The Dark Deceptive Fraud-Like Side of Blogging….With A Happy Ending

by Sam Diener on April 19, 2010

For the first four months after I created Stuff For Success, I was floating on a cloud of narcissism. I had hundreds, sometimes thousands of people reading my work every day, so I let it pump my ego. People would ask, “What do you do for a living Sam?” and I would answer, “I am an entrepreneur.

But of course if people pressed me for clarity, I would say: “I have a blog! It’s really famous. I’m number one in Google. I’m The SHIT!”

Men would throw me high fives as I passed and women would tear at my clothes. “Oh Sam, you are sooooo”————– and here’s where we cut to the real article:

I am guilty of overestimating the true payoff that can be realized by having a successful blog. Judging by the RAPIDLY growing “blogosphere,” I think many other writers are making the same mistake. However, maybe this article will help some people realize truly how to gain from having a blog, and what they can expect.

Last time I counted on my fingers and toes, there were 900 million bloggers out there on the Internet. Of out all of these bloggers, I have learned that with a few small exceptions (that I CAN count on my fingers and toes) there is only ONE group of them who is getting returns on the investment of their time. Can you guess which one it is?

  1. People who think blogging can be a business. 
  2. People who feel blogging will drive their business.
  3. People and companies who blog as a hobby.

Choice 3 is the ONLY correct answer. Let’s look at why:

1. Do you know how many people actually make enough income from their actual blogs to have it directly be their main source of income? About 20. That’s right. TWENTY people. They were all featured in a Business Week article. And none of them made the type of money you would associate with the level of fame these guys have achieved. Would you like to guess what the most profitable topic was? How to make money blogging… Go figure.

Many of the people who claim to be a huge success from the internet HAVE become big successes on the Internet, but their monetary success comes from booking consulting deals, writing books, and speaking engagements. I myself have generated my income from consulting on a variety of topics for companies – not from my blog.

Here is a little reality: money comes from advertisers. That means you need to bring traffic to your site. The only way to do this is to grab a topic that no one has explored and create an enormous buzz about your site. And you have to have a very large audience. Good luck finding a topic.

I say a large audience because, in most cases, the only way to get advertising dollars is to have tens of thousands of people looking at your site each month. Need numbers? Advertisers pay dollars (as in less than ten, most of the times less than five) for every thousand people that see their ad. In some cases, they only pay for “clicks” on their ads. So let’s say you had an advertiser who agreed to pay you $3.00 for every thousand people (defined in the “biz” as cpm) that saw their ad on your site. To make $1,500, you need 500,000 people to view your site. Without coverage of your blog in the NYTimes, WSJ, AND on CNN at the same time, you’d have a better chance of getting hit by lightning or winning the lottery.

Did you know the ShoeMoney guy was called out quite publicly for BADLY Photoshopping himself in order to mislead his readers?

Blogging was not meant to be a product. If you want to start a business, choose something where your odds aren’t against 900 million other competing blogs. With the effort you put into starting and maintaining a blog, you could be a millionaire many times if you actually used the same effort to start your own business. The load of work that comes with maintaining a GOOD blog is the equivalent of at least two full time jobs.

2. The only reason people read blogs are for entertainment and for information. If you think you are going to use your personal business blog to convince people to buy you or your product, you will be wasting your time.

Too often, I see businesses allocating all of this time to creating a blog and then pouring all of this time and money into talking up their products with the thought that they are magically going to start seeing sales come in through their website from readers that they have never seen before. Sorry, it’s not going to happen…

When a business talks about themselves or their product, they are simply giving a biased point-of-view of what they are selling. People on the Internet are a little more intelligent than to sit and read that. In fact, if they want to know about your product, they are going to look at someone ELSE’S point of view.

3. The people who get the returns on their investment are the hobbyists. People who read content on the web often give little thought to who wrote that content UNLESS that writer attempts to connect with the reader on a personal basis. The writers that do this best are those that write because they want to – not because they have to.

Look at all of the blogs that you read on a regular basis. I’d be willing to bet you read them because the author is passionate about their topic and entertaining.

When someone blogs for a business, usually that person feels they MUST produce new content. Who wants to read something written by someone in that situation?

However, if you are passionate about your topic (and at least an okay writer with a great editor (Kellie Bowers)), you will create compelling content that people will want and continue to read. Whether you are writing about an aspect of your business or some personal interest, you will get readers. And these readers will sometimes begin to take an interactive approach to your content. If your content is about an aspect of your business and your readers are actually interacting with you as the writer, then you are using your blog as a business networking tool. And business networking can get you business.

And here is the kicker: Most of the major blogs that make any revenue were started at least a few years ago. Back then the only reason people did blog was because it was their hobby…


Happy Ending: It may appear that I am coming down hard on blogging.  I am.  But it is because I want you to understand what you are getting into.   If you do decide to blog, and do so for the right reasons you can have tremendous success.  I built a network of people I never could have imagined having.  And better yet, people began to hire me to help them because they knew I would tell it how it was.  It gave me an opportunity.  This was from a hobby I started just because I wanted recruiters to come to my website and read an article and say, “Wow I should hire Sam.

If are blogging as a hobby, and expect little or nothing, that’s when the results come.  Good luck.

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