When bloggers succeed in making money, or just happen to generate enough traffic that income becomes inevitable, there usually comes a point where the urge to make more and more money gets quite strong.
Let’s face it, making money online is one of the best feelings. It still feels hard to believe that it is possible, and when you actually achieve it you feel great and want more of it.
Where some bloggers go wrong is that they get greedy and start looking for higher ticket items to promote and become less authentic.
I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times over the twenty years that I’ve been blogging.
Some people start off with money as their main goal and the arts of persuasion and manipulation as their tools, but the vast majority start out with a passion for writing and sharing their stories and opinions, and eventually slowly lose their way when money gets involved.
Here’s a good article on how you can stay happy and guilt-free while growing your blog and making money. It’s packed with tips that I fully agree with, so I thought I’d just link to it rather than repeat the same things over in this blog post.
You might think that it’s counterintuitive to not keep pushing for more and more income from a blog, but there’s a balance that few people consider until they’ve been through the whole experience.
Here’s how it goes.
When you start blogging, it’s probably just a few friends and family who will venture to your blog. However, you keep putting in the hours because it’s a passion-driven project.
Soon enough, your content gets linked to or ranks in Google and a few like-minded people start to subscribe to your newsletter or comment on the top content.
This feels amazing. Your work is finally being validated, people are interested in what you have to say, and you might even learn a thing or two from the people who comment and give feedback on your articles.
This goes on for a while as your traffic grows and grows, until one day the first commission comes in, and it feels incredible.
Now, you not only have a loyal flock of like-minded people, but you are even being compensated for your work. A few months pass by and the income now pays for your expenses, or if you’re lucky even for you to blog full-time and stop any other job you were doing before.
You decide to take this thing very seriously and start getting into SEO, reading about affiliate marketing, and possibly learning some basic coding.
You realize that there are other bloggers out there who claim they are making $50,000 a month or even more, and driven by your success so far, you see no obstacles to getting there if you just keep doing what you’re doing and follow their courses and secrets.
This is usually where things get nasty. Your expectations are now really high. You’re no longer happy with a day where you earn $100 in commissions, or a month with a $5000 payout. That’s just normal for you, you’re a successful blogger and you want more and more.
At this perilous point, a lot of bloggers turn into full-on affiliate marketers. This is where you see that genuine food blogger suddenly start making more money with her courses teaching you how to start a food blog or how to find a perfect web host. The whole act becomes more and more about money and less about the original topic of the blog.
This is where the blogger unwittingly deviates from his real passion (food, technology, etc etc) and starts to focus exclusively on finding and promoting high-ticket items. They might even write ebooks and launch courses that promise others how to achieve the dream of the dot com lifestyle.
What happens here is that yes, most likely the blogger makes a good chunk of money, but they become less happy and work many more hours, as they start losing the benefits of their narrow niche and start competing with aggressive affiliate marketers for hot generic keywords. This road leads to anxiety and burnout.
On the other hand, the blog starts to lose its loyal readers, who are disgruntled by the way things have turned out, and no longer feel that sense of camaraderie and connection with the author of the blog. They are instead replaced by an army of (unfortunately) gullible and lesser educated people who are looking for a get-rich-quick scheme and are not ready or capable of putting in the years of learning all the skills needed to make money online.
These are the same people that get drawn into pyramid schemes and MLMs and go to self-help seminars, spending thousands of dollars and getting nowhere closer to their dreams. They usually end up worse off in fact. It’s sad but it’s the truth.
Going back to the blogger, your only option to keep growing is now to focus even more on the arts of manipulation, as this is the kind of target audience your blog is now aimed at. Going back to the good old days is almost impossible now, so it’s either keep focusing on the money or shut up shop altogether and go into something new.
I’ve met a ton of bloggers and affiliate marketers and felt the allures described above myself. Years back, when I was building my early successful blogs, I got close to the tipping point, but the extra anxiety and my family background helped me ask the right questions and realize what the choices ahead were.
I decided to keep doing what I really love, because doing something you love is more important than making more money, especially if you’re already doing well enough to get by.
My choice was to keep blogging about whatever interests I have at that point in time, and use the skills I had learned along the way to build products. In that way, I could build products that I could stand behind 100% and I also had the skills needed to promote them via blogging and other forms of content. It was a win-win scenario.
My aim is not to tell you what you should do as a blogger, but to at least shed some light on the usual course of things and share the fact that there are always options, you should never have to compromise on your morals or your true calling in favor of more money.
In case you’re wondering whether all the claims of monthly income by affiliate marketers are even true to begin with, then I can tell you that I know many of them and the vast majority of them really make what they claim they do. However, a lot of them made choices that I wouldn’t be comfortable doing and I don’t envy their lifestyles. I feel that in most cases, instead of their blogs providing them with freedom and the ability to help others and share their passions, they turned into huge money-making machines that they are chained to in order to keep going and keep up their big level of monthly earnings.
Now you know the story, it’s time to reflect and make your choices.