That’s not really the question… but if you can’t steal from the old hack of Stratford on Avon then who can you steal from…
This then is a bit of an odd blog post, because it’s a blog post about blogging, so it’s somewhat incestuous in that regard. It is, like many of these posts, inspired by a question asked on a writer’s chat group. Which went something like this:
I would like to start a blog, but I do not know how to start a blog or how blogging can generate an income?
Before I go any further though, let me start with the last part of the question. ‘how blogging can generate an income?’ The simple answer is through advertising. and the less simple answer is to forget about making any income from your blog through advertising… Let me just say this and get it out of the way, if your sole interest in writing a blog is to make money you may as well forget about it right now. That’s the wrong place to start, and you will be better off learning to sell cars. In case you’re in any doubt, let me just say that the next few bits of this post are all to dissuade you for bothering to start a blog if you’re doing it with a view to making money… If you’re thinking of doing so for less fiscal orientated reasons you could skip down a bit, but you might find this interesting all the same…
Yes, there are people who make money blogging professionally. Generally, they are niche blogs, that have built a large following over a number of years, know exactly what they are doing and work towards that audience. Good luck to them, I have no axe to grind, and I wish them nothing but the best. They are making a living through writing, I would love to do the same.
Yes, I could monetize my blog. It’s WordPress hosted, just in case you were not aware, the WordPress icon on the follow button is a bit a clue. I pay for the domain name and the basic package, which keeps it advert free, but that’s my choice it could have been completely free for me to build and have adverts on it. I could have also taken the next package up (for a small fee), monetised the site and got paid ‘by the click‘ for adverts on it. I didn’t and have no wish too for two reasons.
Firstly, I don’t actually want adverts on my site. God knows the internet has already become the adman’s wet dream. Faceache, Twitter, all the rest are full of ads. So are most news sites, most sites, in general, come to that, and a fair few blogs/opinion sites. All of them happily slowing down the internet and try to sell crap no one wants. Half of the sites on the internet are click bait trying to increase footfall for advertising revenue. the whole reason we all need faster broadband is that sheer number of adverts we have to download to get to the content we actually want to see. So I don’t want my site to be full of adverts. The only adds on my site, if you wish to call them that, are Amazon links to my novels. You’ll have to forgive those, I think I can justify advertising my own work on my blog… But aside them I prefer people to have an ad-free experience when they visit my these pages. You know, the way the internet used to be…
The second reason is not to do so is foot-fall… It is simply uneconomic to have ads on your site if your average visits a day (not views, but individual visits) is at a minimum of 250 a day. If that doesn’t sound that hard let me throw a few numbers at you. This blog in its present form has been around for about 8 months, before that it was on blogger (where it did actually have some paid ads but that’s another story). On Blogger it had existed since August 2013 and I ported over a lot of the earlier posts. In total, not including this one there are 175 posts, on various subjects, some of which have been very successful, some of which are I’ll admit more niche. I deleted a fair few old one from the blogger site or there would be closer to 250+. In all, between the two sites, I have had well over 18000 views since I started blogging. This site alone in the 8 months it has exists accounts for over a third of them. On occasion, I have even surpassed that magic 250 a day ( twice I believe). I have built a solid bunch of followers, post regularly, and a lot of people like stuff I post. Yet, if I was actually inclined to monetize the site I am nowhere near the numbers I would need to make it viable.
This blog has never been for me about making money. I also don’t sell anything other than my own novels via the blog. No mugs with the ‘Passing Place’ logo, no T-shirts with ‘Cider lane’ signposts. No pin badges, nothing. This is because of a massively complex set of reasons but mainly come down to ‘no one ever asked me for any of these things‘ nor do I expect they ever will. All these would be a way to make your blog pay, if you were so inclined, but again you have to create a following in your niche and sites that do that kind of thing have earned it through hard work. There are plenty of people in the artistic writer, artist blogger community who do. I own a couple of Dark Legacy T-shirts because I love Keydar’s work. If I thought I could get away with a mug at work that read ‘Real princess’s Wear Combat Boots’ I would have bought one from Jeanie at the Devils Panties (not satanic porn) for much the same reason. I have no objection to artists making money or buying their stuff, I read their blogs and comics, they make me smile, laugh and the world a more joyful place. But in both these cases what they are giving to the world via there blogs/comics is unique and wonderful. I also suspect that neither Jeanie or Kaydar started out on this path with the view ‘How can I make money from this.’ but rather started doing something the loved then stumbled into a commercial venture when they realised they had an audience that wanted them to.
All of which is a rather long way around saying this. If your interest in blogging is to earn money unless you’re prepared to do a whole lot of work to earn it then forget about it, and even if you are, forget about it because you’re starting from the wrong place.
If, however, you’re thinking of starting a blog because you think you have something to say. Something that may add to the greater human experience. Something that may inform, or make someone smile, or you just want to have a good rant to the universe in the vague hope someone might listen. Express yourself, your opinions, your idea’s. Try to help make the world a better place. Just get on with it, start a blog, talk to the world, throw your ideas out there and see what comes back.
And then maybe you’ll reach some form of apex where you can decide to try and make money out of your blogging. If enough people give a damn about the things you have to say…
But don’t start with that in mind. Entertain, inform, help make the world a little better, or give people inspiration, advice and ideas, but don’t go straight for there wallets…
Links to my own social media and stuff for those who may be interested.
Hi Mark, great post on blogging and what writers of blogs should bear in mind. I’m in agreement with you whole heartedly. I love the way you have your blog organised too. I’m tuning into you now through twitter and goodreads! Cheers for now. (sharing this post on twitter)