I’m Over It: 10 Things No One Tells You About Blogging

I began blogging roughly about 14 years ago. At first I did it to teach myself some basic html and have a platform to talk about things like black lip liner and shorts that go down to your ankes. Eventually I learned there was money to be made from blogging and went that route.

Blogging worked out well for me for a while. I even grew my writing blog into a successful business, which I sold for a pretty penny.  I have this blog to talk about social media and I’ve started a more personal blog, but the truth is, I don’t have much to say. You see, I’m starting to feel as if I’m all blogged out at this point.

In 14 years I’ve seen bloggers come and go. I’ve seen folks get famous and fall from grace. I’ve seen more bloggers than I care to admit present themselves as something they’re not, and I’ve seen more petty drama than a junior high school cafeteria.

I’m over it.

I don’t mean that I’m quitting blogging. I’m a writer at heart and asking me not to blog is like asking a singer not to sing or an artist not to paint. If it’s in my head, I’m going to want to get it down. I’m just over all the stuff bloggers are supposed to do with their blogs. I’m over SEO. I’m over wondering why no one reads or shares my stuff anymore. I’m over trying to use blogging as a career. I just want to write for the fun of it.

Over the years I’ve read and shared a lot of advice but it all feels the same, and, truthfully sometimes I feel like a fraud. You know what I wish, though? I wish that more people who blog about blogging and social media tell you the truth about what it’s really like. We all tout the touchy-feely, puppies and unicorn stuff, but very rarely do we give you the honest to God truth.

Today, I will give you the honest to God truth.

1. The chances of you becoming a blogging guru and making millions of dollars are slim to none

There are so many blogs in the ‘sphere right now, yours is just getting lost in the noise. Very few new blogs (and even established blogs) are getting the high page views many of us had “back in the day.” Make no mistake, I worked damn hard with my blogs to get to where I am today, but part of it is also getting in at the right time. I started my most successful blog at a time when it was needed. Now blogs in that genre are a dime a dozen. Very few people are doing anything to stand out and appeal to advertisers, sponsors, or people who want to throw money your way. Very few bloggers are willing to put in the type of work needed to make real money. In fact, the bloggers who truly are earning right now are the ones who are using a blog as a marketing tool to sell something else. The blog itself isn’t an earner anymore.

2. Very few bloggers make more than a couple of hundred dollars a month on their blogs alone

Blogs are best used as marketing tools. If you’re doing nothing but sponsored posts and reviews, you’re not going to have the traffic you should because no one wants to be assaulted everyday by a sales pitch. Also, if you don’t have traffic, you’re not going to get advertising dollars if you do want to go that route.  Don’t let folks convince you that there’s big money in blogging, because there isn’t anymore. You might be able to earn some money and you may even have a few good months, but you’re not going to get rich doing it. Some people have, and that’s great, but chances are slim it will happen to you. Don’t quit your day job to become a blogger unless you already have that serious income flowing.

3. Some blogging “experts” and “gurus” are not always the most reliable, down to earth people you think they are

I know a lot of well known folks  in blogging and social media and some of them have really let me down. Some didn’t deliver on something promised, missed deadlines,  or were very nice to me when they wanted to speak at a conference, but had no interest in me beyond what I could do for them,.(No matter how “up with people” they get with their schtick.) That doesn’t mean there aren’t many good people out there, because I’ve met the best of the best too. People, before you start glorifying big names in this business, learn who they are and if they’re really who they say they are. Chances are, you’ll be disappointed too.

4. Very few bloggers are saying something new

I don’t blog much anymore because most everything I want to say has already been said. That isn’t to say that many different perspectives aren’t needed, but after a while it can all look like noise.

5. In the blogosphere success does not = money

Numbers count but not monetary numbers. Success is measured by friends and followers. I like my friends and I enjoy a good conversation, but I don’t consider friends a measure of success. Not unless they’re all paying my mortgage for me. Too many people forgo quality in favor of quantity. Look beyond the numbers for the real value.

6. You don’t have to share every little detail

I’m going to disclaimer this by saying I’m a huge oversharer on Facebook, but not so much on the other social networks. I know that can be a pain and I try to limit my sharing to certain filters but I forget. I know I’m annoying. Here’s what else I know: Very few people outside of my immediate family and friends care about what I had for dinner and where I’m vacationing. I don’t need to tell them that I’m working from Starbucks or that I had only advertisements in my mailbox. That’s just not interesting and there’s a reason we didn’t talk about all this stuff before social media. It’s boring.

There. The first step is admitting it.

7. If I stopped blogging tomorrow, very few people will notice or care

Truth.

8. Stop pretending and use those skills to do something lucrative

Though I did own a successful blog network, I felt that my skills were going to waste. I took everything I learned blogging and used it to propel a career in online community development. Look around at most of the successful bloggers you know today, they do something beyond blogging. Many have jobs and use their blogs as platforms to discuss their jobs. The blog is not the job, it’s a marketing platform.

9. There will always be people who think what you do is silly

No matter how many ways you spin it or defend it your family and friends don’t care. They’ll roll their eyes when you bring it up at dinner and change the subject at the annual potluck. They don’t get it and they don’t want to get it. You’re not a superior being because you’re in this and they’re not. They’re in a different line of work and chances are you’ll get bored if they talk shop all the time too.

10. There is no shame in throwing in the towel

If you try something and it doesn’t work out or if you’re not into it anymore, you’re not a failure. It’s better to walk away with your head held high, than to put out a bunch of  dispassionate nonsense in order to stay relevant. If people like you, they’ll continue to like you no matter what you do. 

Moving forward…

I don’t know how much more blogging I will do here at Kommein moving forward. I don’t want to say I won’t be back, but I feel like I’m not saying anything new. I don’t want to be a broken record or someone who is constantly pontificating and preaching to the choir, and I don’t want to blog simply to get page views. The truth is, the people who read my blog already know the stuff I’m telling them.  The rest of the people really don’t care. It’s all good.

  • Melanie Nelson

    Yes to every one of these. I’ve been having my own inner dialog about what I’ve done, what I have to show for it, and where I want to go from here. I’m making decisions based on what I need at this point, not what I think it accepted in the blogging community.

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      That’s pretty much how I have been running my life and my blogs over the past three or four years, Melanie. My motto is, “If blogging isn’t working out for you, get a job.”

  • Steve Woodruff

    #7 – it really is true. I’m focusing more and more on the few that do care. They’re the ones matter, from both a business and personal perspective.

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      Couldn’t agree more, Steve. Thanks for weighing in.

  • http://dragonsearchmarketing.com/ Ric Dragon

    Oh, it’s all bound to follow an adoption curve… OR – blogging may yet reveal a whole rich form of writing that is succinctly different…

    Any art form gets muddied when you introduce money. If you become a poet, you KNOW you’re not going to make any money. Most painters/artists, too. Musicians have the lingering hope.

    I’m rambling. It’s first coffee still.

    -r

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      Cheers, Ric!

  • NarniaNitro

    This is one of the most depressing posts I have read on the blogging industry.

    • http://www.social-media-design.com/ Lori Randall Stradtman

      It takes love and candor to tell the truth about what’s become an industry for many. Deb’s saving you a lot of time and trouble. Blog if you love it or are crazy about what you’re doing and want to help people by sharing quality info, but don’t get in a tailspin about how rich this is going to make you. It simply isn’t true.

      • NarniaNitro

        While I don’t doubt there are some truths listed here, some of it sounded rather applicable to the author’s personal situation (e.g. #4, #9, #10). There could just as well be a family supportive of a blogger’s career, and a blogger could have many new and fresh ideas waiting to be written down. So the reason why “no one tells you” about some of these points might be because they’re not widely shared.

        • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

          Judging from my conversations with other bloggers, these situation are more common than you think. There are a lot of people who don’t understand how one can make a living blogging, and there are a lot of people who want to talk about blogging all day but there aren’t enough people around who can relate to it.

          And you’re right about new and fresh ideas. I’m sure they’re out there, I’m just not seeing them.

  • http://anitadavissullivan.com/ Anita Davis Sullivan

    So true… I blog because I love to, but know that it alone can never replace my income. I *hope* to use the platform to build a speaking career, and sell books. But even that won’t likely pay the bills, and I’ve grown content with this being my part time sideline job. When I stopped hoping it would pay the bills, I found that I could be much more effective.

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      Exactly. For me it was all about my family. How can I best provide? My blog and it’s revenue could have kept me going as a single person, but not as a married person with a child who will one day need braces, college, etc. While I was rather successful as a blogger, I managed to put more money in the bank with a job.

  • andrewghayes

    Great post – I remember when you used to overshare on twitter too. Oh how the times change. :)

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      No one cares. Why bother?

  • LucidGal

    Preconceptions about what a blog is, or is not, cause confusion. Anyone with a keyboard can blog, and non-monetized blogs can still serve useful purposes: creating desire for product, driving traffic to websites, establishing expertise/credibility in a line of business, etc. My personal blog is of no use to anyone but me, but my business blog does all of the above.

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      Indeed. It all depends on your purpose.

  • http://www.social-media-design.com/ Lori Randall Stradtman

    Way to tell it, Deb!! Every word is exactly true. :D Wishing you stellar joy on your writing projects.

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      Thanks, Lori. I’m writing a lot less now but what’s there is coming from a good place.

      • http://www.social-media-design.com/ Lori Randall Stradtman

        That’s as good as it gets! Feels more peaceful to me, more alive. Looking forward to your novel, whenever it appears. :)

  • http://www.makingsenseofcents.com/ Michelle

    Great post! So many people think that they will make millions.

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      Right. And it’s because some bloggers have. I have nothing against the “Make Money Online” crowd, but I wish they presented a more realistic portrayal of what needs to be done.

  • Terry St. Marie

    Bravo Deb, bravo. Thanks for putting these truths out there. All the best!

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      Thanks, Terry! Good to see you.

  • Abby Heugel

    Amen. I have moments where I feel depressed and “what’s the point?” with my blog, mostly because I feel like I’m talented but not making money, getting sponsors, etc. because I’m not as “big” or willing to schlep any product like other bloggers I see. But you know what? I learned to be okay with that, to write because I HAVE to write. To write because it makes others happy and makes them laugh.

    It’s hard to take a step back and realize not to quit your day job, but unlike you I never got into blogging for money. I got into blogging for me, and I refuse to change for a couple of bucks here and there. The same goes for reading blogs, as I’m over it for the most part for every reason you mentioned.

    I hope you still find a creative outlet yourself and I have no doubt that you will. Thank you for putting everything out there the way that you did. :)

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      I really haven’t blogged for money in years, to be honest. And when I did own a blog network I was one of the people who were successful. I didnt’ get rich though and I did much better when I used the blog as a platform to market a business and not the other way around. Blogging wasn’t a sure thing for me, I prefer the security of a job.

  • http://nathalielussier.com Nathalie Lussier

    I totally agree with #8 – I’ve found that blogging is really just the starting point… or even the delivery mechanism for something greater. That greater thing can be a service or product, but it’s way more valuable than a bunch of blog posts could ever be. (As much as I’ve learned from blogs!)

    Major kudos to you Deb for putting this list together, I feel like we should all read this right when we’re starting out. And then revisit it every few years to get perspective. :)

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      Thanks, Nathalie. Blogging has evolved. It’s still very useful but like any tool, you can’t use it the same way while everything else changes.

  • Betty

    So similar to the business world outside blogging. The very reason I have no illusions. I’ve already lived that life, and now, as I am older I realize the REAL success is based on what I have done for others, not on what I have gained. The greatest success of all is having given birth to, and raising two of the best people on the planet. I THANK YOU, GOD.

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      That certainly puts it all in perspective, Betty. The people who matter most to me are part of my offline world.

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  • http://pamelamkramer.com/ PamelaMKramer

    That is the most depressing truth I have read today. You’re right, it is just really depressing.

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      I don’t mean to be depressing, Pamela. I think sometimes folks enter into blogging thinking they’re going to get rich right away and no one tells them it isn’t going to happen. I don’t usually get all tough love in my blogging, but I felt in my heart it was time.

      • http://pamelamkramer.com/ PamelaMKramer

        It’s #4 and 7-10. That’s what I found depressing not that people enter into blogging thinking they’re going to get rich.

  • http://wordsdonewrite.blogspot.com Words Done Write

    Looks like someone came back from vacation with a new perspective and a clear head! It’s amazing how time away can shift our priorities and attitude.

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      A week on the beach is all the medicine one needs, Amber.

  • darrenrowse

    Good to get some honesty into the conversation – have been trying to share posts like this on ProBlogger since the beginning of the site.

    My personal belief is that building a business around a blog – through whatever model you choose (there being quite a few that are viable) is possible but it is tough work and there are no guarantees even if you put in that tough work. I also think people would do better to blog to build a profile to monetize indirectly (i.e. to use a blog as a portfolio to market themselves, to find a job, to market an offline business).

    Interestingly though – every time I’ve published a ‘reality check’ post like this on ProBlogger that tries to give readers a realistic picture I get a bizarre mixture of responses including:

    1. people saying thanks and that they wish they’d heard this from others instead of the hype they were fed

    2. people disagreeing and saying blogging is easy to make money from

    3. people saying I’m trying to put people off because I want all the blogging money to myself and that I’m just not sharing all my ‘secrets’

    4. people saying blogging is dead

    Overwhelmingly though I find these ‘tell it like it is’ posts get a negative response and I get the sense that people want to believe the hype that some spin.

    A few thoughts on your points. I hope I’m not being too much of an optimist here – I agree with pretty much everything but as the eternal optimist I’m wired to look for positives :-)

    1. yep – the reality is that it is a tiny (miniscule) percentage that make millions from blogging. I can count those who I’d say fit into that category on one hand. But having said that – I suspect the same is true in many industries.

    I used to liken it to golfers – there are are a handful who win a major every year and maybe 1-2 who win more than 1. More make a living from golf on the tour – but in comparison to how many people play golf it’s still a very small percentage.

    There are others who enter local tournaments and win some prize money but it’s not enough to live on and the vast majority play because they enjoy it (or like the challenge).

    2. I’m a bit torn on this as I know quite a few bloggers fit into this category of making a few hundred dollars or above a month (but not full time income). It’s still the minority but here in Australia we’ve seen a large number of bloggers get to this level in the last year or two. Perhaps that is because we’re a couple of years behind the US though and we’re seeing a lot of brands reach out to bloggers of late.

    In terms of using a blog as a marketing tool – that’s definitely a great way to go to make money but it’s not the only way. I personally think a mix of some working with brands and some marketing of products can be a good mix. I think diversification isn’t a bad thing to do to take adventage of the highs and lows of the different income streams.

    Definitely don’t quite your day job though tip there’s a proven income – have seen a number of people end up in terrible situations as a result of that – often after some blogging system salesman sells them a $5000 package promising riches.

    3. True. Bloggers are people – and some people suck. Having said that I’ve met a lot of bloggers – some who are blogging about blogging and social media and there’s a lot of good people in the space too.

    Interestingly though – many of them tell me that they grapple with balancing their life and sometimes what suffers is letting people down. The other part of becoming well known is that it becomes harder and harder to please everyone as the requests get more and more. I spoke with one well known blogger a couple of years ago who since disappeared from the scene and he had a breakdown under this pressure and not being able to handle the expectations of others.

    Not trying to make excuses – just that we’re all human and have our failings and I suspect this isn’t unique to other industries.

    4. There’s truth here – but I think the same could be said for most forms of media, writing and communication. The key is to tell what you’re sharing from your own perspective I think. No-one has had your life or exact set of experiences so your perspective is ‘new’.

    Having said that – I know the feeling, particularly after blogging in the same niche for years. The thing that does keep me going though is that there are always new ways to say things and always new people coming through to explore a niche that appreciate hearing a fresh the things you might have said before.

    5. Yep

    6. Truth – although I quite like to know that other people share the same likes/dislikes and experiences as me – as long as it is in moderation (moderation being the key).

    7. To me this one comes down to what value you’re bringing. If you stop tomorrow and nobody notices or cares then you’ve likely not really created anything that has impacted those people in a positive way.

    If you’re not being useful or solving problems or meeting needs or creating a place to belong/connect or brightening people’s lives in some way then whether you stop or continue people probably won’t notice a whole heap.

    But if you regularly write something that meets a need I think people would care. I think of the 10 or so blogs that I follow religiously on a daily basis and I know I’d miss them if they stopped. Most of them are not really well known or have big readerships but they each satisfy a need I have and would be missed.

    8. this is a brilliant one – I think by being a blogger you can be developing some really excellent and sought after skills that would transfer into other fields. I quite often talk with my wife about what I’d do next if suddenly blogging completely went away and I’m happy to report that 10 years of blogging has beefed up some great muscles in some areas that I think would set me up to do other work.

    9. yep – I think most people don’t like people who talk about themselves all the time.

    10. totally agree. Failing at something is a learning experience and you gather new skills insight by trying and failing so you’re better off having given it a go and failed than not ever trying.

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      Thank you for your thoughts, Darren. If I remember correctly, you started ProBlogger the year before I started FWJ so you and somewhat come from the same place. Blogging was different back then. And I’m not saying it like the people who say “I only like their old stuff” or “I liked them better before it was popular” when referring to a popular band. What I mean it was less saturated and getting in years ago meant more page views, and yes, more revenue.

      I think it’s possible to make money from blogging, but not the way we used to. My former blog earned thousands per month with advertising revenue, but without high, high page views, it’s hard to earn that kind of income now. There’s more work involved in blogging and people don’t always want to go that route. They don’t want to put in the time. It’s the folks that work hard – the folks like Pat Flynn, for example – who succeed as bloggers.

      I think what it comes down to for me is that I’m all blogged out on this topic. I don’t think I’m adding value and I don’t want to come across as one of the noise makers.

      So glad you came by to offer your thoughts.

  • Patricia Patton

    Interesting post and comments. I read you faithfully and have for the past couple years. I would miss your voice very much.

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      Thank you Patricia. I’m not going to be gone, I’m just not going to blog if I don’t have anything of value to add. I do appreciate having you as part of my community, thank you for always being here.

  • http://searchingforthehappiness.com/ Wendy McCance

    I enjoyed this article. I love when a blogger will really pour out their soul and tell it like it is. I think you summed up a blog as a career perfectly when you labeled it a marketing tool. That is exactly what it is. If a blogger can use that as a form of free advertisement, all the better. I am a freelance writer and have been lucky to get quite a few jobs because of my blog. I really think that is the best way to look at having a blog if you want to make money with it.

  • http://uncommonlysocial.com/ Sarah Mason

    Hi Deb — thanks for the reality check. I’m pretty new to blogging (although I’ve written for years) and often think I’m crazy to tackle subjects like social media since there are a million blogs devoted to covering every angle of every change on every network.

    The approach I’ve decided to take then is to leave the tactical stuff to those sites (for the most part) and talk about how businesses can inject humanity into their online marketing efforts, something needed now more than ever. It is after all, the original intent of social media, right? To use the power of technology to connect people?

    I’m also pretty new to your blog but hope you’ll keep writing from the personal side of your experience in blogging and social media. I’m sure you have many more great stories to tell. And there’s still so much we can learn from veterans like you and @darrenrowse:disqus.

    Cheers,
    Sarah Mason

  • Gary Miller

    I would have loved to have read this prior to venturing into the blogging world many moons ago. Absolutely love the honesty of this post! Many of us have come to these conclusions the hard way. I really enjoy blogging but am doing it a lot less and hopefully with more purpose. Just because I can blog daily doesn’t mean I should. Once I finally figured that out (I’m a little slow I guess) the entire function of blogging started to feel right because I wasn’t blogging from a place of desperation.

    Thanks again, great post!

  • http://gigieatscelebrities.com/ GiGi Eats Celebrities

    HA HA HA # 7 – I like to pretend that that wouldn’t be true for me ;)

  • http://joannerambling.wordpress.com/ Jo-Anne

    Yes some good home truths here, I also would like to think number 7 wouldn’t apply to me but who am I kidding

  • Liz

    How can I tell how many page views my blog is getting?