The following is a guest post by Nurse_Writer:
Perhaps you are a writer (nonfiction or fiction), and you are intrigued by the concept of blogging. Well, I have some bad news for you: Blogging sucks.
That may surprise you that I would say that, considering I have a blog and everything (actually I have several). It also may surprise you that I earn a large portion of my income by blogging (a few hundred per month and growing slowly). So why do I think it sucks? Glad you asked….
While blogging seems like a great fit for writers, it isn’t at all. In fact, it is arguably the WORST format for a serious writer to express their inner reflections, stories, ideas, and so forth. In fact, writing is only a tiny sliver of the “blogging pie” that you must do to ensure your blog even gets readers. Blogs are best suited for people who enjoy networking, entertaining, and talking to others online. Here are the reasons why blogging sucks for serious aspiring writers:
Why Blogging Sucks (for Professional or Aspiring Writers Especially):
1. The success of your blog has almost nothing to do with your writing ability…SURPRISE!
When I started blogging, I thought that the better your articles were, the more successful you would be. I thought wrong. Unfortunately, a blog’s popularity has very little (or even nothing) to do with your actual writing skills. It has EVERYTHING to do with things that will bore the typical writer type (such as search engine optimization, networking, website technical coding, marketing yourself to death, begging for backlinks, making online buddies, and so forth).
I learned this the hard way. After writing my little heart out on my blogs (which could have probably been converted to a few books and countless freelance projects at this point), I realized that no matter how much time I spent on my articles, no matter what the word count was, or whether they were intriguing, useful, or great (or not), it had almost no connection the success of my blog income/traffic. I could write the cure to cancer, but unless I got traffic to it by marketing myself to death, it would remain buried in search engine wasteland. And be honest: When is the last time you went to page 40 on Google to search for something?
For a blog to really be financially successful, you need readers, and I am talking hundreds of thousands of them. To get readers, you must get traffic. To get traffic, you have to play a ridiculous game of cat and mouse with people, search engines, and social media. In all honesty, there are only a few ways to get traffic to your blog, and all of them are boring (especially if you are interested in mostly the writing part of blogging):
A. Get an awesome domain that people naturally type in. So if you own sex.com, blog.com, or something like that, of course you will get awesome traffic without having to put too much effort into it. But all of the great domains were snagged up long ago, and unless you feel like paying hundreds of thousands of dollars (or even millions) for a great domain, you may as well forget about having a great domain that will get type in traffic. Your domain (thegoodonesaretakenalreadysojustpickone.com) will not get a single type in.Which leads me to my next method of getting traffic: SEO.
B. You can search engine optimize your site, which will surely get you some traffic if you do this well enough. The problem? Most writers (especially me), don’t want to spend 1-4 hours writing an article, and then spend an additional day begging for people to link to your blog, optimizing keywords for search engines, adding links, submitting to article directories, social bookmarking sites, and so forth.
It is not only boring, but it is extremely counterproductive to what serious writers actually enjoy doing: Writing! Keep in mind, if you don’t do SEO, you aren’t going to get almost any traffic at all. Frankly, SEO is a pain for the writer types (and even webmaster geek types). And building backlinks sucks!
And as much as I love Google, they are still far from perfecting an algorithm that detects good content vs. bad. For example, if you type in a keyword, the article that comes to the top of Google isn’t necessarily the most interesting content. It isn’t the most well written content. It may not even be good content. But it could still be at the top. Why? Because, search engines rank pages based on a large number of factors.
What’s one of these factors? Backlinks. The person with the most backlinks and other factors will likely outrank others with almost no links. Therefore, Google will always promote sites that its algorithm detects as better, which may or may not be true (and sadly, it is often wrong).
This is frustrating, because everyone is in a fierce battle to get to the top of Google’s search results page (and your blog success will depend on it). It isn’t based on how well an article is written, or if it is relevant. It is based on whether or not they played the backlink game and networked with other bloggers. And this, my friend, will take you a massive amount of time.
If you aren’t on the first page of Google, you probably aren’t going to get a good amount of traffic from them. So to even attempt to get there means you are going against every blogger on the web. Like a school of fish racing to the ocean’s surface to get a worm that dropped into a pond, so are bloggers all fighting for that one top placement in the Google search results. And with thousands of new blogs popping up daily, I sure hope you are a competitive person…
C. Networking & Marketing gets you traffic. No shock there. But here’s what sucks: Most writers (not all), are reclusive introverted personality types in the first place (at least, I know I am). I am certainly not interested in making more friends (for the sake of getting a blog visit), or marketing myself to death. So why should I be fake and pretend I care about other people’s blogs, facebooks, myspaces, etc. when I really don’t, all in the attempt to build a few hits or incrementally build my income? Isn’t that just silly? Isn’t that counterproductive to the actual writing process?
Why should a good writer waste their time trying to market their blog and engage in pointless conversations, if marketing is not their interest (the writing is)? It is really pointless for writer types. And yet, if you don’t do one of the above 3 (or all), expect VERY LITTLE success for your blog… In fact, all three of those are the “Achilles heel” of most serious writer types who turn to blogging as a writing outlet, and those factors will usually ensure their blog fails, and most will give up in a few months or years.
I know that I suck at all of them. I missed the domain rush, so my domains get almost no type in traffic, and I have no desire to network or SEO my blogs. Granted, I would make more money if I did that, but I simply don’t care. It is boring and counterproductive to what I enjoy doing. I prefer to have my private life PRIVATE, not waste too much time on impractical things (such as SEO) so I can focus on writing decent content.
That leads me to the number 2 reason why blogging sucks:
2. Blogging often means comments and communication.
This is another annoyance of mine, as I am more of a writer than a socialite. I have “blogs” because it is easier to write and update content using the blog software (as opposed to a standard HTML site). I don’t “blog” because I want to hear 500 nit-picky or spammy people comment on my articles and pretend to be my English teachers resurrected from the past. I like to write, not enter into debates, hear other’s opinions, argue, be corrected, or make friends. If I want that, I visit a large online forum (like yahoo answers), where that is mutually expected.
In fact, commenting is a huge annoyance to me (which is why I am part of a few breed of bloggers who don’t allow comments in most cases). Why? Because when I write, I write for the reader for sure, but most importantly, I WRITE FOR ME. I write to get an emotional release. I write to see the thoughts in my head expressed in a more coherent way. I write because sometimes I just like to write. I write thinking my article may help someone down the road who gets referred by a search engine to an article I labored on. I enjoy it. Plus, I may even make a buck or two…Yippee.
So the last thing I want after I pour my heart and soul into an article, is some ignorant person commenting and making a good or bad comment about what I wrote. In fact, I have found that people only comment for one of the reasons below:
A. They disagree with you/didn’t like the article. Big whoop. There are 6 billion people in the world, all of which would probably disagree with me on 1 given topic or article. I know this, but I am still entitled to my view or my opinion. So why do people feel the need to comment to let the writer know they have a different opinion or they didn’t like it? So what! Did they honestly think I didn’t know some people wouldn’t like it? Sheesh. And if you ever blog on politics or religion, you will soon turn comments off (or risk losing your sanity). Because every single post you make will draw the most negative and critical comment flames you have ever seen by anyone who disagrees with your views.
B. They liked your article. Of course I want people to like (even love) my articles. I want them to take something useful away from it (whether it be entertainment, information, etc.). But for crying out loud, you don’t have to give me a pat on the back each time. Commenting to say, “great article” is rather pointless, and just takes up more of my time having to moderate and pick between real ones and spam. So while people think they are doing a good thing, it actually ends up making more work on my part, which leaves me less time to write.
C. 90% of people are simply trying to build backlinks to their site, to SEO optimize it. This is getting back to the point I made above: You can’t have a successful blog unless you promote and market the heck out of it.That is so pointless to me, and because so many people are trying to do this, they will leave comments on your site thinking it will gain them an SEO benefit.
Why should I be forced to go and comment and network on other’s blogs, to gain readers for mine? Seems silly and impractical. People should come to my blog for the same reason I go to theirs: It has something useful or interesting on it. Granted, as I indicated above, your blog will get virtually no traffic if you don’t do this, but it is so silly to waste time doing it in my opinion. I write to write. I want my articles to be read because they were worth reading. Not because I played a cat and mouse game with other bloggers and search engines.
D. They want to correct a grammatical/spelling mistake. People love to feel superior and smart, so they put your sentences under a microscope and really enjoy finding an improper spelling, or other mistake. I don’t care about that. My textbooks in school often had errors, and I can have errors too. So don’t waste your time telling me I ended a sentence with a preposition, or whatever other nit-picky issue you find. I fully admit that I am a flawed writer. Sorry I can’t afford a full-time editor to re-read and correct each article, but oh well. Let’s move on.
E. They have a question. The last reason people tend to comment, is if they had a question raised in their mind after reading your article. The only problem is this: Who wants to spend their entire day answering every possible question about a subject (that you probably wrote about last year and no longer think about), while getting paid squat for it? When your blog gets any traffic at all, you can easily get 10-200 comments per day (sometimes more). Most of which, are not easy to answer (and half are spam). They require almost a whole separate article to reply. If you ignore the comments, people get offended.
So you simply can’t win with comments in my opinion. Someone has to lose: either the blogger loses (by wasting time moderating them, dealing with flames, etc.), or the commenter loses (by being ignored, or not being able to post them). I would prefer it be the commenter that loses (no offense). Okay, moving on to other reasons why blogging sucks…
3. Blogging Pays Peanuts.
Most bloggers (me included), do not earn a full time income, despite putting in a nearly full time effort. In fact, according to most studies, the average established full-time blogger earns no more than $5,000 per year from their blogs. While I make a few extra hundred bucks per month, I couldn’t live on it at this point (3 years after starting) for sure. In fact, with all of my blogs, I earn even a little less than $5,000 per year at this point. Not a lot of money for sure. Even the most dull novel gets a $5,000 advance in most cases (if they manage to publish it).
Most bloggers have full-time jobs, or at least, work part time or do freelance projects on the side (or have a spouse that works full time). Why do they work while blogging? Is it because they are workaholics? No, it is because blogging makes you peanuts for an income. They have to do other things to supplement their income, or else they will starve to death in about 6 months time.
Granted, there are exceptions to this. A lucky few earn a full time income solely from their blogs (but it probably took them years to get to that point). Some even earn above a hundred thousand or so per year. But there are VERY FEW people who reach this level of success in the blogging world (in comparison to the millions who attempt and fail). Most big blogs are actually serious businesses with full time writers on a payroll.
Darren Rowse is a solo blogger who claims to make over $100,000 per year (and I believe him). However, he also freely admits that it took him nearly 7 YEARS of blogging, networking, and marketing himself and his blogs to build it to that level. He also got a little lucky because he got on the blog bandwagon just as it became popular. So he was way ahead of the curve.
Most of the solo bloggers who do succeed, really aren’t that extraordinarily talented at writing (per se). They are much more talented at entertaining (funny videos, pictures, etc.), making simple how-to posts that give useful information, and marketing themselves to death. I just hate the marketing and SEO part of blogging (can’t you tell)…
To reach that level of success, you must be really good at one (or really all) of the 3 ways to get traffic I mentioned above. Unfortunately, most people who write really well, are probably not going to be interested in those thing. There may be few exceptions, but most won’t. Also, I would dare say that the people earning the big bucks probably have a lot of help too. They either pay someone to do their SEO/marketing (very expensive by the way), or have a spouse or partner helping lighten the work load.
Not to mention, the success you can potentially gain from blogging can fade away almost instantly. If you do one thing to make Google mad at you, or if they change their algorithm and somehow devalue your site from the search engines, you will get major drops in traffic instantly (except for any readers you may have gained). So success and income can go away even faster than it came in.
Some people would argue that while blogging doesn’t earn a lot of money directly, you can earn a lot of money indirectly via speaking events, promoting products or services, you may even get a book deal based on your blog writing, and so forth. Well, I have a few things to say to that too: I don’t like speaking (as many writers don’t), and I don’t want to turn a blog into a book. Most of my blogs are scattered topics, and would not be very good books.
Also, most people who have gone from blog to book didn’t sell well at all. Let’s be honest, most books that are based on a blog are not going to be picked up as bestsellers, and then made into a movie. People just don’t blog on topics that are that mainstream, and blogs themselves are rarely written in a standard writing prose format.
Furthermore, most people who read your blog aren’t going to buy your book anyway (as experience has shown with several big bloggers who attempted this), because they already know what you have to say on your blog, and can read that for free. So, yeah, it can lead to other things (none of which I really care about). But then again, blogging may lead to nothing! Aha, and that is EXACTLY what it leads to for the majority of bloggers typing away right now.
Now, contrast that blogging income with a potential income as a freelance writer, magazine or publication writer, or book author. If you can write decently at all, you could probably make 10 times that amount in the same time period. In 1 year, you could easily take all of that energy you were going to put into your blog into freelance projects, and still probably author 1-2 books a year (that would probably at least make you $5,000 a piece, if not more).
So blogging certainly isn’t going to make you rich, even if you have an enormously successful blog. The top bloggers in the world will never reach the financial success of Stephanie Meyer, Stephen King, or JK Rowling. Granted, most novelists wont either. But still, you get my point…moving on.
4. It’s Hard to Keep Readers Coming Back.
Blogs just aren’t nearly as enjoyable or easy to read as an actual book, which is why it is hard to build a regular readership. A readership is a big key to the success of your blog. Therefore, it makes it very hard to be successful since building large readership is very difficult. This is based on the reasoning below:
A. Blogs are scatter brained. Most blogs vary wildly on their topics. One day a blogger may blog about their job, the next day, they blog about movies, the next day, they blog about Twinkies. The bottom line is: Most people aren’t going to want to hear about (or have interest in) every single article you blog about. Therefore, people tend to lose interest in reading your blog fast the first time you make an off-topic post. Even my wife, who has been interested in several blogs in the past, lost interest after a while and moved on. In fact, I myself read information online daily (even more than I write), and I have never followed 1 single individual’s blog. Of course, if you focus on a very narrow niche you can over come this and keep a reader’s interest a little longer. But then again, it is very hard writing continually on 1 specific niche topic.
B. Blog formats are not easy to read. Let’s face it, most blogs are not easy to read. They start in reverse chronological order. Then, we have to read back through older posts. It takes a lot of time to find older posts, and so forth. Pages have to load, ads pop out in your face, most blogs have oodles of ads, pictures, links, and widgets to clutter it up and bog it down, etc. It is not nearly as pleasant as picking up a book or magazine and reading. Therefore, people tend to dislike reading a blog very quickly. And forget about opening your laptop in the doctors office to read a blog, a novel wins this fight every time…
C. People Quite Reading if They Disagree. If you write a post or two that someone strongly disagrees with (such as religion, politics, etc.), you can plan on losing a reader. People won’t come back to your site if you offend them. And I have offended a great many people in my days blogging (which was totally unintentional).
5. Bloggers Must Be Webmasters.
Another reason why blogging sucks, is bloggers have to also be their own webmasters (unless of course, you hire a company, but that get’s expensive). Being a webmaster is a whole range of activities to ensure your blog is stable and readable. It means you must update your blog software when new patches come out, fix any glitches or bugs, renew your domains and host your blog on a server (if you self-host it), and more.
It also means you must create hyperlinks and link to various other articles on your site as much as possible so people and search engines can find them. You also have to deal with SEO issues (good search engine rankings), deal with hacking threats, create sitemaps, good link structures, make backup copies of your articles, and more. This can be time consuming, and for the novice who knows little about the web, it can be a downright intimidating.
I think this is why most bloggers tend to be more of a social talker, than an introverted writer. Most big introverted writer types steer clear of blogging type of publishing media. Very few actually deal with the hassles of blogging. I imagine any serious writer would get very annoyed by the whole blogging process, and find it counterproductive to their creative writing.
In fact, I find it rather funny that nearly ALL bestselling authors are virtually absent on the web in any real capacity. Stephen King has said he never intends on doing Facebook or any of those things. Stephanie Meyer, J.K. Rowling, and others have very little (or no) interaction on the web too. Granted, most have very basic informational or biographical websites (probably created by their agent or publisher for them), or sometimes write articles for other websites– but they do not really blog, and if they do, they tend to be short updates about their books coming out, etc. They don’t really blog seriously, nor do they try to SEO their sites, or spend time networking.
I think because they feel the same way about it as I do. They enjoy writing, but not all of the other nuances that go along with blogging. So they stick with books, which are ONLY about writing. They let the publishing companies and agents deal with all of the details and hassles. They much more prefer to write fiction and non-fictional material, as opposed to online blogging content.
Oh, and back to the bad parts of being a webmaster: I almost to add in the rejections you will face. You will waste hours of your life submitting to Dmoz.org, and other (nearly useless) web directories, only to never get accepted into their “in circle.” It is so frustrating!
6. Blogging is a Full-Time Business
Blogging for money is more than writing, it is a business. You have to be creative to actually earn money, and think like an entrepreneur. That means you have to find every way possible to monetize your blog (to ensure you receive money for your work). That includes using programs such as Google AdSense (and tweaking it until you make the most you can), selling advertising directly (or through a company such as buysellads.com), consider making “pay to post” articles, and so much more.
In addition, you have to devise a way to track the bookkeeping and tax issues with all of those income sources (unless you want the IRS to take everything you own and toss you in jail). This, alone, can get quite burdensome. You will find yourself spending more time than you want on the financial details, unless of course you hire someone to do this for you (which will cut into your massive “$5,000 or less” income tremendously).
In addition, you can also bank on having to obtain a business license in most locations. You will have to file reports with them and pay a small tax in most cases too (either on an annual or semi annual basis).
You will also now have legal liabilities. So if you post some copyrighted picture, a person could sue you. Or if you copy and paste content from a website onto your blog, someone could potentially sue you. Or if you defame a person, spread false gossip, or anything else, a person can sue you. Or if you register a trademark (such as ipodcity.com), the company’s lawyers may come after you. And yes, this happens to people quite frequently who have big blogs.
So blogging is serious business. It is a business. Period. Are you prepared to start a business??
Why Should You Blog At All? Is It Even Worth It?
Okay, even though I have probably dissuaded you from blogging at this point (for legitimate reasons), there are actually a few reasons why it may make sense to run a blog. Here they are briefly:
- You have some spare time and want to gain a supplement income (just don’t expect too much, and be prepared to work at it diligently for at least 1-2 years before seeing even a dime in some cases). In fact, if supplemental income is your goal, there are many other ways that will bring you money up-front such as freelance writing, etc.
- You enjoy networking and/or making friends, and don’t care much about the writing aspect of blogging. Again, that is why I stress that blogging is best for these types. For serious writers who care about writing meaningful and useful content, other things may be more appropriate.
- You want to create a simple blog to update business or personal details.
- You want a place where you can secretly vent your frustrations, talk about dreams, or whatever, without people knowing your identity, and potentially profit a small amount in the process.
- You want to be famous and think pasting yourself all over the web will help.
- You enjoy being poor (unless you have another job or find ways to make more money).
- You want to blog to say you’ve done it, and you don’t care about money or your time.
- You have a hobby you want to blog about and talk to others on the web about it.
If any of those fit you, then go for it. Blog away.
Advice For People Who Are Writers, and Thinking About Blogging:
If you can write fairly well and want to start a blog because you like to write, then I would offer this advice: Blog on the side (if you feel the urge to blog), but really focus on other things. Don’t put your blood and sweat into your blog, because you will probably not get out what you put in.
Write a book, publish a novel, write for a magazine or newspaper, or do freelance work. Put your heart and soul into those projects. That advice is pretty straightforward, because I can tell you from experience that your blog is probably not going to earn a lot of money unless you kill yourself working 24/7, and market yourself to death. Then, in 5-8 years, you may rise to the top of the blogosphere and make a good amount of money….for a while…and then you will probably move on.
Also, you will not be recognized or rewarded based on your writing. You only get recognized and/or rewarded based on your search engine ranking, backlinks, SEO skills, and who you know online. Simple as that. It is unfair, but true.
Expect your first year to make NO MORE than about $200-800 if you are lucky and work REALLY hard. The next few years you can grow this, but it will probably be very slow. In a few years time (4-8 years), you can potentially earn enough income from your blog to make it a full-time gig, but just expect that you will be very busy doing things other than writing. You can also lose your status and your income can dip from month to month without notice. In fact, some bloggers are horrified to quit their job, and then suddenly their blogs tank (along with their income).
Even I have experienced sharp income dips before (dropping as much as $100 from one month to next). Some people’s income can drop in the thousands in a matter of a month or two. So you better make sure you REALLY ENJOY BLOGGING and have a plan B. The web is a fickle place to run a business.
I don’t really enjoy all of blogging, but I do I enjoy the writing. It is my favorite part of blogging. I just wish I could write more and my articles would get read based on practical reasons. 10% of my time is spent writing, and 90% is spent managing my websites, finances, promoting my site, SEO, and other nonsense things. All for a whopping measly income. Oh well.
At this point, if I could go back in time, I would never have started my blogs. Instead, I would have put that time into other writing projects (freelance-so I got paid up front), and also a book (hoping to make it big, or at least more than $4,000 a year). But hey, since I actually make about $200-300 a month in income now, I try to keep it going, in hopes that one day I can make even more.
I get moments of inspiration where I try to put more effort and grow my blogs. Then I get moments of frustrations where I want to give up on the whole thing and focus on other projects. Blogs do tend to absorb all of your time. So I go in cycles of how much attention I give to my blogs. Sometimes, I get so frustrated, I ignore them for a while and attempt other career paths.
If anyone ever made a nice offer on my site(s), I would probably sell them. Then, I would start focusing on real writing projects, and not this silly blogging concept which is based solely on your willingness to gain popularity by networking, etc.
Conclusion: Blogging for Income Is Hard, Serious Writers Should Focus on Other Writing Outlets
While blogging may seem that it is a perfect fit for writers (since a blogger must write content), it isn’t at all (surprisingly). After 3-4 years of blogging at this point, I have realized that reality. Writing is only a tiny part of the task of running a blog. The majority of your time spent will be doing dull administrative tasks, and things such as search engine optimization, creating links, marketing, etc. Essentially, you will be self publishing online, and you will be responsible for everything. You will be your own agent, publisher, marketer, webmaster, accountant, etc.
Blogging can be beneficial for anyone who has an interest in those administrative tasks. If you love networking, posting comments on blogs, and so forth, you would probably be a good fit for blogging. However, I would dare say that most serious writers will get frustrated and bored with blogging as a way to express their written works of art. Especially when they see that their writing will not get any attention unless they promote it shamelessly.
And the income is certainly attainable, but very difficult to attain. So if you choose blogging, good luck. But if you are turned off by the things I listed in this article, then I would not waste your time. Your time may be better spent working on a book or some other project. Unless of course you are looking to blog from a business perspective, or just want to connect with a few readers.
I hope that helped you get a realistic perspective on the blogging world from a guy who actually earns a small income by blogging. Good luck!