Monday, June 15, 2020

Make Money Blogging! Or Not...

Can you make a lot of money blogging? You can, but only if you treat it as a full-time job.

A lot of people are under the misapprehension you can make a lot of money by operating a blog or YouTube channel. You just make a few entries or stream-of-consciousness postings or quick videos and the money will just come pouring in!  Nothing could be further from the truth.

I was recently turned onto a link that claims you can make thousands of dollars a month by blogging. My experience with Google AdSense would seem to negate this, but they claim that other advertising companies can generate much more revenue for you than Google AdSense.  And this is probably the case.  But even then, will you make enough to live on, much less fabulous riches?  Not likely, unless you want to work 60 hours a week on your blog or YouTube channel.  And even then, if you suck at it, and no one visits or watches, you won't make a dime.

In order to get on some of these advertising platforms, you'll need about a 100,000 hits a month, which I have average for the last few years.  However, to make real money at this, it's more than just placing a few odious ads on your blog site. It also pays to have a mailing list that you can broadcast to on a regular basis as well as rent out to advertisers. You need to have a comments section or better yet, a discussion forum.   In other words, you have to whore your readers.

Then you have to do affiliate advertising, basically reviewing the products and services that are advertised on your blog. And of course you can't just review them, you have to make positive comments about them. So right off the bat you're no longer blogging you're just cheerleading for some company.  It's a whole different world.  You become a whore as well.

Then there is something called guest posts.  If you've ever been on a Blog and they have some other person writing an entry, you know what's going on. That person paid to do a guest post on the blog and the guest post usually is advertising some service or product.  And no, it isn't an impartial review.

I've gotten a lot of emails from people asking me to do guest posts, but when I pressed them for details they become remarkably vague. I suspect, that some of these are maybe a con of some sort. They want you to hand over the username and password of your blog site so that they can hijack it.

The site linked above recommends hosting your own blog site with your own URL independent of Blogger or WordPress or any other major site. And this is probably to get away from Google's restrictions on Advertising. Google would prefer you advertise through them with AdSense rather than use a third-party.  Can't blame them for that - they are paying for the server space, right?

The net result is that there is no free money involved in this. You have to carefully curate your blog and what you can say becomes very limited in terms of topic and content. You can't just post stream-of-consciousness things or whatever fancies your interest that day, it all has to be commercially oriented and aimed at a specific demographic.  Moreover, you can't say negative things about your advertisers or their products.  In fact, you have to become a cheerleader for them.

It helps even more to curate a comments section, or better, yet a discussion forum.  This can take quite a bit of your time, as you need to moderate comments to prevent flame wars from breaking out, alienating readers, who then leave in droves for a competing forum or site.   I've seen this happen firsthand, many a time in the past.  It ain't pretty.  A few loud voices can chase away all of your readers in short order.   You walk a fine line between censorship and curation.   Good luck with that!  It is why I don't have a comments section - too much hassle.  And we're not even talking about all the SPAM messages you'd have to filter out as well.

The key to running such an enterprise has to get people engaged as long as possible, clicking on as many pages and to hopefully click on some of the advertisements as well.  As a blogger or YouTuber, you become less and less concerned about creating what you want to create, but thinking instead as to what creates the most site visits, click-through revenue, and increases engagement.

Ever wonder why so many YouTubers have long intro into their videos, and waste countless minutes blabbering on about something in a 20-minute video that has maybe 2-3 minutes of engaging content?   Engagement.  The longer they keep you on the page, the better for their "stats" - which is one reason I am less and less enthralled with YouTube lately.  Well, that and the ads, which are increasing in quantity, length, and annoyance.  Gosh it was only a year or so ago when most channels had no ads whatsoever!   How times have changed.

You know how the game is played. You've made the mistake of clicking on one of those annoying listicles that have "The Top 50 States" for this or that, that force you to click through a slideshow of 50 pictures. And just as you go to click on "next slide" an advertisement pops up in his place and you end up being redirected toward some odious ad page.  This is not by accident.   And yes, we all feel like fools for clicking on that nonsense.

Getting off-topic here, but frankly, it's amazing to me that people pay for this type of advertising. Do they realize that people are clicking on their ad not because they want to, but because the advertisement loaded a millisecond after the "next slide" icon?  I mean, they are not getting advertising value for their buck, not when people immediately click "back page" when they realize the mistake.

Getting back to topic, we've seen a lot of these blogs and YouTube channels along these lines - where people think they can make money blogging or YouTubing and try perhaps a little too hard. For example, people decide to quit their jobs and go full-time RVing and start a blog.  But their blog is mostly an advertisement for various RV products. Granted, some of these advertisements are in fact useful, for example in showcasing a product and how it works.  But rarely, if ever, are there critical comments about the product.  Most of these are just cheerleading videos or blog postings for the product in question.  Real objective evaluation is lacking.

And the problem is, too many people are trying to do this, so if you get the swell idea to quit your job and go full-time RVing and start a YouTube channel, good luck, because you'll discover that only a few hundred thousand people thought of this before you.   And often, such folks are quite annoying.

I read somewhere online that the bulk of people trying to make money through blogging or YouTube are living below the poverty line.  Well, the income they receive from these ventures would put them below the poverty line, except that they have a regular job as well.   For many, it is a "side hustle" as they call it today.  After a hard day's work, come home and whore for corporate America.  Sounds like fun.

I suspect also it isn't a very long-term gig, either.  It seems that these forums, sites, channels, and what not have a story arc - they start out in obscurity and then become wildly popular with some sort of viral entry, and then peter out over time, as the short-attention-span of the Internet looks around for the next popular thing.  I say this having been on the Internet since the late 1980's and having lost track of the numerous sites and discussion groups and blogs and YouTube channels I used to follow. Eventually, everyone moves on to something else, even the poor fellow who started the blog, the channel, or whatever.  Or like with Webshots, some idiot buys the company and "takes it in a new direction" - that direction being the shitter.  The Internet is littered with Myspaces.

The folks who go this route have to put up a blog posting and or YouTube video almost every day, and it becomes a full-time job.  Putting together and editing a YouTube video in a professional manner can take hours. So far from being free money, it's just money that you're earning, acting as a shill for advertisers, working 60 hours a week to make blog entries, create videos, and whatnot.

That's a lot more work than the hour I spend (at most) every day typing up this nonsense.  110 wpm - it helps to know how to type!  But after a while, the former Internet star starts phoning it in and people stop clicking.  It happens, and I've seen it firsthand.

I was recently approached by one company who claims they have a plan for marketing my "Living Stinky" blog.  I'm a little skeptical of their promises of vast riches given that they can't even get the name of the blog right:

Direct advertising buy on Living Stinky 

My name is William from Infolinks. I want to purchase a guaranteed advertising placement on your advertising inventory. 
Understandably, the Covid-19 pandemic has everyone distracted and financially concerned. Consequently, it has shifted advertising budgets and we now have relevant Q3 direct brand advertiser budgets available for highly viewable advertising inventory. 
I'd like to add it to your website.

Please review my campaign details below:

Total Budget: $2,500, starting

Daily Impression Budget: 30,000 - 50,000Rate: UP to $2 cpm

Geo: USA 
Device: Mobile Web and Desktop
Integration: Tag via Advertising server or JS (javascript) placed directly on site 
Trafficking Options: Existing unit or 1x1 or out of page slot. 
Test length: 10 - 20 days
I need to assign my budgets shortly, do you have time for a discussion tomorrow or this week?

If you're not the correct person, please introduce me to the appropriate contact.


--William James
Media Supervisor, Infolinks Media, LLC
By the way, I chose the name of this blog by thinking for all of a minute, and not being able to come up with anything else that wasn't already used. Their variation on the theme is interesting.

But, after thinking over their offer for all of ten seconds, I decided not to go that route. If I did that I would have to change the very nature of the blog to one of promoting products and services rather than critiquing them. And in particular, I would have to start promoting and lauding things like credit card offers and payday loans.

And I suppose if I really needed the money I could whore for the credit industry. But at this point my life I really don't need the money.  Well, we all need more money, but what I don't need is a job and the responsibility and workload.

Unfortunately, there are others who do, and people uncritically read blogs from folks like that without thinking about whether they're getting  uncritical advice about finances or something that is in fact, sponsored.

I mentioned before that I don't blame Mr. Money Beard or Mr. Financial Kung-Fu for selling out to the man. They're sites are heavily curated and have discussion groups and comments sections and also lots of sidebar ads, banner ads, and footer ads as well.  Folks like that claim to be retired at age 30, but actually they're working full-time running a blog about being retired at age 30.  Most of these "FIRE" blogs are the same way.  You can't claim to be retired and be working for money.  And yet, thousands of people follow the sort of channels blindly.

Is akin to folks who follows Caitlyn Jenner as a so-called "influencer" and hanging on her every word as she promotes a brand of shoes or something. Do they not realize they're being advertised to?  Do they really think that Caitlyn Jenner likes those shoes and wasn't just paid to say she liked them? Do they really go out and buy the shoes so they can be just like Caitlyn Jenner?  And by the way, who the hell is Caitlyn Jenner?  Is that Bruce Jenner's daughter or his new drag name? I forget, mostly because I don't care.

Maybe in the future, I may decide to monetize this blog if economic conditions change.  But for the time being I think it's not worth the hassle.  The last thing I wanted this point in my life is a full-time job.  I could make more money writing patents, and I don't want to do that, either.