). If you use an adblocker you probably don't see them.

I agree. The only useful articles are in the early archives.  Now there is one article a month about either recycling, fancy plane trips where bloggers pat themselves on the back, and other Non financial topics. I think the blog is only active for residual income
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: FIRE_at_45 on December 25, 2016, 12:41:20 PM
There is a blogger who is a member of this site who claims to make over $900 k per annum blogging.  I find it hard to believe. 

Here is the link:

http://www.makingsenseofcents.com/

Maybe she will respond to the thread and explain.  Basically it says she makes it all from affiliate links. 
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: FIRE me on December 25, 2016, 05:16:42 PM
The friend I have with 6 figure blog income does it through referral links and sponsored posts.

Her blog used to be interesting content, now it is only a dressed up ad.

I like the Popehat approach to sponsored posts:

https://popehat.com/2012/03/13/like-spam-for-ponies/
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Syonyk on December 25, 2016, 07:51:33 PM
In one article MMM recommends starting a blog if you want to make $50,000.  He says he makes 6 figures from this one.

"I made a successful blog!" is the mother of all sampling biases...

Quote
Is the main income from blogs from advertising? Anyone have experience on generating income from a blog?

I generate beer money from mine on advertising, and some actual real income in the summer, through battery pack rebuilds (my blog serves as advertisement and SEO for that side business of mine).

The friend I have with 6 figure blog income does it through referral links and sponsored posts.

Her blog used to be interesting content, now it is only a dressed up ad.

Mmhmm.  They do end up that way.

Really, a blog is an inefficient way to earn radically less than minimum wage, unless you make it big, or have other purposes for it.  "Blogging to make money" is very, very tricky to break into.

I run mine to document projects, to force me to write more, and to drive battery pack rebuilds and other similar work my way.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: The Money Monk on December 25, 2016, 08:09:04 PM
There are only 2 ways to make money: you have to convince people to give you money, or you have to sell something.
That something can be advertising, but to really make serious money it normally needs to be a product.

The internet makes it easy to sell somebody else's products, with affiliate programs, and that is how many people make money on their blogs (ads and affiliate sales). But a good portion also sell their own products (ebooks, shirts and merchandise, or something similar).

Regardless of what your blog is about, there is going to be at least a few products associated with the topics you cover. Amazon is the easiest way, but the percentages are low. If possible you want to be making 15 to 20% on your affiliate sales. (Amazon is 4-7 usually).

Some content creators earn exclusively through donations (Patreon, or something similar).
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: MakingSenseofCents on December 25, 2016, 09:27:51 PM
There is a blogger who is a member of this site who claims to make over $900 k per annum blogging.  I find it hard to believe. 

Here is the link:

http://www.makingsenseofcents.com/

Maybe she will respond to the thread and explain.  Basically it says she makes it all from affiliate links.

Yes, I earn around $100,000 from my business, which consists mainly of blogging. I share everything on my site in very thorough detail - I don't hide anything and I have no secrets.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: waltworks on December 26, 2016, 12:49:50 PM
There is a blogger who is a member of this site who claims to make over $900 k per annum blogging.  I find it hard to believe. 

Here is the link:

http://www.makingsenseofcents.com/

Maybe she will respond to the thread and explain.  Basically it says she makes it all from affiliate links.

Yes, I earn around $100,000 from my business, which consists mainly of blogging. I share everything on my site in very thorough detail - I don't hide anything and I have no secrets.

A quick read of the "blog":
-Lots of boilerplate repetition and "income reports".
-Lots of MLM-esque (ok, just MLM) "affiliate marketing" stuff.
-Many ads.

There is basically no context whatsoever that is not self-referential or promoting the "affiliate marketing" angle.

Just FYI for everyone. Don't waste your time.

-W
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: FIRE_at_45 on December 26, 2016, 01:11:52 PM
^ The point of this thread was not to identify blogs that you find interesting.  The point was about how to make money from blogging. 

I am curious from the author of the blog just how the affiliate marketing works.  I don't have a blog but I read blogs like most people on this this forum.  When I go on your site I look at the comments sections as a barometer on how many people are reading your blog.  When I see an article there are about 25 comments.  On the other hand when I read a MMM after maybe a day after release there are literally hundreds of comments.  His posts seem to top out at 300.  I get it.  There are a lot of people that post to MMM because they want to promote their own blogs.  However, there are still a tun of comments from random people.

So the question is simple.  How does affiliate marketing work if you aren't getting eyeballs to your site?  Are people coming to the site and just not commenting.  I know I rarely comment but there has to be some kind of correlation between readers and comments. 
 
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: makinbutter on December 26, 2016, 01:18:36 PM
There is a blogger who is a member of this site who claims to make over $900 k per annum blogging.  I find it hard to believe. 

Here is the link:

http://www.makingsenseofcents.com/

Maybe she will respond to the thread and explain.  Basically it says she makes it all from affiliate links.

Yes, I earn around $100,000 from my business, which consists mainly of blogging. I share everything on my site in very thorough detail - I don't hide anything and I have no secrets.

A quick read of the "blog":
-Lots of boilerplate repetition and "income reports".
-Lots of MLM-esque (ok, just MLM) "affiliate marketing" stuff.
-Many ads.

There is basically no context whatsoever that is not self-referential or promoting the "affiliate marketing" angle.

Just FYI for everyone. Don't waste your time.

-W

Ok, I've always wondered about the economics on this - I'll take it at face value that the author of the blog is not blowing smoke and that she truly does gross 100k per month.  Based on her income reports, she has to drive a massive amount of traffic to her little corner of the internet to get the advertising fees and (likely-expensive-although-in-fairness-I-didn't-check) sales on her affiliate marketing course.

If she had rich, engaging content, created over the span of years (see: Financial Samurai? Go Curry Cracker?) I could see someone getting those page views.  And those two have been writing for literally multiple years, producing well-researched, data-intensive, illuminating content.

But explain this to me - recent titles on the makingcents blog include "the best way to set goals in 2017" and "I still wear shirts that have holes in them."  WT actual F? 

Are people merely going to the blog (and driving up advertising revenue and course sales) purely because of the income reports?  I am reminded of a term I read on the comments section here a long time ago - the fictive dream.  People go to the MMM site (and, presumably, the makingcents site), because it has a shit-ton of revenue, and they have this dream that they, too, can get a shit-ton of revenue if only they emulate successful blog content (or, presumably, wear shirts with holes in them?).  But how does one get from, say, $0 in monthly revenue (where nobody will listen to what you're saying about monthly income reports) up to 100k in monthly revenue (at which point people start buying the dream you're selling)?  The comment section there is one person after another thanking the author for proving that it can be done, for giving them inspiration, for living the dream.

Someone explain this to me like I'm five - off the top of my head, the most-highly-compensated bloggers seem to just be shills for marketing courses or they gradually evolve their blogs into "here is how to make money blogging! be like me!".  I am reminded of the old saw about selling shovels during a gold rush.

Is there something more to this that I am missing?  I just can't grok that someone can sell 30k worth of affiliate marketing courses in a month UNLESS what they're really selling is the dream that the reader, too, can hit the jackpot.

I think I'll start a blog and just claim that I have 50k in monthly revenue from side projects, and if you pay me $19.99 you'll get the secrets, too!  In no time at all, I'll have 50k in customers, ne?

If the author truly is stacking 100 large each month, hot damn, well done, you have somehow tapped into the motherlode, and congrats.  I just don't get it - someone please explain in words that a five year old would understand what exactly those blogs provide.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: waltworks on December 26, 2016, 01:27:37 PM
Affiliate marketing just means you are signing people up for your "make money like me" class who will... sign people up for the "make money like me" class.

It's just a semi-pyramid scheme multilevel marketing thing. So you're not trying to generate interesting context (ie MMM blog), you're just getting money from suckers by "teaching" them how to... get money from other suckers. You know the "real estate investor seeks trainee $100k!" hand-written signs you see on the corner? Same idea. Get people to call in, pay for the "class", and then... they put up more signs trying to get other people.

Look, if you want to make money from blogging you are basically going to do it by being really popular (generating interesting original content) and then selling ads or directly promoting products/services for pay (ie credit card referral links). The MMM blog does both to some extent.

That's it. It's not complicated and anyone trying to sell you a class on how to do it/the magic formula is probably full of shit unless what they're teaching is creative writing/photo editing or some other actual skill that could be relevant.

If you have something interesting or useful to say, and you're good at writing/photography, you can probably make some money with a blog. How much will depend on how interesting you are and of course how lucky. If you are basically a normal person without any special skills/interests... probably not.

-W
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: meteor on December 26, 2016, 01:39:01 PM
Yes, I earn around $100,000 from my business, which consists mainly of blogging. I share everything on my site in very thorough detail - I don't hide anything and I have no secrets.

But is the income from affiliate links to Amazon?  Advertising?  I'm just curious of how a person really generates income.  Is there a struggle with the ethics of promoting products?
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: waltworks on December 26, 2016, 01:41:27 PM
Ok, I've always wondered about the economics on this - I'll take it at face value that the author of the blog is not blowing smoke and that she truly does gross 100k per month.

I think this claim is probably rubbish - Occam's razor, and all. There is literally no content worth reading on the entire thing.

Besides, this MLM stuff just has no style. It's embarrassing to anyone who has ever watched The Sting or is a fan of The Music Man. If you're going to scam, scam with some style!

I'm going to just issue a good old-fashioned chain letter with a few minor modern updates (the last guy who didn't forward this letter had his credit card numbers all stolen by ISIS!) and watch the cash roll in!

A semi-serious aside - in the really wild early days of FTP-only internet in the 80s/90s there were actually email chain letter scams for a while. They didn't tend to work well because most of the people on the internet were PhD physicists and such, but now that everyone and their dog is online all day... plenty of suckers.

-W
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: FIRE_at_45 on December 26, 2016, 01:52:40 PM
Sadly I have to agree with you Waltworks on the content.  I went on it and read some stuff and I could not for the life of me put two and two together. 

I am relatively new to MMM.  I started reading his stuff in May and finished it all in about 3 weeks.  His stuff on the other hand I was like 'holy shit, this is fantastic'.  I guess the people who have read since the beginning has seen a gradual decline in his slant toward financial information.  I don't really care.  I still enjoy his writing style and I learned something about fitness from his recent article. 

I also need this explained like a 5 year old.  I thought an affiliate link meant that once you clicked through then the blogger gets paid.  If you actually buy they get paid more.  I think what you are referencing are eBooks where I show you how and you pay for it. 

Maybe I am just confused.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: csprof on December 26, 2016, 02:19:54 PM

I also need this explained like a 5 year old.  I thought an affiliate link meant that once you clicked through then the blogger gets paid.  If you actually buy they get paid more.  I think what you are referencing are eBooks where I show you how and you pay for it. 

Maybe I am just confused.

No, you're close to correct. The key thing about affiliate marketing is that the content publisher usually only gets paid if the user buys something. Display advertising , in contrast, is more likely to pay on a per-impression or per-click basis.

One unsavory sub-catrgory of affiliate marketing is the multi-level schemes, which are what was described above, in which people get a cut of the sales generated by people they recruit to being advertisers. Yucky stuff in general.

Posting interesting content with links to amazon products, for example, is standard affiliate marketing, as are MMM's credit card referrals. The ads that apparently appear on this forum are display advertising, typically done through Google/DoubleClick/etc.

Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: The Money Monk on December 26, 2016, 02:22:04 PM
Sadly I have to agree with you Waltworks on the content.  I went on it and read some stuff and I could not for the life of me put two and two together. 

I am relatively new to MMM.  I started reading his stuff in May and finished it all in about 3 weeks.  His stuff on the other hand I was like 'holy shit, this is fantastic'.  I guess the people who have read since the beginning has seen a gradual decline in his slant toward financial information.  I don't really care. 

You're missing the point. It doesn't really matter how good your content is, that isn't what makes you money. MMM's content is great, but until he started selling something he wasn't making very much money, no matter how many people read it and thought it was great.

there was an article not long ago about a guy who gave up on blogging because he was "only" making like 1000 bucks a month, even though his website was getting over a million views in that time period. He as making money ONLY from advertising.

People who dont think its possible to make a lot of money from a blog typically rely only on adsense, and MAYBE some low percentage affiliate sales like amazon.

The sites that make a ton of money are all selling high-precentage affiliate products - things that give them dozens or even hundreds of dollars PER SALE.

Credit cards giving $40 to $150 per person you get signed up
Hosting companies like blue host or Hostgator that pay $50 per person you sign up
Marketing courses and seminars that sometimes pay even more than that
software, etc.

So the aforementioned blogger got $1000 from 1.4 million viewers - while the 'salesman' might make that from successfully selling his affiliate product to less than a dozen people. Which even with a 1% conversion rate you could do with monthly audience of a measly 1200 readers

So the TL;DR version - the ones that make money are selling products that pay surprisingly high affiliate bonuses, they aren't necessarily producing content that is "better" than sites making less money.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: I'm a red panda on December 26, 2016, 02:30:11 PM
Yes, I earn around $100,000 from my business, which consists mainly of blogging. I share everything on my site in very thorough detail - I don't hide anything and I have no secrets.

But is the income from affiliate links to Amazon?  Advertising?  I'm just curious of how a person really generates income.  Is there a struggle with the ethics of promoting products?

I'm not sure about Amazon, but some affiliate programs (like rstyle or like it) there is a cookie from the click through and you get credit if they buy anything, not just the linked product.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: csprof on December 26, 2016, 02:33:39 PM
One way to paraphrase that: different blog topics have different monetization potential. It turns out that personal finance blogging can be fairly lucrative for popular authors, in large part because of CC referrals.

I blog about topics of interest to computer scientists, mostly PhDs. I let Google show display ads on my blog for the heck of it. I think that in a usual month, I make $2.  Grin. (needless to say, I don't blog for profit. I view it as part of my day job of communicating research results and advancing knowledge about my area of work.  The ads are mostly for kicks, as a way to understand first-hand the process.).

If you want to make money blogging, you should research in advance your monetization strategy. For many people/businesses, for example, a blog is a form of advertising - "hey, we're experts in this, and here's proof ."

[edited to correct silly typos from posting from mobile]
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: The Money Monk on December 26, 2016, 02:37:53 PM
Yes, I earn around $100,000 from my business, which consists mainly of blogging. I share everything on my site in very thorough detail - I don't hide anything and I have no secrets.

But is the income from affiliate links to Amazon?  Advertising?  I'm just curious of how a person really generates income.  Is there a struggle with the ethics of promoting products?





I'm not sure about Amazon, but some affiliate programs (like rstyle or like it) there is a cookie from the click through and you get credit if they buy anything, not just the linked product.

Yes, Amazon is like this, and so are many other affiliate programs. Also, many have 30 days cookies, so even if the person you referred doesn't buy something right away, if they return to the site within 15 or 30 days you still get credit for the sale.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Syonyk on December 26, 2016, 02:45:36 PM
If you want to make money blogging, you should research in advance your monetization strategy. For many people/businesses, for example, a blog is a form of advertising - "hey, we're experts in this, and here's proof ."

^^ Definitely my case.  I've made several thousand dollars worth of ebike battery rebuild sales based on my blog, which radically exceeds even my best month for advertising (about 80% of my blog's traffic so far came in one week).

I've tried to do a bit of affiliate linking on eBay, and that tosses some coin my way on product teardowns I do as well.  I may work on doing more of those in the future, since they're interesting.

But, really, my "monetization" plan for my blog is about 5 years of high quality content, then start selling ebooks and such.  I'm generally making more each month than I did the previous month (I've been getting 20k-30k views a month), so things are headed in the right direction, but I have zero interest in trying to "cash out" at this point, or anything remotely related to that.  It's beer money, for now, and pays for the occasional bit of office hardware.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: FIRE_at_45 on December 26, 2016, 03:39:36 PM
Thanks The Money Monk!  It was a bit of an exaggeration that I didn't get it.  What I wasn't putting together, and still may not be is the lack of content.  The content IMHO drives page views, which drives the affiliate links which drives the income.  When I click on a site like the one we are discussing I read a couple things and move on.  I don't share stories.  I don't click on affiliate links. 

I get the credit card conversion links.  Here in Canada we don't have the rewards you get in the US but we still have a site that pays $50 - $100 for you to sign up for a card so they must be making another $50 on that arrangement. 

The last I read MMM makes about $400 K per annum.  I am sure if he was into selling this could easily be double or triple. 
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: MakingSenseofCents on December 26, 2016, 03:44:34 PM
^ The point of this thread was not to identify blogs that you find interesting.  The point was about how to make money from blogging. 

I am curious from the author of the blog just how the affiliate marketing works.  I don't have a blog but I read blogs like most people on this this forum.  When I go on your site I look at the comments sections as a barometer on how many people are reading your blog.  When I see an article there are about 25 comments.  On the other hand when I read a MMM after maybe a day after release there are literally hundreds of comments.  His posts seem to top out at 300.  I get it.  There are a lot of people that post to MMM because they want to promote their own blogs.  However, there are still a tun of comments from random people.

So the question is simple.  How does affiliate marketing work if you aren't getting eyeballs to your site?  Are people coming to the site and just not commenting.  I know I rarely comment but there has to be some kind of correlation between readers and comments.

Comments don't always translate to page views - I know many blogs who receive less than 100,000 page views and get tons of comments. On the other end, I know of many blogs who receive millions of page views a month and receive hardly no comments. I don't receive anywhere near as many page views as MMM, but I do get a "good" amount. I do receive a good amount of emails from readers after each blog post is published - mainly those without blogs who would rather email me.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: MonkeyJenga on December 26, 2016, 03:47:03 PM
What I wasn't putting together, and still may not be is the lack of content.  The content IMHO drives page views, which drives the affiliate links which drives the income.

SEO drives page views.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: FIRE_at_45 on December 26, 2016, 04:00:57 PM
What I wasn't putting together, and still may not be is the lack of content.  The content IMHO drives page views, which drives the affiliate links which drives the income.

SEO drives page views.

Thanks for this acronym.  Had to google it to refresh what it meant.  I found the blog we are discussing from the bottom of her signature here on the forum so I didn't fall into this category.  It seems in this world of personal finance blogs there is also a lot of spin off traffic where bloggers promote one another. It's how I found many other blogs I read with some frequency.  I'm sure this is a topic/strategy that's discussed at the blogger's conference.

Thanks also the MakingSenseofCents for your reply.   
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: MakingSenseofCents on December 26, 2016, 04:03:28 PM
What I wasn't putting together, and still may not be is the lack of content.  The content IMHO drives page views, which drives the affiliate links which drives the income.

SEO drives page views.

Thanks for this acronym.  Had to google it to refresh what it meant.  I found the blog we are discussing from the bottom of her signature here on the forum so I didn't fall into this category.  It seems in this world of personal finance blogs there is also a lot of spin off traffic where bloggers promote one another. It's how I found many other blogs I read with some frequency.  I'm sure this is a topic/strategy that's discussed at the blogger's conference.

Thanks also the MakingSenseofCents for your reply.

No problem. Always looking to improve my content so thanks everyone for your feedback. I do help many people with my content and blog, but I know there's always room for improvement.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: makinbutter on December 26, 2016, 04:56:45 PM
Here's my concern with basically ALL of the financial independence / early retirement blogosphere (and apologies to Michelle, who has taken an audacious step out of anonymity to blog - it is much easier to destroy than create, etc. etc. - as the exemplar I am using for this criticism, but her blog's name has come up in this thread).

MMM was, arguably and to my knowledge, one of the first FI/FIRE blogs out there, and when he posted articles like "here are 50 ways to earn 50k without a degree," that was novel content.  His earlier stuff was excellent, too - I have the "stupidly simple math to early retirement" bookmarked around here.  Newer blogs tend to rehash the same material in a boring and derivative way.  There are only so many times you can write "here are 50 side hustles you can do from home!".

In my mind, newer blogs have to distinguish themselves from what already exists by providing one of the following things:

1) saying the same thing but saying it in a more interesting way;
2) crushing data that other bloggers would shy away from;
3) totally new, engaging content;
4) a personal story that hooks their readership.

So, when I see articles like Michelle's "10 ways I've made extra money" (http://www.makingsenseofcents.com/2014/10/10-things-ive-done-to-make-extra-money.html), I have to take a second and say... what the ffffffffuuuuuuck?  Sold soft drinks in high school? Entered giveaways?  This content is really, really light.

Contrast that to someone like MadFIentist or GoCurryCracker, who dig elbows deep into the tax code and crank out statistical analysis that would make a mathematics prof proud.  That is engaging, useful content. 

What still baffles me about this is that despite the level of light content, makingcents is - per the author's public claim - making nearly $1MM a year gross.  That is bat-shit high level of money, and the only conclusion I can come up with is that the author sells a dream.  "Be like me, and you, too, can bring in the big bucks!"  But kudos to her, because people are apparently buying what she is selling.

Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: MakingSenseofCents on December 26, 2016, 06:08:16 PM
Here's my concern with basically ALL of the financial independence / early retirement blogosphere (and apologies to Michelle, who has taken an audacious step out of anonymity to blog - it is much easier to destroy than create, etc. etc. - as the exemplar I am using for this criticism, but her blog's name has come up in this thread).

MMM was, arguably and to my knowledge, one of the first FI/FIRE blogs out there, and when he posted articles like "here are 50 ways to earn 50k without a degree," that was novel content.  His earlier stuff was excellent, too - I have the "stupidly simple math to early retirement" bookmarked around here.  Newer blogs tend to rehash the same material in a boring and derivative way.  There are only so many times you can write "here are 50 side hustles you can do from home!".

In my mind, newer blogs have to distinguish themselves from what already exists by providing one of the following things:

1) saying the same thing but saying it in a more interesting way;
2) crushing data that other bloggers would shy away from;
3) totally new, engaging content;
4) a personal story that hooks their readership.

So, when I see articles like Michelle's "10 ways I've made extra money" (http://www.makingsenseofcents.com/2014/10/10-things-ive-done-to-make-extra-money.html), I have to take a second and say... what the ffffffffuuuuuuck?  Sold soft drinks in high school? Entered giveaways?  This content is really, really light.

Contrast that to someone like MadFIentist or GoCurryCracker, who dig elbows deep into the tax code and crank out statistical analysis that would make a mathematics prof proud.  That is engaging, useful content. 

What still baffles me about this is that despite the level of light content, makingcents is - per the author's public claim - making nearly $1MM a year gross.  That is bat-shit high level of money, and the only conclusion I can come up with is that the author sells a dream.  "Be like me, and you, too, can bring in the big bucks!"  But kudos to her, because people are apparently buying what she is selling.

This will be my last comment on this thread, but I do want to say that there are many types of blogs and blog posts that exist. I've been blogging for 5.5 years, and I have all sorts of content with varying lengths and topics. I have helped many people improve their financial situation with my blog, and my main readership base is not FI/early retirement -it's people who are looking to take charge of their financial situation, finally get out of debt, and learn how to manage their money. While some may see the content as "light," others see it as overwhelming. I'm trying to help the average person figure out their money problem.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: CloserToFree on December 26, 2016, 06:14:18 PM
Posting to follow. 
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: waltworks on December 26, 2016, 08:01:57 PM
Ok, MakingCents - why not post a link (or just the text) of the post you feel is most useful or that you're most proud of on your site? I couldn't find anything vaguely interesting or useful but I only spent a few minutes clicking around, maybe I didn't find it. It certainly wouldn't be the first time (ask my wife!) I couldn't find something in plain view.

-W
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: The Money Monk on December 26, 2016, 08:13:37 PM
Here's my concern with basically ALL of the financial independence / early retirement blogosphere (and apologies to Michelle, who has taken an audacious step out of anonymity to blog - it is much easier to destroy than create, etc. etc. - as the exemplar I am using for this criticism, but her blog's name has come up in this thread).

MMM was, arguably and to my knowledge, one of the first FI/FIRE blogs out there, and when he posted articles like "here are 50 ways to earn 50k without a degree," that was novel content.  His earlier stuff was excellent, too - I have the "stupidly simple math to early retirement" bookmarked around here.  Newer blogs tend to rehash the same material in a boring and derivative way.  There are only so many times you can write "here are 50 side hustles you can do from home!".

In my mind, newer blogs have to distinguish themselves from what already exists by providing one of the following things:

1) saying the same thing but saying it in a more interesting way;
2) crushing data that other bloggers would shy away from;
3) totally new, engaging content;
4) a personal story that hooks their readership.

So, when I see articles like Michelle's "10 ways I've made extra money" (http://www.makingsenseofcents.com/2014/10/10-things-ive-done-to-make-extra-money.html), I have to take a second and say... what the ffffffffuuuuuuck?  Sold soft drinks in high school? Entered giveaways?  This content is really, really light.

Contrast that to someone like MadFIentist or GoCurryCracker, who dig elbows deep into the tax code and crank out statistical analysis that would make a mathematics prof proud.  That is engaging, useful content. 

What still baffles me about this is that despite the level of light content, makingcents is - per the author's public claim - making nearly $1MM a year gross.  That is bat-shit high level of money, and the only conclusion I can come up with is that the author sells a dream.  "Be like me, and you, too, can bring in the big bucks!"  But kudos to her, because people are apparently buying what she is selling.

This will be my last comment on this thread, but I do want to say that there are many types of blogs and blog posts that exist. I've been blogging for 5.5 years, and I have all sorts of content with varying lengths and topics. I have helped many people improve their financial situation with my blog, and my main readership base is not FI/early retirement -it's people who are looking to take charge of their financial situation, finally get out of debt, and learn how to manage their money. While some may see the content as "light," others see it as overwhelming. I'm trying to help the average person figure out their money problem.

I don't undestand the hostility for your site. Seems like sour grapes to me. They don't think you 'deserve' to be making that much money because in their opinion your content isn't better than sites making less. Pathetic, scarcity mindset.

If somebody makes 10 million a year writing about lighting their own farts, who gives a fuck? Obviously its creating value for somebody.
Unless a blogger is actually being deceptive (scamming or lying) who cares what they are writing about or selling?

And this idea that a blogger shouldn't write unless it is better than all previous attempts or totally original, gimme a break. What if someboy just wants to write something? They shouldn't because YOU don't approve? get over yourselves.

More power to you makingsense, I wish I was making a tenth of that from my online efforts.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: The Money Monk on December 26, 2016, 08:15:11 PM
Ok, MakingCents - why not post a link (or just the text) of the post you feel is most useful or that you're most proud of on your site? I couldn't find anything vaguely interesting or useful but I only spent a few minutes clicking around, maybe I didn't find it. It certainly wouldn't be the first time (ask my wife!) I couldn't find something in plain view.

-W

Why? so you can tear it apart and explain how she doesn't deserve to make so much money with something YOU don't personally get value out of? get over yourself and your sour grapes.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: I'm a red panda on December 26, 2016, 08:35:51 PM
Ok, MakingCents - why not post a link (or just the text) of the post you feel is most useful or that you're most proud of on your site? I couldn't find anything vaguely interesting or useful but I only spent a few minutes clicking around, maybe I didn't find it. It certainly wouldn't be the first time (ask my wife!) I couldn't find something in plain view.

-W

What would be the point of this? It has already been explained that uber frugal savers aren't the target of the blog. Possibly NONE of the content would be interesting to you. Clearly it is interestingr to someone else or it wouldn't be earning income.

Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: pbkmaine on December 26, 2016, 08:47:24 PM
It does sound like sour grapes to me. It's a great accomplishment to build a successful enterprise. Kudos to Makingsenseofcents.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: waltworks on December 26, 2016, 08:52:55 PM
Not sour grapes at all, good on you if you're making money. My complaint is not that I don't *like* the content - it's that there basically does not appear to *be* content. Most of the links just go in circles between near-identical pages or regurgitate the same information (ie, "how can I get rich" leads to "how to make a blog" which leads to "how to get rich with a blog" leads to "how to make a blog" sort of stuff). There are plenty of reminders to use affiliate links, though.

As I said, I may just not get it. But it seems like the empty shell of a website with a TON of ads and big promises and some very vaguely worded motivational-speaker boilerplate about self-actualization.

Then again, maybe I am giving the human race too much credit here.

-W
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: lhamo on December 26, 2016, 09:34:58 PM
Actually several of the well-known personal finance blogs that predated MMM went down a similar path -- this is what I observed as a common path with JD Roth (Get Rich SLowly), Jim Wang (Bargaineering) and Trent Hamm (The Simple Dollar):

1)  Person with a knack for writing starts PF blog mainly to track their own progress toward a goal.  (Of the three above, JD Roth is probably the best writer)

2)  Blog develops a following based on the strength of the writing.  Starts to draw a crowd.

3)  Blogger learns a bit about monetizing, blog starts to become more of a full time job

4) To keep growing the blog/maintaining the site under growing pressure on the servers/dealing with spam and such, the blogger either hires on help, including writing help, and/or sells out to someone offering big bucks in order to have more support for the back-end functions of the site. 

5)  Once the blogger is no longer in 100% control, editorial and other decisions start being made that decrease the quality of the blog.  This was most notable at Get Rich Slowly.  When JD was still writing/involved in editorial decisions the blog still "sounded" like him, even with other writers on staff, but as he pulled back the content shifted to more click-baity, weaker pieces.   I stopped reading at that point.  With Jim and Trent, I actually stopped reading pretty much as soon as they sold out, because the click bait started and the interesting content dropped off almost immediately.

I think MMM is purposefully avoiding this trajectory, because he doesn't really NEED the money.  He is probably going to do what Jakob did with ERE -- continue to put out the occasional blog post every couple of months when the mood strikes him, and eventually stop posting new content.   I just hope he doesn't pull the plug on the forums.  Went through that painful process with the Simple Living Network several years ago, and the community was really decimated -- the forums still exist in another format, and I visit occasionally, but without the larger site to feed new members, it has become a sad shadow of its former robust self. 
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: FIRE_at_45 on December 26, 2016, 09:54:33 PM
It does sound like sour grapes to me. It's a great accomplishment to build a successful enterprise. Kudos to Makingsenseofcents.

I am also impressed with Michelle's business acumen to make a killing on her blog.  This is a tough crowd on content because we are really small subset who actually care enough to learn.  I think she explained it succinctly.  We are not her target audience. 
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: MonkeyJenga on December 26, 2016, 10:21:57 PM
I think MMM is purposefully avoiding this trajectory, because he doesn't really NEED the money.  He is probably going to do what Jakob did with ERE -- continue to put out the occasional blog post every couple of months when the mood strikes him, and eventually stop posting new content.   I just hope he doesn't pull the plug on the forums.  Went through that painful process with the Simple Living Network several years ago, and the community was really decimated -- the forums still exist in another format, and I visit occasionally, but without the larger site to feed new members, it has become a sad shadow of its former robust self.

All the more reason for people to participate in the Official MJ Disaster Recovery Plan! :)
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: gerardc on December 27, 2016, 12:30:41 AM
I don't believe the $1.2m/year claim. Come on, how credible would it be for a self-proclaimed expert on getting rich online with blogging to only a make $20k/year? Some people really have no scruples -- they have a "fake it till you make it" mentality and wil lie through their teeth in the name of "marketing". My guess is that this lie increases their revenue from 20k/year to 22k, so they do it. Simple as that.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: arebelspy on December 27, 2016, 03:24:06 AM
Scamming people is not business acumen.

A business plan of "a fool and his money are soon parted" is not to be lauded, IMO.

So let's bifricate it:
Can you earn money telling others how they can earn money, in a way that will never actually scale, such that the majority of your readers lose way more value than they gain?

Yes. Definitely.

BUT, the more important question, IMO: Can you make money from blogging while providing quality content such that your readers get more in value?  Absolutely.

Someone learning about a product they didn't know existed and buying it via an Amazon affiliate link is a value added proposition.  Someone getting a reward card they wouldn't have known about, and avoiding debt but making money on the proposition while the blogger gets a referral fee is a win-win.

Blogs CAN make money, and in ethical ways.

That's the more interesting discussion, IMO. That's hopefully where this conversation will steer, away from an unsustainable business model where people end up disappointed and towards a path of providing lots of value in the long run.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: iris lily on December 27, 2016, 09:03:06 AM
I don't believe the $1.2m/year claim. Come on, how credible would it be for a self-proclaimed expert on getting rich online with blogging to only a make $20k/year? Some people really have no scruples -- they have a "fake it till you make it" mentality and wil lie through their teeth in the name of "marketing". My guess is that this lie increases their revenue from 20k/year to 22k, so they do it. Simple as that.
I agree that the numbers are likely exagerated.

On this site a couple of years ago there was a thread on the Anti-Mustachian Wall of
Shame board

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/antimustachian-wall-of-shame-and-comedy/this-blog-entry-oh-boy/

...that featured a blogger who was  more of a "business coach" but who really just sold her programs about how to sell business coaching programs. I signed up for her social media accounts and watched/listened to her for 6 months. I never saw evidence of the big money she claimed to make, but granted, I dont have the tools to evaluate that.

When she wrote a book and said it was a "bestseller" along within her other "bestseller" titles, that is easy to evaluate. There was no legitimate measure that showed her to be a bestselling author. . There are, apparently (what I learned from reading her posts on social media)  schemes involving giveaways to propel digital books into onto the top of self-published book lists on a specific topic for a day or two, and hence the "bestseller" status.

What I liked about this particular social media millionaire is her love of travel. She liked to travel the world, so that kept me interested.

And a $20,000 income in Missouri where the MakingSense blog is based is like $100,000 in
Mannattan. So maybe we are just seeing income reports that are "normalized." Haha.

Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Icecreamarsenal on December 27, 2016, 09:13:49 AM
Those who can do, those who can't, talk about it ad nauseum on forums.  Good job on the blogger for the beacoup bucks.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: iris lily on December 27, 2016, 09:24:40 AM
Those who can do, those who can't, talk about it ad nauseum on forums.  Good job on the blogger for the beacoup bucks.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Haha, that is true as well.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Cpa Cat on December 27, 2016, 09:34:44 AM
I have a client who makes a fairly variable income - anywhere from $100k to $400k one year - selling online courses about how to get rich from day trading. But when I asked him where his 1099s were for his investment accounts, he said he didn't trust the stock market and felt investing was a "scam." No taxable, no retirement accounts, nothing. He's a total cash-under-the-mattress type of guy.

My mind still reels at how much people are willing pay to an internet personality who has 0 real life credibility.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: The Money Monk on December 27, 2016, 11:00:25 PM
Scamming people is not business acumen.

A business plan of "a fool and his money are soon parted" is not to be lauded, IMO.

So let's bifricate it:
Can you earn money telling others how they can earn money, in a way that will never actually scale, such that the majority of your readers lose way more value than they gain?

Yes. Definitely.

BUT, the more important question, IMO: Can you make money from blogging while providing quality content such that your readers get more in value?  Absolutely.

Someone learning about a product they didn't know existed and buying it via an Amazon affiliate link is a value added proposition.  Someone getting a reward card they wouldn't have known about, and avoiding debt but making money on the proposition while the blogger gets a referral fee is a win-win.

Blogs CAN make money, and in ethical ways.

That's the more interesting discussion, IMO. That's hopefully where this conversation will steer, away from an unsustainable business model where people end up disappointed and towards a path of providing lots of value in the long run.

the biggest chunk of her revenue is affilate sales from bluehost - a web hosting company. That's a real product/service - hardly a scam. Various others are softwares, uber referrals, etc. The second biggest revenue source is her course on how she makes money with affiliate sales. Since she obvious does - something like like 60k a month NOT including her course, i would say she could charge for teaching people how to do what she does. Where is the scam?

saying somebody is a scammer is significant accusation, and I think you should either  post proof that she is lying, or shut your mouth.  MOD NOTE: The above quote does not target a specific person. Let's keep the discussion civil and productive.

Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: arebelspy on December 27, 2016, 11:20:12 PM
Plenty of multilevel marketing pyramid schemes have an actual product they sell. That doesn't make them ethical.

Just because the affiliate link is to a product doesn't make it not a scam.

If I tell people "You can make $100,000 a month blogging, sign up for Bluehost here (affiliate link)," I'm not selling a product, like you claim. I'm selling a hope. A dream.

Like I said:
Can you earn money telling others how they can earn money, in a way that will never actually scale, such that the majority of your readers lose way more value than they gain?

Yes. Definitely.

If I sell all these people on the dream of passive income, but the reality is that it doesn't scale, and literally isn't possible for all these people to do it, such that the vast majority are guaranteed to be disappointed and it's a value reduced proposition, that, in my mind, is a scam.

Maybe you wouldn't use that word.

I don't care to quibble over semantics of the word scam, I think I've sufficiently explained what I mean by the word. Substitute in a different word that better fits the above explanation if you want.  Shilling, maybe?  How about a tout, instead of a scammer?  Whatever.

My point is that you aren't helping people, you're hurting them. And that's lose-lose, even if it does fatten your bank account.

Plenty of bloggers exist who provide value.  Plenty that don't.

Both can make money. Sometimes wildly so.

The easier path is to shill. The harder path is to provide content, and value, and help people.

I'm interested in the ones that do this, and more hoping this thread goes in that direction, rather than discussing how to make money by telling people how to make money telling people how to make money.

Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: arebelspy on December 27, 2016, 11:29:12 PM
Oh, and for the record, I don't believe her.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. She's provided none. Therefore the default position should be skepticism.

I myself posted an outlandish claim about a side gig where you can earn $1000/hour, $20k-40k/yr while working an few hours a MONTH.

That is a stupid claim, and immediately everyone should call BS.  Realizing this, I explained it, backed it up with numbers, examples, and posted proof of my bank deposits.

Then other Mustachians started doing it, and now the proof is dozens of us confirming it is real, not a scam.

Cool, crazy claim, lots of evidence for it.

Hers?  Not so much.

But even if she gave me her affiliate logins and bank accounts today, and I verified it was all real, that's completely irrelevant to my above point.

While I don't believe her, even if she IS making what she claims, all of the above post is true--the readers aren't improving their lives, they're getting sold on a dream, wasting money and time on that dream, and ending disappointed.

I'm sure exceptions occur to this, but that's the average.

I'd be willing to wager good sums of money that the net profit of the median person who buys her course, one year later, is negative.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: arebelspy on December 27, 2016, 11:33:58 PM
Getting us back on topic, and to the more interesting one, let's look at a blog that makes plenty, and provides value, GCC.

He recently posted about why everyone should blog (http://www.gocurrycracker.com/everyone-should-blog/).

Some are monetary reasons, some not.

In this post:

He details their income:
http://www.gocurrycracker.com/accidental-income-blogging/

They made, per year, $0, $0, $2000, and then $25,000 for the first half of the 4th year.  Since it was scaling up, I'm sure the second half was much more, and since that was two years ago, I wouldn't be surprised if he's in the six-figure plus range.

There's a lot of quality content there, lots to learn and lots of value, and he's making good money.

Win-win.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: FrugalZony on December 27, 2016, 11:54:03 PM
It's funny that this is coming up now in this context, as I have started to write a blog post about some of these "how to make money online" claims and then decided not to publish it as I did not want to sound like sour grapes.

A lot of these "sign up here" and "fill in a survey there" are indeed selling the "make easy money" dream to people.
And whereas the folks who are desperately seeking a little extra, spend a lot of time filling out these things and make peanuts,
the real money is made in the referral fees on the blog. Which is exactly what you guys are calling "selling the dream"
I have access to many of these survey links and such (I have accounts on several affiliate networks) and I only make pennies on my blog, because
I don't want to tout those links, because I'd feel I'd be knowingly exploiting someone's hope.

I at some point was thinking about posting an experiment where I have someone use all the links to sign up and compare their "income" to the
affiliate income associated with their signup. Then later donating the money made in the progress. But I ended up killing the idea, because I am pretty sure
it's against the operating agreement.

Knowing what I know about affiliate marketing, it often irks me, what I see on some blogs. But I usually just don't want to say anything because
I don't want to appear "just jealous" because I am not so successful myself.

Do I wish I'd make a bit more money blogging. Sure do, especially now that I started Trial Fire and really don't want to go back to my previous job, LOL.
But that was not the initial motivation of starting a blog.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: financialfreedomsloth on December 28, 2016, 01:24:37 AM
This content is really, really light.
I think there is actally a bigger audience for light content than there is for the more heavier, serious content. I mean, magazines about celebraties and such outsell serious business magazines by a 10 fold. Womens magazines - who are in my view nothing more then glorified add pages - are in my country one of the few paper magazines retaining most of their readers. It is not content for me, neither is makingsense of cents but so what? Lots of people do like it and to each his/her own.

Contrast that to someone like MadFIentist or GoCurryCracker, who dig elbows deep into the tax code and crank out statistical analysis that would make a mathematics prof proud.  That is engaging, useful content.

engaging to you, for others it will be to heavy, too complex, too philosophical, too whatever. Do I like that stuff? Hell yeah! Would my girlfriend? Probably not, she would probably like makingsense of cents better

What still baffles me about this is that despite the level of light content, makingcents is - per the author's public claim - making nearly $1MM a year gross.  That is bat-shit high level of money, and the only conclusion I can come up with is that the author sells a dream.

No she is not. She offers advice in a easy digestible format, aimed at the average joe who would like to be a bit more responsible with money, make a buck extra left or right. She is honest about her affiliated links and I can not see any way she is 'scamming' people in any way. If she can make money off it this way, great for her!

How about asking her questions and learn something instead of jumping to conclusions (and judging) after visiting her site for 5 minutes?

How did you start out? how did you grow your public? how is the income devided between advertising, affiliated links, ... how do you chose which affiliated links to put on your site? how much time a week do you devote to your blog? what are the most important lessons you have learned from blogging for a few years now? Hell, it might even be on her site allready ....
Title: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Tjat on December 28, 2016, 07:33:51 AM
Sounds exactly like Trump University.... would people seriously argue that is not a scam?

Arebelspy and Walt are spot on here.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: skinnyindy on December 28, 2016, 11:18:21 AM
So is it possible to blog with higher level content and make the 50k MMM was talking about?  Does anyone here do that?
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: makinbutter on December 28, 2016, 03:21:10 PM
So is it possible to blog with higher level content and make the 50k MMM was talking about?  Does anyone here do that?

I would argue that Financial Samurai and Go Curry Cracker likely fit that bill.  Both provide informative content beyond "if you want to make money blogging, take my course on how to make money blogging! And then you can tell other people how to make money blogging!".  I don't know for sure, but I would assume that MADFIentist likely makes a decent chunk of change from his blogging efforts. 

Granted, could some of those guys have made more if they just spend their time learning to code or becoming a plumber? Absolutely.  Blogging is not typically a linear scale for effort and income.

What irks me - and hit me with your best shot / call this a scarcity mindset / etc - is that *I PERSONALLY FEEL* there is little value to blogs that say ANY variation of "I am a successful blogger.  If you emulate me, you, too, can be a successful blogger, telling other people how to be successful bloggers."  Can those blogs make money selling the dream that blogging=lucrative to their readership?  ABSOLUTELY they can.  But will their readers ever see those kinds of returns, or are they buying a dream that mathematically can't pan out for everyone...?

Contrast this to someone like GCC or the folks over at millenial-revolution detailing their penny-pinching over the course of a ten+ year career, and then saying "well, we made enough to call it quits, so we called it quits," and then writing about it.  That drives eyeballs to their site, and there is some underlying content BEYOND the "follow me to the land of blogging milk and honey...!".  I don't know that "scam" is the right word, but something about the "follow meeeeeeeee" model doesn't sit right with me.  Obviously it's bringing in the big bucksssss for the authors (and not just the blog in question), but scalability is, as ARS pointed out, a concern.

When I see a new blog writing about "I quit my day job and became a freelancer!  I drove uber!  I rented out a spare room in my house on AirBNB!" on another listicle about "TEN NEW WAYS TO MAKE MONEY FROM HOME", I cringe.  Where's the value-add here?

Anyhow, you're free to disagree. This is the Internet where everyone is an expert in everything.  In fact, I KNOW JUST THIS ONE TRICK TO SLAY YOUR MORTGAGE AND BANKERS HATE ME, and if you'll just sign up for my newsletter, you can start getting rich rich rich and say good-bye to that boring 9-5!  ;)
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: arebelspy on December 28, 2016, 03:37:03 PM
Oh, and for the record, I don't believe her.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. She's provided none. Therefore the default position should be skepticism.

While I'm always skeptical about these claims, some quick research leads me to believe her. 

[Snip lots of interesting info.]

That was very informative (and some "good evidence" towards what I was talking about).  Thanks for taking the time to research and share that, Knaak.  :)
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: I'm a red panda on December 28, 2016, 03:48:53 PM
This thread is acting like financial blogs are the only way to make money.

You can have a cookie decorating blog, a fashion blog, a stamping blog, a mom blog, a shopping deal blog, a recipe blog, a nail polish blog, a pet blog, etc.

Most bloggers making money blogging pretend like they aren't. They just do this for the love of the topic...but you can almost always tell by post quality when it switched to sponsored post and referral links over actual content...
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: FIRE_at_45 on December 28, 2016, 06:14:48 PM
This thread is acting like financial blogs are the only way to make money.

You can have a cookie decorating blog, a fashion blog, a stamping blog, a mom blog, a shopping deal blog, a recipe blog, a nail polish blog, a pet blog, etc.

Most bloggers making money blogging pretend like they aren't. They just do this for the love of the topic...but you can almost always tell by post quality when it switched to sponsored post and referral links over actual content...

This is very true.  I have read several fashion blogs and they have a lot of affiliate links and they do sponsored posts. 

Like they say on the Shark Tank....people go nuts spending money on 2 things...weddings and babies.  I bet there are many bloggers in this sphere who are killing it.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: arebelspy on December 28, 2016, 07:58:04 PM
This thread is acting like financial blogs are the only way to make money.

You can have a cookie decorating blog, a fashion blog, a stamping blog, a mom blog, a shopping deal blog, a recipe blog, a nail polish blog, a pet blog, etc.

Most bloggers making money blogging pretend like they aren't. They just do this for the love of the topic...but you can almost always tell by post quality when it switched to sponsored post and referral links over actual content...

This is very true.  I have read several fashion blogs and they have a lot of affiliate links and they do sponsored posts. 

Like they say on the Shark Tank....people go nuts spending money on 2 things...weddings and babies.  I bet there are many bloggers in this sphere who are killing it.

Oh yeah, mommy bloggers can rake in TONS with affiliate links for cribs, strollers, bottles, breast pumps, wipes warmers, car seats, etc. etc. etc.

The "make money by telling you how I make money telling people how to make money" crowd is a small (but vocal--that's how they get new clients) one in the larger scheme of things.

Great points, iowajes and FIRE_at_45.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Syonyk on December 28, 2016, 08:02:49 PM
So is it possible to blog with higher level content and make the 50k MMM was talking about?  Does anyone here do that?

I'm pretty sure some people are doing that on technical content, but I think the bulk of that is YouTube based at this point.  Videos are radically more popular than text posts for a lot of stuff.

I've thought about branching out that way, but I just don't like video stuff, and my particular posting style is better suited to text.

Maybe in a few years I'll branch out and see what happens.  But I'd have to do more regular content, and that's tough.  There's a good reason why the popular video series are "stream of consciousness into a camera," and it's because an hour of content takes several hours to edit properly, at best.

I plan to post regularly for about 5 years, then see where I am and make decisions from there.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: FIRE_at_45 on December 28, 2016, 08:28:07 PM
Syonyk, if you want to check out a guy who does YouTube well google Aaron Marino.  He's a style, men's health and fitness type with 2 million + subscribers and he is fantastic in front of the camera.  Personally I couldn't just kill it like he does on camera.  It's a skill.  He's also been on Shark Tank twice...my favourite show before I pulled the TV cord.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Syonyk on December 28, 2016, 09:09:11 PM
Syonyk, if you want to check out a guy who does YouTube well google Aaron Marino.

I was thinking more "Big Clive."  I do random technical stuff on my blog.

I know it can be done well - I just don't have the time to devote to high quality video work at the moment.  Maybe in another few years...

I might try to do some time lapses of a few of my builds next spring.  But video is just such a pain to work with!
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: zazpowered on December 30, 2016, 02:41:59 AM
A blog is just a form of content on a website so the potential of a blog to generate money is limitless. Looking at that one blog posted here I believe it. As someone who has done quite a bit of affiliate marketing, I've seen people make good money through just a little bit of traffic. Affiliate marketing is generally way more lucrative for bloggers than ads especially if you are in personal finance, shopping or web hosting because there are a ton of lucrative affiliate programs in these niches.

If you guys have heard of nerdwallet.com they started off as a blog and is now worth 500m+ and making over 100m a year through affiliate marketing of credit cards. CreditKarma is not a blog but it's a site that gives you free credit scores and provides recommendations for loans and credit cards. They are valued at 3.5B and make about 400m annually. WireCutter is a blog that recommends the best tech products. They were recently acquired by NYtimes for 30m. Their revenue was primarily affiliate marketing for Amazon.

Affiliate marketing is all over the place and it's so effective because the experience for the consumer is seamless. Consumers know when they see an ad but they can't really detect an affiliate link. It's not easy to do though. You basically can't scale it super quickly like most tech startups, like say Instagram which sold to FB for 1B after 4 years. Doing well in affiliate marketing is mostly about good content and then SEO which takes years and is why blogs you don't see too many VCs investing in blogs.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: iris lily on December 30, 2016, 11:35:17 AM
So is it possible to blog with higher level content and make the 50k MMM was talking about?  Does anyone here do that?

I'm pretty sure some people are doing that on technical content, but I think the bulk of that is YouTube based at this point.  Videos are radically more popular than text posts for a lot of stuff.

I've thought about branching out that way, but I just don't like video stuff, and my particular posting style is better suited to text.

Maybe in a few years I'll branch out and see what happens.  But I'd have to do more regular content, and that's tough.  There's a good reason why the popular video series are "stream of consciousness into a camera," and it's because an hour of content takes several hours to edit properly, at best.

I plan to post regularly for about 5 years, then see where I am and make decisions from there.
I hate getting information via video. There is no ability to scan the info, as in text. There is reduced ability to re-visit sections of info multiples times, you have to take time to push the rewind buttons.

I do like all of the fast-forwarded DIY crafts and cooking videos showing up on Facebook these days, but the same thing could have been accomplished with 3 photographs. Video presentation of facts is linear and it takes my time to watch, and by the time i get to the end, it may not have been worth t. With text, I can scan and see if it is worth it. It is not the bst medium for everything. But for visual topics such as fashion, it is essential.

Still, video without
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: meteor on January 04, 2017, 11:09:16 PM
This thread is acting like financial blogs are the only way to make money.

You can have a cookie decorating blog, a fashion blog, a stamping blog, a mom blog, a shopping deal blog, a recipe blog, a nail polish blog, a pet blog, etc.

Most bloggers making money blogging pretend like they aren't. They just do this for the love of the topic...but you can almost always tell by post quality when it switched to sponsored post and referral links over actual content...

I am one of those people who has a niche topic blog, and it is top rank when googled (and I didn't even try to promote it). I have about 30,000 visits a month but I am on the fence about the best way to get some income from it without harassing my readers.  I do Amazon affiliates which only brings in about 3-5 dollars a day.  I only post things I like and avoid any kind of advertising.  I do a lot of detailed research and even the national organization of my trade links to me.  I wish I knew where to focus my energy on getting a passive income from it.  Selling credit cards isn't really going to work since mine is business-arts theme.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: FrugalZony on January 04, 2017, 11:44:44 PM
This thread is acting like financial blogs are the only way to make money.

You can have a cookie decorating blog, a fashion blog, a stamping blog, a mom blog, a shopping deal blog, a recipe blog, a nail polish blog, a pet blog, etc.

Most bloggers making money blogging pretend like they aren't. They just do this for the love of the topic...but you can almost always tell by post quality when it switched to sponsored post and referral links over actual content...

I am one of those people who has a niche topic blog, and it is top rank when googled (and I didn't even try to promote it). I have about 30,000 visits a month but I am on the fence about the best way to get some income from it without harassing my readers.  I do Amazon affiliates which only brings in about 3-5 dollars a day.  I only post things I like and avoid any kind of advertising.  I do a lot of detailed research and even the national organization of my trade links to me.  I wish I knew where to focus my energy on getting a passive income from it.  Selling credit cards isn't really going to work since mine is business-arts theme.
It's hard to recommend something without knowing your niche, but there are so many affiliate programs out there, it's highly likely there's some that will fit.
REI has a program
There's links for travel resources
Links for various specialty products etc.
Most of the networks offer a huge variety of companies to pick from.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: financialfreedomsloth on January 05, 2017, 02:01:35 AM
I am one of those people who has a niche topic blog, and it is top rank when googled (and I didn't even try to promote it). I have about 30,000 visits a month but I am on the fence about the best way to get some income from it without harassing my readers.  I do Amazon affiliates which only brings in about 3-5 dollars a day.  I only post things I like and avoid any kind of advertising.  I do a lot of detailed research and even the national organization of my trade links to me.  I wish I knew where to focus my energy on getting a passive income from it.  Selling credit cards isn't really going to work since mine is business-arts theme.
30,000 visits a month is really good!! Even if you only get like 0.1 USD per visit that would net you 3,000 a month!

1) I would ask my visitors how thye feel about advertising. you migth want to explain that the blog does take lots of work but you are not actually making any money of it. And just ask. If most do not mind some advertising I would do it. Do not forget, you can decide how much advertising you want and where it will go on the site! Start with one advertisement, then two, … tinker with it. It will not be massive amounts of money but something.

2)Affiliates do not necessary have to be for the stuff on your site. It can be for stuff you actually use and like so you can in all honesty recommend it. Perhaps you are a big fan of republic wireless. Hell, http://jlcollinsnh.com/ has a mattress company as a sponsor! Look at products and services you are really pleased with in your life and check them one by one if they have an affiliated program. Make an affiliated page on your blog, explain why you recommend something and that you will get some money from them if they choose to make a purchase via the link.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: arebelspy on January 05, 2017, 03:27:06 AM
Targeted company ads relevant and useful to your readers = win-win.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Syonyk on January 05, 2017, 11:01:59 AM
I am one of those people who has a niche topic blog, and it is top rank when googled (and I didn't even try to promote it). I have about 30,000 visits a month but I am on the fence about the best way to get some income from it without harassing my readers.  I do Amazon affiliates which only brings in about 3-5 dollars a day.  I only post things I like and avoid any kind of advertising.  I do a lot of detailed research and even the national organization of my trade links to me.  I wish I knew where to focus my energy on getting a passive income from it.  Selling credit cards isn't really going to work since mine is business-arts theme.

That's about the same traffic I get at this point - I've been pretty consistently getting 25k-30k views a month for the past six months or so.

I run Adsense content on my blog (not as much as I could, just some), and that's worth about $20/mo.  If I put more ads in, I could get more out of it, but... eh.  I just have one ad on the right column.  I will note that there's a huge difference between the number of pageviews I get and the number of ad impressions I serve - adblockers are pretty common.

I get another $5-$7/mo from my eBay affiliate links.

There's just not much to be had from that type of income.  For me, it's beer or toy money - nothing I'm relying on.  The bulk of my blog-related income is battery pack builds for people who come to me because my content, like yours, is my SEO.

30,000 visits a month is really good!! Even if you only get like 0.1 USD per visit that would net you 3,000 a month!

Mmhmm.  You do realize that's an insanely high revenue per visit, right?
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: CloserToFree on January 05, 2017, 11:27:31 AM
Getting us back on topic, and to the more interesting one, let's look at a blog that makes plenty, and provides value, GCC.

He recently posted about why everyone should blog (http://www.gocurrycracker.com/everyone-should-blog/).

Some are monetary reasons, some not.

In this post:

He details their income:
http://www.gocurrycracker.com/accidental-income-blogging/

They made, per year, $0, $0, $2000, and then $25,000 for the first half of the 4th year.  Since it was scaling up, I'm sure the second half was much more, and since that was two years ago, I wouldn't be surprised if he's in the six-figure plus range.

There's a lot of quality content there, lots to learn and lots of value, and he's making good money.

Win-win.

I agree.  GCC is a great example of a blog delivering both entertaining and helpful content, and making money while doing so.  I do think in recent months there have been more affiliate-y posts, but I get the sense that what he's doing is more about monetizing content he already wants to write about, rather than specifically designing posts in order to be profitable (for the most part).  Hopefully he continues to strike that balance well so the blog stays interesting and not overly spam-y.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Case on January 05, 2017, 11:45:39 AM
Not sour grapes at all, good on you if you're making money. My complaint is not that I don't *like* the content - it's that there basically does not appear to *be* content. Most of the links just go in circles between near-identical pages or regurgitate the same information (ie, "how can I get rich" leads to "how to make a blog" which leads to "how to get rich with a blog" leads to "how to make a blog" sort of stuff). There are plenty of reminders to use affiliate links, though.

As I said, I may just not get it. But it seems like the empty shell of a website with a TON of ads and big promises and some very vaguely worded motivational-speaker boilerplate about self-actualization.

Then again, maybe I am giving the human race too much credit here.

-W

I've read most of your response, and tend to agree with your viewpoints.  The problem is that what should be reality and are reality are different things.

The goal of the makingsenseofcents person was to make money, and she has definitely done that.  She did this making a superficial blog which is essentially clickbait.  The articles are mostly garbage.  This tactic has been used on a lot of blogs, for example The Food Babe.  Is this stuff really adding a net positive value to the world?  Probably not, it's probably mostly wasting people's time.  Mu hunch is that these blogs were specifically crafted in this way because it's an optimized way of getting people that are kinda dumb to waste their time on it, click links, and (worst case) sign up for courses that wont really help them.

This may not be 'fair', when you consider that there are people who have jobs (or sources of income) that result from things that actually benefit society.  But then again, there are some people with 'real' jobs that really have meaningless jobs, and many of them end up at MMM's blog, looking to find new meaning in their lives.  The answer to their misery (elucidated by MMM) is that they can have freedom by saving up their money, etc...  So given that, how do these people differ from MakingSenseOfCents?  (this is merely a question, not an accusation).

The test at the end of the day is whether or not you feel you live a meaningful life (or whatever makes you happy).  Could you/I be happy if we had MakingSenseOfCents blog?  The money would be nice because of the independence it would immediately provide, although I personally would find it a pretty vapid existence beyond that, to pump out that crap on a regular basis.  I would probably make enough money to retire and then shut the damn thing down.  However, the author of MakingSenseOfCents claims to have a very fulfilling existence from her blog's work. 

The reality of the world is that there are lots of people out there (perhaps they are 'morons') who like stupid blogs like hers and will click away, making her rich.  There is money to be made, and a lot of it comes from advertisers.  Is it morally wrong of her to take advantage of this?  I think not.  I say congrats to her on successfully gaming the system; I don't think I am talented enough of a writer to have been successful as well (though I've never tried a blog).  If I had a clear path to doing this, I might consider doing it.

At the same time, I see very little goodness coming from that blog (in the moral sense).  And it would absolutely provide me with not sense of accomplishment/satisfaction in my wife.  This is where MMM's blog shines.  He had provided probably millions of people with the necessary ammunition to choose their own life.  Once you have enough money for security, you can leave behind your past life and pursue the things that truly give you satisfaction. 
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Syonyk on January 05, 2017, 12:07:50 PM
0
At the same time, I see very little goodness coming from that blog (in the moral sense).

Oh, that blog actively promotes things that literally waste my time.

http://www.makingsenseofcents.com/2016/12/seo-training-course.html

Quote
SEO is a group of tasks completed in order to improve a website’s ability to be indexed by search engines for inclusion in the search engine results page.  SEO tasks include the following on-site and off-site strategies: SEO website audits, keyword research, content audits, and content marketing.  You could use the umbrella term “digital marketing” to describe these services since the focus of all of these services is to drive traffic to a website.

I spend half an hour a week, at least, cleaning the shit that makes it through Google's spam filters from my blog, and I still don't catch everything.

Sometimes, someone gets really aggressive and spams 30 or 40 posts at once.

So... yeah.  I'm the #1 hit for a lot of Google searches, and on the first page for a lot of others, on nothing but my content.  Not because I spam my crap on other blogs.

Making money on SEO affiliate links?  Great, I'm sure she makes money from it.  But that falls into the "worthless crap posts," from my point of view.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: lhamo on January 05, 2017, 12:30:34 PM
I am one of those people who has a niche topic blog, and it is top rank when googled (and I didn't even try to promote it). I have about 30,000 visits a month but I am on the fence about the best way to get some income from it without harassing my readers.  I do Amazon affiliates which only brings in about 3-5 dollars a day.  I only post things I like and avoid any kind of advertising.  I do a lot of detailed research and even the national organization of my trade links to me.  I wish I knew where to focus my energy on getting a passive income from it.  Selling credit cards isn't really going to work since mine is business-arts theme.

Approaching the national organization to see if they would be interested in advertising on your blog for memberships/their journal or newsletter/conferences or other events they are sponsoring seems to be a natural place to start.  Have you tried that?
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: MonkeyJenga on January 05, 2017, 11:16:23 PM
I have got a ton of value from Jeremy's site.  And I don't have a problem with him monetizing his site or with any other early retirement/FI blogger monetizing their site.   But it does seem kind of sketchy to me when an early retirement/FI blogger expresses to his audience that the 4% rule is reliable, ironclad, and conservative and that if you've got 300X your expected future annual expenses and you're 100% invested in VTSAX, you're good to go and you can and should stop working unless the work gives you meaning and pleasure.  Maybe Jeremy doesn't fall into that category of blogger -- honestly, I don't care enough to go searching his archives -- but if you've been on enough of those sites, you know what I mean.   

If you already have 300X expenses and you truly believe that the 4% rule is so ironclad --and you communicate this to a huge audience of people who also trust your advice -- then do you really need to monetize the site?  These are the same folks who castigate other people who are scared that, even with 300X, they may not have enough money to stop working.  But if you're castigating a person for having doubts about the reliability of the 4% rule, then it seems hypocritical to then monetize your website so that you're making 40K a year on it.   It makes me think they don't believe in the product they are selling.   

If I'm overstating the case, so be it.  But I doubt I'm the only person who's felt cynical about this type of thing. And if you don't like what I'm writing, then -- what do they say with Trump? -- don't take me literally :)

I don't know of anyone who has said the 4% rule is ironclad. It's a guideline based on past performance, which can't be guaranteed in the future. On the expense side, emergencies can happen. MMM has a post listing all of his backup options for earning money. He only felt comfortable retiring from his day job with those in place.

You may be reading different sites than I am.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: arebelspy on January 06, 2017, 12:19:15 AM
Also just because you don't need the money doesn't mean there's not a point to monetizing it.  Maybe that's extra that you donate to charity.

Sure, MMM had enough, and could have made the site and made $0 on it. 

But then he couldn't have given away $100k (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2016/10/26/notes-on-giving-away-100000/), because he'd need his whole stache to support him at 4%.

Just because you make money doesn't imply that you HAD to make the money, or you wouldn't have been fine without it.

Even if someone DID say the 4% rule was iron clad, if they see a $20 on the street, are you going to chastise them for picking it up because now they clearly don't believe in the 4% rule?
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: financialfreedomsloth on January 06, 2017, 02:07:24 AM
Also just because you don't need the money doesn't mean there's not a point to monetizing it.  Maybe that's extra that you donate to charity.

Sure, MMM had enough, and could have made the site and made $0 on it. 

But then he couldn't have given away $100k (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2016/10/26/notes-on-giving-away-100000/), because he'd need his whole stache to support him at 4%.

Just because you make money doesn't imply that you HAD to make the money, or you wouldn't have been fine without it.

Even if someone DID say the 4% rule was iron clad, if they see a $20 on the street, are you going to chastise them for picking it up because now they clearly don't believe in the 4% rule?
Nothing against monetizing a blog. If you like doing it and see a change to make some money from it, hell why not? I am even the type of person that likes to figure out how affeliated links and such work. Just like you like to figure out how selling tradelines on credit cards worked.

The thing is, some people seem to turn it into a job in itself. Most people who aspired financial independence and offered quality content on their journey, once they achieved FI and retired, they either stopped posting or post a lot less. The same hold true for MMM and I completely understand it.

I like blogging, I like writing about stuff like this and I like how it forces you to organize your thoughts into a coherent piece of information.
If I would ever achieve 30.000 visitors a month I certainly devote a few weeks in figuring out adsense, affiliated links and such because it would be fun to do it and a lot of it is: set up once and then forget about it. A fun project that perhaps would net me a few 100 euro extra a month!

But to actively start pushing out 3 posts a week, paying somebody to do a logo, paying to use a great theme for your blog, ... that is running a business. And perhaps you like running a business and more power to you if you do. But it does seem a bit strange to me.

It's saying 'hey, I build up a big stash so I could be financially independent and never have to work again. And now I run a business explaining how I did it to other people so I don't even have to touch the stash!'

It's just a bit, strange. I would love more content from MMM but I get why he posts less. He wanted FIRE to live his life the way he wants to and it doesn't involve 3 posts a week on his blog. It wouldn't for me either.

Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: financialfreedomsloth on January 06, 2017, 02:21:34 AM
Mmhmm.  You do realize that's an insanely high revenue per visit, right?
Try something different. I see a lot of airb&b promotion: they seem to offer 30 USD travel credit for anybody signing up via your link. They get it, you get it, everybody wins.

if you feel ok with it, put a link on your page. Report back with the result. Or if you are not happy with the ebay affiliate, try the amazon one and see if it is better.

3.000 a month might have been a stretch, but 300 usd a month, that should be doable with that kind of traffic!
Root of good is pulling in some decent blog revenue (http://rootofgood.com/november-2016-financial-update/) and I think I remember his visitors being somewhere around 30.000 of 50.000. I do not know if he is active on these forums but it would love to get his input on this.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: arebelspy on January 06, 2017, 03:38:10 AM
I do not know if he is active on these forums but it would love to get his input on this.

He is, on occasion.

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/profile/?u=6258 (http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/profile/?u=6258)
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: chasesfish on January 06, 2017, 04:57:27 AM
I do not know if he is active on these forums but it would love to get his input on this.

He is, on occasion.

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/profile/?u=6258 (http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/profile/?u=6258)

I miss seeing him and Frugalwoods around on the blog, now that they have successful sites it requires Twitter to find them...
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Case on January 06, 2017, 06:47:07 AM
Also just because you don't need the money doesn't mean there's not a point to monetizing it.  Maybe that's extra that you donate to charity.

Sure, MMM had enough, and could have made the site and made $0 on it. 

But then he couldn't have given away $100k (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2016/10/26/notes-on-giving-away-100000/), because he'd need his whole stache to support him at 4%.

Just because you make money doesn't imply that you HAD to make the money, or you wouldn't have been fine without it.

Even if someone DID say the 4% rule was iron clad, if they see a $20 on the street, are you going to chastise them for picking it up because now they clearly don't believe in the 4% rule?

Bad analogy; finding $20 on the street is far different from having a 5 to 7 digit additional income per year.  Better analogy is finding $20,000 on the street every year. 

He isn't chastising the bloggers for monetizing.  He's chastising them for talking the talk but not walking the walk, per say.  Your income stream absolutely impacts how comfortable living on the 4% rule is.  Some people save a bigger stache to live more comfortably.  Others might have a blog for extra income.  But it's a lot easier to live on the 4% rule if you have a extra income or a larger stache.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: arebelspy on January 06, 2017, 06:54:23 AM
Also just because you don't need the money doesn't mean there's not a point to monetizing it.  Maybe that's extra that you donate to charity.

Sure, MMM had enough, and could have made the site and made $0 on it. 

But then he couldn't have given away $100k (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2016/10/26/notes-on-giving-away-100000/), because he'd need his whole stache to support him at 4%.

Just because you make money doesn't imply that you HAD to make the money, or you wouldn't have been fine without it.

Even if someone DID say the 4% rule was iron clad, if they see a $20 on the street, are you going to chastise them for picking it up because now they clearly don't believe in the 4% rule?

Bad analogy; finding $20 on the street is far different from having a 5 to 7 digit additional income per year.  Better analogy is finding $20,000 on the street every year. 

Okay.

So they find 20k on the street, every year.

Should they not pick it up, because someone might chastise them for not blindly following the 4% rule and refusing all other income?  Even if they could live just fine on the 4% rule, they should therefore have to?

He's chastising them for talking the talk but not walking the walk, per say.

No.  If their talk was "You should never earn another dime," I'd agree that they weren't walking that talk.

I've never heard anyone say that.  It's "you probably won't have to earn any more."  Not "you shouldn't."

They'd be hypocrites and not walking the talk if they said it'd be immoral to earn money, and then they monetized.

But they're saying "Once you have 25x your assets, you likely never need to earn money again, and are set for life."  And this is true, they are.  They walk that walk.  They may end up earning more, and that's fine, too, but has nothing to do with them saying "I don't HAVE to earn money."  That remains true.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Case on January 06, 2017, 08:21:38 AM
Also just because you don't need the money doesn't mean there's not a point to monetizing it.  Maybe that's extra that you donate to charity.

Sure, MMM had enough, and could have made the site and made $0 on it. 

But then he couldn't have given away $100k (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2016/10/26/notes-on-giving-away-100000/), because he'd need his whole stache to support him at 4%.

Just because you make money doesn't imply that you HAD to make the money, or you wouldn't have been fine without it.

Even if someone DID say the 4% rule was iron clad, if they see a $20 on the street, are you going to chastise them for picking it up because now they clearly don't believe in the 4% rule?

Bad analogy; finding $20 on the street is far different from having a 5 to 7 digit additional income per year.  Better analogy is finding $20,000 on the street every year. 

Okay.

So they find 20k on the street, every year.

Should they not pick it up, because someone might chastise them for not blindly following the 4% rule and refusing all other income?  Even if they could live just fine on the 4% rule, they should therefore have to?

He's chastising them for talking the talk but not walking the walk, per say.

No.  If their talk was "You should never earn another dime," I'd agree that they weren't walking that talk.

I've never heard anyone say that.  It's "you probably won't have to earn any more."  Not "you shouldn't."

They'd be hypocrites and not walking the talk if they said it'd be immoral to earn money, and then they monetized.

But they're saying "Once you have 25x your assets, you likely never need to earn money again, and are set for life."  And this is true, they are.  They walk that walk.  They may end up earning more, and that's fine, too, but has nothing to do with them saying "I don't HAVE to earn money."  That remains true.

I was specifically responding to you saying this:
"Even if someone DID say the 4% rule was iron clad, if they see a $20 on the street, are you going to chastise them for picking it up because now they clearly don't believe in the 4% rule?"

Specifically, I am targeting your use of a bad example ($20) because the quantity is not impactful.  Your argument with the other person becomes much more productive  if you use an example ($20,000 annual income) that actually has an impact on the 4% rule.

I do not disagree on the rationale of having additional income streams; I would pick up the $20 on the street, so to speak.  I do not disagree that the use of the 4% rule can be successfully argued even if you make significant additional money (beyond the 4%); the data based arguments stand true.  Of course, once you start bringing in additional revenue, you are no longer living by example (unless you give all of the additional money away).  But this is just a statement of what is.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Case on January 06, 2017, 09:30:29 AM
Quote
Even if someone DID say the 4% rule was iron clad, if they see a $20 on the street, are you going to chastise them for picking it up because now they clearly don't believe in the 4% rule?


Depends on the reason why they picked up the $20.  If their goal is to devote the rest of their life to actions that give them joy or meaning, and they are telling other people on their blog that, once they have 25X, that they should make all their decisions w/out regard to money... well then yes, if they pick up the $20 bill, I would say they don't fully believe in what they are selling.  Unless they actually derive joy or meaning from picking up $20, then yeah, I would say they are hypocrites.


Now, you suggested using $20,000 instead.  Well, what if they moved very, very slowly such that it took them 200 days to pick up the $20 bill, and what if, during those 200 days, they missed out on a whole bunch of activities that would have given joy or meaning... does that change things for you?  Personally, I don't believe that changing magnitudes affects the nature of the question and answer: picking up the money is either in keeping with their own values and what they communicate on their blog, or it's not.


I've enjoyed the discussion on this.  Thanks.

See my response above.  I do feel that the amount of money makes a difference.  The amount of money has a greater or lesser impact of how much someone can resist mistakes in the 4% rule.

How in terms of the amount of effort necessary to get the extra revenue/$20:  I would argue that if you are missing out on important life activities to get your side revenue stream, then you are really not retired, or are missing the point of retirement.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: lhamo on January 06, 2017, 09:38:09 AM
Personally, I find the financial successes these FIRE folks have found with blogging and other related endeavors to be highly inspirational.  They appeal strongly to my Inner Bag Lady, because they show that if you are good at written expression of your ideas, and reasonably analytical/reflective about the process you went through/are going through, there is a potential to earn additional income from it while still having a pretty self-determined lifestyle.  You don't have to panic once the firehose of cash from your day job stops flowing.  Find something you love -- maybe blogging, maybe podcasting, maybe rebuilding cars in your garage -- and put some time and energy into it and you will probably have another stream of cash coming in soon on your own terms. 

Now, would it be cool to see one of these bloggers set up a long term experiment where any post-FIRE income gets put in a separate pot, and they do live strictly according to the 4% SWR and report back about how that part of their stash is doing independent of all other income?  Yes.  Better yet, have a FIRE superhero match off, where different people adopt different strategies and see how they compare in real life over time.  I would totally follow something like that.  But even in that kind of an experiment, I wouldn't begrudge any of them the right to earn income in other ways.  Just keep the accounts separate.  But monetize the experiment to your heart's content.  And more power to you. 
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: aschmidt2930 on January 06, 2017, 10:05:02 AM
Scamming people is not business acumen.

A business plan of "a fool and his money are soon parted" is not to be lauded, IMO.

So let's bifricate it:
Can you earn money telling others how they can earn money, in a way that will never actually scale, such that the majority of your readers lose way more value than they gain?

Yes. Definitely.

BUT, the more important question, IMO: Can you make money from blogging while providing quality content such that your readers get more in value?  Absolutely.

Someone learning about a product they didn't know existed and buying it via an Amazon affiliate link is a value added proposition.  Someone getting a reward card they wouldn't have known about, and avoiding debt but making money on the proposition while the blogger gets a referral fee is a win-win.

Blogs CAN make money, and in ethical ways.

That's the more interesting discussion, IMO. That's hopefully where this conversation will steer, away from an unsustainable business model where people end up disappointed and towards a path of providing lots of value in the long run.

+1 to all of this.

In general, if you create a blog with the intention of making money, you probably won't. If you create a blog about something you're passionate about that provides tangible value to the reader, the money will follow.


Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Papa bear on January 06, 2017, 10:11:48 AM
Good conversation so far and it gets me thinking.   I have toyed with starting a blog for my company with the sole intent of "monetizing" the blog.   I am a partner in a Staffing and Recruiting company and I would expect that the blog would only drive traffic to the website.  Does anyone with experience want to PM me so I can bounce ideas off of you? 
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: wanderin1 on January 06, 2017, 11:38:48 AM
One thing to keep in mind: when you head a business or run a solo shop,  you very visibly live your ethics everyday.  In good times, do you give the staff a raise—or keep the added money for yourself? Do you take the lowest bid for some tech work you need done—even though you’re pretty sure the provider is a tax dodge? And if you’re a blogger, do you optimize your site for monetization—or for content value?  You, and everyone else, can easily discern your ethics from your very visible choices.

In the end, biz folks align on an ethics continuum—we’ll admire some, and scorn others. We also need to remember that the same is true of workers—it’s just that their choices aren’t so widely visible. Ever know a worker who considers themselves hard working, yet often secretly goofs off? This worker could be called a hypocrite who chooses money over providing value, just like the over-monetizing early retirement blogger.  It’s just that an audience of 3,000, 30,000 or more isn’t watching.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: arebelspy on January 06, 2017, 03:25:53 PM


Your argument with the other person becomes much more productive  if you use an example ($20,000 annual income) that actually has an impact on the 4% rule.

Yes, in the response I said 20k. You maybe missed the k?

Unless they actually derive joy or meaning from picking up $20, then yeah, I would say they are hypocrites.

Sure, what if they derive joy/meaning from both picking up the 20 (or 20k) and from donating it?


I would argue that if you are missing out on important life activities to get your side revenue stream, then you are really not retired, or are missing the point of retirement.

And if you're doing it because you enjoy it?

I don't see Jeremy at GCC as missing out on any important life activities. He's traveling, spending time with family, raising his son, and has a meaningful hobby that he enjoys and helps people (see all the positive comments on his latest post about 4 years without taxes).

I can't see anything negative in any of that.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: arebelspy on January 06, 2017, 07:01:35 PM
GCC provides value besides "let me show you how to make money online."

His blog isn't built around that premise, and it's a tiny fraction of his content.

I'd argue his main focus is tax, with travel being secondary.  ER might be in the top 5. I wouldn't put "how to make money online" in the top 5, and probably not even top 10, of his messages.

The cents blog has no other content or value besides "let me show you how to make money showing people how to make money."

Inevitably people reading cents, years later, will be disappointed, IMO, whereas the opposite is true of GCC, I believe.

That's why I assess them differently. It has nothing to do with using affiliate links or not. I specifically put GCC out there as an example of a blog that was making money doing it right. It has to do with the value and content and if you are enriching people's lives or providing them false hope and taking their money and time.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Jeremy on January 06, 2017, 07:31:28 PM
However, I'm kind of impressed by the sheer quantity of affiliate links in this "Start a Blog" guide. I count affiliate links for 8 different companies in this brief article.  In a feat of verbal dexterity, he's even able to work in an affiliate link for a credit card into a guide on how to start a blog. 

Thanks (I think you missed one.)

Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Jeremy on January 06, 2017, 07:42:29 PM
They made, per year, $0, $0, $2000, and then $25,000 for the first half of the 4th year.  Since it was scaling up, I'm sure the second half was much more, and since that was two years ago, I wouldn't be surprised if he's in the six-figure plus range.

I have yet to make 6 figures in total over the life of the blog. If I worked at it a little bit maybe I could do it this year, but... priorities. It is sunny today so Jr and I are off for a bike ride.

I plan to do a post with a detailed Schedule C this year, with detailed income and expenses info.

Thanks Joe
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: arebelspy on January 06, 2017, 08:00:20 PM
I plan to do a post with a detailed Schedule C this year, with detailed income and expenses info.

Neat!

That should help answer the question in the title! (n=1)  :)
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Case on January 06, 2017, 08:32:03 PM


Your argument with the other person becomes much more productive  if you use an example ($20,000 annual income) that actually has an impact on the 4% rule.

Yes, in the response I said 20k. You maybe missed the k?

Unless they actually derive joy or meaning from picking up $20, then yeah, I would say they are hypocrites.

Sure, what if they derive joy/meaning from both picking up the 20 (or 20k) and from donating it?


I would argue that if you are missing out on important life activities to get your side revenue stream, then you are really not retired, or are missing the point of retirement.

And if you're doing it because you enjoy it?

I don't see Jeremy at GCC as missing out on any important life activities. He's traveling, spending time with family, raising his son, and has a meaningful hobby that he enjoys and helps people (see all the positive comments on his latest post about 4 years without taxes).

I can't see anything negative in any of that.

Oh, I saw you're k in the response, don't worry. 
Again, my point simply was to point out that your original example was a bad one.

On the other point you brought up:  again, I don't disagree.  I think you perhaps are over analyzing my response.  I am simply pointing out that the the $20 example is a bad one because it doesn't compare well, and that it is indeed important because the devil is in the details.

If you're trying to say that it doesn't matter if it's $20 or $20,000 (I'm really just guessing here), I simply don't agree.  The quantity of money earned in the blog/whatever is proportional to the amount to how much it affects the retiree.

If you're missing out on important things in life... because you enjoy your side hustle that makes good money beyond the 4% rule.... life is full of hard choices at that point.  If you're enjoying your side hustle during retirement, then you aren't detracting from retirement; you are fulfilling the goal of retiring to do what pleases you.  But if you don't enjoy the side hustle, then you're not doing.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Case on January 07, 2017, 01:40:08 PM


Your argument with the other person becomes much more productive  if you use an example ($20,000 annual income) that actually has an impact on the 4% rule.

Yes, in the response I said 20k. You maybe missed the k?

Unless they actually derive joy or meaning from picking up $20, then yeah, I would say they are hypocrites.

Sure, what if they derive joy/meaning from both picking up the 20 (or 20k) and from donating it?


I would argue that if you are missing out on important life activities to get your side revenue stream, then you are really not retired, or are missing the point of retirement.

And if you're doing it because you enjoy it?

I don't see Jeremy at GCC as missing out on any important life activities. He's traveling, spending time with family, raising his son, and has a meaningful hobby that he enjoys and helps people (see all the positive comments on his latest post about 4 years without taxes).

I can't see anything negative in any of that.

Oh, I saw you're k in the response, don't worry. 
Again, my point simply was to point out that your original example was a bad one.

On the other point you brought up:  again, I don't disagree.  I think you perhaps are over analyzing my response.  I am simply pointing out that the the $20 example is a bad one because it doesn't compare well, and that it is indeed important because the devil is in the details.

If you're trying to say that it doesn't matter if it's $20 or $20,000 (I'm really just guessing here), I simply don't agree.  The quantity of money earned in the blog/whatever is proportional to the amount to how much it affects the retiree.

If you're missing out on important things in life... because you enjoy your side hustle that makes good money beyond the 4% rule.... life is full of hard choices at that point.  If you're enjoying your side hustle during retirement, then you aren't detracting from retirement; you are fulfilling the goal of retiring to do what pleases you.  But if you don't enjoy the side hustle, then you're not doing.

I guess i'm coming across as a DB; sorry bout that, not intended.
Anyways, all I mean is that I'm just making a small point and the other points of debate are nor things I was indicating I disagree with.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: arebelspy on January 07, 2017, 03:25:18 PM
No worries. :)

20k obviously has a bigger impact than $20. I agree with you.

My point in saying "okay, 20k" is that if you didn't like the first analogy, rewrite it with a K and I think it still holds.   Picking up $20k off the ground each year doesn't change one's ability nor willingness to live on 4%.

The bloggers are arguing that you can. Not that you HAVE to (and therefore can never earn money again).  If the latter was their argument, jumping on them is valid.

But just because they don't need money due to hitting 25x assets doesn't mean wasting money that is free due to a fun hobby and can be put to good uses like MMM's charitable donations is a good idea, even if they don't need it.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Txtriathlete on January 07, 2017, 04:47:50 PM
So, back to the original topic - can you make it pay? The answer seems to be "yes", although there now seems to be second order effects (questions) related to the skeeziness of promotion (self, affiliate or otherwise) vice the "true and noble" purpose of the blog - writing to share *valuable* info and not just writing sh*t to make cash. 

This topic is quite relevant to me just now as my spouse, a functional medicine doc, has been looking to become more of a lecturer/teacher/communicator and less of a hands on clinician.

In the process of researching blogging as a communications form for her (my research) it quickly became abundantly clear that you need not take advantage of people to be profitable. Profit and ethics are not, necessarily, mutually exclusive. But yes, many opportunities exist to be sketchy in the interest of maximizing income.

To make money (ethically) from blogging my research basically says:
Pick a topic lots of people are interested in (self help health by a certified health professional - check)
Pick affiliates that will reimburse for traffic or sales (many referral health products, some of which also indeed offer reimbursement - check)
Market your own products (a few to include small group sessions and webinars - check)
And then beat the bushes to push word of mouth and viral marketing of the site (not yet).

I assume there are some significant pieces I am still missing. Search engine optimization, cross promotion through guest blogging, etc. Anyone have a roadmap on these?

My spouse's goal with this blog is to educate and inform people about their health. My goal is for her to get paid for doing so. We *think* there is a strong ethical check and balance process - she's not going to recommend something just to get paid, but then big pharma hasn't come calling (yet). (Insert sense of humor here).

We actively chose not to run Google Adsense because we didn't want inappropriate content or the hassle of vetting literally thousands of advertisers.  Plus they pay crap since we have like no views (yet).

How important is it to have an email group for the blog?
What do we email to the group every week?
How do we vet/manage the comment section?
How do we stop spamming and such?
We have an option for a contacts email, how hard is that to manage?

What other hints, tips and techniques from the group on making it pay (lessons learned)?
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: CanuckExpat on January 07, 2017, 08:06:07 PM
I am one of those people who has a niche topic blog, and it is top rank when googled (and I didn't even try to promote it). I have about 30,000 visits a month but I am on the fence about the best way to get some income from it without harassing my readers.  I do Amazon affiliates which only brings in about 3-5 dollars a day.  I only post things I like and avoid any kind of advertising.  I do a lot of detailed research and even the national organization of my trade links to me.  I wish I knew where to focus my energy on getting a passive income from it.  Selling credit cards isn't really going to work since mine is business-arts theme.

How about selling a course or ebook: I'm an artist who makes money successfully online, you can too.. ;)

Many artists (webcomics) etc rely on free content with donations, or premium content for those who donate / become members (i.e. see tomorrow's comic today)

Otherwise, if your readership is big enough, there is always guest speaking, paid appearances, etc.

Do you have display ads, Google adsense, etc?
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: mynewchoice on January 07, 2017, 11:18:28 PM
It has been interesting to read along here, as I used to blog in a previous life and made some small amounts of money--and still do get checks here and there from those blogs even though I think the last post I published was approximately 4+ years ago.  I did look back through some of the archives to try and refresh, or confirm, my memory and thought that I would share a brief summary.

I launched my first blog, which was about my desire to FIRE, back in August 2006.  A little over 6 months after starting that blog, I had created a personal blog that was intended to track my efforts of earning income from blogging and the first financial report I published was in March 2007 when my blogging had earned me $116.70 that month.  I haven't checked all of the monthly reports but a lot were in that range in 2007, and then in 2008 I was earning the most that I ever earned from my blogs with the record month being $762.26.  The earnings were predominantly made up of advertising--using things like AdSense, Kontera, LinkWorth and TextLinkAds as well as private ad sales that I had brokered with other site owners (these were more prevalent in the 2008 time period when my blog was earning $500-700 per month.  I did get into some sponsored posts and created some additional sites that were completely driven on affiliate links to Amazon, or using services like Datafeedr to pull in products from companies that I was an affiliate.  I never really did well with the affiliate sales, partly because the commissions were small and my traffic numbers were never huge.

On the highest month I mentioned, here are a few examples of my income sources: AdSense $89.76; TextLinkAds $276.53; LinkWorth $145.71; Private Ads $159; Affiliate Links $62.96.

As I mentioned, to this day I still receive checks here and there that add up to about $1000-1500 per year.  There are some affiliate checks, for services such as Aweber, and still some advertising money.  The other one, oddly enough is AdSense that can usually earn me $30-40 per month--which isn't too bad when you remember that I haven't actively written anything in about 4+ years.

You also have to keep in mind that a lot of bloggers report on their earnings, but not their profit.  I noticed that the blog that some have questioned here did provide some information there regarding the expenses.  However, I recall when I was actively blogging that there were plenty of sites that would highlight they earned $50,000 that month (purely an example) but didn't mention that they also spent $47,000 on advertising, etc.  I am sure there was still good money being made but the ridiculous amounts could easily be misleading.

Of course that led to a lot of "here buy the course I created to show you how I made x per month", and that is still there today even in non-blogging things that I have dabbled in, such as selling physical goods on Amazon via FBA.

Keep in mind that making money from a blog doesn't always mean you are only making money from the actual blog.  As an example, I had taken nuggets from what I was writing on a few of my blogs and self-published Kindle books.  That then became another source of income that could be advertised to new readers on the blog.  For some, that can then lead to speaking engagements or other offline deals.  The blog can be a springboard to many other opportunities.

With all of that said, I did stop actively blogging because I found that doing that on top of my FT job was sacrificing too much time with my family and putting a good deal of stress on my relationships.  I haven't been able to completely give up on those entrepreneurial dreams (as I mentioned the FBA, Merch, etc. that I still dabble) and I love the behind the scenes stuff with setting up blogs, and maybe someday will get back to writing as I did enjoy the process.

I don't know if any of the above will be useful or interesting to anyone, but I thought I would share my experiences from about 10 years ago now to show what someone that didn't really know what they were doing at the time could do. =) 
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Jeremy on January 07, 2017, 11:41:42 PM

How important is it to have an email group for the blog?
What do we email to the group every week?
How do we vet/manage the comment section?
How do we stop spamming and such?
We have an option for a contacts email, how hard is that to manage?

What other hints, tips and techniques from the group on making it pay (lessons learned)?

Wouldn't it be amazing if there were blogs that focus on how to make money blogging, and might have answers to these questions and more? I hear Michelle at Sense of Cents does that ;)
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Txtriathlete on January 08, 2017, 08:07:57 AM

How important is it to have an email group for the blog?
What do we email to the group every week?
How do we vet/manage the comment section?
How do we stop spamming and such?
We have an option for a contacts email, how hard is that to manage?

What other hints, tips and techniques from the group on making it pay (lessons learned)?

Wouldn't it be amazing if there were blogs that focus on how to make money blogging, and might have answers to these questions and more? I hear Michelle at Sense of Cents does that ;)

Are you being snarky to me or Michelle?
Either way not helpful.
Fail.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: CanuckExpat on January 08, 2017, 09:15:49 AM

How important is it to have an email group for the blog?
What do we email to the group every week?
How do we vet/manage the comment section?
How do we stop spamming and such?
We have an option for a contacts email, how hard is that to manage?

What other hints, tips and techniques from the group on making it pay (lessons learned)?

Wouldn't it be amazing if there were blogs that focus on how to make money blogging, and might have answers to these questions and more? I hear Michelle at Sense of Cents does that ;)

Are you being snarky to me or Michelle?
Either way not helpful.
Fail.

I was about to suggest a new revenue source to Jeremy: selling courses where he tells you how to find people who will sell you courses on how to get rich.

Apparently he isn't that good at it. Better stick to your day job ;)
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Case on January 08, 2017, 11:27:29 AM
So, back to the original topic - can you make it pay? The answer seems to be "yes", although there now seems to be second order effects (questions) related to the skeeziness of promotion (self, affiliate or otherwise) vice the "true and noble" purpose of the blog - writing to share *valuable* info and not just writing sh*t to make cash. 

This topic is quite relevant to me just now as my spouse, a functional medicine doc, has been looking to become more of a lecturer/teacher/communicator and less of a hands on clinician.

In the process of researching blogging as a communications form for her (my research) it quickly became abundantly clear that you need not take advantage of people to be profitable. Profit and ethics are not, necessarily, mutually exclusive. But yes, many opportunities exist to be sketchy in the interest of maximizing income.

To make money (ethically) from blogging my research basically says:
Pick a topic lots of people are interested in (self help health by a certified health professional - check)
Pick affiliates that will reimburse for traffic or sales (many referral health products, some of which also indeed offer reimbursement - check)
Market your own products (a few to include small group sessions and webinars - check)
And then beat the bushes to push word of mouth and viral marketing of the site (not yet).

I assume there are some significant pieces I am still missing. Search engine optimization, cross promotion through guest blogging, etc. Anyone have a roadmap on these?

My spouse's goal with this blog is to educate and inform people about their health. My goal is for her to get paid for doing so. We *think* there is a strong ethical check and balance process - she's not going to recommend something just to get paid, but then big pharma hasn't come calling (yet). (Insert sense of humor here).

We actively chose not to run Google Adsense because we didn't want inappropriate content or the hassle of vetting literally thousands of advertisers.  Plus they pay crap since we have like no views (yet).

How important is it to have an email group for the blog?
What do we email to the group every week?
How do we vet/manage the comment section?
How do we stop spamming and such?
We have an option for a contacts email, how hard is that to manage?

What other hints, tips and techniques from the group on making it pay (lessons learned)?

Be a little careful as you may be opening a can of worms here:
-giving medical advice means people might believe as if it is Faith, and then maybe you'd get sued if the slightest thing goes wrong; just thinking worst case scenario.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: arebelspy on January 08, 2017, 03:50:56 PM


Better stick to your day job

Awesome. :D
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Txtriathlete on January 08, 2017, 10:08:56 PM
So, back to the original topic - can you make it pay? The answer seems to be "yes", although there now seems to be second order effects (questions) related to the skeeziness of promotion (self, affiliate or otherwise) vice the "true and noble" purpose of the blog - writing to share *valuable* info and not just writing sh*t to make cash. 

This topic is quite relevant to me just now as my spouse, a functional medicine doc, has been looking to become more of a lecturer/teacher/communicator and less of a hands on clinician.

In the process of researching blogging as a communications form for her (my research) it quickly became abundantly clear that you need not take advantage of people to be profitable. Profit and ethics are not, necessarily, mutually exclusive. But yes, many opportunities exist to be sketchy in the interest of maximizing income.

To make money (ethically) from blogging my research basically says:
Pick a topic lots of people are interested in (self help health by a certified health professional - check)
Pick affiliates that will reimburse for traffic or sales (many referral health products, some of which also indeed offer reimbursement - check)
Market your own products (a few to include small group sessions and webinars - check)
And then beat the bushes to push word of mouth and viral marketing of the site (not yet).

I assume there are some significant pieces I am still missing. Search engine optimization, cross promotion through guest blogging, etc. Anyone have a roadmap on these?

My spouse's goal with this blog is to educate and inform people about their health. My goal is for her to get paid for doing so. We *think* there is a strong ethical check and balance process - she's not going to recommend something just to get paid, but then big pharma hasn't come calling (yet). (Insert sense of humor here).

We actively chose not to run Google Adsense because we didn't want inappropriate content or the hassle of vetting literally thousands of advertisers.  Plus they pay crap since we have like no views (yet).

How important is it to have an email group for the blog?
What do we email to the group every week?
How do we vet/manage the comment section?
How do we stop spamming and such?
We have an option for a contacts email, how hard is that to manage?

What other hints, tips and techniques from the group on making it pay (lessons learned)?

Be a little careful as you may be opening a can of worms here:
-giving medical advice means people might believe as if it is Faith, and then maybe you'd get sued if the slightest thing goes wrong; just thinking worst case scenario.

Yes, good point. We've spent quite a bit of time going over this. We have 30 years of healthcare experience apiece (I'm a former medical administrator) so we have a pretty good idea of where to draw lines for liability purposes. Generally speaking, I don't see her diagnosing and treating, more so just general information.  But yes, there is a very slippery slope there.

Still working through the specifics of monetizing the site. Capturing payments for example. There are about a billion Wordpress widgets for commerce.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Jeremy on January 08, 2017, 11:26:22 PM

How important is it to have an email group for the blog?
What do we email to the group every week?
How do we vet/manage the comment section?
How do we stop spamming and such?
We have an option for a contacts email, how hard is that to manage?

What other hints, tips and techniques from the group on making it pay (lessons learned)?

Wouldn't it be amazing if there were blogs that focus on how to make money blogging, and might have answers to these questions and more? I hear Michelle at Sense of Cents does that ;)

Are you being snarky to me or Michelle?
Either way not helpful.
Fail.

Zero snark. You'll find answers to your questions on blogs that focus on how to make money blogging.

Michelle seems nice and would probably answer your questions, but the tone of this thread said she wasn't welcome here.

http://forprofitblogging.com is a "not Michelle" source.

Or J Money consults with bloggers, and has a zillion years of collective blogging experience.
http://jmoney.biz/

There are many others.




Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: arebelspy on January 09, 2017, 12:01:18 AM


Michelle seems nice and would probably answer your questions, but the tone of this thread said she wasn't welcome here.

Everyone is welcome here, but I think she just didn't feel like defending herself, which is fair. There's a lot of critics online, one tires of arguing with each of them.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: mrssavesalot on January 09, 2017, 10:28:48 AM
Say what all of you will about the blogs.

I'm a stay at home spouse who is disabled (dyspraxia and autism spectrum/anxiety issues). I would LOVE to know how to monetize a blog, do the amazon link thing, and somehow make $20k a year on a blog.

If anyone would like to help/ advise me, I'd LOVE that. An extra few to 20k a year would be AMAZING, and a self-esteem booster.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: I'm a red panda on January 09, 2017, 10:39:45 AM
The people I know who make money (though they make more than $20k) basically do it as a full time job. It takes a lot of work to produce content, a pretty good investment in photography equipment, and a ton of networking.  All travel frequently to industry (including "blogging industry") conferences to help make connections.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: kendallf on January 09, 2017, 11:08:47 AM
They made, per year, $0, $0, $2000, and then $25,000 for the first half of the 4th year.  Since it was scaling up, I'm sure the second half was much more, and since that was two years ago, I wouldn't be surprised if he's in the six-figure plus range.

I have yet to make 6 figures in total over the life of the blog. If I worked at it a little bit maybe I could do it this year, but... priorities. It is sunny today so Jr and I are off for a bike ride.

I plan to do a post with a detailed Schedule C this year, with detailed income and expenses info.

Thanks Joe

I wonder how many people responding to your posts on this thread are oblivious to the fact that you are the author of GoCurryCracker, despite the link in your signature.  :-)

I met Jeremy and Winnie (and Julian) last year in Penang, Malaysia where we had a messy, noodle slurping dinner.  OK, the messy slurping part was just me..  From our conversation, I would say that blogging is a way for them to occupy some time while caring for their son, and Jeremy has only in the past year or so worked to monetize the blog.  Notice all of the content since GCCJr was born.. gotta do something while your kid is taking a nap!

I'm not exaggerating when I say that the content of blogs like MMM and GCCJr and a few others have literally changed my life.  I'm not retiring particularly early but I'll leave work in a few years with a ton of options and future prospects that I wouldn't have had without changing the monetary rut I was in.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Syonyk on January 09, 2017, 11:45:14 AM
From our conversation, I would say that blogging is a way for them to occupy some time while caring for their son, and Jeremy has only in the past year or so worked to monetize the blog.  Notice all of the content since GCCJr was born.. gotta do something while your kid is taking a nap!

Yeah... I started mine on paternity leave because I was bored to death too.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Txtriathlete on January 09, 2017, 06:38:10 PM

How important is it to have an email group for the blog?
What do we email to the group every week?
How do we vet/manage the comment section?
How do we stop spamming and such?
We have an option for a contacts email, how hard is that to manage?

What other hints, tips and techniques from the group on making it pay (lessons learned)?

Wouldn't it be amazing if there were blogs that focus on how to make money blogging, and might have answers to these questions and more? I hear Michelle at Sense of Cents does that ;)

Are you being snarky to me or Michelle?
Either way not helpful.
Fail.

Zero snark. You'll find answers to your questions on blogs that focus on how to make money blogging.

Michelle seems nice and would probably answer your questions, but the tone of this thread said she wasn't welcome here.

http://forprofitblogging.com is a "not Michelle" source.

Or J Money consults with bloggers, and has a zillion years of collective blogging experience.
http://jmoney.biz/

There are many others.

Ah. My misunderstanding, I apologize.

Yes, no doubt there are sites that are value add buts it's pretty challenging to separate the wheat from chaff. I'll investigate the two you recommend. 

It would be nice to find a "here's what I did" with lessons learned at a granular level.  We are past the bluehost and wordpress setup stage.

Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Txtriathlete on January 09, 2017, 07:09:46 PM
Say what all of you will about the blogs.

I'm a stay at home spouse who is disabled (dyspraxia and autism spectrum/anxiety issues). I would LOVE to know how to monetize a blog, do the amazon link thing, and somehow make $20k a year on a blog.

If anyone would like to help/ advise me, I'd LOVE that. An extra few to 20k a year would be AMAZING, and a self-esteem booster.

What I've learned (so far):

Find a topic you know a lot about that is interesting to a bunch of people. It helps if it can continue evolving. For example this site, while full of wonderful info, kind of loses steam after you get past "don't buy shit, save like crazy".  There's lots of fun and interesting stuff on MMM and I like the way Pete writes, but most of the financial stuff is some deriviative of the above.

Figure out what you will sell on your site.  Adsense and similar are ok but they pay very poorly. If you can use that ad space for your own products the margin is much, much higher. 

Open a small business if you don't have one already.

Practice writing 400-500 word stories about your topic in a funny/catchy/interesting/controversial style. Save everything in a logical file construct. Decide on a standardized naming convention for blog posts.

Pick a catchy URL.

Buy your URL and negotiate a web hosting agreeement (bluehost is fine, there are many others, some not good).

Set up a wordpress, blogspot or similar account.

Install the wordpress ad widget or equivalent.

Format your ads or set up your Adsense, amazon, etc. accounts.

Set up the comments, contacts and subscription items.

Publish a blog post.

Tell everyone you know and encourage them to tell everyone they know.


What I need to know now:

How to set up the ecommerce widget for wordpress (which one to use, fees, ease of use, deposits, etc.).
How to incentivize readers to follow the blog and um, buy stuff.
How to monetize an email subscriber list without selling email addresses.
How to set up/negotiate affiliate agreements (we have some that have NEVER done something like this and others that have their own widgets and boilerplate agreeements).
And all the other stuff I don't even know that I don't know yet; like security, scalability, etc.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: FIRE_at_45 on January 09, 2017, 07:17:41 PM
Thanks for the list.  How many posts should you have prepared before you hit the go button?  I have read that most readers will check your site but if they get any indication that you do not post regularly they will quickly exit stage right. 
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Syonyk on January 09, 2017, 08:25:51 PM
Figure out what you will sell on your site.  Adsense and similar are ok but they pay very poorly. If you can use that ad space for your own products the margin is much, much higher.

However, AdSense does pay per impression (in addition to per click).  Affiliate links don't do a thing unless someone clicks and buys.  It depends on your content and how you intend to get traffic - specific followers, or organic search.

For me, an awful lot of my traffic comes from organic search (I'm on the first page of Google results for an oddly large number of searches related to my content), and "Wow, look at this piece of junk!" is not something that drives much affiliate traffic.

Quote
Pick a catchy URL.

Matters perhaps more if you're going for daily followers, for organic search driven traffic, doesn't matter as much.

Quote
How to set up the ecommerce widget for wordpress (which one to use, fees, ease of use, deposits, etc.).

WooCommerce is pretty good for Wordpress-integrated commerce stuff.  I can't say anything particularly good or bad about it as I don't sell items, but people who use it seem happy enough with it.

Quote
How to incentivize readers to follow the blog and um, buy stuff.

Content? :)

It turns out that I have at least a few people who follow my blog or have it in their Google feed, because this last post I tossed up was a throwaway "Sorry, internet has been down for half a week, my ISP is run by a bunch of baboons..." post with zero promotion (not even my normal Google Plus and Facebook posts), and it has 100 views.

Quote
And all the other stuff I don't even know that I don't know yet; like security, scalability, etc.

Security: Don't run Wordpress yourself.  I've heard security folks joke that Wordpress is a remote administration tool operating under the cover of a blogging platform, based on how often either Wordpress or the plugins have remotely exploitable vulnerabilities.

Scaling: Don't run your own servers unless you really, really like that stuff.

If you want to go with Wordpress, I would strongly suggest WPEngine or something like that - https://wpengine.com/

They handle the security, they handle the scaling, and it costs about as much as your own small instance.

If you're not tied to Wordpress and as much control, I'm insanely happy with Blogspot/Blogger - Google run services.  I suspect this may have something to do with how rapidly my stuff appears in search, and the scaling and security are excellent.  I normally get a few hundred views a day.  I had a very, very popular post that front paged Reddit and drove about half a million views in a single day.  A small server, suited to my normal daily traffic, would have fallen over in a heartbeat with that kind of traffic (and I'd probably have paid a ton in bandwidth fees).  Blogger?  I doubt anyone even noticed.  It worked perfectly.  WPEngine will do that for Wordpress installs as well.

Thanks for the list.  How many posts should you have prepared before you hit the go button?  I have read that most readers will check your site but if they get any indication that you do not post regularly they will quickly exit stage right.

"Get over yourself thinking you're going to be a big shot from day one and just start posting."  I doubt it matters for the first year or two, but you should post regularly - pick a schedule and stick to it.  Weekly, twice a week, whatever.  Do it at the same time of week as well.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Txtriathlete on January 09, 2017, 08:54:02 PM
Figure out what you will sell on your site.  Adsense and similar are ok but they pay very poorly. If you can use that ad space for your own products the margin is much, much higher.

However, AdSense does pay per impression (in addition to per click).  Affiliate links don't do a thing unless someone clicks and buys.  It depends on your content and how you intend to get traffic - specific followers, or organic search.

For me, an awful lot of my traffic comes from organic search (I'm on the first page of Google results for an oddly large number of searches related to my content), and "Wow, look at this piece of junk!" is not something that drives much affiliate traffic.

Quote
Pick a catchy URL.

Matters perhaps more if you're going for daily followers, for organic search driven traffic, doesn't matter as much.

Quote
How to set up the ecommerce widget for wordpress (which one to use, fees, ease of use, deposits, etc.).

WooCommerce is pretty good for Wordpress-integrated commerce stuff.  I can't say anything particularly good or bad about it as I don't sell items, but people who use it seem happy enough with it.

Quote
How to incentivize readers to follow the blog and um, buy stuff.

Content? :)

It turns out that I have at least a few people who follow my blog or have it in their Google feed, because this last post I tossed up was a throwaway "Sorry, internet has been down for half a week, my ISP is run by a bunch of baboons..." post with zero promotion (not even my normal Google Plus and Facebook posts), and it has 100 views.

Quote
And all the other stuff I don't even know that I don't know yet; like security, scalability, etc.

Security: Don't run Wordpress yourself.  I've heard security folks joke that Wordpress is a remote administration tool operating under the cover of a blogging platform, based on how often either Wordpress or the plugins have remotely exploitable vulnerabilities.

Scaling: Don't run your own servers unless you really, really like that stuff.

If you want to go with Wordpress, I would strongly suggest WPEngine or something like that - https://wpengine.com/

They handle the security, they handle the scaling, and it costs about as much as your own small instance.

If you're not tied to Wordpress and as much control, I'm insanely happy with Blogspot/Blogger - Google run services.  I suspect this may have something to do with how rapidly my stuff appears in search, and the scaling and security are excellent.  I normally get a few hundred views a day.  I had a very, very popular post that front paged Reddit and drove about half a million views in a single day.  A small server, suited to my normal daily traffic, would have fallen over in a heartbeat with that kind of traffic (and I'd probably have paid a ton in bandwidth fees).  Blogger?  I doubt anyone even noticed.  It worked perfectly.  WPEngine will do that for Wordpress installs as well.

Thanks for the list.  How many posts should you have prepared before you hit the go button?  I have read that most readers will check your site but if they get any indication that you do not post regularly they will quickly exit stage right.

"Get over yourself thinking you're going to be a big shot from day one and just start posting."  I doubt it matters for the first year or two, but you should post regularly - pick a schedule and stick to it.  Weekly, twice a week, whatever.  Do it at the same time of week as well.

Holly crap! I just learned more in one post than in the three pages preceding it. Thank you. Feel free to correct my stupid wherever it shows.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Syonyk on January 09, 2017, 09:08:25 PM
I've no idea how to monetize the stuff but I know my way around web platforms...

Which is why I don't do much hosting myself anymore.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: CloserToFree on January 10, 2017, 01:38:29 PM
I have yet to make 6 figures in total over the life of the blog. If I worked at it a little bit maybe I could do it this year, but... priorities. It is sunny today so Jr and I are off for a bike ride.

Jeremy- good for you for keeping priorities in order.  Thanks for chiming in here and for your blog's great content!  I've gotten a ton of useful advice from it and look forward to following your family's adventures in 2017.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: frugalsurfer on January 10, 2017, 08:29:13 PM
A very interesting read and a topic that I've grappled with myself. I have a few blogs that have been active for 3-4 years. They're only now starting to soak up a little bit of traffic, usually 800-1200 visitors a week which is still very minimal. Monetisation? No luck. I've tried a dozen PPC and affiliate programs and have earned an insignificant amount of money from it, not even $100 a year, despite tweaking the settings and layout and continuing to post what I believe is interesting content. I continue to post and pay for the hosting etc because I enjoy the writing and having a web/brand presence, but it would be nice to have some time to really ramp up the profitability while still being ethical and providing genuinely interesting, peronalised content/info for other people to enjoy/help people out.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Ryland on January 11, 2017, 10:28:12 AM
Best way to do it is to turn it into a software as a service product or another income generating service.

Here's a great website that explains just how to do that: www.thefoundation.com
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Syonyk on January 11, 2017, 11:02:56 AM
Quote
The Foundation Helps Bootstrapped Entrepreneurs Build Businesses To Maximize Their Freedom And Impact On The World.

I see...

I'll let you know when I figure out how to turn random electronic device teardowns into a software-as-a-service offering...
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: csprof on January 11, 2017, 01:47:03 PM
Quote
The Foundation Helps Bootstrapped Entrepreneurs Build Businesses To Maximize Their Freedom And Impact On The World.

I see...

I'll let you know when I figure out how to turn random electronic device teardowns into a software-as-a-service offering...

Have you seen John Ward's video series in which he tears-down deathtrap electronics with horrible fail-electrocute modes?  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2uFFhnMKyF82UY2TbXRaNg

Awesome stuff. :-)  But no SaaS there, just sass.
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Syonyk on January 11, 2017, 02:00:09 PM
I hadn't seen his, in particular, but I know that's a thing people watch.

I actually don't like video much at all for communication - most of the stuff I do, I'd rather write up a long text post with photos for.  Because I'm one of few people who does things this way instead of burying content in un-searchable video, I get a lot of traffic from search engines. :)
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: csprof on January 11, 2017, 03:03:50 PM
I hadn't seen his, in particular, but I know that's a thing people watch.

I actually don't like video much at all for communication - most of the stuff I do, I'd rather write up a long text post with photos for.  Because I'm one of few people who does things this way instead of burying content in un-searchable video, I get a lot of traffic from search engines. :)

Oh, definitely.  I don't find his series useful as much as fun.  I don't remember how I stumbled across it - I think I was looking at the mechanism for a really cheap hot-steam humidifier that basically passed a current through the water, was horrified by it, and got to one of his videos about an immersion heater that did the same thing, but with no shielding and the water open so you could stick your finger in it.

One thought that comes to mind is a "teardown tools" or "parts" sticky/sidebar in every post that has affiliate links, either to Amazon or some higher-revenue-but-good-for-customers place, linking to both the specific tools you're using and your overall favorite recommendations for people interested in the same.  I doubt McMaster-Carr has an affiliate program, but you could dig.  Newark/element14 does.  thinkgeek used to.  Mouser and digikey don't seem to, though.

Of course, I'm probably not one to listen to.  I've had 1.5k pageviews on my blog today and earned $0.83.  ;)  (Adsense is particularly ineffective for my blog - computer scientists run adblock at a very disproportionate rate.  Less than 1/3 of the visitors to my blog see any ads, and I don't work hard to manufacture embedded affiliate links if it doesn't make sense.  Neither of my last two posts, for example, contained any.)
Title: Re: What is the real truth about making money from a blog?
Post by: Syonyk on January 11, 2017, 06:08:01 PM
Yeah... page views vs ad impressions is pretty sad on mine as well.