14 things bloggers don’t tell you about blogging [Part 1]
Having spent about close to 2 months away from my blog and the blogging sphere, some realisations have surfaced for me.
My blogging journey hasn’t been an extremely long one — 3 years give and take — but it has been a very eventful one.
I consider it a great part of my personal growth — it was part of my “opening up” and putting my voice out there. It also allowed me to be creative and to write whatever I felt strongly for.
But the entire process wasn’t all that easy.
There were plenty of mistakes made, time wasted and plenty of (unnecessary) money wasted.
The blogging world can be hard to navigate. As a rookie blogger, who do you take advice from? How do you know what you are doing is right?
You will come to realise alot of information can be contradictory and you’ll also see some of the “dark sides” of blogging. People pitching sub-par products and giving advice that is not only unhelpful, but downright dishonest.
There are great bloggers with great products and advice out there, but sometimes it can be difficult to discern them from the rest of the crowd.
In this 3-part series, I talk about 14 different things that I’ve come to realise about blogging. Yes, most of them aren’t gonna be super positive. But I do feel that some things need to be said.
These are my personal experiences and are not in any way framed as facts.
Presenting Part 1!
It’s not easy to earn money, let alone a solid income
Some bloggers seem to go into blogging thinking earning money is pretty easy, and you can start earning right off the bat. Write a few posts and see the dollars rolling in. It doesn’t work that way at all. Of course, there are different ways of making money — ads, affiliates, selling your own stuff etc. But each comes with its challenges as I’ll talk about in other parts of this post.
I went almost an entire year without making any money and slowly started to make some from affiliate products. But even then, it’s not like I’m raking in hundreds of dollars each day.
Let’s not get started on earning a solid income that can replace your day job right away. I can write a whole post about this. But the thing is, those that have been earning a solid income from it have been blogging from a very long time. They have been around for years.
Many of them started way back before the blogging sphere became so saturated the past couple of years. Back then things were also different, social media wasn’t a thing at all, and people built communities differently. They could focus on doing different things to build a tribe instead of constantly worrying about the algorithm changes on FB/IG, or building up email lists or whatever.
READ ALSO: 14 things bloggers don’t tell you about blogging [Part 3]
These days bloggers have so many things to look out for and there’s just so many distractions to deal with.
As a blogger, you always have to think of ways to be new and fresh and appealing to audiences who are themselves distracted and overwhelmed by all the blogs out there. So don’t compare yourself to other bloggers, just forge your own path.
Also “solid income” is relative. What is a right amount for you isn’t for me and vice versa. If I were to go full-time blogging, I expect it to somewhat replace what I earn in my day job. I don’t earn pots of money at work, but it’s a very comfortable wage. So earning a few dollars a day or a few hundred a month ain’t gonna quite cut it.
Also some niches make more money than others. I’m not saying that all of us should go into certain niches. But that in certain niches, it’s easier to create products or make use of money-making strategies than others.
For instance, some niches lend itself to e-books and e-courses whilst others may only work if you go into physical product sales.
So if you are coming into blogging thinking you can earn right off the bat, you might have to lower your expectations about. YMMV of course, but most people don’t really start earning properly until they are 3 years into blogging.
Inaccuracy of some income reports
These can be pretty motivating (or demoralising depending on how you see it). I no longer read them anymore because of how misleading so many of them are. Regina from byreginatv has a great post about this.
I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritties, but she explains it wonderfully in point 4. There are different accounting methods and let’s just say that some bloggers don’t use the right accounting methods when reporting their income.
Also, I’m not really interested in income, I’m more interested in profits.
To me, it really doesn’t matter if you are raking in a million when your costs amounted to 2 million. You aren’t actually making any money and presenting it like you are is misleading.
So when people say they’ve got an income of $100,000 per month. I’m mostly like…ok, great! But how about the wages you had to pay your team? Your time? The software you had to buy? Your Virtual assistants?
I know some bloggers present their reports as a way of encouraging others and showing the various ways one can make money blogging. But still. All these is very subjective and dependent on so many factors — length of time blogging, niche, type of audience etc.
READ ALSO: Why I chose SiteGround as my web host (and you should too!)
It’s best to use such income reports as a general guide but not as a foolproof way of making money nor a method to start comparing yourself to others and being critical on yourself.
Traffic is important
It really is. To a pretty large extent. Especially if you are keen on using ads, getting more signups to your courses/freebies/email lists or generally just making more money.
I keep reading stuff like oh, traffic isn’t important. Thing is if you’d like to get into large ad networks like MediaVine and many others like it, you gotta prove to them that you have the eyeballs on your page. They are very competitive and hard to get into, so if pasting ads on your site is one of your monetary strategies, 1000 views per month ain’t gonna quite cut it.
Also, getting money from ads means you are relying on a number of clicks on your ads. If the traffic on your site is low, it follows that you won’t be getting as much clicks as someone who has say, 2 million views per month.
And, if you’d like to work with brands and partnerships with smaller merchants, some of them request for
your page views as well. There is always a preference for sites that have higher traffic. It sucks but there it is.
It’s all a numbers game. And it goes like this:
- more eyeballs on site > more people reading your articles/signing up for your email list > more people to sell things to/more people to spread your article around.
The thing is, traffic can be quite out of your control.
An old post can suddenly go viral and you’ll see an immense spike in traffic for a few days. It can ebb and flow and is really quite unpredictable. Which is why bloggers kind of have to pay attention to a few things — social media promotion, SEO and other tactics. And Google, FB, IG, Pinterest what have you are always changing their algorithms so you gotta keep up.
Who said blogging was easy?
Large email lists mean squat if subscribers aren’t engaged
An email list is a great thing for a blogger to have. You own that list, not Facebook or anybody else and that list isn’t subjected to algorithm changes.
But, a large email list is useless if most of your subscribers aren’t engaged with you/your brand/your content, and are never going to buy from you. You can have a small yet highly-engaged email list that can make you alot of money provided you are doing things right.
Someone once told me that you didn’t need an email list at all to make affiliate income. Technically, that’s true, but you are gonna make MORE income from an engaged list than simply promoting affiliate products to strangers.
READ ALSO: Why you should purchase a domain name for your blog
So how do you keep people engaged? Honestly, there’s no foolproof tactic. I’ve seen a lot of email list courses spring up recently, and it’s great to have an email strategy of sorts. Are you going to use your list for sales? Are you going to write extra tips not found on your blog? Promote your blog posts or talk about yourself?
Like with everything else in blogging, there are no guarantees and you might have to switch up your strategy a few times. Some people love hearing from you thrice a week, others prefer once every two weeks. Things like that you’ve gotta figure out for yourself.
Just focus on keeping them engaged.
The problem with opt-ins
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d have heard of an opt-in/freebie/lead magnet/content upgrade, or you’d have made one or several for your blog.
I think certain content upgrades are great and really add value to the post and helped me learn something. But most opt-ins aren’t.
How many free ebooks, cheatsheets, worksheets etc have you downloaded? How many have you made use of or are they just all sitting in a folder somewhere?
Yup, I’m willing to bet you’ve barely looked at it after downloading it. But opt-ins etc continue to be the number one thing people tell you to have on your posts to get email leads and new subscribers.
I’ve actually stopped giving out freebies on my website. Know why? Again, something I could devote an entire post to. The problem with opt-ins is you tend to attract a huge number of freebie hunters.
These are the people that are never interested in doing anything else except going on various blogs and signing up for various free stuff.
The worse is, they sit on your email list and have no intention of actually ever engaging with you ever. They are basically email deadweight and you might actually be paying your email platform for them.
I prefer people who sign up to my email list because they like the messages in my posts, something resonates with them or they like my style of writing.
At least that’s someone I know when they sign up — there’s a higher tendency to engage with my mails and posts. And I don’t feel like I’m talking to myself when I send out emails.