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Do Make Money Online Tips only Work on Blogs about Making Money Online?

One of the common critiques that I’ve seen about sites/books/information product/blogs/courses/e-book about making money online is that its only those teaching how to make money online who actually make money online.

‘He only has a six figure income because he charges people to learn how to make a six figure income!’

This was one comment that someone made about another blogger recently. It sparked a chorus of other similar comments – people like to use that argument.

I understand this critique on some levels – there are quite a few bloggers out there who do only make money from make money online blogs and have not really had success in any other niche. While there’s nothing wrong with this – it obviously raises the eyebrows of some and makes them wonder if it’s possible to do it any other way.

There are also a lot of make money online bloggers making big claims and hyping up their own success – trying to get credibility in what is a competitive niche. This can distort the prominence and success of this type of blog and make it seem like it’s the only type of blog that can make money.

Can you only make money online by starting a make money online site and charging for the information?

I think it’s pretty evident that this isn’t true. While there are a few prominent examples of success stories in the make money online niche there are more many more people making a great living from blogs in other niches.

However many times these stories go untold because:

  • the blogger behind the site doesn’t have an avenue to talk about their success
  • they don’t want to talk about it – for fear of competition
  • they simply don’t want to be seen to be boasting or ‘tooting their own horns’

I hear from many bloggers in a wide variety of niches who are making a good living from their blogs who for one reason or another have not talked publicly about their stories.

Side note: On the flip side I also hear from a lot of ‘make money online’ bloggers who struggle to make any money from their blogs (it is nowhere near as easy as it might seem).

My Own Experience

I first started making money from blogging on a blog that had nothing to do with blogging or making money from blogs. In fact the first blog I experimented with making money on was a personal blog that talked about a multitude of topics. In time that blog did start to talk about blogging but it was far from solely a ‘make money online’ blog.

I then started a photography blog that aggregated camera reviews from around the web (no longer active) on that original personal blog’s domain. That blog became the biggest source of my full time income in the next year or two (it was around this time I hit the ‘six figure income’ level).

Out of my experience with that blog (and others) I started ProBlogger.net to talk about what I was learning and share tips on how to make money blogging (in 2004). ProBlogger did end up growing to earn more than that original photography blog but it wasn’t for a year or so that it got established.

The original photography blog wasn’t a very satisfying blog to run and I ended up letting it die before starting my new Digital Photography School in 2006. DPS took a couple of years to really grow to a significant level – but today it is my main source of income. Traffic wise it does 5-6 times the traffic of ProBlogger on an average day and income wise it’s making significantly more than this site (I’d estimate that it’s 3-4 times as profitable as ProBlogger most months).

I share this story in an attempt to dispel the myth that to make money online you have to talk about making money online. Yes you can make money in this niche – but there are plenty of other niches where bloggers are making as much, if not more.

Do You Make a Secret Full Time Income from Your Blogs?

My story is not unique – there are many bloggers ‘out there’ who have built successful blogs that now sustain them full time financially. By no means are these bloggers in the majority (most bloggers make very little) but they are out there!

If you’re making a full time living from your blog I’d like to connect with you. In fact – I’d like to interview you.

I know for some full time bloggers the idea of sharing your story is something you’d rather not do (due to reasons I outlined above) – but if you are interested in sharing your story and have done so simply because you didn’t have an avenue to do it I’d really be interested to touch base with you to explore whether you’d be interested in being interviewed here on ProBlogger.

If you’re interested – please contact me through the ProBlogger contact form. Please include the word ‘interview’ in the first line of your email to help me make sure it gets my attention. It would also be helpful to have a link to your blog and a short description of it and your business model. I will keep these details private unless we mutually decide to do an interview.

I can’t guarantee to interview everyone who emails – but I hope to do as many as I can to highlight how blogs have become profitable in a variety of niches.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. Hello Darren, interviewing people is a great idea and I would be extremely interested in reading this posts when they are released. I am only 2 and half weeks into my blog, so sadly I am not making much atall, but one day it would be great to be interviewed by you. Congratulations to anyone who is making a living off blogging!
    http://www.studentspayless.com

  2. I’m not anywhere near the “full time blogger” status, but blogs like yours have helped me tremendously with my fitness blog.

    I’d say the “how to make money” or “how to blog” niche is one of the hardest ways to make money online. My “blog about blogging” hardly makes any money–I just do it for the heck of it.

  3. Totally agreed with your articles…

    The web sphere is full of these people and “make money online blogs” are just the newest trend of people who I think are more rappers than helpers.

    In my view, isn’t about the money. It’s about putting in your contribution to make the web a better place, more secure and mainly to make its users more educated!

    By doing this we are adding values, not only for our blog, or the community, but to our own lives…

  4. I’ve long speculated (to myself) about why so many people blog about, well, blogging. Most of these people blogging about blogging are also new to blogging.

    Wouldn’t it make far more sense to blog about something you know lots about? (I think to myself)

    But at the same time, I think a lot of the reason many new people to blogging end up blogging about the art of writing online is because of the success stories that surround this niche. Like you said, Darren, most bloggers outside of the MMO niche don’t blog about how much they earn or how they do it, so we never really get to know how successful they are. MMO is different. It’s the bloggers job to tell people how they earn what they earn, and how others can do it so, and this kind of open attitude (and sometimes hype) is what attracts people to this niche.

    MMO is pretty much the only blogging niche that has hard, *public* facts about how much people can earn. These public facts attract others, no matter how much experience they don’t have.

    There are plenty of other blogs talking about other things that are probably making more than any MMO blog, but because there are no hard, public facts published, the attraction to try and make money in that niche isn’t there.

    I’m hoping some of these people making top dollar in relatively unknown niches will come out of the woodwork to let you interview them!

    Jamie

    • Jamie – I sometimes wonder why so many people start blogs about blogging when they are only just starting out.

      One reason that I suspect some do is that it’s to journal what they are learning. In some ways that’s why I did it in the early days of ProBlogger. I wanted to record my journey and not present myself as an expert. Perhaps some others are doing this too (although some present themselves as authorities from day 1 too).

  5. Make money online niche got and getting lot of buzz due to the following reasons:

    1. People hear offline that making money online is possible. They (initial level searchers) have been targeted by scamers and get rich quick schemes.
    2. Many want to make money online so that they try to convince others to buy something to make money online.

    Make money online is not really easy as it may be direct methods like selling something or blogging & indirect methods like spamming. But both needs really lot of skill.

    Today most of the bloggers making blogs about blogging or making money online. I strictly want to tell them, first do research and try to earn yourself a lot then show off the techniques through blog posts.

  6. Great point, Darren. As you know, I was making a six-figure income from blogging years before I ever talked about the fact. I did it using a technology blog.

    I think the people who say this are saying this because the only bloggers who talk about money are the ones showing you how to make it – and the readers are reading it. Usually, the people who are making good money in other niches are not out there talking about it. Case in point – me in 2008 or earlier.

    So, it’ll be good, Darren, to hunt those people out and bring them to the spotlight. I’ve had my readers ask for the exact same thing, so I know it’ll work.

  7. Yes, they do most of the time. “Make Money Bloggers”, “How To…?” bloggers like you, Chow (not that I compare… it’s just you share the niche), shoemoney and a dozen more have great tips and experiences to share that, most of the time, I find hard to translate into other niches. And i can assure you it’s not a language barrier.

    I’ve noticed most of you think that all audiences are about money making, tech-savvy, IT oriented, USA-born, northamerican/english culture and find it difficult to get yourselves in the shoes of other niches that are not 100% like that.

    Yes, I understand… it’s the niche that sells the more but I think you may expand your horizons by writing about making money for a much broader audience than that.

    Sorry for such an extended comment, you know I’m a passionate reader of yours.

    G

    • Guillermo – understand how it might seem that some blogs are too narrow on the geographic front, although as an Australian I do try to be as global as I can with my information :-)

  8. A lot of this sentiment stems from the fact most people aren’t looking deeper into how these MMO bloggers are actually making money outside of this niche. They become jaded visiting these blogs daily, seeing them flaunt 6 figure success and wonder if it’s all one big ponzi scheme.

    Darren, you’re quite open in disclosing your achievements with DPS and using it as an example to show proof your methods have worked. Even so, how many people do you think visit ProBlogger and think this is all you do? I’m guessing it’s a much higher number than you’d expect.

    But is that the fault of the blogger or the reader?

    • Jordan Cooper – yes, I have had a number of people over the year make assumptions that I’m only blogging here on ProBlogger – I guess a first time visitor is unlikely to see more than that – this is one of the reasons I use DPS so often as an example in my posts (although some complain about that too and think DPS is only successful because of ProBlogger). It’s a bit of a challenge but I do try to mention my other blogging when I do make statements about income to try to communicate it.

  9. This is a great article. It has given me motivation to keep going. Thank You. I tried making money with a make money blog but have never made money. (I did make one sale in a few months so that’s not too bad considering what I have heard). It was like trying to learn and teach at the same time. Now I have started a blog about something that I am very passionate about instead so reading this at this time was perfect. Thanks again.

  10. Darren,

    My first blog was about ‘Management’. I’ve had a successful Management career spanning the past 30 years so I started in that area first as that was my passion / experience. I could share my experiences in self-development, personal productivity, public speaking etc.

    I purchased every product about making money on-line “under the sun” to make it work!

    I worked on my on-line business while still working full-time. This time last year I gave up the 9-5 as I was earning enough income from my ‘Management’ blog. Plus I started another blog about ‘building blogs’ and making money online. Now I’ve just release my first membership site about making money on-line.

    So, yes you can make a full-time income via a ‘non-how to make money’ on-line blog.

    Will now contact you for a possible interview.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

  11. Thanks for this post… I know there are so many ways to make money it’s crazy. However, I read a lot of blogs about how to make money I seem to get sucked into that myself.

    Obviously David Risley’s a clear point on someone who made money online prior to talking about that. It’s motivating to know and hear of those people.

    Thanks Darren

  12. It has always seemed to me that the way to make money blogging is to blog about making money, or blogging, or something product-based (like photography… where you can promote niche specific, high dollar products). No one seems to mind if you go that route.

    Personal Development blogs seem notoriously difficult to monetize because there is an expectation that we should just want to help people, and an implication that making money from that is sleazy.

    I know Leo has managed to make a living solely from PD, but I can’t think of any others who do.

    I’m not saying it CAN’T be done, just that it seems a good bit more challenging… more of an uphill battle. I’ll be curious to see the results of your interviews.

    Thanks!

    • Lisis – yes some niches can be a real challenge. Personal development seems to be a niche that can be very profitable IF you can grow your following and then sell something of your own to them, but in the mean time it can be tough.

  13. I used to always say that too, as it seems a good excuse — nothing sells more than the promise of more money!

    But I’ve actually make a living blogging now, and I know many others in my niche who have done the same. So glad you are addressing this issue. It’s not just make money or social media bloggers who are making a living these days — the rest of us are catching up!

    Thanks!

  14. Hello ,
    The start of the article is so true with me as I was one of the fellow blogger who felt that some of the bloggers do money just by writing about how to make money and selling. But it has been 9 months I am blogging and I complelty understand that many bloggers who really make money and then write about it.
    Dareen I am really looking for the interview that you would be publishing .Yes I am a recent blogger and earn a big zero from my blog . But hope some day I would … let us see.

  15. I think @Lisis brings a good point, but I think it does not have to do with being sleazy or not… it has to do with how well we can apply in other niches (like PD or immigration as in my case) what this six figures guys say has to be done.

    IMHO, to hell with whoever thinks if I’m allowed or not to make money in my niche… I will write about whatever I’m passionate about and I’ll try to exploit the niche as much as I can (as fas as I’m not hurting my reputation, of course)

  16. I’ve heard about it time and time again, and strongly agrees with your point.

    Those that can’t follow whatever guides to make money online, be it paid or free maybe just doesn’t suited for it.

    While its good to follow the success story, it is better to be creative.

  17. I think the big thing many people fail to realize is that the financial success of a “make money” blog is it’s greatest source of credibility. Thus it is more important for those blogs to tout their success.

    If you were to visit a photography blog for example and found out the blogger was only making $20/month even though the content was good. What impact do you think that knowledge would have on your view of the site?

    Now imagine the same about a making money blog. How can their advice be good if it doesn’t work for them?

    The other thing I have noticed is that, generally, making money blogs tend to be more vocal within the blogger communit. While this isn’t always the case it does seem that success bloggers are the ones who try to push the edge of the blogosphere forward, and thus they also tend to be the most visible.

    The reason for this is partly on the bloggers and partly on their niche. Making money with a blog is the only niche that has interest to virtually all serious bloggers. Thus nearly all serious bloggers are aware of the more prominent making money blogs.

    For example, for me, my niche is in the arts. I subscribe to several blogs in my niche and also a couple making money ones.

    Another blogger might have a niche in fashion. They probably subscribe to blogs about fashion but also are likely to subscribe to making money blogs.

    Thus we find a pattern in that the majority of bloggers probably read or subscribe to making money blogs (assuming they want to make money with their blog)

    In conclusion, making money blogs seem to be the most profitable as they are A) most dependent on success as a source of credibility and B) Have the greatest individual reach among bloggers.

  18. This sounds like a great idea. A lot of people do have the misconception that the only way to make money blogging is to create products teaching people how to do it themselves.

  19. I think you mentioned some of the key phrases in there, “…it took me x years…”.

  20. Love this post! Personally, I think any blog can make money if that is what you decide to do. Content and building it as a business, as many Make Money Online bloggers suggest is the first step. My blogging niche has nothing to do with blogging for money but that is what I intend to do! It is what you decide to make of it, as it is anything in life.

    I think it boils down to getting over pre-conceived notions and judgments. I follow pro-bloggers as much as I follow those in my own niche. It creates a balance. The nay-sayers only read Make Money Online blogs that TELL you about making money online because that is what they are passionate about! They have made it their business and they are sharing it…..That’s what blogging is about!

    SHARING!

  21. I started to dream making money by talking about money but no success. Now I write articles and I use my blog to share how much I earn each month. It makes sense now because I earned 1.400$ in 2009 and I hope it will go higher in 2010.

  22. Sound very interesting, can’t wait to hear some inspiring message especially from people who are making a full time living from their blog. Please share it here Darren!

  23. I make a full time salary from my sites but choose to keep my career job. I guess you could say I have two jobs! I think it’s easy for people to pass judgment on the make money blogs because those are the blogs they read!

    What I do know is it takes time and slow steady growth. Nothing comes for free and it certainly doesn’t happen over night.

  24. I’m very interested in reading interviews about those who have made a financial success of other niches.

    Not all money making techniques work with all topics so it will be interesting to see if other people can throw up some ideas that we may not have thought of before.

  25. Well said Mr.Rowse. Actually none of the Technorati 100 blogs belongs to this competitive make money online niche. There may be few exemptions, but all of them do make money, and in many different ways, not necessarily by teaching how to make money. In fact that is a niche thats kind of overrated. And i don’t think people who make real money ever talk about it like you have very correctly pointed out.

  26. Great point.

    For new bloggers, it’s better to start a business blog on any niche other than “Make Money”, and when the business blog takes off, it will be more convincing when you blog about “Make Money”.

  27. Guillermo: You are right with transfering some tips into another niche. I am from the Eastern block and it is difficult to fight with our not-so-developed markets and/or blocked territories (as sometimes we still are) for affiliate programs etc.
    On the other side – posts like this are very motivating for me. I know the way is somewhere out there ;)

  28. Hi Darren, I am thrilled to tell you that my blog makes no money at this time. Well, maybe a few cents per day. I had only started my blog in December and am not really concerned about making an income with it at this point.

    My stories tend to be centered around a business that I had more than a decade ago, so I can talk about a lot of things because I am not fearful of competition or ruffling feathers. I can pretty much speak my mind, good or bad. And there is a lot of good and bad to talk about!

    I really enjoy problogger and I wish you continued success.

  29. @PetrS, I see I’m not alone.

    I’m sure that most of our fellow bloggers here will tell us “make your way on your own”, “be patient”, “we cannot microblog for every single case” And they are right… The point here is that “make money bloggers” think that every reader they have, every blog that is out there, is only about making money and it;s not like that.

    There is a world out there guys and guess what? Not everyone speaks english and not everyone lives in USA!

  30. Interesting post.

    I’m sure you’re right that there are few people who make a full-time living from blogging. For many, however, blogging is just part of a portfolio of online activities aimed at making money, raising their professional profile, maybe even getting a book deal!

    Even in these terms, therefore, the success of a blog shouldn’t be measured by whether the blogger makes a full-time living from it. Often, a blog is just a means to an end, probably one of several means being used to achieve that same end.

  31. Great post on MMO. My one site is MMO-related and although it does provide me with a nice stream of income, my other sites also chip in. I have one blog that provides a free sample question for a specific professional exam and that does quite well. It’s a niche that’s untapped and I happen to have expertise in it.

    As for calling my online revenue FT, I can’t say that since I have many revenue sources at the moment, some of them offline. But I will say that if I only counted the online portion of my annual income, it would exceed most Americans’ take home.

  32. Hi Darren.

    Great initiative here.

    Really looking forward to those interviews. This will be a great learning tool for us that aspire to eventually make a living out of our blog.

    I remember when I went school, and our teacher asked the class what we wanted to become when we grew up.. And of course he got all the standard answers; fireman, policeman, nurse, pilot, daycare worker, journalist, rock star, movie star etc.. I think if you visit the schools today and ask the kids the same question, you will pretty much get the same answers.. I bet there will none of them that will say I will be a professional blogger when I grow up..

    Maybe something today’s professional bloggers need to work on, and see if some schools can add this to their curriculum. Then the perceptions will start change when we learn from the beginning that it actually take time, hard work, knowledge, failures etc.. to become a professional blogger..

    Cheers.. Are

  33. I’ve found that people who ask if you can make money from other blogs are the ones who fail to make any money.

  34. This is something a lot of people ask me. It seems like most people think you have to start a make money blog in order to make some actual money.

    Truth is, you can make money blogging in any niche. The key is to apply the same principles that the make money bloggers use. Things like newsletters, information products, and the various ways they monetize their blogs.

  35. @Justin Wright is half right here… Yes, you can make money from any blog . You can apply the same principles, correct… But they will not always work the same way for every niche. I could give you a dozen examples of things that work great for DPS, Problogger or your site and may not be that good for my niche. And that’s where many bloggers like me would love to see a different approach from the six figures money making guys

    • Guillermo… agree with you that things don’t work in every niche. ProBlogger and DPS are incredibly different in that way. ProBlogger does well with direct ads, DPS with AdSense – both do well with affiliate and ebooks, but not with other types of monetization that works on other blogs.

  36. Does anyone make a significant amount of money ‘because’ of their blog as opposed to ‘from’ their blog?

    My site itself is horribly laid out and new in terms of blog life but I make a significant amount ‘because’ of my blog outside of my blog itself.

  37. @[email protected] The income I make from blogging doesn’t come from my blog, but does come about because of my blog. In comes in the way of Web design work and Web hosting customers that I pick up as a result of the connections and relationships made within the blogosphere. If it wasn’t for my blog, I would never have made this connections, so I would never have made that particular slice of income.

    Jamie

  38. Darren,

    You took the question right out of my mouth…really. I’ve continued to plug away at my infant blog wondering if it will ever prove highly monetizeable (word?). But I DID make an affiliate sale the other day and generated $2.70 (USD). Does that qualify as full time income?

    Thanks!

  39. I think the reason make money online by blogging is popular is that everyone is interested to know how to make money online so thouse bloggers who tell all will naturally be popular.

    But there are so many other niches who are quitely making thousands too.

    I wonder sometimes why some bloggers post aritcles on how much they made that month or year with detailed statistics.

  40. @Guillermo: I agree with you. Sometimes the same principles work but most times you just need to really assess your blog and have an approach that you know will generate income based on what your readers are looking for. For some that’s till info ebooks or certain products, while for others it may strictly be based on ads. It all depends on your niche and what you can monetize on.
    I still like this idea Darren is getting at and hope to read these interviews when they come out.

  41. @Robby G well… there you are! What an excellent post to write for any of the guys here in the “make money blogging” niche! “How to assess your blog and have an approach that you know will generate income”

    That’d be a great post, eh? (I live in Canada, that’s why the “eh?”)

    I’m working on that, I can assure you… and I already know about half a dozen things that do not work with my readers! Problem is I’m running out of ideas at this point!

  42. I published the 400th article on my site today, and revenue has been rather minimal. Then again, not only am I not in the “how to make money with your blog” niche, but I have no niched at all, choosing to market my site as a broad based we magazine instead.

    I also avoid showing ads to regular visitors, which reduces the potential for revenue – but enhances the reader experience.

    Financially, blogging has been a bit disappointing for me.

    It’s probably a good thing that write for my personal enjoyment :)

  43. I echo many of the comments above (especially Jamie) in that, i really don’t make the much money from my blog but all of my online income is derived “because” of my blog. Of late, I’ve seen my Alexa score improve significantly, not because my blog writing skills improved or that I found the silver bullet. Rather, I’ve acquired a special IM tool that quickly helps me find quality high PR sites in sync with my content and hence I contribute to the site (anchor text comments) and the upside is the webmaster appreciates the input, approves the comment and a win/win connection is made. This technique is working so well, I did a YT video on it, got lots of views and now I plan to create my own digital / information product and share it with my readers.

  44. This is like the motivational speaker problem. A lot of motivational speakers have really only become motivational speakers, how is that inspiring?

    I think you Darren are an example of a problogger who has experience on other blogs. I get really annoyed at a lot of people, some of whom can’t write an intelligible word, who try to say they know how to “make money online”

  45. This post covers a great topic that doesn’t seem to get a lot of “real” commentary. Rather it normally just people complaining that they are not making money, or they are selling something.

    My first blog was a make money blog and it was the worst idea I ever had. I still post to it, but don’t really promote it. Rather, I use it as a way to gain clients for my writing biz.

    Once I got out the make money niche, I started to actually make an income. *Shocking*

    I think the biggest problem people have is that they already know everything they need to know, they just don’t realize it. That was definitely the problem I had.

  46. LOL! It’s interesting… all I see here is a bunch of “look what a successful money making blogger I am” comments from people that seem to already know everything they have to know…

  47. You know what, Darren, most of the time I read the comments and see what some of those comments blog about.

    Many are bloggers about blogging who I really don’t have much respect for. Then occasionally a comment is made by a blogger about “not blogging, but some fair dinkum product or service niche”. Then usually I check their blog out to see what their business model is!!!!

  48. I agree 100%. People love to use that argument because it is a lame way to cop out. What they are really saying is, “The only way to make money by blogging is to sell that money making info, and I am not going to do it. So I won’t be making money by blogging.”

    It’s really implying that making money by blogging is a pyramid scheme and it is impossible for anyone starting out now.

    I disagree with that line of thinking. I think it is possible to make money through blogging in thousands of different ways, on millions of topics. The same is true of making money online in general. Anyone can do it. There are (at least) millions ways of doing it.

    Last year, someone posted on our blog about his eBook “How to make Chicken Coops”! We have a financial blog that has nothing to do this chickens, cows or any other farm animal. But what was really awesome about the post is it shows that anyone can make money with any random expertise, including how to make chicken coops.

  49. I think the most likely explanation is that only make-money-online bloggers have any real motivation to share how much money they make. The vast, vast majority of full-time bloggers do it in other niches. But you never hear about them because they have no desire to be heard about. Do you go around telling your friends how much money you make at work? Then why would you expect most bloggers to go around talking about how much money they make online?

  50. I get so giddy thinking about the prospect of making my full income online. Not because of the money, but because of the free time, and independence, and doing what I love.. just because I have been conditioned to think the only way to make a living is to get a degree and work the 9 to 5 for someone else. It is so liberating to find out otherwise. Congratulations to everyone who’s made it, and good luck to the bloggers like me who are just starting out!

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