How Most Bloggers Actually Make Money

Mostly by lying to you about how to make money blogging

Jason Weiland
Apr 20 · 7 min read
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Photo by Shane on Unsplash

I’ve had enough.

I tried to follow the formula.

I tried to tell people they can make money blogging by following their passion and creating a niche around it.

But it’s utter bullshit.

I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, and while the blogging formula that most push in their courses and ebooks does work for a minority of new bloggers, the vast majority of people making money from blogging aren’t doing it by following their passion.

They are doing it by following the money.

The Real Way Bloggers Make Money With a Blog

In the beginning, we all pick something we are passionate about. I’ve blogged about personal finance, mental health, diet, food, and writing.

It doesn’t always happen at the same time in our blogging journey, but eventually, our focus changes.

Look at all the bloggers showing off their income reports and selling courses telling you to follow your passion and pick a niche. They keep telling you that you can have income reports like them.

But, how do they make their money?

They all make their money telling you how to make money blogging. Whether it’s “Pinterest Secrets” or “Passive Income Blogging,” they are creating their content to lure you in so you will do one of the following:

  • Buy their ebook or course explaining how to make money blogging, even though the information is freely available everywhere. While some of them do have successful blogs in niches like finance and fitness, their primary source of income comes from convincing people that they can make “income report kind of money” by doing what they did to get there.
  • Click their affiliate links — Some of the best-paying companies and brands who participate in affiliate programs are in the blogging space: Bluehost, ConvertKit, Siteground, WP Engine, Tailwind, DIVI (I should know, I promoted some of the same). There is a reason why there are so many make money blogging posts on the internet — because it’s a great place to embed affiliate links and make thousands.
  • Click their ads. Those of us who try to make money by telling others how to make money have a goal, and while I stopped putting ads on my websites some time ago, there are still people driving massive traffic to their blogs in the hopes you will click their links.

And while it may sound like I am throwing other bloggers under the bus, that is not my intent at all. I don’t think there is anything wrong with making money from ads or affiliate links. I love courses and ebooks and buy them for myself all the time.

What I don’t like is the lying and misdirection from the blogging community.

It’s time we stopped tricking people into lining our pockets with misbegotten gain.

My Conscience Won’t Allow Me to Do It Anymore

I’ve been blogging for some time. I’ve had my share of successes and failures. Many of my successes were short-lived because I ruined them myself. I’ve been battling severe mental illness my whole life, and its part of the reason I don’t have flashy income reports and an influencer lifestyle.

Don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t.

The other reason why I am not a financial success yet is I am a dabbler. Except for one blog I sold back in the 2000s, much of my life in business follows the same pattern. I get excited about a new idea (I get plenty of ideas), I work hard on the plan for a few months, and then when I don’t make any money overnight, I start looking for something else.

The perfect storm of being severely mentally ill and a multipotentialite wantrepreneur has left me with plenty of battle-scars from doing what I shouldn’t do to be a success, and at 52, I don’t have much to show for my lifetime of knowledge and experience with blogging.

Finally, in 2018, I stumbled across Medium and have been publishing and earning ever since. I’ve stuck with it through the ups and downs, and while I don’t make a lot of money, I make enough to keep me going strong.

I credit Medium with giving me the motivation to start another blog to share my experience blogging and maybe make a bit more money.

I started on fire, intending to place affiliate links, and create a course based on my experience. And while I wasn’t lying, and was revealing both sides of the coin, I was still playing on a person’s emotional responses with my content:

I was careful not to mislead, but, was what I was doing any better than anyone else?

I woke myself in the middle of the night from a dream where I was a rich man, an authority, an influencer, and internet-famous. I had everything I wanted in life. The reality hit me when I looked in the mirror, and Jeff Bezos was looking back at me.

Yes, I want to make money, but no, I don’t want to be a sleazeball who takes advantage of others to make my billions.

So yesterday I wrote something of a manifesto: Stop Telling Everyone They Can Make Money with a Blog! I didn’t hold back, and I said what I felt. I not only posted it on my blog but on Medium as well.

I mostly got positive responses, and it inspired me to start looking around for others who think like me.

With the publishing of this post today, I’m saying that from now on, I will tell it like it is. Even if what I say hurts my chances at blogging stardom, I am going to be honest and thorough about how to make money by blogging.

Because there is money to be made with blogging, and I am going to find every way possible.

You don’t need to create junk content, stuff it with keywords, and use fake backlinks to trick the SEO gods at Google into giving you that number one spot on the search results.

You don’t have to start blogging about your passion, and then switch over and start lying to people about how to make money so YOU can make some money yourself.

There is a way to make money using a formula. I can’t promise it will be passive, or easy, or that you will get a 4-hour-workweek, but I will promise that the method will be honest and straightforward.

What Is the Plan, Sta… Uh, Jason?

There are a few blogging niches that perform better than others, and I am going to start creating small niche blogs to test the money-making potential of each.

I have a few ideas for earning in other niches that I want to try out as well. I have the process down pat for starting a blog, and hosting is so ridiculously cheap that I can afford to have a few more blogs, even on the pittance I make.

I may not have income reports to WOW you, but I have the tenacity to stick with something and use the knowledge and experience in blogging to figure out the things that truly work, and what doesn’t.

The first experiment is a travel blog I started before the pandemic. It’s called Frightened Traveler, and it’s slowly changing to meet the times and the fact that no one can travel right now. It’s a horrible time to have a travel blog, but that will change, and I am going to be there when it does.

From there, even though I am strictly anti-self-help-guru, I am going to start a personal development blog. My lifetime of dealing with my illness and improving over time has taught me a few things about how to make decisions and hurdle challenges. I know how I was able to make positive changes in my life, and I want to share that information with others.

From there, I have an idea for a gaming blog. And while not being one of the standard niches that make money, I want to try a few ideas I’ve come up with for monetization that will help bloggers and vloggers alike who want to make money creating content about gaming.

There Is a Blogging Formula That Works, and I Will Find It!

I thought after 20 years that I knew everything there was to know about blogging. But, after kicking my ego in the ass, I decided that I wanted to break new ground and figure out what works in the new internet age we live in.

I say “new internet age” because after we figure out how to beat this pandemic, the way we work and do business will change completely. The internet has evolved from a utility that some people paid for to a necessity that people need to work, shop, socialize, date, parent, and learn.

The internet will be what everyone turns to when we can’t work in an office, or send our kids to school, or go to Walmart, or do anything that will cause us to infect ourselves with whatever new potential virus is out there.

A few months ago, I predicted the downfall of blogging, but I now see that it will become a new and essential part of all our lives.

We need to be ready for it, and we can’t continue to do things the way we always have.

We can’t continue being dishonest to make a few dollars.

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Jason Weiland

Written by

Jason is an essayist and content creator who writes what he knows — himself and his experiences. Find him on social media @jasonjamesweiland

Better Marketing

Marketing advice & case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and efficiently.

Jason Weiland

Written by

Jason is an essayist and content creator who writes what he knows — himself and his experiences. Find him on social media @jasonjamesweiland

Better Marketing

Marketing advice & case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and efficiently.

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