As a blogger that has been around for about 10 years, I’ve seen it all. When I first started blogging in 2009, the blogging world was vastly different than what it is now. As in night and day different. It was a world that was more personal and more organic in forming relationships. There were no facebook groups, and there definitely wasn’t pinterest or instagram. There were no blog launches. Support threads or telegram groups? Nope. If you wanted engagement, you sought it yourself and made real connections. You wanted to start a blog? You did and that was that (I have to say thank goodness for social media because it now makes it easier to promote your blog).
I stopped blogging in 2015, and I think around that time is when blogging started to shift in a different direction – into influencer marketing (I started back blogging again with a brand new blog, Fabulous In Fayette, in 2016). Blogging circa 2010 makes me laugh, because it was so different – the photography, the content, just everything. It was just funny. Also, you would rarely see affiliate links and sponsored posts were not as mainstream as they are now. Remember when blog buttons were a thing? If you wanted to make money, you would charge everyone to place their “blog button” on the sidebar of your site and you would offer extras such as guest posts, twitter shoutouts, etc. for a ‘x’ amount of money.
Now, obviously, I love the direction blogging has went, because that means I can make a business out of it and it’s no longer a hobby. However, there is one thing that has always been on my mind, especially now with the influx of new bloggers popping up and that is…
The One Reason Why You Shouldn’t Start a Blog (And What You as a New Blogger Should Focus On Instead)
If you are wanting to start a blog, you should NEVER start with a blog with the SOLE PURPOSE of making money. Keywords here, SOLE PURPOSE. I’m not saying that you should never want to make money from blog (I mean, I make money!), BUT you should not decide one day to open your computer and start a blog with the intentions of making tons of money. If those are your intentions, then some tough love here: you are doing it for the wrong reasons and are likely going to be severely disappointed and discouraged and you will want to give up your blog. Trust me. I’ve seen hundreds of bloggers just abandon their blogs because of this. There is a HUGE difference between starting your blog for the sole purpose of making money vs. eventually monetizing. People can also see right through your intentions.The One Reason You Shouldn't Start a Blog (And What You As a New Blogger Should Focus On Instead) Click To Tweet
If you start a blog with the sole purpose of making money then the likelihood of burnout will be at an all time high. By having these intentions, you’ll be putting an immense amount of pressure on yourself and you’ll likely be discouraged because you’ll be checking stats, affiliate links, and everything will become an obsession. It will cause an undue amount of stress and you’ll find yourself questioning your abilities, your worth, your content, and just about everything under the sun. You will start to be on that hamster wheel going around and around instead of focusing on the things that you should focus on.
I’m going to tell you about a few of the ways bloggers make money and some of the realities of those, but first…
Let me ask you a question – If you were to make $0 from your blog for the next six months, would you still blog?
If your answer is no, then you may want to look in the mirror and evaluate why you are truly wanting to start a blog. You should want to blog, because you want to tell your story, help others, educate others, like being creative, want to connect with others, or a plethora of different reasons. Money should be secondary and not your main motivating factor, even though it is a pretty great one! I am in no way saying you shouldn’t ever want to make money (I mean, hello, we all want to make money), but that shouldn’t be what you are concerned about before you even publish your first post or before you choose your blog name.
I see so many people say, “I want to start a blog and make money. HELP!” or “If I don’t make money in ‘x’ amount of months I’ll quit.” I just want to tell them to take a step back. Just signing up with WordPress.org and Siteground and posting once a week isn’t going to start raking in the money. Blogging takes a lot of consistency and hard work and networking. Networking is one of those things that many people don’t talk about, but that’s another post for a different day.Don't compare yourself to others. Don't worry about what other bloggers are doing and how much money they are making, regardless of how long they've been blogging. Click To Tweet
I see so many bloggers say they’ve made $0 in a month and they want to know what they are doing wrong. That’s completely normal not to make any money in the first month! Don’t play the comparison game and start comparing yourself to others and what people are doing and how much money they are making, regardless of how long they’ve been blogging. Also, it’s important not to get wrapped up in numbers and assume that you have to have a million followers to make money. That’s just a WRONG mindset to have and completely untrue!
What about affiliates?
A lot of new bloggers are so concerned about affiliates, making money from affiliates, and the lack of clicks on their affiliate links and not really focused on actual content. If you are brand new, then likely you won’t have any traffic. People get affiliate money from clicking on affiliate links and making purchases, so if you don’t have any traffic, then there won’t be very many clicks. Don’t let that discourage you, because you can still make quite a bit of money from affiliates even if you have low traffic. It’s all about finding your target audience, which brings me to this…
Your audience’s buying habits may not be the same as someone else’s audience
It’s also extremely important to remember people’s buying habits. I love shopping but I don’t really shop all that much online, but I do shop in person a lot. On instagram, I follow a lot of fashion bloggers and they are always telling you to “Swipe Up” in their stories, which usually leads to a product that they are an affiliate of. Usually, I make a note of what the item is, but I very rarely buy it on the spot after it is shown to me. I usually purchase it much later or I forget about the item altogether. I also talked to my husband and he says he NEVER clicks on advertisements nor would he ever if he saw one advertised to him on a website.
Remember that research says it takes on average SEVEN to TWENTY TIMES of seeing a product before a consumer buys it!
So, while you may think you are doing something wrong because no one is clicking on your affiliate links, it’s just a really complex issue.
Something that people don’t talk about regarding affiliates – people purposely avoid clicking on your links
Something that people don’t talk about – There are lots of people out there that may not like you as a blogger or bloggers in general, so they go out of their way NOT to purchase from your affiliate link. They may click on your link, and then open up a new window in incognito mode and purchase the product. As shitty as it may be, people do that. There’s the simple fact that some people won’t click on a link because they know it’s an affiliate link.
To break it down, affiliates are passive income, but affiliate income isn’t guaranteed. While passive income is nice, I personally wouldn’t want to constantly spend hours creating posts with a potential of no return. On the other hand, if the post is successful, then it can be quite lucrative. It’s a catch-22.
You should only promote products that you believe in
I DO think that it’s great to sign up for affiliates, but ONLY for products and brands you love. I wouldn’t suggest just signing up and promoting products willy nilly or because they may produce a higher payout. As a new blogger, you shouldn’t only focus on affiliates. That should only be one small part of your strategy.
Instead of focusing strictly on affiliates, also focus on content
When starting out as a new blogger, don’t focus solely on affiliates, but also focus on CONTENT. Notice, I didn’t say one or the other. You should focus on both. Your content is key and is the biggest part of a long-term game plan that will get you noticed for your work. Stop strictly focusing on the money aspect and start focusing on the content, photography, and your brand. Anyone can write a post and throw together some affiliate links (Not saying that anyone reading this does, or that it’s that easy or what it entails), but it takes a lot of work to create a brand and voice which is more beneficial as a blogger and will prove to be more lucrative in the long run versus a bunch of round-up posts.When starting out as a new blogger, don't solely focus on affiliates, but also focus on CONTENT. Your content is key and is the biggest part of a long-term game plan that will get you noticed for your work. Click To Tweet
With my other blog, I don’t use affiliates or advertisements, but do you know what gets my blog, Fabulous In Fayette, noticed by other brands and businesses? My voice, my brand, my content, and photography, as well as the fact that I implemented SEO.
I know that if I was a brand looking to work with bloggers, I would much rather work with a blogger on whose blog I can see their personality, photography, and voice shine, as opposed to a blogger who ONLY posts round-up posts that include affiliate links.
What about advertisements?
Many bloggers want to make money quick and so they are encouraged to sign up for advertising networks. However, like with affiliates, you have to have traffic AND you have to have people click on your links. I know personally, I never click on advertisements I see.
There is one particular network that a lot of people start off with when first dabbling with advertisements. I’ve never had any advertisements on any of my sites, nor do I plan to. However, I decided one day to sign up and see what it all was about to see if perhaps that was something I wanted to implement with my site. I got accepted rather quickly and had them on my site for about a day and immediately took them off, because I hated how the ads looked on my site.
When placing ads on your site, you need to think about the user experience and not all the potential dollars you can make. I know people are concerned about making money, but you have to be concerned about your audience and who is visiting your site. If people think you site looks spammy, or is littered with advertisements, do you think they’ll visit your site again? No, they won’t (And, yes, I realize you can control the placement of your advertisements, but honestly many users hate how they look and have a negative opinion of them). If you insist of having ads on your site, then they need to be strategically placed.
To put it simply: if you are just starting out with a blog, have little to no traffic, or are just starting to monetize, ad income may not be the way to go! Many just offer pennies per click. Since every ad network is different it’s best to do research and find one that fits your needs, if you wish to use one.
Blogging isn’t a quick, get rich scheme
Like I mentioned above with the blogger income reports, people see that making money is a possibility and I think that blinds people on what blogging is about. It is a blessing that money can be made blogging and working from home.
I make 100% of my blogging income working with brands on my blog and on instagram. When working with brands, depending on their payout schedule and what’s in your contract, you might not see that money for 30 days, 60 days, or even 90 days! The same goes for some affiliate money. These are important factors to take into consideration. Just because you land a sponsored post doesn’t mean you will automatically see that money now. It’s a constant hustle, and that’s why so many bloggers have different streams of income (advertisements, affiliates, selling their own products or e-courses, etc).
However, blogging isn’t a get rich quick scheme. I think many are unaware of what goes on behind the scenes. It takes hours to create content. I have two blogs and it takes me hours to create each individual post and I’ve been doing this for a decade. I try to have three posts on Fabulous In Fayette and four posts on Grits and Glam each week. I plan out content, pick out outfits, scout photoshoot locations, do the actual photoshoots, edit pictures, write the posts, edit the posts, promote my blog posts to my social media accounts, post on instagram, and engage with others on both my blogs and instagrams. As you can see, it’s A LOT. That’s why you have to love what you do, regardless if you make $0 or $1000 a month.If you are starting a blog with the sole purpose of making money, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons Click To Tweet
Successful bloggers didn’t start their blogs to make money
Ask many of the other seasoned bloggers out there who have been running their blogs for years why they started. They will tell you they started a blog for XYZ reason, whether it was that they were bored or wanted to connect with others. None of them will say that they started a blog for money. In fact, many of them are incredibly grateful that they were able to turn their blog into a business, even though for years they weren’t making a dime.
It’s okay to turn your blog into a business and monetize it (so many of us have and will!), but don’t start a blog with the purpose of becoming rich and quitting your day job. It’s just not that easy. It takes lots of hard work, consistency, and a small amount of luck. Don’t get in the mindset of, “It’s just a hobby, because I haven’t made any money.” Treat it like a hobby and it will stay a hobby.
One little last truth bomb for you: If you are wanting to blog seriously, you should treat it like a business, regardless if you are making $0!
Tell me… Why did you start your blog?